The eighth Canary Island
The Treaty of Alcaçovas signed between Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century, in addition to ending the Castilian War of Succession, divided the possessions in the Atlantic Ocean between the then all-powerful maritime powers. For the kingdom of Portugal were the territories of Guinea, Mina de Oro, Madeira, the Azores, Flores and Cabo Verde. For Spain were the Canary Islands, with a clause that specifically referred to the island of San Borondón, "yet to be won," which belonged to the Islas Afortunadas.
The problem is that San Borondón is a legend about an island that has appeared and disappeared for several centuries. Like El Dorado and many other territories created by man’s imagination, the riches of San Borondón were immeasurable. Even some of the fanciful sailors who said they had been there claimed that that the sand on the beaches was mixed with tiny grains of pure gold, and the precious stones that lined the island surface shone brighter than the sun.
Such stones attracted dozens of Spanish and Portuguese expeditions in search of this island which, according to an Italian engineer in charge of fortifying the Canary Islands in the late 16th century, was 480 kilometres long and was 550 kilometres west-northwest of El Hierro. Needless to say, they returned empty-handed but with some stories in their hat, like Pedro Vello, the Portuguese pilot who claimed to have been there.
In September 1953, the newspaper ABC carried the headline "The mysterious Mermaid Island, northwest of El Hierro seen again", and two years later it published a story with the name "The wandering island of San Borondón has been photographed for the first time." The photographer was Manuel Rodríguez Quintero, a fifty-year old man who was strolling through Los Llanos de Aridane, on La Palma, with his camera.
The day was clear. On the horizon, an island could suddenly be made out. It was not El Hierro, which was further south, or La Gomera, further east. It could only be the inaccessible island of San Borondón. Quintero opened his lens, calculated the light in his camera and shot twice. But he realized that no matter how great his picture was, no one would believe him if there were no witnesses. He looked around and saw three children swimming. He called them, made them look at the island and took a picture to confirm that they were there.
The appearance lasted about 20 minutes. Then it 'submerged’ in the waters. So if you are walking in the Canary Islands, watch the horizon carefully. Not every day do you see a ghost island; it seems that it is always a fleeting visit.
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