Roy Roush - Searching For Pirate Treasure On Mona Island
Not many people have ever heard of Mona Island and even fewer know where it is. However, it is located in a remote spot in the middle of the Mona Passage about half way between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and it has a most remarkable and violent history.
It was known as “The Pirate Capitol of the World” for almost 300 years and was not claimed by any country. Most of the old famous pirates were there, including Capt. Kidd and Cofresi, also Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh had been here. The area was avoided as much as possible by merchant shipping because the pirates were known for attacking ships from Europe coming through the Mona Passage on their way to the New World. It was sometimes said that the pirate fleet outnumbered the European fleets.
It has an early history since it was discovered by Columbus who had landed there to resupply his ships. Also, in 1508, Ponce de Leon landed there with a party of 50 men.
It is basically uninhabited due to its location and its extremely rugged terrain. Actually, it is a huge section of the ocean bottom that was thrust up several hundred feet above the surface. It is entirely of limestone but has acquired enough soil to grow trees, dense brush and much cactus. But the most outstanding feature is that it’s almost hollow—more like a huge piece of Swiss cheese, so, it is full of many caves. Some are huge and very extensive—a great place to hide pirate treasure. And surprisingly, bat guano had been commercially mined from some of the larger caves that had been deposited over thousands of years by fish eating bats.
It only has one harbor which is very small, and it is only one of three places where you can get ashore because the rest of the island has sheer cliffs around it that are about 150 feet high. It raises up out of the ocean looking almost like a giant aircraft carrier. It is rather circular in shape and is about 5 or 6 miles across.
Rumors of buried treasures there have circulated for years, and some has reportedly been found. So, when I heard about that, I convinced two other guys to go there with me.
But we had to get special permission from the Dept of the Interior in Puerto Rico to get a visitors permit. Visiting there is highly discouraged and we were warned of the various dangers, including poison fruit, attacks from wild boars; cave-ins while walking through some of the caves; or falling into some while walking over them; or getting lost in some of the huge caves: or in parts of the dense jungle areas-- which did happen to my two companions the first day.
Then there were dangers from attacks by the huge iguanas when they are looking for food. Some are over 6-feet long and they were always around our camp looking for a hand-out. But sometimes, they couldn’t tell the difference between a “hand’ or a “handout.” Even walking is difficult because of the ground cactus, especially if you stumble and fall.
But perhaps the greatest danger is due to it’s remote location which has led to considerable drug smuggling and its associated dangers; or from attacks to get your food and water by stranded castaways from Haiti in their attempts to get to Puerto Rico. There had just been an episode of this 2 weeks before we arrived. It had been an open boat with 40 people. It had lost its engine and was stranded. Some of the people had already died from exposure before being rescued by the Coast Guard. We were warned of this occurrence, and that similar situations had happened before from time to time.
When I returned there about a year later with a group who had their own boat, they were scared away on the second day by some of the situations that I had warned them about. But that’s another story.
It’s the wildest place I have ever been to since leaving Guadalcanal!
Pierre Odier #988 will be giving us a presentation on his trip to find remote Swiss mountain villages.
Come and hear his talk about arriving at one village that had only 7 people in it—yet they were surviving.
This type of trip is a real departure from his usual forays into the remote villages of Africa and Asia.
Don’t miss this fascinating evening!
Travel from fabulous Istanbul, its Old Town crammed with Byzantine, Ottoman and Christian monuments,
along the Turquoise Coast of the Mediterranean Sea on a traditional sailing boat,
across the rugged sunburnt Anatolian Plateau of Eastern Turkey to the steep-sided green valleys above the balmy Black Sea
near Georgia on this in-depth exploration of an extremely variegated country.
Drive, sail and fly to some of Turkey’s finest sites, including the gem-like islands of the Mediterranean,
the enigmatic stone heads of Mt. Nemrut, the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia and the heart-stopping Sumela Monastery,
clinging to the side of a cliff above a lush forest.
Richard Gaskin - Rock Art Sites in the Northwestern Mojave
Richard Gaskin is a software developer during the week who photographs and helps document rock art sites on the weekend.
With the assistance of his friend and mentor Dr. Alan Garfinkel,
Richard is recording a previously-undocumented rock art site in the El Paso Mountains near Ridgecrest, CA.
A member of the US Bureau of Land Management's Archaeological Site Stewardship Program,
Richard has been in touch with the BLM offices in Ridgecrest and Palm Springs to help provide monitoring of archaeological sites in those areas.
In this talk Richard will provide an overview of the prehistoric art in the Coso Mountains,
home of the largest collection of petroglyphs in North America.
This rare collection is mostly in three canyons, only one of which, Little Petroglyph Canyon, has public tours.
Richard will share images from the seldom-visited Dead End Canyon and nearby Haiwee Spring,
along with images from the El Paso Mountains to the south,
and will describe the role of the BLM Site Stewardship Program in preserving these sites for future generations to enjoy.