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Guaitíl, 12 kilometers east of Santa Cruz (the turnoff from the main highway is two kilometers east of Santa Cruz), is a tranquil little village. Many of the inhabitants—descendants of Chorotegas—have been making their unique pottery, piedra, of red or black or ocher using the same methods for generations, turning the clay on wheels, polishing the pottery with small jadelike grinding stones taken from nearby archaeological sites, and firing the pots in large open-hearth kilns.
There are several artists’ families, including in the adjacent village of San Vicente. Every family is attended by the matriarch: Women run the businesses and sustain families and village structures.
My favorite place is the Oven Store (tel. 506/2681-1696 and 2681-1484, sjchlv [at] hotmail [dot] com), where friendly owners Susan and Jesús offer five-hour pottery classes; ask them to explain the ancient symbolism of the designs. It’s on the northwest side of the soccer field. Credit cards accepted.
The Ecomuseo de la Cerámica Chorotega (tel. 506/2681-1563, www.ecomuseodesanvicente.org, 8 A.M.–4 P.M. Mon.–Fri.), behind the school in San Vicente, was opened in 2007 to honor the local culture. Inspired by U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, it traces the ceramic tradition.
Getting to Guaitíl
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition