San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Crocodiles Run but Can’t Hide from Lagarteros

La lagarteada, or the crocodile hunt, is a 100-year-old tradition in the town of Ortega, located in northeast Santa Cruz in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

Each year on Good Friday, people from this small town of dusty roads and sugarcane plantations travel to nearby rivers, tributaries of the TempisqueRiver, to trap the biggest crocodile and exhibit it in the town for all to see. On Easter, the animal is returned to its home, more or less unharmed.

In olden times, Ortega’s inhabitants believed that the grease of the animal had healing qualities. They hunted and killed the animals the Friday before Easter, believing that the occasion heightened the healing powers.

This year, the lagarteros, or crocodile hunters, began their search at CharcoRiver without any results. Then they moved to Las PalmasRiver, located in La Guinea, a small town of Filadelfia, where they finally trapped a meter-and-a-half-long crocodile after eight hours of work.


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