On this day in History-Sept. 25
On this day back in 1513, Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa made history as he became the first European to reach a body of water that would eventually become known as the Pacific Ocean.
At the beginning of the year, Balboa made several attempts to recruit men as his crewmembers. However, due to rejections from people who lived in Hispaniola and Spain, Balboa quickly rounded up a group of 190 Spaniards, a few Native guides, a pack of dogs, and very few resources before embarking on his journey. He eventually set sail on Sept. 1, 1513 by crossing the Isthmus of Panama, using a small brigantine and ten native canoes for his crew.
After sailing along the coast, Balboa and his men made landfall in Careta’s Territory, where he would recruit more men and by the time he continued his expedition on Sept. 6, Balboa had 1,000 members to help him on his journey. The crew would eventually face many obstacles and it started when they entered Ponca’s land because Ponca threatened to attack Balboa and his men for trespassing, but Ponca was defeated and he had no choice but to ally himself with Vasco and his mates.
On Sept. 20, they entered a harsh jungle that was difficult to navigate through and four days later, the crew ended up in the lands of Torecha, who ruled the village of Cuarecua, where a harsh, blood-filled battle took place. The crew defeated and killed Torecha and his followers decided to join the expedition, however, several of the men were exhausted and wounded by the battle and they decided to stay in the village in order to heal.
Regardless of what had happened over those last few days, Balboa continued his journey the next day with very few men, but they were continuing to make progress as they entered the mountain range along the Chucunaque River in Panama, where the ocean could be spotted from the range.
Before noon on Sept. 25, Balboa and his men finally reached the undiscovered body of water. Together, everybody embraced the moment of the discovery and they all took part in erecting stone pyramids along with engraving crosses in tree bark. These markings were completed in order to confirm the discovery of the South Sea (now known as the Pacific Ocean).
Events like this are one of the reasons why historical figures like Balboa are important and one has to respect the hard work, discipline, and courage that he and his crew possessed when it came to doing what they did because what they did wasn’t easy. Their journey started off rigid, the obstacles they had to overcome during the journey were hostile, but they kept their eyes on the prize and in the end, everything they had to endure ended up paying off for them.