We left Margarita on Tuesday morning for a short 20 mile motor to Isla Cubagua.  The area was well known in earlier times for its pearl beds.  Christopher Columbus was the first to make this discovery and as a result, fifty fortune hunters arrived and founded the first European settlement in America in 1492.  The Indians were taken as slaves and forced to dive for the pearls.  According to the guidebook, at the height of the pearling industry, the amount of pearls harvested provided Spain with a wealth almost equal to that of the gold transported from the Inca lands. In one year Cubagua exported 820 pounds of pearls.  Of course this came at a great cost to the local Indian population, and hundreds died at the hands of brutal fortune hunters.

The enslaving of the local Indians to do their bidding, the wiping out of entire cultures due to their brutality, this is pretty much the legacy of Christopher Columbus and the Spain in all the islands we have come through, yet in the United States we celebrate him as a hero.  Never in our history are we told about the consequences of his discoveries in other lands.  It’s very sad.


But the island is nice.  A small beach area and the remainder are covered in large cacti.

One highlight is a sunken car ferry, and once we had the anchor set, Dan, Tessa, Dennie, Michaela, and Liam went to snorkel and Tristan went to Salt and Light to play with Ethan.  I stayed back and went for a quick swim off the back of the boat.  I had just gotten out of the water and was rinsing off, when a pirogue (Venezuelan boat) circled by once and then came back and stopped off our stern.  They said something to me in Spanish and pointed to the sign on their boat “GUARDACOSTA”.  Coast guard.  The guidebook didn’t mention any coast guard here.  I couldn’t understand what they wanted, and finally heard, “Solo?” which meant alone.  I told them there were 4 of us.  I asked them to wait a moment while I got my Spanish translation book, but it was still no help.  They wanted to tie to the boat, so I asked them to wait while I got bumpers.  They were very nice and I felt so bad I couldn’t communicate better. 

Meanwhile, the guys have seen the pirogue pulled up to our boat and make a hasty dash back to see what is going on.  Through a group effort we realize he is asking how long we are staying and we reply only till early the next morning.  They tell Dan and Dennie they need to check into the Coast Guard station, and then they leave.  The guys get their paperwork and head to the “Guardacosta”, awakening the man on watch, who is currently in his underwear.  He seems curious as to why they are there, doesn’t check the paperwork and quickly sends them on their way.  Who knows if you really have to check in, but it’s nice to know that in this remote area, we do have the Coast Guard.