Community Archaeological Culture in Costa Rica

Latest update September 21, 2020 Started on June 17, 2019
sea

When communities embrace their own maritime archeological culture, archeology ceases to be about studying the past; it becomes about re-claiming the historical legacies of our relation with the sea. In Costa Rica, that is taking place.

June 17, 2019
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In The Field

Costa Rican Community Search for Slave Ships


The new docuseries ‘Enslaved’ features a chapter on Costa Rica. During this episode, through the implementation of scuba diving and community document management , we visit the underwater wreckages of two Danish slave ships that sank somewhere along the South Caribbean Coast on March 2nd, 1710.

Between 2016 and 2020, the Asociación Centro Comunitario de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar undertook four expeditions in community maritime archaeology in Parque Nacional Cahuita, as well as at the seas of the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Gandoca Manzanillo (REGAMA).

Due to the lack of specialists on the matter in Costa Rica, international experts have helped us carryout local training through a specialized training on community preservation of its heritage.

These expeditions were undertaken sinvce 2016 under the sterardship of the Centro Comunitario de Buceo, with the support of the UCR sede Caribe (University of Costa Rica), and holding all the pertinent permits for diving in the protected areas of Cahuita and Gandoca/Manzanillo.

They were assisted by specialists from the Maritime Program at East Caroline University, archaeologists from the Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE in REGAMA) and, more recently, archaeologists from the National Museum of Denmark and from Diving With a Purpose (DWP),

Since 2016 we have been coordinating with the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica. During the first two years of our work, there was no laws protecting the underwater heritage sites that we documented. We promoted a campaign locally with UNESCO in 2017, in order to make Costa Rica ratify the Convention on the ‘Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage’ - which became the Law 9500 in 2018. We are currently helping write the regulations concerning the way in which communities may help in its implementation.

Regarding the topic of Samuel L. Jackson's docudrama Enslaved, this episode is about the search of two Danish slave ships in Cahuita, and it is an important aspect of an international series.

Even though the identity of the ships "El Fredericus IV" and "El Chistianus V" has not been established yet, there are signs at the bottom of the sea in Punta Cahuita, that reinforces the hypothesis that the naval vessels found there could indeed be these ships.

In addition, as a contribution to the narrative of the study, we find it is essential to recover the oral stories of the passengers. There are two books that mention and research this event which are contributing important cultural and historical evidence regarding the incident, which is not acknowledged by the ‘official’ account of the area.

The two Danish slave ships arrived on March 2nd, 1710 somewhere on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, on board were 650 African people that had been forced to leave their countries in Africa to become enslaved in America.

The ships were wrecked near the coast, and the crew liberated the enslaves on the beach, and they then embarked on an English barge that would eventually take them to Portobelo in Panama and some back to europe after a trial.

According to the historical documentation studied, many of the freed slaves went into the jungle, so it is possible they could have met and settled with the Bribri. For this reason, the episode of Costa Rica includes testimonies of the afro/indigenous in Talamanca.

Others were captured by the Miskito indigenous peoples who were prowling the coast at the time and taken to the English Protectorate in Nicaraguá Atlantic Coast at the time, where they would have been enslaved. This is the reason why we contacted the afro/miskitas from the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.

Another group of 101 Africans arrived to Matina, where they were enslaved by settlers in the country. Evidence of many of them can be found in birth, death and marriage certificates from the period. Some also appear in the report of an investigation intending to find and locate these slaves. This investigation was commissioned by the monarchy of Spain and conducted by Diego de la Haya, who was the Governor at the time.

There is also a document, in the National Archives, about a trial carried out decades later on the illicit way some of the slaves could have been acquired by settlers in Costa Rica. Precisely because of that we have been contacting people with the surnames Maroto, Brenes, and others, who we believe could have an afro lineage in their bloodline. One of them is looking into her lineage with the help of an ethnographer who is studying those possible connections.

Another group of 21 Africans embarked with the captains and sailors in Portobelo, where the Europeans were captured and sent back to their place of origin. The Africans were taken away from their original owners, remaining in Panama, probably bought by new owners, as was customary of the time

We know of at least four more trials, one in Portobelo and the rest in Denmark, and for this reason we have contacted an underwater archaeologist in Panama, and we are working in collaboration with archaeologists from the National Museum of Denmark.

The information at the bottom of the sea is vital evidence. Diving at the archaeological sites is key, as most of the traffic of slaves was illicit, and so the supplementary evidence is insufficient.

For this reason the main protagonists of this episode of "Enslaved" are the scuba diving youth of the Centro Comunitario de Buceo. They steward the underwater search, both in regards to the cultural material discovered and within the community itself.

The Centro Comunitario de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar hopes this international docudrama, which prominently features the youth and local residents of the communities of Talamanca, can help to:

  1. Reinforce and deepen the roots that mark, and identify, the indigenous and Afro-descendants from the insufficiently studied cultural and historical traits, and contributions and present day status.

  2. Promote opportunities for the new generation in projects related to these cultures and to recognize the openness that these two groups had when they received many other cultures into the area; everything that makes it the most multicultural place in Costa Rica.

  3. Help close the inequality gap in the Province, and its Canton of Talamanca, which is so rich in cultural, natural and historical resources but so impoverished in opportunities for its people.

  4. Recognize the Community contribution of the Caribbean and its development of community archaeological culture. Plus, its role in the preservation and re-discoveries of events that have been on the bottom of the sea. Whether that is objects or testimonies of the story that were previously lost.

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1st Episode of Enslaved: Spectacular and Profound


The 1st episode of the series Enslaved with Samuel Jackson was aired in Epix on cable in the United States this past September 14.

It presented a well achieved counterpoint between Africa and the United States.

The narrative is a coming and going of amazing scenic beauty and deep content, on one hand, of the search for the Spanish slave ship, El Guerrero in the Florida Keys in the United States. African-American divers from the Diving With a Purpose (DWP) together with underwater archaeologists Cory Malcom of the Mel Fisher Museum and Josh Marrano of the United States National Park Service.

On the other hand, it presents Samuel Jackson's encounter with the place of origin of his ancestors, stolen from Gabon in Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The Benga Tribe in that African country is his ethnic group, discovered by the Hollywood actor in the heat of the production of the docuseries about the global search for untold stories and the remains of slave ships.

During the course of his first visit to his place of origin, the inexhaustible idol of hyperactive dramatization and modern acceleration in Hollywood films appears in his Africa, deeply thoughtful, humble and even respectfully out of control, allowing himself to be guided by his people. Almost lost in the unknown about himself, he sensitively seeks to reconnect with history, his history.

That touched me deeply. In this film there was no hyper dramatization or even any acting; only ancestral relived experience. The welcoming ceremony of Jackson to his Benga family in his African territory is as rich as the search for the slave ship Guerrero by Afro-descendant scuba divers in the United States.

That counterpoint made the first episode of the series a great, deep and beautiful passage to help the global audience understand the cost of reconnecting with roots when uprooting has been forced, cruel and silenced in history.

One story in this episode remains a mystery. The Guerrero has not been found yet. It constitutes the search of a ship that was wrecked in the Florida Keys in 1827 with 561 Africans extracted from Africa to be enslaved in the Americas. None of them made it. They died moored and imprisoned in the bottom of the ship when it ran aground, pursued by a patrol boat, the North American Nimble, that was chasing it.

At the other end of the counterpoint, Samuel Jackson has found his roots and is returning to be ancestrally baptized in its place of origin in reunion with its people.

One of lime and one of sand, as the Spanish saying goes.

We all have to keep searching and connecting! The young Ambassadors of the Sea in Costa Rica who have accompanied Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP) in Florida in 2018 in their search for El Guerrero are the same ones who are looking for the two Danish slave ships in the seas of Costa Rica. They are together in these endeavors.

All have redoubled their commitment to continue working together in the search for roots in the ocean, in addition to what they do in their communities to know where they personally come from too by asking the elders in the unwritten stories that remain untold publically.

In that sense, we are not only helping youth to know their history, but teaching them to be a part of that history: the part that remains unknown. they are not historias, but they sure are making history! They are not professional archaeologists, but they are definitely constructing new knowledge.

That is the theme of the IV episode of the docuseries to be presented on EPIX on October 5 all day.

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Docuseries ENSLAVED by Samuel Jackson Features Search for Sunken Slave ships in Costa Rica’s Cahuita National Park


A new docuseries entitled “Enslaved” starring renowned African-American actor Samuel L. Jackson has been released on September 14, 2020 on the Epix TV channel in the United States and will eventually travel to Costa Rica in early October.

The six-episode series, which focuses on the search for slave shipwrecks from the transatlantic slave trade, includes one episode that takes place in the Costa Rican Talamanca Caribbean coast and highland.

Filmed in May of last year, the episode highlights young Costa Rican scuba divers in their search for sunken slave ships.

Since 2016, the non-profit scuba diving group Ambassadors of the Sea has been searching for the identity and wreckage of two Danish vessels the Fredericus IV and the Christianus V - which sank somewhere in Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast on March 2, 1710 with 650 Africans onboard.

