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Boruca Indian Masks

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

I haven’t found shopping to be much of an activity in Costa Rica…it’s hard to find nice little shops that have true Costa Rican made items. You can find all the touristy things with Costa Rica or Pura Vida on them, but finding nice things is a little more challenging. Last year I had read about the Diablo or Boruca Mask, but didn’t have a change to buy one. This year we were in the area where the indigenous people live who make these beautiful masks. Diablo masks reflect the Costa Rican rainforest and are made by the Borucan Indians that still have a village in southwest Costa Rica, just east and a little further south than Uvita.


The masks originated during the Spanish Conquest. Villagers learned the Spanish were afraid of the devil, so in an attempt to protect their village, they wore “diablo” (devil) masks. They failed to chase the Spanish away, but were able to save their village and retain their own culture. Today, the Boruca artisans carve and paint three types of masks…the diablo, the ecologico, which represents a stern-faced shaman surrounded by the flora and fauna found in the wilderness around Boruca and the combinado, which combines both the diablo and the ecologico. The masks were originally carved out of cedar, but are now carved out of balsa wood, because it’s a fast-growing native tree. It goes from seedling to harvestable in three years; each tree can yield as many as 30 masks.  

The village of Boruca has a current population of 1,500-2,000 people, who live on the indigenous reservation. Sixty percent of the residents make their living as artisans of these masks and other textiles. They give tours of their village and workshops, but we didn’t have time to go this year. It’ll definitely be on my list of things to do on another visit to Costa Rica.

Traditional Diablo Masks

Combinado Masks
Ecologico Masks
These were some of the masks for sale on the beach in Dominical
Here are the ones I bought to hang on Texas Pearl
This video shows how the masks are made and painted.

Feb. 2 – Resort Day in Uvita, Costa Rica

“Fill your sand pail with life’s hidden treasures.” –Author Unknown
We’re staying a nice boutique hotel above Uvita, called Vista Ballena. It has a wonderful view of the ocean and a spectacular pool. For these reasons and the fact that it’s quite warm…we decided to take a resort day. We spent the whole day sitting around the pool…with an occasional dip in the water to cool off. When we planned this trip we thought we’d spend more time at the beach, and there are some great beaches in the area, but walking on the beach isn’t very appealing when the daytime temperatures are in the 90s and the sand is dark. Hopefully we’ll have more beach time on the next vacation.

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Feb. 1 – Uvita, Costa Rica

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls” – Anais Nin

Our third stop on the Pacific coast is Uvita. This little village is about 10 miles south of Dominical. It’s home to the Cola de Ballena (Whale’s Tail) and the closest village to Marino Ballena National Park. The tiny village consists of some dirt roads lined with farms, guesthouses, gift shops, a cluster of strip malls along the main highway and a scattering of hotels in the jungle-covered hills above. It’s a very low key area…definitely not the heavy touristy beach area you’ll find around JacoTamarindo Beach or the Nicoya Peninsula. Many expatriates from North America and Europe have made Uvita their home. Tours available in the area range from whale watching, ATV tours, surfing lessons and snorkeling excursions…and of course there are waterfalls to explore.

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Jan. 30 – Pozo Azul Waterfall

“Traveling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like Breathing.” – Gayle Foreman

After the last two, very busy days, we decided to relax at our house and take it easy all morning. By noon we were getting a little restless and decided to find a cool place to explore for the afternoon. The weather in this part of Costa Rica is very, very warm this time of year. I guess it always is, so going to the beach was out…it’s just too hot to go there except in the morning.

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Jan. 31 – Dominical, Costa Rica

“Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” – Ray Bradbury

We’ve really enjoyed our time in Dominical…maybe it’s the house we have more than the town itself. We’ve enjoyed sitting on the deck watching the birds, the sunset and I’ve really enjoyed the pool. We’ve done a few strenuous activities, but mostly we’ve been unwinding and relaxing. Here are a few pictures of the town of Dominical and a few beach pictures. We haven’t spent too much time on the beach, because it’s just too dang hot! 
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Jan. 29 – Nauyaca Waterfalls

“Wanderlust: n. a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world
Today we drove up to Nauyaca Waterfalls, they’re one of the main attractions of the southern region in Costa Rica. Again like many other places in the mountains above the coastal towns, the drive getting there is part of the adventure. Although most of the road is paved, it’s very windy and cars were fly around each curve…several times I thought someone would hit us head on. The falls are located in a canyon and there are two main falls. The top falls have a drop of about 147′ and the lower falls are a stepped falls that drop about 65′. The lower falls forms a natural deep pool that’s a great place to cool off on a hot day.

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Jan. 28 – Rafting Adventure

“Travel doesn’t become adventure until you leave yourself behind” – Marty Rubin

Today’s adventure took us on a rafting trip down the Sevegre River. It’s considered the most pristine river in Costa Rica, because there are no factories, power plants or manufacturing sites to pollute the water and only about 1,000 people live on the banks. We met our tour at Dominical Surf Adventures in Dominical at 8:00…kind of early for people on vacation.

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Jan. 27 – Catching Up

“Live your life by a compass not a clock.” – Stephen Covey
Today I’m going to try and catch up. There are photos I wanted to share, but I just didn’t have space for them in the earlier posts. We’re enjoying our time in Dominical…wandering around town, enjoying the coastal views and relaxing at our amazing house. We even went white water rafting, but more on that tomorrow. These pictures are mostly from Quepos.

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Jan. 26 – Dominical, Costa Rica

“To escape and sit quietly on the beach – that’s my idea of paradise.” –Emilia Wickstead

We moved today to Dominical, our second stop along the Pacific coast, it’s a beach-front town about 28 miles south of Quepos. The town began as a small fishing village but has grown into a tourist attraction, mostly for surfers. We’re actually staying about five miles north of Dominical in a wonderful house that over looks the ocean…a little out of the way, but very relaxing. The area between Quepos and Dominical is dotted with African oil palm plantations which produce palm oil.
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Jan. 25 – Los Campesinos Ecolodge

“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” —Gabby Basora

Stan and I like to look for activities that are a little off-the-beaten-path. We’re not the normal tourist that like to visit every museum or touristy place, in fact those are the places we try to avoid. So after our adventure yesterday at Manual Antonio National Park, it was time to get away from the crowds. 

I do research to find local places and things that will lead us to something different and less crowded. In my research I found Los Campesinos, it’s a little known community-based ecotourism organization deep in the mountains north of Quepos. It took us about an hour to get there, up a mountain road that was a bit bumpy and steep, but no wear near as bad as the road to Rio Celeste last year. The drive itself was part of the adventure…it took us pass charming Tico (local) villages and we saw some beautiful lush green sights.
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