‘The “Discovery” of America’ by Beny Quintero
Columbus’ spirits soared as they neared land.
He’d spent a good part of the voyage worrying whether they’d find it again.
It would’ve been terribly embarrassing to return to Spain having failed to disembark for the third time.
But God Almighty had smiled upon his knackered compass.
Below fish nibbled at the ship; fish which Columbus had also discovered.
“What shall we call this new land?” called Jose Maria de la Vega, self-proclaimed champion toreador (in the children’s category) and now sailor.
“We shall call it Colombia after me!” Colombus cried.
They anchored the ship and approached the inviting beach in small boats.
It’d been an appalling journey and their bodies were broken.
They were hungry, thirsty, stinking, lice-ridden and their teeth were falling out. They threw themselves onto the sand crying with relief.
The voice had been projected through a curled up palm leaf which belonged to a short, dark-skinned man with a very round face. The sailors scrabbled to their feet, their hands instinctively reaching for their rusty knives.
The little man was suddenly joined by a large gathering of men with spears.
To the shocked Spaniards, they all looked identical.
The leader of the group marched towards the new arrivals with a brooding face.
“Right, what are you doing here?” he said. (He’d learnt the Spanish tongue from a small boy who’d miraculously appeared on the island a few years before and had become one of them.)
Colombus stepped forward, outraged at being greeted as such.
“What do you mean? I’ve just discovered this land!”
“Well that’s just being silly isn’t it? My ancestors lived here before your mother was an egg.”
“Now hang on a minute!
“What do you mean papers?”
The leader stared at Colombus frostily.
“You must have some sort of permission to be on this land. A written letter from one of the locals inviting you to a wedding perhaps?”
“A visa allowing you to work here because there’s absolutely no one else in the country who can do your particular job?”
Columbus sunburn grew redder as he stood there paralysed with rage.
The leader looked passed him and squinted out to sea.
“I hope you don’t mean to park that ship there forever.”
“Where else am I going to park it? We need to bring our belongings ashore.”
“What belongings? They’ll have to be inspected by customs. You can’t just bring anything in here... this is assuming you have permission to be here at all. If not, we might confiscate everything. ”
“Look here!” Columbus yelled. “This is how it works. I’ve discovered these lands and now you’re going to help me find all the gold, jewels and tobacco, which I'm then going to take back to the Queen and maybe I’ll take you with me too as my personal slave!”
“That temper isn’t going to get you any favours.”
“Give me my gold!”
“You need a license to import and export.”
“It’s my God-given right!”
“It’s not about right, it’s about licenses.”
The heat was making Columbus dizzy. He needed to kill this irritating little man but his sword was currently in the pile of flea-infested clothes which he’d ripped off in a frenzy as soon as they’d reached land.
“You must repent!” he cried, feeling faint. “You are heathens! You owe the pope gold and tobacco and strange fruit for your crimes against God!”
The leader wiped his nose then looked at his hand and frowned.
“We will have to detain you all, for illegal entry to the country, failure to supply any trading licenses, religious extremism...”
His nose was starting to run furiously. He wiped away the dribble on his upper lip.
“You will be fined and sent back home....aaargh...why is my nose doing this!”
The leader sneezed. Columbus looked at him grumpily.
“You’ve just caught a common cold, that’s all” he said.
The leader looked at him in horror then down at his hands.
Then he keeled over and died.