Together with the Cahuita National Park (PNC), the University of Costa Rica and the National Museum of Costa Rica, Ambassadors of the Sea and maritime archaeologists from the USA and Denmark, are currently researching the archaeological sites in the Park as the hypothetical place of the Danish wrecks.

“The Costa Rican episode was chosen by the producers for its community approach in the development of an archaeological cultural stewardship in which youth are the divers who unearth the stories of slave ships and who personalize the search by connecting it to a search for their own roots" said the film's director, Simcha Jacobovici.

The other five episodes take place in England, the Florida Keys, the Great Lakes of the United States, Suriname, and Jamaica.

Samuel L. Jackson explained that the production of this series not only connected him with his own roots in Gabon, but with the shared dream of the several of the Costa Rican youth. His dream as a young person was to become a marine biologist. When Mr. Jackson returned to the US, he sent a text message to the young Ambassadors of the Sea. He said he would try to come to Costa Rica to present the series, and he thanked the young divers for their local contribution to the global search for new chapters in the history of slavery. He ended his message with an acknowledgment of their bravery. "If I had the courage, I would even go down to dive with you."

Who knows if any of the nine young divers in the episode will end up jumping on the acting bandwagon like Jackson. In the meantime, they have in common shared dreams.

One of the youngest protagonists in the film, 18-year-old Sangye Wang, scuba diver and video producer on his ATOM channel and for Centro´s Communications Commission, explained that participating in the process of the docudrama has allowed him to grasp a different understanding of filmmaking. "Films are not reality,” - he explains. “When you see the perfect dive in a drama, you believe that life is like that. But it is not. In order to produce an acceptable dive, the directors had us jump a thousand times!"

Enslaved’s director Simcha Jacobovici explains that the episode in the Costa Rican Caribbean“goes beyond the traditional filming of heroic searches by experts in a ‘mission Impossible” journey who arrive thinking about the adventure of diving a shipwreck.Costa Rica´s experience is diving with a ‘twist’ because many of the young divers who participate in the search believe they may be descendants of Africans who arrived on the ships. “

One of them is Kevin Rodríguez Brown. He says his part in the docuseries is very relevant to him "because I am part of that story and knowing it, I have been able to try to find out where I come from and my history as well."

Perhaps others in Costa Rica may have the same luck in the scuba diving and filming processes. By becoming an active audience of the series, you might make new connections in efforts in Costa Rica to adopt an affirmative action initiative in the Legislative Assembly, knowing new approaches and hidden stories at the bottom of the sea can provide the public with parts of their own direct or indirect history of the Afro contribution to multiculturalism that characterizes us.

The Investigation Officer of the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ), Cristian Campbel said this about the work to uncover slave shipwrecks, "Such a declaration [of possible slave ships in Costa Rica] has great significance. The human being has always been interested in knowing their origins, and in the case of my black ancestors who were stolen from Africa as cheap merchandise for a world structure that developed many societies as super powers, a strong affirmative action must be given. We must recognize this contribution to the world - not only that human life comes from the black continent but that each state must recognize and stop making the black person invisible."

Campbel concluded that this is a unique opportunity for the Costa Rican government. He said, "We are still in time for the decade of Afro-descendants and it has not been given due importance."

Don't miss the it this September 15th, 2020 in the USA every Monday in EPIX or when it comes to Costa Rica on BBC in October.

Until then, if you want to know more, just talk to our local stars. See them in the pictures and film here: Bribri indigenous in the Talamanca mountains, Afro dewscendant in the coastal land, Danish archaseologist with youth and the Ambassadors of the Sea in the filming of the part of the series that taked place in Costa Rica´s Caribbean coast

Write to: escuelabuceocaribesur@gmail.com. Read: escuelabuceocaribesur.blogspot.com Call: 50686581091

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                  2020: Trident Drone Becomes a Tool in Lion Fish Studies 

Innovating in Costa Rica´s Southern Caribbean: Trident Underwater Drone has become a tool in the Monitoring and Control of Lion Fish Invasion. Student in mecatronics, Derian Manuel Palma Quirós in Costa Rica´s Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica (ITCR) worked with the support of the Ambassadors of the Sea and others in the use of our recently acquired ROV (Trident Open ROV) towards the creation of an innovative instrument to assist communities dealing with the curbing of the Lion Fish invasion in their coral reefs.

One proyect where it will be used in 2021 is in the monitoring of the Puerto Viejo coral reef monitoring and de-contamination contract of Ambassadors of the Sea by the United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS) in its implementation of a Seweage Treatment Plant in the town by the Acueductos y Alcantarillado gvermental institution. The contract includes Lion Fish extraction by scuba divers Ambassadors of the Sea as a way to contribute in the de-contamination of the coral reef while the Plant is build and eventually functions. It includes, as you will see in the photos: catching it, training youth to identify it, cooking and commercalizing it and communicating about it.

                                                       The innovation  

Mecatronics is a branch of engineering that integrates robotics, electronics, computer science and telecommunitacions in electrical and mechanical engineering. Palma Quiros´ graduate study about Lion Fish (Pterois volitans / miles) in the Southern Caribbean has built a ¨Visual Tool to Assist Marine Explorations in the Control and Monitoring of Lion Fish is the Southern Caribbean¨.

Under the guidance of the National Lion Fish Control and Monitoring Commission of the governement of Costa Rica created in 2015 and working together with Ambassadors of the Sea youth divers, and academics of the University of Costa Rica´s Centro de Investigaciones del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) and the Center for Artificial Inteligence in Natural Sciences (LIANA), Palma Quiros designed the first instrument of its kind in Costa Rica and maybe worldwide.

A decade has passed since the detection of the presence of Lions Fish in Costa Rica Caribbean and so far it has be come an invasive species because of its destructive presence where fisherfolk and scuba divers have become the only predators of the species that came from the Indo Pacific. Fisherfolk of the Association of Southern Caribbean Fisherpeople (ASOPACS) have tackled the extraction of the species by using traditional ways of fishing it with lobster traps and spear fishing.

Youth scuba divers Ambassadors of Sea integrated scuba diving skills to its extraction by using spears while scuba diving in deeper depths than those reached by free diving. They have also studied what the lion fish eats, the sizes and types of lion fish in the Caribbean and have build empirical data bases, but new strategies for information gathering are necessary and highy welcomed because little is known about the density of its population and its spatial distribution in the reefs.

The mecatronics instrument has been designed to allow predator divers and fisherfolk together with engineers and marine biologists, to contribute to gather the scientific data needed to enhance strategies to monitor and control the invasion.

" Improving the systems of recolection of data is a necessity in order to better understand the density and spatial distribution of the lion fish population in the ecosystems. For such goal, Derian and Ambassadors of the Sea have design and tested an instrument capable of gathering such information. Complementing the functionality of the drone, it has integrated to the drone a laser scale beam capable of remotely measuring distances, in other word, an optic telemetric model applied to underwater drone. A complementary software interprets the captured images of the drone through the use of algorithms¨

Palma Quiros explains: "The project is to further develop its use in 2021 the Puerto Viejo´s reefs where Lion Fish invasion ranks high according to the empirical data of youth scuba divers Ambassadors of the Sea, currently designing a project to capture it and commercialize it for local consumption. Youth participation in the innovative mecatronics project not only enhances the monitoring and control of Lion Fish, but might also become a meeting point breaching the gap between scientific and empirical knowldege.

Trident Open ROV company and Nationql Geographic have been informed by Ambassadors of the Sea of this project in case they want to contribute to its further development.

Read in Spanish about Ambassadors of the Sea innovations: http://escuelabuceocaribesur.blogspot.com/2019/08/nota-de-prensa-innovaciones.html

Contact persons: Derian Palma Quiros: derianpq@gmail.com Dr. Helena Molina Ureña: helena.molina@ucr.ac.cr Dr. María Suárez Toro and young founder of Ambassadors of the Sea, Esteban Gallo Madrigal: escuelabuceocaribesur@gmail.com

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ARCHIVO Y MEMORIA: LIBERTY HALL


Durante este mes y mas allá, en el que conmemoramos los aportes de la cultura y las personas afro costarricenses en Costa Rica, no puede dejar de apreciar una exposición muy especial.

Se trata del ARCHIVO Y MEMORIA: LIBERTY HALL que tiene lugar en el Edificio Cristal en el Centro de la ciudad de Limón en Costa Rica a partir del 17 de agosto.

Archivo y memoria: Liberty Hall, es una exposición que pone en escena una cantidad de objetos, registros fotográficos y de pinturas que exploran la construcción del imaginario que históricamente ha sido construido en nuestra provincia por el del movimiento promovido por la United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

La Exposición inicia la construcción de un archivo en progreso que nos permite reflexionar el devenir del movimiento en sus diferentes estadios del sentido.

Visite la Expo físicamente si está en Costa Rica o conózcala virtualmente en un futuro aquí. Forme parte de la memoria viva que es la gente que ha aportando tanto a que no se olvide y que se reconstruya la memoria y re-construir su materialidad próximamente en el lugar en Limón donde se quemó su edificio en el 2016!

https://archivo.crhoy.com/se-quema-famoso-black-star-line-en-limon/nacionales/

El Centro Comunitario de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar en el Caribe Sur celebra doblemente esta Exposición. Una, por su propio sentido, pero segunda, porque la historia del Black Star Line, que es la historia de los anhelos de reconéctarnos y mantener viva la herencia africana, nos conecta también con la búsqueda de historias de embarcaciones hundidas en el Caribe que pueden estar asociadas con esa herencia.

