Tuesday, 30th of October
He left the Rio de Mares and steered N.W., seeing a cape covered with palm trees, to which he gave the name of Cabo de Palmas,[133-5] after having made good 15 leagues. The Indians on board the caravel Pinta said that beyond that cape there was a river,[134-1] and that from the river to Cuba it was four days' journey. The captain of the Pinta reported that he understood from that, that this Cuba was a city, and that the land was a great continent trending far to the north. The king of that country, he gathered, was at war with the Gran Can, whom they called Cami, and his land or city Fava, with many other names. The Admiral resolved to proceed to that river, and to send a present, with the letter of the Sovereigns,[134-2] to the king of that land. For this service there was a sailor who had been to Guinea, and some of the Indians of Guanahani wished to go with him, and afterwards to return to their homes. The Admiral calculated that he was forty-two degrees to the north of the equinoctial line (but the handwriting is here illegible).[134-3] He says that he must attempt to reach the Gran Can, who he thought was here or at the city of Cathay,[134-4] which belongs to him, and is very grand, as he was informed before leaving Spain. All this land, he adds, is low and beautiful, and the sea deep.
Wednesday, 31st of October
All Tuesday night he was beating to windward, and he saw a river, but could not enter it because the entrance was narrow. The Indians fancied that the ships could enter wherever their canoes could go. Navigating onwards, he came to a cape running out very far, and surrounded by sunken rocks,[134-5] and he saw a bay where small vessels might take shelter. He could not proceed because the wind had come round to the north, and all the coast runs N.W. and S.E. Another cape further on ran out still more.[135-1] For these reasons, and because the sky showed signs of a gale, he had to return to the Rio de Mares.
Thursday, November the 1st
At sunrise the Admiral sent the boats on shore to the houses that were there, and they found that all the people had fled. After some time a man made his appearance. The Admiral ordered that he should be left to himself, and the sailors returned to the boats. After dinner, one of the Indians on board was sent on shore. He called out from a distance that there was nothing to fear, because the strangers were good people and would do no harm to anyone, nor were they people of the Gran Can, but they had given away their things in many islands where they had been. The Indian then swam on shore, and two of the natives took him by the arms and brought him to a house, where they heard what he had to say. When they were certain that no harm would be done to them they were reassured, and presently more than sixteen canoes came to the ships with cotton-thread and other trifles. The Admiral ordered that nothing should be taken from them, that they might understand that he sought for nothing but gold, which they call nucay.[135-2] Thus they went to and fro between the ships and the shore all day, and they came to the Christians on shore with confidence. The Admiral saw no gold whatever among them, but he says that he saw one of them with a piece of worked silver fastened to his nose. They said, by signs, that within three days many merchants from inland would come to buy the things brought by the Christians, and would give information respecting the king of that land. So far as could be understood from their signs, he resided at a distance of four days' journey. They had sent many messengers in all directions, with news of the arrival of the Admiral. "These people," says the Admiral, "are of the same appearance and have the same customs as those of the other islands, without any religion so far as I know, for up to this day I have never seen the Indians on board say any prayer; though they repeat the Salve and Ave Maria with their hands raised to heaven, and they make the sign of the cross. The language is also the same, and they are all friends; but I believe that all these islands are at war with the Gran Can, whom they called Cavila, and his province Bafan. They all go naked like the others." This is what the Admiral says. "The river," he adds, "is very deep, and the ships can enter the mouth, going close to the shore. The sweet water does not come within a league of the mouth. It is certain," says the Admiral, "that this is the mainland, and that I am in front of Zayto and Guinsay, a hundred leagues, a little more or less, distant the one from the other.[136-1] It is very clear that no one before has been so far as this by sea. Yesterday, with wind from the N.W., I found it cold."
Friday, 2nd of November
The Admiral decided upon sending two Spaniards, one named Rodrigo de Jerez, who lived in Ayamonte, and the other Luis de Torres, who had served in the household of the Adelantado of Murcia, and had been a Jew, knowing Hebrew, Chaldee, and even some Arabic. With these men he sent two Indians, one from among those he had brought from Guanahani and another a native of the houses by the river-side. He gave them strings of beads with which to buy food if they should be in need, and ordered them to return in six days. He gave them specimens of spices, to see if any were to be found. Their instructions were to ask for the king of that land, and they were told what to say on the part of the Sovereigns of Castile, how they had sent the Admiral with letters and a present, to inquire after his health and establish friendship, favoring him in what he might desire from them. They were to collect information respecting certain provinces, ports, and rivers of which the Admiral had notice, and to ascertain their distances from where he was.
This night the Admiral took an altitude with a quadrant, and found that the distance from the equinoctial line was 42 degrees.[137-1] He says that, by his reckoning, he finds that he has gone over 1142 leagues from the island of Hierro.[137-2] He still believes that he has reached the mainland.
Saturday, 3rd of November
In the morning the Admiral got into the boat, and, as the river is like a great lake at the mouth, forming a very excellent port, very deep, and clear of rocks, with a good beach for careening ships, and plenty of fuel, he explored it until he came to fresh water at a distance of two leagues from the mouth. He ascended a small mountain to obtain a view of the surrounding country, but could see nothing, owing to the dense foliage of the trees, which were very fresh and odoriferous, so that he felt no doubt that there were aromatic herbs among them. He said that all he saw was so beautiful that his eyes could never tire of gazing upon such loveliness, nor his ears of listening to the songs of birds. That day many canoes came to the ships, to barter with cotton threads and with the nets in which they sleep, called hamacas.
Sunday, 4th of November
At sunrise the Admiral again went away in the boat, and landed to hunt the birds he had seen the day before. After a time, Martin Alonso Pinzon came to him with two pieces of cinnamon, and said that a Portuguese, who was one of his crew, had seen an Indian carrying two very large bundles of it; but he had not bartered for it, because of the penalty imposed by the Admiral on any one who bartered. He further said that this Indian carried some brown things like nutmegs. The master[138-1] of the Pinta said that he had found the cinnamon trees. The Admiral went to the place, and found that they were not cinnamon trees. The Admiral showed the Indians some specimens of cinnamon and pepper he had brought from Castile, and they knew it, and said, by signs, that there was plenty in the vicinity, pointing to the S.E. He also showed them gold and pearls, on which certain old men said that there was an infinite quantity in a place called Bohio,[138-2] and that the people wore it on their necks, ears, arms, and legs, as well as pearls. He further understood them to say that there were great ships and much merchandise, all to the S.E. He also understood that, far away, there were men with one eye, and others with dogs' noses[138-3] who were cannibals, and that when they captured an enemy, they beheaded him and drank his blood, and cut off his private parts.
The Admiral then determined to return to the ship and wait the return of the two men he had sent, intending to depart and seek for those lands, if his envoys brought some good news touching what he desired. The Admiral further says: "These people are very gentle and timid; they go naked, as I have said without arms and without law. The country is very fertile. The people have plenty of mames which are like carrots and have the flavor of chestnuts; and they have faxones and beans of kinds very different from ours.[139-1] They also have much cotton, which they do not sow, as it is wild in the mountains, and I believe they collect it throughout the year, because I saw pods empty, others full, and flowers all on one tree. There are a thousand other kinds of fruits, which it is impossible for me to write about, and all must be profitable." All this the Admiral says.
Monday, 5th of November
This morning the Admiral ordered the ship to be careened, afterwards the other vessels, but not all at the same time. Two were always to be at the anchorage, as a precaution; although he says that these people were very safe, and that without fear all the vessels might have been careened at the same time. Things being in this state, the master[139-2] of the Nina came to claim a reward from the Admiral because he had found mastic, but he did not bring the specimen, as he had dropped it. The Admiral promised him a reward, and sent Rodrigo Sanchez and master Diego to the trees. They collected some, which was kept to present to the Sovereigns, as well as the tree. The Admiral says that he knew it was mastic, though it ought to be gathered at the proper season. There is enough in that district for a yield of 1000 quintals every year. The Admiral also found here a great deal of the plant called aloe. He further says that the Puerto de Mares is the best in the world, with the finest climate and the most gentle people. As it has a high, rocky cape, a fortress might be built, so that, in the event of the place becoming rich and important, the merchants would be safe from any other nations. He adds: "The Lord, in whose hands are all victories, will ordain all things for his service. An Indian said by signs that the mastic was good for pains in the stomach."
