Dr. Jeri Fink

               Author. Traveler. Therapist.
The real story


   What's the real story behind Trees?

   We've been conned - taught that history took place in disconnected events. What could Christopher Columbus, the Inquisition, the expulsion of Jews from Spain, and the discovery of chocolate have to do with one another? Trees Cry For Rain shows how all the pieces are related - like parts of the body, where one action moves with another. For example, the characters in the story flee the authorities - they're caught up in the Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the 15th century. King Ferdinand, like most Spaniards, was part Jewish (his grandmother). His royal treasury was depleted after defeating the Moors in Granada. The king needed money! He forced the Jews to leave their homeland of a thousand years, taking only what they could carry with them. They left homes, assets, and entire fortunes behind - all confiscated by the crown. It was a get-rich-quick scheme that worked. Ferdinand used the money from the expelled Jews to compete with the Portuguese explorers and land-grabbers - financing Christopher Columbus. Put the pieces together. The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Columbus left right after on his first journey to the new world. Columbus began his diary with the following:

  

  . . . In the same month in which their Majesties [Ferdinand and Isabella] issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies . . .

  

   Columbus knew the truth! In 1492 over 200,000 Jews were forced to leave their homeland - a year that is significant in both Jewish and American history.

   On Columbus' fourth journey to the new world in 1502, he robbed  a native Mayan trading vessel (a large dugout canoe) and found strange-looking beans.

  

   "They seemed to hold these almonds," Columbus said, "at a great price; for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen."


   The "almonds" were cocoa beans, used as currency in the local culture. Columbus brought the cocoa beans back to Europe. And the rest is history.

   All of these facts play critical roles in characters, from Rozas, who was seized and tortured by the Inquisition, and her children who fled Spain in 1492, to Aliki, an African chocolatier based in modern New York City. In other words, Trees Cry For Rain brings alive the untold story.


Originally in Literarily Speaking

 


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