bribri indigenous culture Costa Rica
29.10.2010 -32 °C
Inauguration of the Conical House in Alto Katsi
On the first week of October 2010, Justo sent me a message through his brother Danilo,who works on the town of BriBri, telling me that on October 23rd 2010 would be held the inauguration of the Conical House that they finish building last month in Alto Katsi Talamanca, and that I was not only invited but that I needed to be there.
So on Friday October 22 left San Ramon at 4, 30am, direction: the Caribean.
I enjoyed the drive except for a part that they call the Surqui, a road that goes through Braulio Carrillo National Park’s mountain, and is also called ¨la Carretera dela Muerte¨, or ¨the Road of Death¨, because regularly rocks fall from the mountain and smash on to the cars, also rain and fog some days make it difficult. This is a part of the road that I refuse to drive a night. But everything went ok.
I arrived at San Juan around 11:30am, leave the car with Don Santos (an elder Bribri that lives by the river and for a couple of dollars and 2 cigars keeps my car secure when I am in the mountain.
Took the pirogue to cross the Rio Telire (with all the donations that I was taking to the people of Alto Katsi) and got to the other side around 12:15pm.
Now,waiting for Chaco´s truck to come and take me to Katsi, the truck came around 1pm and left around 1:30pm.
About 40 minutes later he left me outside of Katsi where Diego, Bernadita, Mariana with her horse, Lewis, , where waiting to help me carry the donations to Alto Katsi.
Some 30 minutesand a good sweat later, I was seating down in the house of Justo and Marina with glass of fresh squeezed orange juice in my hand, it felt pretty good going down.
The rest ofthe day when pretty easy, people were coming to say hello and talk about thebig fiesta for tomorrow.
Marina gave me dinner at 6pm, and then when up to the lodge, read a bit and when to sleep.
Next morning got up around 6 am, made me some coffee, went to bath, then to Justo´shouse to find out the schedule for the rest of the day.
Went around fixing a few things that need to be done, in the school´s kitchen and bathroom,then around 11 am people started coming in.
This was avery big deal for the Bribris as this was the first Conical House built on the area for many years, the next one is in Amubri, so for the small community around alto Katsi this was It.
Around six small communities live in and around the mountains of Alto Katsi in a perimeter of about 10 km.
Around12:15pm 5 Shamans came down from the mountains and things started moving.
I think December 5, 2010 in Costa Rica is the day for municipalities’ election, so politics are everywhere, a group of local politicians for the canton of Talamanca lead by Melvin Cordero (who want to be the next mayor of Talamanca) was there, and they where the ones who started the show with their presentation. I liked what I heard and Melvin appears to be one of the good guys.
Ho,something important in the Bribri traditions, you could not have a reunion of any type without Chicha, the Chicha is the Indian wine, basically made of corn or peach palm fruit (pejibaye) that is fermented, and trust me, they go for it.
So the chicha started flowing.
After the political speeches, the Shaman Don Esteban Morales along with the Shamans Justo Torres, Irineo Fernandez and Shaman Julian Morales ,started explaining in Bribri the significance of the Conical house and why is built the way it is, as everything as an important relation to the gods and their daily life.
The Conical House as 2 parts, the physical part which is build of material and the invisible part that is a mirror of the build one. On the physical part live the god Sibo that is the creator of earth; on the underground mirror part live Sura the creator of Indigenous peoples. On the tallest mountain you will find Surayom, where Sibo and Sura did the fiesta for the creation of the Bribri and the Cabecare.
After that they when on telling traditional stories of the Bribri, on how the indigenous people where created and why, the story of the creation of the sea, the story why Sibo created the deer to be the fastest animal on the mountain, and the story of the stick that changed on to a snake and so on. And many others stories of the Bribris.
And the Chicha keep up flowing.
After the stories came the singing by the Shamans accompanied by the drums, many spiritual chants and some from daily life.
I was very happy and interested on the songs, as I have read in many places on the internet and some printed stories that very few people left know the Bribri singing, it was reassuring to see that contrary to some popular belief, some people still know and pass them down to others. After the singing the dancing started.
The Bribri have a dance that they call the dance of the Sorbon, the men make a circle, arms on next guy´s shoulder and start moving in a circle, first slow then fast under the direction of a Shaman, going in one direction then the other and this go on until the are out of breath. Later they invite the women to join in the dance,the women cannot break the circle and put their arms on the men´s shoulder and stay behind them.
I asked Don Esteban to give me the significance of that dance, and he said that the dance of the Sorbon was the dance of the vulture as he does fly in circle watching the earth below
This dance was to remember him and thank him, as the vulture was the one who put the last piece of the roof on the house of the god of the sky Sibo.
I also asked Don Esteban why the women can only join the dance later, and he said that his the way things are because women were created after the men, so they come in later in the dance.
And theChicha keep flowing.
Dinner was served around 5pm for everybody, rice with chicken that was very tasty with some Indian bread.
Later on that evening, after all the ceremonies where done, Justo´s father played the acordeon accompanied by the drums and people dance until 4am in the morning
. As for me by 8.30 pm I was in bed.