Tuesday, 6th of November
Yesterday, at night, says the Admiral, the two men came back who had been sent to explore the interior. They said that after walking 12 leagues they came to a village of 50 houses, where there were a thousand inhabitants, for many live in one house. These houses are like very large booths. They said that they were received with great solemnity, according to custom, and all, both men and women, came out to see them. They were lodged in the best houses, and the people touched them, kissing their hands and feet, marvelling and believing that they came from heaven, and so they gave them to understand. They gave them to eat of what they had. When they arrived, the chief people conducted them by the arms to the principal house, gave them two chairs on which to sit, and all the natives sat round them on the ground. The Indian who came with them described the manner of living of the Christians, and said that they were good people. Presently the men went out, and the women came sitting round them in the same way, kissing their hands and feet, and looking to see if they were of flesh and bones like themselves. They begged the Spaniards to remain with them at least five days. The Spaniards showed the natives specimens of cinnamon, pepper and other spices which the Admiral had given them, and they said, by signs, that there was plenty at a short distance from thence to S.E., but that there they did not know whether there was any.[141-1] Finding that they had no information respecting cities, the Spaniards returned; and if they had desired to take those who wished to accompany them, more than 500 men and women would have come, because they thought the Spaniards were returning to heaven. There came, however, a principal man of the village and his son, with a servant. The Admiral conversed with them, and showed them much honor. They made signs respecting many lands and islands in those parts. The Admiral thought of bringing them to the Sovereigns. He says that he knew not what fancy took them; either from fear, or owing to the dark night, they wanted to land. The ship was at the time high and dry, but, not wishing to make them angry, he let them go on their saying that they would return at dawn, but they never came back. The two Christians met with many people on the road going home, men and women with a half-burnt weed in their hands, being the herbs they are accustomed to smoke.[141-2] They did not find villages on the road of more than five houses all receiving them with the same reverence. They saw many kinds of trees, herbs, and sweet-smelling flowers; and birds of many different kinds, unlike those of Spain, except the partridges, geese, of which there are many, and singing nightingales. They saw no quadrupeds except the dogs that do not bark.[142-1] The land is very fertile, and is cultivated with yams and several kinds of beans different from ours, as well as corn.[142-2] There were great quantities of cotton gathered, spun, and worked up. In a single house they saw more than 500 arrobas,[142-3] and as much as 4000 quintals could be yielded every year. The Admiral said that "it did not appear to be cultivated, and that it bore all the year round. It is very fine, and has a large boll. All that was possessed by these people they gave at a very low price, and a great bundle of cotton was exchanged for the point of a needle or other trifle. They are a people," says the Admiral, "guileless and unwarlike. Men and women go as naked as when their mothers bore them. It is true that the women wear a very small piece of cotton-cloth which covers their private parts and no more, and they are of very good appearance, not very dark, less so than the Canarians. I hold, most serene Princes, that if devout religious persons were here, knowing the language, they would all turn Christians. I trust in our Lord that your Highnesses will resolve upon this with much diligence, to bring so many great nations within the Church, and to convert them; as you have destroyed those who would not confess the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And after your days, all of us being mortal, may your kingdoms remain in peace, and free from heresy and evil, and may you be well received before the eternal Creator, to whom I pray that you may have long life and great increase of kingdoms and lordships, with the will and disposition to increase the holy Christian religion as you have done hitherto. Amen!"
"To-day I got the ship afloat, and prepared to depart on Thursday, in the name of God, and to steer S.E. in search of gold and spices, and to discover land."
These are the words of the Admiral, who intended to depart on Thursday, but, the wind being contrary, he could not go until the 12th of November.
Monday, 12th of November
The Admiral left the port and river of Mares before dawn to visit the island called Babeque, so much talked of by the Indians on board, where, according to their signs, the people gather the gold on the beach at night with candles, and afterwards beat it into bars with hammers.[143-1] To go thither it was necessary to shape a course E. b. S. After having made 8 leagues along the coast, a river was sighted, and another 4 leagues brought them to another river, which appeared to be of great volume, and larger than any they had yet seen. The Admiral did not wish to stop nor to enter any of these rivers, for two reasons: the first and principal one being that wind and weather were favorable for going in search of the said island of Babeque; the other, that, if there was a populous and famous city near the sea, it would be visible, while, to go up the rivers, small vessels are necessary, which those of the expedition were not. Much time would thus be lost; moreover, exploration of such rivers is a separate enterprise, that coast was peopled near the river, to which the name of Rio del Sol was given.
The Admiral says that, on the previous Sunday, the 11th of November, it seemed good to take some persons from amongst those at Rio de Mares, to bring to the Sovereigns, that they might learn our language, so as to be able to tell us what there is in their lands. Returning, they would be the mouthpieces of the Christians, and would adopt our customs and the things of the faith. "I saw and knew" (says the Admiral) "that these people are without any religion, not idolaters, but very gentle, not knowing what is evil, nor the sins of murder and theft, being without arms, and so timid that a hundred would fly before one Spaniard, although they joke with them.[144-1] They, however, believe and know that there is a God in heaven and say that we have come from Heaven. At any prayer that we say, they repeat, and make the sign of the cross. Thus your Highnesses should resolve to make them Christians, for I believe that, if the work was begun, in a little time a multitude of nations would be converted to our faith, with the acquisition of great lordships, peoples, and riches for Spain. Without doubt, there is in these lands a vast quantity of gold, and the Indians I have on board do not speak without reason when they say that in these islands there are places where they dig out gold, and wear it on their necks, ears, arms, and legs, the rings being very large. There are also precious stones, pearls, and an infinity of spices. In this river of Mares, whence we departed to-night, there is undoubtedly a great quantity of mastic, and much more could be raised, because the trees may be planted, and will yield abundantly. The leaf and fruit are like the mastic, but the tree and leaf are larger. As Pliny describes it, I have seen it on the island of Chios in the Archipelago. I ordered many of these trees to be tapped, to see if any of them would yield resin; but, as it rained all the time I was in that river, I could not get any, except a very little, which I am bringing to your Highnesses. It may not be the right season for tapping, which is, I believe, when the trees come forth after winter and begin to flower. But when I was there the fruit was nearly ripe. Here also there is a great quantity of cotton, and I believe it would have a good sale here without sending it to Spain, but to the great cities of the Gran Can,[145-1] which will be discovered without doubt, and many others ruled over by other lords, who will be pleased to serve our Highnesses, and whither will be brought other commodities of Spain and of the Eastern lands; but these are to the west as regards us. There is also here a great yield of aloes,[145-2] though this is not a commodity that will yield great profit. The mastic, however, is important, for it is only obtained from the said island of Chios, and I believe the harvest is worth 50,000 ducats, if I remember right.[145-3] There is here, in the mouth of the river, the best port I have seen up to this time, wide, deep, and clear of rocks. It is an excellent site for a town and fort, for any ship could come close up to the walls; the land is high, with a temperate climate, and very good water.
"Yesterday a canoe came alongside the ship, with six youths in it. Five came on board, and I ordered them to be detained. They are now here. I afterwards sent to a house on the western side of the river, and seized seven women, old and young, and three children. I did this because the men would behave better in Spain if they had women of their own land, than without them. For on many occasions the men of Guinea have been brought to learn the language in Portugal, and afterwards, when they returned, and it was expected that they would be useful in their land, owing to the good company they had enjoyed and the gifts they had received, they never appeared after arriving. Others may not act thus. But having women, they have the wish to perform what they are required to do; besides, the women would teach our people their language, which is the same in all these islands, so that those who make voyages in their canoes are understood everywhere. On the other hand, there are a thousand different languages in Guinea, and one native does not understand another.
"The same night the husband of one of the women came alongside in a canoe, who was father of the three children—one boy and two girls. He asked me to let him come with them, and besought me much. They are now all consoled at being with one who is a relation of them all. He is a man of about 45 years of age." All these are the words of the Admiral. He also says that he had felt some cold, and that it would not be wise to continue discoveries in a northerly direction in the winter. On this Monday, until sunset, he steered a course E. b. S., making 18 leagues, and reaching a cape, to which he gave the name of Cabo de Cuba.
Tuesday, 13th of November
This night the ships were on a bowline, as the sailors say, beating to windward without making any progress. At sunset they began to see an opening in the mountains, where two very high peaks[146-1] were visible. It appeared that here was the division between the land of Cuba and that of Bohio, and this was affirmed by signs, by the Indians who were on board. As soon as the day had dawned, the Admiral made sail toward the land, passing a point which appeared at night to be distant two leagues. He then entered a large gulf, 5 leagues to the S.S.E., and there remained 5 more, to arrive at the point where, between two great mountains, there appeared to be an opening; but it could not be made out whether it was an inlet of the sea. As he desired to go to the island called Babeque, where according to the information he had received, there was much gold; and as it bore east, and as no large town was in sight the wind freshening more than ever, he resolved to put out to sea, and work to the east with a northerly wind. The ship made 8 miles an hour, and from ten in the forenoon, when that course was taken, until sunset, 56 miles, which is 14 leagues to the eastward from the Cabo de Cuba. The other land of Bohio was left to leeward. Commencing from the cape of the said gulf, he discovered, according to his reckoning, 80 miles, equal to 20 leagues, all that coast running E.S.E. and W.N.W.
Wednesday, 14th of November
All last night the Admiral was beating to windward (he said that it would be unreasonable to navigate among those islands during the night, until they had been explored), for the Indians said yesterday that it would take three days to go from Rio de Mares to the island of Babeque, by which should be understood days' journeys in their canoes equal to about 7 leagues. The wind fell, and, the course being east, she could not lay her course nearer than S.E., and, owing to other mischances, he was detained until the morning. At sunrise he determined to go in search of a port, because the wind had shifted from north to N.E., and, if a port could not be found, it would be necessary to go back to the ports in the island of Cuba, whence they came. The Admiral approached the shore, having gone over 28 miles E.S.E. that night. He steered south ... miles to the land, where he saw many islets and openings. As the wind was high and the sea rough, he did not dare to risk an attempt to enter, but ran along the coast W.N.W., looking out for a port, and saw many, but none very clear of rocks. After having proceeded for 64 miles, he found a very deep opening, a quarter of a mile wide, with a good port and river. He ran in with her head S.S.W., afterwards south to S.E. The port[147-1] was spacious and very deep, and he saw so many islands that he could not count them all, with very high land covered with trees of many kinds, and an infinite number of palms. He was much astonished to see so many lofty islands; and assured the Sovereigns that the mountains and isles he had seen since yesterday seemed to him to be second to none in the world; so high and clear of clouds and snow, with the sea at their bases so deep. He believes that these islands are those innumerable ones that are depicted on the maps of the world in the Far East.[148-1] He believed that they yielded very great riches in precious stones and spices and that they extend much further to the south, widening out in all directions. He gave the name of La Mar de Nuestra Senora, and to the haven, which is near the mouth of the entrance to these islands, Puerto del Principe. He did not enter it, but examined it from outside, until another time, on Saturday of the next week, as will there appear. He speaks highly of the fertility, beauty, and height of the islands which he found in this gulf, and he tells the Sovereigns not to wonder at his praise of them, for that he has not told them the hundredth part. Some of them seemed to reach to heaven, running up into peaks like diamonds. Others rising to a great height have a flat top like a table. At their bases the sea is of a great depth, with enough water for a very large carrack. All are covered with foliage and without rocks.
