Before jet planes, great adventure and exploration was a long and daring endeavor. It’s hard to believe now that there was a time when traveling round trip from Lisbon to Calcutta could take two years. That’s exactly how long it took the great Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, to sail a maiden voyage from his native home in Portugal southward, around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, and northward through the turbulent Indian ocean to what was then known as Calicut.
At first, his pursuits were welcome in the region, but Muslim traders began to see him as a threat to profit and local progress. He was highly taxed, ripped of his goods and banished amid oncoming storms (—but not before rounding up some Indian hostages and returning to sea!) The monsoons would come to sink two of his four ships and afflict half of the remaining survivors with scurvy.
Vasco was the son of Estavao da Gama — an explorer who died attempting the same voyage. Both were well-liked at home in Lisbon and the young da Gama’s survival would earn him a heroes welcome. This was the Age of Discovery and he was crowned, “The Admiral of the Indian Seas.”