San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Big Corn Island: The Far Corner of the World?

BIG CORNISLAND – At the top of Quinn Hill, overlooking the turquoise Caribbean waters of SouthWestBay, buried in the weeds of an abandoned-looking park, is one of the far corners of the earth. Literally.

According to Spanish artist Rafael Trénor, this exact point on BigCornIsland forms one of the eight mathematical vertices of a hypothetical cube placed within the sphere of the earth.

In an effort to express the symbolic relationship between earth and sky, Trénor launched an ambitious global art project several years ago called “The Soul of the World,” which attempts to capture the mystic relationship by building the eight protruding corners of a giant hypothetical cube placed within the center of the Earth. Because the Earth is 70 percent water, there was only one mathematical angle in which the hypothetical cube could fit within the confines of the globe so that all eight corners touched land.

“After an exhaustive investigation, we found, surprisingly, that there was only one possible combination on the whole planet that would permit the eight vertices of the cube to emerge on solid land,” Trénor said on his webpage for the project.

Those eight points of the cube are located on Big Corn Island, Australia’s Cocos Islands, Russia’s LakeBaikal, Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, the Kalahari Desert in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Hawaiian Islands, Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain and New Zealand. So there is one vertex in each of the three oceans and all five continents.

So that’s the official, artsy explanation for why there is a mysterious, small pyramid sitting in a weed-filled ditch between the slide and the swing set of an overgrown park in the sleepy Big Corn Island neighborhood of “La Loma.”

Unlike other pyramids in the world, this one wasn’t built thousands of years ago by some ancient and mysterious civilization, or by a super-advanced race of aliens, or by a casino owner. This one was built in 2006 by “a Spanish guy and some local workers,” says area resident Ricky Francisco, 12.

Francisco remembers Trénor’s visit, and says the Spanish artist explained to him that the pyramid is representative of one of the corners of the world.

Shuffling around the perimeter of the monument, Francisco uncovers the weedhidden plaques pointing toward the similar pyramids build in other corners of the world: Tierra del Fuego, Hawaii and Spain.

“I like it,” Francisco says with a noncommittal shrug.

But, he adds, not everyone in town has the same affinity toward the pyramid, and some question whether it has a secret function. “Some say it is suspicious,” Francisco says. “They say there is an antenna inside to detect drugs.”

Indeed, some residents do seem a little edgy about the pyramid. A woman who runs a small pulpería across the street appeared visibly nervous when asked what she thought about the monument.

“I don’t know anything about it. Ask the other neighbors,” she said, shuffling away to avoid further questioning.

Sitting in a hammock nearby, Chester Downs, 18, laughs at the odd relationship between his community and the artwork.

“Most people don’t know what it is, and they don’t ask,” Downs said with a smile. “But I was here when they built it, and I asked. They told me it represented the union of the eight points of the world.”

“People say the DEA has a radar inside, but that’s not true,” Downs adds, refering to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The teen says he thinks the pyramid is a benefit to his neighborhood, because it brings tourists by “nearly every day.”

But he says not everyone agrees with him. “A lot of people think it wasn’t worth the effort,” he said. “It ruined the park.”


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