Well… one thing I can say for certain about Columbus…. his log entries are boring… I think the captain’s log entries in Star Trek were far more interesting. I have to admit though, my expectations were set too high for this particular reading. I expected something rather fun, dynamic, full of history and information. What I got was a well… a log, and a few letters of a controversial figure, all of which was historical, but required much interpretation and not a lot of dynamic. There were some parts of it that were fun to read though, (surprisingly).
The first part of the 4 Voyages that I had to read through was the digest of the captain’s log. This account by an unknown member of Columbus’s crew was written from a surprisingly aloof 3rd party perspective. Admittedly, he tended to side with Columbus, but the way he explained things from a more neutral point of view allowed me to accept the information without much hassle and bother of questioning every word he was writing. As I began reading the digest, there was quite a bit of information, that gave the appearance of mundane, but wasn’t so mundane after all. Soon I found myself noticing every symbol of land, every threat of mutiny, while I knew they would get there, I couldn’t help but wonder what was life like on that fateful voyage across the seas, clinging on mere hopes. It’s no wonder Columbus, when he finally sighted land, was overjoyed. I was also taken aback by the scale of what Columbus was describing. Latin America for the first time and yet, he seemed or tried to keep an open view, not calling the natives barbarians (which was what I expected him to do) and although he later descended into slavery, his first foray into the caribbean was almost like a child wandering through a lush forest.
Then came the denial… when he began to realize and wonder if he had made it to Asia. This I found rather hilarious thanks to my hindsight information, but then again, I had to pity Columbus. He sailed all the way across the Atlantic, hoping to find a route to Asia and make it big with Castille, only to find he had stumbled across something entirely new. If only he had a satellite and GPS!
The letters for me, were the hardest. Everything that Columbus wrote about how he conducted himself and about he situation, I was forced to think and doubt. After all, the letters were defending his position. He sounded quite convincing and it wasn’t easy. In the end, I managed to take everything at face value, yet still manage to understand Columbus’s defense.
In the end, I didn’t enjoy reading the 4 voyages as a whole. My ideal explorer is something more like the characters in Star Trek. But there were some fun tidbits and juicy information that I learnt about this interesting early explorer and the challenges he faced on his voyage.