Dance of the Little Devils in the Boruca village

We had the opportunity to visit the Boruca people during the Dance of the Little Devils (Baile de los Diablitos). It’s celebrated between December 31st and January 2nd. We visited at the end of the festival on January 2nd. The festival is a reenactment of a battle between Boruca warriors (the Diablitos) and Spain (a big bull). Throughout the battle, the Boruca warriors gain in numbers and tease the bull but eventually the bull gains in strength and wins the battle. It’s not over, however, as the Boruca warriors rise from the dead and end the battle by burning the bull. It’s amazing to see the intricacies of the wooden masks carved by the Borucas. They are beautiful but also a little bit scary. The warriors remain hydrated throughout the hot day by drinking Chicha (a beer made from corn) and there are multiple breaks to fix masks or eat lunch. You get the sense that the entire community is enjoying themselves and really supporting each other.

Boruca Musicians

Sounding of the conch to commence fighting

Fighting the Bull Boruca

The bull charging at the Boruca warriors

Boruca Warriors Dance of the Little Devils

A line of masked Boruca warriors

Community in the Boruca Village

Taking on the Bull together

Some logistics: I would definitely recommend visiting during either the Baile de los Diablitos or la Mura (December 7-9). You have to pay a fee to take pictures with a real camera, around $20 or so (not a bad deal and also a good way for the community to generate some money). I did not see anyone pay to take pictures with their smartphone. To get to the Boruca reservation, you drive on Highway 2 toward San Jose from Palmar Norte for 4 bridges in the dry season. From Ojochal to Boruca, it’s about 1 hr. In the wet season, head toward Dominical and take Highway 2 southward from San Isidro for about 7 km. From Dominical to Boruca in the wet season, it’s about 2 hours. Once on the reservation, you can wander around as you like or arrange for some tours/lunch. You can contact laflordeboruca@gmail.com for reservations. If you don’t get a response, Pica Lockwood at costapica@yahoo.com is super helpful.

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