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I have finally calmed down a month after my exhausting journey, a once in a lifetime opportunity that God, Cristóbal Colón, Queen Isabella, and King Ferdinand II provided me. Captain Colón is a highly intelligent man, and we would have failed miserably if it were not for him. With his genius intuition, we left at the right time to catch the best crosswinds, explored the land, brought back precious cargo including animals, plants, and Indians, started a settlement, and made it back safe.
This trip has been the highlight of my life, and an experience I will never forget.
We set out on our journey from Palos de la Frontera, a port city, on August 3, 1492. I could not sleep the night before, I was too anxious. As I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I wondered what the next few months of my life would be like. We left with three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nina, in hopes of discovering a faster way to get to India, China, and the fabled Spice Islands.
When we left, we had hoped our discovery will bring prosperity to Spain, and 7 months later, I believe it will. I was assigned to the Santa Maria, the same ship Colón was on. I was excited to be able to serve the captain of our adventure. My duties on board included fixing leaks, checking our cargo and ropes, cleaning the deck, and making sure our sails stayed in good condition.
The living conditions on the boat were rough, we all smelled terrible after a week and it was very crowded, and there was no privacy. It was also very difficult to sleep because there was nowhere comfortable, and there were rats and fleas all over the ship. We were sailing for a month before we stopped in the Canary Islands, south of Spain and off the coast of Africa. While there, we finished getting our ships ready and recruited some more sailors, as they were knowledgeable about navigating the Atlantic waters. On September 6, we set off for Asia. Morale was good for the first few weeks, but after a while, we grew frustrated and tired. Some of my fellow sailors were talking about a mutiny, but I did not take part. If we were to overthrow our captain, we would never get the opportunity to return to Spain as heroes. Around October 10th, tensions reached an all-time high. We had been seeing plants floating in the water and birds flying for about a week but no land was to be seen. Some of the other sailors confronted Colón, as they felt turning around and heading back to Spain was our best option. The captain pleaded that they give him a few more days, and we reluctantly agreed. On October 12, when we thought all hope was lost, Colón spotted land from our ship. We were overjoyed, as Colón’s promise was not in vain.
We spotted an island, and we all got off of our ships. Colón claimed the island for Spain and named it San Salvador. We celebrated reaching land, but we quickly boarded our ships again. We were off to Cipango, also called Japan. We thought we had found it on October 28, but we quickly realized that we had found the Cathay mainland instead. We explored the area but we could not find any big cities as we had hoped, so we headed back to search for Zaiton in early December. The extreme winds carried us to a huge island that Colón named Hispaniola. We found lots of gold that we were eager to bring back to Spain to show the King and Queen. We met the leader of the Indians, named Guacanagarí, and set up a settlement in the Northern part of the island, Colón named it La Navidad. 39 men were assigned to stay there until Colón returned, and luckily I was not one of them. I was already homesick at this point and the last thing I wanted to do was stay there any longer. On Christmas Day, 1492, one of the ships, the Santa Maria, was accidentally run aground. Luckily nobody was injured or killed, and we were able to use the remnants of the ship to fortify our settlement. On January 16, 1493, we were ready to head back to Spain. I was overjoyed by the fact I would be home soon, but the journey back had me wishing I had stayed at La Navidad. Halfway through February, a terrible storm came rolling in. I was at the bottom of the ship praying that I would not die on the ship, in the middle of the ocean. I was regretting even signing up for this expedition in the first place. Luckily, we were able to make it to the Azores, a group of small islands between India and Spain. Unfortunately, the Portuguese settlers there imprisoned us, but our great leader Colón secured our freedom. We finally made it back to Spain at the perfect time, as our ship was barely hanging on at this point. We docked in Lisbon, and while I was happy to be back on land, I was sad that this exciting experience was over. After we landed, Colón had a meeting with King John II, the Portuguese ruler. If Colón ever returns to the land we discovered, I will be the first to sign up as a sailor. I have rested for over a month and I am ready for a new adventure.
Participating in this essay contest and doing research to prepare for my writing has taught me a significant amount about Columbus and his journey that I was not aware of. One new thing that I learned that Christopher Columbus was only his name translated into English, his was Cristoforo Columbo in Italian and Cristóbal Colón in Spanish. More so, I learned many intricacies and details about life as a crewmember and the experiences they had. I learned about the journey there, and how harsh the conditions were for the ship. Some facts that I did not know was that they stop in the Canary Islands for a month and that there was almost a mutiny on board. I also learned more about what they did once they got there, which is usually overlooked by the history teachers I have had. Another thing I was not aware of was that the journey home was very rough and they also did not make it. In all, I am glad I participated in this essay contest because I learned a lot of new information about a very important man in history.
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