Pirates were interesting people and everything you hear about them is a combination of truth and facts and a whole lot is myth or legend.
The skull on their back and all over the ship is fact for they were blood hungry people who would kill for valuables or booty. The captain carrying a little parrot on his shoulder is truth because he always had need for someone he could trust and would signal to him an attacker from behind his back.
The black patch over his eye was fact because many of them lost their eyes in fights and some simply wore the black patch to create a feeling of fear upon opponents. Big earrings and lots of jewelry is fact for they did steal these from travelers at sea.
It is also a fact that pirates used Ambergris Caye as is recorded in the annals of Ambergris Caye. There exists written documents (history) and verbal history passed on by word of mouth that proves the presence of pirates on Ambergris Caye.
There are the shipwrecks all along the reef, as well as canons and cannon balls that people have dived on and beyond the reef. Pirates landed on Ambergris Caye to dig salt from the salt mines up north in small lagoons of the island. They also used the island to replenish their supply of water and food. They caught the loggerhead turtles and hawksbill turtle that came up ashore to lay eggs. The meat was corned or salted and preserved as food supply. They also caught the manatee as food source.
Now whether the pirates saw the female manatees and fell in love with them and called them sirens, that is something to be proven as fact or myth.
And now we come to a hot topic which you have to decide if it is fact or myth – and that is the presence of treasure chests on the island.
That the pirates had treasures of gold and jewels is a fact. But were they buried on Ambergris Caye? It is said that the pirates came to the shore and dug a deep hole and buried their treasure chests so that their enemies would not rip them off from their wealth.
To protect the treasure chest, they would kill a crew member and bury him to mind the treasure chest. Sometimes they would only chop off his tongue so that he would not speak, or cut off a leg so he would be forced to remain on the spot. But the pirates needed a mark so that when they returned for the chest, they would locate it easily. For this they planted pine trees, which grew very large and they could be seen from far out at sea. They would sail back a year or two later and spot the huge pine trees and come ashore to dig their wealth.
These huge pine trees were said to be growing abundantly from the Victoria House Area and down south. There were and still are many large patches of these pine cone trees growing prolific along the beach, perhaps some 100 to 200 feet inland.
If you dig patiently, with some luck, you might find these treasure chests that used to belong to the pirates. If you will purchase some land along that area, try to obtain one that has the pine trees. And if you do not find any treasures, at least you can name your property Pirate’s Cove, Pirate’s Lantern, Pirate’s Gorge, Pirate’s Arroyo, Pirate’s Creek, Pirates Gulf, Pirate’s Polly, or perhaps you can name your place Santa Maria, La Pinta, or La Nina which were the three ships led by Christopher Columbus, who supposedly was a pirate too.
For your reference check Baldemar Graniel; I understand he has a gold coin he found on the beach which might have been part of some pirate’s treasure chest.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist