Quitirrisi – Huetar Tribe

We all went on a educational trip to Danny’s Quitirrisi Huetar Indigenous community.


Here is a little information about Costa Rican’s indigenous people:                                                         The Indigenous peoples make up about 1.7% of the Costa Rican population. Like Canadian indigenous groups, these people also have territories/reserves lands. There are roughly 24 indigenous territories located throughout the country of Costa Rica. The Indigenous people of Costa Rica have a similar story to the Indigenous people who live within Canada, the rest of North America, and Australia . They are the people who first lived on the land, prior to European and African contact. Christopher Columbus arrived in Costa Rica in 1502, around ten thousand years after the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica made the land their own. The contact with European settlers caused many of the indigenous peoples to die of diseases brought to their country by the foreigners.

The Huetar tribe’s territories are in two locations in the Province of San José. The Quitirrisi Huetar tribe is in San José, Canton de Mora (Quitirrisi de Mora), and the Zapatón Huetar tribe is in San José, Canton de Puriscal (Zapatón de Puriscal). Their cultural identity has been somewhat lost, although certain traditions, such as the Fiesta del Maíz, and the use of medicinal plants, have been preserved. The ancient Huetar were very wise people who had an infinity to nature, medicine (to the point that they could do minor surgery). As well as math, science, language, and sports, they were innovators, inventors, and visionary of their time


I was able to visit the Huetar Tribe in Quitirrisi, Thanks to one of the indigenous students named Danny that I was working with this semester in Costa Rica. Danny took all of us (our group comprised of the TEC indigenous students, and the 3 Centennial College students) on a field trip to see and learn about his tribe and community. Quitirrisi is located just 40 minutes to the west of Santa Ana, the Quitirrisí indigenous territory/reserve is the home to about 2000 Huetar Indigenous people. Quitirrisi Collage 3

The natives’ land is relatively unfertile and a varied of agriculture did not develop. Corn is one of the only products that is grown by Huetares. The Huetar’s crafts are products based on palm leaf, fodder and vegetable fibers. The Huetares are specialists in natural colors for dyeing clothes, ceramic artifacts, basket weaving, pottery, etc. they are sold at roadsides and at “ferias” which are the markets to sell their goods.

Today Huetares speak Spanish (due to the loss of their native language). However, one of their leaders, Juan Sanchez (or “Choto,” his name in Huetar, and also Danny’s uncle),IMG_20160213_132037

who shared his people’s history, culture, and challenges with our group. He has been making efforts for the last twenty years to bring back the language, customs and traditions of his people.  Juan told us that the Huetares are descendants of the Mayan’s tribe. He took us on a tour telling us the significant of all the native structures as well as their meaning, and purpose, for example the building with a thatch roof. We learned that each palm-wood pillar of the sturdy structure represents a different ancestral spirit, which makes the shelter a sacred and wondrous place.

Quitirrisi Collage 420160301_183142

Juan also showed us how they make sugar cane juice.  Quitirrisi Collage 1


We also met with Danny’s father who makes basket weaving items, and wooden statutes/figurines, etc.,

Quitirrisi Collage 2 20160301_182604then we met with Danny’s uncle who does pottery work. He gave use a demonstration on how he makes his pottery on his spinning wheel, and also by hand.

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Danny’s cousin also had a display of his craft work too. I don’t have to tell you that I bought some stuff, because I did (you would too if you saw it… so cool!).


All I can say is that I had a great day learning about Danny’s amazing tribal history and culture, they are very humble, care and genuine people, who are very welcome and happy to tell you of their culture and customs. I am very PROUD to call Danny my GOOD friend,IMG_20160213_154532 I will be sad to leave when the time comes to return home. Pura vida!!

By: Abir Hassanien                                                                                                                                     Social Service Worker                                                                                                                               Centennial College (Ashtonbee)                                                                                                           International student placement internship Costa Rica (Instituto Tecnologico de Costa

Talamanca !

So this weekend we went to Talamanca, more specifically to the Bri Bri indigenous community located in Talamanca. Lemme tell you, what an adventure. Lemme tell you first, its like a 5 hour drive to Bri Bri from where we started so this adventure started off pretty lame, waking up at 5am and being crammed in the back of a hot jeep with 7 other students for 5 hours…but not to worry, it defiantly got better.

