GCELE – So Cagru

The Global Citizenship and Equity Learning Experience group arrived yesterday and the first person I saw was Tetiana, an Event Management student assigned to me by STAMP (Student Transition and Mentor Program) which made it hard for me to hold back my emotions. The group’s arrival for this significant project was long anticipated and it’s a big reminder of home to have fellow students here in Boruca, even if it’s just for 5 days. More to come…

At the community museum

Lourdes’ welcome

Pranay, Steven and Lloyd making the hike up to the rancho

Annisa giving her safety speech before work began

Me and Tetiana

L to R: Lloyd, Wen, Tetiana and Pranay

Rancho Build

It’s a very exciting day because 7 Centennial students on their Global Citizenship and Equity Learning Experience (GCELE) trip are arriving to help build a traditional rancho that will be the new Cultural Centre in Boruca. Here are pictures of all the work in preparation for the construction from this past week. I will post more of the GCELE group as the build progresses.

A rope is tied around the top of the tree to make sure it doesn’t fall the wrong way

Harol and Chico carrying a tree down the mountain to the truck


Unloading everything back at So Cagru

All the bark is cut off with a machete to prevent bugs from eating the wood.



The method to check if things are level is nivel con agua

Tejido de algodon (cotton weaving)

In the past, weaving was the means for women to make their own but now bags for cellphones and other small items are used by everyone in the community. There are also belts and even cute backpacks. These are the steps to a very special and traditional art here in Boruca.

cotton tree

Step 1: Pick the cotton from the trees. There are two natural colours, white and brown.

Step 2: Clean the cotton then spin it into yarn using a tool called hilar. The trick is to always keep the hilar “dancing”.

Step 3: Dye the cotton with all natural colours from plants, trees and snails.
cotton colours

Step 4: Create the desired pattern with a loom called urdidor.

Step 5: Begin the process of weaving.

On top of the display case is the headband/armband I made. I just got the hang of it as I finished. It reminds me of my mom sewing and wish I could do more of it. Visitors to Boruca can get a demonstration from Marciana or try weaving themselves.

Priscilla and Chico’s baby shower


In my last post, I mentioned Harol’s good friend Chico and the big event was his parents wedding. This time, it was a baby shower for Chico and Priscilla who are expecting a little girl very soon. There were a few familiar games like bingo, pin the tail on the donkey and using toilet paper to guess how big the expectant mom’s belly is but the rest were all new to me including putting lipstick on the father-to-be if the gift giver was not correctly guessed in 3 attempts.

It was a successful surprise and the food was great as always. All the very best to the sweet couple and their bundle of joy on the way!

Matrimonio Bruncajc

It has been such a privilege to just be here in Boruca (Bruncajc) but I was even more privileged to get the chance to attend a wedding over the weekend. The couple is Harol’s good friend Chico’s parents who decided to tie the knot after 30 years and 3 grown children. It was like any other Catholic wedding but the difference was the reception which was held outside the couple’s home under a full moon.

Trying to get a picture of Chico and his mom, the bride, dancing together (far left)

IMG_8416 Me and Harol

IMG_8392 Me and my groom 🙂

Traditional Boruca dinner

Traditional Boruca dinner

From left to right, starting at the top: beans, palmito (heart of palm), sweet fried plaintains, rice and carne (usually pork that has been smoked) wrapped in bijagua leaves, yucca and plaintains prepared like a ceviche salad.


This meal is eaten with hands, no plates or forks or knives, as a sign of respect to nature by only putting back into Earth what it naturally produced. As a pescatarian, I absolutely love the Bruncajc food (could eat it everyday) but it is only prepared for special times.


The palmito


My contribution

It is now the start of my third week here and I feel protective of this community that has welcomed me in with open arms.  When I see tourists walking around, I wonder if they are being respectful and really getting a thorough understanding of Boruca or are they just here for a picture for bragging rights that they visited an indigenous community in Costa Rica?  Before leaving Toronto, I questioned whether I would be able to make a difference, being a foreigner entering what to me is a precious area with beautiful culture and traditions.  I felt overwhelmed after Harol (my manager/brother/tour guide/interpreter) discussed my job responsibilities one evening my first week because I have a tendency to doubt the quality of my work.  Harol stated that I should make notes and provide any recommendations because for some reason, the residents tend to take advice from outsiders.  There are many moments throughout the day I get emotional when I think about my loved ones at home but I know Boruca was the right choice for me.  Hopefully I am able to contribute at least one positive thing to Boruca…


“Wise Warrior Woman”

“Wise Warrior Woman”

So = wise mature woman – cagru = warrior
Ballena Tales #33 – 15 de noviember 2013 / 14 de enero 2014

“Dona Lourdes Rojas Frasser is an educator, trainer of trainers, president of the Association of Indian tourism, and a mother to four children.

Her most important project is to empower women to enable them to meet their children’s needs, including food, clothing, education, and the pursuit of happiness.

Becoming an orphan from the age of five, she earned her livelihood by babysitting for other families. When she was 12 years old, she received some money that allowed her to go to school. After high school, in addition to taking care of her two children, she started her career as a teacher in Buenos Aires. She returned to Boruca to learn wood carving and its symbolism from the mask master Don Ismael. She became a master carver in her own right.

Currently, she is the president of the Tourist Association CAGRU, which endorses several social projects in the village. The women promote sustainable tourism through workshops, among them, textile dyeing and weaving, mask carving, and traditional cuisine. They offer overnight stays in typical accommodations called ranchos and outdoor activities such as hikes to the waterfalls and surrounding areas.

Lourdes’ leadership has allowed her to travel and visit other countries and indigenous groups. Lourdes is the proud mother to four children, all of them with professional careers.”

-By: Dagmar Reinhard