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Colorful Oxcarts In Escazú This Weekend

The second Sunday in March in Costa Rica is Día Nacional del Boyero, which celebrates oxcart drivers (boyeros), their colorful carts, and an important part of the country’s folklore. This year’s event takes place on Sunday, March 12th.

oxcart in costa rica
San Antonio de Escazú plays host to the annual Day of the Oxcart Driver on the second Sunday of every month. Photo by Andrés Madrigal.

Come to San Antonio de Escazú to experience a colorful parade of Costa Rica’s cowboy culture and the intricately painted oxcarts make their way from the surrounding hills into the western suburb’s narrow streets.

girls_at_oxcart_parade
Two girls in traditional dress keep the wind from carrying away their hats during an oxcart parade. Photo by Andrés Madrigal.

Children accompany their parents and grandparents in this longstanding tradition. In many cases, the art of oxcart driving (boyeo) is a tradition that is passed down through the generations. The oxen you see in the street are just taking a break from their day job, which is helping out in the fields.

What Is An Oxcart Parade?

The Día Nacional del Boyero celebrates Costa Rica’s iconic oxcart drivers. For centuries, local farmers have commandeered these beasts to help them work the fields and transport goods to and from market.

It’s not easy, however. Just as the drivers must learn their craft, so too must the oxen. It takes years of training to get an ox to learn how to work with the yoke and cart. In more remote parts of Costa Rica you can still see oxen transporting firewood, sugar cane, coffee, and grains. In the past, boyeros would even bring people to the hospital or run errands for others.

painted costa rican oxcarts
The oxcart’s complex painting patterns differ from town to town. An experienced boyero can tell where the cart is from just by looking at how it’s painted. Photo by Andrés Madrigal.

Not only are Costa Rica’s oxcarts and culture part of the national identity, UNESCO declared the carts as Intangible Cultural Heritage. The parade is free this Sunday in San Antonio de Escazú.

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