Grand Turk: 18th March 2015
After our bus tour of Grand Turk, I went for a walk along the beach, an, on my wanderings, came upon a sign. It informed me that I was entering the ‘Columbus Landfall National Park’, and I learned later that some people believe that the New World was first sighted here, not in the Bahamas, as many authorities would have it.
Mind you, ‘authorities’ have been wrong before. Cristoforo Columbo, to give him his real name, did not, as we were taught in school ‘… set out to prove that the world is round’. That had been a known fact since ancient times. What he was seeking was a quicker trade route to China and India … he greatly underestimated the circumference of the Earth, and, of course, didn’t know about the continent in his way.
Anyway, land was first sighted by a lookout on the Pinta, one Rodrigo de Triana, who reported his sighting to his captain, Martin Alonso Pinzon. Columbus noted that Pinzon ‘ … wished to be rewarded for his intelligence’; the King of Spain had promised a generous pension to the first person to sight land. But, Columbus kept the reward for himself, claiming to have seen a faint light the previous night, but remained silent until he was certain.
But, what land was it? It was described as a ‘… bean shaped island that had several small islands nearby …’ Many sources assume it was San Salvador, in the Bahamas, but it’s been pointed out that this also describes Grand Turk.
So, until further archaeological evidence is uncovered, where he actually first landed remains a mystery.
Right up to his death, Columbus maintained that what he’d ‘discovered’ lay off the shores of Asia, so it could be assumed his navigation techniques were suspect … and he didn’t know where he was!