Explorers for Kids
Balboa was a Spanish explorer. He was the first European to see the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean.
He was from a noble family, but his family was not wealthy. He was a wonderful swordsman, and for a while, taught other young men the arts of war and swordplay. But that didn't really pay very well. Nor did it carry the prestige he hoped to achieve in his life. He decided to come to the New World in search of riches, as other young men of the time had before him. He headed for the Spanish colonies in the New World.
For a while, he was pig farmer. But he was not a successful one. He stowed away on a ship, and brought his dog with him. Whether it as his dog or Balboa's personality, rather than throw him overboard, when discovered, the captain made him a cabin boy. He learned about ships and sailing and explorations. He was able to join some other explorations, in a higher capacity, in charge of five men. From there, he continued upward in responsibility and success.
On one of his trips along the coast of South America, he was able to collect some treasure, but he had a rough time because the natives were not friendly. They killed several of his men with poisoned darts. He sailed north, towards what today is Panana. There, the natives were friendly, and were willing to trade their gold and food for trinkets. Still, the little he collected would not give him the fame he seeked.
Balboa had heard tales of a large sea on the other side of the Central American peninsula. Balboa set off on land, from the city of Darian, a city he founded, in the northern part of South America. He traveled through the jungles of Panama, in search of this fabled sea. He was also searching for gold, of course. He was always searching for gold and pearls and other treasure. He hoped to impress King Ferdinand, the king of Spain, with a discovery of riches. But Balboa did not find gold. He did, however, find the Pacific Ocean, and claimed it and all its shores for Spain. He named it Mar del Sur, because he thought he had traveled south to find it. Later on, Magellan renamed it Mar Pacifica, because when Magellan first saw the Pacific Ocean, the Ocean was especially calm that day. And Magellan's name stuck.