Posted: 2008-11-17 17:38:00
Dear fellow travellers:
I am surprised to see your total ignorance about the best travellers of the world in past times.
There are two nations who gave some of the most fantastic discoverers of the world: Spain and Portugal, in those times when they were the main superpowers.
Their extraordinary travels have been not yet matched in present times. Here are just ten of them who made discoveries beyond imagination (just to cite but a few out of the hundreds that these two courageous countries gave to the world). Any list of great travellers without these, at least, 10 travellers is an absurd imposture. Here they are:
1 - Don Alvaro de Mendaña: made two journeys in the XVI and XVI centuries crossing the Pacific Ocean and discovered the Marquises (probably Tahiti too), the north of Cook islands (200 years before Cook himself, hahaha!), Tuvalu, Solomon (he died in Santa Cruz, Temotu Solomon province, where, a few years ago, I erected him a memorial plaque and organized a requiem Mass for him), and several Micronesian islands.
When Mendaña died in the Solomon, the Portuguese Pedro de Quiros continued the journey to Philippines, later on he navigated back to Acapulco, and then organized a new expedition to the Pacific discovering Vanuatu, and one of his men, Torres, at least, saw Australia, although, most probably, he also disembarked in Australia.
2 - Pero da Covilha, a Portuguese brave traveller, in the XVI century was the first Celt Iberian to enter Mecca, many, but many years before Richard Burton. Although the first European to get into that closed and holy muslim city was the Italian Ludovico di Varthema, in 1502.
3 - Juan de Gaetano discovered Hawaii islands in 1546, what was confirmed by the Captain Cook himself on his writings when he found in Hawaii several artefacts belonging to the Spanish navigators.
4 - Pedro Paez discovered the sources of the White Nile two centuries before the blusterer and fanfaron James Bruce claimed it, and was the first European to visit the Hadramaut Valley together with another Spaniard from Vic, near Barcelona city, called Antonio de Montserrat. (Toma nota, Dani).
5 - Juan Pobre de Zamora was the first backpacker in History (in the XVI century), and made an around the world journey individually, with his own means, overland, of course. First the travelled to Mexico, then two times made a round trip to Philippines and Guam, he shipwrecked twice, in Rota (Marianas) and Japan.
He escaped death in Japan, in those times when Japanese crucified to death to the Christians (yes, Japan in those times was not the today “civilized” country). Then he suffered captivity at Portuguese hands, continued overland to Europe through Central Asia and India, on foot. In Babylon he was robbed, and his diary disappeared (recuperated by the Vatican later and today converted in a book of unusual adventures), and when he reached Spain, he meditated about his long years of adventurers and misadventures and became a monk in a monastery in Madrid.
6 - Duarte Lopes, was a Portuguese who first reached the sources of the White Nile and the lakes Victoria and Tanganyika (He wrote a book about his discoveries, ignored, or worse, disregarded, by English historians).
Yes, my friends, the English were not first in that part of the world. The Victoria Falls, and the Lake Malawi were first discovered by the Padre Silveiro and other Portuguese who came later, much, but much earlier than Livingstone.
7 - Fernao Mendes Pinto was an extraordinary Portuguese traveller who during 21 years of travels experienced 1001 adventures in Far East Asia, and one of the first Europeans to reach Japan (in 1542, with the first Portuguese voyage). He then, later on, was captured by the Tartars in Mongolia. He navigated to Sulawesi, entered Arabia, Tibet though the Brahmaputra… and one day he gave all his money to the Spanish Jesuit Francisco Xavier (who died in China when this country was closed to foreigners, and whose corpse is found in Goa) to construct a church, and then worked as a doctor for a king in China. He returned to Portugal after 21 years on the road living amazing exploits, making friendship with the mother of the Emperor of Ethiopia on his way back.
8 - Benjamin de Tudela was a Jew born in Tudela, Navarra, Spain, who made a long journey in the XII century to the Middle East countries looking for Jew lost tribes. His about 14 years of travels took him to today Iraq, Iran, Syria, he circumnavigated the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, and (but it is not documented) also visited India and China. In Israel, when I was working in a Kibbutz, I was surprised one day when the people sang a popular song mentioning Benjamin of Tudela, and then I was told that Benjamin is for the Israel people like Marco Polo for Europeans, the first and greatest Jew traveller (Sephardi, since he was born in Spain, known Sefarad by the Jews).
9 - Gabriel de Castilla, at the beginning of the XVII century, chasing Nederland pirates, reached the parallel 64 south and continued beyond, until he arrived to the sight of the Antarctic Peninsula (but he did not land there) and he described it. This is a documented historical fact.
10 - And do not forget that Magellan died in Mactan Island, Philippines, and was Juan Sebastian Elcano, who took the leadership of the ship Victoria, the first circumnavigator of the world (look at my profile picture to see the monument erected to him in his native Getaria).
I could continue citing about one more hundred of these fantastic discovers who have not comparison with the later travellers who rediscovered what they ignored (or disregarded) that was discovered by Spaniards and Portuguese much earlier.
I could tell you about Orellana, who discovered and navigated all the course of the Amazonas, the Portuguese sailors Tristan da Cunha or Mascarenhas, or the extraordinary Malaspina expedition during over 5 years in the Pacific Ocean and Alaska. But it seems that the English marketing is superior, and English discoveries are better known worldwide than the Celt Iberian ones (Spanish and Portuguese).
Just my two maravedis (old Spanish coin)
Good travels to everybody
Bonum est faciendum et prosequendum, et malum vitandum.