Vasco Nunez de Balboa was a Spanish soldier of fortune. To escape his debts he fled to South America and became the leader of a group of settlers. He was surprised to learn from an Indian chief, one day, that a vast sea existed 72 km away, and set out to find it. The Spaniards had to hack their way through forests and swamps full of Indians waiting to kill any stragglers. At last Balboa reached a mountain top and, alone, stared out over the great Pacific Ocean.