Today I headed out early after a quick breakfast at my hotel in Glofito, a small fishing village on the southern coast of Costa Rica. The heat and humidity down here is brutal and I knew that I would have to get an early start. I was traveling through an area, known as the Diquís Delta, in the southernmost part of the Puntarenas Province of south eastern Costa Rica. Today’s mission was to do some gold panning along a couple of the many rivers flowing out of the thick jungle covered mountains and into the shimmering blue Pacific Ocean.
Less than an hour into my trip, and shortly after passing a Police checkpoint I arrived at my destination on the banks of the Rio Oro or Gold River in English. I parked the Blazer, and donned my back pack and headed into the jungle and eventually down to the banks of the river.
The river is running low because we are in the dry season, and I scouted for some good locations over the rock strewn river bed, looking for a good bend in the river that would hopefully be a good place for some good pay dirt.
After a couple of hours digging a bunch of test holes and panning all the dirt I found very little color in my pan, defiantly not enough to continue expending more energy on this location. It was near noon, and I decided to head into a nearby town for some lunch.
I stopped in the little one horse town of Palmer Sur and found a typical small roadside Mom and Pop store with some cool drinks. Yes! After buying a sandwich and some cold bottled water, I headed across the street to a small park with lots of shade trees. After making quick work of my meal, still not sure what kind of meat was in it, and chugging down the much welcomed cold water I sat back against a tree and just relaxed for a bit, enjoying the occasional cool breeze that would come my way.
As I was looking around watching the people around me, I started noticing that the park was full of strange stone spheres placed haphazardly throughout the park. I decided to stroll through the park and examine these strange spheres. No two were alike, and they did not appear to be made of cement, but looked as though they were carved of a single stone. Several of them appeared to be damaged and repaired with mortar.
After making it back to my Hotel and getting a nice long shower, I got on line and decided to see what I could find out about these strange rocks. Turns out they are part of an archaeological site nearby known as Finca 6, or Farm 6. The location is currently closed to the public, but they are building a small museum on the site that they are calling “Las Bolas”, or the balls in English.
Farm 6 was once owned by the United Fruit Company when the site was discovered while they were clearing land with bulldozers for a new banana plantation. The 10 acre site was littered with some 300 of these spheres, and apparently most have been scattered around the country in parks, museums and universities. Only a handful remain as they were found.
Archaeologist don’t know much about them or their purpose, but say that they are all man-made stone balls and are perfectly spherical and range in weight up to 16 tons! No one is quite sure how old these spheres are (some estimates put them at about 2300 years), how they were made or what purpose they served. But studies suggest they were an important part of Costa Rica’s ancient culture for over 1000 years.