Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taboga Island, Panama

There are few places in the world where the history of a place is so apparent. Taboga is one of these places. It's the oldest continualy inhabited cities in the Americas, and has the oldest church in this hemisphere. The beaches of Taboga are packed with glass from Spanish occupation, wrecks are common, cannonballs have been found, and if you have dive equipment you can fine many intact bottles from all periods of Tabogas history.
The city of Taboga was well positioned as a base for Francisco Pizarro, from which he plundered both Las Perlas and Peru. Later, the city served as an ideal place for pirates to raid the rich Spanish treasure ships.
For me, the real treasure of Taboga is before Pizarros arrival, when Taboga was called "Haboga", and where the city now stands, there stood a well established native settlement.
Even before leaving the outskirts of the city, you will note that the soil is absolutely packed with all kinds of shell. A closer look will reveal that mixed in with the shells, are fragments of pottery. We were able to find middens of shell, pottery, and stone tools. From the fragments found, it appears that they decorated their pottery simply with red pigment aroud the rim and simple etching. One piece was found that had markings made with a shell in a simple repeating pattern. All the pieces are tempered with sand or crushed quartz, and some are up to an inch thick.
The stone tools are basic, with no sign of pressure flaking. Most appear to be flakes struck from a core, used, then discarded. Interestingly, they are all of types of stone that I have not seen anywhere on the island, and range from a deep black/blue to almost bright yellow.
I found no glass or earthenware mixed with the shells and pottery.

Taboga is an excelent place to hike. We spent some time exploring some of it's then dry creeks as well and found a species of animal we had not seen before.

These green and black frogs are Dart-Poison Frogs, and we were told they are a type that is endemic to Taboga, though we are not certain. They live in colonies so if you see one there are usually many more around.
Of course every paradise has it's hidden dangers, and Taboga plays host to tarantulas, scorpions, and snakes.


Yarg said...

that looks like a tarantula to me Owen!!! think you were dreamin of the your harem scorpion mistresses...

Yarg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Resume said...

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

Anonymous said...


Nice theraphosidae picture but as far as ''dangerous'', that species is totally harmless. The venom is as strong as a bee venom and they are quite docile despise their size.

It looks like some kind of Lasiodora species, and the only thing to worry about are their urticating hair's that can be very annoying.