At Choto’s “Project of Life” you will have the opportunity to experience the revival of a human culture that is at risk of extinction. This is how Choto, the leader, or “cacique” of the Guetares indigenous people describes the experience. Choto has built a ceremonial space and educational learning center, where members of the community can participate in traditional rituals, storytelling, ceremonies, and activities that preserve the Guetares way of life.
Choto also leads gatherings, activities and ceremonies for people from outside the community. Depending on your time and interests, he can lead you in a cleansing sweat lodge ritual, spiritual ceremony, art-making, indigenous conference, or storytelling activity. Whichever you choose, you are bound to receive unique perspective.
"We need to rescue a human culture that is at risk of extinction."
Choto’s education comes from his elders and from his connection with nature. He received no formal schooling and yet at an early age he was recognized by local organizations to help connect, develop and protect indigenous communities throughout all of Costa Rica. 10 years ago, he retired from his formal job as an indigenous social promotor and decided to focus his time and effort on his homeland. Choto recognizes that the Quitirissi region is located very close to the capital city (San Jose) and is in high-contact with modern society. For this reason, much of the traditional ways of life of the Guetares is being lost. There are many Guetar people who would like to continue their traditional practices, but the reality is that they need to make money to survive and they have very few opportunity available to them. Choto believes sustainable tourism is the only current option to be able to generate income, preserve their traditional practices and also educate the world about their reality.
Quitirissi is an indigenous town that is home to the Guetares indigenous people. It is located in the Central Valley, 32 km south east of the capital. It is home to about 1,500 people who work in agriculture, artisan hand-craft products, and now many of the youth are leaving the community to find work in the surrounding cities. 90% of the Quitirissi area is inhabited by Guetares. The region is arid and mountainous and has beautiful lush green landscapes and picturesque views. The town has 1 school with approximately 200 students and reaches up to sixth grade. 9 of the 11 teachers are indigenous. The curriculum and teachers are determined by the Ministry of Education. Since the youth are now receiving “mainstream” education, many of the traditional indigenous practices and wisdom are being lost. The indigenous territory was legally recognized in 1976. After a long fight over land grabs, the Guetares were granted 900 hectares. In 2001, the government expanded the area to 2,250 hectares. The region is lacking a health center, high school, and opportunities for work, especially for women and youth.