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Post Esmeralda, Elcano Meet in Straits of Magellan
Created by John Eipper on 10/18/20 2:31 PM

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Esmeralda, Elcano Meet in Straits of Magellan (Silvia Ribelles de la Vega, USA, 10/18/20 2:31 pm)

Today, October 18th, the training vessels of their respective navies, the Esmeralda from Chile and the Juan Sebastián Elcano from Spain, have arrived at Punta Arenas, in the Magellan Strait, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first passage through that strait. (Photos attached.)

The Esmeralda arrived from the West, while the Elcano arrived from the East. They met at 13 hours (Chilean time) and thus inaugurated the several-days-long commemoration of the finding of the passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, a milestone in the history of mankind, which was completed at the end of October of 1520.

You will not find any of this on today's newspapers in Spain. I am not quite sure whether it will be on the daily news broadcast since I cannot watch the Spanish news from here, but I can only guess it won't be featured. Nothing has been organised in Spain. The Spanish Government, one more time, has tiptoed around the subject, and remained silent.

Our poor country, in so much need right now of something that will help its citizens raise our heads up for pride, has let another opportunity pass right by. Silence. This is, yet again, another milestone that has been ignored, and one that Spaniards will not commemorate because most of them don't even know it happened. In Congress they keep bringing up la Guerra Civil. We are doomed to always being shown the worst version of ourselves.

JE comments:  Juan Sebastián Elcano, a Basque, was the first human to sail around the globe.  (Magellan did not survive the voyage.)  The meeting of the Elcano and the Esmeralda is actually a family reunion:  they are "sister" ships, with the Esmeralda being built in Cádiz in the 1950s, using the blueprints of the older, British-built Elcano.

Silvia, you're right: it's high time to celebrate something, and what is a more WAISly topic than a milestone in world travel?

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  • Is Remembering Magellan Politically Correct? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/19/20 2:40 PM)
    Let me congratulate Silvia Ribelles on her post!

    However is it politically correct?

    JE comments: Probably not, Eugenio, as Magellan evokes imperialism and several other unsavory "isms."  It was 500 years ago tomorrow (October 21st) that Magellan entered the Straits (not yet named for him; imagine that).  He emerged in the "South" Sea (Pacific) thirty-eight days later.  So I say give the guy a break; it took unprecedented courage to make that voyage.  And the Filipinos got their revenge on him shortly after.

    Bert Westbrook sent me a questioning text message when I said that Juan Sebastián Elcano was the "first human" to circle the globe.  Bert, I stand corrected:  there were 17 other survivors out of the original 270.  Still, your question gives me the excuse to republish a photo of one of my favorite monuments, in Elcano's hometown of Getaria, Basque Country.  The inscription reads Primus Circumdedisti Me.  I am pictured with Nagore Ardanza, mother of our host son Aritz Mendiola, who lived with us from 2013-'14.

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    • Remembering Lapu-Lapu, Defender of the Philippines (Francisco Ramirez, USA 10/20/20 3:51 AM)
      The man who killed Magellan was the chief of the island of Mactan and he was called Lapu-Lapu.

      Lapu-Lapu: Chief and warrior of Mactan, as remembered in this monument in Cebu City:


      Given Eugenio Battaglia's obsession with political correctness, I offer this account of how he got his name. As Magellan lay dying his final words were: La Pu, La Pu, La Puta Madre que te parió.

      Every Filipino schoolboy knows the story of the Battle of Mactan. Only the politically incorrect know this extra detail.

      These are more or less the words an Italian soccer player used to get his head bumped by Zidane, who then got thrown out of the game. In fairness to the Italian player, he insisted it was Zidane's sister, not his mother, whose virtue was in question.

      JE comments:  The perfect "folk etymology" for this Hispanist's files!  Nice physique, too...

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  • Training Ship "Juan Sebastian Elcano": A Correction (Silvia Ribelles de la Vega, USA 10/20/20 3:32 AM)
    Thank you for publishing my note on the meeting of sister ships Esmeralda and Elcano in the Straits of Magellan. Just a little note, the Juan Sebastián Elcano was built in Cádiz, not in the UK. The blueprints were English, but the work was done in Spain.

    In this link you can see some interesting photos:


    JE comments:  Apologies; I did a sloppy job of cribbing off the 'Net.  So the Elcano and the Chilean Esmeralda are true sister ships, built from identical plans in the same yard 25 years apart.  Maybe one should call them "aunt and niece" ships.  The Elcano has sailed over 2 million miles since its launch in 1927, a record for a "tall" sailing vessel.

    The Captain's quarters are very luxurious!  See photos above.

    Today exactly 500 years ago, Magellan and his crew entered the treacherous Straits, unsure of whether they would ever emerge.  A sobering thought as you go about your day, Dear WAISers.

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