Por eso compartimos también una canción alusiva que le ha donado Sergio Rojas de Salsa One a la juventud buceadora del Centro que participa en la búsqueda de las raíces en el fondo del mar.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAOQWRhA7qQ&feature=share]

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I am so happy that this important project is being supported by SEE. Yay!

Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar Caribe Sur:
Seguimos innovando en el uso de altas tecnologías para surveys arqueológicos

7 de agosto, 2019

En una acción que hace noticia tecnológica en el trabajo de survey en arqueología subacuática , un grupo de 23 jóvenes buceadores y buceadoras en el curso de Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP) y el Servicio de Parques Nacionales de Key Biscayne documentaron conjuntamente un naufragio en ese Parque en los Cayos de Florida usando la mas moderna tecnología no invasiva: un dron subacuático Trident.

La nueva tecnología los guió por los senderos arqueológicos de los restos de una embarcación que documentaban como parte del curso ¨Monitoreo y Survey de Naufragios¨ para certificación PADI y de YDWP.

No se conoce todavía si es una primera experiencia en el mundo, pero lo cierto es que un detallado sondeo del portal mundial de NatGeo Explorers que promueve el dron, no ha reportado tal uso hasta el momento y, mucho menos en manos de jóvenes aprendices innovando.

Todo el operativo arqueológico subacuático transcurrió en manos de la conducción técnica de la juventud Caribe Sur de Costa Rica, de la participación de jóvenes de Estados Unidos que conocieron la tecnología por primera vez y de la conducción en buceo scuba de una joven de 17 años de edad de Isla de St. Thomas en las Islas Vírgenes, Maura Monee Richards y la estadounidense que ese día cumplía diecinueve años de edad, Michaela Strong.

¡Mujeres la volante submarino en la innovación!

Todos se organizaron con los dronistas subacuáticos del Centro, Sangye Wang y Salvador Van Dyke, ambos del dieciséis años de edad, quienes con gran maestría dirigieron el operativo arqueológico organizado para hacer historia y hacer noticia.

Contaron con el apoyo de la embarcación de Horizon Divers que colocó la embarcación de una manera que permitía peinar el naufragio completo extendido de este a oeste, manejado manualmente por Richards mientras otros jóvenes que ya conocía en dron, entre ellos Royer Colomer, Pete Stevens, Esteban Gallo y Félix Morisson, acompañaban el trabajo en el fondo del mar.

Mientras tanto, en los alrededores del naufragio, el resto de los jóvenes dibujaron, completando los insumos para el mapa arqueológico del lugar, el cual constituye un aporte de YDWP para el Parque y el mundo que los visita.

Por el Servicio de Parques en Key Biscayne participaron desde su propia embarcación el responsable de arqueología marítima, Josh Marrano y su equipo.

Pronto aquí, un video del acontecimiento.

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A Spanish class for North American
youth taught by Latino scuba divers quickly turned into a cultural immersion experience

It was to be a Spanish class so that eight youth divers from the United States and St. Thomas in the Caribbean could learn some Spanish from the six young scuba divers from Costa Rica´s Southern Caribbean.

All were participants in the Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP) 2019 course in Coral Monitoring & Restoration and Maritime Archeological Advocacy program in the Florida Keys this past July.

The Spanish course was designed as an opportunity for the Spanish speaking divers to teach their language while sharing some of the cultural of the coastal community where they came from: Puerto Viejo in the Southern Caribbean.

So, they proposed a simple methodology where the community archeological culture they develop on their home town would be the content, while as teachers they would harness technology in assisting them to teach.

¨Contextual Spanish¨, they called it when they asked their colleagues to watch a bilingual video production about their Puerto Viejo Town Tour, then think of a question they wanted to ask about it, write it in their mother tongue and then Google the Spanish translation in order to ask the Costa Ricans who then responded in slow Spanish assisted by sign language like the one they all use in the bottom of the ocean as divers.

“Archaeological Tails in Land and Sea” in Puerto Viejo presented the trail walks and scuba or snorkeling diving sites designed for visitors who want to experience a marine coastal cultural immersion program in the voices and perspectives of young scuba divers of the Community Diving Center Ambassadors of the Sea

In the questions was the immersion in the case of the Spanish class!

¨Pete – asked Kramer Wimberly from Florida upon listening to the eighteen-year-old tell the story of his enslaved ancestry – how do you feel about your heritage? ¨

¨I feel a pride of being Bribri and Afro because they are my roots and history I did not know about before diving in search of that history¨ he said in Spanish while he touched his heart with the hope the English-speaking colleagues would understand.

Michaela Strong from Maryland wanted to know from Royer Colomer if the traps used by elder fishermen to catch lobster and fish were always used to develop their livelihoods. Royer said yes with his head, while explaining that it is a very old tool used for lobster but not for turtle hunting which was the preferred catch in the past.

Sangye Wang, another seventeen-year-old young man form Puerto Viejo was asked by Tristan Cannon from Nashville, Tennessee how many people lived in his hometown in Puerto Viejo and how long have they been living there.

Somewhat hesitant, Sangye held his head and frowned, asking for help from others in his group. Finally, he relaxed and responded that the present Afro population has been there for almost 200 years and now there are some 8,000 dwellers in the four town that comprise the Southern Caribbean between Cahuita and Gandoca.

Maura Monee Richards from St. Thomas in the USA Virgin Islands asked in very good Spanish what was the meaning of so many old pictures and art in the Cultural House in the middle of Puerto Viejo, learning that historically it has been the house where the local culture has been exposed and taught for the last almost 100 years.

The lesson proved to be fruitful for together with language, a just of immersion in the culture was also expressed.

YDWP and the Centro have agreed to look for ways in which to get together in Costa Rica next year after shared courses in Florida so far. The Puerto Viejo Town Tour has been included in the agenda for the 2020 exchange program.

The Puerto Viejo Town Tour

Visitors learn about the cultural legacy of the area in underwater and shore-line cultural and archeological sites. In the trail ¨Puerto Viejo Town Tour¨. They learn about the 200 year legacy of sustainable artisanal fishing in the voices of the elder fishermen but also the youth divers who presently catch lion fish to curb the invasion of the foreign species that came from the Indo-Pacific that is harming the reefs due to its rapacious eating habits of all juveniles and the fact that it does not have predators other than humans in the Caribbean Sea.

Traditional lobster and fish traps used by fisherfolk originally came from Africa by way of Jamaica. They are still made and used by Pun, one of the oldest fishermen that talks to visitors about that history of artisanal fishing while youth divers showcase the artisanal spears that they construct with bicycle rays so as to protect the corals while going after the Lion Fish.

They also visit the Casa de la Cultura in the middle of the town, a one hundred year communal center build by the community originally to hold ¨home schooling´ English Schools where Afro-descendants who came from nearby islands and continental Caribbean lands after 1826 as fisherfolk and later, after 1972, from Jamaica as indentured workers brought to construct the railroad that connected Limón in Costa Rica´s Caribbean with the capital city of San José.

Today the Casa is thriving cultural center where multicultural expressions of Bribri and Cabécar indigenous peoples who populated the area for many, many centuries, Afro Costa Ricans who came later, Costa Ricans who migrated along the last seventy years and over 52 other nationalities.

Full of historical pictures of the town´s history and even legendary Marcus Garvey´s Black Star Line story, eighteen year old Pete Stevens Brown shows an old picture of his great great grandfather explaining that his great, great, great grandfather came from the Ivory Coast in a slave ship in 1807 and his great, great grandfather came in a ship from Jamaica for the railroad but took to the mountains where he married a Bribri indigenous woman.

Proud of his mestizaje (mix Afro and Bribiri heritage), he explains how the archeological culture in his community´s Centro has allowed him to learn about his own roots. ¨The reason I did not know about this is because they did not talk much about it, probably because it was painful¨ he explained.

Another stop in the tour is a lunch in Miss Elena Spencer´s kitchen in her house, also in the middle of the town. Daughter of one of the founder of Puerto Viejo, she teaches Afro Caribbean gastronomy to youth and visitors so that ¨the culinary culture continues living among us.¨ A delightful ron-don made with fresh fish, yucca and other cassava, tiquisque and spices, brings the visitors closer to a culture that reminds us that we are what we eat and that in the Caribbean, everything came from the sea.

Last but not least, the tour includes a snorkeling or scuba diving visit to The Lanchon, century old barge grounded Playa Negra, also in Puerto Viejo.

Surveying and researching the Lanchón in Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo, youth divers being trained in cultural archeology have been able to find a missing link in the archaeological hypothesis by Dr. Nathan Richards in 2015 (UEC- 2015), this learning a very important lesson: underwater archaeology it its best when surveys include underwater exploration and also community involvement.

When Dr. Richards and two other professors of the Maritime Program of the University of East Carolina (UEC) in North Carolina (2015) surveyed the site with graduate students in a Field Course, he concluded that further research was necessary because the Lanchón might be one of nine barges constructed in Albany, N.Y. and taken to Panamá in order to play a role in the construction of the Canal in the early nineteen hundreds, but a portion of it was missing today.

