Costa Rica usually is not considered a land of mysteries. There are no wee people running around and goblins hardly ever visit.
There are, of course, all sorts of well-known myths to keep the religious and the drunks in line. There is the Carreta sin Bueyes, La Segua and el Cadejos.
Then there are the various ghost stories, like the supposedly haunted TB hospital in Cartago.
Newspaper editors love these tales, particularly around Halloween.
The nation does have some real mysteries that may not be supernatural in origin but they still are unsolved.
The No. 1 mystery is what happened to Luis Enrique Villalobos, the money broker who vanished in November 2002 along with perhaps as much as $1 billion of funds mostly from foreigners and expats. Of course the search for him was hindered by the faithful who were sure he would come back and pay his bills. But more than 6,000 persons remain scammed even though his brother was sentenced for aggravated fraud. The money, if it ever existed, never turned up.
No. 2 is the naked jogger. An environmental group set up some camera traps in the unspoiled Parque Nacional Corcovado. There were plenty of good photos of puma and other animal life. But there also was a photo of a naked man who tripped the cameras when he ran by. So who is running in the jungle in the middle of the night? And why?
No. 3 is all the unusual and sometimes wacky sea creatures that visit and sometimes wash up on Costa Rican beaches. Expat Jim Burgess sent in the example above Tuesday from a beach in Osa. There are many others. The sea guards many mysteries.
No. 4 has to be the Fuerza Aérea Argentina aircraft that vanished in 1965. The aircraft carried 69 officers and cadets who were traveling on the first leg of a trip from Panamá to El Salvador. Extensive searches of the Talamanca mountains have come up with no clues.
No. 5 has to be those stone balls found in the Palma Sur area and attributed to pre-Columbian natives. Archaeologists have advanced many theories as have popular writers. But like much from antiquity the truth is still out there. It is hard to believe that early Costa Ricans spent their days fabricating giant stone balls just as a hobby.
No. 6. Space aliens probably did not make the stone balls as some claim, but there are steady reports of unidentified flying objects, usually in the Arenal area. Some claim that there is a hidden spaceport in a nearby smaller lake. This brings the concept of illegal aliens to the most extreme, but enough people have seen strange activities in the sky that there must be something there. Science just has not explained yet what is going on.
No. 7. There are a handful of tourists and Costa Ricans who have vanished and have remained missing despite intense searches. There is a university student near Cerro Chirripó and a park ranger near the Poas volcano. Then there is a Chicago man and British tourists who have vanished in the western part of the country. In fact, one case goes back to an elderly man who just walked away from a tourism operation in La Fortuna never to be seen again in 2001. And there is a Dutch couple who vanished on the central Pacific coast. Not all of these can be attributed to criminal activity.
No. 8. We know why plenty of Canadian snowbirds and U.S. tourists flock to Costa Rica each year, but why do the turtles? Both coasts are nesting grounds for four species of turtles. Scientists think the turtles use the earth’s magnetic field to find exactly the same beach where they hatched years earlier. But the actual mechanism still is a mystery.
No. 9. The last unidentified boom took place May 22. No one knows what caused the sound that was heard all over the Central Valley. This was the latest of a series that have been heard at least since 2012. Volcanoes did not cause this, and neither did jet aircraft. Even the scientists are perplexed.
No. 10 This space is reserved for your mystery of Costa Rica. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. No la la supernatural events, please. Oh, and no politics. Public officials walk around in a fog of mystery all the time.