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The Voyages of Christopher Columbus - a new translation from the Spanish into English of 'Los cuatro viajes del almirante y su testamento, Cristóbal Colón'*.
Translated by M.Kudrati MB Bch(Cantab)
Above: Autograph of Columbus.
The Voyages of Christopher Columbus I
Replicas of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria
To avoid too many notes, the course taken by Christopher Columbus, (ca.1451 - 1506 ACE), in the 'Indias', and the geograhical reference of place names mentioned, can be followed on the navigational map provided at Map of the West Indies illustrating the voyages of Christopher Columbus.
The first voyage to the Indias - until Christmas, 1492, from the narration condensed by Fray Bartolomé de las Casas*.
[Note:*Bartolomé de Las Casas, (1484-1566), was a Spanish priest, who after observing the conditions of the Indians in the New World spoke out against their oppression by the Europeans. His father had sailed with Columbus, and in 1502, Bartolomé also sailed, to settle in Hispaniola. Apart from the transcription which he made, with comments, on the log kept by Columbus of his voyage, which constitutes the chief source of much that is established about his discoveries, he can lay claim also to many other works, but most importantly for his famous and monumental 'Historia de las Indias'. Critics have argued that his humanitarian beliefs had a contrary result, because his concern for the plight of the indigenous Americans led him to back the import of African slaves, thus unwittingly encouraging the ruthless insitution of a black slavery. He was, nevertheless, a significant chronicler of early colonial oppression, and is noteworthy for the factual content of his works.]
In the name of our Lord JesusChrist
Because, after your Excellencies, the Christian, and the most high, the most excellent and the most powerful Princes, the King and Queen of Spain, and of the islands of the sea, our Sovereigns, this present year of 1492, had brought to an end the war of the Moors who reigned in Europe, and had terminated the war in the very great city of Granada, whereby this present year, to 2 days of the month of January, by force of arms, one saw the planting of the royal flags of your Excellencies in the towers of Alhambra, which is the fortress of the said city, and one saw the exit of the Moorish king by the doors of the city, kissing the royal hands of your Excellencies, and of the Prince, my Lord, and soon in that present month, from the information which I gave to your Excellencies of the lands of India, and because of a prince who is called the Grand Khan, which means in our language, 'King of the Kings', who had, with his predecessors, on many occasions, sent envoys to Rome to request doctors of our holy faith who might teach it to him, and which the Holy Father had never provided him with, and as so many peoples were being lost, believing in idol worship, or accepting these sects encountering perdition, your Excellencies, as catholic Christians and princely lovers of the holy Christian faith, and enlargers of it, and as enemies of the sect of Mahomet, and of all idolatries and heresies, thought to send me, Cristóbal Colón, to the said parts of India, to visit the said princes, the towns, and the lands, and the disposition of them, and of everything else, and the manner [-16 -] by which could be obtained the conversion of them to our holy faith; and they ordered that I did not go by land to the east, which was the usual way to travel, but by the western route, by means of which, until now, we do not know reliably, in truth, that anyone has passed through.
So it was that, after having expelled all the Jews from all your kingdoms and your seigneuries, in the same month of January, your Excellencies commanded me that I should go to the said parts of India with a sufficient navy; and for it they made over to me great rewards, and ennobled me so that then, and for the future, I might be called Don, and become admiral-major of the oceanic sea, and viceroy and governor, in perpetuity, of all the islands and mainland which were discovered and won by me, and which in the future might be discovered and obtained by me in the oceanic sea, and to be succeeded, thus, by my older son, and so on, in degree and rank, forever and always. I departed, therefore, from the city of Granada on the 12th day of the month of May of the same year of 1492, on a Saturday. I came to the town of Palos, which is a seaport, where I armed most fitly, three ships of a similar make, and I left from this said port, very sufficiently supplied of much provision, and many sailors, on the 3rd day of the month of August of the said year, on a Friday, half an hour before sunrise, and took the route to the Canary islands belonging to your Highnesses, which are in the aforementioned oceanic sea, from which to take my course, and sail until I arrived at the Indias to give the embassy of your Highnesses to those princes and, thereby, to fulfill what they had required of me; consequently, I thought of writing down, very precisely, for this whole journey, from day to day, all that I did, saw, and endured, as will be seen later on. Also, lordly Princes, besides describing for every night that which the day will have brought to pass, and by day what was sailed at night, I intend to make a new map for navigation, in which I shall position all the sea and lands of the oceanic sea in their proper places beneath the appropriate wind, and moreover, to compose a book, and to put everything in the likeness of a painting, by latitude from the equinoctial, and longitude from the occident; and above all that it accomplish much, lest I forget the dream, and touches much upon the voyage, because, thus, does it achieve those matters which will be a great labour. [-17-]
Friday, 3rd of August. - We departed on Friday, the 3rd day of August, 1492, from the barrier of Saltes* at eight o'clock. We sailed with a strong wind until sunset, towards the south, for sixty miles, which are fifteen leagues; afterwards to the S.W. and the S.S.W., which was the way to the Canary Islands.
[Note: *Saltés is a small island at the mouth of the river Huelva, Punta Umbría. Occupied by the Arabs, the Bakris, in the 4th and 5th Islamic centuries (X - XIth centuries ACE), it was gradually abandoned during the Christian epoch.]
Saturday, 4th of August. - They progressed to the S.W. 1/4 S.
Sunday, 5th of August. - They held the route between day and night more than forty leagues.
Monday, 6th of August. – The rudder leapt or was knocked off from the caravel, Pinto, where Martín Alonso Pinzón was sailing, and which he believed and suspected to be the work of Gomes Rascón and Cristóbal Quintero, whose caravel it was, because it had been a burden for them to go on that trip; and the Admiral says that before he started off he had found certain impediments and delaying tactics, as they say, of the said two .The Admiral came from there perturbed greatly in being unable to help the said caravel without endangering it, and says that some pain was lessened from the knowledge that Martín Alonso Pinzón was a person who strove hard, and of ingenuity. In short, they proceeded, by day and night, twenty-nine leagues.
Tuesday, 7th of August. - He returned to mount the rudder of the Pinta and got it positioned, and they went in the direction of the island of Lanzarote, which is one of the Canary Islands, making twenty-five leagues between day and night.
Wednesday, 8th of August. - Diverged between the pilots of the three caravels different opinions as to where they were, and the Admiral emerged the more accurate. He wanted to go to the Grand Canaries to leave the caravel, Pinto, because it was steering badly from the rudder and was making water, and wanted to pick up another one there if one could be found. They were not able to get to it that day.
Thursday, 9th of August. - The Admiral could not reach Gomera until Sunday, in the night, and Martín [-18- ] Alonso stood by on that coast of the Grand Canaries by order of the Admiral, because he could not sail. Later the Admiral got to Canary (or Tenerife), and they repaired the Pinta very well, with a great deal of work and diligence by the Admiral, Martín Alonso, and the rest; and at the end they came to Gomera. They saw a great fire flaring up from the mountain range on the island of Tenerife, which is very high in an imposing way. They fitted the Pinta with square sails, because she had lateen ones; returned to Gomera on Sunday, the 2nd of September, with the Pinta ready.
The Admiral says that many men, all honest Spaniards who were in Gomera with Doña Ines Peraza, mother of Guillén Peraza, who was later the first Count of Gomera, and who were from the vicinity of Hierro island, swore that every year they saw land to the west of the Canaries, which is the Occident; and others of Gomera, affirmed the same on oath. The Admiral says here that he remembers being in Portugal, in the year of 1484, when an islander from the Madeira islands came to the King with a request for a caravel in order for him to go to this land which he had seen, and which he swore he saw every year, always in a singular way. He says, also, that he remembers that they said the same in the islands of the Azores, and that they all lay in one path, were of uniform appearance, and one size. Having obtained water, firewood, and meat, and the rest, which was held by the men whom the Admiral had left in Gomera when he went to the Canary Islands to rig the caravel, Pinta, he finally set sail from the said island of Gomera, with his three caravels, on Thursday, the 6th day of September.
Thursday, 6th of September. - He departed on this day in the morning from the port of Gomera, and he took the turn in order to proceed on the voyage. The Admiral learnt from a caravel which came from the island of Hierro that three caravels of Portugal had been heading towards it in order to take him: it must be because the King was displeased as he had taken himself to Castile. He continued all that day and night in calm, and in the morning he found himself between Gomera and Tenerife. [-19-]
Friday, 7th of September. - All Friday and Saturday, up to three o'clock at night, it was calm.
Saturday, 8th of September. - At three o'clock on Saturday night the wind began to blow N.E, and he held the direction and his route to the west. He took in a lot of sea water by the prow, which hindered the passage; and he moved forward on the day and the night, nine leagues.
Sunday, 9th of September. - He advanced nineteen leagues that day, and decided to reckon it as less than he had gone, so that if the trip proved long, the men would not be frightened or lose heart. At night he covered one hundred and twenty miles, at ten miles per hour, which are thirty leagues. The sailors held course badly, falling off to the N.E., and even to the middle part, over which the Admiral reprimanded them many times.
Monday, 10th of September. - On that day and the night he fared sixty leagues, at ten miles per hour, that is two and a half leagues, but he only counted forty-eight leagues, so as not to concern the men with it in case the voyage was lengthy.
Tuesday, 11th of September. - That day they sailed along the route, which was west, and went over twenty leagues. They saw a large piece of a boat's mast, of one hundred and twenty tons, and they were not able to take it. In the night they travelled around twenty leagues, but did not count more than sixteen for the reason stated.
Wednesday, 12th of September. - That day, going en route, they went by night and day thirty-three leagues, counting less for the reason stated.
Thursday, 13th of September. - That day, along with its night, going en route which was westward, they travelled thirty-three leagues, and counted three or four less. The currents were contrary to him. On this day, at the beginning of the night, compass needles were more to the north-west, and on the following morning were rather more to the north-west. [-20 -]
Friday, 14th of September. - They sailed that day, including the night, en route west, and progressed twenty leagues, but counted a little less. Here those on board the caravel Niña said that they had seen a tern and a red-billed tropic bird*; and these birds never stray away from land more than twenty-five leagues.
[Note: *'rabo de junco' in the text, translated as the red-billed tropic bird, or Phaethon aethereus, is sometimes called the boatswain bird.]
Saturday, 15th of September. - They sailed on that day and night along the route due west, and covered twenty-seven leagues, and little more. On this night, from its commencement, they saw a marvellous streak of light fall from the sky into the sea, four or five miles away from them.
Sunday, 16th of September. - Sailed on that day and night along the route to the west. They went thirty-nine leagues, but only thirty-six were counted. There were some clouds on that day, and it drizzled. The Admiral says here that on that day, and always from then on, they encountered the most temperate airs that were a great pleasure to savour in the mornings, and that he missed nothing save hearing nightingales. He says, "The weather was like April in Andalusia". Here they began to see many heaps of very green herbage that was less to the west, so it seemed, as though it had been detached from land. Hence, everyone considered that it was near some island, but not off mainland, according to the Admiral, who says: "because I make the mainland to be further ahead."
Monday, 17th of September. - Sailed along his path westwards, and might have gone, by day and by night, fifty leagues or more. He settled for only forty-seven. The current assisted them. They saw much herbage, quite fine, and it was greenery from rocks, and came from the west. They reckoned to be near land. They, the pilots, took the position of the north, and found that the needles were north-east by a large quarter, which frightened the sailors, and they were troubled, but they did not say why. The Admiral recognised it, and he ordered them to return to marking the north at daybreak, when they found that the needles were fine. It was on account of the star that appears to be moving, and not the needles. At daybreak [-21-], that Monday, they saw much more herbage which seemed to be vegetation from rivers, and in which they found a live crab, which the Admiral preserved. He said that these were certain signs of land, because they are not found further than eighty miles from land. The sea-water was discovered to be less salty since their departure from the Canaries. The breezes were always more gentle. Everyone was very happy today, and the ships went as fast as they could in order to sight land first. They saw many tunny fish, and those on the Ninã killed one. Here, the Admiral says that these were indications from the west, "where I hope that God, most high, in whose power lie all victories, will bring us land very soon." In that morning, he says that he saw a white bird called the red-billed tropic bird which does not usually sleep on the sea.
Tuesday, 18th of September. - Sailed that day and that night, and traversed more than fifty-five leagues, but only agreed to forty-eight. All of these days brought a very calm sea, like the river at Seville. This day Martín Alonso, with the Pinta, which was a large vessel, did not wait, because he said to the Admiral he had seen a great multitude of birds flying towards the west from his caravel, and as that night he hoped to see land, he sped along. There appeared, to the north, a great cloudy darkness, which is a sign of being near land.
Wednesday, 19th of September. - Sailed en route, and between day and night they progressed by twenty-five leagues, because they experienced calm conditions. He recorded twenty-two. This day, at ten o'clock, a gannet came to the ship and, later on, they saw another one. It does not usually distance itself more than twenty leagues from land. A shower of rain came without wind, which is a sure sign of land. The Admiral did not wish to hold himself back by tacking to windward to ascertain if there was land; besides which he held for certain that in a strip to the north and south there were some islands, as, in truth, there were, and he went past between them. For his intention was to follow on ahead until the Indias, "and the time is good, because, please God, all will be seen on the return voyage": these are his [-22-] words... Here the pilots charted their points, and the bearing of the Niña was found to be four hundred and forty leagues from the Canaries; the one of the Pinta, four hundred twenty; the one in which the Admiral voyaged, exactly four hundred.