Upon comparing it to the blueprint of the barges build in Albany to be taken to Panamá, Dr. Richards suggested that the Playa Negra Lanchón had been larger, but part of it was missing.

A year later, Centro divers being trained in Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS) curriculum in underwater archaeology found the missing part! Still to be measured at the time, the survey was necessary to make sure that the barge fit the structural design in the blueprint of the nine barges build for the construction of the Panamá Canal.

Background was gathered from Dr. Richard’s preliminary report in the Field Work blog and oral stories such as a facebook request of information from Miss Toti Facio (per.com.: 2016), daughter of the Costa Rica’s engineer who brought the Lanchón from Panamá in 1954 and an interview with Puerto Viejo elder, Miss Elena Spencer, 6 years old when the barge arrived in her home town.

The Lanchón was brought to Costa Rica from Panamá by the tug boat Yankee Clipper. Minister of Transportation Ing. Alvaro Facio Segreda figured out that bringing the old discarded barge and running in aground on shore was the least expensive dock that could be placed in Puerto Viejo in order to bring to shore the necessary machinery to make the path that would connect Puerto Viejo with the rest of Talamanca…" Miss Toti Facio told the youth..

Testimonials from villagers collected by Paula Palmer in her book (Palmer: 2005) explain that El Lanchón had been brought from the Panama Canal to open the trail that would serve for an oil concession. The Figures government, during his second administration between 1953 - 1958, had granted exploration permission to the American Oil Loftland Company.

Photos:

Costa Rican youth with Maura Monee Richards and Michaela Strong Group in mock wreck Maura and Salvador Journalists: Nicole Ellis of the Washington Post and Adrienne Jordan of Scuba Diving Magazine

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Seis jovenes buceadores scuba practicaron el
no uso de estereofón en Estados Unidos el día que en su país fue prohibido

El lunes 15 de julio, mientras en Costa Rica el Presidente de la República firmaba en decreto que prohibe la importación y distribución de estereofón (pliestireno expandido) en el país, seis ticos que habían viajado el día antes a los Cayos del Florida en Estados Unidos amanecieron rechanzando su uso en el hotel en el que hospedaban.

Al ver la cantidad de recipientes de esterefón de todo tipo para los desayunos en el hotel, decidieron dar el ejemplo sin decir nada a nadie. Hablaron del tema mientras una compraba siete tazas y siete platos de vidrio y, siete cubertos de metal.

Comieron lo mismo que el resto de las 35 personas que llegaron a desayunar pero al final tuvieron que lavar sus utenislios y recipie¡ntes. Alguna gente miraba aquella extraña mesa de finos latinos en cuya mesa relucía el vidrio ymetal labrado.

Sin decir nada – no supieron si porque no hablaban español ó porque no entendías bien lo que pesaba - miraban hacia los estante a ver si había mas vajilla de vidrio. En la mesa de los ticos había además una simple botella de vidrio transparente para cargar agua para hidrtarse los botes que los llevarían a su primera inmersión en buceo scuba para aprender acerca de los problemas que enfrentan los famosos corales de los Cayos de Florida y lo que los buceadores hacen para detener la masacre.

Actualmente existe en ese paraiso un 4% de los corales que poblaron el lugar hace una década, según la Fundación para la Restauración de Corales. Entre enfermedades bacterianas y el abuso de contamianantes de distintos tipos, algunas zonas están desoladas de especies que viven en los arrecifes.

Campañas de descontaminación de los mares y de restauración de corales mediante siembra monitoreada han marcado el punto de inflexión local entre dejarlos morir del todo o hacer algo drástico.

Pero se sabe que para que cambiemos la dinámica, cada persona debe hacer lo suyo también. Derivado del petróleo, el estereofón no es biodegradable y tarda 500 años en deshacerse. Tiene aditivos que contamiana y son tam porosos que despiden partículas que los animales marinos confunden con alimento, flotando como el plastico que consumen.

No hay cambio de habitos sin cambio de cultura y eso fue lo que hicieron los buceadores del Centro Comunitario Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar en Florida. Dieron el ejemplo dia por día, sin pedicar y sin juzgar.

No había pasado las primeras 24 horas, cuando ya se habian percatado del tremend impacto en silencio. Las meseras, al ver que ellos se atrasaban por tener que lavar sus utensilios, les ofrecieron lavarselos ellas. ¡Habian comprendido y se comprmetieron!

Un jóven que vió a Sangye desayunar con su vajilla reluciente, le pasó por el costado exclamando entusiasmado: ¨That is sooo cool!!!!¨

Una curiosa señora me preguntó si habíamos traido los envases de vidrio desde Costa Rica. ¨No, amiga, aquí los venden en todos lados y son mas baratos que en Costa Rica; todo el mundo los tiene en sus paises, es cuestión de decisirse a usarlos.¨

Mr. Ernie, uno de los instructores de buceo de Youth Divinf With a Purpose (YDWP), organización no gubernamental que becó a nuestros buceadores, dijo que a él lo habían inflienciado tanto que espera que los ticos coman para agarrarles prestados los utensiiios y envases.

La administración del hotel nos llamó para saber si es que habíamos encontrado also malo en sus envases de estereofón. ¨!No señor, en los envases la comida está bien, lo que está mal son los envases mismos!¨

Al día siguente, esa misma administración había sacado cajas y cajas de platos de cartón deshechables, pero biodgradable.

Son pasos, pasito a pasito, suave suavecito, que cambian cultura. De ahora en adelante, que donde quiera que haya un costarricense, haya libertad para rechazar el esterefón.

No hay que esperar los dos años de moratoria para que las empresas se pongan las pilas. Si los consumidores lo rechazamos, no habrá espera.

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Beyond recreational diving, Youth Diving with a Purpose (YDWP) is re-creating intentional diving in the younger generation of scuba divers in the Americas


Some come from Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and St. Thomas, others come from Costa Rica´s Caribbean coast, and others from the United States including the states of Tennessee, Maryland, Georgia, and New Jersey.

Some want to become marine biologists, others underwater welders, others maritime archeologists and many still do not know, as they claim to be ¨too young to know yet¨.

What all 13 of them share in common in having come together for the next couple of weeks in the Florida Keys in this moment in their young lives, is that their own experiences and the opportunities provided by Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP) in the USA and Costa Rica´s Community Diving Center Ambassadors of the Sea (CCB Embajadores) have motivated them to learn more about ocean ecosystems and underwater legacies in order to continue ¨diving with a purpose¨.

Indeed, the other commonality is that they are all young divers who have gone beyond recreational scuba to link it to the ¨re-creation¨ of our species' purposeful interaction with the ocean´s biological and cultural treasures.

Overall their common purpose is the conservation and protection of one of the wealthiest ecosystems in the Planet and the cultural legacies that lie in the sea bed, with stories yet to be fully told that are constantly unraveling before the eyes of the beholder.

The two-week course, which involves advanced learning about coral reefs and monitoring sunken shipwrecks was organized by YDWP. The Coral Monitoring and Restoration for PADI certification was organized with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). Shipwrecks Monitoring is organized by certified PADI instructors, all members of Diving With a Purpose (DWP).

¨When I come across a coral reefs like the ones in Pickle Reef, I was surprised because they are less diverse than the ones in St. Thomas and St. Croix where I have done my scuba diving before,¨ said Maura Monee Richardson, a 17-year-old Afro diver from the Caribbean Island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

Richardson is a participant in the Youth Ocean Explorers (YOE) program at the University of the Virgin Islands, an oceanic sciences project. A want-to-become archeologist and commercial diver in Costa Rica, Afro Costa Rican Pete Stevens Brown, age 18, of the Community Diving Center Ambassadors of the Sea said that when he came across what might be a sunken slave ship off the coastal community of Cahuita, he learned for the first time about slavery in his country.

¨Now I have even learned that my great, great great grandfather came in a slave ship in the early 1900s from the Ivory Coast; now here, I am learning about the slave ship in Florida, the Henrietta Marie and the ¨African Slave Cemetery¨ in Key West. These experiences bring me new layers of the pain of those voyages and slavery itself.¨

The DWP staff have made it a volunteers ¨alter-career´ in their retirement or close to retirement lives, to pass on to the new generation the skills that they have learned in scuba diving, thus bringing an additional purpose to their organization mission.

Ernie Franklin, an Afro North American old timer in (DWP) noted that ¨I am a YDWP instructor because in it, I no longer contribute to the preservation of the ocean but also train youth with the hope that they develop consciousness and commitment.¨

Franklin is one of five staff instructors of YDWP along with Kramer Wimberly, PADI instructor specializing in coral monitoring and restoration in the program, photographer Chris Searles, YDWP coordinator, Kenneth Stewart and Rebecca Hunter.

Photos by María Suárez Toro and Cris Searles

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Guardianes de la memoria
María Suárez Toro, Centro Embajadores del Mar para NatGeo

Como si la pérdida de millones de vidas africanas y el destierro forzado de tantas otras en los viajes marítimos del Tráfico Transatlántico de Esclavos entre los siglos 16 - 19 no hubiese sido suficiente para estremecer la capacidad de recordar desde la historia, ahora, los artefactos en el Parque Nacional Cahuita que pueden estar asociados a embarcaciones que cargaron vidas humanas africanas convertidas en mercancía, han pasado a convertirse en el encuentro de una memoria, memoria que guarda una historia que todavía ni siquiera ha sido contada lo suficiente.