Thursday, 15th of November
The Admiral went to examine these islands in the ships' boats, and speaks marvels of them, how he found mastic, and aloes without end. Some of them were cultivated with the roots of which the Indians make bread; and he found that fires had been lighted in several places. He saw no fresh water. There were some natives, but they fled. In all parts of the sea where the vessels were navigated he found a depth of 15 or 16 fathoms, and all basa, by which he means that the ground is sand and not rocks; a thing much desired by sailors, for the rocks cut their anchor cables.
Friday, 16th of November
As in all parts, whether islands or mainlands, that he visited, the Admiral always left a cross; so, on this occasion, he went in a boat to the entrance of these havens, and found two very large trees on a point of land, one longer than the other. One being placed over the other, made a cross, and he said that a carpenter could not have made it better. He ordered a very large and high cross to be made out of these timbers. He found canes on the beach, and did not know where they had grown, but thought they must have been brought down by some river, and washed up on the beach (in which opinion he had reason). He went to a creek on the south-east side of the entrance to the port. Here, under a height of rock and stone like a cape, there was depth enough for the largest carrack in the world close in shore, and there was a corner where six ships might lie without anchors as in a room. It seemed to the Admiral that a fortress might be built here at small cost, if at any time any famous trade should arise in that sea of islands.
Returning to the ship, he found that the Indians who were on board had fished up very large shells found in those seas. He made the people examine them, to see if there was mother-o'-pearl, which is in the shells where pearls grow. They found a great deal, but no pearls, and their absence was attributed to its not being the season, which is May and June. The sailors found an animal which seemed to be a taso, or taxo.[149-1] They also fished with nets, and, among many others, caught a fish which was exactly like a pig, not like a tunny, but all covered with a very hard shell, without a soft place except the tail and the eyes, and a hole underneath to discharge its superfluities. It was ordered to be salted, to bring home for the Sovereigns to see.[149-2]
Saturday, 17th of November
The Admiral got into the boat, and went to visit the islands he had not yet seen to the S.W. He saw many more very fertile and pleasant islands, with a great depth between them. Some of them had springs of fresh water, and he believed that the water of those streams came from some sources at the summits of the mountains. He went on, and found a beach bordering on very sweet water, which was very cold. There was a beautiful meadow, and many very tall palms. They found a large nut of the kind belonging to India, great rats,[150-1] and enormous crabs. He saw many birds, and there was a strong smell of musk, which made him think it must be there. This day the two eldest of the six youths brought from the Rio de Mares, who were on board the caravel Nina, made their escape.
Sunday, 18th of November
The Admiral again went away with the boats, accompanied by many of the sailors, to set up the cross which he had ordered to be made out of the two large trees at the entrance to the Puerto del Principe, on a fair site cleared of trees, whence there was an extensive and very beautiful view. He says that there is a greater rise and fall of the sea there than in any other port he has seen, and that this is no marvel, considering the numerous islands. The tide is the reverse of ours, because here, when the moon is S.S.W., it is low water in the port. He did not get under way, because it was Sunday.
Monday, 19th of November
The Admiral got under way before sunrise, in a calm. In the afternoon there was some wind from the east, and he shaped a N.N.E. course. At sunset the Puerto del Principe bore S.S.W. 7 leagues. He saw the island of Babeque bearing due east about 60 miles. He steered N.E. all that night, making 60 miles, and up to ten o'clock of Tuesday another dozen; altogether 18 leagues N.E. b. W.
Tuesday, 20th of November
They left Babeque, or the islands of Babeque, to the E.S.E., the wind being contrary; and, seeing that no progress was being made, and the sea was getting rough, the Admiral determined to return to the Puerto del Principe, whence he had started, which was 25 leagues distant. He did not wish to go to the island he had called Isabella, which was twelve leagues off, and where he might have anchored that night, for two reasons: one was that he had seen two islands to the south which he wished to explore; the other, because the Indians he brought with him, whom he had taken at the island of Guanahani, which he named San Salvador, eight leagues from Isabella, might get away, and he said that he wanted them to take to Spain. They thought that, when the Admiral had found gold, he would let them return to their homes. He came near the Puerto del Principe, but could not reach it, because it was night, and because the current drifted them to the N.W. He turned her head to N.E. with a light wind. At three o'clock in the morning the wind changed, and a course was shaped E.N.E., the wind being S.S.W., and changing at dawn to south and S.E. At sunset Puerto del Principe bore nearly S.W. by W. 48 miles, which are 12 leagues.
Wednesday, 21st of November
At sunrise the Admiral steered east, with a southerly wind, but made little progress, owing to a contrary sea. At vespers he had gone 24 miles. Afterwards the wind changed to east and he steered S. b. E., at sunset having gone 12 miles. Here he found himself forty-two degrees north of the equinoctial line, as in the port of Mares, but he says that he kept the result from the quadrant in suspense until he reached the shore, that it might be adjusted (as it would seem that he thought this distance was too great, and he had reason, it not being possible, as these islands are only in ... degrees).[152-1] To believe the quadrant was right he was led by seeing the north star as high as in Castile ... Reinforcing this was the great heat which he says he found there.... From this heat which the Admiral says he endured there he argued that in these Indies and where he was going there must be much gold.[152-2]
This day Martin Alonso Pinzon parted company with the caravel Pinta, in disobedience to and against the wish of the Admiral, and out of avarice, thinking that an Indian who had been put on board his caravel could show him where there was much gold. So he parted company, not owing to bad weather, but because he chose. Here the Admiral says: "He had done and said many other things to me."
Thursday, 22nd of November
On Wednesday night the Admiral steered S.S.E., with the wind east, but it was nearly calm. At 3 it began to blow from N.N.E.; and he continued to steer south to see the land he had seen in that quarter. When the sun rose he was as far off as the day before, owing to adverse currents, the land being 40 miles off. This night Martin Alonso shaped a course to the east, to go to the island of Babeque, where the Indians say there is much gold. He did this in sight of the Admiral, from whom he was distant 16 miles. The Admiral stood towards the land all night. He shortened sail, and showed a lantern, because Pinzon would thus have an opportunity of joining him, the night being very clear, and the wind fair to come, if he had wished to do so.
Friday, 23rd of November
The Admiral stood towards the land all day, always steering south with little wind, but the current would never let them reach it, being as far off at sunset as in the morning. The wind was E.N.E., and they could shape a southerly course, but there was little of it. Beyond this cape there stretched out another land or cape, also trending east, which the Indians on board called Bohio. They said that it was very large, and that there were people in it who had one eye in their foreheads, and others who were cannibals, and of whom they were much afraid.[153-1] When they saw that this course was taken, they said that they could not talk to these people because they would be eaten, and that they were very well armed. The Admiral says that he well believes that there were such people, and that if they are armed they must have some ability. He thought that they may have captured some of the Indians, and because they did not return to their homes, the others believed that they had been eaten. They thought the same of the Christians and of the Admiral when some of them first saw the strangers.
Saturday, 24th of November
They navigated all night, and at 3[153-2] they reached the level island[153-3] at the very same point they had come to the week before, when they started for the island of Babeque. At first the Admiral did not dare to approach the shore, because it seemed that there would be a great surf in that mountain-girded bay. Finally he reached the sea of Nuestra Senora, where there are many islands, and entered a port near the mouth of the opening to the islands. He says that if he had known of this port before he need not have occupied himself in exploring the islands, and it would not have been necessary to go back. He, however, considered that the time was well spent in examining the islands. On nearing the land he sent in the boat to sound, finding a good sandy bottom in 6 to 20 fathoms. He entered the haven, pointing the ship's head S.W. and then west, the flat island bearing north. This, with another island near it, forms a harbor which would hold all the ships of Spain safe from all winds. This entrance on the S.W. side is passed by steering S.S.W., the outlet being to the west very deep and wide. Thus a vessel can pass amidst these islands, and he who approaches from the north, with a knowledge of them can pass along the coast. These islands are at the foot of a great mountain-chain running east and west, which is longer and higher than any others on this coast, where there are many. A reef of rocks outside runs parallel with the said mountains, like a bench, extending to the entrance. On the side of the flat island, and also to the S.E., there is another small reef, but between them there is great width and depth. Within the port, near the S.E. side of the entrance, they saw a large and very fine river,[154-1] with more volume than any they had yet met with, and fresh water could be taken from it as far as the sea. At the entrance there is a bar, but within it is very deep, 19 fathoms. The banks are lined with palms and many other trees.
