Costa Rica: The Spanish Influence
The Spanish Influence
When the Spanish arrived, many tribes moved from the valleys into the mountains in order to avoid slavery. The Spanish changed the area’s name to Costa Rica, which means “rich coast” in Spanish, and quickly began taking the local resources, and gaining complete control over the land and its people.
One example of Spain’s influence on Costa Rica can be found in Sarchi, a small town known for its arts and crafts. Artists here are most famous for the carreta, or ox cart. Carretas were brought to Costa Rica by Spanish settlers in the mid 1800s to help transport coffee from mountain plantations to the markets or ports.
Local artists quickly changed the Spanish version of the carreta to create something uniquely Costa Rican. Beginning in the early 1900s, Costa Ricans began to paint and decorate the wheels of their carretas. At first, each region had its own original design – similar to a US state’s license plate. Eventually, each oxcart owner had his or her own unique design which covered the entire cart.
Today, the art of making and painting carretas is passed down from generation to generation. The detail put into each design is astounding – it takes days to paint just one cart. These painters are truly artists!