Indigenous community Boca Cohen
An Cabecar tribe/ethnic group in the province of Limon
By: Abir Hassanien Social Service Worker Centennial College (Ashtonbee) International student placement internship Costa Rica (Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica)
Some information on Cabecares
There are around 10’000 Cabecar (pronounced cah-beck-car) Indians is the largest Indigenous group in Costa Rica and is considered to be the most isolated in the Mountains, which requires a few hours long hike to reach. Therefore, the Cabécar Indians have not been exposed to many basic items, and few of them have been exposed to education, they are very traditional and still preserve their “Chibchan“ language, natural medicine and patrimonial culture. They have a rich corpus of stories and legends, some of which are written down in Spanish and the Cabécar language. Their located throughout the Southern Atlantic Coast, Limón province, Chirripó (Pacuare valley), valley of the Rio Estrella and the Talamanca reserve. As well as Ujarrás de Buenos Aires and China Kichá. Their cultural identity is probably the indigenous group with the most distinct cultural identity. The original Cabécar language is still spoken next to Spanish, but they speak mostly their own language rather than Spanish. The Cabécares have retained many of their customs and traditions and their clan ties are still very tight. Their activities consist of agriculture (coffee, cocoa and bananas), bird hunting and fishing, etc. Here are some videos of Boca Cohen: It took us over 4 hours to drive from Cartago to Limon (we took breaks to eat and stretch our legs), and then to drive the isolated rocky road to Boca Cohen, it was an adventure alright!! (specially in a 4×4 truck/jeep and the back seats are along the sides with no seat belts, and your knees are at your chest, and you are bounce around), it was fun!! (We had to drive passed/through the Dole’s banana plantation to get to the road that took us to Boca Cohen). Oh Costa Rica doesn’t have street sign of street names, so you will have to stop and ask a local how to get to your destination if you don’t know (that is really fun). The weather in Costa Rica changes for exaple in the mornings it is cool/chilly, then it warm/heats up late morning to mid-afternoon, then late-afternoon to evening it cools down again. This picture is of a community that is two to three hours walk away from Alto Cohen. This community/settlement is called Boca Cohen. Janil is an indigenous Costa Rican. Her tribe/ethnic group is Cabécar, in Alto Cohen, Valle la Estrella, in the province of Limón. We meet her at another indigenous community Boca Cohen that is more accessible by car and closest to Alto Cohen. It is also the same community that Janil went to school, and completed her high school. Janil told us that she had to walk 2 hours each way every day for school (she also told us that the walk for us would be 3 hours long). And remember these are isolated communities in the mountain rain forest jungle of Costa Rica. We had so unexpected situations happen on our trip. There was a young couple that live in two different communities. The women was in labour and on her way to the clinic. We were asked if we can drop of the young man to meet his significant other on our way out. We agreed. Then we found out the Janil went to school with the young man and that he is very interested in applying and attending Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica (TEC), he asked Jenil and Diana all the information and contract information he needed. (So hopefully the new father will be attending post-secondary education soon). And the couple had a happy new baby (it is crazy how far and isolated the journey through the hills on the rocky road to the clinic is, I was shocked and glad we were there to give them a ride. But women in these communities do that all the time, or alone at home… WOW). These are the pictures from the whole day, we had lunch at a restaurant by the beach close to the port/harbour in Limon it is a beautiful place. Everyone got to know each other a bit. It was Janil’s first time being at an ocean beach. By the time I got home it was after 10pm and I was beat. All I can say is PURA VIDA!!