On March 4, 1493, Explorer Christopher Columbus returned to Lisbon, Portugal on his ship, the Nina, after a voyage to what is now The Bahamas.
Maybe Chris and his crew just needed a vacation. The previous year, after much effort, King Ferdinand of Portugal had finally convinced Queen Isabella (like most marriages, she handled the checkbook) to finance Columbus on his voyage to seek new lands. They made him an equal partner, and promised that he would receive half the money for anything of value that he brought back from his voyage. What he didn’t know was that the Ferdinands didn’t really expect Columbus TO come back. After his main ship, the Santa Maria, ran aground on Christmas Day, he must have decided to take his crew to the Bahamas for a little R&R before the return journey. It was at this point that he probably found the time to finally write an entry into his journal:
“My travel agent back in Lisbon, Albertino Linguini, was right…the Bahamas are just what we needed. I’ll take a white, sandy beach and one of those cocktails with the little umbrellas over dysentery any day of the week. While our journey has been fascinating to say the least, it has not been without incident. For instance, after just a week at sea, our food supply was already starting to run dangerously low, to the point where I had to start rationing. The hunger of the crew quickly drove them to violence. I remember it to be a Wednesday morning when my cabin boy, Lilly, had just made himself a piece of toast and was reaching for the apricot preserves when first mate Steve drew a longblade and cut off Lilly’s hand at the wrist! Poor Lilly, a finer cabin boy you’ll never find, although he has had much trouble making the beds after the breakfast incident.
“Being away for the holidays is never easy, but the crew was determined to make Christmas a festive occasion! On Christmas Eve, must to my surprise, the men put on a Christmas Pageant, where they re-created the nativity. Cabin boy Lilly was cast as the baby Jesus, and the play was very heart-warming…until the end, when various members of the crew started shouting “Lilly was great! Give him a hand!” I felt that this was a rather cruel gesture, considering the breakfast incident of just a few weeks previous, but the men all got a good chuckle out of it. On Christmas Day, I guess I was a little hungover from the previous evening’s festivities, and ran the Santa Maria right into a damn sandbar and got ‘er hung up. I tried to shift real fast from drive to reverse to rock it loose, but to no avail. We took the plates off and abandoned it.
“New years saw morale at a new low. At the beginning of our voyage, the men would chant “In 14-hundred-and-92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue!” Bright and early on New Year’s Day, I used the men’s room just off the dining room and noticed that someone had written a new rhyme on the wall: “In 14-hundred-and-93, Columbus couldn’t cross an ocean of pee”. This was not the first sign of disrespect from my crew. As the result of an oozing sore on my left foot, boson Fezzini confided that the men had been calling me “Colum-pus” behind my back. Good old Fezzini…he has been kind enough to share some of his extra-large tights with me, as I have gained quite a few pounds on this trip. I always eat too much fast food when I travel.
Well, it’s been a week here in the Bahamas, and I must say that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made on this trip. The men have taken to the natives rather well, especially the young native girls. The girls were, of course, shy around the men at first, and would hide amongst the tropical trees around the islands. I asked one of my crew how they found the young ladies, and he replied “Pretty damn good!” Perhaps he didn’t hear me correctly. I’ve since learned that the men are paying the native girls to tell them stories, which I thought was rather strange. First mate Steve says that the girls charge more for “a happy ending”. It’s a strange concept, but I have to admit, morale has DEFINITELY improved.
“Well, I must go now. We will begin our journey back to Portugal the day after tomorrow, and I am giddy with excitement. Since Ferdinand and Isabella are giving me half of the money we make from the stuff I’m bringing back, I’ll be itching to get all this crap listed on ebay. Maybe Lilly could give me a hand with that. HA! I kill myself.”