Thursday, 20th of September. - On this day, sailed W1/4NW, and the half part, because there was much wind blowing with the prevailing calm. They managed only seven or eight leagues. They saw two gannets on the ship, and then, another, that was a sign of being around land; and they saw a large amount of herbage, although on the previous day they had not caught sight of it. They took a bird by hand, which was like a tern. It was a bird of the river and not of the sea, but its feet were like those of a seagull. Two or three little land birds came to the ship singing when it was break of day, and then before the sun rose, they disappeared. Later a gannet arrived: it came from the W.N.W, and headed S.W., that was an indication that it had left land in the W.N.W., because these birds sleep on land, and in the morning they go out to sea in search of food, but do not go further than twenty leagues from land.
Friday, 21st of September. – The whole of this day was much calmer, and then some wind. They advanced between day and night, some of it along the route, some not, no more than thirteen leagues. With dawn breaking, they found so much weed that the sea seemed to be curdled from it, and it came from the west. They saw a gannet. The sea was very smooth, like a river, and the air the best in the world. They saw a whale, which is a sign that they were near land, because they always stay close to it.
Saturday, 22nd of September. - He sailed more or less W.N.W., inclining to one side or the other. They voyaged for thirty leagues. They saw hardly any herbage. They saw shearwaters and another bird. The Admiral says here: "This head wind was very necessary for me, because my crew sailed on much encouraged, having believed that no winds blew upon these seas so as to enable a return to Spain." For a period of the day there was no weed; later, it was very thick.[-23 -]
Sunday, 23rd of September. - He sailed N.W., at times, North, and at times, on course, that was West, covering up to twenty-two leagues. They saw a turtle-dove, and a gannet, another little river bird, and other white birds. The weeds were plentiful, and they found crabs in them. Since the sea was meek and smooth, the men murmured, saying that as then the sea was not great, that there would never blow a wind to return them to Spain. However, the sea swelled up a lot later, and without wind, which surprised them. The Admiral, commenting on this, says: "It was very necessary for me that the seas rose up high, for it had not appeared thus except at the time when the Jews left Egypt (that was) against Moses, who led them out of captivity".
Monday, 24th of September. - He sailed along the way west day and night, and they went fourteen and a half leagues. He counted twelve. A gannet came to the ship and they saw many shearwaters.
Tuesday, 25th of September. - This day, it was very calm but, later, it became windy. They went on their way west until nightfall. The Admiral sailed conversing with Martín Alonso Pinzón, captain of the other caravel, Pinta, about a document that he had sent three days ago to the caravel, in which it appears the Admiral had pictured certain islands on that sea. Martín Alonso said that they were in that region, and the Admiral said that it seemed the same to him also; but since they had not yet been presented with them, it must have been that the currents had made the ships yaw always to the N.E., and that they had not made as much progress as the pilots said. This being so, the Admiral asked that he send the said map to him. He sent it on a length of rope, and the Admiral began to plot on it with his pilot and his sailors. At sunset, Martín Alonso got up onto the poop of his ship and with great gaiety called out to the Admiral, asking him for a reward for having spied land. When he heard him repeat this again, in confirmation, the Admiral says that he threw himself down on his knees to give thanks to Our Lord, and Martín Alonso said 'Gloria in excelsis Deo' with his men. The crew of the Admiral did likewise, and [-24-] those on the Niña all climbed up onto the mast, and on the rigging, and all of them declared it to be land. To the Admiral, also, it seemed to be so, and that it might be twenty-four leagues away. They were all maintaining it as land until night time. The Admiral ordered a departure from the route, for all to make for the S.W. instead of W, which was where the land seemed to be. They would have gone on this day four and a half leagues west and, at night, heading S.W., seventeen leagues, that makes twenty-one. However, he said to the men thirteen leagues because he always pretended to the crew that little progress had been made so as not to make it seem too protracted a voyage, in a way that he wrote two logs on this voyage, the lesser being feigned, and the greater the true one. The sea became very smooth, for which reason many sailors dived in for a swim. They saw a lot of gilt bream and other fish.
Wednesday, 26th of September. - He sailed along the way west until after noon. From thereon, they went S.W. until it it was ascertained that what they had said was land was not that, but merely sky. They travelled day and night thirty-one leagues, but he told the men twenty-four. The sea was like a river, the air, sweet and most gentle.
Thursday, 27th of September. - Sailed along his route to the west. Voyaged, between day and night, twenty-four leagues, but told the crew twenty leagues. Much gilt bream came, one of which they killed. They saw a red-billed tropic bird.
Friday, 28 of September. - Sailed en route westwards, and progressed by day and by night, in calm conditions, fourteen leagues, but they reckoned thirteen. They encountered some weed, and they caught two golden breams, but more in the other ships.
Saturday, 29 of September. - Sailed en route westwards. They went twenty-four leagues; he told the crew twenty-one. Since calm prevailed, they advanced little by day and night. They saw a bird, called a frigate bird ('man-o’-war'), that makes gannets vomit, [-25-] so as to eat its food, and which does not maintain itself on anything else. It is bird of the sea, but never alights on the sea, nor separates itself from land beyond twenty leagues. Many of these are present on the Cape Verde Islands. Later, they saw two gannets. The airs were very gentle and pleasant, that he says that he lacked nothing except to hear the nightingale. The sea was as smooth as a river. Afterwards, there appeared three gannets on three occasions, and a frigate bird. They saw a lot of herbage.
Sunday, 30th of September. - He sailed on the way westwards. He went day and night and, because of the stillness, only fourteen leagues. He counted eleven. Four frigate birds came to the ship, which is a great sign of land since so many birds of one kind flying together is an indication that they are not in disorder or lost. They saw four gannets on two occasions. There was a lot of weed. Note: That the stars that are called 'The Guards', when night falls, are next to the arm that bears west, and at break of first light, they are in the line below the arm bearing N.E., so that it seems that all through the night they do not move except three lines, which equals nine hours, and this every night: this the Admiral says here. Also, at dusk, the needles deflect N.W. by a quarter, but at first light, they are aligned exactly with the star. Hence, it appears that the star is in motion like the other stars, and the needles always solicit the truth.
Monday, 1st of October. - He sailed on the way westwards. They progressed by twenty-five leagues, but he told the crew twenty leagues. They had a great downpour. At dawn, the pilot of the Admiral feared, today, that they had journeyed five hundred and sixty-eight leagues from the island of Hierro up to there, heading west. The smaller amount that the Admiral showed to the men was five hundred and eighty-four leagues, but the true figure that the Admiral estimated, and withheld, was seven hundred seven.
Tuesday, 2nd of October. - He sailed along the way west, by night and day, thirty-nine leagues, and he told the men it was of thirty leagues. The sea was always good and smooth. [-26-] "Many thanks be given to God", said the Admiral here. Herbage came from the east drifting west, contrary to what had been usual. There appeared a lot of fish, and one was killed. They saw a white bird that looked like a sea gull.
Wednesday, 3rd of October. - He sailed in the usual way. They progressed by forty-seven leagues, but he told the men forty leagues. Shearwaters appeared, with much weed, some of it very old, but some very fresh, and contained something fruit-like. They did not see any birds. The Admiral believed that he had fallen back from the islands that were depicted on the chart. The Admiral says here, that he did not wish the delay from pitching in the previous week, nor these days that had so many signs of land, although he had reports of certain islands in that region, in order not to be delayed, because his aim was to voyage to the Indias, and if he stopped, he says, it would not make good sense.
Thursday, 4th of October. - He sailed along the passage west. They progressed by day and night sixty-three leagues, although he numbered forty-six leagues to the men. More than forty shearwaters, together with two gannets, came to the ship, and a cabin boy from the caravel hit one with a stone. A frigate bird came to the ship and a white one, like a sea gull.
Friday, 5th of October. - He sailed on course. They voyaged at eleven miles per hour. Including night and day they would have gone fifty-seven leagues, because the wind eased somewhat at night, but he told the men forty-five. The sea was fine, and smooth. "To God," he says, "many thanks be given". The air was very gentle and moderate, without any weed, with many shearwaters for birds, and for fish, many gurnards, flying into the ship.
Saturday, 6th of October. - He sailed on his route heading west. They advanced forty leagues by day and night, and he told the crew thirty-three leagues. This night Martín Alonso said that it would be well to navigate south of west, in the western quarter, and it seemed to the Admiral that Martín Alonso had not said this [-27-] for the island of Cipango*. The Admiral saw that if they made an error they would not be able to make land so promptly and, therefore, it was better to go at once to the mainland, and then to the islands.
[Note: *Cipango, the name given to an island in the Eastern Ocean, was noted by Marco Polo, and seems to be related to the modern Chinese form, 'rìběnguó', meaning 'the country of the root of the day'. Possibly this word became the Malay, Japang, which was the name encountered by Portuguese fleets travelling in the East in the 16th. century. Also dependent on the Malays, is the name given to brazil wood, 'sappan', identical with the Tamil word, 'sappangi'. This word means 'Japan', and was perhaps applied to the wood as a commodity supposedly obtained from that region.]
Sunday, 7th of October. - He sailed on his route to the west. They voyaged at the rate of twelve miles per hour for two hours and, afterwards, at eight miles per hour. He would have advanced twenty-three leagues until one hour after sunrise. He told the men eighteen. On this day, at sunrise, the caravel Ninã, that sped ahead being the swiftest, and which sailed as fast as possible to sight land first, so as to enjoy the reward that the Sovereigns had promised to whoever was the first to see it, raised a flag on the top of the mast, and fired a cannon to signal that they had seen land, because that is how the Admiral had ordered it. He had also given orders that, at sunrise and at sunset, all the ships should join up with him, because these two times were the most favourable, for the mists dispersed, and allowed greater visibility. By the afternoon, since they did not see land, as those on board the Ninã had thought they had, and because there passed by a great multitude of birds from the N. to the S.W. (by reason of which it gave rise to the belief that that they were going to sleep on land, or were, perhaps, fleeing from the winter which, in the regions from whence they came, ought to be setting in, for the Admiral knew that most of the islands held by the Portuguese were discovered through birds), the Admiral decided not to continue west but to steer W.S.W., resolving to proceed in that direction for two days. This began one hour before sunset. They gained five leagues during the night, and twenty-three by day. Altogether, it was twenty-eight leagues, night and day.
Monday, 8th of October. - He sailed W.S.W., and would have gone by day and night eleven and a half to twelve leagues, and at times it seems that they went at fifteen miles per hour in the night, if the writing is not deceptive. They enjoyed a sea like the river of Seville. "Thanks be to God", says the Admiral, "The air is very gentle, like April in Seville, that it gladdens one to be amid it all, so redolent [-28-] it all is". The herbage seemed very fresh. There were many little terrestrial birds, and one was seized that was flying S.W. as, also, terns, ducks, and a gannet.
Tuesday, 9th of October. - He sailed heading S.W., and journeyed five leagues. The wind altered and he changed direction to W 1/4 NW, travelling four leagues. Afterwards, eleven leagues by day in all, and at night, twenty and a half leagues. He told the men seventeen leagues. All through the night they heard little birds pass by.
Wednesday, 10th of October. - He sailed W.S.W. They moved at ten miles per hour and for a while, twelve, and for another while, seven, thus between the day and night, fifty nine leagues. He reckoned forty-four leagues, and no more, for the crew. At this point, the men could bear it no longer and they complained about the long voyage. The Admiral, however, urged them as best as he could, offering them sound hope of the gains that could be theirs. He added that it was beside the point to complain, since he had come for the Indias and that he would continue in this manner until he found them, with the help of our Lord.
Thursday 11 of October. - He sailed W.S.W. They had a lot more sea than there had been for the whole voyage. They saw shearwaters and a green reed close to the ship. Those on the caravel, Pinta, saw a cane and a pole, and they picked up another small pole that looked like it had been worked with iron, and a piece of cane, and other herbage that is found on land, along with a small board. Those on the caravel Niña also glimpsed other signs of land, and a small pole loaded with molluscs. Upon these signs, everyone heaved a sigh of relief, and lightened up. They put behind on this day, until the setting of the sun, twenty-seven leagues.
