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  • Writer's pictureJeanne Johansen


In the movie 1492, Christopher Columbus’s son Diego comments that his father would often wistfully say, “if only I could get beyond the weather.”

If anyone could get beyond the weather, it would have been the Admiral. There’s a lot not to like about Christopher Columbus, but he was God’s own sailor: the first European to ride out an Atlantic hurricane; sailing thousands of miles on dead-reckoning; and basically cheating fate on the open seas. He made three voyages to the America’s, always looking for a passage to India.

Okay, he was a bit of a yo-yo: the Spanish crown knew that his calculations on the size of the earth were way out of whack, but they thought he might find something at least as interesting as the Canary Islands.

And he did. What is now the Dominican Republic became the capital of the New Spain of the Americas. Diego’s home still stands in Santo Domingo. More interesting than the Canary Islands, with all respect.

The Admiral himself is buried in the Cathedral there – or maybe he’s buried in the Cathedral of Toledo, depends on who you believe. I’ve seen both tombs, and I’d place a sentimental bet on Santo Domingo. Columbus was not in any event Spanish.

But what about the dream of getting behind the weather? Even more, getting beyond time?

I think it’s possible to do that in the Dominican Republic. We stayed in a very nice B n B, with a Wolf range, a swimming pool, and three terraces, but no clocks in the kitchen or the bedrooms.

There was only sun, sand, and open sea, and for a while we could feel that we were beyond time and weather, beyond el tiempo (the Spanish word can mean either time or weather).

I think the Admiral would have been proud, wherever he’s buried.

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