After we finally arrived at our destination, we met with some elders from the community, who just to happened to be the grandparents of some friends of mine, and they taught us about their culture. We learnt so much from the elders my brain was exploding with information by the time we left. we learnt about their customs and beliefs, how they came to be here, their views on marriage and sooo much more. Did you know that long ago, the Bri Bri people believed that people were born from corn seeds? thats why corn was and still is considered a sacred food by the Bri Bri people. super interesting. I also learnt that many of the elders have been working with an organization to help make a Bri Bri to spanish dictionary and have even converted parts of the bible to Bri Bri, all in an effort to keep their language alive and prevent it from dying out like many of the other indigenous languages in Costa Rica. Their efforts to preserve their way of life are incredible and I really hope their language and amazing ways of life are still around for generations to come. After the learning session they told us some legends and stories of the Bri Bri people (my favorite being “the water tiger”) , I won’t recite any as they are far too long but I implore you to google a few, they are extremely cool.

The next day (sunday) was just as interesting at the first. We met this man (who’s name I dont remember) who I found extremely curious. He grew cocoa beans and produced his own 100 % organic chocolate. Despite being an curious fellow, I also found him to be very wise. He told us (and this is word for word) “Human beings today are confused, we used to be all about togetherness and unity and respected the circle of life and the world but now we are all confused, we are all square. we cannot agree on anything and we live a square life, square houses, square doors, square mind. we no longer respect the circle and that is why we are failing”. A wise man indeed.

After having lunch and discussing the world with the wise chocolate man we went off to have some fun. Cause after all, what’s work without a little fun. So we hiked off to the local waterfall, as all the locals do, and spent some time cooling off in the beautiful mist of the waterfall, while mentally preparing outselves for the 5 hour trip back to Cartago.

A great end to a great weekend, in the beautiful place that is Talamanca !

p.s. we also saw a sloth 🙂


  • By Jason Bridgemohan


Costa Rica’s Indigenous community Boca Cohen

          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.  Bocha CohenJanil 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). Janil Bocha Cohen.jpgThese 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.


Limon Beach.jpg  By the time I got home it was after 10pm and I was beat.  All I can say is PURA VIDA!!




I have share an insight about an important date, August 15th, 2015.  A time where Costa Rica honours all Mamá.  There was a significant event that guided me to write this post.  Feliz día de la Madre!

By: Sherry Ing, GEO International Internship Costa Rica Summer 2015 participant.

Pillow embroidery
My host mom’s embroidery stitch work. She had planted beautiful roses and fragrant flowers in her home. She loves flowers.

On August 15th, 2015, Costa Rica celebrates Mother’s Day.  I like to take this time to blog about this important date.  To all the Mothers out there, and members of society who had to take on the Mother role for whatever reason they have.  Feliz día de la Madre!   When I was in Costa Rica just one week from today, the children at the two elementary schools that I worked at made Mother’s Day card.  I had the duty of helping the children with the upcoming English Festival and Spelling Bee.  For their impromptu speech, the children had to write and talk about their family or favorite things.  This also included their own drawings when they described a family member or their favorite thing.  What I noticed is each child’s drawing.  But one particular one stood out to me.  It was one of the young boy’s family.  He drew two male holding hands together.  I later found out that he had lost his mother and it was only him and his dad.  On this week, for most its a great time to share the joy and celebrate our moms together, but for others its sadness and a reminder and longing for Mom that they shared a short time period together.  When I said goodbye to the children that I worked with, I made sure that they felt loved and cared for.  I hugged each and everyone.  With this said, it is important to hug.  As a Massage Therapy student, hugging is just as important in healing then any other form of treatment.  It is an alternative form of therapeutic touch.  If everyone in the world received a hug each day, their health will be up a level.  It is very therapeutic and the Science behind it is that we releases hormones, such as Endorphines.  Which in turns gives us happiness.  During my time in Costa Rica, my host mother role was very important.  She made sure each of her son was feed, kissed each one on their forehead before they went out for their soccer game, and made sure everything is in order in the household.  Para mamá.   Feliz día de la Madre!

