Think Of These Two Famed Mariners Meeting

If you ever wonder what makes this blogger smile, well here is an example.  It often is found in the pages of history.  Today in the final paragraph from chapter twelve 0f Toby Lester’s The Fourth Part Of The World is a scene that begs a short story all to itself.

It is March 4, 1493 when a battered caravel seeks refuge from heavy seas and noses up into Portugal’s Tagus River.  The vessel flies a tattered Spanish flag.  It will come to anchor a short distance from a Portugal man-of-war commanded by Bartolomeu Dais who had years before sailed around what we now know as the Cape of Good Hope.   Dias will not receive a hero’s welcome for his find as at the time of his return no one could be sure he had found the way to the spices of the east.    It will be roughly a decade after his discovery when the legendary story we now know comes into being.

Now on that March day as Dais demands an explanation as to why this vessel has anchored in Portuguese waters he got a most surprising response.

A tall Genoese mariner aged 42, with blue eyes and a ruddy complexion introduced himself as Cristoforo Colombo.  He announced that he has just sailed west to the Indies and has returned.

IMAGINE these two face-to-face with their backgrounds and the large hopes and dreams of geographers and rulers as many sought a way to further enhance trade and political power. Never before have I read that these two actually met and in such a dramatic way.

If I were teaching history–and Lord knows if I had many lifetimes one would be so devoted–this is where I would start and then move my class backwards in time to show how we arrived at such a momentous meeting on the Tagus River.

In these times of self-created and generated chaos in Washington I find the way to get smiling and pondering new ideas and learning more is to open a book of history.

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