Thanks to Sea G. Ryder for reminding me to post. click here to visit freerangerodeo.com
It’s Sunday morning on Isla Contadora and I am finally a little bored. I have seen every beach, eaten at every eatery, and had my fill of rum. I remember I saw a blurb about how the archipelago got its name and decided I should make an effort to buy some pearls. I inquired at the office of my B&B Casa del Sol and off I went to meet a man with gold teeth on the beach.
Somebody had warned me not to go on Sunday afternoon as it was the day to drink but the man I was meeting said it was not correct. Off we go into the beautiful waters of the Archipelago de las Perlas!
One of my favorite things about being out in the open water is speed and the air blowing on my face and through my hair. Well “Goldie” did not see it that way. I agreed to pay him by the hour having general knowledge about how long it would take. I had a vision of arriving to a quaint island and picking through the shops for an hour and finding a few rare black pearls for me and my besties then zipping back to the home island with my finds.
I did not know a boat could go that slowly and stay afloat. When I agreed to pay by the hour I should have agreed to an actual amount of hours. So after a one hour boat ride that should have been 20 minutes we arrive. The island is a wreck and I ask him if I can walk to the shops. He just laughs. There are thousands of shells lying about and my hopes are high.
He gets me as close as he can on the jagged beach and I walk on waiting for Goldie to join me. My bubble is popped pretty much on arrival to this dirty and barren place. Two rows of shacks are erected from scrap and there is literally nothing else in sight. I am beginning to believe that the row of quaint shops is not here.
Come to find out this is Goldie’s home island. He is related to everyone and I am not exaggerating. He starts asking around to see if anyone has any pearls but they do not. We walk along the dirty path and he asks all his uncles, aunts, cousins and brothers if they have a pearl to sell. Finally at the end of the path there is a hut serving some food and a bar with loud music. There are some strange apparatus that I do not recognize.
I decide it is in my best interest to buy beer for Goldie and a few relatives so I do. I thought if this was my last beer at least it was freezing cold. I did not feel safe. Oh Lordy I have to pee! I ask for a bathroom and am directed into a shack with a bucket. It’s time to leave.
There is a ruckus and we head over to see what is going on. The apparatuses are being used to weigh the roosters to begin the cock fights. In Panama they breed the roosters with a crazy wild pheasant to make them meaner and more aggressive. I told Goldie I was unwilling to stay for the big event and that if we had no pearls to buy that I am done here. Finally one of his cousins comes up with a small black pearl which I purchase for thirty-five dollars. And we are off. Slowly we putt putt putt off into the distance back to civilization.
I am on my boat now and do not have the ability to post pictures of the black pearl which is tiny and misshapen. When I say “my boat” of course I am talking about the four hundred passenger steamboat on which I live and work most of the year. The American Queen is a perfect specimen of beauty and luxury. Next post probably about living aboard an American Icon.