Location: Boruca and Terraba Reserves

Today started like any other day. We had breakfast at 7:45. We had eggs, toast, fruit, and coffee for breakfast. After breakfast, we loaded the bus with all of the luggage and headed out for the day. The bus ride was about two hours and was filled with music, laughter, and a lot of sleep. Then, we arrived at the indigenous tribe around 11:00. We were greeted by warm smiles and excitement. There were many chickens and two German shepherds napping in the social area. We waited for 10 minutes until the tribe people told us that they were ready for us to watch one of their ceremonies. We followed Dana, a 13-year-old member of the tribe, down to the river. When we got to the river, it was hushed and peaceful until the ceremony started with a loud horn noise from a shell that was the start of the ceremony. One of the men began to walk out from the woods closer to the river; he was still blowing the horn intermittently. When he reached the river, he stopped and bent over a small smoking fire that had already been lit before our group coming to the river. He was putting leaves over the smoke as if he was blessing the leaves. After a while of him blessing the leaves, he blew the horn again, and another man appeared who started playing the drums. As they were both playing their instruments, a third man came out. This time he entered walking through the water wearing only leaves and a green mask that made him look like an ogre. The first man started to “fight” the ogre through his leaves and a special liquid that looked liked milk. These actions made the ogre fall to the ground. The drummer continued while the first man began to bless the fallen ogre. As the blessing continued, another man who was playing the flute appeared from the woods. He played the flute after the blessing as if he was transforming the ogre. The flute player changed the masks of the ogre to one of a snake, and he began to move around like a snake through the river. He then picked up a small plant, took it through the water, and planted it on the other side. He went back to the original side of the river, and the ceremony ended. The four men explained that the ceremony we had just witnessed was one that represented how the Boruca tribe connected with the spiritual world, nature, and music. We then took a group picture and walked back to the house to eat lunch. Lunch consisted of rice, beans, yucca, green beans, carrots, and pork. It was excellent, just like every day. During lunch, the men explained how their tribe makes the masks that they used for the ceremonies for generations. Originally, the masks were only made for the ceremonies but, now they are made to sell for financial purposes. They showed us many pictures of their beautiful masks. Then, we said goodbye to Dana and the other members of the tribe we had met. After, we then went to a small museum in the town that showed all of the masks that the indigenous people made and a brief history of the tribe. We got back on the bus and drove for another hour and a half to the next hotel. We arrived and found that it was not any of us thought it was. It is many cabins do not have A.C. or hot water while being set in the beautiful Costa Rican jungle. We unloaded the bus, took our stuff to our rooms to explore, and then played cards until our Costa Rican chocolate tour began. We walked to the garden and saw an avocado tree, starfruit tree, and, most importantly, the cocoa tree. It started to rain, as we started to walk over to the fire where they were roasting the cocoa beans. After they were done roasting, we peeled each very hot bean. Once they were peeled, we ground the beans in two different ways. The first way we ground the beans was in a machine that we had to turn. The second way was the original way the tribe did it, with two rocks. Both methods were hard. Then we went to the common area and had hot chocolate with the Costa Rican chocolate we had worked for. We then were taught how to make the bracelets the women in the area make and sell. Many of us made more than one and some people even made necklaces. After the bracelet making, we had a dinner of rice, chicken, yucca, potatoes, and other vegetables. Dinner was followed by group time where everyone played different card games until it was time for bed. We are all very excited about the hot springs tomorrow and a good night of sleep. Keep reading our 2018 Costa Rica blog for more journey stories! 🙂