The small country pueblo of Sarchi, is the country's most famous artisan town.
Upon entering Sarchi, countless souvenir and furniture stores begin emerging along both sides of the road, each offering handmade artifacts including oxcarts, elaborately painted bowls and trays, natural wood serving utensils, tables, jewelry boxes and carvings. Handmade, the traditional oxcart, or carreta, is the country's most famous type of craft. Ordinarily admired for its decorative qualities, the oxcart plays a very important part in the cultural history of Costa Rica. In the middle of the 19th century, when coffee was first being cultivated in the surrounding countryside, oxcarts provided the only method in which to transport the hand picked beans over the mountains and to the coast. Arduous and timely were these trips, a good, reliable, well-built oxcart could mean the difference between a successful transit and financial ruin. In many cases, oxcarts where a family's only means of transportation, and at times even served as a status symbol. Thus, the tradition of painting and decorating the carts commenced in the early part of this century. Originally each region of Costa Rica had its own particular design, enabling one to identify from which part of the country the driver lived simply by observing the pattern on the wheels.