Sunday, 25th of November
Before sunrise the Admiral got into the boat, and went to see a cape or point of land[154-2] to the S.E. of the flat island, about a league and a half distant, because there appeared to be a good river there. Presently, near to the S.E. side of the cape, at a distance of two cross-bow shots, he saw a large stream of beautiful water falling from the mountains[154-3] above, with a loud noise. He went to it, and saw some stones shining in its bed like gold.[154-4] He remembered that in the river Tagus, near its junction with the sea, there was gold; so it seemed to him that this should contain gold, and he ordered some of these stones to be collected, to be brought to the Sovereigns. Just then the sailor boys called out that they had found large pines. The Admiral looked up the hill, and saw that they were so wonderfully large that he could not exaggerate their height and straightness, like stout yet fine spindles. He perceived that here there was material for great store of planks and masts for the largest ships in Spain. He saw oaks and arbutus trees,[155-1] with a good river, and the means of making water-power.[155-2] The climate was temperate, owing to the height of the mountains. On the beach he saw many other stones of the color of iron, and others that some said were like silver ore, all brought down by the river. Here he obtained a new mast and yard for the mizzen of the caravel Nina. He came to the mouth of the river, and entered a creek which was deep and wide, at the foot of that S.E. part of the cape, which would accommodate a hundred ships without any anchor or hawsers. Eyes never beheld a better harbor. The mountains are very high, whence descend many limpid streams, and all the hills are covered with pines, and an infinity of diverse and beautiful trees. Two or three other rivers were not visited.
The Admiral described all this, in much detail, to the Sovereigns, and declared that he had derived unspeakable joy and pleasure at seeing it, more especially the pines, because they enable as many ships as is desired to be built here, bringing out the rigging, but finding here abundant supplies of wood and provisions. He affirms that he has not enumerated a hundredth part of what there is here, and that it pleased our Lord always to show him one thing better than another, as well on the ground and among the trees, herbs, fruits, and flowers, as in the people, and always something different in each place. It had been the same as regards the havens and the waters. Finally, he says that if it caused him who saw it so much wonder, how much more will it affect those who hear about it; yet no one can believe until he sees it.
Monday, 26th of November
At sunrise the Admiral weighed the anchors in the haven of Santa Catalina, where he was behind the flat island, and steered along the coast in the direction of Cabo del Pico, which was S.E. He reached the cape late, because the wind failed and then saw another cape, S.E. b. E. 60 miles, which, when 20 miles off, was named Cabo de Campana, but it could not be reached that day. They made good 32 miles during the day, which is 8 leagues. During this time the Admiral noted nine remarkable ports,[156-1] which all the sailors thought wonderfully good, and five large rivers; for they sailed close along the land, so as to see everything. All along the coast there are very high and beautiful mountains, not arid or rocky, but all accessible, and very lovely. The valleys, like the mountains, were full of tall and fine trees, so that it was a glory to look upon them, and there seemed to be many pines. Also, beyond the said Cabo de Pico to the S.E. there are two islets, each about two leagues round, and inside them three excellent havens and two large rivers. Along the whole coast no inhabited places were visible from the sea. There may have been some, and there were indications of them, for, when the men landed, they found signs of people and numerous remains of fires. The Admiral conjectured that the land he saw to-day S.E. of the Cabo de Campana was the island called by the Indians Bohio:[156-2] it looked as if this cape was separated from the mainland. The Admiral says that all the people he has hitherto met with have very great fear of those of Caniba or Canima. They affirm that they live in the island of Bohio, which must be very large, according to all accounts. The Admiral understood that those of Caniba come to take people from their homes, they being very cowardly, and without knowledge of arms. For this use it appears that these Indians do not settle on the sea-coast owing to being near the land of Caniba. When the natives who were on board saw a course shaped for that land, they feared to speak, thinking they were going to be eaten; nor could they rid themselves of their fear. They declared that the Canibas[157-1] had only one eye and dogs' faces. The Admiral thought they lied, and was inclined to believe that it was people from the dominions of the Gran Can who took them into captivity.
Tuesday, 27th of November
Yesterday, at sunset, they arrived near a cape named Campana by the Admiral; and, as the sky was clear and the wind light, he did not wish to run in close to the land and anchor, although he had five or six singularly good havens under his lee. The Admiral was attracted on the one hand by the longing and delight he felt to gaze upon the beauty and freshness of those lands, and on the other by a desire to complete the work he had undertaken. For these reasons he remained close hauled, and stood off and on during the night. But, as the currents had set him more than 5 or 6 leagues to the S.E. beyond where he had been at nightfall, passing the land of Campana, he came in sight of a great opening beyond that cape, which seemed to divide one land from another, leaving an island between them. He decided to go back, with the wind S.E., steering to the point where the opening had appeared, where he found that it was only a large bay,[157-2] and at the end of it, on the S.E. side, there was a point of land on which was a high and square-cut hill,[157-3] which had looked like an island. A breeze sprang up from the north, and the Admiral continued on a S.E. course, to explore the coast and discover all that was there. Presently he saw, at the foot of the Cabo de Campana, a wonderfully good port[158-1], and a large river, and, a quarter of a league on, another river, and a third, and a fourth to a seventh at similar distances, from the furthest one to Cabo de Campana being 20 miles S.E. Most of these rivers have wide and deep mouths, with excellent havens for large ships, without sandbanks or sunken rocks. Proceeding onwards from the last of these rivers, on a S.E. course, they came to the largest inhabited place they had yet seen, and a vast concourse of people came down to the beach with loud shouts, all naked, with their darts in their hands. The Admiral desired to have speech with them, so he furled sails and anchored. The boats of the ship and the caravel were sent on shore, with orders to do no harm whatever to the Indians, but to give them presents. The Indians made as if they would resist the landing, but, seeing that the boats of the Spaniards continued to advance without fear, they retired from the beach. Thinking that they would not be terrified if only two or three landed, three Christians were put on shore, who told them not to be afraid, in their own language, for they had been able to learn a little from the natives who were on board. But all ran away, neither great nor small remaining. The Christians went to the houses, which were of straw, and built like the others they had seen, but found no one in any of them. They returned to the ships, and made sail at noon in the direction of a fine cape[158-2] to the eastward, about 8 leagues distant. Having gone about half a league, the Admiral saw, on the south side of the same bay, a very remarkable harbor[158-3], and to the S.E. some wonderfully beautiful country like a valley among the mountains, whence much smoke arose, indicating a large population, with signs of much cultivation. So he resolved to stop at this port, and see if he could have any speech or intercourse with the inhabitants. It was so that, if the Admiral had praised the other havens, he must praise this still more for its lands, climate, and people. He tells marvels of the beauty of the country and of the trees, there being palms and pine trees; and also of the great valley which is not flat, but diversified by hill and dale, the most lovely scene in the world. Many streams flow from it, which fall from the mountains.
As soon as the ship was at anchor the Admiral jumped into the boat, to get soundings in the port, which is the shape of a hammer. When he was facing the entrance he found the mouth of a river on the south side of sufficient width for a galley to enter it, but so concealed that it is not visible until close to. Entering it for the length of the boat, there was a depth of from 5 to 8 fathoms. In passing up it the freshness and beauty of the trees, the clearness of the water, and the birds, made it all so delightful that he wished never to leave them. He said to the men who were with him that to give a true relation to the Sovereigns of the things they had seen, a thousand tongues would not suffice, nor his hand to write it, for that it was like a scene of enchantment. He desired that many other prudent and credible witnesses might see it, and he was sure that they would be as unable to exaggerate the scene as he was.
The Admiral also says:—"How great the benefit that is to be derived from this country would be, I cannot say. It is certain that where there are such lands there must be an infinite number of things that would be profitable. But I did not remain long in one port, because I wished to see as much of the country as possible, in order to make a report upon it to your Highnesses; and besides, I do not know the language, and these people neither understand me nor any other in my company; while the Indians I have on board often misunderstand. Moreover, I have not been able to see much of the natives, because they often take to flight. But now, if our Lord pleases, I will see as much as possible, and will proceed by little and little, learning and comprehending; and I will make some of my followers learn the language. For I have perceived that there is only one language up to this point. After they understand the advantages, I shall labor to make all these people Christians. They will become so readily, because they have no religion nor idolatry, and your Highnesses will send orders to build a city and fortress, and to convert the people. I assure your Highnesses that it does not appear to me that there can be a more fertile country nor a better climate under the sun, with abundant supplies of water. This is not like the rivers of Guinea, which are all pestilential. I thank our Lord that, up to this time, there has not been a person of my company who has had so much as a headache, or been in bed from illness, except an old man who has suffered from the stone all his life, and he was well again in two days. I speak of all three vessels. If it will please God that your Highnesses should send learned men out here, they will see the truth of all I have said. I have related already how good a place Rio de Mares would be for a town and fortress, and this is perfectly true; but it bears no comparison with this place, nor with the Mar de Nuestra Senora. For here there must be a large population, and very valuable productions, which I hope to discover before I return to Castile. I say that if Christendom will find profit among these people, how much more will Spain, to whom the whole country should be subject. Your Highnesses ought not to consent that any stranger should trade here, or put his foot in the country, except Catholic Christians, for this was the beginning and end of the undertaking; namely, the increase and glory of the Christian religion, and that no one should come to these parts who was not a good Christian."[160-1]
All the above are the Admiral's words. He ascended the river for some distance, examined some branches of it, and, returning to the mouth, he found some pleasant groves of trees, like a delightful orchard. Here he came upon a boat or canoa, dug out of one tree as big as a fusta[161-1] of twelve benches, fastened under a boat-house or bower made of wood, and thatched with palm-leaves, so that it could be neither injured by sun nor by the water. He says that here would be the proper site for a town and fort, by reason of the good port, good water, good land, and abundance of fuel.
