Despite being right at hand, the small gift shops of the majority of hotels have a limited and many times, expensive selection of handcraft to offer. So, if the travel itinerary allows the time, it is well advised to recommend your clients visiting the famous town of Sarchí.
Nestled in the hills bordering the Central Valley and surrounded by coffee and sugar cane plantations, Sarchí, is both an encounter with handcrafts as well as with the traditional agriculture of Costa Rica.
Many years ago, with the expansion of coffee production towards the highlands surrounding the Central Valley and the consequent accumulation of mud along the roads during the months of harvest; farmers of the region were forced to replace the traditional spoke wheels of Spanish colonial origin, with more massive wheels built with six to ten triangular hardwood wedges, to brave the roads. At the turn of the 18th century in the town of Sarchí, a tradition of painting the wheels and ox-carts began.
Initially with rustic arabesque designs and later with colorful floral and geometric shapes, the typical Costa Rican Ox-Cart came to dot the countryside and to become a tradition that has been declared by UNESCO as Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Since then, the custom of adorning ox-carts with colorful designs has been handed down from generation to generation. Unique designs and products produced by many families seem to display an infinite range of styles, colors, sizes and uses. Today, local family owned shops of Sarchí will even package the ox-cart and send it any where in the world.
Local artisans branched out into the production of furniture achieving such high standards of production that upon learning that a specific chair was made in Sarchí, any Costa Rica will recognize it to be a piece of extremely good quality and production. And this is why many visitors seek them out.
As Sarchí grew into a town of artisans, it soon began to add to its vast catalog of souvenirs. Woodworking began to include woodturning with articles that range from glasses, cups, centerpieces and hostess tables to fine game boards and pieces for chess and checkers, jewelry boxes of all sizes and shapes as well as fantastic wall mounts that highlight the flora and fauna of Costa Rica.
Sarchí has also become a showcase to exhibit handcrafts from many other regions of Costa Rica. From San Vicente and Guatíl, Chorotegan potters send their most exquisite indigenous ceramics while the leather artisans of Puriscal send fine leatherworks for equestrian use, of special note are their beautiful saddles. From Boruca in the South Pacific region of the country, Indians send precious balsa wood masks, carved and painted for the yearly Los Diablitos Festival while ‘palos de lluvia’, evocative of the torrential storms of the Caribbean, adorn the display with the unique colors of that coastal region.
You can offer the visit to Sarchí as half a day tour or you can combine it with a visit to the Poas Volcano National Park, making a full day trip to your clients.
We can also add Sarchí on your program as a stop when having a private transfer from San Jose to Arenal for instance.
Contact us and we will help you planning how to add this wonderful attraction, to your clients itinerary.