Ortega & Bolson

Communities: Ortega, Bolson and Puerto Ballenas

Welcome to Ortega and Bolson.

  • Ortega and Bolson are two small towns located on the west side of lower basin of the Tempisque River. The land in lower basin of the Tempisque River is an area of protected land.
  • Ortega and Bolson are spread out on about 152km territory with a population is about of 5000 habitants.


Ortega and Bolson (Location/Description)

Ortega is 24 km west of the Santa Cruz. Downtown Ortega is situated at a foot of a hill around a two-level field soccer field. On the east side of field there is Catholic Church and on the opposite side there is an elementary school

  • Downtown Bolson is also around a soccer field but it is situated on a flat surface of land. It also has a Catholic Church and a school an some houses around the field.

Other habitants: The chorotegas

  • Before the Spanish Conquest of Costa Rica, the zone was inhabited by indian tribes known as the Chorotegas.
  • Chorotegas were known to be very skillful pottery makers. To this day many authentic chorotega vases and other artifacts of brightly- decorated colors and adorned with animal motives, such jaguars, have been found.
  • Chorotegas probably came from Chiapas Mexico. Once the came they displaced other tribes in the region.
  • Some musical instruments as well as many food dishes based on corn are remain as their legacy to present generations.

Cultural Aspects

Ortega and Bolson

  • For many decades people in Ortega and Bolson have lived, mostly, a peaceful existence.
  • For most part, people in this zone have a life tied to farming or agriculture activities.
  • Some people have small landholdings they called ‘parcelas.’ Many others work as “peones” (agricultural workers) in fields of sugar cane in a nearby factory sugar.
  • Many others work in the increasing popular ‘tourism industry’ in the region. 

Customs and Traditions

  • People from Ortega and Bolson, as well as most people from Guanacaste, tend to hold on tightly to their traditions.
  • They meet with each at every opportunity, they meet with extended family, at soccer games, or during prayers.
  • Often times, people meet at ‘Bailes’ (dances). If you like to put a smile on somebody’s face ask them “Donde es el baile”? (where is the dance?).

Traditions and Beliefs

“La Lagarteada”

Holy Week

  • Sometime during the ‘Semana Santa,’ or Holy Week, in Ortega happens what is know nationally known as a “La Lagarteada.” A popular group of Ortega man go to hunt for a crocodile in the nearby river cave.
  • A large crow of people follow the hunters to the river to see the event. The hunters catch a crodile, which are abundant in the river at this time of the year, and later they take him go back into the river.

* People gather and celebrate such event with all kinds of seasonal foods and dances. The event is carefully observed by environmental authorities. The tradition started a century ago, probably, as a way to lower the danger of too many crocodiles to humans and domestic animals.


El Sabanero

Symbols in Ortega and Bolson are similar than in other towns in Guanacaste.

  • Sabaneros: These are people similar to cowboys. They are central figures of the culture. Although they are less common now, they remain as mystical figure in peoples minds.
  • Gupipias This is a ‘shout’ emitted by cowboys. They engage in a sort contest to see who can make a good guipipia.
  • Patron: Refers to owner of the Hacienda. The person in charge of others.

Cocinera making tortillas


  • Cocineras: This name refer to women who for many decades assisted sabaneros by preparing their nutritious food- usually corn based- very early in the morning and at lunch or dinner time.
  • They might be working at big ‘haciendas,’ large farmholdings or even at home.
  • They are so popular that when a woman gave birth to a girl, people refer to her as ‘cocinera.’

Ortega and Bolson Music

  • Guanacastecans love marimba music. For many generations people sang and dance accompanied by marimbas and guitars.
  • One of the best marimba music groups in the province came from in Ortega.
  • Nowadays people dance to all sorts of music including salsa, merengue, and even reggaeton.


Some of the folkore in Ortega and Bolson is the same as the one in rest of the province.


  • Part of their folklore is expressed with ‘typical dances’ or ‘bailes tipicos.
  • “The dance of the brom” is a song where one of the dancer gets to dance with the brom because he or she can not fin a somebody to dance with.
  • Bombas which are ‘riddles’ or poems are also part of the popular folklore. They use them to express feelings toward their love ones.