Saturday, December 19, 2009

A town for pirates

Caught a late afternoon boat to Sabola. A little town divided by a side river. Had a local tourist board member direct me to a hotel and offered a number of tour options. The hotel was at the book price of $5 and was ok so I took a room. Went out for a walk on the road out of town as I did not feel the need for a tour of the three streets in town. I was going for a view from the hill top. I was not disappointed as with the view over the endless jungle. Howler monkeys let me know they were there but did not show themselves. For dinner I choose a place with other customers eating. No menu, so I told them I was a vegiteriano which did not get a complete blank stare from the cook, but close. Explained no carne or pollo, but queso and huevos are ok. She asked a number of questions most of the time leaving while I tried to look them up in the phrase book. Over half the time I could not find the words she said in the book. I ended up with rice, eggs, tomato, beans and carrots. I was lucky. After I sat down at the table overlooking the road below I found out I was sitting next to the TV. The cooks daughter sat down 10 minutes after I arrived and sat 4 feet from the TV. Her grandmother showed up next and sat at my table. So I had company for dinner with comments each time the actors on the tela novela was doing it with someone they should not be doing it with. Everyone was seemed to be in a love triangle or more.

In the morning I hoped the boat for El Castillo. People did not look at me fun when I said the name of the town (Thanks Gladys). The trip down river was on fast boat. So there was little wildlife compared to the day before. There were birds everywhere and saw what looked like a gator/croc head, but it went under as I was getting a better look. The night before the man offering tours offered a trip to capturing a small gator for pictures. El Castillo is a small town with cement and stone walkways everywhere through town. When the NGO offered to rebuild the fort the town had them put in a library and meeting hall in the main rooms of the fort. They had the museum be put in a new building. Good that the locals are are working the NGO for things they need.

So grab that glass of rum. This is the place that pirates movies are made about. So why is El Castillo there? The people of Granada did not appreciate (lift your glass) Captain Morgan and other pirates visiting their town and removing large amounts of the wealth. So they decided to build a fort on the rapids along the river that leads to the Caribbean. The fort was placed on the hill over looking the rapids where the boats would slow to maneuver past the rapids. The heroine of the town was a nineteen year old girl who's father the captain of the fort died in battle. She in her night gown took command and fired the shot that sank the British commanders boat. Then sent a flotilla of burning rafts that routed the rest of the British forces. Another time the Spanish just fled, when they returned after a few months the British had left the fort to the malaria mosquitoes. (Did I take my pill today). Most battles were hand to hand as over half of the fire arms were not functioning. And to add to the challenges the river had fresh water sharks that had a insatiable taste for any who enter the waters. One British commander at 22 though his expadition a success taking 200 men upriver and returning with 10 and he took the fort, but had to leave it due to illness and lack of men. Nelson pic is included was Britons more famest admirals.

For the boaters out there. The local tribe of natives use to only wear one piece of cloth for clothes. Their boats were called bongos and they were bonngueros as they paddle and poled the river. At night they would wear their cloth and during the day they would keep it rolled up under their seats as they paddled.

Picked a nice hotel restaurant for dinner, which resulting in the same meal as the night before.

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