Back in my fifth grade history class we studied the early explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. Guys like Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake, and Hernando Cortez.
These overseas travelers braved all the hardships of the high seas: scurvy, celestial navigation(GPS)problems, pirates. This was cutting edge exploration for the time; mapping and conquering “new worlds” in far away places. It was a fascinating time for exploration, and for me, a chance to write about my favorite explorer- Ponce de Leon.
Ponce de Leon was commissioned by the Spanish King to explore the islands in the Caribbean and landed somewhere near St. Augustine. He named THIS big island La Florida after arriving in the Easter Season to the lush landscapes which the Spanish called Pascua Florida (Festival of Flowers).
Today we are standing in the very spot Ponce de Leon stood in 1513. Another place intriguing to me as a young early explorer was The Fountain of Youth. Also a bucket list destination for Carlos. As he approaches sixteen years old, a good lap at this vital Florida spring might be just what the vet orders. For me, it’s a chance to explore the lush landscapes, the bird life, and perhaps bring home a bucket or two of spring water from the Fountain of Youth.
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the nation. Older than Jamestown and settled even before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Before the Spanish settled here, the Timucuan Indians lived here for hundreds of years. Generations drank from these mineral springs. No, no bottled water for these folks. The minerals from these springs were vital for longevity. Average life-span back then was somewhere in the mid-forties and I assure you it wasn’t that they were drinking BAD water.
We all had a shot or two of these most famous healing waters, walked four or five miles around the historic center of St. Augustine, the Castillo, the oldest wooden schoolhouse, the oldest house, the oldest drugstore, the oldest tavern. You name it, if it’s here in St Augustine, it’s the oldest.
We even walked through the oldest souvenir shop where I bought these postcards. The very store Ponce de Leon sent his postcards from. It’s true! This building is so old it was once the castle, the post office, the drugstore, and then the school before becoming a tourist
So I filled up a couple canteens of water back at the Fountain of Youth (Hey, with admission price you can take as much as you want) in hopes that this historic elixir will help Carlos get through the hot summer months.
As Ponce de Leon once said after drinking from the Fountain of Youth “Ay, Caramba!”.
English translation: A couple drops goes a LONG way. Consult your doctor (or vet) if you experience shortness of breath, an erection that lasts longer than four hours, redness in the face…