Paso Real & Palmar

From the Boruca Indian Reservation, get back onto the Panamericana and drive southeast to the next larger settlement and traffic junction, Paso Real. Here the Carretera Interamericana meets the Rio General and the Rio Terraba. The signs are modest considering this is one of the main roads in Central America. To travel straight ahead in the direction of San Vito, take the ferry crossing the Rio Terraba. It operates all day and night.

Before continuing on to San Vito, it is possible, staying on the Panamericana, to make a short excursion from Paso Real to Palmar Norte and Palmar Sur. These two towns, separated by the Rio Terraba, are also more of a traffic junction than a tourist attraction.

There are several hotels, one gas station, a bus stop and a bank. This modest collection of buildings comprises the center of the banana planting agro industry in the Valle de Diquis. In the nearby delta of the Rio Terraba, mangrove swamps harbor a large population of crocodiles and many kinds of water birds. From Palmar, notable for the large number of Chinese who live there, roads lead to Comes and Sierpe. From there it is possible to take a boat on the Rio Sierpe and travel by river to Bahia Drake on the Osa Peninsula.

Palmar Sur has a small airport. The main square holds the town’s chief attraction, a rusting steam locomotive – a souvenir of banana transport from the good old days. More interesting for most travelers in the region are its archaeological finds. Archaeologists dug up stone balls with a diameter of up to one meter. The local inhabitants call these mysterious balls esferas de piedra or bolas grandes. They were made by Indians before the arrival of Europeans on the American continent. Similar objects have been found on the Isla del Cano. At present it is still not clear who made the balls or what purpose they served. Perhaps they have some meaning related to the advanced astronomical knowledge of the Mayan civilization. Today the stone balls lay under the open sky, scattered around the banana plantations and fields.

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