Kapi Kapi = It means hello.
The Maleku are an indigenous tribe in Costa Rica located in the Guatuso Indigenous Reserve near the town of Guatuso (San Rafael de Guatuso). Around 600 aboriginal people live on the reserve, the reserve consists of various “palenques” or villages, and among them are Palenque Sol, Palenque Margarita and, the biggest, Palenque Tonjibe.
The Maleku have their own language (Maleku Jaika). While most Maleku speak Spanish, some elders speak only Maleku. Their economy relies on indigenous art: carvings, paintings, and musical instruments are their most popular items. Every member in the village, including children, makes some type of art or helps out by cutting and preparing the necessary balsa wood or fruit needed for the projects.
The Maleku use most of the money they earn to buy back the land they consider to be theirs, since their reserve is actually smaller than what is shown on maps. Surrounding fields have been sold to farmers who have cleared the Maleku forest to raise cattle.
The Maleku still invite people to visit their villages. Tourists who visit the villages get a better sense of the Maleku culture, even if it is somewhat diminished in modern times. They no longer live in their traditional houses, since the trees necessary to make them are now endangered. Today the villages mostly contain cement houses, but a couple of traditional houses still remain and are used for ceremonies as well as tourist attractions. The Maleku traditionally bury their dead directly inside their homes, so the dead are never forgotten.
Living in cement houses, the Maleku have had to acquire special permission from the Costa Rican government to bury their dead in their backyards. One can also visit the traditional local gardens of healing plants and admire the animals that still inhabit the surrounding rain forest, including toucans, frogs, and monkeys.
We grew up in the town of Guatuso, next to the Maleku Indian Reservation. We enjoy being involved in their community and appreciate the rich cultural history of the Maleku, we are part of them.
Afekapian = It means Thank you
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