A Treasure Hunt: When Life Gives Lemons

“But that is not treasure for us which another man has lost; rather it is for us to seek what no other man has found or can find.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

We were without electricity and water for two days. When life gives lemons, what else can one do, but….go on a treasure hunt. The lake is receding. It’s the dry season and many Pre-Columbian pottery shards wash ashore daily. If the shards wash ashore from the lake, what treasures are to be found embedded in the soft clay and volcanic sand beneath the water? We were determined to find out. Plus, it was a grand way to take a bath. After two days without showers, we were both feeling a little raunchy.

Scooting on our butts in the shallow, murky water was an exercise in patience and touch. This must be what it is like to be blind. We began to differentiate between the volcanic rocks and smooth pottery shards nestled in the clay. Soon Ron shouts, “It’s a turtle! It’s something big and whole. I think I’ve hit the jackpot.”

A few minutes later, after carefully digging around the clay with nimble fingers, he dislodges a whole pot. It was an incredible sightless find. What made it even more remarkable is that there were only a few chips missing from the rim. How did it survive the onslaught of waves and other misfortunes in the shallow water? Many years ago, my young friend and I were walking along the shore and she spotted what she thought was a turtle. To our surprise, it was a Pre-Columbian pottery burial urn, perfectly intact, upside down on the shore. Amazing!!!

I have many unanswered questions. Why are the pottery pieces in the lake? Was the lake much lower at one time and this was where the ancient ones made their pottery? Or, when the Spanish conquistadors came to Ometepe Island, did the ancient ones bury their treasures from the invaders? I have lots of research to do.

Meanwhile, I continue to collect the variety of tools, shards, and other incredible pieces that wash ashore. I’m thinking of donating the whole pieces to our local museum. I recognize the need for protection, preservation, and education of these precious artifacts. They do not belong to me. After all, the fun is in the treasure hunting and seeking what no man has found or can find.

13 thoughts on “A Treasure Hunt: When Life Gives Lemons

  1. Water was very important to the ancient ones, it is a way of cleansing and I believe a dimension to a different world, they were probably gifts to the gods of the underworld, my grandma told me once that some people found an idol of gold from their diggins, who knows? you might get lucky ;)… Debbie! Nicaragua indiana jones 🙂

    • Jeje! I kind of like that nickname. Seriously, we wondered about the pottery being gifts to the gods, too. The indigenous tribe leader from Mexico had a vision about two hills and was led to Ometepe Island..home of the gods. Maybe they were gifts to the water gods. I wish I could find more history of the island. Jorge, we really need to co-author a book. You are an encyclopedia of information about Nicaragua. Seriously!

  2. Sounds fun! (Well, not that part about no water for 2 days, we’ve been through that too in Panama, especially not fun when you find out AFTER a long run.) Since I’ve gotten my husband behind me 94.7% on going to Ometepe next week, I’m wondering if I can ask you some more questions, for instance what has the crossing from San Jorge to Ometepe been like lately ? Can you go in the water barefoot? Are all of the beaches good for swimming in as far as cleanliness goes? Are there any with bad currents? As always, please don’t feel obligated to answer any of my silly questions, but of course, I’m interested in hearing whatever you want to share with me!


    • Hi Valerie,

      As far as the crossing, I would definitely take the El Ferry or the Che. It’s been so windy here lately and the little launchas always make me sick as well as getting me drenched with waves. I wouldn’t recommend going into the water barefoot. There are tiny pieces of glass everywhere and yucky garbage washes ashore daily. We swim a lot, but I rarely put my head under the water…it’s a huge lake, but we can find very little information on the water quality. Santo Domingo has a beautiful white sand beach, but because it is always windy on the other side of the island, there are stronger currents. On this side, there is less wind, but occasionally it looks like the ocean with large waves, especially during the windy season. If you enjoy swimming, you will find Ojo de Agua perfect. It is a refreshing cool, clear spring of water. You have to pay a dollar or two to enter, but it is well worth it. Hope you are able to convince your husband 100% to come to Ometepe. It is worth a trip.

  3. i would turn obsessive compulsive with that challenge! i love exploring areas at extreme low-water times. discovering that pot would have me out there at dawn and sticking with it til cervesa time!

    of course i want a history on all of those intact pieces.. they are lovely! z

    • Julio, our neighbor, knows how much I love the pottery shards. He brought a special one over for me ( I didn’t include it in the photos). It is a very large carved parrot head. He said that we should go look for the shards because the lake was really low. That’s all it took to get us out and searching. By April, the lake will be at it’s lowest point. We may have to camp out on the beach. lol It’s really difficult to find the history of the pieces here. I need to take them to the museum so they can tell me more about them. You can come anytime..I’m sure we could satisfy your OCDness. Jeje

      • the archaeological area where i live here is very rich, and every single time i work in the yard w/a shovel, i unearth fragments. of course, i slow down and hope to uncover a true gem. the best i’ve found was on a nearby beach – a perfect little shaman’s ‘lime pot’ that fits in the palm of one’s hand. i treasure it!

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