Wednesday, 28th of November
The Admiral remained during this day, in consequence of the rain and thick weather, though he might have run along the coast, the wind being S.W., but he did not weigh, because he was unacquainted with the coast beyond, and did not know what danger there might be for the vessels. The sailors of the two vessels went on shore to wash their clothes, and some of them walked inland for a short distance. They found indications of a large population, but the houses were all empty, everyone having fled. They returned by the banks of another river, larger than that which they knew of, at the port.
Thursday, 29th of November
The rain and thick weather continuing, the Admiral did not get under way. Some of the Christians went to another village to the N.W., but found no one, and nothing in the houses. On the road they met an old man who could not run away, and caught him. They told him they did not wish to do him any harm, gave him a few presents, and let him go. The Admiral would have liked to have had speech with him, for he was exceedingly satisfied with the delights of that land, and wished that a settlement might be formed there, judging that it must support a large population. In one house they found a cake of wax,[161-2] which was taken to the Sovereigns, the Admiral saying that where there was wax there were also a thousand other good things. The sailors also found, in one house, the head of a man in a basket, covered with another basket, and fastened to a post of the house. They found the same things in another village. The Admiral believed that they must be the heads of some founder, or principal ancestor of a lineage, for the houses are built to contain a great number of people in each; and these should be relations, and descendants of a common ancestor.
Friday, 30th of November
They could not get under way to-day because the wind was east, and dead against them. The Admiral sent 8 men well armed, accompanied by two of the Indians he had on board, to examine the villages inland, and get speech with the people. They came to many houses, but found no one and nothing, all having fled. They saw four youths who were digging in their fields, but, as soon as they saw the Christians, they ran away, and could not be overtaken. They marched a long distance, and saw many villages and a most fertile land, with much cultivation and many streams of water. Near one river they saw a canoe dug out of a single tree, 95 palmos[162-1] long, and capable of carrying 150 persons.
Saturday, 1st of December
They did not depart, because there was still a foul wind, with much rain. The Admiral set up a cross at the entrance of this port, which he called Puerto Santo,[162-2] on some bare rocks. The point is that which is on the S.E. side of the entrance; but he who has to enter should make more over to the N.W.; for at the foot of both, near the rock, there are 12 fathoms and a very clean bottom. At the entrance of the port, toward the S.E. point, there is a reef of rocks above water,[163-1] sufficiently far from the shore to enable one to pass between if it is necessary, for both on the side of the rock and the shore there is a depth of 12 to 15 fathoms; and, on entering, a ship's head should be turned S.W.
Sunday, 2nd of December
The wind was still contrary, and they could not depart. Every night the wind blows on the land, but no vessel need be alarmed at all the gales in the world, for they cannot blow home by reason of a reef of rocks at the opening to the haven, etc. A sailor-boy found, at the mouth of the river, some stones which looked as if they contained gold; so they were taken to be shown to the Sovereigns. The Admiral says that there are great rivers at the distance of a lombard shot.[163-2]
Monday, 3rd of December
By reason of the continuance of an easterly wind the Admiral did not leave this port. He arranged to visit a very beautiful headland a quarter of a league to the S.E. of the anchorage. He went with the boats and some armed men. At the foot of the cape there was the mouth of a fair river, and on entering it they found the width to be a hundred paces, with a depth of one fathom. Inside they found 12, 5, 4, and 2 fathoms, so that it would hold all the ships there are in Spain. Leaving the river, they came to a cove in which were five very large canoes,[164-1] so well constructed that it was a pleasure to look at them. They were under spreading trees, and a path led from them to a very well-built boat-house, so thatched that neither sun nor rain could do any harm. Within it there was another canoe made out of a single tree like the others, like a fusta with 17 benches. It was a pleasant sight to look upon such goodly work. The Admiral ascended a mountain, and afterwards found the country level, and cultivated with many things of that land, including such calabashes, as it was a glory to look upon them.[164-2] In the middle there was a large village, and they came upon the people suddenly; but, as soon as they were seen, men and women took to flight. The Indian from on board, who was with the Admiral, cried out to them that they need not be afraid, as the strangers were good people. The Admiral made him give them bells, copper ornaments, and glass beads, green and yellow, with which they were well content. He saw that they had no gold nor any other precious thing, and that it would suffice to leave them in peace. The whole district was well peopled, the rest having fled from fear. The Admiral assures the Sovereigns that ten thousand of these men would run from ten, so cowardly and timid are they. No arms are carried by them, except wands,[164-3] on the point of which a short piece of wood is fixed, hardened by fire, and these they are very ready to exchange. Returning to where he had left the boats, he sent back some men up the hill, because he fancied he had seen a large apiary. Before those he had sent could return, they were joined by many Indians, and they went to the boats, where the Admiral was waiting with all his people. One of the natives advanced into the river near the stern of the boat, and made a long speech, which the Admiral did not understand. At intervals the other Indians raised their hands to Heaven, and shouted. The Admiral thought he was assuring him that he was pleased at his arrival; but he saw the Indian who came from the ship change the color of his face, and turn as yellow as wax, trembling much, and letting the Admiral know by signs that he should leave the river, as they were going to kill him. He pointed to a cross-bow which one of the Spaniards had, and showed it to the Indians, and the Admiral let it be understood that they would all be slain, because that cross-bow carried far and killed people. He also took a sword and drew it out of the sheath, showing it to them, and saying the same, which, when they had heard, they all took to flight; while the Indian from the ship still trembled from cowardice, though he was a tall, strong man. The Admiral did not want to leave the river, but pulled towards the place where the natives had assembled in great numbers, all painted, and as naked as when their mothers bore them. Some had tufts of feathers on their heads, and all had their bundles of darts.
The Admiral says: "I came to them, and gave them some mouthfuls of bread, asking for the darts, for which I gave in exchange copper ornaments, bells, and glass beads. This made them peaceable, so that they came to the boats again, and gave us what they had. The sailors had killed a turtle, and the shell was in the boat in pieces. The sailor-boys gave them some in exchange for a bundle of darts. These are like the other people we have seen, and with the same belief that we came from Heaven. They are ready to give whatever thing they have in exchange for any trifle without saying it is little; and I believe they would do the same with gold and spices if they had any. I saw a fine house, not very large, and with two doors, as all the rest have. On entering, I saw a marvellous work, there being rooms made in a peculiar way, that I scarcely know how to describe it. Shells and other things were fastened to the ceiling. I thought it was a temple, and I called them and asked, by signs, whether prayers were offered up there. They said that they were not, and one of them climbed up and offered me all the things that were there, of which I took some."
Tuesday, 4th of December
The Admiral made sail with little wind, and left that port, which he called Puerto Santo. After going two leagues, he saw the great river[166-1] of which he spoke yesterday. Passing along the land, and beating to windward on S.E. and W.N.W. courses, they reached Cabo Lindo,[166-2] which is E.S.E. 5 leagues from Cabo del Monte. A league and a half from Cabo del Monte there is an important but rather narrow river, which seemed to have a good entrance, and to be deep. Three-quarters of a league further on, the Admiral saw another very large river, and he thought it must have its source at a great distance. It had a hundred paces at its mouth, and no bar, with a depth of 8 fathoms. The Admiral sent the boat in, to take soundings, and they found the water fresh until it enters the sea.
This river had great volume, and must have a large population on its banks. Beyond Cabo Lindo there is a great bay, which would be open for navigation to E.N.E. and S.E. and S.S.W.
Wednesday, 5th of December
All this night they were beating to windward off Cape Lindo, to reach the land to the east, and at sunrise the Admiral sighted another cape,[166-3] two and a half leagues to the east. Having passed it, he saw that the land trended S. and S.W., and presently saw a fine high cape in that direction, 7 leagues distant.[167-1] He would have wished to go there, but his object was to reach the island of Babeque, which, according to the Indians, bore N.E.; so he gave up the intention. He could not go to Babeque either, because the wind was N.E. Looking to the S.E., he saw land, which was a very large island, according to the information of the Indians, well peopled, and called by them Bohio.[167-2] The Admiral says that the inhabitants of Cuba, or Juana,[167-3] and of all the other islands, are much afraid of the inhabitants of Bohio, because they say that they eat people. The Indians relate other things, by signs, which are very wonderful; but the Admiral did not believe them. He only inferred that those of Bohio must have more cleverness and cunning to be able to capture the others, who, however, are very poor-spirited. The wind veered from N.E. to North, so the Admiral determined to leave Cuba, or Juana, which, up to this time, he had supposed to be the mainland, on account of its size, having coasted along it for 120 leagues.[167-4] He shaped a course S.E. b. E., the land he had sighted bearing S.E.; taking this precaution because the wind always veered from N. to N.E. again, and thence to east and S.E. The wind increased, and he made all sail, the current helping them; so that they were making 8 miles an hour from the morning until one in the afternoon (which is barely 6 hours, for they say that the nights were nearly 15 hours). Afterwards they went 10 miles an hour, making good 88 miles by sunset, equal to 22 leagues, all to the S.E. As night was coming on, the Admiral ordered the caravel Nina, being a good sailer, to proceed ahead, so as to sight a harbor at daylight. Arriving at the entrance of a port which was like the Bay of Cadiz, while it was still dark, a boat was sent in to take soundings, which showed a light from a lantern. Before the Admiral could beat up to where the caravel was, hoping that the boat would show a leading-mark for entering the port, the candle in the lantern went out. The caravel, not seeing the light, showed a light to the Admiral, and, running down to him, related what had happened. The boat's crew then showed another light, and the caravel made for it; but the Admiral could not do so, and was standing off and on all night.
