Anita Polanco, a pioneering soul of the Osa Peninsula’s historical tapestry, emerges as a luminary figure, emblematic of the second major migration and the inaugural Gold Rush that swept the region in the late 1930s. In the early decades of the twentieth century, the southern expanse of Costa Rica remained a land veiled in trepidation, trodden only by the intrepid footsteps of Native Indians. Few Costa Ricans dared venture into these untamed realms until the United Fruit Company cast its gaze upon the untapped potential of the Golfo Dulce, lured by the allure of banana production.
With the UFC’s foray into this pristine land, migration to the Osa surged. Land was acquired, offices were established in Puerto Jimenez, and the experiment to cultivate bananas in the Osa commenced. It was amidst this burgeoning era that Anita Polanco and her husband arrived, drawn by the magnetic pull of gold, as the first Gold Rush loomed on the horizon, encircling the years leading up to 1940.
Many souls from near and far joined the fervor, traversing from Puntarenas, Panama, Nicaragua, Germany, and America, enticed by the promise of the precious yellow metal. Endless hours of toil and persistence were spent digging and scratching the earth along the Madrigal River on the Pacific side. Yet, for Anita Polanco, a turning point arrived after years of prospecting, leading her to relocate her family northward to Rio Tigre, near Puerto Jimenez.
“Enough of the mountains,” she proclaimed, her spirit weary from the challenging terrain. “Let us establish a store,” she resolved, embarking on a new chapter to nurture her family and a burgeoning trade. Rio Tigre became their sanctuary, where a store flourished, offering a trove of merchandise that accepted gold as currency.
In those days, Puerto Jimenez’s streets lay blanketed by grass, a quaint settlement populated by a close-knit community. Names etched in the annals of memory – the Quinteros, the Cevallos, the Aguirres, the Chavarrias, both humble and affluent, the Pinzon family, the Lescanos, the Francesquis – some twenty-five families in all, forever entwined in the tales of the past.
Yet, the advent of the oreros to the Osa Peninsula in the late 1930s left only a subtle imprint upon its social fabric, marked by the emergence of bars and certain indulgences. Roads meandering into the Osa remained a distant dream until the 1980s.
As we seek to unveil the hidden stories of the Osa, we find the heart of its history embedded within the lives of those who once inhabited this remarkable land. Pura Vida! The essence of this realm is tethered to the stories that breathe life into its soil, stories yet to be discovered and cherished, like the enduring legacy of Anita Polanco and her fellow pioneers.