Son hoy día las ´memorias del fuego´ de las que hablaba Eduardo Galeano cuando narraba en su libro del mismo nombre, que los conquistadores españoles, queriendo borrar la identidad y sabiduría maya, quemaron sus sagradas escrituras. Pero los ancianos se reían - dice Galeano - porque no se puede borrar de la historia lo que esta grabada en la memoria de los pueblos.

Las memorias que yacen en el fondo del mar no son para sonreírse, pero si para re-conocerse en nosotros y entre nosotros. Contienen la historia no asumida todavía. Son la huella que reta el desconocimiento de acontecimientos importantes que marcan nuestra cultura; esa cultura poco reconocida que muchas veces se asoma en nuestras formas de ser y otras veces, como los artefactos, permanece oculta, esperando a ser contada como parte de nuestras raíces.

Agraciadamente la memoria de dos barcos daneses esclavistas que llegaron por equivocación al Caribe de Costa Rica, donde quiera que se encuentren, son una memoria que parece excluir la muerte en el desembarco, aunque no se libra del abuso del maltrato que sufrieron los 650 africanos que viajaron el los dos barcos entre su salida de la capital de Dinamarca en diciembre del 1708 o los líderes africanos que fueron asesinados por rebelarse en un triste pasaje que contó en el Caribe de Costa Rica un historiador de Estados Unidos (Lohse 2016) en un Seminario (FUACDES: 2016), aunque la primera referencia en Costa Rica a ese acontecimiento fue el relato de Tatiana Lobo y Mauricio Melendez en us libro Negros y Blancos Todos Mezclados (1997).

Contó Loshe (2016) que el Christianus V. había logrado comprar un total de 373 africanos y africanas pero llegó a Costa Rica con 318, es decir, perdieron sus vidas 55 africanos y africanas. El segundo barco, el Fredericus IV salió para las Américas con 433 africanos y africanas y llegó con 374, es decir que 55 de ellos desaparecieron en el trayecto. Vidas truncadas por la fuerza de un tráfico de humanos que no tiene parangón en la historia.

En su pasada tormentosa por distintos lugares de África adquiriendo africanos y otras mercancías, los daneses conocieron el impacto las rebeldías de esclavizados cuando la noche del 14 y el amanecer del 15 de septiembre de 1709, en su parada en el puerto de Keta a la orilla del rio Volta en Gana, Africa Occidental, un grupo de africanos capturados que viajaban en el Fredericus IV se amotinó en un intento por liberarse.

Re-capturados y castigados severamente unos y, asesinados otros por las autoridades del barco, los marineros daneses pasearon los cuerpos de los rebeldes por todo el barco, para que los demás aprendieran a ser sumisos.

Finalmente, su llegada a Costa Rica el 2 de marzo del 1710 por equivocación cuando iban rumbo a la Isla de St Thomas y fueron desviados por tormentas.

Muchos de los africanos del desembarco fueron capturados por los Miskito en la costa y llevados rumbo al Protectorado ingles en la Costa de Nicaragua donde fueron re-esclavizados.

Otros africanos y africanas fueron llevados por los marineros y capitanes europeos en una barcaza a Panamá, desconociendo hoy deia su eventual destino pero a sabiendas de que los eurpeos regresaron a Europa sanos y salvos.

Otros se internaron en la selva de Talamanca desapareciendo para la historia oficial, integrándose con los Bribri que libraban una de sus mas feroces resistencias a la colonización ese preciso año y otros, 101 de ellos, fueron capturados por colonos ticos en Matina y vueltos a esclavizar al ser llevados al Pacífico y la Meseta Central.

De algunos de esos últimos, sabemos su paradero porque el trabajo, presentado en el mismo Seminario (2016) por el lingüista Mauricio Melendez (2016), narrado que los que fueron re-esclavizados aparecen en la historia oficial en archivos nacionales.

Contó la historia de uno de ellos: Miguel Maroto, de 16 años de edad en 1710 llegó al Caribe en uno de esos barcos esclavistas.

Meléndez logró ubicar la trayectoria del africano que desembarcó el 2 de marzo de 1710, procedente del actual Benin, antiguamente Dahomey ubicado en el oeste de África, o de Togo en África subsahariana. Su lenguaje africano original pudo haber sido Fon and Yoruba si vino de Benin y Ewé; Kabiyé si vino de Togo.

Llegó en el Cristianus V. o el Fredericus IV. junto con otras 650 personas que desembarcaron libres a pesar de que habían sido traídos para ser esclavizados en las Américas. Junto con otros 105 esclavizados y esclavizadas fue capturado en junio del mismo año de llegada.

Se puede identificar su linaje suyo porque hay suficientes archivos como por el hecho de los 105 esclavizados, 63 habían sido adquiridos ilegalmente. Doña Luisa Calvo de Cartago, tuvo que pagar 200 pesos de cacao por Miguel porque presentó un documento de compra del esclavo en 1681 que no fue aceptado. A la señora Calvo la investigaron por sus otros esclavos también. Todos habían sido desembarcados en los galeones en mención. María Capitana, negra de casta Mina nacida hacia 1689, Francisco Maroto de casta Aná nacido hacia 1689 y otro Miguel Maroto negro de casta Mina nacido hacia 1694. Todos había llegado a la propiedad de la señora y llevaban en apellido Maroto, a excepción de María, por haber pertenecido a su difunto hijo que no dejó herederos, Gabriel Maroto.

Miguel Maroto había pasado de mano en mano desde que había sido capturado en Matina, adquirido por el gobernador Grande Ivalbin quién había tomado 21 esclavos por su sueldo con la venia de Guatemala, cuando el 1 de mayo de 1710 había sido capturado con 22 “zambos moskitos” y negros esclavos. Ivalbin le vendió a Miguel Maroto al Capitán González Coronel; luego éste se lo vendió a Gabriel Maroto, quien a su muerte se lo dejó a su madre.

Miguel da declaraciones 10 años después acerca de cómo había sido capturado. Dice en su testimonio que entró por Matina desde una playa cuando encallaron los barcos en los que venían.

El 19 de agosto de 1727, doña Luisa dona al esclavo Miguel Maroto a su nieto el cura José Díaz de Herrera quien casi de inmediato de lo vende por 400 pesos de cacao al Alferez Francisco Gutiérrez, cacaotero del lugar. En 1730 Gutiérrez vende su esclavo Miguel a Berdanrdo García de Miranda por la misma cantidad. Miguel Maroto contrae matrimonio en 1716 con Petronila Calvo, mulata libre, quizás descendida de la familia Calvo y posiblemente mezclada español y africana y por eso mulata libre. Hay que recordar que Luisa, de apellido Calvo era casada con José Maroto.

Cuando los hijos de Miguel y Petronila aparecen en actas, se le identifica como mulato libre como ella, aunque no se sabe de su documento de manumisión y se le citaba como entre “bozal” recién llegado sin saber español y “ladino” como un adaptado.

Tuvieron seis hijos: José Ermeregildo nacido en 1716, Andrés en 1719, María Gertrudis en 1724, María Candelaria en 1727, Manuela Antonia en 1736 y María Narcisa nacida en 1739. Trabajaron en el cacao en Matina, primero como esclavos (aunque hay que recordar que los hijos de una mujer libre nacían libres) y luego como hombres libres pues la esclavitud se heredaba por la madre y Petronila era mulata libre.

Todos tuvieron descendencia hasta nuestros días, menos María Antonia y María Narcisa. Aunque los descendientes van por Maroto o por Calvo, prevaleció el Maroto aunque en el el Siglo XIX llevan el Maroto, pero también Carvajal, Brenes, Barrios, Rivera y Salazar.

“Jamás se imaginó Miguel cuando desembarcó después de la forzada travesía, que iba a fundar un nuevo linaje tan lejos de su lugar de origen y a establecer nuevas relaciones en un nuevo mundo” terminó Maurico Meléndez la exposición de esta información, concluyendo que además que “hoy interesa reconocer que Miguel tiene ascendencia que se puede trazar hasta nuestros días con una búsqueda que ha iniciado.”

El Centro Comunitario de Buceo no le bastó llegar hasta ahí. Queriendo aportar algo a la trazabilidad, se contactó con Adriana Maroto, profesora de biología en la Universidad de Costa Rica y feminista en el movimiento de mujeres.

Ella sabía de su negritud pero nunca supo por dónde buscarla porque cada vez que preguntaba por su apellido, le decían que era de origen italiano. Su padre murió cuando ella era pequeña, pero siempre supo con sus hermanos y hermanas, que tenían descendencia negra.

El Centro la conectó con Mauricio Meléndez, quien la ayuda a ver si es descendiente de Miguel Maroto. Ella cree que es bien posible, pero hay un corte de décadas años entre el árbol genealógico que ella ha reconstruido poco a poco desde hoy día para atrás con su familia y el que ha hecho de atrás para adelante Meléndez con el linaje de Miguel Maroto.

