SdKfz.161. PzKpfw. IV Ausf. F,F2,G

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Despite having kidnapped his Taino guides, relations between Columbus’s expedition and the people of each Bahamian island he visited were peaceful and friendly. Columbus was eager to impress his Spanish sponsors of how they might profit from his finds, but his journals also reflect his appreciation of the natural beauty of his discoveries. Of one small island, for example, he wrote: [T]he large groves are very green. Here are some great lagoons, and around them, on the banks, the verdure is marvellous; and round about there is a marvellous amount of woodland, the grass like April in Andalusia, and the singing of the little birds such that it would seem that man would never wish to leave here; and the flocks of parrots obscured the sun.

This custom of smoking tobacco, which was then unknown outside of the Americas, later spread throughout the world. The arrival in Cuba marked the first of many future challenges to Columbus’s leadership. When Martín Alonso Pinzón, the captain of the Q 29 Pinta, learned that gold might be found on an island to the east, he disappeared with his ship, without informing Columbus. The remaining ships sailed southeast along the coast of Cuba’s Oriente province. Because of its size, Columbus concluded that Cuba was not an island but a peninsula attached to China, somewhere to the west.

Q 45 In this illustration published in 1859, Vasco Núñez de Balboa claims the Pacific Ocean for Spain. (National Archives of Canada) Then Captain Vasco Núñez held up a banner with a picture of the blessed Virgin . . and with his drawn sword in his hand and his shield on his arm, he waded into the salt sea up to his knees . . Pacing back and forth in the surf, Balboa claimed the sea and all the contiguous lands for Spain. On January 18, 1514, Balboa arrived back in Darién, without having lost a single member of his expedition.

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