After sunset, he sailed along his earlier path bearing west. They advanced twelve miles every hour and, until two hours after midnight, they had covered ninety miles, or twenty-two and a half leagues. As the caravel, Pinta, was swifter, and went ahead of the Admiral, she discovered land, and made the signs that the Admiral had ordered. This land was first sighted by a sailor who was called Rodrigo de Triana. However, the Admiral, at ten o'clock at night, being [-29-] on the castle of the poop, saw a light, although it was so dim that he did not want to identify it as land. All the same, he called out to Pero Gutiérrez, assistant of the King's steward, and said to him that he had seen what seemed to be a light, and made him look at it, which he did, and saw. He said as much to Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, who had been sent by the King and the Queen to the fleet as inspector, but he saw nothing because he was not in a position from which he could observe it. After the Admiral had mentioned it, he saw it once or twice, and it was like a small, wax candle that was raised and lifted, that seemed little indication of there being land. Nevertheless, the Admiral made certain that it was connected to land. Thus, when they said the 'Salve', which they used to recite and sing in the way all sailors do, and all were present, the Admiral requested and admonished them that they keep a good watch at the fore-castle, and look out well for land, adding that to him who first caught sight of land he would later give a robe of silk, besides all the other rewards that the Sovereigns had promised, namely, ten thousands maravedis*, as of right, to whoever saw it first. Two hours after midnight land appeared, at a distance of two leagues. Trimming the sails, they stayed with the 'treo', that is, the square mainsail without bonnet, and put themselves to the rigging, biding time until daylight on the Friday, when they arrived at an islet of the **Lucayos, that was called in the language of the Indians ‘Guanahani’. Soon, there came people who were naked, and the Admiral went on shore in the armed boat, with Martín Alonso Pinzón and Vicente Anés, his brother, who was captain of the Niña. The Admiral got out the royal flag, and the captains the two flags of the Green Cross, that the Admiral had hoisted in all the ships as a sign with an 'F' (Ferdinand) and a 'Y' (Ysabel). At the top of each letter was its crown, one on one head of the †, and the other on the other. When they landed on shore, they saw trees which were very green, and a lot of water, and fruits of many kinds. The Admiral called out to both captains and to the others that leapt ashore, and to Rodrigo of Escovedo, official notary for the whole fleet, and to Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, and asked that they gave faith and testimony as to how he, [-30-] in the presence of everyone, took, as in fact he did take, possession of the said island for the King and the Queen, his Lords, making the public declarations that were required, as is contained at greater length in the testimonies that were made there to be written down. Soon there gathered a lot of people from the island. What follows are the Admiral's words quoted from the book of his first navigation and discovery of these Indias. "I ", he says," because they showed a lot of friendship towards us, and because I knew that they were people who would be better freed and converted to our holy faith through love, and not by force, gave to some of them some red bonnets, and some rosary beads of glass that they wore on the neck, and many other things of little value, from which they derived much pleasure, and they were so impressed with us that it was a wonder. Later, they came to the boats of the ships where we were, swimming, and they brought parrots, spun cotton thread in balls, assegais, and many other things. We bartered them, giving them in exchange other things, such as beads of glass and little bells. In short, all took and gave of what they had with good will. However, it seemed to me that they were a people much deprived of everything. They all walk about naked as their mothers bore them, and the same applies to women, although I only saw one young girl. All those I saw were young men, and none seemed to be of an age greater than thirty years. They are well shaped, with excellent bodies, and very attractive faces, and with hair, thick, almost like the bristles on a horse's tail, and short. They wear their hair over the eyebrows, except for some at the back which they grow long, and never cut. Some of them are painted a dark colour, and they are the colour of the Canary islanders, neither black nor white. Some of them were painted white, and some red, and others with what they find. Some of them paint faces, others the whole body, some only the eyes, and others the nose, alone. They do not carry arms, nor know of them, because I would show them swords, and they held them by the blade, cutting themselves through ignorance. They possess no iron, and their javelins are rods without iron, although some of them had a fish-tooth at the tip, and some bore other things. They are all [-31-] alike in size, of a good height, with good movements, well performed. I saw some that had marks made from iron on their bodies, and they made signs that it was that, and they indicated to me that people from other islands which were in the area came there and wanted to get hold of them, and they defended themselves. I believed, and I still believe, that they come here from a mainland to seize them as captives. They ought to be good servers and of sound intelligence, as I observe that they very quickly say aloud everything that is said to them, and I believe that they would become Christians easily, for it seemed to me that they belonged to no sect. I, if it pleases our Lord, will bring from here, at the time of my departure, six, for your Highnesses, so that they can learn to speak. I saw no beasts of any kind, except for parrots, on this island". All this is in the words of the Admiral.
[Note: *maravedí was the name of Iberian coins between the 11th and the 14th centuries. It was during the reign of the Umayyad, Abd-ar-Rahman III, عبد الرحمن الثالث, (889-961), that a gold dinar was first minted in Spain, but this later became known as the murabit or murabitun ( المرابطون , sing. مرابط), after the rulers of Spain of the Almoravid (Almorabitun) dynasty during the 11th and 12th centuries.
**Lucayos. The name apparently given to the Bahamas by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The island, then, was inhabited by the Arawak people, who called themselves Lukku-cairi. Bahamas was a later derivation from the Spanish 'baja mar' (‘shallow sea’). Guanahani is now considered to have been Watling Island.]
Saturday, 13th of October. - "As soon as it was dawn, many of these men came to the beach, all youths, as I have mentioned, and all of good stature, people in perfect condition. Their hair is not curly, but rather wavy, and thick, like a horse's bristles, all with a forehead, and head, much broader than any another nation that I have seen until now, and with eyes very well-shaped, not small. They are not at all swarthy, rather the colour of the Canary islanders, which ought not to be otherwise, since it lies in one line, east-to-west, along with the island of the Hierro, in the Canaries. The legs are very straight, all uniform, and they have no paunch, but are well-formed. They came to the ship in almadías*, that are made from the trunk of a tree, like a long-boat, and all of one piece, and worked into a marvel, given the land. They are large, in some of which forty or forty-five men came, but others are smaller, some just enough for one man to have come on his own. They rowed with a blade shaped like a baker's spade, and sped marvellously. When one overturns, all take to swimming at once, set it right, and bale it out with calabash gourds that they carry with them. They brought balls of spun cotton thread, parrots, javelins, and other little items that would be too tedious to describe, and gave everything for anything that was given to them. I was attentive and tried hard to ascertain if they had gold, and I saw that [-32-] some of them wore a small piece, hung from a hole that they had on the nose. By signs, I was able to understand that going south, or going round the island in order to head south, there was a king who had large vessels made of it, and who possessed a lot. I worked on them to go there, but then saw that they did not comprehend the notion. I decided to wait until afternoon of the following day, and then to leave for the S.W., as many of them had informed me, having said that there was land to the south, the S.W., and the N.W., and that those from the N.W. had come to them on many occasions to fight, and thence, gone S.W. to look for gold and precious stones."
"This island is quite large and rather flat, with very green trees, large quantities of water, and a huge lake in the middle. It has no mountains, and everything is so fresh that it is a pleasure to look at. The people are very timid, and for the desire to obtain our things, but having nothing in order to give in exchange, they take what they can get, and soon take to the water, and swim off. However, all that they have, they give for whatever item is given to them, even recovered pieces of bowls, and broken glass cups, until I saw given, for sixteen balls of cotton, three Portuguese ceotís, which is a Castilian silver, and these might contain more than one 'arroba' of spun cotton. This will be kept, and shall not allow anyone to take, except him whom I order to take to Your Highnesses, if they have it in quantity. It grows on this island, but because time was short I could not thus verify everything. Here, also, is produced the gold that is hung from the nose, but so as not to waste time I wish to go and see if I can locate the island of Cipango. Now that night has fallen, all of them have gone back to land with their canoes."
[Note:*almadías, the word is of Arabic source, being derived from 'ma'adiyah',ﺔﻴﺩﻌﻣ , or small boat, and is the word used throughout the journal to describe the 'canoe'.]
Sunday, 14th of October.- "At dawn, I gave orders to address the landing boat of the ship and the boats of the caravels, and I went along the length of the island, in the direction N.E., to see the other side, which was on the other side to the east, and also to see the settlements. Soon, I saw two or three, and all the people came to the shore, calling out to us, and giving thanks to God. Some brought us water, others, things to eat, and some, when they saw that I [-33 -] was not going to land, dived into the sea, and swam over to us. We understood that they were asking us if we had come from heaven. An old man came into the small boat, and others shouted to the other men and women, "Come to see the men who have originated from the sky, and bring them food and drink." Many came, and a number of women, each bearing something, gave thanks to God, throwing themselves on to the ground, and raised their hands up to the sky, and then, loudly exclaimed that we should go on shore. However, I became apprehensive at the sight of a large shallow stretch of stones that encircled the island all around. In-between, there rested deep water, suitable as a port for as many ships as there are in all of Christendom, and with a very narrow entrance. It is true that within this strip there are some shallows, but the sea does not move more than inside a well. I got going this morning so as to view all this, that I could give to Your Highnesses an account of everything, and also where it might be possible to create a fortress. I saw a piece of land that is shaped like an island, although it is not, and on which there were six houses. It could be cut off in two days into an island. However, I do not see it to be necessary, because the people are very inexperienced in arms, as Your Highnesses will see from the seven that I had had seized, in order to bring them, teach them our language, and return them; should your Highnesses command, however, they can all be taken to Castile, or be kept on the same island as captives, since with fifty men all could be subjugated and they will be all that will be required. Adjoining this island spoken of, there are gardens with the most beautiful trees that I have seen, so green, and with leaves like those found in Castile in the month of April and May, and a lot of water. I surveyed that entire port, and then I turned round for the ship and set sail. I saw so many islands that I could not reach a decision as to which one to visit first. Those men whom I had taken said to me, by signs, that there were so plentiful that they could not put a number to them, and named, individually, over a hundred. Therefore, I looked for the largest, and determined to go to that one, and this I am doing. It will be five leagues away from this one, San Salvador, and with others of them some more, some less. All are very flat, without mountains and [-34-] highly fertile. All are inhabited, and they wage war against each other, although they are very simple and their bodies are very delicate for men."
Monday, 15th of October. - "I passed this night with the fear of not reaching land, and come to anchor before the morning, not knowing if the coast was clear of reefs. At dawn, I charged the veils. As the island was further than five miles away, and ahead of it would be seven, and the tide detained me, it was midday when I arrived at the said island. I discovered that the part that faces the island of San Salvador runs north-south, and is five leagues, and the other which I pursued, ran east-west, and amounted to more than ten leagues. Since from this island I saw another, larger, one, to the west, I filled the sails and voyaged all that day, until nightfall, as otherwise I could not have got to the western headland. I gave the name of Santa Maria of the Conception to the island. When the sun had almost set, I came round the said headland to ascertain if gold was present there, as the men that I had got hold of on the island of San Salvador said to me that they wore very large rings of gold on their legs and arms. I pretty much thought that everything that they said was nonsense, and in order to escape. Yet my intention was to pass by no island without taking possession of it, since taking one of them, it would speak for all. I rode at anchor, and it was not until today, Tuesday, that at dawn, I went to shore with the armed boats and I landed. They, who were numerous, went similarly naked, and were in the same condition as for the other island of San Salvador. They let us go across the island, and they gave us what was requested of them. As the wind blew athwart the S.E, I did not wish to delay, and I started off towards the ship. A large almadía was on the side of the caravel, Niña, and one of the men of the island of the San Salvador, who was on it, threw himself into the sea and he got into it. In the time before midnight the other jumped, and he was behind the almadía, which fled, for there never was a boat that could catch up with it, as they had the advantage over us. Withal, it got to land, and they left the almadía. Some of those in my company emerged on to land after them, while they all fled like hens. The almadía that they [-35-] had left was hauled by us to the side of the caravel Niña, where now, from the other end, came another, a small almadía with a man who had come to exchange a skein of cotton. Some of the sailors leapt into the sea, because he did not want to come on board the caravel, and got hold of him. I, who was at the stern of the vessel, saw everything, and sent for him. I gave him a red cap, a string of green glass beads that I placed on his arm, and two bells that I put on his ears. I asked for his almadía to be returned, that was also held on board, and sent him ashore. Soon after, I made sail to go to the other large island that I had seen to the west, and I also ordered the release of the other almadía that had been brought on the caravel, astern the Niña. Later, I saw it on land, at the time of the arrival of the other to whom I had given the aforementioned items, and from whom I had not wished to take the ball of cotton yarn, after he had wanted to give it to me. All the others came up to him and it was held to be a great wonder, and well it seemed to them that we were good people, whilst that the other, who had fled, had caused us some harm, which was why we had seized him. It was for this reason that I used him, by commanding his release, and gave him those things, so that they might hold us in such esteem, since, on another occasion, if your Highnesses are minded to send an envoy out here, it will not create bad feeling. Moreover, everything that I gave him was worth less than four maravedís. Thus I started off, which would be ten o'clock, with a southwesterly breeze, and touched it from the south by passing this other island. It is immense, and all the men I bring, from San Salvador, signal that it possesses a very large amount of gold, and that they wear it on the arms, on the legs, on the ears, on the nose and on the neck, in rings. This new island is separated by nine leagues, east to west, from that of Santa Maria, and this side of the island all runs northwest to southwest. It looks like this coast might well be more than twenty-eight leagues along this strip. It is very level, without any mountains, just like those of San Salvador and Santa Maria. All the beaches are without rocks, except that, by all of them, there are some stones near to the land beneath the water, where it is necessary to be on the look-out when wishing to anchor, and not to anchor too near land, although the water is always very clear, and one can see down to the bottom. [-36-]
Two shots of canon away from land, there is so much depth off all these islands that it cannot be fathomed. These islands are extremely green and fertile, with a very pleasant climate, and may possess many things which I do not know of, because I do not wish to delay myself in having to seek out and get to many islands to find gold. There, again, these people offer the same signs, in that they wear it on their arms and the legs, and it is gold, because I demonstrated to them some pieces which I have. I cannot fail, then, with the help of our Lord, in discovering the place where it has its source. Being in the middle of the gulf between these two islands - that is to say, that of Santa Maria and of this large one, to which I attach the name of Fernandina - I came across a single man in an almadía who had gone from the island of Santa Maria to that of Fernandina. He had brought a little of their bread, that was as large as a fist, a gourd of water, a lump of reddish clay, made into a powder and then kneaded, some dry leaves, that must be something much appreciated among them, because they had already exchanged these with me in San Salvador, and he also had a small basket of their sort, in which was a bunch of glass beads and two blancas, from which I understood that he came from the island of San Salvador, and having passed by that of Santa Maria, moved on to Fernandina, whence he came by the ship. I made him come in, as he had asked to do this, and I made him put his almadía on board, and to keep watch over everything that he had with him. I ordered him to be given bread to eat, and syrup, and something to drink. This is how I shall conduct him on to Fernandina, and I will give him all of his belongings, so that he gives a good report of us for when, if it pleases our Lord, your Highnesses might despatch men here, that those who come, receive honour, and they give us all that was required."
