As many know, Christopher Columbus set out not to discover America but to find a path to Asia. China and India were said to be brimming with spices, people and gold and given how great it would have been to be the first person to reach them by sea, one might forgive Columbus for insisting, for years, that he had reached the Far East when he in fact had landed in the Caribbean. The Niña, Pinta, and Santa María left Spain on Aug. 3, 1492, and by Oct. 28, alighted on the shores of Cuba, which Columbus first claimed to be Japan. Four days later, he decided he had actually arrived in China, despite the conspicuous absence of the wondrous cities encountered by Marco Polo during his voyages there in the 13th century.
Later, Columbus decided that he might have discovered the biblical kingdom of Sheba and on his second voyage he made his men vow that he was right. Only on his third voyage in 1498 did he finally become convinced, by uncharted waters, that he might have found new lands. Still, he died insisting he had found Asia, as he had set out to do.