you're reading...
Costa Rica, Travel

Journey to the Caribbean Coast: Part 3 – BriBri Land

To tell you the truth, Puerto Viejo wasn’t really Arturo’s scene. Too many tourists, bars, souvenir shops, that kind of thing. So after a day, he was ready to get out and find the “real” Costa Rica. This is the “Arturo Mode” of travel (see Part 1). Sometimes that means wandering aimlessly toward nothing (ahem, I mean “exploring”). But sometimes, provided we can find someone knowledgeable to point us in the right direction, we stumble onto something pretty interesting.

At the Kelly Creek Hotel in Cahuita, we had asked our charming host Andres about any sights he might recommend. Andres recommended that we seek out Timotheo of the BriBri. So after our day in Puerto Viejo, we ventured inland, looking for the mysterious Timotheo.

Our trip led us to the town of BriBri, which is a dusty little town a bit reminiscent of the Old West.

Welcome to BriBri

Strange things afoot in BriBri

Remarkably the town features several women’s clothing stores, similar to those I’ve seen on Mission Street in San Francisco. Mannequins are adorned with tight, short, sparkly wares. Not sure where the women of BriBri wear these clothes, since they seemed a bit dysfunctional for traipsing through the jungle. I wished we had time to find out.

The next part of our journey consisted of asking 20 people if they know Timotheo and where we could find him. Oh yeah, and crossing a river. Literally. In our rental car. Crossing our fingers, wincing as rocks scraped the bottom of the car, I regretted not going for the 4×4 – but we pushed on with our adventure.

Bamboo forest

Jungle flowers

Finally we reached the Watsi Talamanca, home of Timotheo.

Watsi Talamanca, home of Timotheo

A small, dark man with a broad smile emerged as we pulled up the car. He spoke only Spanish (and as we later learned, BriBri as well) so our conversation was a bit limited, but facial expressions and sign language helped fill in the gaps.

Timotheo explained that he wasn’t feeling well, but his son Augustino could take us on a little hike to a waterfall. There was a bit of discussion as we explained that we wanted to get back on the road early so we could make it to San Jose while it was still light. (Driving anywhere in Costa Rica at night is pretty hairy unless you know what you’re doing, which we don’t.) So, it was decided that we would drive to the waterfall, and a cousin or some such, Henri, would accompany us and guard the car. With a machete, naturally.

So, off we go to the waterfall, and in this 10 or 15 minute drive we managed to cross three more rivers with bated breath. Thank goodness it was not the rainy season or I can imagine that our car would have floated away. But we arrived on dry land and started our hike.

Along the way Augustino told us that the BriBri are indigenous people in this part of Costa Rica, and pointed out some of the plants they use for medicinal purposes, as well as plates for eating and for home construction.


We walked through a stream that ended at a glorious waterfall. Arturo braved the cold water to experience this purported fountain of youth (not that he needs it).

The stream was our pathway.

La cascada bonita (the beautiful waterfall)

Arturo takes the plunge!

With the waterfall roaring behind us, Augustino asked Arturo and me to hold hands while he chanted a benediction – a blessing for our lives, our health, our work and our love. It was very special moment, and felt a bit like being married again here in this country that is so special to us.

Augustino at the waterfall

Augustino taught us some BriBri words as well:

is ashkena = good day (a greeting)
beshkena = how are you?
buay = good
wéstara = thank you

(Credit: EcoTeach Teacher’s Resources – find more great information here. PDF format)

After the waterfall we headed back to the Watsi Talamanca (yes, back over the rivers) where Timotheo’s wife had prepared a simple lunch for us. Over lunch we discussed some of the misconceptions of indigenous people in Costa Rica – namely, that there aren’t any. In fact, there are several different tribes existing in Costa Rica, and while their numbers may be few, they have strong cultural traditions, their own languages and commitment to the earth and family.

A simple lunch (with salad and fruit as well)

Here in their house were three generations with Timotheo as the proud head of the family.

La familia de Timotheo (Timotheo's family). Timotheo's wife is on the far left. Timotheo is third from the left, next to Arturo. Vanessa, next to me, helped prepare lunch. Timotheo's daughter is next to Vanessa. Henri is on the far right.

It was just about time to go, but before we departed, Timotheo brought us to his little workshop and we sat as he sang a traditional BriBri song for us. With his clear, strong, beautiful voice he reached out his arms to embrace the sky and the earth. I was moved almost to tears. He explained that the song is about water, earth and sky – essential to the lives and health of the BriBri. At this moment, I could have been enjoying a final few hours at the pool in Puerto Viejo, but this trip was so much more fulfilling for my heart and soul. (Thank you Arturo!)

After many hugs and smiles we were on our way, and this time we did know the way to San Jose. With a nice breeze blowing through the windows, we enjoyed our new Calypso CD, which we’ve now listened to many times in Esterillos.

Name Artist
Big Nose Jaral New Revelation
Fire New Revelation
Zancudo Germán Valdés
Fire Cahuita Calypso
La Confianza Junior Alvares Emilio
Pompaper New Revelation
Jamaica Farewell Reynaldo Kenton
True Born Costa Rican Charro De Limon
El Gallo New Revelation
Mama New Revelation
Fiesta New Revelation
Black Man Charro De Limon
Paquiria Junior Alvares Emilio
Violence New Revelation
Caroline Cahuita Calypso
Cabin In The Water Walter “Gavitt” Ferguson

If you would like to visit Timotheo of the BriBri, here is how to contact him:

Timoteo Jackson
8764-5548 or 8579-4408
The house “address” is 500 M Oeste de Escuela Volio in BriBri.
Ask around for Timotheo, everyone knows who he is.

Stay posted on new stories from lovefoodmusic! Go to the Home page and enter your email address where you see LOVEFOODMUSIC IN YOUR INBOX. Send us your comments, questions and musings – we would love to hear from you!


About Danielle Hart

The three foundational aspects of my life, that keep me healthy and sane, are love, food and music. I am truly blessed to have the love of, and to give my love to, my husband, family and friends. I choose to surround myself with and to seek out healthy, yummy, nourishing food. The soundtrack of my life is upbeat, fun and totally danceable. As I begin this blog, I have embarked on a new journey to open my heart to new love, food and music. I hope to share some of my experiences here as a travelog for my friends and family back home in the US. As they say here in Costa Rica, pura vida!


2 thoughts on “Journey to the Caribbean Coast: Part 3 – BriBri Land

  1. Wow….what an amazing experience….I want go wandering aimlessly with Arturo after reading this:-)

    Posted by Linda | April 5, 2012, 12:11 pm
  2. beautiful story written from a wonderful experience, you are lucky to have
    had such a amazing time for the two of you. love mom

    Posted by charlotte | April 14, 2012, 7:51 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: