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.
Quitirrisi is home to the Guetares (or Huetares) indigenous people. Located in the Central Valley, 32 km south east of the capital, this region is arid and mountainous with beautiful lush green landscapes and picturesque views. 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. Of 1,500 residents, most work in agriculture and produce artisan hand-craft goods. The town has one primary school with approximately 200 students who receive mainstream education. However, it lacks other essential services such as a health care and higher education opportunities. As a result, many young people are leaving Quitirrisi to find better opportunities and the indigenous traditions and wisdom are at the risk of being lost.
In San Jose, catch the bus that goes to Puriscal from the Coca Cola Bus Station. It leaves every 20 minutes or so from early morning until 10:00pm. It costs less than 1,000 colones ($2) and is about 45minutes to 1 hour ride from San Jose to the Reserve. When you reach Ciudad Colon, you have about 20 more minutes on a windy road through the mountains. Ask the bus driver to let you off at the bus stop called “alto de Quitirrissi”. That is the entrance to the indigenous community.
Two small, family-owned grocery stores