Golden Sombrero

It was said to be the infamous Christopher Columbus who originally dubbed the visually impressive chunk of land which I am now fortunate enough to call my home, Costa Rica, when he strode off of King Ferdinand’s battered royal boat back on September 18, 1502. Confident, despite having endured an intense storm at sea which decimated approximately half of his crew, Columbus’s eyes lit up when he stepped onto the warm sands of the Eastern coast of Costa Rica. He immediately began to communicate with the welcoming locals, and was astonished at the wealth of gold, food, and natural beauty that they appeared to enjoy. Supposedly, an entry in Columbus’s journal read: “I saw more signs of gold here in the first two days than I saw in Espanola during four years.” Gold and jewels were given to Columbus and his men freely, while the excited indigenous folks cooked local fare for these strange, white beings. Smiling pink people which they had never before seen the likes of. Having developed a taste for conquest, ¬†Christopher (may I call you that, Sir?) named this beautiful country Costa Rica (translated simply to “Rich Coast”) and organized his crew into search parties. He planned on mapping out the lay of the land for himself and collecting anything valuable which crossed his path. As it turned out for Columbus, overwhelming riches were not spilling obscenely out of the hillside or spewing up out of Golden Geysers. The conquering and exploitation was going much more slowly than Christopher was comfortable with, and so he eventually closed camp and set sail back to Spain. The sea punished his ships once again, and Columbus even suffered being shipwrecked in Jamaica for an entire year, but he finally made it back to Europe. Fate barred Columbus from setting foot on Costa Rican soil ever again, yet the moniker he assigned it remains. Costa Rica is not especially known now for being a heavyweight in the gold industry, but some would argue that “There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills!” The existence of the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in the capital city of San Jose is proof that the precious metal can be found at least in some parts of the country. The Osa Peninsula is reputed to be rich in gold, and there are explorers who search and pan in our gurgling rivers, hunting for a miracle hunk of Atomic Number 79. A gilded lottery ticket to stick in their pocket. According to Legend, the local indigenous people never revealed the whereabouts of the fabled “Mines of Varagua” to any invaders , so it may be that The Mother Lode is still undiscovered and playing a high stakes game of Hide and Seek with us…In fact, I’m tempted to delete this entire blog post in fear of a frothing drove of 49ers booking airfare to Costa Rica to the point of crashing Expedia’s website and possibly the entire Internet. It’s all mine. Can’t you see that?!?… Consequently, there is an actual gold mine located in the depths of my neighborhood. True story. Rumor has it that trespassers are not welcome on the property and that they may even be shot on sight. That prospect (see what I just did there?) kinda kills any adventure buzz that has been building in a person’s soul. ¬†I’ll just keep walking past it every day, keep photographing it from different angles, keep casing any activity or personnel who go in and out of the entry gate in an effort to derive a pattern or a schedule to it all, and take it from there. One can’t get over-ambitious with these types of endeavors.