Thursday, 6th of December
When daylight arrived the Admiral found himself four leagues from the port, to which he gave the name of Puerto Maria,[168-1] and to a fine cape bearing S.S.W. he gave the name of Cabo de la Estrella.[168-2] It seemed to be the furthest point of the island towards the south, distant 28 miles. Another point of land, like an island, appeared about 40 miles to the east. To another fine point, 54 miles to the east, he gave the name of Cabo del Elefante,[168-3] and he called another, 28 miles to the S.E., Cabo de Cinquin. There was a great opening or bay, which might be the mouth of a river,[168-4] distant 20 miles. It seemed that between Cabo del Elefante and that of Cinquin there was a great opening,[168-5] and some of the sailors said that it formed an island, to which the name of Isla de la Tortuga[168-6] was given. The island appeared to be very high land, not closed in with mountains, but with beautiful valleys, well cultivated, the crops appearing like the wheat on the plain of Cordova in May. That night they saw many fires, and much smoke, as if from workshops,[169-1] in the day time; it appeared to be a signal made by people who were at war. All the coast of this land trends to the east.
At the hour of vespers the Admiral reached this port, to which he gave the name of Puerto de San Nicolas, in honor of St. Nicholas, whose day it was;[169-2] and on entering it he was astonished at its beauty and excellence. Although he had given great praise to the ports of Cuba, he had no doubt that this one not only equalled, but excelled them, and none of them are like it. At the entrance it is a league and a half wide, and a vessel's head should be turned S.S.E., though, owing to the great width, she may be steered on any bearing that is convenient; proceeding on this course for two leagues.[169-3] On the south side of the entrance the coast forms a cape, and thence the course is almost the same as far as a point where there is a fine beach, and a plain covered with fruit-bearing trees of many kinds; so that the Admiral thought there must be nutmegs and other spices among them, but he did not know them, and they were not ripe. There is a river falling into the harbor, near the middle of the beach. The depth of this port is surprising, for, until reaching the land, for a distance of ...[169-4] the lead did not reach the bottom at 40 fathoms; and up to this length there are 15 fathoms with a very clean bottom. Throughout the port there is a depth of 15 fathoms, with a clean bottom, at a short distance from the shore; and all along the coast there are soundings with clean bottom, and not a single sunken rock. Inside, at the length of a boat's oar from the land, there are 5 fathoms. Beyond the limit of the port to the S.S.E. a thousand carracks could beat up. One branch of the port to the N.E. runs into the land for a long half league, and always the same width, as if it had been measured with a cord. Being in this creek, which is 25 paces wide, the principal entrance to the harbor is not in sight, so that it appears land-locked.[170-1] The depth of this creek is 11 fathoms throughout, all with clean bottom; and close to the land, where one might put the gangboards on the grass, there are eight fathoms.
The whole port is open to the air, and clear of trees. All the island appeared to be more rocky than any that had been discovered. The trees are smaller, and many of them of the same kinds as are found in Spain, such as the ilex, the arbutus and others, and it is the same with the herbs. It is a very high country, all open and clear, with a very fine air, and no such cold has been met with elsewhere, though it cannot be called cold except by comparison. Towards the front of the haven there is a beautiful valley, watered by a river; and in that district there must be many inhabitants, judging from the number of large canoes, like galleys, with 15 benches. All the natives fled as soon as they saw the ships. The Indians who were on board had such a longing to return to their homes that the Admiral considered whether he should not take them back when he should depart from here. They were already suspicious, because he did not shape a course towards their country; whence he neither believed what they said, nor could he understand them, nor they him, properly. The Indians on board had the greatest fear in the world of the people of this island. In order to get speech of the people it would be necessary to remain some days in harbor; but the Admiral did not do so, because he had to continue his discoveries, and because he could not tell how long he might be detained. He trusted in our Lord that the Indians he brought with him would understand the language of the people of this island; and afterwards he would communicate with them, trusting that it might please God's Majesty that he might find trade in gold before he returned.
Friday, 7th of December
At daybreak the Admiral got under way, made sail, and left the port of St. Nicholas. He went on with the wind in the west for two leagues, until he reached the point which forms the Carenero, when the angle in the coast bore S.E., and the Cabo de la Estrella was 24 miles to the S.W. Thence he steered along the coast eastward to Cabo Cinquin about 48 miles, 20 of them being on an E.N.E. coast. All the coast is very high, with a deep sea. Close in shore there are 20 to 30 fathoms, and at the distance of a lombard-shot there is no bottom; all which the Admiral discovered that day, as he sailed along the coast with the wind S.W., much to his satisfaction. The cape, which runs out in the port of St. Nicholas the length of a shot from a lombard, could be made an island by cutting across it, while to sail round it is a circuit of 3 or 4 miles. All that land is very high, not clothed with very high trees, but with ilex, arbutus, and others proper to the land of Castile. Before reaching Cape Cinquin by two leagues, the Admiral discovered a small roadstead[171-1] like an opening in the mountains, through which he could see a very large valley, covered with crops like barley, and he therefore judged that it must sustain a large population. Behind there was a high range of mountains. On reaching Cabo Cinquin, the Cabo de la Tortuga bore N.E. 32 miles.[171-2] Off Cabo Cinquin, at the distance of a lombard-shot, there is a high rock, which is a good landmark. The Admiral being there, he took the bearing of Cabo del Elefante, which was E.S.E. about 70 miles,[171-3] the intervening land being very high. At a distance of 6 leagues there was a conspicuous cape,[171-4] and he saw many large valleys and plains, and high mountains inland, all reminding him of Spain. After 8 leagues he came to a very deep but narrow river, though a carrack might easily enter it, and the mouth without bar or rocks. After 16 miles there was a wide and deep harbor,[172-1] with on bottom at the entrance, nor, at 3 paces from the shore, less than 15 fathoms; and it runs inland a quarter of a league. It being yet very early, only one o'clock in the afternoon, and the wind being aft and blowing fresh, yet, as the sky threatened much rain, and it was very thick, which is dangerous even on a known coast, how much more in an unknown country, the Admiral resolved to enter the port, which he called Puerto de la Concepcion. He landed near a small river at the point of the haven, flowing from valleys and plains, the beauty of which was a marvel to behold. He took fishing-nets with him; and, before he landed, a mullet, like those of Spain, jumped into the boat, this being the first time they had seen fish resembling the fish of Castile. The sailors caught and killed others and soles and other fish like those of Castile. Walking a short distance inland, the Admiral found much land under cultivation, and heard the singing of nightingales and other birds of Castile. Five men were seen, but they would not stop, running away. The Admiral found myrtles and other trees and plants, like those of Castile, and so also were the land and mountains.[172-2]
Saturday, 8th of December
In this port there was heavy rain, with a fresh breeze from the north. The harbor is protected from all winds except the north; but even this can do no harm whatever, because there is a great surf outside, which prevents such a sea within the river as would make a ship work on her cables. After midnight the wind veered to N.E., and then to east, from which winds this port is well sheltered by the island of Tortuga, distant 36 miles.[172-3]
Sunday, 9th of December
To-day it rained, and the weather was wintry, like October Castile. No habitations had been seen except a very beautiful house in the Puerto de S. Nicolas, which was better built than any that had been in other parts. "The island is very large" says the Admiral: "it would not be much if it has a circumference of 200 leagues. All the parts he had seen were well cultivated. He believed that the villages must be at a distance from the sea, whither they went when the ships arrived; for they all took to flight, taking everything with them, and they made smoke-signals, like a people at war."[TN-2] This port has a width of a thousand paces at its entrance, equal to a quarter of a league. There is neither bank nor reef within, and there are scarcely soundings close in shore. Its length, running inland, is 3000 paces, all clean, and with a sandy bottom; so that any ship may anchor in it without fear, and enter it without precaution. At the upper end there are the mouths of two rivers, with the most beautiful champaign country, almost like the lands of Spain: these even have the advantage; for which reasons the Admiral gave the name of the said island Isla Espanola.[173-1]
Monday, 10th of December
It blew hard from the N.E., which made them drag their anchors half a cable's length. This surprised the Admiral, who had seen that the anchors had taken good hold of the ground. As he saw that the wind was foul for the direction in which he wanted to steer, he sent six men on shore, well armed to go two or three leagues inland, and endeavor to open communications with the natives. They came and returned without having seen either people or houses. But they found some hovels, wide roads, and some places where many fires had been made. They saw excellent lands, and many mastic trees, some specimens of which they took; but this is not the time for collecting it, as it does not coagulate.