Buceando la memoria

Recuerdo la primera vez que buceamos el lugar en el Parque Nacional Cahuita donde se cree que pueden estar los restos de esos galeones. Permanecímos impávidos ante los anclas, los cañones y los cientos de ladrillos en el fondo del mar.

Pueden o no, pertenecer a ese acontecimiento. No se sabe a ciencia cierta todavía. Pero lo que si es claro es que desde ya, por ser los candidatos hipotéticos por excelencia, nos están devolviendo una memoria.

Registros plasmados en artefactos golpeados por las inclemencias del pasar del tiempo y tatuados por una naturaleza arrecifal que los hace ver bellos y eternos en su fragilidad memorial.

Es como si en medio del dolor que sin duda guardan, encontráramos una fuerza de la naturaleza que los levantó por encima del olvido hasta trascender, re-encontrando su lugar en la memoria de quienes buscan su historia.

Las estrategias ´galeánicas´ de los Embajadores del Mar para rescatar su memoria del fuego, si bien ocurren en el buceo arqueológico en el fondo del mar, también encuentran su lugar en los archivos nacionales y en los imaginarios de los descendientes de esa y todas las historias acerca de la llegada de africanos y africanas al Caribe de Costa Rica.

Los orígenes mas remotos del mestizaje Bribri y Afro son otra fuente, quizás la mas importante en este momento en la búsqueda de la trazabilidad de los africanos del desembarco de los galeones que huyeron hacia la selva, encontrando su libertad con los Bribri y los Cabecar, esos pueblos originarios nuestros que nunca se dejaron conquistar y precisamente en el 1710 desarrollaban una fuerte ofensiva que le costó la vida a Patru Presbere, líder de la resistencia que no se detuvo.

Falta mucho que saber y mucho que contar.

FUACDES: Seminario Verdades Ocultas en los Mares del Caribe Sur organizado por el Festival de las Flores de la Diáspora Africana los días 29 - 30 de agosto en Cahuita.

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We are happy to work with you too!

Etel Alvarado, la primera buceadora scuba en el PNC 1972
María Suárez Toro, CCB Embajadores para NATGEO

Entre los años setenta y ochenta mi ex esposo y yo nos desplazamos en Cahuita, donde gran parte nos dedicamos a la pesca y buceo deportivo, desarrollando la oportunidad de interactuar con sus pobladores la mayoría dedicado a la pesca y la producción de cacao. De ahí se fue forjando la información de áreas interesantes de posibles naufragios con narraciones de historias de piratas, tesoros, u hasta de sirenas, contadas por el ermitaño David, y Salomón Sarkis, cual tenía un gran parecido con el personaje del viejo y el mar. Con una frondosa barba blanca y ojos azules. (Ponencia, 2018)

“Yo llegue a las 16 años de edad a vivir en Cahuita en 1955. No había carretera y la gente vivía en forma muy sana y muy sencilla. Solo se compraba sal, azúcar y aceite, todo lo demás se producía allí” dice Etel en entrevista conmigo en el 2016. Asi supo que el mar era la fuente inagotable del alimento de toda la población, además de los granos que se sembraban. “Mi abuela era pescadora en Limón, ella era originaria de las Islas Canarias así es que ya trajo la pesca de niña y me enseñó a preparar el pescado y los mariscos.”

Buceaba de noche y buceaba de día desde sus 16 años de edad. “El mar tiene una danza y cuando se bucea, una se da cuenta de que también tiene una música. Yo la he oído muchas veces, es una música marina que le da ritmo al mar.”

Dijo que en Cahuita una no descubre un lugar; una se descubre a una misma. “Gente hermosa y un lugar bello y abundante, cuidado por la gente local hasta ahora y es la brisa del mar, la gente negra llena de color y calor, la cultura de la pesca; todo ello es el tesoro de Cahuita.”

Es artista y casi todos sus cuadros son de la cultura negra porque era su vivencia en Limón desde pequeña y cuando llegó a Cahuita, “todo lo tenía que decir pintándolo.”

La serie que está pintando ahora se llama “Las Venas del Caribe”. Explica que la esencia del ser humano es ser parte de la naturaleza y cuando eso se pierde, nos perdemos; hay que volver a ser humanos, es demasiada la desconexión eso nos enferma.”

Cuando vivió en el Bluff, veía Punta Cahuita desde su ventana. Una vez tuvo la experiencia extraña de ver una luz brillante por esa ventana. “De repente se iluminó el mar después de una tormenta que movió todo como lo hace una liquidadora. ¡Y sonaba como una licuadora!”

Siempre pensó que pudo haber sido un ovni extraterrestre, pero sabe que mucha gente de Cahuita ha visto luces en Punta Cahuita.

Sobre lo que vio en el fondo del mar en Cahuita, explicó que después de esas movidas fuerte del mar, se abrían “ventanas” muy claras bajo el agua. “Recuerdo asomarme y ver en forma clarísima toda una costilla de un gran barco.”

Le pregunto: ¿Eran galeones o era otro tipo de embarcación?

“Oh no, definitivamente era un galeón; lo sé porque varias veces vi allí también un gran tabique con cadenas y argollas tipo grillete, colgando como si hubiesen amarrado gente a aquel pedazo largo y grande de madera, una argolla al lado de otra.”

Nota: Aunque todavía no se sabe la procendencia de las embarcaciones a las que pertenecen los artefactos en el Sitio de Los Galeones y el Sitio de los Ladrillos en el Parque Nacional Cahuita, cada vez nos acercamos mas a la tesis de que fueron barcos esclavistas y posiblemente, el Fredericus IV y el Christianus V de procedencia danesa que en el 1710 llegaron con 650 africanos y africanas que desembarcaron libres en el Caribe de Costa Rica tras haberse desviado de su destino original - la isla de St. Thomas - por una tormenta.

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When Afro Costa Rican Miss Elena Spencer in Puerto Viejo announced in 2017 that she was going to donate a big old boat rudder to a Cultural Maritime Archaeology Exhibition being organized in the Southern Caribbean, she declared that in order to donate it, it should be labeled with her father’s name, and the story of how in 1954 he saved it from being destroyed by enormous waves in a huge storm that hit the towboat Yankee Clipper in Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo. She also wanted to include this story, which her father had told her and her siblings about the shipwreck, which had then been passed down through generations of her children and grandchildren.


In 2019, Miss Elena’s donation along with nine other archeological objects were presented in the exhibition with the Co-governance of the Cahuita National Park. At the opening, Costa Rican archeologist Ifigenia Quintanilla, who had been invited by the Centro Comunitario de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar, shared her philosophy and research methodology on the “Biography of Objects of Memory”.

The PhD candidate in Prehistoric Archeology at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona in Spain is currently finishing her dissertation about this issue. The topic is very close to her heart and professional expertise because she is currently an independent expert in an archeological land project in the Southern Pacific in Costa Rica, the Diquis Spheres for which she has won the title “The Lady of the Spheres.” Her scientific research also includes collecting the oral stories of the communities where the ancient stone spheres were found, thus recovering the biography of these archeological objects in their relationship to the lives of the people.

“In archeology, we study the last moment of an object with cultural value because any cultural object is constituted by the social materialization of what humans transform in our social activity,” said Quintanilla in her opening statement at a workshop and meeting with young cultural archaeology scuba divers Embajadores del Mar, community activists and local government representatives.

Ifigenia noted that when humans place those objects in museums - whether underwater or on land - and when the objects are re-signified in relationship to their story, “the objects continue having a life.”

The methodology proposed by Ifigenia can enhance the archaeological documentation of objects, collections and sites that the Embajadores (Centro) divers have been developing with community and government authorities and the support and technical training of invited professional underwater archaeologists.

The method to construct the biography of archeological objects includes the following: • Asking pertinent questions about an object in order to learn its history; • Describing it thoroughly so that anyone can visualize the information it provides; • Interpreting it by learning to read it in its context; • Documenting and analyzing all or some of three values related to the object, including the social, scientific and common heritage value. Also important to include in the biography is the current value of the object or site for people today

Ifigenia said that all of this information should be catalogued and include pictures, videos, measurements and stories, along with tags and catalogue numbers.

The workshop also included a very important discussion regarding the significance of organizing the information in a way that is made available for all the purposes identified in the Centro’s and community archaeological culture.

“This workshop is very relevant to us in Cahuita, studying community archeology,” noted Aaron Mora, a 15-year-old Centro scuba diver from Cahuita. “Not all communities are so linked to these archeological processes as we are, and this identifies an archaeology that is about the place where we are from.”

Ifigenia concluded the workshop by saying that “what I expect of you is that you start looking at archeological objects in a different way; that you understand that your print will be in everything you “touch” (document), for good or for bad, depending on what you do with that responsibility.”

With this workshop Ifigenia has become part of the “biography” of the cultural community archeology being developed in Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean; a context where the country has just converted the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage into national law 9500. Participants including outside archeological experts and those trained with the Centro Comunitario de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras Del Mar, are are currently drafting the regulatory process for its legal implementation. Embajadores is emphasizing the recognition and inclusion of deep community involvement in decision making, stewardship and opportunities in training and participation in research in the field.

