The Fenn Treasure has been found, but this $2 million prize benefited only one person. The classic Fortean phenomena is things mysteriously falling from the sky, or at least mysteriously appearing on the ground with no other explanation. Those things have generally been fish, other living creatures, rocks, strangely-colored snow (which happens often enough that Forteans give it its own category) and other oddities. While fish in particular may be valuable to hungry people (although it’s not advisable to eat fish, birds or other falling food due to the possibility of poison), most other falling objects are not. Which is why the recent phenomena of coins, jewelry, gold and other valuable objects appearing on the beach of a poor town in Venezuela has its residents rejoicing, officials puzzled and outsiders heading to Guaca, on Venezuela's Paria peninsula, to join in. Is this a Fortean phenomena or something else?
“Since late September, their search has resulted in hundreds of pieces of gold and silver jewelry, ornaments and gold nuggets that washed up on its shoreline, offering villagers a bewildering and wonderful - albeit short-lived - respite from the seemingly endless economic collapse, from Venezuela.”
This unexpected and welcome windfall for many residents of Guaca started in September, according to The New York Times, whose recent report appears to be the only media source on the event. Searches for Venezuela media coverage has been strangely futile so far … a coverup? It identifies fisherman Yolman Lares as the first to find something unusual -- a gold medallion with an image of the Virgin Mary. Soon, many of the town’s 2,000 residents hit the beach, reportedly finding hundreds of pieces of gold and silver jewelry, ornaments and gold nuggets that most have sold, with the New York Times putting the most valuable object at an unconfirmed $1,500. As expected, locals suffering from poverty caused by government practices were reluctant to tell anyone, but someone reportedly shared photos on Facebook (see them here) and the story eventually reached the NYT.
“Nobody knows where the gold came from and how it ended up scattered along a few hundred meters of the ordinary narrow beach of Guaca. The mystery has been merged with folklore, and the explanations are based as much on the legends of the Caribbean pirates as on Christian traditions and on the widespread distrust of the authoritarian government of Venezuela.”
Guaca was the first spot in South America where Christopher Columbus landed, it has long been attacked by pirates and its rugged shoreline makes it a preferred hiding place for contemporary drug and fuel smugglers. While some people speculated the treasures were a pirate’s booty, others thought it was a secret, unexpected gift from the government – yeah, right. The New York Times was able to test and appraise a gold chain from the beach and found it was made of a high-quality gold of 20th century origin in Europe, not South America. That explains where it came from, but not how this and the other pieces got there.
"If it happened once, it will happen again."
With the jewels and gold appearing only on one small portion of beach, it probably didn’t fall from the sky, which is why Yolman Lares, other Guaca residents and outsiders continue to sift the sand and wade through the waters there hoping to find more. The New York Times article will undoubtedly bring more treasure hunters and, like the Fenn treasure did, a lot of frustration and probably a few tragedies. What it hasn’t brought is an explanation.
The first item found was said to be a religious item. While it didn’t fall from the sky, many locals believe it was heaven-sent. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to turn their economy around. Many big lottery winners say the sudden fortune made their lives a living hell. For its residents, the Guaca phenomena is somewhere in the middle.
But where? And why?