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Disney got it wrong.  And since today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day , I thought we should set things straight about the real pirates of the Caribbean.

First of all, let me pay respects to the thing they got oh so right – Johnny Depp.  I mean really, who else when asked to create the main character for a series of Big Budget Pirate Movies would say, “Hmm, how about I make him an effeminate lush,”? He is awesome! Long live Captain Jack.

But what of the Imperial Governors from whom the pirates plunder?  What with their bright red coats and all that pomp and circumstance, don’t they seem a bit…British?  So, friends at Disney- here’s a history lesson for you: The British were the Pirates. Consider the following famous swashbucklers:

 

WikiThreads' photo of Captain Morgan.

Long before he shivered the timbers of rum bottles everywhere, Captian Morgan raided Spanish settlements across the Caribbean. Photo by WikiThreads.

Sir Henry Morgan, a Welsh pirate who harassed Spanish settlements in the Caribbean in the 1600s with the approval of British authorities, even managing to become Governor of Jamaica. Today he sells us rum.

Blackbeard, a Brit named Edward Teach who terrorized the West Indies and American coast in the early 1700’s.  He was said to have regularly tied lit fuses under his hat in order to create a frightening sight for his enemies.  Indeed!

Calico Jack, the British pirate named Jack Rackham is believed to be the first to fly the “Jolly Roger” (skull and cross-bones) flag. After plundering the Bahamas for a spell he was eventually hanged in Jamaica.

Evidence of a Pirate Past

Evidence of a pirate past can still be seen in the fortifications which dot the Caribbean today.  Many aren’t terribly large or imposing, but they are strategically placed.

sunhorseflower's photo of anti-pirate fortifications in Guatemala.

Castle of San Filipe, built in 1652 to protect villages on Guatemala’s largest lake from looting pirates. Photo by sunhorseflower.

Above: A fort from the Spanish Colonial Era protects the port of San Antonio de las Bodegas on the shore of Lake Izabal, Guatemala.  The lake is connected to Caribbean Sea by the Rio Dulce and San Antonio was a favorite target for English pirates.  At night, a chain would be stretched from the opposite shore to the Castillo to block unwanted ships from coming up river.

born1945's photo of Morrow Castle.

Morro Castle at the entrance of Havana Harbor, cerca 1950. Photo by born1945.

 

Havana: Perhaps no city had more to protect than Havana.  Due to its geographic placement, Cuba was the perfect place for the Spanish to launch their conquest of the New World from.  An administrative hub, gold and silver laden ships would stop in Havana before carting their conquered treasures back to Europe.  The place was a pirate’s dream.

 

ego2005's photo of a canon protecting Havana's harbor.

Protecting Havana from Pirates. Photo by ego2005.

 

Enjoy talking like a pirate and remember (can’t take credit for this- saw it on a tee-shirt):

To err is human, but to Arrrr! is Pirate!

Legend says that there are treasures at the end of a rainbow. Will it be the same if the rainbow’s underwater?

“Finding it out should be my first quest as a new pirate!” a dreamy EJ said to himself after hearing about an underwater rainbow sighted in the eastern sea.

He invited some friends to join him and they all laughed at him. They called him crazy and all kinds of names but the pirate was determined and shouted that he’ll prove them wrong then left them with his lips pouted.

So he set sail and the wind favored him. He mostly sits at the edge of the boat, looking down closely to the sea for signs of the underwater rainbow.

Searching for signs of the underwater rainbow

The pirate traveled alone in a small boat. He endured cold nights, the sun’s heat, heavy rains and some big waves. After a few days, he started getting weary and his food supply is now short. He has explored several parts of the eastern sea but not a hint of the underwater rainbow was seen.

He decided to go to the nearest island to rest a bit and gather some food.  Along the way, he met a fisherman and asked him if he knows something about the underwater rainbow.

“Yeah it’s a funny story I heard from a crazy old guy who can’t even remember his own name. I wonder who would still believe such a ridiculous story. I’ve been fishing here in the eastern sea since the day I learned how to handle a fishing rod and not one sighting.” said the fisherman.

The pirate felt discouraged after hearing this then continued his way to the island. After reaching the island, he tried to eat some food left even after losing his appetite because of frustration and hopelessness just to gain some strength.

