What does someone have to do to deserve the name ‘pirate’? What does a dish have to look like to deserve the name ‘ceviche’? Two of the questions I was mulling here at El Ranchito on Naos Island.
It always used to irk me a bit how the locals around these parts referred to Drake as a pirate. Gabo was a repeat offender. Surely, I thought, the men who packed those galleons with gold were just as deserving of the title?
St Augustine reported the opinion of a corsair captain that when it comes to maritime plunder, the difference between an emperor and a pirate is simply one of scale. Drake, like many, was awash in the flexible middle.
The man who sacked and destroyed the original settlement at Panama City, Welsh privateer Henry Morgan, did so after the Treaty of Madrid between England and Spain in 1671. As a result he was taken back to London to answer for his ‘crime’, but successfully argued that news of the peace hadn’t reached the Caribbean and therefore it could not be enforced from the moment it was agreed. Instead of being hanged as a pirate, he was made Governor of Jamaica.
Like many of his kind, it turned out he was just one step away from respectability. The same could not be said of that ceviche.