Tuesday, 16th of October. - "I departed from the islands of Santa Maria de la Concepción at about midday for the island of Fernandina, which shows up as immense westwards, and I sailed all that day in calm conditions. I did not reach in time to visualise the depth so as to anchor in clear water, because it needed a great deal of care not to lose the anchors. Thus, I made do all this night until daytime, when I came to a settlement, where I moored, and [-37-] from where that man had come whom I had met yesterday in that almadía in the middle of the passage. He had given such good accounts of us that all of this night there was no lack of almadías at the side of the ship that brought water for us, and of what they possessed. I ordered each one to be given something, namely some beads, ten or twelve glass ones of them in a thread, and some brass rattles, of those which are worth one maravedí each, in Castile, and some straps, all of which they held to be most excellent. I also asked that they be given, that they might eat, treacle, when they came on board the ship. Afterwards, at three o'clock, I sent the small boat of the ship on shore for water and they, with extreme good will, informed my men as to where water was present. They, themselves, brought full barrels to the small boat, and were very attentive so as to make us happy.
This island is huge, and I have decided to circumnavigate it because, from what I can ascertain, there is a source of gold on it, or close by it. This island lies eight leagues off that of Santa Maria, going almost east to west. This cape, where I have got to, along with whole of this coast, runs from N.W. to S.S.E. I saw a good twenty leagues of it, but it had not ended there. I am writing this now, having opened the sails to a southerly breeze, in a bid to go round the whole island, and to strive until I find Samaot, which is the island or city where the gold is, since this is what everyone says of those who came here on the ship, and those who spoke to us of it from the islands of San Salvador and of Santa Maria. These people are similar to those of the said islands, and share the same language and customs, except that these seem to me to be somewhat more domesticated folk, and tame, and more refined, because I see that they who brought cotton here to the ship, along with other little items, know better how to strike a bargain, whereas the others did not. I even saw pieces of cotton made like small mantles on this island. The folk were better disposed, and the women wore on the front of their bodies a small piece of cotton that just about wraps their natural parts.
It is a very green island, flat and most fertile, and I do not have any doubt that all the year round they plant and reap cereal, and likewise, everything else. I saw many trees of a very atypical form compared to ours, and among them, many that possessed branches in diverse forms all arising from one [-38-] base, and one small branch is of one kind, another of a different kind, and so varied, that the amount of diversity from one type to another is the greatest wonder in the world. For instance, one branch had leaves like those of a cane, and another like those of a lentiscus, and thus, on a single tree, five or six of these types occur, all of them different. Nor are these grafted on, because it can be said that, to make the graft, mounts are needed beforehand, and these people do not cultivate them. I recognise them as belonging to no sect, and I believe that they would become Christians rapidly, because they comprehend readily. The fish, here, are so unlike those of ours, that it is astonishing. There are some shaped like St. Peter's fish, displaying the finest colours in the world, blues, yellows, reds and every other colour, and others painted in a thousand ways. The colours are so pure that there is no man who would not find them a marvel and find them a great pleasure to behold. There are also whales. I have observed no animals on land of any kind except for parrots and lizards. A cabin boy said to me that he had seen a large snake. I have seen neither sheep nor goats nor any other beasts. However, I have been here for a very short while, that is half a day, but had there been any, I could not have missed seeing some. I shall write about the periphery of this island after I have navigated round it."
Wednesday, 17th of October. - "At noon, I departed from the village where I was anchored, and where I took water, to go round this island of Fernandina. The wind was S.W. and South, and as my intention was to follow this coast of the island from where I was to the S.E., since this is how it extends, from N.N.W to S.S.E. I wanted to take the route mentioned of S. and S.E., because all the Indians who I have with me, and another, signal this part of the South as leading to the island they call Samoet, where the gold is. Martín Alonso Pinzón, captain of the caravel, Pinta, into which I had ordered three of these Indians, came and said to me that one of them had most assuredly given him to understand that the N.N.W. would make for going round the island much quicker. I saw that the wind was not favourable for me to keep on the path I wanted to take, but was good for [-39-] the other. I made sail for the N.N.W when, close to the cape of the island, two leagues away, I discovered a rather wonderful port with an opening, or, one could even say two openings, because it had an islet in the middle. On both sides are narrow passages, while within, it was wide enough for a hundred ships, if it turned out to be deep and clear, and with the depth at the entrance. It seemed reasonable to me to have a good look at it, and take soundings. Thus, I anchored outside it, and went in with all the boats of the ships, when we saw that it was not deep. Also, because I believed when I saw it to be the mouth of some river, I had given orders to take barrels to hold water. On dry land, I came across about eight or ten men, who soon came over to us and showed us the village nearby, and to which I sent the men for water, one group carrying weapons, others with barrels, which is how they obtained it. However, since it was a little distance away, I was kept waiting for the space of two hours.
During that time I walked around those trees. It was a sight more lovely than any another I had seen, seeing such greenery, and to such an extent, as occurs in the month of May in Andalusia. The trees are all as contrary to ours as the day is to the night. So are the fruits and, likewise, the grass, the stones, and everything else. It is true that the some trees were similar in kind to others that belong to Castile but, in the end, there was a very great difference, and other trees of different kinds were so numerous that nobody could speak of them, or compare them to those in Castile. The people were all identical to the others already mentioned. Their conditions were the same, similarly naked, and with the same stature. They give of what they have for any thing that might be offered to them. Here, I witnessed some cabin boys from the ships bartering some broken pieces of pottery and glass with them for javelins. Meanwhile, the others, who had gone to fetch the water, said to me how they had been inside their houses, and that they were very well-swept and clean, and that their beds and covers were made of something resembling meshes made of cotton. They, the houses, are all designed like storehouses, and are very high, with fine chimneys. However, I did not notice in the many settlements that I saw, that any were beyond twelve to fifteen houses in size. Here, they said, married women wore cotton loincloths, but not the girls, except for some who had reached the age of [-40-] eighteen years. There were dogs, there, mastiffs and Turquets*, and they found an individual who had a piece of gold in his nose that might have been like half a castellano** coin, on which they saw letters. I scolded them because they did not barter for it, and give whatever was asked for, to see what it was, and the kind of currency it was. They replied that none dared to strike a deal for it. After having got the water I returned to the ship and made sail. I veered N.W., until I had explored all that part of the island as far as the coast that runs east to west. Then, all the Indians turned round to say that this island was too small to be the island of Samoet, and that it would be better to turn back so as to get there quicker. Presently, the wind became calmer, and began to blow W.N.W., which was against us from whence we came. So I veered round and headed E.S.E. for all of that night, sometimes to the east and, sometimes, S.E. This was to distance myself from land, because it was heavily overcast, and the atmosphere became highly charged. In a short while, I was unable to find land for anchorage. The same night it rained down hard after midnight almost until daylight, and it is still cloudy enough for rain, while we make for the cape of the island in the S.W. part, where I hope to drop anchor until it clears sufficiently to see the other islands where I must go. Thus, in all this time, since I came to the Indias, it has rained, more or less. Your Highnesses may suppose this to be the best, and most fertile and temperate, level, and as good a land as there is in the whole world ".
[Note: * 'Branchetes', in the text, read as ‘blanchete’, is a small, white dog. 'Un petit chien Turquet, ou barbet blanc'. Thresor des deux langues françoise et espagnolle de César Oudin (1607). **A castellano was equal to one-sixth of an ounce.]
Thursday, 18th of October. - "After it cleared, I followed the wind direction, and circled the island as much as I could. I cast anchor when one could no longer keep sailing. However, I did not go on land, and at dawn I set off again."
Friday, 19th of October. - "At daybreak, I weighed anchor, and sent the caravel, Pinta, to the E.S.E., and the caravel Niña, S.S.E., while I steered my ship S.E. I gave orders that this direction be maintained until noon and, after that, for both to change their course so as to join in with me. Soon, before we had journeyed for three hours, we saw an island to the east, [-41-] towards which we propelled ourselves. All three ships came to it before noon at a point placed on its north, where there is an islet. Outside it, there is a rocky reef to the north, with another between it, and the large island. The men I bring from San Salvador called the island Samoet, and I gave it the name of Isabella. The wind was blowing north, and the islet mentioned was in a line east to west with the island of Fernandina, from where I had set off. Later, the coast of the islet was followed to the west, and for twelve leagues, as far as a headland, which I called Cabo Hermoso, that forms part of the west. It is, indeed, beautiful, round and very deep, without any shallows outside of it, right up to the commencement of rocks and shallows, and further in it is virtually sandy shore, as almost all the said coast. Here, I anchored on Friday night until the morning. The whole of this coast, and the part of the island that I saw, is almost a beach. The island is the most beautiful thing I have cast eyes on, and if the others are beautiful, this is more so. It has many, very green trees which are quite large. The ground is more elevated than in the other islands discovered. On it, there is a certain hilliness, not such that it can be called mountainous, but equally as lovely. There seems to be a lot of water in the middle of the island. From this part to the northeast it forms a large angle, and it has many woods, very large, and highly dense. I wanted to go and drop anchor there, so as to climb on land and gaze upon such beauty, but it was not deep, and I could not find anchorage except a distance from the shore. The wind, however, was very favourable to sail to this cape, where I am at anchor now. I named it Cabo Hermoso, since that is how it is. That is why I did not stay at that angle either, because I saw this headland from there, so lush and so beautiful, like all the other things, and lands, of these islands, so that I neither know where to take myself first, nor how to tire my eyes from so much lovely verdure, so very different to ours. I even believe that there are here many herbs and trees here that are of much value in Spain as dyes, medicines and spices, but I do not recognise them, which grieves me greatly. Arriving here, at this cape, I was greeted by the fragrance of so many sweet and delightful flowers and trees on land, that it was the most pleasant thing in the world. For the morning, before I [-42-] I leave here, I shall go ashore to see what is present here on the cape. There are no settlements except further in on the island, where the other men that I bring say is the king who has much gold. In the morning, I intend to go on forward until I find the village, and see, or exchange words, with this king who, according to the indications they give, controls all these neighboring islands, and goes about clothed, with a lot of gold on his person. Nevertheless, I do not have much faith in their words, not only because I do not understand them well, but also from knowing that they are so destitute of gold that, however little this king wears, it would seem a lot to them. This, which I call Cabo Fermoso, I believe to be an island separate from Samoeto, with yet other, smaller, ones between them. I do not care much to view them so much in detail, because that could not be achieved in fifty years, and because I want to see, and to discover more, as far as I am able to, in order to return to your Highnesses, our Lord willing, in April. The truth is that, finding where gold or spices exist in quantity, I shall stop until I have as much of it as I can. Therefore, I have no choice but to go on looking so as to come across it."
Saturday 20 of October. - "Today, at sunrise, I weighed anchor from where I was with the ship, and anchored at this island of Samoeto to the S.W., which I named the Cabo de la Laguna, and the island, Isabella, so as to sail N.E., and east, from the S.E. and south, where as I understood, from these men I bring, was located the settlement and its king. I found it all so shallow in depth that I could not enter or sail in it. I saw that following the route S.W. was a very large detour, which made me determined to return myself to the path N.N.E. on the western side, and go round this island for [...] the wind was so light that I could never have made the land along the length of the coast, except at night. However, as it is risky to anchor off these isles, except in daylight, when dropping the anchor can be kept under observation, and because it is all so patchy, one clear, here, another not, I tided over in full sail for [-43-] all of this Sunday night. The caravels because they made land, trimmed sails, and thought that at their signals, as was their wont, I was going to anchor, but I did not."
