Guaitil is a tiny village in the province of Guanacaste, situated along the old route between Nicoya and Santa Cruz. The small town, which is just 12 kilometers from the city of Santa Cruz, can be accessed by buses that run twice daily and take only 20 minutes.
The town of Guaitil is famous throughout Costa Rica and the rest of Central America because of its pre-Columbian Chorotega style pottery. Local potters use the traditions and techniques of their ancestors to produce ceramics that are used in the village and sold to tourists visiting the region.
The native Chorotegas are one of the main indigenous cultures in Costa Rica, and the entire town of Guaitil is dedicated to the pottery trade, using clay from the area. The secrets of the craft have been passed on through the generations and have created an economic system that can support the people of the village.
Tourists looking to visit the town to bring home a locally-made souvenir can expect to find clay pots, jars, vases, pitchers and a number of other crafts all for a very reasonable price. Most of the village's commercial activity takes place in the town park, where tourists should visit to make such purchases.
The pottery is crafted by first drying the clay and then mashing it until it reaches a powdered form. The powder is then mixed with "iguana sand," which is a type of fresh water sand in which iguanas typically lay their eggs.
After water is added to the mixture, the pottery is shaped, painted and polished using a "sukia" stone, which helps make the artifact shine. After being left out to dry, the pottery is placed in a firewood oven as the final step in the process.
In addition to the pottery, the town of Guaitil is also known for serving some of Costa Rica's traditional cuisine. Travelers looking to indulge in some of the region's typical dishes should ask for tamal de elote, atol de maiz, rosquillas or tortillas revueltas, as corn is an extremely important part of the local diet. Vino de coyol, a popular drink in the Guanacaste province that is extracted from palm trees, can also be enjoyed during a visit to Guaitil.