The Carreta de Sarchí or Sarchí ox-cart was first produced by enterprising local families for the immigrant settlers who arrived at the beginning of the twentieth century to run the coffee plantations. The original designs featured simple geometric shapes, though the ox-carts sold today are kaleidoscopically painted square creations built to be hauled by a single ox or team of two oxen. Moorish in origin, the designs can be traced back to immigrants from the Spanish provinces of Andalucía and Granada. Full-scale carts ($1000-plus) are rarely sold, but many smaller-scale coffee table-sized replicas are made for tourists ($245–500), while dinky desktop versions can be picked up for under $5.

Fábricas de carretas

Cooperativa de Artesanas y Mublerías de Sarchí Sarchí Norte, on the right-hand side of the main road just after the petrol station (look for the large spinning ox-cart wheel out front) t2454-4050. While their prices are generally lower than the rest, they haven’t skimped on the real deal; this is as good a place as any to browse for ox-carts, made by water-wheel-powered machines. They also stock traditional wooden handicrafts and furniture. Mon–Fri 8am–6pm, Sat & Sun 9am–6pm.

Fábrica de Carretas Joaquín Chaverrí Sarchí Sur, on the left-hand side of the main road as you enter the village t2454-4411, wwww.sarchicostarica.net. Wander around the painting workshop and see dozens of ox-carts in progress at Sarchí’s largest ox-cart factory, which has been in business since 1903. They’ll arrange shipping and transport for souvenirs, and credit cards are accepted. Daily 8am–5.30pm.

Taller Eloy Alfaro Sarchí Norte, 125m up Calle 1 de Eva, one block east of the football field t2454-4131. Alfaro and his sons have been crafting carretas since 1923, and you can watch the younger generation still using age-old methods in their rickety wooden workshop, the last of its kind in Sarchí. Daily 6am–6pm.

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