Today is September 25, 1493, and I, Juan Ponce de Leon am setting sail for the Indies. I am on Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the Indies, so hopefully it will be an easier voyage now that someone knows where we are going.We are setting off from a port in Cadiz with 16 ships and about 11,500 men. I happen to be on the same ship as Columbus, and he seems to be a very busy man. I am also on the same ship as one of my closest friends from childhood, named Henry. He and I completed training to become soldiers together and have looked forward to going on an adventure like this since we were little. I just hope he takes this seriously.
I have been preparing for months now, but I am still a little reluctant to leave. I know I will miss my family very much. My wife also is pregnant with our first child. I hope I won’t be killed by the savage Indians or die of sickness before I make it back here to see my kid. My uncle is very ill, and he was an important part of my life growing up. I haven’t seen some of my brothers for awhile because they have grown-up and moved away, but they all managed to make it back to say good-bye to me. I will be forever grateful that I got to see them again. I have said my good-byes to my whole family as if I will never see them again.
I have recently learned that I will no longer be searching for the fountain of youth at this time. I might look for it in a few years, but many that have looked have been unsuccessful. The king and queen have decided that there are other lands to search for and conquer. I also must prove my loyalty to Spain and my ability to do service before I go on such a trip. Therefore, I will follow up on have rumors of gold on an island nearby. This island is called Borinquen, and I will lead a voyage there in a week.
To go on this voyage, I have to be prepared to kill Indians. Other conquistadors have said that they try to keep us from conquering the land and taking the gold. I have also been warned that although the Indians are tough, strong fighters, their courage is no match for our horses, armor and weapons. I am prepared to do whatever I can to claim the land and get gold for myself and Spain. I hope that someday I will be made ruler over the lands I conquer, and when I return to Spain, everyone will look upon me with great admiration for all the things I have done for my nation.
Today was a very busy day while everyone was preparing for Columbus to go back to Spain. All the soldiers and conquistadors had to help him get his ship ready to sail. I helped as well, and since it was a last minute decision to leave, we had to get the ship ready quickly. Most of the people who came on the ships are staying here, but some are returning with Columbus because they don’t like life here in the Indies. I hope that they have enough food, becaue many were close to starvation on our way here.
The ships also are carrying riches to bring back to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. These ships are in danger of being attacked and robbed, but hopefully that won’t happen. I’m afraid that the Indians might have taken some of our riches, because the shed the gold was kept in was robbed. The Indians probably did this, and Columbus executed any possible culprits. Columbus has also decided not to tell the king and queen about this crime, and has told others to do the same. I believe he is afraid he will be blamed.
I have been training for two weeks, and lucky, the help I got from my cousin did give me a boost. In a few weeks, I will set sail to look for the fountain of youth. I hope the reports of a large island will prove correct, and I won’t be searching for something that doesn’t exist. Columbus has told me that if I find a new island, I will have the privilege of naming it. He told me to consider many options and chose carefully, because that will be its name forever.
Now onto another topic, a ship from Spain has recently arrived here, and one of the crew members had a message from my family. It included wonderful news and terrible news. The terrible news is that my uncle, who had been very ill, died just after I left. He was my father’s brother, and they had been very close. Our family was taking care of him in his last days.
The letter then moved onto happier topics, and I found out my wife Leonor just had our first child. It is a boy, and she wants to name him after me, but she wants my opinion first. We never really had time to discuss names, because I was busy for months preparing to go on this voyage. I think it would be a honor to have our first child named after me, and I will write back to her saying just that. It feels amazing to know I have a child of my own, but it saddens me I won’t be there for the first few years of his life.
Yesterday, Columbus found out that the settlement he had made here last time had been destroyed, and the people in it had been killed by Indians. He was so mad that he almost killed the messenger, but he just barely controlled himself. He then announced that we were going to build a new settlement that will be better protected. All the men who were going to become soldiers must help build in the morning and train in the afternoon. It is very tiring, and I have decided to present my plan about becoming an explorer to Columbus tonight.
Later on day 31:
Columbus said yes! It took a long time to convince him, but he knew that Spain needs more explorers and conquistadors so we can conquer more land. For the next month, I will continue to spend my morning building, and I will do my training in the afternoon. I have secretly already looked into becoming an explorer when my cousin was training, and I hope that will give me a boost. Columbus told me I would be investigating reports of a large island, which is supposedly the island where the “fountain of youth” may be found. I have heard many stories about this fountain, like how it cures the ill and gives people eternal life. If only I could have been here when my best friend was dying back in Spain. I really want to find the island and fountain, claim them for Spain, and use the fountain to cure people from my homeland.
Early this morning, I was aroused by the calls of excited crew members who had just gotten their first glimpse of land in months. The ship was a flurry of activity to prepare for docking the boat. While everyone was rushing around, I slipped, unnoticed, to the top deck. I had finally seen the land I had heard about for so many years! It was magnificent in every way!
When I got back down to the main deck, there was a crowd forming, looking down at something in the water. I pushed my way through the crowd, and in the water, was my friend Henry, from Spain. He looked like he had climbed up a rope, lost his grip, and fell into the water far below. The body began to sink, and the ship’s doctor proclaimed him dead. He was the only close friend I had on this voyage, and many other friends that I made on the way here have died from illness. I have decided to put this behind me, and really work on my duties of training to become a solider and impressing Columbus. Once he sees how hard I work, maybe he will think about letting me become an explorer.
When I woke up this morning, Columbus was telling everyone we only have a couple more days until we reach the Indies! What a relief! We’ve been traveling for weeks already! So many people are sick, and if we don’t reach land soon, we’ll run out of food and medicine.Columbus knows how long it will take, and hopefully, we’re still on track. Luckily, I’m not sick yet, but lately I haven’t been feeling very well. Only about three fourths of the men we set out with are left! Most have died from disease, but there have been some fatal accidents and deadly brawls that have also killed a few men.
Once we get to the Indies, I’m gonna be a soldier for the settlement that Columbus set up the last time he was here. I can’t wait to learn to use all the cool weapons that soldiers use, but I kinda want to be a explorer like Columbus someday. I’m a little homesick, and I miss my parents, brothers, wife, and uncle, but I’m gonna get through to make my family and nation proud. I want to find new land someday, and claim it for Spain. I want to be presented with a medal from the King for my honorable deeds.