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LOS ROQUES "People"

Populating Los Roques, the adventure.
The attractive island compound which today enjoys world fame among a selected group of visitors due to its special natural characteristics has a history as attractive as its landscape. The XX century was a witness of the final settlement of those who with their presence made the history of the archipelago Los Roques. Bold and daring fishermen sailed from Margarita island to find the abundance and prosperity of the waters of the archipelago. Traders and fishermen from other Antilles also enjoyed the wealth of this area. From the beginning of the century, the settlement of Venezuelans became permanent. "Fishermen from Margarita ( Margaritenos ) freed Los Roques from the grip of the Dutch" said an old Roqueno (a local native). Fishermen who lived in Los Roques during the lobster season finally moved with their families to these islands, where even getting some drinking water can be an odyssey. This visual wonder delighted many and seduced the soul of those who changed luxury and comfort for an extremely quiet and peaceful place. Today Gran Roque the largest island in the archipelago can be considered a small town. Its 2000 inhabitants (2008) enjoy all the basic services - a recent privilege - and have the necessary facilities to offer comfort to many visitors. Before the archipelago of Los Roques was permanently inhabited, it had been visited by searchers of pearls who were attracted by the wealth of natural resources and as a result of the drying up of resources in Margarita island and Cubagua (Nuevo Cadiz), ventured into other area looking for better economic opportunities. However, they did not find the amount of pearls expected. 360 photos from Los Roques.

Decades later towards the late XIX century and early XX century, the economic value of Los Roques brought about hundreds of adventurers form Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. They had more than fishing in mind and were really after limestone, guano, mangrove and salt. They turned mangrove trees into fuel while the residue was used to color leather. There were stories such as the one told by a local fisherman who said "women would extract salt and sell it to fishermen". Boats came from Margarita island loading on salt and smuggling it out of the archipelago towards the nearby islands. Salt was used to preserve fish because fresh fish was not traded back then. While it can be said that the archipelago's first inhabitants arrived some two to three thousand years ago, it was not until the beginning of the XX century that settlement became permanent when the fishermen arrived from Margarita island located some 300 kilometers southeast of the archipelago. Some remember arriving with their parents or uncles to work during the lobster season. Some also mention that back in 1923 when they decided to move to Los Roques, things were pretty much chaotic all over Venezuela and that is why they would go there to work. Back then fishermen would come build a few wood shacks work during six months and then they would leave until the next fishing season.

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