It is strange, now, so many years later, to be telling my story, writing this journal. I think back to that other journal, the one Columbus kept, day by day, sitting at the desk in his cabin as the waves rocked the Santa Maria, his quill scratching away, recording it all—leagues sailed, the direction of the wind, his hopes and fears. Mine will lack that immediacy, because all I have are a few scraps of notes and my memories, the memories of an old man far away from his land and his people, writing in a language that is not mine, for readers in another world. But if I do not tell my story, who else will?
So let me begin as Columbus did, with the weighing of the anchors. It was, I remember, a Friday—I had already learned their days of the week, and this was the day of Venus, goddess of beauty, sprung from the foam of the sea—Friday the third of August, by the Christian calendar, the year 1492, when we set out from the bar of Saltes, at the confluence of two rivers, the Tinto and the Odiel, to sail into the unknown.