Alajuela Province, Sarchi, Costa Rica
Photo by Héctor Calderón
SarchíCosta Rica’s artisanal oxcarts—with their precise, geometric constructions and eye-popping colors—are a sensation. Yet in the 19th century, they were simply the essential technology for overcoming muddy roads and bringing coffee to market. The town of Sarchí is now a center for the colorful woodworking traditions that resulted in the beautiful carts. Try to hit Sarchí’s artisanal markets and workshops—like Eloy Alfaro’s or the Fábrica de Carretas Joaquín Chaverri—as well as visit its local parks and parish church, with a striking hand-hewn ceiling.
AFAR Local Expert
about 5 years ago
The town of Sarchí is home to Costa Rica's most active community of craftspeople, whose artistic traditions date back more than a century. Decorating oxcarts with brightly painted, intricate designs began as a friendly competition among families, but it’s become a local specialty. (Good news: Smaller-than-an-oxcart souvenirs are also painted in the distinctive style.) Sarchí is the only place in the country where these oxcarts continue to be made and decorated. Learn more about this art form during a tour of the Eloy Alfaro Oxcart Factory, which is still powered by a waterwheel.