Calafia – from the Arabic “khalifa,” meaning religious state leader.
The origin of the name of the great state of California, home to Disneyland, Lego Land, Hollywood Land, the City of Angels, and other fine places has intrigued me ever since I learned “it doesn’t mean anything.” But I’d like to argue differently, as California comes from imagination, appropriate for the state with so much to wonder about and wander through.
California was a fictional island in a Spanish book published around 1500 called, “Las Sergas de Esplandián” (The Adventures of Esplandián). This book was a romance novel. The author, Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, writes about a magical island kingdom of brown-skinned women ruled by Queen Calafia of the fictional island of California.
If I might, I’d like to suggest that Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo was one in a long line of science fiction writers, the kind that prophesize the future. He may not have known it, but his novel ideas may become future truth.
1. Women: “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman” from The Science Channel recently examined some rather little discussed scientific predictions. In it, scientists said that in approximately four to five million years women will be the only people. Men will have evolved out of existence, they said. The “we” that remain will be a race of women.
2. Brown skin: Geneticists say the world’s races are blending more and more each year, so much so that one day in the distant future the people of earth may all have the same skin tone. (That of current Brazilians, to be precise.) Ease of travel and globalization are homogenizing the human population.
3. The island: Researchers say our oceans are rising at an alarming rate, to the tune of a foot per decade, so much so that by the end of the next century places like Miami, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and many, many others at sea level will be devastated. The ice is melting and the water is rising.
The science is on the wall. Once fiction, the tale from the 1500s of the island of California with its race of brown-skinned women looks to be a glimpse of the future gained in the past. The land of Calafia maybe a prophetic look at our fate and most definitely not a name with no meaning.