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Latin America Team Dispatch

The Ghosts of Pirates Haunt These Waters
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Gold taken from what is today Peru was stored in Portobelo and Cartagena then shipped off to Spain

So we are all headed to Colombia now, sort of…

Kevin and Abeja have caught a boat going along the Caribbean coastline, while Monica, Kavitha, and Shawn are headed out (keep your fingers crossed!) on Wednesday for a 15 hour boat ride to Colombia across the Pacific Ocean

So we should be happy, right? Of course we are, that is, as long as we don't run into pirates.

Yep, that's right, pirates. For over 300 years this area has been the happy hunting ground of some of the world's most famous pirates - or at least the Caribbean side has been.

Why would there have been pirates in these parts?

Because there was a LOT of gold being shipped on boats through this area back to Spain. And even today these waters are known for modern, gun-toting pirates who will attack boats when they think they can get something valuable out of it.

The Spaniards stole gold from the native people, the Inca, and brought it to towns with forts. The gold would be protected until a bunch of ships came to bring the gold to Spain. But people all over the world knew about this gold, and some of them wanted some of it for themselves, so they became pirates.

They would attack the ships carrying the gold, but they also attacked the forts where the gold was stored. One of these towns was Portobelo, where Kavitha went dancing (you can read about this in Partying in Panama)

This city was actually taken over by pirates who then destroyed it. Another city was taken over for 100 days and the pirates only left after the townspeople had given them 107,000 pieces of gold!

So why would there be pirates today?

They steal everything from money to cargo, like computers and oil. But today they sometimes carry machine guns and grenade launchers, which is a little different from the old pirates who sometimes used swords.

Are we worried? Well, we won't take any unnecessary risks. But after waiting more than ten days for a boat, we're all going to be pretty grateful to get on the ocean waters! We're actually more worried about getting sea sick! Wish us well, matie!


Kavitha - Partytime in Panama!
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