Tuesday, 11th of December
The Admiral did not depart, because the wind was still east and S.E. In front of this port, as has been said, is the island of La Tortuga. It appears to be a large island, with the coast almost like that of Espanola, and the distance between them is about ten leagues.[174-1] It is well to know that from the Cabo de Cinquin, opposite Tortuga, the coast trends to the south. The Admiral had a great desire to see that channel between these two islands, and to examine the island of Espanola, which is the most beautiful thing in the world. According to what the Indians said who were on board, he would have to go to the island of Babeque. They declared that it was very large, with great mountains, rivers, and valleys; and that the island of Bohio was larger than Juana, which they call Cuba, and that it is not surrounded by water. They seem to imply that there is mainland behind Espanola, and they call it Caritaba, and say it is of vast extent. They have reason in saying that the inhabitants are a clever race, for all the people of these islands are in great fear of those of Caniba. So the Admiral repeats, what he has said before, that Caniba is nothing else but the Gran Can, who ought now to be very near. He sends ships to capture the islanders; and as they do not return, their countrymen believe that they have been eaten. Each day we understand better what the Indians say, and they us, so that very often we are intelligible to each other. The Admiral sent people on shore, who found a great deal of mastic, but did not gather it. He says that the rains make it, and that in Chios they collect it in March. In these lands, being warmer, they might take it in January. They caught many fish like those of Castile—dace, salmon, hake, dory, gilt heads, mullets, corbinas, shrimps,[175-1] and they saw sardines. They found many aloes.[175-2]
Wednesday, 12th of December
The Admiral did not leave the port to-day, for the same reason: a contrary wind. He set up a great cross on the west side of the entrance, on a very picturesque height, "in sign," he says, "that your Highnesses hold this land for your own, but chiefly as a sign of our Lord Jesus Christ." This being done, three sailors strolled into the woods to see the trees and bushes. Suddenly they came upon a crowd of people, all naked like the rest. They called to them, and went towards them, but they ran away. At last they caught a woman; for I had ordered that some should be caught, that they might be treated well, and made to lose their fear. This would be a useful event, for it could scarcely be otherwise, considering the beauty of the country. So they took the woman, who was very young and beautiful, to the ship, where she talked to the Indians on board; for they all speak the same language. The Admiral caused her to be dressed, and gave her glass beads, hawks' bells, and brass ornaments; then he sent her back to the shore very courteously, according to his custom. He sent three of the crew with her, and three of the Indians he had on board, that they might open communications with her people. The sailors in the boat, who took her on shore, told the Admiral that she did not want to leave the ship, but would rather remain with the other women he had seized at the port of Mares, in the island of Juana or Cuba. The Indians who went to put the woman on shore said that the natives came in a canoe, which is their caravel, in which they navigate from one place to another; but when they came to the entrance of the harbor, and saw the ships, they turned back, left the canoe, and took the road to the village. The woman pointed out the position of the village. She had a piece of gold in her nose, which showed that there was gold in that island.
Thursday, 13th of December
The three men who had been sent by the Admiral with the woman returned at 3 o'clock in the morning, not having gone with her to the village, because the distance appeared to be long, or because they were afraid. They said that next day many people would come to the ships, as they would have been reassured by the news brought them by the woman. The Admiral, with the desire of ascertaining whether there were any profitable commodities in that land, being so beautiful and fertile, and of having some speech with the people, and being desirous of serving the Sovereigns, determined to send again to the village, trusting in the news brought by the woman that the Christians were good people. For this service he selected nine men well armed, and suited for such an enterprise, with whom an Indian went from those who were on board. They reached the village, which is 4-1/2 leagues to the S.E., and found that it was situated in a very large and open valley. As soon as the inhabitants saw the Christians coming they all fled inland, leaving all their goods behind them. The village consisted of a thousand houses, with over three thousand inhabitants. The Indian whom the Christians had brought with them ran after the fugitives, saying that they should have no fear, for the Christians did not come from Cariba, but were from Heaven, and that they gave many beautiful things to all the people they met. They were so impressed with what he said, that upwards of two thousand came close up to the Christians, putting their hands on their heads, which was a sign of great reverence and friendship; and they were all trembling until they were reassured. The Christians related that, as soon as the natives had cast off their fear, they all went to the houses, and each one brought what he had to eat, consisting of yams,[177-1] which are roots like large radishes, which they sow and cultivate in all their lands, and is their staple food. They make bread of it, and roast it. The yam has the smell of a chestnut, and anyone would think he was eating chestnuts. They gave their guests bread and fish, and all they had. As the Indians who came in the ship had understood that the Admiral wanted to have some parrots, one of those who accompanied the Spaniards mentioned this, and the natives brought out parrots, and gave them as many as they wanted, without asking anything for them. The natives asked the Spaniards not to go that night, and that they would give them many other things that they had in the mountains. While all these people were with the Spaniards, a great multitude was seen to come, with the husband of the woman whom the Admiral had honored and sent away. They wore hair over their shoulders, and came to give thanks to the Christians for the honor the Admiral had done them, and for the gifts. The Christians reported to the Admiral that this was a handsomer and finer people than any that had hitherto been met with. But the Admiral says that he does not see how they can be a finer people than the others, giving to understand that all those he had found in the other islands were very well conditioned. As regards beauty, the Christians said there was no comparison, both men and women, and that their skins are whiter than the others. They saw two girls whose skins were as white as any that could be seen in Spain. They also said, with regard to the beauty of the country they saw, that the best land in Castile could not be compared with it. The Admiral also, comparing the lands they had seen before with these, said that there was no comparison between them, nor did the plain of Cordova come near them, the difference being as great as between night and day. They said that all these lands were cultivated, and that a very wide and large river passed through the centre of the valley, and could irrigate all the fields. All the trees were green and full of fruit, and the plants tall and covered with flowers. The roads were broad and good. The climate was like April in Castile; the nightingale and other birds sang as they do in Spain during that month, and it was the most pleasant place in the world. Some birds sing sweetly at night. The crickets and frogs are heard a good deal. The fish are like those of Spain. They saw much aloe and mastic, and cotton-fields. Gold was not found, and it is not wonderful that it should not have been found in so short a time.
Here the Admiral calculated the number of hours in the day and night, and from sunrise to sunset. He found that twenty half-hour glasses passed, though he says that here there may be a mistake, either because they were not turned with equal quickness, or because some sand may not have passed. He also observed with a quadrant, and found that he was 34 degrees from the equinoctial line.[178-1]
Friday, 14th of December
The Admiral left the Puerto de la Concepcion with the land-breeze, but soon afterwards it fell calm (and this is experienced every day by those who are on this coast). Later an east wind sprang up, so he steered N.N.E., and arrived at the island of Tortuga. He sighted a point which he named Punta Pierna, E.N.E. of the end of the island 12 miles; and from thence another point was seen and named Punta Lanzada, in the same N.E. direction 16 miles. Thus from the end of Tortuga to Punta Aguda the distance is 44 miles, which is 11 leagues E.N.E. Along this route there are several long stretches of beach. The island of Tortuga is very high, but not mountainous, and is very beautiful and populous, like Espanola, and the land is cultivated, so that it looked like the plain of Cordova. Seeing that the wind was foul, and that he could not steer for the island of Baneque,[179-1] he determined to return to the Puerto de la Concepcion whence he had come; but he could not fetch a river which is two leagues to the east of that port.
Saturday, 15th of December
Once more the Admiral left the Puerto de la Concepcion, but, on leaving the port, he was again met by a contrary east wind. He stood over to Tortuga, and then steered with the object of exploring the river he had been unable to reach yesterday; nor was he able to fetch the river this time, but he anchored half a league to leeward of it, where there was clean and good anchoring ground. As soon as the vessels were secured, he went with the boats to the river, entering an arm of the sea, which proved not to be the river. Returning, he found the mouth, there being only one, and the current very strong. He went in with the boats to find the villagers that had been seen the day before. He ordered a tow-rope to be got out and manned by the sailors, who hauled the boats up for a distance of two lombard-shots. They could not get further owing to the strength of the current. He saw some houses, and the large valley where the villages were, and he said that a more beautiful valley he had never seen, this river flowing through the centre of it. He also saw people at the entrance, but they all took to flight. He further says that these people must be much hunted, for they live in such a state of fear. When the ships arrived at any port, they presently made signals by fires on heights throughout the country; and this is done more in this island of Espanola and in Tortuga, which is also a large island, than in the others that were visited before. He called this valley Valle del Paraiso,[180-1] and the river Guadalquivir; because he says that it is the size of the Guadalquivir at Cordova. The banks consist of shingle, suitable for walking.[180-2]
Sunday, 16th of December
At midnight the Admiral made sail with the land-breeze to get clear of that gulf. Passing along the coast of Espanola on a bowline, for the wind had veered to the east, he met a canoe in the middle of the gulf, with a single Indian in it. The Admiral was surprised how he could have kept afloat with such a gale blowing. Both the Indian and his canoe were taken on board, and he was given glass beads, bells, and brass trinkets, and taken in the ship, until she was off a village 17 miles from the former anchorage, where the Admiral came to again. The village appeared to have been lately built, for all the houses were new. The Indian then went on shore in his canoe, bringing the news that the Admiral and his companions were good people; although the intelligence had already been conveyed to the village from the place where the natives had their interview with the six Spaniards. Presently more than five hundred natives with their king came to the shore opposite the ships, which were anchored very close to the land. Presently one by one, then many by many, came to the ship without bringing anything with them, except that some had a few grains of very fine gold in their ears and noses, which they readily gave away. The Admiral ordered them all to be well treated; and he says: "for they are the best people in the world, and the gentlest; and above all I entertain the hope in our Lord that your Highnesses will make them all Christians, and that they will be all your subjects, for as yours I hold them." He also saw that they all treated the king with respect, who was on the sea-shore. The Admiral sent him a present, which he received in great state. He was a youth of about 21 years of age, and he had with him an aged tutor, and other councillors who advised and answered him, but he uttered very few words. One of the Indians who had come in the Admiral's ship spoke to him, telling him how the Christians had come from Heaven, and how they came in search of gold, and wished to find the island of Baneque. He said that it was well and that there was much gold in the said island. He explained to the alguazil of the Admiral[181-1] that the way they were going was the right way, and that in two days they would be there; adding, that if they wanted anything from the shore he would give it them with great pleasure. This king, and all the others, go naked as their mothers bore them, as do the women without any covering, and these were the most beautiful men and women that had yet been met with. They are fairly white, and if they were clothed and protected from the sun and air, they would be almost as fair as people in Spain. This land is cool, and the best that words can describe. It is very high, yet the top of the highest mountain could be ploughed with bullocks; and all is diversified with plains and valleys. In all Castile there is no land that can be compared with this for beauty and fertility. All this island, as well as the island of Tortuga, is cultivated like the plain of Cordova. They raise on these lands crops of yams,[181-2] which are small branches, at the foot of which grow roots like carrots, which serve as bread. They powder and knead them, and make them into bread; then they plant the same branch in another part, which again sends out four or five of the same roots, which are very nutritious, with the taste of chestnuts. Here they have the largest the Admiral had seen in any part of the world, for he says that they have the same plant in Guinea. At this place they were as thick as a man's leg. All the people were stout and lusty, not thin, like the natives that had been seen before, and of a very pleasant manner, without religious belief. The trees were so luxuriant that the leaves left off being green, and were dark colored with verdure. It was a wonderful thing to see those valleys, and rivers of sweet water, and the cultivated fields, and land fit for cattle, though they have none, for orchards, and for anything in the world that a man could seek for.
