Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The voyage and the route

Despite the celebrations had started in 2000 in Portugal, only now Asian countries began, gradually, celebrating this historical feat, each year in which country when officially the Portuguese sailors reached their shores. The sixteenth century sailing adventures of the Portuguese were a constant presence in all the conversations that we were having, reason why, reinforced with the lack of any official support, we decided to celebrate the fifth hundredth anniversary of the first sailing trip to Asia. Just over a half millennium, the first by sea, Portuguese sailors arrived “to the other side of the world,” adventure that end up with reaching Japan in 1543, after India, China and many other countries in this part of the world. The Cape of Good Hope was crossed for the first time in 1488 by the Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias, opening the route to east. Although with some discrepancy in the dates even between historians, its widely accepted 1510 to Goa, 1511 to Malacca, 1513 to Diu, 1513 for China, 1514 for East Timor, 1523 to Daman and 1543 for Japan, only to mention some of the most important places for the Portuguese language and culture presence in Asia. To celebrate this achievement of our ancestors, but also to celebrate the whole legacy, including the legacy of what is now the official language in nine countries and territories and spoken in many other places in communities that refuse to let it die, which was to be only a family trip to visit all Portuguese speaking countries, became also a way to honor all those brave men who made the history that unites us.

We will begin the trip in the Caribbean, more specifically in the Dominican Republic where the vessel, for the last year, has been being prepared. From here we cross the Pacific, via the Panama Canal, and then head for the various islands of the largest ocean on the planet, always towards the Asian continent, coming to Australia and Indonesia until reaching East Timor. The arrival in East Timor must be in late 2014 or early 2015 (depending on weather conditions for the Pacific crossing), when this country still celebrating the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese sailors. From here we’ll head to Macau via Indonesia and the Philippines, with stops during the trip in places with relevant Portuguese presence in this area, the Banda Islands and the Moluccas. After Macau the course will follow to Southeast Asia, with Phuket in Thailand, Malacca in Malaysia and other places where the Portuguese remained for centuries. Leaving Southeast Asia we’ll head to India, where the Portuguese sailors arrived in 1511, visiting Goa, Daman and Diu before crossing the Indian Ocean to Mozambique initiating the African chapter of this adventure. Following the coast of Mozambique to the Cape of Good Hope and then to Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde where we say goodbye to Africa and cross, for the first time in this adventure, the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil. Arriving in South America, after more than 500 years of the first Portuguese sailor, we’ll head to the north by the Caribbean, Bahamas where we will cross to the Bermuda and then to the Azores and mainland Portugal, putting an end to journey. Putting an end where everything started more than five centuries ago.


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