One of the nicest cases I have found in archaeology, occurred in Ceuta. In the “Islanders of Santa Catalina”. Underwater stories passionate us, right? Those ones which speak of shipwrecks, sunken Spanish treasures and distant times. I used the journalist role to get close to talk to one of the divers.
I explained him that I was writing a story for the newspaper, I wanted to know everything he could tell on the subject. In this situation, I did not use the handy recorder. But I had a notebook, a pen and interest. In these situations, we expect a fantasy. The mind is predisposed to hear a fable. Certain words, “shipwreck”, “galleon”, “treasure”, engages us in the fiction. The eyewitness, the diver, tells his version. We see him talking but we imagine a parallel story. I think sometimes this mental effect happens in many life situations. The desire is bigger than reality. I do not “believe it”, I know it. What is good about finding stories with charm is that the everyday life, gets better.
We all should look further, dare to find the submerged gold. The nice thing is to tear the curtain of the theatre, to leave the script.
The man played his role as a witness and he was aware of my interest. He became the star role. So he invited me to his small workshop where he kept an important document. It was the oficial permission to dive into the sea. He also told me that the sinking was the result of a storm, not a battle.
He had found in the sea: bottles, crates, barrels. Some kind of diatribe with local authorities he had, and he could not make his desire anymore to go down and rescue these objects. The truth is that at that time, as he told me his version, I felt that I could have better used pictures than words.
But that’s because I cannot imagine better way to talk about archaeological findings in urban settings than imitating Fellini’s “Roma”, or even “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” by W. Herzog.
Imagine the scene. We approach to the sea, the last light of the afternoon, the wind blows, we are warm in our coats and somebody lights a cigarette. This smoking detail is always a plus, but smoking is not good for you. We remove the cigarette, instead please put your hands in your pockets. Out of nowhere, comes floating the sound of a harp. We look at the sea and the water is stirred. From the deep blue emerges a clarity. The old galleon appears, like a wounded animal. The wind again blows and the water gets calm. It was all a dream. Was it a dream? We return to the car. Turn on the radio and comes some harp music.
This is the idea. Images. More powerful than words. These things were happening one day of my life, a long time ago.