#4 from the Dominican Republic
Isabella, Dominican Republic
Columbus’ second voyage to the new world was truly the significant one. For on this voyage he brought 17 ships, 1500 men, horses, sheep, cows, and all the things necessary for a permanent colonies. So perhaps we should mark November 28th, 1493 as the true Columbus day. The beginning of the conquest.
Columbus returned to find all 40 men he had left at Navidad from the first voyage to be dead. When they had not been fighting internally, they had raided the Indians and suffered reprisals. This set the pattern.
Most of the conquest of the new world was won by disease. But not so much the island of Hispanola. Yes, the Spanish may have brought along disease, but they would not wait for the disease to win for them. Columbus had mostly brought the sons of noblemen with him. These men were not about to do manual labor themselves. They quickly needed slaves to dig the gold, and excess slaves to sell in Europe to finance future expeditions. But they found that the Taino Indians simply did not domesticate well. So, as Bartolome de las Casas so well documented in his writings, the Spanish began the genocide. I think you simply must read his writings. Any celebration of ‘Columbus day’ would be the equivalent of a celebration of ‘Happy Auschwitz day’. Drop this ‘holiday’ now, and forever.
There is a cemetery for the Spanish conquistadors in Isabella. But something is missing here. Headstones for the quarter-million murdered Indians. If history does not record it, then did it ever happen? I waited until the guide left Columbus’ original home. When no one was looking, I pissed on it. Later I marked the conquistadors graveyard too.
Getting to Isabella is not easy. The roads are bad and the bridges are down.
It was not easy to get to Isabella coming from the west side. The roads and bridges had long been washed out. But that was where a bicycle had an immense advantage. I could wade thru the rivers carrying it to the other side. I had to walk it a lot. For the deep rivers, I floated my bike on the improvised pontoon boats. And once I got to Isabella, I had the national park and beautiful hotel all to myself.
Isabella, Dominican Republic is worth the visit. So that we don’t forget.