You Asked, I’ll Answer

Some of you have asked me about Columbus. Did he take more than one journey? Did he see a meteorite splash into the water? Did the Santa Maria really get shipwrecked? Did he really experience all those things you describe in Toward a Dark Horizon? And how do you know?

My answer: Columbus wrote a daily log book of his voyages, kind of like a blog site without the internet. The bad news is much of his journals were lost or obscured to history. One of his sons wrote or paraphrased what he had written. And large portions of the second voyage journal are lost. Bartolomeo de las Casas, a Jesuit missionary to the Indies, also wrote about Columbus, but with a critical edge. He noticed the injustices—the treatment of the natives and the numbers that succumbed to European diseases.

Anyway, Columbus took four voyages to the New World. The first was exploration, the others for colonization and obtaining gold.

The Santa Maria drifted onto rocky shoals on Christmas night 1492. It had to be scrapped to build a fort and housing at La Navidad, the first settlement. Columbus had to leave 39 men, because there was no room on the remaining two ships.

Columbus’ journal records an incident of a fiery ball falling from the night sky and dropping into the ocean near the flagship on the first voyage.

Columbus describes his first encounters with the native Tainos, whom he called Indians. Logical since he believed he was in “The Indies” which is what 15th Century Europeans called the unexplored lands east of the Indus River. He kept insisting he had discovered China (Cathay) and possibly Japan (Cipangu), taken from his reading of Marco Polo. He kept claiming he could understand the natives.  For some reason he believed the natives would speak Aramaic so he brought along a Jewish translator: Luis Torres.

Luis Torres, translator, and Juan Sanchez, physician, are both actual people registered in the first voyage’s roster.

Confession, some of what I’ve written is my imagination, but these facts I’ve stuck to.

© Beryl Carpenter 2013 - 2020