Sunday, 21st. of October. - "At ten o'clock, I arrived here at this headland of the islet, and moored, and the caravels likewise. After having eaten, I set foot on land, where there was nothing other than a solitary dwelling, in which I found no one. I think they had taken to flight, because all their furnishings for the house were present in it. I let nobody touch anything, but left with the captains, and the men, to take a look at the island. If the vistas presented by the other islands are very beautiful, green, and fertile, this one is yet more so, with large woods, which are even greener. Here, there are some large pools, and above them, and around them, it is wonderfully arboreal. Here, the whole island, everywhere, is green, and the verdure is like April in Andalusia. The song of the small birds is such that it seems no man would ever wish to part from it. There are volleys of parrots that darken the sun, and birds, large and small, of so many kinds, and so different to ours, that it is a marvel. Furthermore, there are trees of a thousand varieties, and each one bears fruit of its kind. Everything is so fragrant, that it is astonishing, and I am the most vexed person in the world in not recognising them, for I am quite sure that everything is valuable. Of them, I bring specimens, as, also, of the plants. Proceeding, thus, around one of these lagoons, I saw a snake, which we killed, and I bring the skin to your Highnesses. As soon as it saw us, it plunged into the lake. We followed in, as it was not too deep, until we killed it with lances. It is seven hand spans in length, and I believe that there are many similar to it in this lake here. I recognised aloes wood here, and tomorrow, I am determined to haul ten quintals to the boat, because they tell me that it is worth a lot. Also, wandering in search of very fresh water, we went to a settlement close by here, half a league from where I am anchored. The people belonging to it, as soon as they heard us, all ran way. They left the houses, and hid their clothes and their possessions, for the mountain. I let nothing be taken, [-44-] not even a pin’s worth. Later, some of their men came to us, and one of them came close to us here. I gave him some small bells and glass beads, with which he was very glad and satisfied. In order that our friendship might develop further, and to be obliged to them for something, I asked him to obtain water. After I was back on the ship, they soon came to the beach with full calabashes, and were very pleased to give it to us. I bid them be given another string of glass beads, and they said that in the morning they would see me here. I wanted to replenish all the water-stores here for the ships. Else, should time permit, I shall soon set off to circumnavigate this island until I have exchanged words with this king, and seen whether I can get the gold from him that I hear he has. Afterwards, I will depart for the other, much larger island, which I believe must be Cipango, according to the indications given by these Indians I bring along with me. They call it Colba, in which they say that there are numerous ships and sailors, and which is very large. This other island, that they call Bosio, they also describe as very large. The others that lie in-between I will see, therefore, en route, and assuming failure to collect the gold or spices, I shall determine what I am to do next. Nevertheless, I am resolved to go to the mainland, and to the city of Guisay, to give letters from your Highnesses to the Great Khan, and to request an answer so as to come with it ".
Monday, 22nd of October. - "All of this night, and today, I stood here, waiting to see if the king, or other people, had gold or something else of substance. Many of these people arrived, with a resemblance to those of the other islanders, likewise naked, and painted, some white, some red, some dusky, and in many different ways. They brought javelins and some balls of spun cotton to barter, which they exchanged with sailors for pieces of glass, broken cups, and pieces of clay pottery. Some of them wore items of gold suspended from the nose, which they willingly gave for a bell of the kind put on a sparrow-hawk's foot, and beads of glass. However, it is so little which, although not much, is yet offered for whatever trifle is given them. They also regarded our advent as a great wonder, [-45-] and believed that we had come from the sky. We took on board water for the ships at a pool that is near here, on the Cabo del Isleo, the name I gave it. In the said pool Martín Alonso Pinzón, captain of the Pinta, killed another snake, like the one yesterday measuring seven hand spans, and I asked him to take from here as much aloes wood as could be found. "
Tuesday, 23rd of October. - "Today, I wanted to depart for the island of Cuba, that I believe has to be Cipango, according to the indications that these people give of its magnitude and its riches, and not to stop here further, nor [...delay much more .. ], to go round this island so as to get to the settlement, as I had decided, and exchange words with this king or lord, as this is to detain myself when I see that there is no mine of gold here. To sail round these islands requires the assistance of many different directions of wind, but it does not blow as men would wish. Also, as the aim is to go where there is optimum trade, I declare there is no good reason to stop, except to ply the route, and to traverse many lands, until one hits upon a highly advantageous place, although my understanding is that this one is especially profitable for spices. However, as I do not recognize them, it causes me the greatest anguish in the world, for I see a thousand different types of trees, each one having its distinct manner of fruit and foliage, at present like in Spain, in the months of May and June. Also a thousand varieties of plants, and the same with their flowers, but from everything around I can only identify this aloes wood of which, today, I, again, gave orders to fetch a large amount to the ship so as to bring to your Highnesses. I have not made sail, nor am I about to, for Cuba, because there is no wind, merely a dead calm, and a lot of rain. Yesterday, it rained heavily, but without being cold. Earlier in the day it is hot, but the nights are temperate, like in Spain in May, in Andalusia."
Wednesday 24 of October. - "Tonight, at midnight, I weighed the anchors off the cape of Isleo, on the northern part of the island of Isabela, where I was located, so as to go to the island of Cuba, where I heard from these people that it was enormous, and engaged in a lot of trade [-46-], and, in addition, had gold and spices, along with big ships and merchants. They pointed that W.S.W. was the direction that I should take for it. Thus I hold my bearings, because I believe, since all the Indians of these isles, and those I have brought on board the ships, have said to me, gesturing in signs, as I do not understand their language, that in that direction is the island of Cipango. They relate wonderful things about it, and on the spheres that I consult, and the depictions of the world maps, it is in this area. So, I sailed until daylight heading W.S.W., but at dawn the wind became calm, and it rained, and stayed thus for almost all of the night. It was the same, with little wind, until past midday when it began to stir again very affectionately, filling all my ship's sails: main-mast sail, the two bonnets, the fore-sail, square-sail, mizzen, the sail on the jigger-mast and the boat's sail astern. Thus I progressed along the way until nightfall when, at the Cape Verde of the island of Fernandina, which is on south-west part, I bore N.W., and closed in by seven leagues. However, because it was blowing hard by now, and I did not know how much of the passage lay ahead as far as the island of Cuba, I did not go looking for it in the night. Moreover, the seas off all these islands are very deep, so that the bottom can only be detected at a distance of two cannon shots, and all of it is patchy, with rocky or sandy areas, by reason of which it is not possible to anchor safely except guided by the eye, I, therefore, decided to lower all the sails, except for the fore-sail, and carry on further with it. Shortly, the wind strengthened considerably, and as the extent of the way was doubtful, the sky thickly overcast, and it rained, I commanded the fore-sail to be lessened, and we hardly advanced two leagues this night, etc."
Thursday, 25th of October. - He sailed after sunrise heading W.S.W. until nine o'clock. They covered five leagues. Afterwards, he changed direction to the west. They went at eight miles per hour until 1 p.m., and from then until three o'clock, they perhaps put behind them forty-four miles. Then they sighted land, comprising seven to eight islands, all in a line from north to south, at a distance of five miles from them etc. [-47-]
Friday, 26th of October. - He was on the south side of the stated islands. All of it was shallows for five or six leagues. He anchored there. The Indians whom he had taken said that, from there to Cuba, it was a journey of a day and a half in their almadías, which are little log-boats that do not have a sail. These are their 'canoes'. He departed from there for Cuba, because from the indications given to him by the Indians of its large size, and of its gold and pearls, he thought that it was most likely to be Cipango.
Saturday, 27th of October. - He weighed anchor at sunrise, at those islands, which he called Las islas de Arena, because of the little depth present up to six leagues off their south side. He sailed at eight miles per hour until one o'clock past midday, bearing S.S.W., covered forty miles, and then, until night, voyaged twenty-eight miles along the same route. They spied land before nightfall. They were making repairs all night with the heavy rainfall that they had. On Saturday they sailed S.S.W. until sunset, and advanced seventeen leagues.
Sunday, 28th of October. - From there, he went in pursuit of the island of Cuba, heading S.S.W. for the part of it that was closest, and entered a very lovely river, without much danger of shallows, or other disadvantages. The whole coast that he sailed along towards it was very deep, and quite clear, as far as the shoreline. The mouth of the river comprised twelve fathoms, and was good also for going up-river. He dropped anchor, he says, a cannon shot inside. The Admiral says he has seen nothing so beautiful, full of trees all around the river, lovely, green, and varied in comparison to ours, with flowers and fruit, each one with its own kind. Numerous birds, large and small, sang most sweetly, and there was a great quantity of palm trees, of a kind different to those of Guinea, or of ours, uniformly medium-high, without that tunicate trunk, and with enormous fronds, which they use to cover their houses. The ground is very flat. The Admiral leapt into the boat, and went on shore, where he came upon two dwellings that he thought belonged to fishermen who had fled out of fear. In one of them he found a dog who barked at nothing, and in both houses he found palm ropes, fishing-nets, [-48-] fish-hooks made of horn, bone harpoons, and other fishing equipment. There were a lot of fires inside, which made him suppose that in each one of the dwellings many people lived jointly. He gave orders that nothing at all was to be touched, and so it was done. The herbage was profuse, like that in Andalusia in April and May. He found much purslane and pigweed. He returned to the boat and went up-river for a good short while. He says that it was an immense pleasure to see that verdure and woods, and the birds that he found impossible to leave behind, in order to return. He says that it is the most beautiful island ever set eyes upon, full of very good harbours, and deep rivers, and the sea which, it seemed, had never risen, because the vegetation on the shore reached almost up to the water's edge, which does not usually occur where the sea is rough. Until then he had not experienced a turbulent sea on any of those islands. The island, he says, is full of the most beautiful mountains, which although not very great in width, are so in height, and that all the rest of the land is elevated like Sicily. It contained plenty of water, as could be understood from the Indians he had with him, those whom he had taken from the island of Guanahani. They told him, using signs, that it possesses ten, large rivers, and that on their canoes they could not encircle it in twenty days. When he went to land with the two ships, two almadías, or canoes, emerged, and as they saw the sailors, having entered the boat, row, in order to go and check the depth of the river and find out where they could anchor, the canoes fled. The Indians said that on that island there were mines of gold, and pearls, and the Admiral saw a place suitable for these, with clams, that are signs of them, and the Admiral understood that the ships from the Great Khan, and grandees, came there, and that from there to the mainland involved a journey of ten days. The Admiral called that river, and the port, San Salvador.
Monday 29 of October. - He weighed anchor at that port, and voyaged west, to go, he says, to the city where, it seemed to him, the Indians had told him was that king. From one tip of the island he sailed six leagues heading N.W. towards it; from the other end he sailed east ten leagues. He covered another league, and he saw a river, without such a large embouchure, to which he [-49-] gave the name the Rio de la Luna. He continued travelling until the hour of vespers. He saw another river, much larger than the others, just as the Indians had told him by signs, and thereabouts, he saw a many settlements of houses. He named the river Rio de Mares. He despatched two boats to a village to exchange words, and to one, one of the Indians brought by him, because now they understood them a little, and to show them to be at ease in the company of Christians. All the men, women and beasts ran away from them, abandoning their houses and leaving everything inside. The Admiral ordered that nothing should be touched. The houses, he says, were now finer than those he had seen before, and he thought that the ones on the mainland would be much better assembled. They were built like pavilions, quite grand, and seemed like tents in reality, with a haphazard rather than a regular arrangement of streets. The interiors were well-swept and clean, with very complex furnishings. All are highly attractive, made of branches of palm. They came across many statues in the form of women, and many heads, done like masks, very well-worked. I do not know whether this was for decoration, or that they worshipped in them. There were dogs that never barked. They also had wild bees, tamed for their dwellings. There was wonderful equipment including nets, fish-hooks, and tackle for fishing. They did not touch any of it. He thought that all these coastal inhabitants must be fishermen who take the catch inland, because that island is very large, and so beautiful that one could never have one's fill speaking well of it. He says that he discovered trees and fruits that tasted wonderful, and adds that there must be cows, and other livestock, because he saw skulls that seemed to him to belong to cows. Birds and fledglings, and the song of crickets, went on all night and helped everyone to relax, as did the agreeable and sweet atmosphere throughout the night, neither cold nor hot. When sailing past the other islands on the way, he says, it was very warm there, but not here, only moderate like May. He attributes the heat of the other islands to being extremely flat, and to the warm wind carried there from the east, and consequently hot. The water of those rivers was salty to the mouth, and they did not know where the Indians drank from, although they had fresh water in their houses. On this river the ships could swerve [-50-] to enter and to leave, and it presented very advantageous features or points, seven or eight fathoms deep at the mouth and five further in. He says that, it seems to him, that all of that sea must always be calm, like the river in Seville, and the water appropriate for generating pearls. He found large snails, unlike those in Spain. He marked the disposition of the river and the port that I mentioned above, that he named San Salvador, with its impressive, high mountains, like the 'Peña de los Enamorados'*, and one among them, with another peak at its top, that resembled an elegant mosque. This other river and port, at which he now was, likewise had two rounded mountains on the S.W., and to the W.N.W, an imposing, smooth cape that jutted out.
[Note: Across the River Guadalhorce, north of Málaga, there is a crag of limestone called the Peña de los Enamorados,( "Lovers' Rock"), named after the legend of a Christian youth and his Moorish lover, who threw themselves off the rock while being chased by Moorish soldiers.]