Frustrated EJ

Walking with his head low and mind filled with dark clouds, he gathered some fruits and vegetables until his basket was full.

He decided to take a bath to get refreshed while rationalizing whether he should continue his quest or accept the fact that it’s just a big mistake.

With scrunched eyebrows and a face filled with sadness, he bumped his head to a tree and decided to give it up. He started walking straight back to his boat but suddenly got a call from nature so he ran inside the forest to answer the call then let it all out.

When he got finished, he noticed a strange mark in one of the trees. It’s an arrow leading to one tree and another. He kept on following the marks until he got to a large tree with carved drawings.

The drawing shows an inverted rainbow with sea waves on top of it located at the far side of the eastern sea.

“This must be it!” the pirate said to himself.

The pirate’s face went from gloomy to jolly.  His spirit burst out laughing which made him run and jump in excitement.

Happy Pirate

Full of energy and hope, the pirate set sail again following the direction on the map. The section he’s heading was once thought to be the edge of the sea because of testimonies about people who went there and didn’t come back. Most travelers are warned not to get near that section.

One evening when he was near the said area, the pirate got caught in a storm. The waves are much bigger and the winds are way stronger than any kind of storm he encountered in the past.

The boat was rocking wild and everything was so dark that he can’t tell anymore what direction his boat is heading. He grabbed the boat’s pole as tightly as he could to avoid getting thrown off the boat and prayed for the storm to end soon.

The next day was a peaceful morning, the pirate woke up with a lump in his head and some bruises in his legs. He stretched out his body, made a big yawn then dizzily stood up. He walked clumsily while scratching his tummy and went toward his food basket.

His eyes went from sleepy to shocked when he saw that the basket was partially ripped-off and its cover gone.  Inside it are some birds eating the left-over food which flew right away when he got closer.

For the first time, he realized that his boat landed in a small island. Hungry and desperate, the pirate started grabbing any living thing he can find near the shore.

EJ’s Breakfast

Most of what he found was sea urchins. He cracked it open, scraped its flesh with a spoon, and then added some chili vinegar. It tasted like a grounded oyster mixed with jelly but the pirate didn’t care and kept on eating until he was full.

He started exploring the island and found himself inside a forest with thick fogs. As he kept on walking, the fog became thicker and thicker until he can’t see anything. He thought of going back but a voice caught his attention.

He ran towards the voice until he was out of the fog then saw a woman singing. Her head was exposed and her body is submerged in the sea surrounded by bright glowing colors. The colors formed an arch and the woman is at the center of it as if she’s performing a concert with the colors as her audience.

“This must be it!” said the pirate who was overjoyed and leapt to the sea to ask the woman about treasures.

This must be the Underwater Rainbow

The woman was shocked and the fishes scattered. What the pirate doesn’t know is that the woman is a sea goddess who guards the treasures in the island.

Angered by the pirate, the sea goddess’s eyes turned red then grabbed the pirate’s neck. She has the power to turn anyone to a dead coral by searching evil in one’s heart.

She got surprised that her power doesn’t have any effect on him.  She started letting him go with a face filled with wonder.

“I haven’t encountered anyone who survived my power – why did you come here?” said the sea goddess.

“I’m just looking for treasures, do you know where it is?” said the pirate.

“It’s all around us,” the sea goddess replied.

Me and my New Friend the Sea goddess playing at the Underwater Rainbow.

The pirate looked around and realized that the island is full of bright and colorful fishes. It glowed like diamonds, rubies and emeralds, he felt very rich and alive.

He and the goddess became friends and had fun with the fishes. He finally understood the island’s real treasures are the fishes and promised the sea goddess that he will help her preserve and protect them.

He left the island filled with the treasures in his heart of the wonderful experience he had in the underwater rainbow.

Preparing to Leave

Suddenly, large tentacles of a giant squid grabbed his boat and he found himself getting dragged in the depths of the sea.

Like a kid who got out of Narnia, EJ woke up from his dream only to realize that the goddess is shouting at him because he’ll be late for work if he doesn’t get up immediately.

Making a big yawn with puffy eyes, he stood up and went to the kitchen realizing that he gets to keep some of the treasures in his tummy as well.

Bringing the Underwater Rainbow Home