HISTORY

 

ISLANDS HISTORY

Contadora Island is located in the northern quadrant of the Las Perlas Archipelago and its name has a historical meaning that originated with pearl seekers and the place where they counted them before sending them to Spain -La Contadora.

Its tourist development began at the end of the sixties when a nature-loving man with a lot of vision, Gabriel Lewis Galindo, bought the island. In the early seventies, the first hotel was already in operation. Because of its beauty, calmness and service, the island quickly became popular among tourists.

The second stage of its development was completed on December 15, 1975 when the luxurious Contadora Hotel was inaugurated, with its French colonial architecture, sober and in harmony with the environment.

At the same time as the popularity of tourism increased, a local community was forming. People from diverse backgrounds were building their summer home, away from the noisy cities, where these new resident tourists could enjoy peace, quiet and privacy in the midst of nature.

Over many years, Contadora Island has hosted many historical events: the founding of the Contadora Group in 1974, the negotiations of the Torrijos-Carteren 1977 Treaties, the meetings of Ministers of the Contadora Group in 1978, the signing of the "Contadora Peace Agreements" that laid the peace in Central America, and the asylum of the Sha of Persia in 1981, as well as other statesmen, writers and artists.

It was a surprise for the soldiers of Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1515 to see the amount of oysters in the shores of the archipelago. In addition, thousands of them offered huge pearls to those divers who were not afraid of the sharks that infested the surrounding waters.

For centuries, the waters of Saboga offered a fabulous treasure to the Spanish conquerors, and they organized large diving operations to exploit this profitable business. To improve their performance, the Spanish devised a new system to collect pearls.

A bell-shaped device was submerged between 20 and 30 feet deep. The air that was trapped on top of the bell served as a reserve for the slaves that collected the oysters. The diver picked up oysters and returned to the the bell for air. This system saved a lot of time, allowing divers to keep working for much longer.

Unfortunately for slaves, the disease that occurs when too much time is spent in more than one atmosphere of pressure was unknown. The pressure at the bottom of the sea causes the nitrogen in the air we breathe to compress and accumulate in the bloodstream. The nitrogen is accumulated in the joints and when divers return to the surface, the gas expands causing severe pain, brain disorders and even death.

For several centuries, the best-known pearls in Europe came from Saboga and the neighboring islands. The largest pearl in the world was found right here and can now be seen in the crown of the Queen of England.

Another famous pearl that was found here: "The Pilgrim", a very appropriate name because it was discovered in the sixteenth century by a black slave and had different owners at different times: Philip II of Spain, Napoleon III, etc., until Richard Burton bought it in 1969 for the sum of $37,000 and gave it to Elizabeth Taylor. Luckily, the legend says that they gave the slave his freedom to reward his discovery.

It is a private island that is not inhabited by natives, has infrastructure and/or private constructions, lots, a beach club with daily activities and lodging.

Because it does not have a native population or a town, it does not have a history as rich as the others.

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