Family Preserves Sugar Milling Legacy
From treasured tradition to budding tourist attraction, the Agüero family trapiche (sugar cane mill) at Paso Agres, Turrubares, is an emblem of local values and customs worth preserving.
In that spirit, the Agüeros have taken steps to become an attractive agro-tourism destination promoted throughout the Josefino canton by Hiking Turrubares.
Continuing to operate the trapiche in an artisanal way, with labor-intensive roles performed entirely by family members — and an oxen team — sets it apart from most other sugar mills in this area of Costa Rica.
The overlap between family life and work in the trapiche is what the Agüeros enjoy most about continuing a legacy that began about 50 years ago. That’s when the initial mill owner and patriarch, Sergio Agüero Ulate, moved with his family from Puriscal to Paso Agres. Eventually, his nine children were ready to take part in this “beautiful and traditional task,” as they regard the family business: sons, Gerardo Humberto, José Antonio, Adolfo, Luis and “Yeyo;” and their sisters, Maritza, Zaida, Lilliam and Carmen. Their mother, Antonia Agüero, has been a mainstay of continuous support.
Everyone in the family helps each other at various cane milling stages, beginning work at 3:30 a.m. on grinding days. Some cut the cane and others prepare the oxen and put them to work. Someone is in charge of lighting the fire and grinding the cane. Another stokes the fire with wood and bagasse. When the cane juice begins to boil, both children and adults approach to savor the foam. After that comes the process of preparing the thickening boiled juice for pouring into round molds.
“It’s hard work, but it keeps the family together, sharing the produce with each other and the neighbors,” says Gerardo, the oldest Agüero brother. “To live and enjoy an unforgettable experience is the idea behind preserving the trapiche for many more years as a sweet memory.”
But Gerardo is realistic about the prospect of the younger Agüero generations pursuing different ambitions. He states with some nostalgia, “The effort has been great to stay in a job that is arduous, but that is not enough to live and support a family. In the midst of everything, the children have studied, and the grandchildren too. None of them want to continue with this. When we are no longer here, I think this will end.”
For information about visiting the Agüero sugar mill, contact:
Carlos Manuel Vanegas Rodriguez
“Charlie” of Guanacaste Nature Tours
Liberia Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Whatsapp: (+506) 8595 4611
24 / 7 Online
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