Margarita is the largest island in northern Venezuela. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus on August 15, 1498. In the Christian calendar, this day marks the Assumption of the Virgin, and therefore the first Spanish name for the island is La Asunción (Assumption).
However, a year later the island received the name Margarita – Isla de Margarita. According to one version, the followers of Columbus renamed it in honor of Princess Margaret of Austria, and according to another, the word “Margarita” is of Greek origin and means “pearl”, and here the Spaniards found a lot of pearls.
In general, the word “Margaritis” is the second name of the Greek goddess of beauty Aphrodite (Αφροδίτη Μαργαρίτης).
That is, just as once the beautiful Aphrodite appeared from the sea foam in the Mediterranean Sea, here in the Caribbean a fabulously rich island was opened to the Spaniards, full of the elusive presence of some kind of female essence.
Apparitions of great women
Whether Aphrodite patronized the island, one can only guess, but the phenomena of great women happened here. In the administrative structure, by the way, since 1830, Margarita has been called the state of Nueva Esparta, that is, New Sparta.
It is said that this name is a tribute to the heroism of the islanders in the struggle for independence from Spain. But I would like to think that this also showed invisible ties with Greece, laid down even at the time of choosing the name of the island in honor of the goddess Aphrodite.
About a hundred years after the discovery of Margarita, on the neighboring island of Cubagua, also beautiful and rich, they built a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. For him, an ancient image of the Virgin Mary was specially brought from Spain.
However, a hurricane soon swept through, as a result of which the cathedral was badly damaged. They decided to temporarily move the statue and hide it on Margarita. All was going well until the procession reached a deserted region in the mountains of Margherita.
There it so happened that no one was able to lift or move the statue further, and people realized that the Virgin Mary had chosen this particular place as her refuge.
Over the years, a beautiful church was built here, where this ancient statue is now located. Since then, this hypostasis of the Virgin Mary has received the name of the Virgin of the mountains and valleys (Virgen del Valle) and has been glorified by many miracles, phenomena and healings.
Now she is the patroness of Margarita and is especially revered by fishermen. Every year on September 8, on the day of the Nativity of the Virgin (Navidad de la Virgen), processions are organized around the church.
And each community of fishermen has a special small boat with a similar statue, they dress it up, decorate it with pearls and flowers, and walk along the sea early in the morning. All this is accompanied by festivities and shots. This year, however, almost no shots were fired. – Ammunition is in short supply, like everything else.
Margarita Island is the north of Venezuela
Margarita Island is the north of Venezuela and,the inhabitants of the island (margariteños) speak a strange dialect: many words from the Spanish textbook are completely unfamiliar to them, but there is a fair amount of their own vocabulary.
They tend to “swallow” the endings of words, i.e. not “tres”, but “tre'”, not “para”, but “pa'”. At the same time, they do not care at all that foreigners may not understand something, not hear it and drive their speech in a continuous stream. You won’t understand.
The coast of Margarita is one continuous beach
They say that earlier the people of Margarita were very friendly and hardworking, but in the middle of the last century, flood victims who lived on state subsidies were resettled here from the continent. It was an unfortunate example of a way of life for the local population, who also wanted free money.
Another factor is the development of tourism, which spoils any nation (I know from Greece). The coast of Margarita is one continuous beach, there are very interesting places in the mountainous areas. Therefore, in the era of prosperity in Venezuela, starting from the 70s of the last century, many hotels and tourist complexes were built, and the population switched to serving tourists.
This gradually but greatly changed people’s minds. It turned out to be much more profitable and easier to resell water and beer to tourists than to produce something.
In addition to general words about the causes of crime, I would also note that Venezuela is partly an Indian country. We Europeans need years to understand how they think and what connections are built in their heads when communicating with us.
For example, there is this proverb here: Índios comida, índios ida. Which means: the Indian ate, the Indian went. Another question: what is theft? – By European standards – we are aware. And in Indian?
If an Indian likes something very much, he can take it. I mean, you should give it to him. And he will do the same for you. Someday. Maybe.
The people here are mixed. Everyone looks civilized, and the Indians, like a tribe of some pronounced aborigines, have not been on Margarita for hundreds of years.
But this is their strength, and a bizarre game of genetics, as it seems to me. Indian culture is elusively present in the minds of the Margaritians, and you need to carefully look and listen in order to notice this and understand how to behave in order to be able to get to know these people.