Tuesday, 30th of October. - He left the Rio de Mares, bearing N.W., and seeing a promontory full of palm trees, he located it as the Cabo de Palmas, after having journeyed fifteen leagues. The Indians, who travelled with the caravel Pinta, said that beyond that promontory there was a river, and that it took four days to get to Cuba from the river. The captain of the Pinta said that he understood this Cuba to be a city, and that the country was part of a substantial mainland that stretched a long way further north. Also, that the king of that land was at war with the Great Khan, whom they called Cami, and his territory and city, Fava, and with many other named places. The Admiral decided to reach that river, and send a present to the king of the land, with the letter to him from the rulers. For this purpose, he had on board a sailor, who had personally been to Guinea, and certain Guanahani Indians who wanted to go with him, so long as, afterwards, they returned to their homeland. According to the Admiral, he was forty-two degrees to the north from the equinoctial line, if the text is not corrupt from which I transferred this. He adds that an effort was to be made to get to the Great Khan, who, he believed, was there, or at the city of Cathay, that belongs to the Great Khan, and which is very grand, he says, as he was told before leaving Spain. That entire area, he states, is low-lying, beautiful, and with a deep sea. [-51-]
Wednesday 31 of October. - All of Tuesday night he sailed tacking to the wind, and he saw a river where he was prevented from going inside by the restricted entrance. The Indians supposed that their ships could have entered in the same way as their canoes did. Sailing ahead, he came across a bluff that projected quite far outwards, surrounded by shallow waters, and he saw a concavity, or bay, which could have taken small ships, but he was unable to attain it, because the wind was drawing entirely to the north, and the whole coast ran N.W. and S.E. Another headland that he saw further ahead projected outwards even more. On account of this, and because the sky showed signs of a strengthening wind, he had to return to the Rio de Mares.
Thursday, 1st of November. - With the sun rising, the Admiral sent boats on shore to the houses that were there. They found that all the people had run away. Then, in a good, short, while, a man appeared, but the Admiral ordered him to be left in peace, and they returned back to the boats. After dining, again he sent off one of the Indians on board, who from a distant spot called out saying they should not be afraid because they were good people, who did no harm to anyone, were not representing the Great Khan, and had earlier given their things in many islands to which they had been. The Indian, then, took to swimming, and got to the shore. There, two of those from there, took him by the arms to a house where they learnt what he had to say. When they were certain that he meant them no harm, they were reassured and soon more than sixteen almadías, or canoes, came to the ships with spun cotton, and other little items. The Admiral forbade the acquisition of anything from them, so that they understood that the Admiral was only looking for gold, which they call 'nucay'. Thus, all day, they came and went from on shore to the ships, and the Christians landed with greater ease. The Admiral did not catch sight of any gold on them, but the Admiral says that he saw a piece of wrought silver fastened to the nose of one of them, which he took to be a sign that there was silver present in the land. They said by gestures that in three days, many merchants would arrive from the hinterland to buy some of the things that the Christians bring there, and would give reports of the king of that land, [-52-] who, according to what could be understood by the signs they made, was four days away from there, because they had sent many men all over the land to give them news of the Admiral. "These people," says the Admiral, "have the same qualities and customs as the others encountered so far, without any doctrine that I recognise, since until the present time, I have not seen those with me at prayer of any kind, before they recite the Salve and the Ave Maria, with their hands raised up to the sky as shown them, and make the sign of the cross. The language is the same for all, and they are all friends. I believe that they comprise all of these islands, and that they are at war with the Great Khan, whom they call Cavila, and the province called Bafan. They, too, wander around naked just like the others." The Admiral expresses all this. "The river," he continues, "is very deep, and at its mouth ships can pull right up to the coastal land. Fresh water does not reach the mouth, stopping short by one league, and is very sweet." "What is certain," the Admiral says, "is that this is the mainland, and that I am", he says, "ahead of Zayto and Guinsay*, a hundred leagues, a little more or less, by the distance of one from the other. It is clear that nobody has come as far as here, by sea, from a different background. Yesterday, I went N.W., and found it to be cold."
[Note: *Zayto, or Zaytun(زيتون), and Quinsay(Guinsay is spelt witha 'q' in the latin version of the text) were the names of places known to exist in South China, probably old Quanzhou in the southeastern Fujian province, during the middle ages. Quinsay was also depicted in older maps.]
Friday, 2 of November. - The Admiral decided to despatch two Spaniards, one called Rodrigo de Jerez, who lived in Ayamonte, and the other, Luis de Torres, who had lived with the Chief Justice of Murcia, and who had been Jewish, and spoke Hebrew, and Chaldean, and even a little Arabic. With them he sent two Indians, one from those he brought with him from Guanahani, and the other from the houses lived-in by that river. He gave them stringed beads in order to buy foodstuff if they ran short, and so that, at the end of six days, they returned. He also furnished them with samples of spices to see if any were to be found. He gave them instructions as to how they were to ask for the king of that country, and what they had to tell him on behalf sovereigns of Castile, how they had sent the Admiral to give to him their letters and a gift, to learn about his realm, and to call for his friendship and his favour in whatever was needed by them, etc. [-53-] They were also to enquire about what they knew of certain provinces, ports, and rivers, of which the Admiral had a notion, and how distant they were from there, etc.
Here, in the night, the Admiral took the altitude with a quadrant. He found that it measured 42 degrees from the equinoctial line and he says that, by his calculation, he reckoned himself to have covered, from the island of Hierro, one thousand, one hundred, and forty-two leagues, and he still asserts that that place is the mainland.
Saturday, 3rd of November. - On the next day the Admiral got into the boat, and because the river, at its mouth, broadened into a large lake, creating a most singular port, extremely deep and free of rocks, with a very fine beach to ground ships on, and a lot of firewood, he went in by the river upstream until he reached fresh water, that would be about two leagues. He climbed a hill to survey something of the land, but he saw nothing because of the huge forests. Since they were very fresh and odoriferous, they maintain that, without doubt, there are aromatic plants present. He says that everything that he saw was beautiful, and that he could neither tire from gazing upon such loveliness, nor from the songs of the birds and other winged creatures. Many almadías, or canoes, came to the ships that day to swap items of threaded cotton, and sleeping-nets, that is, hammocks
Sunday, 4th of November. - Early at dawn, the Admiral got into the boat, and landed ashore to hunt the birds that he had seen the day before. After he had returned, Martín Alonso Pinzón came to him with two pieces of cinnamon, and said that a Portuguese man, who was in his ship, had seen an Indian who had two, very large, bundles of it, but that he not dared to exchange it, knowing that the Admiral had expressly forbidden any bartering. He added that the same Indian brought some vermillion items, resembling nuts. The master of the Pinta said that he had discovered cinnamon trees. The Admiral soon got there, but did not find them there. The Admiral showed to some of the local Indians some cinnamon and pepper - it would seem to be that taken from Castile as samples - and recognising it, he says, they told him by gestures that there was a great deal of it, thereabouts, to the S.E. He showed them [-54-] gold and pearls, and certain old men responded that, in a place that called Bohío, there was an endless quantity, and that they wore it on the neck, the ears, the arms, and the legs, as well as pearls. In addition, he understood them to say that there were grand ships and merchandise, all of it to the S.E. Moreover, that there were, far away from there, one-eyed men, and others, with snouts like dogs, who ate men, and who, upon seizing one, cut his throat, drank his blood, and chopped off his private parts. The Admiral decided to return to the ship and await the two men whom he had sent, being determined to set off and seek out those lands, should the others not bring some good tidings of a kind wished for. The Admiral also says, "These people are very tame and fearful, naked, as I have said, and lacking in arms and law. The ground is highly fertile. They obtain from it plenty of 'mames'*, that are like parsnips, with a taste of chestnuts, and they have kidney beans and green beans, very different to ours. There is abundant cotton, which is not planted, and it grows by the mountains as huge trees. I believe that it can be picked at all times, because I saw open receptacles, others that had opened, and flowers, all on one tree. Again, there exist a thousand kinds of fruit that I could not possibly list, all of which ought to be of some benefit." The Admiral speaks thus.
[Note: *mames, commonly written 'ñames' or 'ignames', were identified by Las Casas as 'ajes' (yams, Dioscorea Sativa), and 'batatas'(sweet potatoes)]
Monday, 5th of November. - At dawn, he commanded the ship to be careened, and the other ships, too, but not all at once, so that two always stayed where they were for security, although, he says, that that people were very safe, and it was possible to ground all the ships jointly without apprehension. Placed thus, the master came from the Niña to ask the Admiral for the prize, as he had found mastic, but he did not bring a sample because he had dropped it. The Admiral promised it to him, and sent Rodrigo Sanchez, and master Diego, to the trees. They fetched a little of it, which he kept, along with the branch, to take to the sovereigns. He says he recognised it as mastic, although it had to be collected when in season, and that in the area, there was a yield of a thousand quintals every year. He adds that he found, there, a large amount of [-55-] wood that seemed to him to be aloeswood. He says, in addition, that Mares, the port, is one of the finest in the world, with the best climate, and the people are most gentle. Since its rocky cape is so high, a grand fortress could be built there, so that if it became rich, and significant, the merchants would be safe there from any other nations. He says, "Our Lord, in whose hands are all victories, appoints all that will be of service to him". He relates that an Indian said, by signs, that the mastic was good for those suffering stomach pains.
Tuesday, 6th of November. - Yesterday, in the night, the Admiral says, the two men he had sent to survey the interior came back. They said to him that, having gone ten leagues, they got to a settlement of fifty houses which, he says, had a thousand inhabitants because many dwelt in one house. These houses were like enormous pavilions. They said that they were received with great solemnity, according to custom, and everyone, men and women alike, came to see them, and gave them shelter in the best houses. They touched them, and kissed their hands and feet, marvelling and believing that they came from the heavens, and so they gave them to understand. They offered them the food they had. They said that, upon arrival, the most distinguished of the people took them by the arms to the principal house, and provided them with two chairs on which they sat. They all got seated around them on the ground. The Indian who was accompanying them informed them of the Christian mode of existence, and how they were good people. Later, the men left, and the women entered. They, too, sat down around them, kissing their hands and their feet, looking to see if they were made of flesh and bones like themselves. They pleaded with them to stay there for at least five days. They showed them the cinnamon, pepper, and other spices that the Admiral had given them, and they said using signs that much of it was to be had near there, to the S.E.; but that there, where they were, they did not know if it was to be found. In view of the fact that they had no assurance of any cities, they turned back. If they had given the opportunity to those amongst them who wished to go with them, [-56-] more than five hundred men and women would have come with them, because they thought that they were returning to the sky. With them, however, came the chief of the village, a son of his, and a villager. The Admiral spoke with them, and accorded them great honour. He indicated the presence of many lands and isles in those parts. He thought of taking them to the sovereigns, and he says that he did not know what they craved for but, it seems, that from fear, and the dark night, they wanted to return back to land. The Admiral says he had the ship beached on dry land, but since he did not want to annoy him, he let them go, saying that at sunrise he would return, which he did not. The two Christians encountered numerous people along the way crossing into their villages, men and women, holding smouldering brands, plants for taking in the fumes to which they were accustomed. They did not come across a settlement of more than five houses, and all of them showed the same regard. They saw many varieties of trees, plants, and odoriferous flowers. They saw a number of birds, very different to those of Spain, except for partridges and nightingales that sang, and geese, of which there was an abundance. They did not see any four-footed creatures, except for dogs that do not bark. The soil was very fertile, and highly cultivated with those 'mames', and beans, quite different to ours, as well as millet. They saw a great quantity of cotton, collected, spun, and worked. In a single house they had seen more than five hundred arrobas, with a possible annual yield from there of four thousand quintals. The Admiral says it appeared to him that they did not seed it, and that it produces fruit all the year round. It is very fine, and has a great deal of fibre. Everything that the people possess, he says, they gave at a very low price. A large basket of cotton was given for the point of a needle, or some other item offered. "They are people," the Admiral says, "devoid of wickedness, or war. All are as naked, men and women, as their mothers bore them. The truth is that the women wear a shred of cotton only as large as to cover their natural parts, and no more. They are all nice to look at, and not too dark, less so than Canarians." "I hold, most sublime Princes," says the Admiral, "that given willing, devoted, religious people, knowing the language, soon they might all become Christians. [-57-] I hope, in our Lord, that your Highnesses will be minded to do this with much diligence that such a large multitude of people may be turned to the church, and will convert them in the same way as they have destroyed those who did not wish to acknowledge the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And after your days, since we are all mortal, that you might leave your kingdoms in a state of great peace, free of heresy and evil, and may be well-received before the Eternal Creator, to whom one prays that he grants you a long life, and great increase of the major kingdoms and seigneuries, and the will and disposition, to enlarge the holy Christian faith, even as you have done thus far. Amen. Today I floated the ship off the mound, and I busied myself for departure on Thursday, in the name of God, and to bear S.E., to search for gold and spices, and to discover land."
