Lost Fleet of Columbus
In 1494, Christopher Columbus made a second journey to the Americas-this time with more ships, more men, and a grander mission. His goal was to build the first European colony in the New World. But in just a few short years, this settlement would perish with one-fifth of its inhabitants dead, at least six ships sunk in the bay, and the legacy of Columbus permanently marred. What happened at this ill-fated settlement remains a mystery 500 years later.
Behind the Scenes
This was the only shoot we have worked on which involved diving, horseback riding, spelunking, and gravedigging. Each of these setups involved logistical challenges, but to be on the edge of such an incredible story was fascinating and made the long hours worthwhile. After diving, digging and filming artifacts, we were given special access to a cave not far from La Isabela.
Our day in the cave was one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of the shoot. The cave holds Taino art that dates back to the 15th century, and serves as a visual timeline of their history. To slide into the cave we put the main camera in a giant dry bag, and handed it to each other as we slid on our backs through cracks in the rock. The two dominant thoughts running through our heads were: protect the camera, and second, fight the thoughts of claustrophobia, which were as real as the bat droppings that coat the path.
Once the crew, the gear and our guides were on the floor of the cave, we pulled out our litepanel to see what was on the walls. What lined the walls was incredible. It was a visual history of the Taino. There were depictions of hurricanes, crops and snakes. It was as if the cave were an art gallery - the Taino had filled every inch of the wall with drawings of life as they knew it. As we explored deeper into the cave we came across two paintings that stood apart from all the rest. They looked foreign compared to the others.
The first image was a face resembling a bearded man. The archeologists explained that the Taino didn't have beards, so it's assumed the man was a Spaniard who had crossed the Atlantic with Columbus. Not far from the man was a depiction of a ship. The eeriest part of the experience wasn't the paintings, but the empty space beyond those paintings. While there was still plenty of room to paint in the cave, there was no more rock art.