Landfall

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At about 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 11, 1492, a native of an island over four thousand miles west, south-west of Palos de la Frontera in Spain, may have been walking along the beach with a torch to light his way home, and the flame of his torch may have been the light that was seen from the deck of a ship rising and falling gently on the ocean swells 3 nautical miles offshore.

In the impenetrable darkness of the sea off his stern, the ship’s admiral thought he saw a glimmer of light. He watched for a moment, then called urgently, “Pero, come here.”

Pero Gutierrez stepped quietly to his side. The admiral pointed. “Do you see it? Like a candle flame, rising and falling.”

Pero peered intently in the direction of the admiral’s finger.

“I see it,” he whispered.

Cristobal Colon ordered his fleet of 3 ships to lay by and wait for the dawn.

 

(The scene described above is recreated from the actual diary of the brilliant navigator we call Christopher Columbus. who sailed into the Atlantic from Palos de la Frontera in Spain on August 3, 1492, to test his theory that sailing west would get him to the East Indies faster than sailing east. He did not know that between Europe and the East lay the continents we call, “the Americas.” Nor did he know that he had “discovered” them. He believed until the day he died that he had reached the East Indies.)

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