A visit to Bribripa Kaneblo

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 12:00 - 

The Bribri indigenous communities in Costa Rica are in fact modern Indians who try to protect their believes and traditions. In a world where pineapples and bananas are big business, this is not an easy job. However, the preservation of their knowledge and culture is important. Sibu, their God, is nature, and not a mysterious, dominant man. That is why they cannot accept deforestation by large companies as it will kill Sibu, who lives in every living thing from men to plants.

Me and my sister went to visit the Bribri in order to find out first hand who they are and what they stand for. There are several Bribri tribes in Costa Rica, each with their own specific characteristics, but they all have a deep respect for fauna, flora, human kind and Sibu in common. Not so long ago there was one overall king for all Bribri groups in the country but rumor has it that he was murdered by big fruit companies in a battle for land ownership. Reason enough for us to pay them a visit.

We started off in the forest, learning about medicinal plants which the Bribri use when they are ill or injured. Pausing near a wild cacao tree, we listened to a parable that gave us some more insight into their way of thinking and their peaceful vision on life.

Grain grinding is an important thing, not only because it provides food but also because it is a measure to know whether or not a girl is ready to go her own way and start her own family. The Bribri believe that if you can balance the heavy stone in a very controlled way, grinding the grain efficiently, you are mature enough. Since my sister has children, she had something to proof. Fortunately, she passed the test.

We continued through the mountainous territory of Bribripa Kaneblo. There is a natural spring on the grounds that provides them with drinking water and which of course they need to protect against pollution. Along the way we asked many questions and our Bribri guide told us all we wanted to know.

And so, we arrived at the house of Sibu. Although the house is built differently than the wooden houses the Bribri inhabit now, the house of Sibu is not a tourist attraction at all. It is in fact still used every day to practice their believe. We were not aloud to take pictures inside as it is a holly place. However, inside this house we found out all about what Sibu says concerning life on earth and what happens to us after death.

Once back at the community centre, our guide’s wife gave us delicious fresh fruit juice and a healthy meal. His niece, a little girl with long, black hair and a big smile, came by the table to show us her most beautiful dress, made for traditional dances. We received a spoon with the food but ended up eating mostly with our hands as cutting with a spoon was not so easy. This did not seem to be awkward or impolite here at all.

Afterwards, we dropped by the construction site where houses for volunteers and international students were being built. Sometimes they come here to help out in several projects or to study nature.


After learning some Bribri words, teenagers of the village dressed up in their traditional dress and performed traditional dances while our guide provided the music. It was a perfect end to a very unique and interesting day.

Would you like to meet the Bribri and find out more? Contact hello@yugentours.com. We are happy to assist.


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