Against All Odds

Against All Odds
I had just come back from my vacation in the United States. As I was checking in my metal detector through customs, I was informed that it could not be taken on the airplane as carry-on luggage. After arguing that I made this same trip once or twice a year and I had never had any problem taking the detector on the airplane, I reluctantly accepted the fact that I was going to be forced to pack it in with my luggage. I insisted that it was fragile and they put a fragile sticker on my suitcase.
Upon arrival, I discovered that my suitcase had been mistreated and my detector’s screen was busted. When I put through a claim with the airline, they stated that it had not been properly packed and therefore they had no responsibility. The only thing I could do was send it off to the US factory to be repaired, which meant round-trip international postage expense, factory repair expense, and worst of all the only backup detector I had was a pulse all metal Tesoro Piranha metal detector, which was great for beach hunting but it was not at all the detector for relic hunting or older coins.
It was still the beginning of August and most of my Spanish team was taking their month long vacation, which meant long days of metal detecting while we searched for new sites. I found my situation to be difficult because I dug every single iron nail while the rest of the team filled their pockets with Roman coins and artifacts. After facing frustration and jokes from my fellow team members, I decided to look for sites that would be more appropriate sites. I found a few leads on some abandoned old swimming holes in our files and I decided to try my luck there. We had never been able to get to these sites that had been discovered in the winter months due to the weather and the lack of proper equipment. I had purchased this detector due to successful beach hunting in California in the form of a diamond ring. I had hoped to find more by metal detecting in the surf, but found that it was very challenging due to the roughness of the surf. My intention was to try this type of detecting in lakes and bays to eventually return to the idea of working the ocean surf.
The idea of working these old swimming holes seemed like a better use of my time. I justified the time spent to myself and my team because they were sites that required investigation. I was the only one with the required equipment. I packed my water metal detector, a metal scoop suitable for digging in sand and mud, and an inner tube attached to a screen to help me filter through many scoops of mud. I also selected a swimming hole that was in close proximity of very old Moorish silver mines. The good thing about this site was that it belonged to a ghost town that was no longer visible except for a few stones that were probably part of the old foundation and it was close enough to the mines, but it was not classified as a historical site. Also, the water was cool and clean and it was not overly deep. I had high hopes of practicing this new type of metal detecting while possibly discovering old coins or jewelry in freshwater, which would not cause as much corrosion with silver as saltwater. The bad thing about this site was that it was miles away from any road that could be reached by car. The only way of reaching the site was hiking along the remains of a mountain trail that would only be accessed by foot or mule.
I had everything packed in my backpack along with water and food for the day. I decided to take the train that had a stop that situated at about eight miles from the swimming hole. There would be two miles of a hike through the village of Hiendalencina and an additional distance of approximately six miles to get to the site. My plan was to make this a day venture by getting back to the last train that left at ten o’clock at night. I figured that this would provide me with three or four hours to comfortably work the site.
That morning I woke up to get the first train at six o’clock. Everything went as planned on the way to the site. The train ride arrived as planned and I followed the trail until I reached a small river with very clean water that had what looked like a beach of pebbles. As I got into the water, I felt a great deal of relief from the sweaty, hot hike that I had just completed. Hopes were high as I started to move the coil very slowly and carefully on the bottom. I found that it was very easy to move comfortably all over the site. The bottom was sandy with small pebbles and the water ranged in depth from ankle to knee deep. I dragged the inner tube around but found that the only signal I received from the metal detector came from a rusted sardine can. After about two hours, I finished the grid. Although unsuccessful, this was one of the most comfortable hunts I had experienced in very hot weather. Sun screen protected me from the sun and I kept my body coolby simply sitting down and putting my head in water by lying on my stomach. I must say that it felt like a day at the beach. All of a sudden, I noticed the gentle breeze becoming wind. I looked up at the sky and saw that there were some very dark storm clouds. I looked around and noticed a small cave that was about a hundred yards away from the river. I remember thinking about gathering wood to build a fire. It was almost seven o’clock and I knew that I should find shelter from the storm. I got out of the water as it started to rain and by the time I reached the cave it was pouring. I had just enough light to check for any animal resident. I saw that the cave entrance was much smaller than the cave inside. I climbed in and found that I could stand up inside. My only regret was that there was no firewood available that would have kept me warm and it would discourage any nighttime visitors to the cave. I took off my bathing suit and changed into my dry hiking clothes. It felt cold and I wrapped myself in a plastic poncho and I gathered some leaves as padding. It was surprisingly comfortable and I was out like a light. The following morning, I awoke to a gorgeous morning. I heard the birds singing and there was a gentle breeze that circulated clean smelling air throughout the cave. The only thing that I missed was a cup of coffee for breakfast. I cut myself some Spanish Manchego cheese and savor end it why I observed the cave around me. I decided to check the two facing beaches on either side of the swimming hole. I was still baffled by the lack of targets in the water and I decided to check the detector’s performance while I was still in the cave. After fishing for a couple of coins in my pocket, I took out coins of four different denominations and I buried them at different depths in the cave. I did the test on the first two coins and received two very strong distinct signals, which indicated that the detector’s performance was optimum. As I was trying the third test target, the detector seemed to go mad. I thought to myself that maybe my detector was not working right. I easily retrieved the third coin easily and saw that there was still a strong signal. Expecting another sardine can, I dug into the dirt and out jumped a shiny square coin! I checked the hole, received a strong signal and I retrieved two more silver coins! I worked the hole for about an hour and in total I retrieved 15 silver square coins and twenty three copper coins. I put them all in a little plastic bag and I checked the cave carefully for more targets. As with the river, I was surprised at how clean the cave was. There was an absence of trash that I would have expected from such a good shelter. Upon further inspection, I noticed that some of the trees had been burnt nearby. I came to the conclusion that the cave had been covered up by brush until the forest fire and that explained the absence of trash. I never did examine the two shores of the swimming hole. I gathered up my finds and took them home. After cleaning up my finds, I discovered that my find was a cache of Moorish coins from the 13th century that would have matched the time period of the nearby mines. My theory regarding the absence of targets is that they sank in the mud out of reach of the metal detector coil or that the current washed them away further downstream.

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