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HomeArts & CultureWho Was The Costa Rica Cacique Garabito?

Who Was The Costa Rica Cacique Garabito?

No different than any other heavenly place in Costa Rica, Garabito is of magnificent beauty in its abundance of sprawling diverse nature and beaches. Many have probably visited this area and not even realized that Garabito is where they were enjoying their day. It is a mecca for tourism, digital nomads, and weekend vacationers escaping the city.

Garabito is a canton within Costa Rica, on the north-central Pacific Coast, one of 83 across the country. Costa Rica is first divided into its 7 provinces which are then subdivided into its cantons, municipalities that are governed locally.  The canton of Garabito is divided into two districts, one being the most recognized of Jaco, the epicenter of tourism for the area, and the other of Tarcoles.

The biologically rich landscape of Garabito consists of beaches, rainforests, and Costa Rica’s exotic wildlife making it a paradise for all those fortunate enough to spend time here. Whether you want the volcanic black sand beaches of Jaco’s seaside town or the laid-back vibes of Playa Hermosa’s dark sand beach, Garabito is world-famous for its surf and waves for a day at the water. Playa Blanca is just a short drive outside of Herradura and boasts the tropical white sand beaches of a true paradise escape.

One of the most visited and well-known destinations in Garabito could possibly be the infamous crocodile bridge on the River Tarcoles where you are sure to see crocodiles basking in the sun on the shores below.

Carara National Park is so extensive it is situated within two cantons, Garabito as well as Turrubares. The region’s rainforest is renowned for its scarlet macaws and bursting with plenty of the country’s loved wildlife of toucans, monkeys, sloths, deer, and anteaters.

Not only is Garabito an area of impressive flora and fauna of diverse habitats but it also holds a rich history. The canton found its name from Cacique Garabito, chief and king of the Huetar indigenous people. 

Cacique was the name given to the chiefs who were in rule. Cacique Garabito reigned over the Huetares in the 16th century believed to be from 1561 to 1574 and the area which we see today as the central valley towards the coastal Pacific.  Within San Jose’s Calle 36 you can find a monument of Cacique Garabito in recognition of his monarch as well as the Garabito city hall.  

Cacique Garabito was notable for his efforts against the Spaniards with a legacy of being unrestrained and ferocious. His route of resistance during his rule created many legends to evolve and pass down. Relentless, not surrendering until eventual defeat to the Spanish was unlike that of others who chose to retreat and find solace back into the mountains of Costa Rica evading the Spanish’s force.

Huetares were considered to be one of the more organized indigenous populations at that time as well as recognized for being some of the most powerful. However, with diseases foreign to the indigenous people sickness and death played a part in the numbers within their population. To this day there is a significant downsize with a population closer to 1,000.

Members within the Heutares tribe reside primarily in two different locations within the province of San Jose. Quitirrisi Huetar tribe is located between Mora and Puriscal canton at the Quitirrisí Indigenous Reserve while a second village is in Zapatón making up the Zapatón Huetar tribe.

Through the years it has been difficult to main their cultural identity and the eventual extinction of their Chibchan language and now primarily speaking Spanish has not helped with the preservation of their heritage.  Hope remains within some who hold on to their native traditions and beliefs that it can be passed on to the generations.

The Huetares artisan skills can be found at the feria’s and roadside stands filled with their masterful gifts of ceramics and pottery making as well as intricate basket weaving keeping their legacy alive sharing it with others.

Approximately 2. 4 % of Costa Rica makes up the indigenous people’s population in the country.  The Heutares are just one of eight indigenous groups within Costa Rica. The self-sufficient Bribri tribe finds themselves isolated amongst the Talamanca mountains and southern coast of Costa Rica. As a result, the remoteness has allowed them to continue the preservation of their indigenous culture.

Outside of La Fortuna, the Maleku indigenous people live with only a small number within their population, less than 1,000. Much of the area in which they call home is not owned by themselves, which they aspire to achieve, with currently many non-indigenous members residing alongside.  With the well-known Fiesta de Los Diablitos, many may recognize the sophisticated and carved masks and artwork of the Boruca tribe.

Relocating from Panama the Guayami indigenous people remain close to Panama, residing near the border. Also in southern Costa Rica, the Térraba people continue to live in their small numbers as their language continues to be lost through the generations. Although a low population remains the community is able to be self-sufficient and can rely upon themselves.

The traditional people of Cabécar have been able to continue to have a larger population than other indigenous groups within Costa Rica. Living isolated, strongly holding onto much of their cultural identity they are self-sufficient, growing what they need to feed themselves, birding and fishing, using natural medicine and the earth’s natural clock of the sun.

The Chorotegas translates into fleeing people from their history of leaving southern Mexico in search of safety in Costa Rica, they are also known as the Matambú. The Guanacaste region became their new home where their talents in ceramic and pottery have made them renowned.

Costa Rica’s indigenous people keep the country’s past alive, they are to be respected and admired for their strength, ingenuity, and history within the country. As we walk through the jungles and river trails or lively streets in and around Garabito we must not forget that our path has been walked before. That there is a story and tale in each step we take in the lands that once a cacique ruled.

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