Although this may have been just another lie, his luck held out and two days later in the early hours of October 12, 1492, Juan Rodríguez Bermeo, the lookout on the Pinta, spotted a light and alerted the other ships by firing the signal cannon. Captain-General Juan de la Cosa, the owner of the Santa Maria, woke Columbus to notify him of this sighting. Rubbing his eyes, Columbus stated that he had seen the light a few hours earlier, thereby claiming in a rather unethical way, a lifetime pension for being the first man to sight land. When they went ashore later that day, Columbus named the island San Salvador. He mistakenly thought that he had arrived in the “Indies,” an early name for Asia, and thus named the indigenous natives “Indians.” Anthropologists believe that the first natives Columbus encountered on the island were Lucayan-Arawak Indians. In Columbus’ logbook, he noted that they had little knowledge of fighting and that they did not wear clothes. Apparently, they were exceptionally clean and washed themselves frequently. Although leery of Columbus and the scruffy newcomers with him, they were very polite and perhaps somewhat fearful of them. It was noted that the women stayed in the background and did most of the work around the village, whereas the men did the fishing. In contrast to these polite people, the members of Columbus’ crew were a rough and crass lot.
Captain Hank Bracker is the award winning author of “The Exciting Story of Cuba.” Available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, BooksAMillion.com and many Independent Book Stores.