First Visits to The Caribbean

For our twentieth wedding anniversary, my wife and I went to the Caribbean Island known as Antigua. The island was given this Spanish name by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493.

In 1632 British colonists established a settlement and by 1674 the sugar cane grown on the island was such a strong export as to make Antigua into “Brittain’s Gateway to the Caribbean.” [In case you’re curious, famous names during this period of time did include the name Turner.]

I’ve recently begun reading Christopher Columbus’ diary of his first voyage across the sea in 1492, which he kept for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela. Here are pieces of his entries when he first encountered the Caribbean Islands combined with pictures from my own trip.

Tuesday, October 16, 1492


“…Here the fish are so different from ours that it is a marvel. There are some shaped like dories, of the finest colors in the world: blues, yellows, reds, and of all colors; and others colored in a thousand ways. And the colors are so fine that there is no man who would not marvel and take great delight in seeing them. There are also whales. On land I saw no animals of any kind except parrots and lizards…”

Wednesday, October 17, 1492

“…I also walked among those trees, which were more beautiful to see than any other thing that has ever been seen… And all the trees are as different from ours as day from night; and also the fruits and grasses and stones and everything… May Your Highnesses believe that this land is the best and most fertile and temperate and level and good that there is in the world.”

Friday, October 19, 1492

(Columbus wrote of the Island he called Isabela)

“…All of this coast and the part of the island that I saw is almost all beach, and the island the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. For if the others are very beautiful this one is more so…

I saw this cape (a high point of land narrowly extended into the water) so green and so beautiful; and likewise are all the other things and lands of these islands, so that I do not know where to go first; nor do my eyes grow tired of seeing such beautiful [vegetation]…

And when I arrived here at this cape the smell of the flowers or trees that came from land was so good and soft that it was the sweetest thing in the world…”