Jewelry and other precious artifacts have been washing ashore on a small beach in Venezuela, bringing hope and joy to impoverished residents of its nearby town.
According to The New York Times, the discovery was first made this past September by fisherman Yolman Lares. The 25-year-old said he saw something glisten in the sand while walking along the shore. When he examined the ground, he found a gold medallion with an image of the Virgin Mary.
"I began to shake, I cried from joy," he said. "It was the first time something special has happened to me."
Over the past few months, villagers from the nearby town of Guaca have raked through the beach in the hopes of finding more valuables. Many have been successful and there have been hundreds of pieces of gold and silver jewelry discovered in the sand. Some of the finds have sold for as much as $1,500. That is more than the monthly income of the average Venezuelan -- let alone those struggling to survive.
Lares confessed that selling the necklace finally enabled him to feed his family twice a day instead of just once. He managed to sell the medallion for $125. It is more than he has ever made at once and was mainly spent on necessities like food for his family.
Lares particularly expressed his joy that his 2-year-old daughter was finally gaining weight, though she still remains medically malnourished.
Residents of the town have remarked that the good fortune could not have come at a better time. Though Guaca had once been an area of prosperity due to its fish industry, the shortage of gasoline in the South American nation has sparked the closure of nearly all industrial fish packing plants in the area, leaving many without jobs or prospects for the future.
The bleak economic outlook of Venezuela -- which is in the midst of a collapse that seems to keep getting worse -- only makes things harder. Currently, the government buys any fish caught by fishermen -- mainly sardines -- at just $0.15 per pound.
"The government doesn't care about us at all," José Campos, a sardine fisherman, said. "We keep giving them fish, and we get nothing in return."
Those who find jewels on the beach are generally buying food with whatever profits they make from the discovered treasure.
"Whatever we get, goes straight in the mouth," Hernán Frontado, another local fisherman, explained.
Many villagers have taken the treasure to be a sign of hope and faith.
"This is God, setting his agenda," Ciro Quijada, a local fish plant worker who found a gold ring, stated.