Hola! Llano: a short Llano Bonito visual essay


By: Sherry Ing, GEO International Internship Costa Rica Summer 2015 participant

This is a brief summary of a short visual essay of my global experience internship in Llano Bonito, Costa Rica.

a Llano Bonito visual essay

The 17 km Walk

The 17 Km Walk


By Sherry Ing, currently interning in Costa Rica

I have given an insight on my 5 hours walk to the Basilica in Cartago with two Costa Rica friends.  At first we were strangers to each other, but as we walked together we were able to motivate and keep each other moving.

On August 2, two Costa Rica friends and I decided to walk 5 hours to the Basilica in Cartago, the old capital of Costa Rica.  The previous day, hundreds of Costa Rica people came from all directions, South, West, East and North.  It was also a holiday and a time of celebration and many people travel here to do the pilgrimage walk or visit the Basilica on these two dates.   The road we took was after San Marcos to Cartago.  We did not come across many walkers but a few.  On our way we met three young boys in their bright soccer team shirts and shoes.  They also had to stop to massage their legs, one boy barely could walk without restriction.  During this 17 km walk we saw many abandoned umbrellas and we walked the path that once was called the mountain of death.  Its called this because the paved road never existed and people easily slipped and fell to their death.  Once we got to the Basilica de Los Angeles, there were many people.  On one side there were food stands and the other the line up to the church.  You have the option of walking into it or be on your knees.  The day was complete with a view of a soccer game in front of a school that once was a government building.  The 17 km walk could not have happened if it were not for the two companion I had with me to do it together.  We made sure we had something to eat, if anyone needed a break, and taken turns carrying bags.  We were behind one another, with one person leading in front to keep our pace going.  Would you consider a 17km walk with complete strangers?  How would you keep each other motivated?



This is my compiled list of five things to do in Llano Bonito, Costa Rica. As well as, it can be a guide for making the best out of your rural living-condition experience.

By: Sherry Ing, Centennial College Massage Therapy student currently in Costa Rica.

  1. HikingOn your sole, get set, GO! In Llano Bonito, there are routes and passages that you can discover by foot with a hiking companion ofcourse. I personally wouldn’t go alone, two mind is better then one. I like to hear someone with a different view set as me and can point out things that I might otherwise have not seen with my own eyes. Along the unmarked path, sometimes there are no sidewalks, along the hills, you can get a taste of the edible berries and fruits from trees and bushes. Not sure what they are, but its good to have a local person guide you on what fruits that can be eaten. An unfamiliar fruit I had tasted was a “Manzana de agua” (translated as water apple in Spanish) Everyday the weather is different and you can always guarantee that the same place looks different. Sometimes you can be walking through the mist and fog, or have lightning and thunder in the background.
  1. Fotbol FieldGoal! There is a solo outdoor fótbol (soccer in Spanish) field in Llano Bonito. It is bigger then the indoor soccer field located within the elementary school of Llano Bonito. Every Friday evenings, the female and male soccer players would have a game there. My homestay brothers play a family soccer game every Sunday with their cousins after church in the outdoor field. Sometimes there is a serious soccer game played on a Sunday there. People of all ages would gather to watch it behind the fence or sit on top of their cars.
  1. Play dress up and find the needle in a haystack. There are little shops that you can find and buy used clothing. It is sometimes San Pablocalled “tiende de ropa americana” ¢200-¢300. You can find interesting patterns and fabrics from the mountain pile of clothings. It really is a workout and like finding a needle in a haystake as I mostly watch the girls pull clothing out of the pile and help with the pulling and stacking as well.
  1. Its good to get out of the district once in awhile. Take the bus to the nearest canton, such as San Pablo or San Marcos. The cost for a bus ticket is approximately ¢900 Colones.
  1. Attention all Coffee Lover out there, visit a coffee plantation and learn how its processed and how they do it here in Llano Bonito. It’s a 24 hour non stop coffee assembly during November to February and sometimes March. Local family and workers that come from the nearest country such as Nicaragua during this time to help out with the coffee picking and the production. It is also the summer season and time of harvest for the coffee plants.

Facts about living in Costa Rica

Hello! Pura Vida to everyone. In this post I am going to sum up 6 things I have learned during my stay in Costa Rica so far. Hopefully this will be helpful for whoever plans to come to this beautiful green country after me.

