We all want to find the Fountain of Youth, right? I found it in St Augustine, Florida, and learned a bit of history about it that was quite interesting, as well as unexpected.
As children we are told that Juan Ponce de Leon came to the New World in search of the Fountain of Youth, a fabled location where a drink from the magical fountain would reverse the aging process and cure all ills. Sounds a bit like the Holy Grail, right? Well, not quite.
Ponce de Leon came to St Augustine in 1513 on a voyage of exploration. He had gained experience as a soldier in the Spanish Wars against the Moors under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand (of Inquisition fame). He was actually named Governor of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) and explored farther west, finding and naming La Florida (named for Pascua Florida (Festival of Flowers). There was no mention of a fountain, he was actually searching for gold.
The story I was told at the Fountain of Youth Archaelogical Park was this: the Spaniards were typical Europeans, being short, toothless, and with a life span of 45 years. The Timucuans, the tribe inhabiting the St Augustine area of Florida, were over 6 feet tall, and reached ages of 70 and 80 years! Why did these people live so long and grow so tall? Well, it was the water, of course!
The Archaelogical Park in St Augustine tells the stories of the both the Spainiards and the now extinct Timucaun. The Timucaun, of course, died of the diseases brought by the Europeans, as did so many millions of Native Americans, sadly.
In the park, there are beautiful birds, fountains, and scenery. It is well worth a visit!