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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Searching for the lost fountain of youth

On this day in 1513, Ponce de Leon set sail from Puerto Rico to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Caribbean Indian legends spoke of waters, a drink of which would guarantee a life free from the worries of old age. Ponce de Leon had served with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage and become the governor of Puerto Rico, earning a fortune in the slave trade. He later lost the position and requested permission from Spain to explore the regions north of Cuba.

On March 3, 1513, he set off on his quest. Sometime around Easter, he sighted what he thought to be an island and named it after the Spanish title of the season "Pascua Florida". Ponce de Leon would spend the next eight years fruitlessly seeking the Fountain of Youth. In 1521 he was wounded by an arrow during a battle with the native inhabitants of Florida and later died of the injury.

Today both Florida and Puerto Rico are major tourist destinations and the early Spanish should be proud.