An exclusive look into the lives of Costa Rica’s largest indigenous group
The guest who stays with us at Pacuare Lodge aren’t just tourists, they are travelers and adventurers, the types of people who love to soak up the culture of the country they are visiting. They want to eat the local cuisine and go where the locals go. At Pacuare Lodge, we offer our guests a chance to go to the local village and visit with the locals. And, we’re not just talking about taking a cab to the neighboring town. We’re talking about a trek through the jungle to meet the Cabécar Indigenous Community. This is a rare experience that any adventurous traveler will want to experience.
Visiting the Cabécar community from Pacuare Lodge is something unique that only we can offer our guests. Since the beginning of building our eco-lodge, we’ve been working closely with the local villagers, hunters, farmers, and indigenous communities. Our approach to sustainable hospitality has led us to adopt many of the traditions and customs. We are happy to take our villagers on an exclusive guided experience to the Cabécar community inside the Nairi Awari Indigenous Reserve.
Cabécar Indigenous Community
The Cabécar tribe is one of the largest indigenous groups living in Costa Rica. They live in scattered villages throughout the Talamanca Mountains. However, they’re not so much villages as they are separate family units. Each family lives in the traditional housing that can be many miles away from the next family. The whole Cabécar community tries to live in harmony with nature, a practice that we strive to achieve here at the Lodge.
Although they do not have property lines or fences, each family has their own plot of land where they grow all the traditional crops. And, they only hunt or fish to feed themselves and their families.
The Cabécar people will typically grow corn, pejibaye, bananas, plantains, cassava root, as well as many herbs. They’ll use everything that grows around them, only taking enough to feed themselves and their families. This sustainable way of life has led the Cabécar people to live long and healthy lives.
The Medicine Man
Each reservation has a Jawa, also called a Medicine Man. This is a position that is passed down from generation to generation, from eldest son to eldest son. The Jawa practices natural medicine, using herbs and spices and everything that nature gives us to fight illness and disease.
Examples of natural medicine
At Pacuare Lodge, we have learned a thing or two from our indigenous neighbors about natural cures for minor ailments. We often offer our guests Gavilana to soothe stomach problems (it’s sour, but it works,) Maracas flower to repel mosquitos, or an Ortiga leaf to soothe aching muscles after the long hike to the Cabécar village (it’s nature’s answer to the heating pad!)
Jishtu mashkina, please refrain from taking photos
Although the Cabécar people have their own language, they do speak Spanish. However, when we are visiting their community, we try to pay as much respect for their culture and their beliefs. You are allowed to soak up everything, but taking photos is not allowed. The Cabécar people believe that taking a photo is like taking a part of their soul, and we ask that you respect their faith. However, we do encourage you to greet anyone you meet with a cheerful “Jishtu Mashkina”, which is how you say “Good Morning” in their native tongue.
Exclusive Costa Rican Experience
Pacuare Lodge is one of the few places in Costa Rica that offers guests a chance to visit the Cabécar village and meet the indigenous people of Costa Rica.