In 1498, Vasco da Gama concluded his historic voyage, arriving in India after rounding Africa. And whom did he see among the riches of that magical land?
Well, a tall Jew with a white beard, of course!
Yeah, not exactly what Vasco was expecting. He was so confused by the man that he did the only sensible thing: thought the Jew was a spy, jailed and tortured him. 15th century justice was ever so just.
But Vasco wasn't without a soft side. After realizing the Jew's knowledge of many languages could prove useful, he gave him the best possible gift: a conversion to Christianity. And his own surname. Gaspar da Gama, the Jew was christened.
Gaspar made his way to Portugal, where there was only one possible course of action: he was once again assumed to be a spy. Those fears did dissipate, as King Manuel I loved hearing the Jew's stories. (Note to potential spies: learn good stories.) And when Pedro Cabral was set to sail to the "Indies", the multilingual Gaspar was appointed as interpreter.
Of course, the Indies that Cabral reached were not exactly India, but rather what we now know as Brazil. Gaspar is believed to be the first European to set foot in that country. His attempt to talk to the natives obviously went for naught, which was probably just as well. How many accusations of being a spy can one man handle?