March, 2004. The beginning of an account which will describe some of the gravesites found on various islands.—JW.
Fisherman Bernardo Gutierrez heard the story about an unmarked gravesite on Isla Pinta from his father. Bernardo is about 60 now, and his father told him about the grave when he was a young boy. The grave is probably about 100 years old now.
When Manuel J. Cobos was at the height of his power, he often had large fishing boats come out to Galápagos to fish for bacalau (Galápagos grouper) for the dried-fish industry. Most of the fishing was done from small rowboats launched from a motor-powered mother ship. In those days, fish were in great supply and could be caught easily without too much effort.
The fishermen were mostly from Guayaquil, and one of them—a Señor Posada (first name unknown)—was said to have tuberculosis. He died while fishing near Isla Pinta and his comrades buried him ashore.
Bernardo and a few of the other older fishermen try to maintain the crosses, and they light candles when they are in the area of any of the old graves or shrines found about the islands. Crosses have been re-painted over the years, and they are often replaced when their condition has deteriorated due to age. It is the tradition of the older fishermen to do this, and one of them from Isla Santa Cruz recently replaced the cross on Isla Pinta, which is why it looks so new.
During the infamous era of Manuel J. Cobos, a group of fishermen were sent to Isla Baltra to catch goats. As the goats ran near one of the cliffs, the rocks collapsed under a fisherman who was close to the edge. He fell to his death and was buried on the little Isla Mosquera that lies between Baltra and Isla Seymour Norte. The cross marking his grave has been lost and there is no record of his resting place.
Local fishermen remember that the American tuna ship Princess Pat encountered heavy seas* off Isla Tortuga about 50 years ago. The ship rolled over, foundered and sank almost immediately. Crewman Andrew Marino was trapped below and did not escape the sinking ship. His brother Carl put up a cross at Tagus Cove to honor Marino. An inscription was hand-punched into a metal plate attached to the cross. Punctuation and spacing problems make it difficult to read.
In Memory of my dear brother Andy Marino who was lost at sea off of Tortuga Island November 29 1952. where he was never found. may he rest in peace.
I have comfort my dear brother to find you and shall be in peace and God bless you. Your loving family who can't come here to say anything. they say God bless you. be happy with your sister. I came to see you on July 30, 53. this is from brother Carl who you hit so hard when we lost you.
All our love. God bess you.
* Actually the ship foundered in a calm sea, as noted in a U. S. Coast Guard report.
(More to follow . . .)