Christopher Columbus Never Realized He’d Visited the Americas

Although 14 years passed from the time that Christopher Columbus first stepped foot in the Americas until his death, he never realized that he hadn’t been in Asia.

On Christopher Columbus’ first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, in 1492, he visited places such as, based on present-day boundaries, the Bahamas, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. A year later, he and his crew landed to the southeast of there and sailed to several smaller islands there before returning to Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In 1498, he started out even further to the south, reaching the island of Trinidad and visiting South America – Venezuela – before hitting the Dominican Republic once again before heading back to Europe. His last voyage, which started in 1502, was an even more extensive one as Columbus visited several Caribbean islands as well as almost all of the Caribbean Sea coastline of Central America.

But he never touched North America, never reached Mexico, the United States or Canada.

However, the most surprising aspect of his travels was that lack of ever realizing that he was not in Asia although it should be added that he wasn’t completely sure of where he was. After seeing trees and plants that he did not recognize, Columbus wrote, “I am the saddest man in the world because I do not recognize them.” Even then, however, he still incorrectly thought that the route from Spain to China was shorter in the direction he was heading than it was eastward.

Columbus’ last journey west was a two-year ordeal that included several months of being stranded in Jamaica. He finally got back to Spain in 1504 and died just two years later, never realizing exactly where he had traveled or that his travels had still left him 8,000 miles from Japan and 9,000 from China.