Big balls in Cowtown

With apologies to Mr. Wills, all I can say in my defense is that I grew up in Pittsburgh. What I mean is I like to think of myself as an observant person but this is the kind of thing that shakes your world. Oh I’d noticed one or maybe two, here or there, mostly kind of presented to you like some kind of conspicuous marker, as if it was announcing an entrance to something grand but they really didn’t register. And here, dear escapees, is the part that rankles, we’re in Golfito, Costa Rica, which is decidedly devoid of grand architecture, not saying it isn’t nice but…well, I find myself in shoal water here so let’s just agree to call it quaint. Now, and here is what I’m getting at, growing up in Pittsburgh where one lives amongst a certain amount of monumental architecture in your every day life you see them everywhere to the extent that they no longer really register. You see them…but you don’t.

I guess I always thought they were cast in concrete or manufactured in someway or other out of stone, you know, by big machines with push buttons, levers, and such but, and this is my point, if I may have another, por favor, I never really gave them much thought, if any at all. There were a lot of them, often adorned with dragons or gargoyles, employed you know to mark a grand staircase or the driveway to some monumental old mansion or library. Conspicuous, probably very heavy, and round…very round.

The brochure I’m reading says that here In Pre-Colombian times they carved stone spheres using fire and, I guess, other stones to make smaller round ones out of larger squarish ones, and isn’t that always the way? Why, you ask, would they go to all that trouble to carve an eight foot 25 ton ball? It seems the authorities are not entirely sure. You know the brochure I’m reading says something like it may have marked a monumental house of a V.I.P. or a grand staircase…I guess the library is out.

As it turns out the spheres have been moved, pilfered, pillaged, and re-purposed so much that they’ve given the activity a name. They call it “huaquerismo.” Sounds better doesn’t it? So how did Gofito rate a couple of two meter stone spheres? The authorities are not entirely sure but the balls are here and they’re round and probably very heavy, marking nothing much of significance.


As I was saying I usually take notice of my environment, all recent evidence to the contrary, and one thing that caught my eye here in Golfito, aside from an unusually robust steam ship pier is several large but proper wooden buildings built up on the so called high road. Lets call them in the Victorian Industrial style, and it turns out it’s all related because Golfito is the town that Chiquita Banana built.





If one is observant you can find several stone grand staircases (no balls) leading up to the warehouses that overlook the town and we even stumbled onto the Banana steam engine that we may have walked past a few dozen times but at this point I fail to be surprised, what with the large pre-Columbian stone ball fiasco causing no end of agonizing reappraisal here aboard Escape Velocity.



Now I guess, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Soda on a store front sign in Costa Rica isn’t the soda that you or I think of as soda. Well…it is but they’ve fleshed out the meaning a bit from the narrow definition I might normally give it. Once on a particularly hot and muggy afternoon I’d had visions of kind of a specialist soda fountain featuring outrageously delicious indigenous local fresh fruit flavors, like an industrial sized Sodastream only with good flavors. It turns out to be actually a kind of local fast food — “deli” is too kind — emporium that in addition to hamburgers, may also sell coke, flavored teas, Limon, and maybe some pre-made ice cream bars. This Soda is close to the American section of town on the high ground facing the bay where Chiquita Banana housed it’s workers in charming raised dwellings.





Anyhow it’s all here in lovely Golfito, all you gotta do is get here…I’m not entirely sure how we got here…but we’re here.

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One Response to Big balls in Cowtown

  1. David Strife

    The stones, no doubt, were soccer balls left there by aliens who played a
    mean game…

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