These are all words expressed by the Admiral, who thought he would depart on Thursday. However, because the winds were averse, he could not set off until the 12th of November.
Monday, 12th of November. – At the crack of dawn, he left the port, and the Rio Mares for an island called Babeque, which the Indians he had brought laid great stress on, and where, according to their signs, the people picked up gold on the beach at night, by candlelight, and afterwards, he says, they made rods out of them with a hammer. To get to it he needed to bear E of S.W. After having gone eight leagues further along the coast, he came across a river, and then another that seemed very capacious, and far larger than any of the others he had discovered. He did not want to stop or enter into any of them for two reasons: one, and the principal reason, was that the weather was right, and the wind favourable, for going in quest of this island of Babeque; the other, that if it had possessed some populated or famous towns, close by the sea, it would have been obvious. Moreover, in order to go up-river, smaller vessels would be required, which they had not brought. Thus, a long time, also, would be lost, and similar rivers were a matter worthy of exploration for their own sake. All that coastal area was mostly inhabited near the river to which he gave the name, the Rio del Sol. He said that on the Sunday before the 11th of November, [-58-] he had considered that it would be well to take some people from amongst those by that river to the sovereigns, so that they might learn our language, to find out what there is in the land, and because, returning, they would speak the language of Christians, and practise our customs and articles of faith. The Admiral says, "From what I saw, and understand, these people do not belong to any sect, and are not idolatrous. They are, rather, very gentle, without knowledge of evil, and neither kill nor capture each other. They lack arms and are so timorous that one of us can put a hundred of theirs to flight, even when making fun of them. They believe and acknowledge the presence of God in heaven, and hold steadfastly that we come from the sky. No sooner do we say aloud some prayer to them, but they repeat it, and make the sign of the cross. Therefore, your Highnesses must be determined to make Christians of them. I believe that once begun, within a short while, a multitude of peoples will have been successfully converted to our holy faith, and the seigneuries, the wealth, and all the people recovered for Spain. There is no doubt that gold is present in these territories in the greatest quantities. These Indians that I bring do not maintain without cause, that there are, in these islands, places where they dig gold, and they wear it on the neck, the ears, the arms, and the legs, as very thick bracelets. In addition, there are precious stones, pearls, and an infinity of spices. This, the Rio de Mares, from where I departed tonight, undoubtedly has the largest quantity of mastic, and more, should more be required, because the same trees, planted, take hold easily, and proliferate. They grow very large, and they have a leaf like the mastic, and fruit, but it is larger, just as the trees and the leaf alike are as Pliny says, and as I saw on the island of Chios, in the Archipelago*. I ordered the bleeding of many of these trees to see if they would produce resin for me to bring. However, as it rained all the while I was by this said river, I was not able to get any, except for a very little which I bring to your Highnesses. It may, also, not be the season for tapping them, because I believe that it is best done at the time that the branches begin to emerge at the end of winter, and are about to flower. Here, though, the fruit is, already, almost ripe now. Also, [-59-] a huge amount of cotton could be had here, and I believe that it could be sold very well here, and instead of Spain, be sent to the big cities of the Great Khan that will doubtless be discovered, and many others belonging to other noblemen, who shall have the good fortune to serve your Highnesses, and where they will be offered other things from Spain, and from the lands of the Orient, these, of course, being to the west of us. There is also an infinity of wood aloes, although it is not a commodity to yield great profit. Mastic, however, is to be considered seriously, since it is not found, except on the said island of Chios. I believe that a good fifty thousand ducats are obtained from it, if I do not miscalculate it. There is, here, also, at the mouth of this river, the best port that I have seen until now, clear, wide and deep. It is a good location, and would serve as a base to build a town and a fortress, to which ships of any kind could sail to dock at the walls. The land is very temperate, elevated, and abounds in fresh water. Then, yesterday, an almadía carrying six youths came alongside the ship, and five came on board. I ordered them to be detained, and I have them on board with me. Later, I sent off to a house that lies on the west side of the river, and they brought seven heads of women, old and young, and three children. I did this so that the men having women from their country in Spain would be better behaved than being without them. Already, on many other occasions, the opportunity has arisen to bring men from Guinea to learn the language in Portugal. After they returned, and it was thought they would offer advantages for them in their country, for the hospitable company that they had received, and the gifts that they had been given, upon arriving on shore, they never reappeared. Others did not behave in this way. Thus, having their women, they will value the gains from negotiating what they are charged to do. Moreover, these women will teach much of their language to us which, being common to all these islands of India, is understood by everyone, and allows of them to get about in their almadías, something they do not have in Guinea, where there are a thousand different languages, and the one is not understood by another. That night, in an almadía, there came on board the husband of one of these women, and father of the three children, one male and two female. He said that I should allow him to come with them, and justified himself much to me, and now they find comfort in each other, as they should, with him being related to all of them. [-60- ] He is already, now, a man forty-five years old." All these words are reliably those of the Admiral. He also says above that it was a little cold and, therefore, it did not seem like a good idea to him to sail north in winter, on an expedition. In the night he voyaged eighteen leagues, until the sun set, heading E.1/4S.E., as far as a headland, to which he gave the name Cabo de Cuba.
[Note: In 'Historia Naturalis', Pliny rated the white mastic of Chios very highly ("mastiche.. laudatissima autem Chia candida", Plin. NH. Liber XII). Genoa had been ruling over Chios, an island in the eastern mediterranean, close to Turkey, for over a hundred years, at the time of this first voyage, and had monopolised the trade in it. These mastic bearing areas, of very ancient origin, are predominant in the southern part of the island.]
Tuesday, 13th of November. - Tonight it was all on a bowline, as the sailors say, which is to heave to windward, and not make any progress, and in order to spot a pass, or an opening in mountains, as in-between peak and peak. It began to show at sunset, when two immense mountains appeared into view, and it seemed that a gap separated Cuba from Bohio. This was said as much, in signs, by the Indians who were with them on board. In the clear light of day, he made sail for the land. He passed a point which, seen by him at night, seemed to be a journey of two leagues. He entered a great channel, five leagues to the S.S.W., and another five were needed to reach the cape where, amid two large mountains, there was a fjord, but it was not possible to establish whether it formed an inlet of the sea. Since he wished to go to the island they called Babeque where, according to reports he had heard, there was a lot of gold, which led him east of the island, and noting the absence of any large settlement to shelter at in the high wind, which had strengthened more than ever before, he decided to put out to sea, and sail east, with the wind northerly. He sailed at eight miles an hour, and from ten o'clock in the morning, when he set off in that direction, until sunset, he covered fifty-six miles, or fourteen leagues east of the Cabo de Cuba. From the other land of the Bohio that lay leeward of the start of the cape of the above-mentioned gulf, he found, in his view, eighty miles, that is twenty leagues, and the whole of that coast ran E.S.E. to W.N.W.
Wednesday, 14th of November. - Throughout the previous night, he saw to repairs and was tacking to windward (because, he says, it was not reasonable to sail among those islands [-61-] at night, before they had been charted), as the Indians they brought had said on the previous day, Tuesday, that it would take three days from Rio de Mares to the island of Babeque. This is to be understood as days using their canoes, which can cover seven leagues. Also, the wind was wanting, and needing to steer east, he could only manage the S.E. quarter and, along with other hindrances that he refers to there, he was held up until the morning. At sunrise, he resolved to go and look for shelter, because from a northerly, the wind had altered to northeast, and if he did not find a port, it would be necessary to turn back to the ports that he had left behind in Cuba. He reached land having sailed that night for twenty-four miles bearing E.1/4 S.E., and then, due S. [... ] 5 miles until land. There, he saw numerous inlets, and islets and harbours, but because the wind was strong, and the sea very disturbed, he did not dare attempt an entry. Earlier, he had sailed along the coast N.W.1/4 W., looking out for a port, and had detected the presence of many, but none very clear. After having continued, thus, for sixty-four miles, he came across a very deep inlet, a quarter of mile wide, with a good port and river. He went in and placed the prow S.S.W., and then due S., until he swung S.E., all of which had good anchorage, and was very deep. He saw so many islands, there, that he could not count them, all of a good size, and with very high land, full of trees of a thousand different kinds, and an infinite number of palm trees. He was greatly astonished to see so many islands, and of such high altitude, and he assures the Sovereigns that of the mountains he had seen earlier on these coasts, and those of these islands, it seems to him that the world possesses none as high, or as beautiful, and clear of either cloud or snow, and with the most profound depths at their feet. He adds that, in his view, these islands are, in fact, those innumerable ones that are placed in the world map at the end of the Orient. He says that he believes there to be vast riches, precious stones, and spices, and that they carry on a great deal further to the South, broadening out in all directions. He named the sea, Nuestra Senora, and the port that is near the mouth of the entrance of the [-62-] said islands, the Puerto del Principe. He did not enter it, but viewed them from the outside until another time, which was on the Saturday of the following week, as will appear there. He mentions so much, including such things as the fecundity, beauty and elevation of the islands he found at this harbour, that he asks the sovereigns not be surprised at their being valued so highly since, he assures them, he believes he expresses not even a hundredth of it. Some of them appear to reach heaven, and are shaped like points of diamonds. Others, at their great heights, have a summit like a table. At their bases, they have immense depth, which the largest carracks would be able to attain, and all are full of woods, and without rocks.
Thursday, 15th of November. - He decided to go to these islands on the boats belonging to the ships. He describes their marvels, and that he found mastic, and endless wood aloes. Some of them had been planted with the roots from which the Indians make their bread. He had discovered burnt-out fires in other areas. He did not see any fresh water, and the few people there ran away. Wherever he went, he found a depth of fifteen to sixteen fathoms, and all low, which implies that the surface down below is sandy and not rocky, much to the satisfaction of sailors, because rocks cut cables of ships' anchors.
Friday, 16th of November. - Since everywhere in these parts, islands and mainland which he entered, he always left in place a cross, he got into the boat and went to the mouth of those shelters where, at one spot on the land, he came across two very great logs, one much longer than the other, and the one placed upon the other made a cross. He says that a carpenter could not have designed them in better proportion. Having worshipped the cross, he ordered a very grand and tall cross to be made out of the same logs. He found canes by that beach that he could find no obvious source for, but thought that some river might have brought them, and cast them on the beach. He clung on to this as the reason. He went into a cove inside the entrance, on the south-east side of the harbour (a cove is a narrow strait that lets in the sea-water on to land). There, it met a high scarp of [-63-] stone and rock, like a headland, and at its foot it was so deep, that the largest carrack in the world could dock alongside of land. It had a place, or nook, where six ships could fetch up at without anchors, as in a room. It seemed to him that a fortress could be established here at little cost if, at some time, in that sea of islands, a trade of great repute developed. Returning to the ship, he found that the Indians he had brought along had caught some rather large cockles present in those seas. He made the men dive in to see if there were nacres, which are oysters where pearls grow. They found many, but without pearls. He attributed this to it being the wrong season, as he believed it should be May and June. The sailors came across an animal that resembled a badger. They also fished using nets, and found a peculiar porcus, unlike a tunny, which, he says, was all very hard shell, lacking soft parts, except for the tail and the eyes. It had a hole underneath to discharge its waste matter. He ordered them to salt it, so that it could be taken back and seen by the Sovereigns.
Saturday, 17th of November. - He got into the boat in the morning, and went to see the islands he had not explored, in a band to the south-west. He saw many more, highly fertile and pleasing, and in-between them, lay great depths. Some of them were divided by fresh water streams. He thought that the water, and the streams, came from springs that flowed in the heights of the mountain peaks on the islands. Going further on from here, he came upon a bank besides the most refreshing and gentle water, and which he left greatly cooled, from having wiped himself with it. There was a very pretty meadow, and numerous palms, taller than he had seen previously. He found large nuts, like those from India, I believe, he says, and big rats*, like those of India, also, and the most enormous crabs. He observed many birds, and a powerful scent of musk, so that he thought it must be around. On this day, out of the six youths he took at the Rio de Mares, who had been ordered to be on the caravel, Niña, the two oldest of them escaped. [-64-]
[Note: *large rats, or the agouti.]
Sunday, 18th of November. - He departed, once again, in the boats, together with many men from the ships, and went to place the grand cross he had asked to be made out of the two wooden logs at the entrance to the said Puerto del Principe, at an eye-catching location, removed of trees; it was very high and with a very fine view. He says that the ebb and flow of the sea, there, is much greater than in any other harbour that he has seen in those lands, and that it is no wonder for there are many islands, and that the tide is the reverse of ours, as there, with the moon to the S.W.1/4 S., it is low tide in the harbour. Since it was Sunday, he did not leave.
Monday, 19th of November. - He set off before the sun rose, and in calm conditions. Then, at noon, with a little east wind, he sailed N.N.E. At sunset, he had the Puerto Del Principe to the S.S.W., and would have been seven leagues from it. He saw the island of Babeque exactly to the east, sixty miles away. All that night he voyaged short of N.E., and covered sixty miles, and with another twelve, until ten o'clock on Tuesday, the whole came to eighteen leagues, heading N.E.1/4 N.