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Lucrecia Dominguez del PNC:
"¿Un Dron Submarino? Ahora podré ver los cañones en el Parque sin mojarme.”

Cuando el equipo de buceadores y buceadoras del Centro Embajadores se lanzó al agua en el Parque Nacional Cahuita (PNC) con la reportera NAT GEO, Tara Roberts, no se imaginaron que iban a encontrar lo que parece un nuevo cañón en Sitio de los Ladrillos, pero tampoco que iban a hacer historia tecnológica en la arqueología subacuática en Costa Rica.

La reportera que cubría la actividad en buceo arqueológico comunitario trajo un dron submarino que aprendió a usar con nuestros buceadores ese día. La compañía que los produce el Tident Underwater Drone, la S.E.E. Initiative, le había enviado el aparato un día antes de su salida para nuestro país, por lo cual lo aprendió a usar.

El objetivo de la compañía que produce esa nueva tecnología es el de empoderar a comunidades, científicos, educadores, estudiantes y demás en su exploración de los mares. Es lo mismo que vino a hacer Roberts al documentar el trabajo en la búsqueda de embarcaciones esclavistas que dirige el Centro Comunitario de Buceo en el Caribe costarricense mediante invitación a arqueólogos internacionales para realizar investigación conjuntamente cada año desde el 2016 hasta el presente.

“Una lectura de los manuales, una revisión del submarino con Thingley Koblensky (programador y buceador del Centro), una prueba inicial en las pocitas frente al antiguo comisariato de don Manuel León fue suficiente para aprender a usarlo” dijo el wolabense (nombre original de Puerto Viejo) Sange Wong, joven de 17 años, Senior Sea Hunter del Centro Embajadores y uno de sus fotógrafos y productores de video.

“De fácil uso” según lo descubrieron hoy los buceadores, el submarino Trident recorrió el Sitio de los Galeones en el Parque Nacional Cahuita, tomando videos y guiando a los exploradores por los caminos del descubrimiento de nuevas perspectivas de los arrecifes, corales y artefactos culturales de embarcaciones hundidas en el fondo del mar.

Una hipótesis principal de las exploraciones arqueológicas profesionales y comunitarias es que los artefactos (cañones, anclas y ladrillos), pueden haber sido parte de dos barcos daneses esclavistas que el 2 de marzo de 1710 arribaron a las costas del Caribe de Costa Rica por equivocación, dejando libres en las costas a 650 africanos que habían sido desterrados forzosamente de sus territorios en África para ser esclavizados en las Américas.

Al terminar la jornada en el Sitio de Los Galeones, se desplazaron se desplazaron al Sitio de Los Ladrillos en el mismo Parque, donde trataron de fotografiar un cañón descubierto por una Junior Sea Hunter, Daniela Arenas de 18 años en su buceo con esta servidora unas horas antes de la llegada de los videastas del Tridente.

Creyendo que habían encontrado una pieza arqueológica ya documentada previamente, al estudiarla detenidamente con otros jóvenes buceadores del Centro como Salvador Van Dyke (también wolabense y Senior Sea Hunter del Centre Embajadores), se percataron que podría ser un nuevo descubrimiento.

Los Senior Sea Hunter del Centro saben cuales son piezas identificadas previamente porque han participado en Expediciones Galeones y Otras Embarcaciones en arqueología comunitaria en el Parque Nacional Cahuita entre el 2016-2018 con el Programa Marítimo de la Universidad de Carolina del Este en Carolina del Norte, EUA.

“Este nunca lo vimos antes, es un cañoncito mas pequeño y tan lleno de concreción, que casi no lo pude localizar cuando me dijeron hoy” dijo Salvador.

Así, hoy en el Parque Nacional Cahuita los jóvenes buceadores del Centro, junto con Tara Roberts con NATGEO y el apoyo tecnológico de S.E.E. Initiative hicieron un poco de historia arqueológica en Costa Rica.

!Y haciendo historia, le facilitarán a Lucrecia Dominguez del Parque y a otros, ver casi todo sin necesidad de mojarse!

!Pero vieran que lindo es verlo guiando el dron!

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Gracias, muy bien dicho!
Gracias, seguimos!
Very inspiring to see how you are using the Trident underwater drone to support your work. I am really looking forward to reading more about any new discoveries as a result.
Exactamente, innovando en el uso de las tecnologías para hacer el trabajo. También resulta que la nueva ley de la Convención para la Protección del PatrimonioCultural Subacuático plantea que los Estados firmantes, como El de Costa Rica recientemente (abril, 2018) tienen que promover que las comunidades hagan documentación (surveys) como hemos hecho desde el 2016... y este instrumento que el el dron submarino nos permite al máximo hacerlo sin tocar en entorno.
Gracias, esas voces de aliento nos motivan!
Gracias por ser parte de esto, trayendo tu proyecto de investigación acerca del pez león!

Nahima Eras Clarke, a girl from Cahuita in Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean, is part of the Children’s Snorkel Diving Camp organized by the CCB Embajadores del Mar.
As a participant, she drew what can be considered a “premonition” of a new technical instrument that would be introduced in her community for young underwater explorers to use in their search for sunken ships.

Grand-daughter of fisherfolk of the Association de Pescadores de Subsistencia a Aquicultura del Cahuita (ASOPESCAHUI), Nahima went snorkeling in an area known as The Galleon’s Site in the Cahuita National Park to see ancient anchors, cannons and bricks. She later painted a picture of a diver with a strange instrument in her hands.

Less than six months later, Nat Geo’s Underwater Explorer, Tara Roberts brought to the Park the first underwater drone, which looked remarkably simllar to Nahima’s painting. Centro’s Ambassador of the Sea, Sangye Wang Brenes taught Roberts and others how to use the Trident Drone for underwater exploration in the very same archeological site visited by Nahima several months before.

At age 16, Sangye is one of more than 33 young scuba divers trained in Costa Rica in a community archeological culture where the new generation learns to document, protect and disseminate information about sunken ships in the Southern Caribbean. He has received extensive training, is active in the Centro's underwater archeological research and seminars, and has won several awards.

Sangye, who grew up in Puerto Viejo, is an amateur video producer, a home-schooled high school student in Puerto Viejo, and an advanced PADI-trained scuba diver and underwater archaeology trainee in the Nautical Archeological Society (NAS) curriculum, having already completed the first two levels. He was one of six scholarship recipients with the Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP) organization to take a 2-week training in Key Largo, Florida. There the youth added to their skills in underwater archeology, and coral monitoring and restoration for a PADI Specialties certification.

Sange also participated in two field work programs in the Cahuita National Park in Costa Rica under the stewardship of the Centro Comunitario de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar and the marine archeological researchers of the UEC (University of East Carolina) staff, with permits granted by the Park authorities. The young diver was also a scholarship grantee in a one-week Maritime Program at UEC in 2017, and in July of 2019 attended a two-week program with Youth Diving With a Purpose (YWDP) in Key Largo, Florida.

In addition, Sangye presented his underwater research with four other team members in the 2018 Field Work and Expedition for NAS accreditation, in May, 2019 spoke in the Seminar “Legados en el Mar Caribe Sur in Cahuita."

Sangye has received several awards for his active participation in the Centro, including:

-INTERNATIONAL AWARD: As part of CCB Embajadores, he won 2nd Place together with ECU, of the Diversity Award of the Society of Historical Archaeology (SHA) in 2017.

-NATIONAL AWARD: As part of the Centro, he received a financial award from the Puntos de Cultura of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud for the project Casa/Embajada Del Mar in 2018.

-REGIONAL AWARD: He was awarded one of 11 "Juventud Destacada de Talamanca" diplomas by the Municipality of Talamanca in 2017.

-COMMUNITY AWARD: Sangye was one of 11 youth recognized by the community of Puerto Viejo in its 2017 Wholaba Festival on Afro Costa Rican Day on August 31, for their work to find new information about the history and contributions of African heritage.

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Pictures of drawing and of drone as soon as I can figure out how to post them!
Si, es una iniciativa que nos ismnsoira a seguir adelante, gracias por ser parte de ella!

Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean: technological innovation in community archeological documentation


Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0nUHCjUvZk

En efecto, un proyecto que cuenta con un gran apoyo local, nacional e internacional. Tu involucramiento ha sido importante por el entusiasmo tuyo y el de tu hija!

A Spanish class for North American and by Latino scuba divers
quickly turned into a cultural immersion experience

It was to be a Spanish class so that eight youth divers from the United States and St. Thomas in the Caribbean could learn some Spanish from the six young scuba divers from Costa Rica´s Southern Caribbean.

All were participants in the Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP) 2019 course in Coral Monitoring & Restoration and Maritime Archeological Advocacy program in the Florida Keys this past July.

The Spanish course was designed as an opportunity for the Spanish speaking divers to teach their language while sharing some of the cultural of the coastal community where they came from: Puerto Viejo in the Southern Caribbean.

So, they proposed a simple methodology where the community archeological culture they develop on their home town would be the content, while as teachers they would harness technology in assisting them to teach.

