Sarchí is the capital city of the canton of Valverde Vega also known as Sarchí in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. We had the pleasure of passing through this quaint city on our way up to our first destination, Bajos del Toro and the luxury cloud forest resort, El Silencio Lodge.
Sarchi is Costa Rica’s most famous and well-known area for local craftsmanship. The city itself has over 200 stores and small family operated woodworking factories producing wooden bowls and other tableware, fold-up rocking chairs of wood and leather and other fun and handmade souvenirs.
We stopped at one of the most well-known fabricas de carretas, Eloy Alfaro. As soon as we got out of the vehicle, the staff greeted us and showed us where the restrooms were. Soon after, they gave us our first taste of Costa Rican coffee and the manager gave us a walk-through of the factory and explained to us how the factory operated, where the artists worked and much more.
See It In Action!
Here is a quick clip where you can see how the factory operates. We were blown away at how powerful water power can be. I think more establishments should operate like this!
About the Fabrica:
Don Eloy allowed the installation of an efficient hydraulic energy system that generates 12 horsepower, powered by a nearby river called Trojan, which sets in motion all the machinery required in the workshop.
The most popular items on sale are “carretas”. They are elaborately painted oxcarts that traditionally carried coffee from the highlands down to the port on the Pacific coast. They are beautifully carved and painted. Pictured above is a cart that is in the process of being carved and finished.
The typical ox-cart of Costa Rica was declared as national symbol on March 22, 1988 during the administration of Dr Oscar Arias, and acts since then, as the national symbol of Costa Rican workers. We loved the fact that everything is handmade and carefully carved and painted.
After walking through the factory and watching how it operates, we were able to take a stroll through the artist’s area and see what they had in the works. We even got to watch an artist paint and saw him create beautiful artwork.
After the tour, we went back inside to their showroom where they had all of their artwork, souvenirs and local foods available for purchase. We bought most of our souvenirs here. Hand carved and painted coffee mugs, back scratcher, shot glasses, sculptures and more. We completely fell in love with Costa Rican coffee, we bought some here to take home and also bought more throughout the rest of our trip to bring home.
We then began our ascension to Bajos del Toro and where we would be spending two days, El Silencio Lodge. On our way there we saw the largest ox-cart that was built right in Eloy Alfaro and it weighs nearly two tons and measures 14 meters long, 3.5 meters high and 4.5 meters wide. Its structure consists of about 2500 inches of laurel and cedar wood. And is registered in the World Guinness Record.
We also saw the church of Grecia that is made entirely of pre-fabricated steel plates from Belgium. The cities were a sight to see, it was amazing going around the winding and climbing roads and seeing the local people who were always sure to wave.
If you want to visit La Fabrica de Carretas, Eloy Alfaro if you’re in Costa Rica, you can visit their site, here. They are very friendly, helpful and make you feel at home.
For a perfect tourist stop.
Excellent: [usr 5]
Do you enjoy visiting local artisans when you travel?
Let me know, til then–cheers m’deres!
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela and partner and best friend to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.