Life in 14th Century Paradise

~ by Susan Atkinson

I would think the readers would be interested in learning about other indigenous people in Costa Rica. Although it does not pertain to the Southern zone, it does make a comparison to the Borucans. “Costa Rica is a paradise” – so the indigenous thought – until the Spanish conquest in 1492-1520 AD.

The New World expeditions were usually characterized by their violence and disrespect for the native people. The inevitable end came with “Colonialism and Christianity.” Before that, 8 indigenous groups (Brunca/Boruca, Chorotega, Huetar/Quitirrisí, Cabécar, BriBri, Teribe, Maleku, and Guaymí/ Ngöbe) were living in peace.


When the Conquistadores arrived, the Indians either fought or fled inland to more remote areas, often burning their own villages and crops behind them. The Chorotegans (who descend from the Mayans), live in the Nicoya peninsula, and were the largest and most technologically advanced tribe.

Unlike the Borucans, who literally scared away their invaders garbed in scary, devilish-looking masks, the Chorotegans fought as an organized military group, wearing only padded cotton armor. They only had bow and arrow, and wooden swords to face more sophisticated weapons.

Due to the geography of the peninsula, the Chorotegans were trapped and conquered.

The Spaniards killed the Chorotegans for speaking their mother tongue, enslaved them either into slave trade with Panama and Perú, or turned them into domestic servants.

They changed their housing to adobe longhouses, and tried to convert them to Christianity. The Spanish brought many diseases, such as smallpox, causing the indigenous population to decline rapidly.

The area of the Chorotegans centers near Guaitil (Santa Cruz county), in Guanacaste. The soil is mostly of clay, which was used to make the bricks for the new longhouses.

Today, Chorotegans produce beautifully handcrafted pottery and cookware that are sold to the commercial and touristic markets, as well as honey from their beekeeping.

Our next issue will continue to tell you about the natives that fled to the more remote regions of Costa Rica.

By visiting our website, you can learn more about the Borucans (Los Diablitos), who were the only indigenous group to NOT have their territory conquered by the Spaniards.


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