¨Contextual Spanish¨, they called it when they asked their colleagues to watch a bilingual video production about their Puerto Viejo Town Tour, then think of a question they wanted to ask about it, write it in their mother tongue and then Google the Spanish translation in order to ask the Costa Ricans who then responded in slow Spanish assisted by sign language like the one they all use in the bottom of the ocean as divers.

“Archaeological Tails in Land and Sea” in Puerto Viejo presented the trail walks and scuba or snorkeling diving sites designed for visitors who want to experience a marine coastal cultural immersion program in the voices and perspectives of young scuba divers of the Community Diving Center Ambassadors of the Sea

In the questions was the immersion in the case of the Spanish class!

¨Pete – asked Kramer Wimberly from Florida upon listening to the eighteen-year-old tell the story of his enslaved ancestry – how do you feel about your heritage? ¨

¨I feel a pride of being Bribri and Afro because they are my roots and history I did not know about before diving in search of that history¨ he said in Spanish while he touched his heart with the hope the English-speaking colleagues would understand.

Michaela Strong from Maryland wanted to know from Royer Colomer if the traps used by elder fishermen to catch lobster and fish were always used to develop their livelihoods. Royer said yes with his head, while explaining that it is a very old tool used for lobster but not for turtle hunting which was the preferred catch in the past.

Sangye Wang, another seventeen-year-old young man form Puerto Viejo was asked by Tristan Cannon from Nashville, Tennessee how many people lived in his hometown in Puerto Viejo and how long have they been living there.

Somewhat hesitant, Sangye held his head and frowned, asking for help from others in his group. Finally, he relaxed and responded that the present Afro population has been there for almost 200 years and now there are some 8,000 dwellers in the four town that comprise the Southern Caribbean between Cahuita and Gandoca.

Maura Monee Richards from St. Thomas in the USA Virgin Islands asked in very good Spanish what was the meaning of so many old pictures and art in the Cultural House in the middle of Puerto Viejo, learning that historically it has been the house where the local culture has been exposed and taught for the last almost 100 years.

The lesson proved to be fruitful for together with language, a just of immersion in the culture was also expressed.

YDWP and the Centro have agreed to look for ways in which to get together in Costa Rica next year after shared courses in Florida so far. The Puerto Viejo Town Tour has been included in the agenda for the 2020 exchange program.

The Puerto Viejo Town Tour

Visitors learn about the cultural legacy of the area in underwater and shore-line cultural and archeological sites. In the trail ¨Puerto Viejo Town Tour¨. They learn about the 200 year legacy of sustainable artisanal fishing in the voices of the elder fishermen but also the youth divers who presently catch lion fish to curb the invasion of the foreign species that came from the Indo-Pacific that is harming the reefs due to its rapacious eating habits of all juveniles and the fact that it does not have predators other than humans in the Caribbean Sea.

Traditional lobster and fish traps used by fisherfolk originally came from Africa by way of Jamaica. They are still made and used by Pun, one of the oldest fishermen that talks to visitors about that history of artisanal fishing while youth divers showcase the artisanal spears that they construct with bicycle rays so as to protect the corals while going after the Lion Fish.

They also visit the Casa de la Cultura in the middle of the town, a one hundred year communal center build by the community originally to hold ¨home schooling´ English Schools where Afro-descendants who came from nearby islands and continental Caribbean lands after 1826 as fisherfolk and later, after 1972, from Jamaica as indentured workers brought to construct the railroad that connected Limón in Costa Rica´s Caribbean with the capital city of San José.

Today the Casa is thriving cultural center where multicultural expressions of Bribri and Cabécar indigenous peoples who populated the area for many, many centuries, Afro Costa Ricans who came later, Costa Ricans who migrated along the last seventy years and over 52 other nationalities.

Full of historical pictures of the town´s history and even legendary Marcus Garvey´s Black Star Line story, eighteen year old Pete Stevens Brown shows an old picture of his great great grandfather explaining that his great, great, great grandfather came from the Ivory Coast in a slave ship in 1807 and his great, great grandfather came in a ship from Jamaica for the railroad but took to the mountains where he married a Bribri indigenous woman.

Proud of his mestizaje (mix Afro and Bribiri heritage), he explains how the archeological culture in his community´s Centro has allowed him to learn about his own roots. ¨The reason I did not know about this is because they did not talk much about it, probably because it was painful¨ he explained.

Another stop in the tour is a lunch in Miss Elena Spencer´s kitchen in her house, also in the middle of the town. Daughter of one of the founder of Puerto Viejo, she teaches Afro Caribbean gastronomy to youth and visitors so that ¨the culinary culture continues living among us.¨ A delightful ron-don made with fresh fish, yucca and other cassava, tiquisque and spices, brings the visitors closer to a culture that reminds us that we are what we eat and that in the Caribbean, everything came from the sea.

Last but not least, the tour includes a snorkeling or scuba diving visit to The Lanchon, century old barge grounded Playa Negra, also in Puerto Viejo.

Surveying and researching the Lanchón in Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo, youth divers being trained in cultural archeology have been able to find a missing link in the archaeological hypothesis by Dr. Nathan Richards in 2015 (UEC- 2015), this learning a very important lesson: underwater archaeology it its best when surveys include underwater exploration and also community involvement.

When Dr. Richards and two other professors of the Maritime Program of the University of East Carolina (UEC) in North Carolina (2015) surveyed the site with graduate students in a Field Course, he concluded that further research was necessary because the Lanchón might be one of nine barges constructed in Albany, N.Y. and taken to Panamá in order to play a role in the construction of the Canal in the early nineteen hundreds, but a portion of it was missing today.

Upon comparing it to the blueprint of the barges build in Albany to be taken to Panamá, Dr. Richards suggested that the Playa Negra Lanchón had been larger, but part of it was missing.

A year later, Centro divers being trained in Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS) curriculum in underwater archaeology found the missing part! Still to be measured at the time, the survey was necessary to make sure that the barge fit the structural design in the blueprint of the nine barges build for the construction of the Panamá Canal.

Background was gathered from Dr. Richard’s preliminary report in the Field Work blog and oral stories such as a facebook request of information from Miss Toti Facio (per.com.: 2016), daughter of the Costa Rica’s engineer who brought the Lanchón from Panamá in 1954 and an interview with Puerto Viejo elder, Miss Elena Spencer, 6 years old when the barge arrived in her home town.

The Lanchón was brought to Costa Rica from Panamá by the tug boat Yankee Clipper. Minister of Transportation Ing. Alvaro Facio Segreda figured out that bringing the old discarded barge and running in aground on shore was the least expensive dock that could be placed in Puerto Viejo in order to bring to shore the necessary machinery to make the path that would connect Puerto Viejo with the rest of Talamanca…" Miss Toti Facio told the youth..

Testimonials from villagers collected by Paula Palmer in her book (Palmer: 2005) explain that El Lanchón had been brought from the Panama Canal to open the trail that would serve for an oil concession. The Figures government, during his second administration between 1953 - 1958, had granted exploration permission to the American Oil Loftland Company.

Photos: Maura Monee Richards and Salvador Van Dyke Jouralists: Costa Rica youth, Maura and Michaela Strong Group in mock wreck site

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Expedition Background

The Centro Comunitario del Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar (Community Diving Center Ambassadors of the Sea) is a holistic approach to scuba diving and snorkeling with purpose.


It is a nonprofit organization in Costa Rica, born in 2014 out of the dream of four local youth who wanted to learn to scuba dive in order to contribute to protect the ocean in new ways.

In 2014, Kevin Rodríguez Brown, Esteban Gallo Madrigal and Anderson Rodríguez Brown were named by the media, “Lion Fish Warriors” following a Lion Fish Tournament to tackle the problem of the invasive species in the Southern Caribbean. I invited them to participate in the event, organized with the Association of Artisanal Fisherfolk of the Southern Caribbean (ASOPACS).

The youth’s excitement and dreams captivated me. A scuba diver myself, I met to brainstorm with Frederick Wright, an afro Costa Rican PADI instructor in the area.

Together we designed and launched the scuba diving training center with the youth, and later launched the first Children’s Snorkeling Camp with women of ASOPACS (Asociación de Pescadores Artesanales Caribe Sur - Association of Artesan Fisherpeople of the Southern Caribbean) as instructors, as well as the first seminar together with the University of Costa Rica and the Cahuita Sustenance and Aquaculture Fishermen’s Association (ASOPESCAHUI).

In 2016, the Centro became its own autonomous community initiative in diving with the objective of providing opportunities for the new generation.

Today the Centro is thriving with 51 local youth, staff, and community dwellers in scuba diving and snorkeling skills used for the protection of the marine, coastal environment by participating in archeological research and direct action in conservation of the ocean. Programs include efforts to eradicate the invasive Lion fish, clearing debris off the coral reefs and beaches, and systematic coral protection and restoration efforts.

The Centro is strongly committed to cultivating a community archeological culture and re-claiming the underwater heritage in the Southern Caribbean Sea. We have invited archeologists from around the world to collaborate in developing local capacities in the field of community maritime archeology to provide youth with opportunities to steward such processes. They are also trained as technical assistants to professional archeologists undertaking research under community guidance.

Photo: The creators of the Centro!

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It's amazing to see this story about these incredible young people told here on this platform. So inspiring. Thank you!
True, Mauricio, thanks for the stimulus!

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