1492 from a Bicultural Perspective
Encounters Unforeseen was published in 2017, during the 525th anniversary of the first
encounters between Columbus and Native Americans. Andrew’s blogs posted in 2017 and 2018
to recount what happened on the same dates in 1492 and 1493 are archived below, reordered
chronologically. The archive also includes the sketches of the book’s protagonists and some
additional photos and commentary that Andrew concurrently posted on Facebook. Dates are
based on the Julian calendar used by Europeans in 1492.
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Columbus sails for Cuba, experiencing rainy weather and inconsistent winds. He didn’t yet understand how bad the weather could get. In future years, Columbus and Europeans would experience what the Taínos referred to as huracáns.read more
Having reached Cuba, Columbus was unable to establish contact with the local peoples, as they fled when sailors went ashore. Columbus dispatches one of the Guanahanían captives ashore as an emissary—but the locals abandon their homes and flee again.read more
Offshore the modern Bahía de Gibara, Cuba, Columbus believes he’s almost arrived at the kingdom of the Grand Khan of Cathay written about by Marco Polo. He prepares to dispatch an embassy of crewmen inland to meet the local ruler. Guanahanían captives offer to...read more
Before dispatching the embassy ashore, Columbus again tries to establish relations with the local villagers. He sends a Guanahanían captive ashore with instructions to tell the villagers the Europeans are good and harm no one. The villagers lead the captive inside a...read more
Columbus dispatches his embassy ashore to find and meet the local ruler, who he believes resides four days inland. The embassy consists of two crewmen—one who had once led a mission to meet an African ruler, the other conversant in Arabic—as well as one of the...read more
Columbus’s embassy to seek out the local Cuban ruler returned late Monday evening to report that the territory’s king had warmly received them and that the local people harvested great quantities of cotton. The locals also farmed a crop unknown in Europe they called...read more
Columbus’s daily ship’s log of the voyage was presented to Queen Isabella when he returned to Spain in 1493 and has been lost since her death. Isabella had a copy made and given to Columbus in 1493, which has been lost since the 16th century. Before the copy vanished,...read more
Columbus decides that Cuban captives should be taken to Castile for training in language, faith, and custom so they might be resettled in Cuba, much as the Portuguese had done with African captives in their African trading posts. He orders the seizure of five young...read more
The captains of the Pinta and Niña were two brothers from Palos, Spain, Martín Alonso Pinzón and the younger Vicente Yáñez Pinzón. Martín was the most reputed mariner of the Palos region, and his participation on the voyage had been essential for convincing seamen to...read more
Two Cuban captives escape. Rather than sailing to Baneque—as Martín Alonso Pinzón wished—Columbus had continued to explore Cuba for a few days, reconnoitering its future subjugation. He completed this exercise by the 17th, but chose not to sail for Baneque the...read more
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