October 13, 1492

FROM THE DIARY OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS

SATURDAY OCTOBER 13, 1492

As soon as it dawned, many of these people came to the beach—all young, as I have said, and all of good stature—very handsome people, with their hair not curly but straight and coarse, like horsehair; and all of them very wide in-the forehead and head, more so than any other race that I have seen so far. And their eyes are very handsome and not small; and none of them are black, but of the color of the Canary Islanders. Nor should anything else be expected since this island is on an east-west line with the island of Hierro in the Canaries. All alike have very straight legs and no belly but are very well formed.

They came to the ship with dugouts [canoes] that are made from the trunk of one tree, like a long boat, and all of one piece, and worked marvelously in the fashion of the land, and so big that in some of them 40 and 45 men came. And others smaller, down to some in which one man came alone. They row with a paddle like that of a baker and go marvelously. And if it capsizes on them then they throw themselves in the water, and they right and empty it with calabashes [hollowed out gourds] that they carry.

They brought balls of spun cotton and parrots and javelins and other little things that it would be tiresome to write down, and they gave everything for anything that was given to them. I was attentive and labored to find out if there was any gold; and I saw that some of them wore a little piece hung in a hole that they have in their noses. And by signs I was able to understand that, going to the south or rounding the island to the south, there was there a king who had large vessels of it and had very much gold. I strove to get them to go there and later saw that they had no intention of going. I decided to wait until the afternoon of the morrow and then depart for the southwest, for, as many of them showed me, they said there was land to the south and to the southwest and to the northwest and that these people from the northwest came to fight them many times.

And so I will go to the southwest to seek gold and precious stones. This island is quite big and very flat and with very green trees and much water and a very large lake in the middle and without any mountains; and all of it so green that it is a pleasure to look at. And these people are very gentle, and because of their desire to have some of our things, and believing that nothing will be given to them without their giving something, and not having anything, they take what they can and then throw themselves into the water to swim.

But everything they have they give for anything given to them, for they traded even pieces for pieces of bowls and broken glass cups, and I even saw 16 balls of cotton given for three Portuguese ceotis [copper coins], which is a Castilian blanca [a copper coin worth half of a maravedi]. And in them there was probably more than an arroba [around 24 pounds] of spun cotton.

This I had forbidden and I did not let anyone take any of it, except that I had ordered it all taken for Your Highnesses if it were in quantity. It grows here on this island, but because of the short rime I could not declare this for sure. And also the gold that they wear hung in their noses originates here; but in order not to lose time I want to go see if I can find the island of Cipango.

Now, since night had come, all the Indians went ashore in their dugouts.

Goodbye Columbus Day

Before the arrival of Christo Columbo in 1492, the New World was filled with empires, confederations, republics, city-states, and tribal lands. These diverse peoples represented a broad scattering of cultures. The population of the two connected continents has been estimated by modern historians to be approximately twenty-five million people from the Bering Straits to the tip of South America.

Fifty years after the Spanish ‘discovered’ America 75% of the natives had been killed by disease, war, or slavery.

The Spanish, English, French, and Dutch sought to extermination the original inhabitants of America and almost succeeded in the 19th Century, however the ‘Indians’ survived the slaughter, which is why many Indians seek to celebrate Oct. 12 as Native American Day rather than Columbus Day. Both Seattle and Minneapolis altered the holiday to honor the survivors of the Great Extermination.

Italian-Americans were insulted by the slight, as they were when the City of Boston planted Leif Erickson’s statue at the end of Commonwealth Avenue’s promenade rather than the Admiral of the Oceans.

Personally I honor the greatest of his voyage, while recognizing the havoc wrought by the colonists.

I am a Son of the Colonial Wars.

My people conquered New England.

It was a bloody time and sometimes as I drive through the hills south of the White Mountains I can feel the bones of warriors lying in the woods.

Lost forever to the war to win America.

And that is a sin we all live with.

To read more about Boston’s decision on Leif Erickson, please go to this URL

Vikings on the Charles

Happy Columbus Day

Five hundred and twenty-six years ago Rodrigo de Triana spotted land at 2am from the Pinta’s lookout.

“Tierra, tierra.”

This shout woke his shipmates and the captain of this small caravel fired a cannon to announced the epic discovery of land. Later that day the three ships of Christopher Columbus or Cristoforo Colombo arrived at an island in what is now known as the Bahamas.

Rodrigo was in line the offered reward for first seeing land, however the Italian explorer refused to honor the claim, stating that ‘he saw “light” at 10 p.m. the previous day, “but it was so indistinct that he did not dare to affirm it was land.”

The New World was not empty of people and the Admiral of the Sea wrote his benefactors the King and Queen of Spain about the native Arawaks, “Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion.”

Thus began the long tragedy of extermination of the natives in the New World by explorers from the Old World, however this evil future does not detract from the greatness of Columbus’ journey into the unknown and I salute his seamanship, but not his stealing the prize money of first man to sight land from Rodrigo de Triana.

The more things change, the more they change to become the same, because history is always written by those who know to write what people want to believe – James Steele

STINKY’S RETURN by Peter Nolan Smith

Back in 2007 Nik Reiter and I decided to avoid the madness of Songkran by leaving Pattaya for Cambodia. My wife was up-country. She was seeing family. Things weren’t good between us.

