Aye, thar be treasures a plenty on Ambergris Caye
My carefully crafted plan for retirement now includes snorkeling on the Great Mayan Reef and looking for loose pirate treasure.
Yo. Ho ho. That, and a bottle of rum.
Forgive me if I’m expressing my inner Jack Sparrow but I’ve been reading up on shipwrecks along the Belize reef system and pirate activity in the 1600s and 1700s. Last Thursday night I dropped by the San Pedro House of Culture for the debut of its latest presentation, “Pirates in Belize.” You know, looking for some tips on where the treasure might be buried here on Ambergris Caye.
Seems like there were quite a few pirates and buccaneers plying these waters.
And why not? Everything about Belize worked in their favor — treacherous waters, the barrier reef, lots of little islands around which to play hide and seek. They just had to sit back and wait for gold-laden Spanish fleets to sail north from South America and then they’d spring out like rottweilers, pillage the ships and sink ‘em where they sat.
Pirates of Belize exhibition opened at San Pedro House of Culture
At the official opening, Guillermo “Mito” Paz, Director of the SPHC, welcomed everyone in attendance and invited them to tour the exhibit. “Today’s exhibition is very educational, since it deals with the foundation of our country which is very much thanks to the pirates and the Baymen. The Baymen were this group of English men that came and settled in Belize between the 1600 and 1700’s. These were the individuals that fought against the Spaniards, who at that time ruled most of the Western Hemisphere. The Spaniards colonized what is now Mexico, Central and South America, except for Belize,” said Paz. He then recited a story about how Belize got its name from the Buccaneer Peter Wallace and how the pirates used to attack the Spanish ships that were loaded with gold heading back to Spain. “With this exhibition we pay tribute to the Baymen who decided to stay and defend the settlement of what is now Belize, when the Spaniards were coming to take over the settlement. We also pay tribute to the free slaves that joined the Baymen from Flowers Bank in that historic battle for our freedom,” stated Paz.
Before the crowd was invited to see the exhibit, Paz mentioned that there are treasures buried on the island among shipwrecks of Spanish galleons, in areas such as Rocky Point, Palmeros, and Mata area. He indicated that some of the ancient boat anchors that can be seen in some of the island’s resorts and restaurants are evidence of the presence of Baymen and Spaniards that travelled our coasts.