“Old Smith” as he is remembered by the few people alive today who know him, rowed and sailed north from his home to Bocas del Toro, Panama (then part of Colombia), with fellow fishermen, following the northward migration of green and hawksbill turtles. The fishermen left their families in Bocas each year during the turtle season. May through September, to trace the path of the turtles so their nesting destination at Turtle Bogue (Tortuguero, Costa Rica). The fishermen made temporary camps for themselves along the Talamanca Coast near the shallow reef areas where the turtles gathered to feed. They planted provisions (cassava, plantain, yam, coconut) that they would harvest each season when they returned to the camps.
In 1828, William Smith decided to make one of his fishing camps his permanent home. He brought is family to a calm bay protected by a broad coral reef on the north side of Cahuita Point. There he built a “ranch”, rustic, thatch-roofed dwelling, and planed the lime trees that mark his spot until today. Old Smith is the founder of the early settlement of Cahuitam and Selles Johnson, born in the house by the lime trees in 1894, calls him grandfather. The history of the settlement of the Talamanca Coast begins, then, in 1828. But there stories which have been handed down through the generations of Afro-Caribbean settlers, which tell of events, along the coast before their arrival. The legends of Indians and pirates.
.What Happen by Paula Palmer