  • Pura Vida. Pura Vida means literally everything. Whatever happens and whatever you do, you can always say Pura Vida. It translates to “pure life” and you can say it in place of good morning, hello, goodbye and many other things. This phrase represents the simple life we live in Costa Rica. Your bus is an hour off schedule? Pura Vida!
  • You are going to sweat like you have never sweat before in your entire life. The simple fact that you are alive means that you are going to sweat. It doesn’t matter what you are doing. You are going to sweat.
  • In Costa Rica you can find the most enormous insects you could ever imagine and the smallest of insects. You can find a moth the size of Michael Jordan’s hand or an ant as small as the tip of a pencil.
  • Mosquito Nets. Check your bed out before going to sleep. There might be a critter waiting for you to say goodnight- like a tarantula, or snake. This is why we have mosquito nets. Pura Vida!
  • Speaking of bugs, bug spray will be your best friend.
  • Rice and Beans. Gallo Pinto is the typical dish in Costa Rica which includes rice and beans. You will see it everywhere and eat it everywhere at any time- breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have eaten more rice and beans in these two months more than I have in my entire life.

To finish, I am going to show you some more pictures!

-Alberto Fabra, Project management




I have documented and shown a day into my life as an intern in Llano Bonito at an elementary school called San Rafael and what my Monday looks like last week.

By Sherry Ing, Centennial College Massage Therapy student currently in Costa Rica


Woken up to the sound of my brothers leaving for work. The Mother Hen is always busy in the kitchen early in the morning to prepare us breakfast.  I ate a traditional breakfast called pinto: fried eggs, rice with beans, and sour cream on the side.


Started work at the San Rafael elementary school and ended at 11:30 am. The children just returned from a 2 week vocation. We helped the English teacher with the kids by reviewing potential topics for their upcoming test. We utilized active learning. I had the children play a mini competition between each other when they reviewed their shapes. I drew a robot and a house and gave instructions to the children to construct the same drawings by dictating in English to them a shape to draw.


Coffee PlantationWe visited and toured Coope Llano Bonito coffee plantation. This is a fair trade certified coffee plantation in Llano Bonito. Fair trade certification is a set of guidance that the plantation follow so their workers are treated fairly in terms of work payment and working condition along with how the coffee process is done. Our tour guide is an Engineer and showed the group around the plantation. He talked about the grading of coffee and the stock exchange in New York, U.S regarding coffee prices. During their busy season, mid November to February, sometimes into March, the plantation runs 24 hours. They have machines that reduces the number of manual labours in the process. There is a hot and humidity control systems that the coffee go through.


Hiked up the mountains, came across trails of ants carrying miniature leaf cuttings along the way.

5:00 pm

Visited a friend and their friendly Iguana. We did some cardio workout as well and lyrical dance with her daughter to her favourite songs by her favourite pop idol.


Returned home for dinner. I had choyote, potatoes, fried plantains, white rice, red beans, and a side of aquacate.

Internship in Costa Rica – Villas Mastatal

Hello everyone!

My name is Alberto, I am a student of Project Management at Centennial College. I am doing my internship at Villas Mastatal in Costa Rica. Mastatal is a small village (about 80 people) in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle, midway between the capital (San Jose) and the Pacific Ocean.

Villas Mastatal is an eco-sustainable organic farm owned by a friendly and young family, Javier, Raquel and their little son Andres (just 4 years old!) I have been here since July 1st but I haven’t been able to post because the Internet connection here is quite bad. Although it is frustrating at times to be without wifi, it is very peaceful to feel completely disconnected in a small paradise.

Butterflies The place where we do yoga in the afternoons!

There are several volunteers at the farm who help the family to maintain it. When I got here we were sixteen, now we are like eight, it depends, as all of them are travelers coming in and out. I have met so many different and unique types of people from all over the world on the finca (farm). We are all very different but have similar characteristics. Villas Mastatal attracts similar people who are spontaneous, open-minded, and adventurous. We are like a family here and switch off helping with meals and cleaning. To help with meals we go out on the farm to collect the leaves for the salad and other fruits and vegetables.    Some of the work we do

They also do have several small-scale projects in the farm, such as:

  • Create a butterfly garden
  • Compost and eco-friendly toilets
  • Protect and fix trails at La Cangreja National Park
  • Design and construct a greenhouse for tomatoes
  • Other necessary stuff that needs to be done to maintain the farm, like digging, shoveling out, planting, etcetera.