Most people who still make traditional tamales use banana leaves. Here in the Boruca territory, you will learn something different. Walk around the farm to collect Bijagua leaves and then learn how to cut, clean and prepare them for tamal making! Also, these tamales use rice instead of corn, cooked slowly over a wood-burning traditional stove. Help Elieth chop vegetables and work in the kitchen to cook and wrap the tamales in the Bijagua leaves. Then learn how to tie them closed using the fiber from the Itabo flower. Learn some traditional Borucan words as you cook and discover a history and story of Costa Rica that you may never find anywhere else.
"The land is what gives us everything. If we don’t respect and care for it, we’re generating more problems for ourselves. When I need something, I go into the forest: my pharmacy."
Elieth is a healer and preserver of traditional medicinal plants. She upholds the Boruca tradition of using food and drinks as a means of preventative health and holistic healing. Elieth grew up learning about plants and food from her family, community and most importantly her mother who was also a healer. The wisdom has passed down generation after generation through oral tradition. Nothing has been written down. Her parents would simply point to things in the forest and tell her that it would heal stomach paints, then Elieth would see it, remember it and learn it. She began giving cooking workshops in 2000. Now, it is her primary source of income. Sharing her knowledge through cooking and healing has allowed her to learn to value herself and her work. She now knows that this is her purpose: restoring this wisdom to humanity.