The Pearl Fishers
The city of New Cádiz has fallen, overwhelmed by seaquake and pirates. Previously the whole island had fallen, this island of Cubagua where forty-five years ago Columbus traded the Indians broken dishes for pearls. After so much fishing, the oysters have given out and the pearl divers lie at the sea bottom.
In these waters, Indian slaves were sent down with stones tied to their backs, to reach where the biggest pearls lay, and from sun to sun they swam without a break, gathering the oysters stuck to the rocks and the bottom.
No slave lasted long. Sooner or later their lungs burst: a stream of blood rose to the surface instead of the diver. The men who had caught or bought them said that the sea turned red because, like women, oysters menstruate. – Genesis, Memory of Fire, Volume 1, Eduardo Galeano