The Legend of the Treasure of Matanceros: Part 2

black and white of an old anchor on the sea floor
"Captain," he said, "I am dying and I want to confess that I was the one who got in ahead of you in order to be able someday to find that treasure for myself. Now I am sorry I did this, because at that time we could have shared it together. I took the bag and have the map in my possession. Don Patricio, pass me that box on the table, open it and there you will find the map. I am on my deathbed, and I want you to swear to one thing only that when you go to get the treasure, you will take along my son Pedro, who is only 12 years old, and give him the share that would belong to me.”

The captain, an old man with a long beard, swore that he would do so; and with the map in his possession, he went to talk to one of his best friends, Don Claudio Canto.

"My friend Claudio," he said, "did you ever believe that the treasure existed?”

Captain Canto answered that these lands were nothing but a pirate's refuge, and that they may very well have buried a treasure at some time in this area.

"Claudio, I have a map that marks the exact location where a great treasure exists. I invite you to share this trove with me. Get two men you can trust and invite them to come with us to get it, since it is a dangerous undertaking for two.”

Two days after this talk, Claudio Canto came to the captain and said, "Patricio, the crew is ready. I have two men who have my complete trust, and the schooner is ready to sail. We can leave any time you give the order. The weather is good, so we can go through the breakers on the reef.”

"How do you feel about tonight, Claudio?”

"Great, Captain. At eight o'clock sharp we will meet in the corner of the dock for our departure."

At the time indicated, the men began to appear for the meeting that had been set. When Don Patricio arrived, he observed that the other two men were armed, and then he took the precaution of calling Pedro and saying to him, "Look, Pedro, take this paper to Doña Serafina, my wife. Don't let anything keep you from putting it into her hands, and come back soon; we'll be waiting for you. If anyone asks you what I have given you, just say that it is only a message for my wife.”

Pedro did as he was told. When he returned twenty minutes later saying that the message had been delivered, they walked to the docks, went aboard, and set sail for Matanceros. (The name is said to come from matanza, killing, from the way in which the Indians massacred the people from the grounded ship.) Once at the place, they left the boat and boarded a small fishing vessel which took them ashore.

"Look, Claudio, this is where we ought to find a cannon without a stock. This is the point of departure for the treasure.”

cannon on the point in Akumal
They began to look and, shortly after, Pedro shouted: "Captain, the cannon is here, headfirst in the sand."* ( *This cannon was found by CEDAM and is now in the CEDAM Museum in Mexico City.*) They all ran to see the place for themselves. The captain sat down in front of the cannon and looked carefully at the men who, before having found the treasure, had been arguing and planning to kill Captain Claudio.

Don Patricio called them and said to them, "Well, boys, I am convinced that the treasure exists since we have found the cannon, the point of departure on the map. Later, when everyone has calmed down, we will come and take it out. I do not have the map here with me. I sent it to my house before leaving because I've lived a long time and know how ambitious men can be. When I saw you armed, I knew what was going to happen. If you want to kill us, you can, but you won't gain anything by it, because then you will be outlaws without having gotten anything for it.”

They returned to the island and Captain D. Patricio said, "Look, Claudio, you, Pedro and I will return some other time alone, without inviting anyone. Now I am convinced that the cannon is there and that the Frenchman was not lying. I have to make a trip to Belice, but on my return we shall go. My good friend, don't despair. There will be time enough to spend that money, if we find it.”

Don Patricio sailed away and Captain Canto was offered command of the boat Alberto on a trip to Veracruz, and he accepted planning that on his return he and his friend would get together again to go in search of the treasure. Don Patricio returned first, but he was sick and died within a few days, taking with him the secret of that place, which he alone knew. Captain Claudio returned from his trip to learn the dismal news.

Don Claudio said to Pedro, "It's a great pity about the map. We almost had it in our hands and you yourself took it to Don Patricio's house. Now it is lost, and he is gone, and with him the secret of the great treasure.”

Pedro remained pensively meditating for a while, and then timidly said to the captain, "I saw the map that Don Patricio told me to take to his wife. I don't know very well what it meant, but I remember that there was a cannon, a number 40p with a "W," a thing like a sponge with a "P" and a “4” beside it. That's all I remember, Captain. Would that do any good?”

"Certainly, Pedro. One of these days we'll go and get it.”

A few days later a great cyclone struck and no one left remembered the great treasure, which, according to legend, should still exist. Now that CEDAM has come to explore the site of the Matancero, we can ask, "Does this treasure really exist?”

It might, and then again it might not. There would be nothing strange about it, but we think it's hardly possible. The treasure has been sought with the best metal-locating equipment. The natives informed us that many people have come to look for that treasure even a general, who came with troops and turned the earth upside down.

schooner in Akumal Bay
Mr. Mendel Peterson's pronouncement on the ship gives reason for conjecture. The fact that El Matancero had been explored and worked on over and over again by modern pirates, all of Cozumel knows.

However, it does no harm to put it on record. Among the tourists "in love with the Island" were some so attracted by the beauties of the scenery that they prolonged their visit to three years. In that period they made friends, got all the information they could, and did a lot of diving. The favorite excursion was to Acumal, from where they returned with small things, on a trial plan. Counting on the short-sightedness of the authorities, their takings piled up, until a halt was called by the Chief of the Customs, who began confiscating the day's profits. It was a bit premature because the excursions continued, but they no longer took anything to Cozumel. Instead, a small plane landed on the beach and took off for unknown regions with unlimited quantities of things, among them a box or trunk. The peasants of the place - the same ones who got excited when we hauled up copper sheets - claim that this was the treasure chest.

Another legend? There is a file on the history of El Matancero in the Archives of the Indies in Spain.

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