Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Merchants and Pirates were for a long period one and the same

Indeed, even in today's Wall Street corporate mindset, its nothing but a refinement of a piratical morality. On the other hand, there is something fascinating and exciting about the concept of being a pirate on the open sea, well if one forgets the short lived danger and murderous business of being an actual pirate. 

When I was touring some of my favorite Caribbean Islands this year, one thing that stood out for me was its deep rooted history of pirates. After all, many of these Islands are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, an international trade center and port calls. One Island in particular, St. Thomas, US Virgin Island, seems to host one of the most notorious pirates in recorded history, Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch, who inspired the creation of Johnny Depp's character, in Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Romanticized stories of piracy on St. Thomas are common; stories of Blackbeard and Bluebeard pirates are the most well known.

Blackbeard knew how to inspire fear: in battles, he would put smoking fuses in his long black hair and beard.

most of these sculptures and likeness of pirates are located @ the Blackbeard's Castle, which is also a rum distiller open to visitors.

Christopher Colombus is credited with "discovering" St. Thomas (Danish Virgin Islands) during his second voyage to the New World in 1493, despite the fact that the Island had inhabitants from Taino/Arawak tribe and the Caribs. The presence of indigenous inhabitants was recorded in journals kept by settlers and explorers in the late 1500s. By the 1600s however, the Indian population had plummeted due to disease brought on by Europeans, raids by Spanish settlers from neighboring islands and migration to other Caribbean islands.

St. Thomas is such a tiny, yet beautiful Island with warm and welcoming natives.

My friend and I came across this majestic looking tree and I had to take a picture!

What's unique about pirates and piracy, at lease in the Caribbean Islands is the strong presence of all diverse group of people and women. There are legends and stories about female pirates as well as people of color. The practiced principle was, as long you were smart and had a strong survivor and cunning skills, you were used and utilized by successful and violent pirates who commandeered stolen ships.

I have to say thou, despite the fun time I had exploring St, Thomas history of pirates, what captured my interest the most was coming across the 3 Queens of the Virgin Island: Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Matilda. The story goes that in 1878 these brave former slaves on St. Croix led an insurrection against the Danish Government, demanding improved working and living conditions. During the protest, a large portion of Frederiksted (capital city of St. Thomas, constructed to protect the town from pirate raids and attacks) was destroyed by fire. This revolt is known as “Fire-burn” and subsequent legend narrates that all three ladies were bestowed with the title: 'The Three Queens of the Virgin Islands'.

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