The Boruca are an indigenous tribe in southwestern Costa Rica. They are a proud indigenous group famous for the craftsmanship of their colorful, hand carved masks, which is a major part of their cultural identify to this day. Although the tribe has faced significant pressures over the years through colonialism, loss of traditional lands and native language, a changing economy, and more, they have preserved much of their culture through ancient traditions, storytelling, and being granted self-governance by Costa Rica through the formation of the Boruca Indigenous Reserve.
Jose Carlos and Leila, his wife, direct the Educational Center in Boruca and welcome you to come experience, first-hand, the cultural practices of their indigenous community. Participate in the welcoming ritual, where you will become part of the community and get to know the spiritual leaders. After getting oriented, you will learn about traditional foods and cultural ceremonies (to participate is your choice). At night, you are welcome to join in and listen to stories of indigenous life. The next day, you can to take part in a cleansing ritual and make an offering to spirit guides important to the Boruca people if you would like. Throughout your stay, there are various workshops available, especially to learn the traditional art forms and cooking methods. Some cooking in Boruca are quite unique, and only found here in the country. This just may be the only place you will learn how to make rice tamales!
"There are so many misconceptions about indigenous people. You need to meet us and learn first-hand, what makes us human, just like you."
Jose Carlos is a Boruca indigenous. He is the first indigenous professional in Costa Rica. When he was 15, he learned that the oncoming construction of a road was about to run directly through his community and it was that day that he began working in indigenous rights.
Leila, Jose Carlos' wife, also plays a large role in the protection of the Borucan way of life. She has been working with the community for over 40 years, providing trainings in health to kids and idigenous women. She works directly with the auuapas (shamans and healers of the Borucan community), to preserve methods of holistic healing. She believes in rescuing traditions, particularly those revolved around food and healing.
Jose Carlos started at the local level, and then through years of dedication became involved at the national and international level. He now has over 40 years experience working with indigenous rights. He is involved with the world council of indigenous towns and helped establish the indigenous laws in Costa Rica. His entire life had been dedicated to helping indigenous communities recognize and understand their rights, as well as preserving the lifestyle and culture of his hometown in Boruca.