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San Borondón

San Borondón Island, imagined Canarian land

 

The island of San Borondón is a popular myth of the Canary Islands. An island that appears and disappears capriciously over the sea. A remote and unknown place that, in any case, is not exclusive to the Archipelago.

The myth must be associated with the journey of the legendary San Brandán de Clonfert, San Borondón, in its Canarian version, although there are also those who relate the existence of the island with ancient Greek legends.

The island of San Brandán is present in countless ancient writings. It is present in medieval European cartography and its evocative legends fill in pages of the nautical mythology of Ireland, Great Britain or Portugal.

Elusive island

Those who claim to have seen it to the west of the Canary Islands, its probable seat, refer to San Borondón as an elusive, innacesible island, always wrapped under a blanket of fog or clouds. Thus, it has been called ‘Non Trubada Island’, ‘La Encantada’. ‘The Lost Island’, ‘The Undercover’ or, that, ‘The Inaccessible’.

 

It must have seemed so real to ancient generations that until the Treaty of Alcaçovas-Toledo of 1479, which delimited the areas of Atlantic influences in Castile and Portugal, he assigned it as belonging to the Canary Islands and under an eloquent label “still to be won”. Even in March 1520, Magellan gave the name of San Borondón to a bay of what is now the province of Buenos Aires. Then it was believed that this estuary was a piece torn from the elusive Canary Island.

So real should this island promise have seemed to you, that conquest expeditions were organized for several centuries. In the Canary Islands, in the 16th centuries; XVII and XVIII, they discovered the discovering expeditions to find the island of San Borondón. Thus, Hernán Pérez de Grado, regent of the Royal Audience of the Canary Islands, claimed to have been in it in 1570, even having lost some of its people on the Borondonian coast.

 

They say that they also came to her, the governor of La Palma, Fernando Villalobos, with three ships, Alonso de Espinosa, governor of El Hierro, as well as Pedro Vello, Portuguese pilot. In 1604, Gaspar Pérez de Acosta and Fray Lorenzo de Pinedo searched for it but only saw clouds. Gaspar Domínguez, a pilot from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, looked for her on behalf of the Captain General of the Canary Islands with the intention of confirming the insistent reports of sightings.

In 2005, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife an exhibition of a trip made to San Borondón in 1865 by a British expedition could be seen. The organizers said they have compiled drawings and photographs of the discovery mission, material from an old collection found in the Antipodes.

Modern science claims to have found an explanation for the existence of this nonexistent island. It would then be about refraction phenomena, mirages, in the sea or accumulations of clouds with characteristic shapes.

But, be that as it may, for the Canaries, the island of San Borondón is as real as their dreams and illusions.

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