So that’s how Marcano gets greeted by his first mate after surviving a bullet wound to the arm? Well, this is no ordinary piece of treasure…
The Corazón is based on an object from a tale I read years and years ago. During one of my visits to Puerto Rico in my 20’s, I bought a book at a gift shop in the San Juan airport on Puerto Rican legends (still apparently in print.) The book contains the story Marcano tells Jolie at dinner, about two Spaniards named Orozco and Guilarte, explorers in Puerto Rico who found an enormous gold nugget together. Orozco died attempting to cheat Guilarte out of the nugget, but repented and apologized to his friend just before expiring. Guilarte, so goes the legend, donated the nugget to the Cathedral at Seville rather than cash in on his friend’s death.
In Caribbean Jewel, I took the story from there, inventing a title for the nugget, “El Corazón de Isabela” or Isabel’s Heart, and commandeering it as a national treasure of Spain, the treasure Marcano and his first mate Guillarte are looking for on Crab Island (Vieques, Puerto Rico.) I also pretended “Guilarte,” the Spaniard of legend, has a descendent named Luis, Marcano’s rather cocky first mate. (I don’t remember why I changed the spelling of Guilarte to Guillarte, but “Guillarte” has a better ring to it, since two “lls” sound like a “y” in Spanish.)
While I was writing Caribbean Jewel, I even thought about naming the novel “Corazón”-something, but I was worried it wasn’t mainstream-romancey-enough to catch the eye of potential readers.
Anyway, there you have it - the history of the history of the Corazón in Caribbean Jewel. Happy reading!