The Maleku Indigenous People of Costa Rica

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hand carved and hand painted masks

hand carved and hand painted masks

Maleku tribe members

Maleku tribe members

 

 

The Maleku Indigenous People of Costa Rica

The Maleku are an indigenous tribe living in Costa Rica north of the Arenal Volcano in an area called Guatuso.  Around 600 people live here on a reserve.  The Maleku speak Spanish as their first language but many of the elders also speak the Maleku language.   These people have attracted a lot of tourist to their village where the tourist  learn first hand about the Maleku culture.  If you visit the village you will see that they live in cement houses but also have some traditional houses used for ceremonial  purposes.  Traditionally they  buried their  dead inside the house so that he or she would  never be forgotten.  Today  have to acquire special permission from the Costa Rican government to bury their dead in their backyards.   The Iguana is one of the main meats of the Kaleku diet.

The Maleku economy relies mostly on tourism and the sell of their very original art.  They carve balsa wood into bowls, masks, and musical instruments, then paint them in very bright colors.

As a tourist you can sleep on the reserve and take advantage of the tours given by the Maleku people.  One of the most interesting is the medicinal plant tour  where you walk through the forest with one of the native medicine men and learn more about these plants that grow in the wild.

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