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.

A Pre-Columbian Pottery Shard Turtle


I know I’ve said this before, but Marvin is so talented. He is an artist and a perfectionist, with an eye for design. He made most of the furniture in my house. All I had to do was show him a picture of what I wanted.  See Marvin’s masterpieces  here  and  here  and  here.

Since Marvin is building an addition to our guest house and I have mounds of Pre-Columbian pottery shards piled on my porch, I asked Marvin if he could help me design a turtle mosaic to put above our new door. “No problemo,” he said. In a matter of minutes, we collected the shards scattered in bowls around my porch and fit them, like a puzzle, into the shape of a turtle.

“Look!” Marvin laughed. “These little round shards can be the turtle eggs.”  Marvin reminded me that this month the turtles are laying their eggs on our beaches. “In honor of the female turtle, I will design her laying her eggs,” he said with a kind of reverence because he loves turtles.

Pure joy radiated from Marvin’s face as he laughed and whistled while he plastered the shards together to make one of his beloved turtles. Today, the turtle is waiting patiently to be cleaned, polished, and then a layer of transparent varnish applied for protection.

This was so much fun that we decided to make a crocodile for the side wall. I finally found a use for my collection of pottery shards. I’m thinking of naming our guest house “La Tortuga” in honor of Marvin’s love for turtles. Enjoy the slideshow.

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