Nothing like a road trip to cheer up a man,” Nick said and he booked a van for the border.

The next morning the van stopped at my house on Moo 9.

Nick was already inside and looked unhappy.

“What’s wrong?”

Take a whiff.”

I inhaled the air.

Damn.”

“Someone stinks.”

“That Dutch cunt in the back.”

Stinky was a young backpacker.

We hated travelers.

And they hated us ex-pats.

“Where’s he headed?”

“Sihanoukville.”

“Same as us.”

“Damn.”

The Thai driver thought the same and drove with the window open.

We opened ours too.

Stinky complained.

Nick and I told him to fuck off and slept with the warm wind in our faces.

The mini-van skipped the food stop and we ended up at Trat, the last big town before Koh Klong, the Cambodian entry point.

“This stop,” announced the driver.

We got off and Stinky asked, “How do we get to the border?”

We walk. It’s only a half-mile.” I wanted rid of Stinky. ” But we’re going to have some beer, so piss off.”

The mini-van driver was complaining to the other Thais about the Dutchman’s smell, but stopped upon hearing the tone of my voice.

“Piss off?” asked the blonde Dutchman.

Stinky got the message and wandered off toward the border.

It was another fifteen miles away.

When I explained that to the driver he laughed and we drank a quick beer before continuing to the checkpoint at Cham Yeam.

We saw nothing of Stinky.

At the crossing we tipped the driver 200 baht.

Passing through the Cambodian frontier was easy.

$25 for a month-long visa.

A young boy wrote out the particulars and offered to drive us into Koh Kong for $5. We bought 4 beers and got into the car. Nick laughed to himself.

“What’s so funny?”

“You throwing Stinky off the bus.”

Ď didn’t throw him off. I just gave him the wrong information.”

“Same result. We’re breathing normal air again.”

The driver paid the toll for the bridge over the river. I had stayed in Koh Kong before. It’s a sleepy border town. No beaches. No go-gos. No tourist attractions. Just beer drinking. Not a bad thing, but the driver could arrange forward travel to Sihanoukville.

5-6 hours on a mini-bus, but we needed one other passenger.

“Wouldn’t it be funny, if it was Stinky.” Nick chuckled under his breath.

“Yeah, funny, but not ha-ha.”

We drove into town. Cambodians were splashing water, yet without the viciousness of the Thai Songkran. The driver tried to entice us into a visit to the Chicken Farm. “Have many girls?”

“How many?”

“50.”

Nick and I shook our heads.

Most of the girls would be sleeping off the last night’s labors. Plus he’s faithful to his girlfriend and me mine. Not that we’re good guys, but unlike Bill Clinton we don’t make exceptions to the rules of monogamy.

Except in cases of extreme discretion.

We arrive at the guest house. The mini-van was waiting in the driveway. So was Stinky.

“That wasn’t nice.” He hadn’t changed his shirt and smelled as bad as before.

“What wasn’t nice?” I acted innocent.

“Telling me the mini-van didn’t go to Cambodia.”

“I didn’t tell you that.”

“Yeah, we were wondering why you got off the bus.” Nick backed me up. As an English football fan he hated the Dutch. “And you still smell.”

“I can’t help it.”

Nick looked at me. His eyes said he couldn’t stand 5-6 hours with Stinky. The driver spoke Thai and I said to him, “We pay more if only two people.”

The driver could smell Stinky too and agreed to the deal.

We loaded our bags onto the bus. Stinky tried to get on. The driver stopped him. “No go Sihanoukville. Go casino. Two men. Come back for you 30 minutes.”

Thirty minutes later we were speeding over a red dirt road.

Stinky nowhere to be seen, heard, or smelled.

And we were very happy men

Happy Buddha New Year.

Lost and More Lost


30,000 years ago mankind numbered in the thousands. Their settlements have been researched by countless archaeologists. Nothing was lost to the notice of man, however Henri Mouhot announced to the world in 1860 that he had found the lost city of the Khmers, Angkor Wat. The Frenchman never mentioned that previous expedition to the great lake of Cambodia had visited the ruins or that thousands of monks were living on the grounds of the various royal temples. He was a good writer and his posthumously published journals intoxicated the Occidental psyche with the romance of forgotten worlds.

“One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michael Angelo—might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged. At Ongcor, there are …ruins of such grandeur… that, at the first view, one is filled with profound admiration, and cannot but ask what has become of this powerful race, so civilized, so enlightened, the authors of these gigantic works?”

The height of prejudice.

The cities had been abandoned like those of the Mayas.

Rebellion against the rich.

Several years ago my good friend and I stumbled across the ruins of several brick kilns in Dutchess County. They probably dated back to the 18th Century. Slate piled into cones. No beer bottles or cans were in the interior. The layers of leaves formed a bed of neglect dating several seasons of bad weather. We were ecstatic to have discovered such monuments to man’s neglect only 10 miles from Andrew’s house and we did what all men do at such moments.

We peed on their walls.

“I came, I saw, I peed.”

For a related article click on this URL

http://www.mangozeen.com/2008/11/10/drinking/drunkee-pol-from-nj.htm