The Journey of Christopher Columbus

by Mohamed Dhayyan Zahid

Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer born in the 15th Century. When the Silk Road was closed to Christians, Columbus proposed a new way to get to Asia for trading. Instead, he discovered the continents of South America, bringing extreme wealth to the Europeans and marking a new era in human history.

Imagine you are an astronaut. You were praised for your missions to the moon. You are known as the man or woman who opened the doorway to the secrets of the cosmos. Your work on the first moon base was revolutionary and you were proud of yourself too.

Now you are about to embark on a completely different mission. You and your small crew are going to be the first humans to set foot on Mars. The odds of this mission are against you and no one has ever experienced the obstacles you are about to face.

How would you feel about crossing the edge of the known world? Probably both nervous and excited. There are many stories of people who made remarkable discoveries. But perhaps the most interesting one would be that of a particular Italian explorer from five hundred years ago.

Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer born on 31st October 1451, who was famous for his discovery of the Americas. Located in modern day Italy, it is believed that he was born in The Republic of Genoa and spoke a dialect of Ligurian as his mother tongue.

He was young when he started sailing, travelling far and wide but wasn’t well known until the 1490s. Back in those times, the Europeans had a convenient and protected land route to the East Indies and China to trade for spices. However, after the fall of Constantinople however, the Silk Road was closed to most, if not all Christians. Later attempts were made by Portuguese navigators to establish an oceanic route to Eastern Asia, but their attempts were in vain.

At this point, Christopher Columbus suggested another way to South Asia. He proposed a voyage west by sailing across the Pacific to Japan. During the fifteenth century, it was believed that the Earth was round. Many astronomers performed various experiments and calculations and agreed on the Earth being round. And yet, no one dared to sail westward around the world. Voyaging the unfamiliar and treacherous waters had great risks at the time. Many navigators and monarchs rejected this audacious proposal and straight up refused funding Columbus’s voyage. But Columbus was keen about his theory, he tried, again and again, trying to get someone to sponsor his voyage, even when any other sailor would agree that such a voyage would be unfeasible.

However, the Catholic monarchs were looking to hold an advantage in the European spice trade, after their advisors cautioned against it, the queen agreed to provide Columbus with about 14000 Maravedis for the year. In May 1489, the Queen increased his funding and informed eastern European cities to assist him in any way possible.

As the day of the voyage neared, Columbus began charting a course westwards across the Atlantic to Japan. As smart and knowledgeable he may be, Columbus made many errors in his calculations. This caused him to assume that the voyage would only be 9800 kilometres instead of the actual 20000 kilometres.

Christopher Columbus and his three ships the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nina, departed from the port of Palos de la Frontera on August 3rd, 1492. They arrived at the Canary Islands for repairs and supplies. Then followed what would become a strange five-week voyage. During the journey, the crew observed phenomena such as compasses going haywire and large flocks of birds.

On the 11th of October, 1492, the crew spotted land and changed course. They quickly realized that the island they landed on was not eastern Asia, but an entirely new continent that wasn’t like anything they’d seen before. Christopher Columbus tried to communicate with the inhabitants but they spoke an entirely different language,  forcing them to communicate through hand gestures.

The island was named San Salvador, meaning ‘Holy Savior’ and the natives were called Indios, meaning ‘Indians’. In the coming weeks, the crew explored the islands and met with locals, imprisoned natives, and searched for gold. News spread quickly of their discoveries upon their return. After the first, three more voyages were made, which established colonies, pillaged natives, and brought back immense wealth to the Europeans.

After his voyages, Columbus developed an illness that would cause his death fourteen years later. He was renowned as the man who discovered the new world and inspired many others. Christopher Columbus was smart, and courageous and never gave up even when the odds were against him.

Many people have the mindset of their dreams and ideas are impossible. But if you have faith and believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything, even something like being a martian.


Author biography

Mohamed Dhayyan Zahid is a 14 year old from the southernmost atoll of the Maldives, currently studying in the 8th grade at Jamaluddin School, Male’, the Maldives. He participated in theCircle Coding and Critical Thinking programme by the Ugail Foundation in June 2020, and had been part of the Leaders of Tomorrow programme by Professor Ugail in the year 2021. He is interested in pursuing a career in the fields of coding and graphic design. He also enjoys reading and writing.

Mohamed Dhayyan Zahid

Cite this article as:
Mohamed Dhayyan Zahid, The Journey of Christopher Columbus, theCircle Composition, Volume 1, (2021).