Saturday, November 26, 2005

Costa Rican ox carts added to list of cultural treasures

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - Costa Rican ox cart traditions were among the seven intangible treasures from Latin America selected Friday by the U.N. cultural body (UNESCO).

Costa Rica, officials welcomed the inclusion of the country's ox cart traditions.

Decorated with brightly colored swirls and figures, the carts have long been a symbol of Costa Rica, even though their use has declined.

''Fifty years ago, the carts were used for everything, but not now,'' said 72-year-old Fido Rodriguez, who organizes a cart parade each Feb. 2 in Costa Rica.

Carlos Chaverri (pictured) still produces the carts in Sarchi, 25 miles northeast of San Jose, the capital. He says there is still demand for the simple, wooden vehicles, which have become popular with arts and crafts collectors in the United States, Europe and even Japan.

''People like the sound of the wheels,'' he said. "They say it's like music.''
The carts were originally used to transport coffee during colonial times.

''In many areas, they still use them because there are many regions that aren't designed for machines,'' Rodriguez said. "It's cheap, they don't have to build roads, and it doesn't erode the soil.'' (AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera)

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