Columbus Day

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”'s a song I learned when I was in second grade. We actually commemorated Columbus Day on 12 October then, not the closest Monday that made a long weekend. We learned that Columbus discovered America. Of course, the indigenous Arawaks already knew it was there. When we were in the Bahamas, we visited the island of San Salvador thought to be the first landing place of Columbus. A white cross and plaque were the only markers noting his momentous arrival. We were surprised when we figured out (it was a DUH moment) that the Panamanian ports of Cristobal and Colon on opposite sides of the Panama Canal were named after Columbus … his name in Spanish.  

And then there's the Vikings who visited the shores of North America five centuries before Columbus. We stopped at little Manana Island off the coast of Maine where they claim a big “X” marked on a rock was made by the Vikings when they visited. Hmmm...

Granted Columbus didn't have a GPS and most of the world hadn't been charted yet, but to his dying day he was still looking for India. Not wanting to disappoint his royal supporters, he named the islands in the Caribbean the West Indies and called it good.

The good ship Nine of Cups, on the other hand, has taken 13 years to get only half way round the world with several GPSs and beaucoup charts. We haven't made it to India either.