In the afternoon the king came on board the ship, where the Admiral received him in due form, and caused him to be told that the ships belonged to the Sovereigns of Castile, who were the greatest princes in the world. But neither the Indians who were on board, who acted as interpreters, nor the king, believed a word of it. They maintained that the Spaniards came from Heaven, and that the Sovereigns of Castile must be in Heaven, and not in this world. They placed Spanish food before the king to eat, and he ate a mouthful, and gave the rest to his councillors and tutor, and to the rest who came with him.
"Your Highnesses may believe that these lands are so good and fertile, especially these of the island of Espanola, that there is no one who would know how to describe them, and no one who could believe if he had not seen them. And your Highnesses may believe that this island, and all the others, are as much yours as Castile. Here there is only wanting a settlement and the order to the people to do what is required. For I, with the force I have under me, which is not large, could march over all these islands without opposition. I have seen only three sailors land, without wishing to do harm, and a multitude of Indians fled before them. They have no arms, and are without warlike instincts; they all go naked, and are so timid that a thousand would not stand before three of our men. So that they are good to be ordered about, to work and sow, and do all that may be necessary, and to build towns, and they should be taught to go about clothed and to adopt our customs."
Monday, 17th of December
It blew very hard during the night from E.N.E., but there was not much sea, as this part of the coast is enclosed and sheltered by the island of Tortuga. The sailors were sent away to fish with nets. They had much intercourse with the natives, who brought them certain arrows of the Caniba or Canibales. They are made of reeds, pointed with sharp bits of wood hardened by fire, and are very long. They pointed out two men who wanted certain pieces of flesh on their bodies, giving to understand that the Canibales had eaten them by mouthfuls. The Admiral did not believe it. Some Christians were again sent to the village, and, in exchange for glass beads, obtained some pieces of gold beaten out into fine leaf. They saw one man, whom the Admiral supposed to be Governor of that province, called by them Cacique,[183-1] with a piece of gold leaf as large as a hand, and it appears that he wanted to barter with it. He went into his house, and the other remained in the open space outside. He cut the leaf into small pieces, and each time he came out he brought a piece and exchanged it. When he had no more left, he said by signs that he had sent for more, and that he would bring it another day. The Admiral says that all these things, and the manner of doing them, with their gentleness and the information they gave, showed these people to be more lively and intelligent than any that had hitherto been met with. In the afternoon a canoe arrived from the island of Tortuga with a crew of forty men; and when they arrived on the beach, all the people of the village sat down in sign of peace, and nearly all the crew came on shore. The cacique rose by himself, and, with words that appeared to be of a menacing character, made them go back to the canoe and shove off. He took up stones from the beach and threw them into the water, all having obediently gone back into the canoe. He also took a stone and put it in the hands of my Alguazil,[183-2] that he might throw it. He had been sent on shore with the Secretary[184-1] to see if the canoe had brought anything of value. The alguazil did not wish to throw the stone. That cacique showed that he was well disposed to the Admiral. Presently the canoe departed, and afterwards they said to the Admiral that there was more gold in Tortuga than in Espanola, because it is nearer to Baneque. The Admiral did not think that there were gold mines either in Espanola or Tortuga, but that the gold was brought from Baneque in small quantities, there being nothing to give in return. That land is so rich that there is no necessity to work much to sustain life, nor to clothe themselves, as they go naked. He believed that they were very near the source, and that our Lord would point out where the gold has its origin. He had information that from here to Baneque was four days' journey, about 34 leagues, which might be traversed with a fair wind in a single day.
Tuesday, 18th of December
The Admiral remained at the same anchorage, because there was no wind, and also because the cacique had said that he had sent for gold. The Admiral did not expect much from what might be brought, but he wanted to understand better whence it came. Presently he ordered the ship and caravel to be adorned with arms and dressed with flags, in honor of the feast of Santa Maria de la O,[184-2] or commemoration of the Annunciation, which was on that day, and many rounds were fired from the lombards. The king of that island of Espanola had got up very early and left his house, which is about five leagues away, reaching the village at three in the morning. There were several men from the ship in the village, who had been sent by the Admiral to see if any gold had arrived. They said that the king came with two hundred men; that he was carried in a litter by four men; and that he was a youth, as has already been said. To-day, when the Admiral was dining under the poop, the king came on board with all his people.
The Admiral says to the Sovereigns: "Without doubt, his state, and the reverence with which he is treated by all his people, would appear good to your Highnesses, though they all go naked. When he came on board, he found that I was dining at a table under the poop, and, at a quick walk, he came to sit down by me, and did not wish that I should give place by coming to receive him or rising from the table, but that I should go on with my dinner. I thought that he would like to eat of our viands, and ordered them to be brought for him to eat. When he came under the poop, he made signs with his hand that all the rest should remain outside, and so they did, with the greatest possible promptitude and reverence. They all sat on the deck, except the men of mature age, whom I believe to be his councillors and tutor, who came and sat at his feet. Of the viands which I put before him, he took of each as much as would serve to taste it, sending the rest to his people, who all partook of the dishes. The same thing in drinking: he just touched with his lips, giving the rest to his followers. They were all of fine presence and very few words. What they did say, so far as I could make out, was very clear and intelligent. The two at his feet watched his mouth, speaking to him and for him, and with much reverence. After dinner, an attendant brought a girdle, made like those of Castile, but of different material, which he took and gave to me, with pieces of worked gold, very thin. I believe they get very little here, but they say that they are very near the place where it is found, and where there is plenty. I saw that he was pleased with some drapery I had over my bed, so I gave it him, with some very good amber beads I wore on my neck, some colored shoes, and a bottle of orange-flower water. He was marvellously well content, and both he and his tutor and councillors were very sorry that they could not understand me, nor I them. However, I knew that they said that, if I wanted anything, the whole island was at my disposal. I sent for some beads of mine, with which, as a charm, I had a gold excelente,[186-1] on which your Highnesses were stamped. I showed it to him, and said as I had done yesterday, that your Highnesses ruled the best part of the world, and that there were no princes so great. I also showed him the royal standards, and the others with a cross, of which he thought much. He said to his councillors what great lords your Highnesses must be to have sent me from so far, even from Heaven to this country, without fear. Many other things passed between them which I did not understand, except that it was easy to see that they held everything to be very wonderful."
When it got late, and the king wanted to go, the Admiral sent him on shore in his boat very honorably, and saluted him with many guns. Having landed, he got into his litter, and departed with his 200 men, his son being carried behind on the shoulders of an Indian, a man highly respected. All the sailors and people from the ships were given to eat, and treated with much honor wherever they liked to stop. One sailor said that he had stopped in the road and seen all the things given by the Admiral. A man carried each one before the king, and these men appeared to be among those who were most respected. His son came a good distance behind the king, with a similar number of attendants, and the same with a brother of the king, except that the brother went on foot, supported under the arms by two honored attendants. This brother came to the ship after the king, and the Admiral presented him with some of the things used for barter. It was then that the Admiral learnt that a king was called Cacique in their language. This day little gold was got by barter, but the Admiral heard from an old man that there were many neighboring islands, at a distance of a hundred leagues or more, as he understood, in which much gold is found; and there is even one island that was all gold. In the others there was so much that it was said they gather it with sieves, and they fuse it and make bars, and work it in a thousand ways. They explained the work by signs. This old man pointed out to the Admiral the direction and position, and he determined to go there, saying that if the old man had not been a principal councillor of the king he would detain him, and make him go, too; or if he knew the language he would ask him, and he believed, as the old man was friendly with him and the other Christians, that he would go of his own accord. But as these people were now subjects of the King of Castile, and it would not be right to injure them, he decided upon leaving him. The Admiral set up a very large cross in the centre of the square of that village, the Indians giving much help; they made prayers and worshipped it, and, from the feeling they show, the Admiral trusted in our Lord that all the people of those islands would become Christians.