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How Do We Get To Boruca?

How Do We Get To Boruca? South Pacific Costa Rica, indigenous culture

Entrance to Boruca town by Dagmar Reinhard

Throughout the year, but especially in December, there are many events and festivals in the village of Boruca. The directions below will take you straight to this beautiful village where you can experience a world of art, culture, and history.

From San José, take the highway known as Autopista del Sol Route 27, exit Tárcoles - Jaco. Follow Highway 34 to Dominical and from there continue driving down the Coastal Highway to Palmar Sur, about one hour and 15 minutes.

When you reach the junction with Palmar, turn left, taking the Pan-American Highway toward Buenos Aires. After approximately 25km, you will see a sign on you left hand side indicating the town of Boruca.

It is a slightly steep road and requires a 4x4 vehicle. The uphill road is approximately 8km, and it offers a spectacular unobstructed view of the two valleys on either side; you will also admire the Térraba River and the Cordillera on the horizon. Nearest airport: Palmar Sur.

Read more information on Indigenous Culture:

Indigenous Culture in Costa Rica

Boruca Art, the Colors of Nature

Boruca colors, puravida, costaballenalovers, ballenatales (1)

By Susie Atkinson – Ellen Hoël

Did you know that a great source for natural dyes can be found right in your own yard? Leaves, roots, nuts, flowers, barks, berries, lichen, and fungi are sources of natural colors.
Yellow, orange, blue, red, green, brown, and grey are all on the color pallet used for dyeing fabric or yarns.

The essential process of dyeing has changed little over time. Typically, the dye material is put in a pot of water and the yarns to be dyed are added to the pot with water, which is heated and stirred until the color is transferred.

Many natural dyes require the use of mordants to bind the dye to the textile fibers. The ones used by the Borucans are salt or lime/mandarin orange.

The examples in the photos are as follows.Orange is from the seeds of the achiote bush (Bixa orellana).
Yellow is from the rhizomes of the Turmeric plant (Curcuma longa) that is smashed and can become fixed and more vibrant with the addition of lime. Green is from the leaves of Gavilana (Neurolaena Lobata) that are boiled for several days to get the green color. Blue is from the leaves of Azul de Mata (Justicia tinctoria), similar to indigo.

These are just a few of the sources of the the colors of nature used by the Borucans. A more extensive list can be seen on their website.

If a trip to the village of Boruca isn’t an option, then visit the Boruca Gallery Gift Shop at Pacific Edge Cabins in Dominicalito.

InFo: tel: 2200 5428 –

Christophe Gstalder: Boruca – A Vanishing Race and Culture

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Christophe Gstalder photographer, Boruca – A Vanishing Race and Culture

Christophe Gstalder, Boruca – A Vanishing Race and Culture

“The most beautiful landscape of the Boruca community is the humbleness of its people”

I have never worked in my life!  (Christophe´s passion for photography, does not allow him to call it work).  He is originally from Marseille, France; he grew up traveling across the world with his father.

20 years ago, he began working on his film “Los Diablitos – Por Encima De Las Nubes” (The Little Devils – Above the Clouds), a documentary about the Boruca Culture, their Traditions & People.  The Film´s original soundtrack is directed by Christophe and Guillain Joncheray (Deep Forest.)  Christophe´s sensibility, his respect for the ancient culture, and the beauty he sees in the Indigenous world through his camera, helped him to give birth to an incredibly beautiful 52-minutes documentary.  “I did not expect anything different; it’s a true 100 % self-made film, during a long journey, without deadlines, with no producer demands, free as a bird, in a length that brings maturity of feelings …” he told us.

“I miss Costa Rica and my dear friends, anchored in my thoughts and heart.  My mission in life is to complete this film.  (If SIBU wants it…  I think so!  SIBU wants it!)

Christophe Gstalder is a notorious free-lance photographer for Fashion Magazines such as Marie-Claire, Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and he recently visited Zanzibar (East Africa).

Christophe Gstalder photographer Facebook Page

LOS DIABLITOS Au dessus des nuages Bande Annonce

Boruca Gallery Gift Shop

Boruca Gallery Gift Shop

happy shoppers

~ by Susie Atkinson

Looking for a unique souvenir of your trip to Costa Rica – something that is a true representation of the local folklore and does not have that “Made in China” stamp on it?

Look no further; Boruca Gallery Gift Shop has handcrafted products that were made by the Borucans, our local indigenous.

Boruca Gallery Gift Shop, handcrafted products  - Uvita, Bahia Ballena, OsaThe Borucans are the only tribe of Costa Rica that was not conquered by the Spanish conquistadors in the late 1400s-early 1500s.

They defended themselves in a unique way: by carving and wearing very scary masks in the form of the face of a devil, which chased the Spaniards away; thus, becoming known as the "diablitos" (little devils).  

The Gallery has a wide collection of the best detailed carved masks/wall hangings, as well as hand-woven, naturally dyed 100% cotton products, such as placemats, table runners, tote bags, and yoga mat carriers.

Each year, our shop has grown.

In 2016, we increased our sales of the carved masks by 30% in just the first 11 months of 2016; 330 masks were sold. Our woven sales of 260 pieces
remained about the same as last year. 

Our store wants as many sales as possible to keep the money flow going into the Borucan village, since 80% of their income comes from their handcrafted products.

Therefore, our prices have a very little markup.

Our stock is changing constantly. At any given time, there are 25 - 40 unique masks ranging in price from $10 to $125, along with all the woven goods. 

Tourists love learning the history about the masks and weavings, knowing they are  getting an authentic souvenir from their visit to Costa Rica. 

Please stop by The Gallery or make a day trip to the village and learn about our indigenous folklore artwork! 

INFO: Susie Atkinson – [email protected]


Milking of the Murex snail at Ventanas Beach

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Milking of the Murex snail

Boruca people, milking of the murex snail

By Susie Atkinson  y Ellen Hoel

The art of milking of the Murex snail has its origins in the 4th century B.C.
Cleopatra used that procedure to dye in purple the sails of her boat with the intent of flattering Caesar. The gathering of those fluids is a practice that has passed from generation to generation. The Murex snail discharges a milky-white secretion that changes colors once it is exposed to air and light. This transformation starts with a shade of yellow, followed by a pastel green, and finally, under the direct exposure to the sun, it turns into a lovely shade of purple, also called imperial purple.

Boruca people, milking of the murex snail

The women of Boruca use this unique extract to dye the cotton yarn they will use in their weaving. During the waning moon, the Borucans make a special trip to the rockiest of Ventanas beach in Costa Ballena in the months of January and February, knowing that they will find the Murex snails hiding and mating along the rocks.

Ventanas beach, Boruca people, milking of the murex snail

It is a dangerous and treacherous work to find and “milk” the snails. Doña Marina and others, pull the snails off the slippery rocks at Ventanas beach, they proceed to blow on them very carefully to cause the snails to release the fluid, letting it drip over the yarn they are holding. This fluid cannot be stored; therefore, the yarn has to be dyed on site.

The Borucans are one of two indigenous groups left in the world using this process. They preserve the life of these snails by returning them back to the rocks after taking the fluid.
Doña Marina goes to the Farmers´ Market in Uvita almost every Saturday morning. Her weavings and carved masks are also available at Pacific Edge Cabins in Dominicalito.

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