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For over 4,000 years, the art of ceramics have, in one way or another, stayed with the Guanacaste people since their origin in pre-columbian times -- from traditional use at home -- up to their current production of replicas and decorative pieces. In Guatil & San Vicente of Nicoya in Costa Rica, this ancestral heritage has been handed down from generation-to-generation. Up until the 50’s, the largest production and sales of the pieces were for traditional use at home. These products were very well known throughout the region and the materials to produce the products were extracted from mountains in the same area.
This meant a lot to the people of the area because it gave them an income, especially the women, who were in charge of manufacturing the griddles, pots, jars and other pieces used at home. The situation changed in the 60’s and the 70’s when men were integrated to the production manufacturing replicas of pre-columbian and decorative pieces that were very much liked by the growing tourism Costa Rica was beginning to experience.
In the Community of Guaitil, more than half of the population older than 12 years old is involved in the production of ceramics. Some are in charge of collecting the materials in the mountains, others give shape to the sculptures and others paint them and sell the pieces. There’s even a group in charge of collecting the wood necessary to use in the traditional mood ovens that are used in finishing the process of the pieces.
The pieces are made in
the houses of the people and in community workshops where the young
people learn how to be an artisan. One of the strategies
that they’re using to promote these beautiful pieces is the Eco
Museum, where this is used to preserved the arts and the learning
process. Currently, part of the
production is positioned in national and international markets, but
because they’re not getting a lot of visitors and therefore,
not getting an income. Some of the people, especially the young ones,
are migrating to work for major hotels in Guanacaste.
This is where Tropical Adventures comes in. Our way to help them out is to help expose them to the tourist market and to help provide them with more volunteer help to assist them with tours and translations. It would truly be a tragedy to lose such a beautiful and long-lasting piece of our culture here. In this process, our volunteers are able to learn how to manufacture these beautiful pieces, live with an artisan family, enjoy their unique and delicious food, participate in community activities and finish with a big dinner created to present the pieces that they have made with their host families and enjoy a night of celebration with all the people in town.
If you're interested in more information about our Guaitil project, please contact us at 1-800-832-9419 from the US or Canada, email us or call +506-25-74-44-12 internationally.
Watch a video from Guaitil.