Visionários, navegadores and descobridores. These three words are a source of great pride in the Portuguese culture.
With a long history of reaching beyond what’s in sight, we Portuguese have an important place in world history as visionários, navegadors, descobridors. What is a visionário? Visionário means visionary; one with a strong imagination for what is possible outside of what is seen. In 1279, we see evidence of a gifted visionary in the work of Alfonso III's son Diniz, who ruled Portugal from 1279 to 1325. Diniz had a vision for things much bigger than what others of his time saw. He built a navy, founded the University of Coimbra and showed an interest in literature, shipbuilding, and agriculture.
A navegador means navigator; one who chooses routes and works out the direction a vessel takes. In 1385, Portugal’s Henri the Navigator used powerful skills as a navegador to cross seas and set into motion Portugal’s hunger for adventure. It was the famous Portuguese, Fernao de Maglhaes (Magellan), who led the first circumnavigation of the globe! A descobridor means discoverer and to be a beholder, perceiver; a person who becomes aware of something. And it was Vasco da Gama, a tireless Portuguese descobridor, who originally found the route to India consequently establishing a rich trade with India and Southeast Asia.
The question is often asked, “Why did the Portuguese excel at navigating the seas, discovering other lands and at having such a strong vision for what was not evident?” Historians cite three main factors in Portugal’s early history that made them powerful navegadores, descobridores and visionários. Sharing a border with actively hostile Spanish kingdoms, Portugal was forced to look to the sea for communication with the rest of Christendom. In fact, its very survival depended on having the skills to sail well; to fulfill its essential trade, it was by sea that salt, oil, cork, and wine were exported and by that same sea that manufactured goods came to Portugal’s citizens. Finally, Portugal’s land was primarily infertile so fishermen excelled in their trade at sailing and eventually moved into becoming the crews who navigated ships all over the world.
I think it’s safe to say that remnant of our days as navegadores, descobridores and visionários are still evident in today’s Portuguese and most of us look to the ocean’s horizon with a strong pull to see what’s just beyond our sight. It’s just who we are.
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From your friends at Rooster Camisa, haja saúde and may all your discoveries and travels be blessed.