PHOTO STORY: Costa Rica’s annual Oxcart Parade

November 25, 2013

On Sunday, some 300 boyeros and their oxen filled the capital’s streets during a colorful oxcart parade along San José’s Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda. This year, farmer and boyera Aída Sandí led the parade with an image of San José’s patron saint on her oxcart.

Costa Rica’s oxcart drivers have developed a special language to direct their oxen. In addition to using a prod, boyeros use terms like “gui” (pronounced “wee”), which makes the oxen go forward, and “jesa” (HAY-sah), which makes them stop. 

Many popular Tico sayings involve the oxcart, such as: “Se montó en la carreta” (“He boarded the oxcart”). This saying originated from an inebriated oxcart driver, who after trying to numb the effects of a long journey with ample alcohol, would climb onto the back of an oxcart to sleep off the booze. The oxen knew the way home.

But the practice was penalized by the Oxcart Police with a ₡1 fine, for which the ticketing official would write: “Se montó en la carreta.”

Oxcart Parade 2

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Oxcart Parade 7

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Oxcart Parade 10

Oxcart Parade 11

Oxcart Parade 12

Oxcart Parade 13

Oxcart Parade 14

Oxcart Parade 15

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