1. He wasn’t even the first gringo to sail to the Americas. Norwegian Leif Ericson did it about 500 years before. Lief landed in Newfoundland, Canada. 2. Senor Columbus and those who followed brought diseases & slavery which ultimately wiped out 90% of the native population. 3. He may have been an opium addict and probably died of syphilis. 4. He didn’t seem to be a very nice guy at all. And according to the paintings of him (painted after his death, granted), he was no looker. Let’s just say that no teenage girls in the 1500s had a poster of this guy on their wall. (I would have gone with Michalangelo’s “David” myself).
Let me try to think of one thing positive. He was probably from Genoa, Italy and that’s a beautiful place that makes exquisite salami. Oh! I thought of another one. He didn’t actually invent slavery…though reading many of the articles about him, it sure seems like he did.
So…the idea of a Pan-American Day (rather than Columbus Day) is a great one. Belize has incredible ethnic diversity from Mayans still speaking the Mayan dialects as their primary language to Garifuna people speaking their language to Mennonites to Lebanese-Belizeans. I could go on. Today’s a great day to focus on how far we’ve come, how much we can do to appreciate and respect all cultures and how much farther we have to go to better understand each other.
So I’ll just leave you with some pictures that I took first thing this morning. It’s going to be a beautiful day. Even Columbus himself must have been impressed with Central America when he sailed along the coast on his 4th and last voyage from 1502-1504.
(Ok…one quick trivia question. I can’t help it. Who was the first European to set for in the current, continental United States? Answer at the bottom)
Answer: Juan Ponce de Leon. In 1513, landed for the first time in Florida. He’s the guy always associated with the Fountain of Youth.