Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Return to the Pearl Islands

After our ordeal at sea, and with Bristol Rose repaired and fully functioning, we took a week to return to the Las Perlas Achipelago to relax and enjoy the last of Panama before we attempted the passage to the Galapagos for the second time.
After returning to Panama City, I happened upon a book written by Robert Vergnes that details several interesting sites of historic significance in the islands, relating to both native and Spanish occupation.

We visited serveral islands we had not stopped at the first time though, and one of them was the well known island of Contadora. This is a very well built up island, and according to Vergnes, pottery fragments were found during the constructions of the buildings you will find there. On the northern end of the island you can also find a face etched into the cliffs, made by the native people before the Spanish arrive. We weren't able to visit this pre-columbian site however.

The island of Chapera to the south of Contadora was said to have an old colonial Spanish well, so we made a point to anchor off it's southern shore and use the dinghy to locate the well using the directions given by Vergnes.
This is Vergnes' first landmark, which is more noticable at low tide. It stands near a beach, which we landed at and located a dry creek bed that would lead us to a path. This path snaked it's way through some of the most beuatiful terrain in the Perlas, until it opened to a clearing with many Royal Palms.
In the middle, with beams of sunlight shining through the canopy, stood this well. It is 17 feet deep, and 12 feet wide at the top. There was signs around it that someone had made attempts to rebuild it, and it had a partial outer wall that is not present in pictures taken by Vergnes in 1980.

On Isla Saboga, on the western shore, is a very large fish trap made from good sized stones. We found it at high tide, but you can see part of an inner wall in this photo. The outer wall is much larger, and can easily be seen on Google Earth.

During our explorations of these islands, we also found some very old shell midden piles, as well as pre-columbian pottery fragments in some places.

3 comments:

Le Loup said...

I was going to say "dam I envy your lifestyle", but I guess I am quite content with the life I have. Even so your lifestyle does sound very exciting and interesting, I think I could very easily get to like it!!!
Great post, thank you for sharing your experiences (sounds like something a councellor would say. I was one once but I did not mean it that way!).
No really great post, really enjoy reading about your travells.
Regards.

Anonymous said...

Great Blog.

I have a question. I am interested in the ease and efficiency of hunter gathers verse farming societies. Some studies by full time scientists seem to romanticize the "HGS".

So.... My question is: Based on your experiences, how difficult did the "HGS" have it?

I imagine that the daily hardships could vary with Inuit at the extreme, but how easy or "easy" do you think Aborigones, Amerindian, or African HGS had it?

Thanks for any thoughts,and you have a great blog.

John

Owen said...

To John-
It's a question that seems to crop up often, and one that doesn't have a clear cut "easy life/hardship" answer. When people chose to give up their nomadic lifestyles, there were trade-offs. Settlements brought security and allowed them to store food long term, and tend to crops. But they also gave up their health, had to deal with the issues of sanitation, and fields becoming fallow through over-use. You really have to look at it on a case-by-case basis. For example, settlements and agriculture would not have been a viable option for Australian Aboriginals, because the land simply did not lend itself to that kind of lifestyle. But, if they did require more food, fresh water, or other resources, they could simply travel elsewhere. Once you settle down, you're committed, and don't really have the option of migration.