Tuesday, 20th of November. - They had Babeque, or the islands of Babeque, to the E.S.E., but the wind direction was contrary for him. Seeing that it did not alter, and that the sea was troubled, he decided to return to Puerto del Principe, from where he had departed, a distance of twenty-five leagues. He did not want to go to the small island of Isabella, that was twelve leagues away, even though he could have come to anchor there that day, for two reasons: one, because he caught sight of two islands to the South, and wanted to examine them; the other, because the Indians he brought, taken from Guanahani, that he called San Salvador, was eight leagues from Isabella, might get away, who, he says, he needs, and in order to take them to Castile, etc. They had an understanding, he says, that upon finding gold, the Admiral was to let them return to their land. He arrived in the area of the Puerto del Principe, but he could not make it, because it was night and because the currents carried him due N.W. [-65-] He swung to face it, and placed the prow to the N.E. with a strong headwind. The wind slackened and changed in the third quarter of the night. He set the prow facing E.1/4N.E. The wind blew S.S.E. but changed at dawn, to blow all south, and touched S.E. At sunrise, he marked Puerto del Principe, which lay S.W. of him, and almost 1/4 W., by a distance of forty eight miles, or twelve leagues from it.
Wednesday, 21st of November. - With the sun risen, he sailed east in a southerly wind. He went a little in an opposing sea, and until vespers, he had covered twenty-four miles. Later, the wind veered east. He headed S.1/4S.E. and, by sunset, he had done twelve miles. Here, the Admiral found himself in the forty-second degree north of the equinoctial line, as at the harbour of Mares. However, he says, here, that he holds the quadrant pending until he reaches land, so as to adjust it. It seemed to him that the discrepancy should not be so much, and he was right, because it was impossible for these islands not to be [...] degrees north. In order to check that the quadrant was working well, he moved it to observe, he says, that the north star was as high as in Castile, and if this is true very closely and in height it agreed with Florida, but where, then, are they, these islands that were before him? It assisted him in this, he says, that the heat was great; but it is clear that if it were the coast of Florida it would not be warm, but even cold. It is also manifest that, at forty-two degrees, it is hot in no part of the world unless it was for some accidental reason that, until now, I do not believe is known to be the case. On account of the heat that the Admiral says he suffered there, he argues that they are the Indias, and that the place, there, to which he was going was bound to have a lot of gold. On this day, Martín and Alonso Pinzón departed with the caravel, Pinta, in disobedience, and unintended for by the Admiral, out of cupidity, he says, believing that an Indian, who the Admiral had put on that caravel, had offered the prospect of a lot of gold, and thus he went without [...] [-66-] hope, not because of bad weather, but because he wanted to. The Admiral says here, "He has done and said to me much else besides".
Thursday, 22nd of November. - On Wednesday night, he navigated S.1/4 S.E., with the wind easterly, and a sea almost tranquil. At the third quarter, it blew N.N.E.; nevertheless, he proceeded southwards to see that land which remained there. When the sun was up, he found himself as far away as the previous day, because of adverse currents, still forty miles from land. The same night, Martin Alonso followed the route east to get to the island of Babeque, where the Indians say there is a lot of gold. He sailed in sight of the Admiral, keeping as far ahead as sixteen miles. The Admiral faced the land throughout the night, shortening some sails, and holding a lantern-light, because it seemed to him he was coming towards him, and the night very clear, and the wind favourable in order to reach him.
Friday, 23rd of November. - All day, the Admiral sailed towards the land, always due south with a little wind, but the current never allowed him to reach it, and by sunset he remained as far from it as he had been in the morning. The wind was E.N.E., and reasonable for heading south, but there was little of it. Beyond this headland, there was another land or cape, also running east, that the Indians on board called Bohio which, they said, was very large, and had people with one eye in their forehead, and others, who they called cannibals, and of whom they were visibly afraid. When they saw that he took that direction, he says they would not be able to talk, because they ate them, and they were a people very well-armed. The Admiral says that he thinks there might well be something in this, but that, because they were armed, they should be people endowed with reason, and he thought that a few having been captured and not returned subsequently, led them to say that they had eaten them. They believed the same about the Christians and the Admiral, when some of them first saw them.
Saturday, 24th of November. – He voyaged all that night, and on the third hour of the day he came to the flat island [-67-], at the same spot where he had arrived in the preceding week, on the way to the island of Babeque, but did not risk entry at first, as it seemed to him that, at that breach of the mountains, the sea was very choppy inside. Finally, he arrived at the sea of Nuestra Señora, where there were many islands. He sailed into a haven that was adjacent to the mouth of the entrance of the islands. He says that had he known beforehand of this anchorage, and not been occupied by visiting the islands contained in the sea of Nuestra Senora, it would not have been necessary to turn back, although, he says, it was time employed well, since he had now surveyed the said islands. Thus, upon reaching land he despatched the boat, and tried the harbour. It presented a very good bar at six fathoms, and up to twenty fathoms deep, and clear at the bottom everywhere. He went in, steering S.W. and, later, turned W, with the level island towards the north. It made, along with its neighbouring island, a lagoon of water, in which the entire Spanish fleet could be contained, and would remain sheltered, without moorings, from all winds. This mouth in the S.W., that is entered into by placing the prow S.S.W., has a very deep, wide exit to the west. Thus, it was possible to pass through between these said islands, and with that knowledge, someone coming by sea from the North could obtain passage along this coast. The islands mentioned lie at the foot of a large mountain range, which runs lengthwise from east to west, and which is extremely long, longer and higher than any others on this coast, of which there are countless. Beyond its edge, there is a reef alongside the said mountain, like a bench, that reaches all the way to the entrance. The whole section of this S.E. part, along with another reef that forms part of the level island, although this is small, have between the two of them a spacious width, and an immense depth, as has been said. Just past the entrance to the part on the S.E., inside this same haven, they saw a huge river. It was very lovely, and contained more water than they had seen until then, with the fresh water reaching out to the sea. At its mouth there was a bank, but further inside, it is eight or nine fathoms deep. It was full of palm trees, and densely wooded, like the others. [-68-]
Sunday, 25th of November. - Before sunrise, he got into the boat, and went to examine a promontory, or point of land, to the S.E. of the level island, a distance of one and a half leagues, as it appeared to him that there had to be a fine river there. Shortly afterwards, by the cape entrance on the south east, two shots of a crossbow further on, he saw a great river of very bright water approaching, that streamed down from a mountain with a loud noise. He went to the river, and saw in it some stones shining with some gold-coloured flecks in them. He remembered that in the river Tagus, at the bottom of its union with the sea, there was gold. It seemed to him, therefore, certain that it ought to contain gold, and he ordered the collection of a few examples of those stones to take to the Sovereigns. While thus occupied, the young cabin boys called out, saying that they had seen pine forests. He looked up towards the mountains, and he saw them as so immense and wonderful that he could not exaggerate their height or straightness, like stout, but delicate, spindle trees. He immediately recognised that ships could have an infinite amount of timber and poles for use in the largest vessels of Spain. He saw oaks and arbutus, and a good river, suitably disposed to make water-driven sawmills. The soil and the air were much more temperate than before, because of the altitude and the impenetrable mountains. By the beach he observed many other stones with the colour of iron, and others, which some said originated from lodes of silver, all brought down by the river. There, he collected an antenna, and a mast for the mizzen of the caravel, Niña. He got to the mouth of the river and entered a very deep and extensive cove, at the bottom of headland on the part S.E., which could have accommodated a hundred unmoored, and anchorless, ships; nothing like the harbour had ever been seen. There were the very high mountains, from which the many attractive streams descended, and all the mountain ranges full of pines, and the most varied and beautiful forest trees. Another two or three rivers he left there behind. He praises all this in a big way to the Sovereigns, and indicates having obtained inestimable joy and gladness from gazing upon them, especially the pines, because they made it possible to build as many ships as might be desired, bringing out the equipment, but not the wood and the fish, as there would be more than enough there. He declares that he does not note a hundredth part of what there is, and that it pleased our Lord always to show him something better, one after the other, another, [-69-] and that what he had discovered until then went always from good to better. Thus, the lands, the woods the plants, the fruits, and the flowers, like the people, varied constantly in kind, and in one place to the next. Likewise, amongst the havens and the waters. Finally, he says, that when a person who sees it derives so much amazement from it, how much more moved would a person be, hearing of it, and that nobody would believe it unless they saw it for themselves.
Monday, 26th of November. - He weighed the anchors at sunrise at the Puerto de Santa Catalina, where he was located inside the level island, and sailed the length of the coast in little time due S.W., towards the route for the Cabo del Pico, that was to the S.E. He arrived late at the cape, because the wind had dropped. Upon arrival, he saw, due S.E.1/4E., another cape, that appeared to him to be sixty miles away. From there, he saw another headland that was facing the ships to the S.E.1/4 S., which seemed to be twenty miles distant, and to which he gave the name Cabo de Campana. He could not make it there on the day, as there was no wind blowing at all. He put behind him that day thirty-two miles, or eight leagues. During this, he observed and marked out nine, most noteworthy ports, which all the sailors agreed were wonderful, and five, large rivers, since they journeyed always close to the shore in order to obtain a good view of everything. The whole of this terrain consists of very high and extremely beautiful mountains, without any dry or rocky areas, all traversable, and with very lovely valleys. The valleys, as full of tall, tender trees as the mountains, were glorious to behold. There appeared to be a lot of pine-trees. Also, beyond the said Cabo del Pico, towards the S.E., there are two little islands, each one about two leagues round, which shared between them three, fine harbours, and two, big rivers. On this entire coast, he did not see any settlements from the sea. There could have been some, and there were traces for, when they went to land, they found signs of the presence of people, and many burnt-out fires. He reckoned that the land he saw that day to the S.E. of the Cabo de Campana was the island which the Indians called Bohio. It appeared thus because the said cape was set apart from that land. He says all the people encountered until that day, [-70-] go in great fear of the Caniba or Canima, and they say that they live in this island of Bohio, which must be very large, according to their opinion. He believes that they come to capture them in their lands and houses, because they are cowardly, and have no knowledge of weapons. It appeared to him to be the reason why those Indians he brought did not usually inhabit the sea-coast, being close to this land. They, who, he says, after they saw him turn towards that land, had been struck dumb, fearing they would be eaten by them, and by a terror that would not leave them, and who said that they had but one eye, and the face of a dog. The Admiral believed that they lied, and the Admiral felt that those who took them captive, must come from the seigneuries of the Great Khan.
Tuesday, 27th of November. - Yesterday, by sunset, he came close to a headland, that he called Campana. As the sky was clear, and with not much wind, he did not want to anchor near the shore, even though he had five or six marvellous harbours on his leeward side, as it would entail more delay than was desirable, in pursuit of appetite and the delectation that he obtained, from seeing and gazing upon the beauty and freshness of those lands which he wanted to visit, and so as not to tarry in following his objectives. For these reasons, he tided over that night on a bowline, and bided time until daylight. However, he had been thrown off course by more than five or leagues to the S.E. due to the waves and currents that night from where he had been when night fell, and when the land of Campana had come into view. Sailing to that cape, there appeared a large entrance which indicated a division of one land from another. In the middle, it had a mass like an island. He thought it fit to turn back, with the wind blowing S.W., and came to where the opening had become visible, but found, instead, that it was a huge bay, and that at its headland, due S.E., there was a bluff, with a high, square-shaped mountain on it which looked like an island. The wind swung to the north, and he turned to face S.E., to tour the coast and to survey everything that was in evidence there. Soon, he saw, at the bottom of the Cabo de Campana, a wonderful haven, and a great river, and a quarter of a league from there, another river, followed by another river half a league away, and after another, another river, and after the fourth half a league, another river, with another big river one league further on, [-71-] from which it was twenty miles to the Cabo de Campana, and they lay to the S.E. Most of these rivers had large, wide, and clear entrances, and wonderful harbours for the largest of ships, devoid of sand banks and of sunken reefs. Thus coasting along to the S.E. of the said, last, river, he came across a great settlement, the largest he had encountered hitherto. He saw countless people come to the sea-shore, calling out in loud voices, all naked, carrying spears. He wanted to speak to them, so he lowered the sails, dropped anchor, and sent the boats from the ship and the caravel in an orderly manner so as not to cause any injury to the Indians or to receive any, and instructing them to give some little items in exchange for theirs. The Indians made movements suggesting they would not let them land, and would resist them. However, seeing the boats continued to approach land, and that they were unafraid, they withdrew from the sea. Meanwhile, believing that two or three men leaving the boats would not cause alarm, two Christians went on shore, declaring that they had nothing to fear in their language, for they had learnt a little of it from conversation with those they carried on board. In the end, they all ran away, so that neither adult nor child remained. The three Christians went to the dwellings, which were of straw, and shaped like others that they had seen. They found nothing and nobody in any of them. They returned to the ships and, at noon, hoisted sail in order to get to a handsome cape on the east that would be eight leagues away. Having traversed half a league in the same bay, the Admiral saw a unique haven. On the S.E, there was some beautiful and marvellous terrain, like fertile, hilly lowland contained within the mountains. In it, there seemed to be a lot of smoke, and a large number of people. The land was highly cultivated. So they decided to station themselves at this harbour, and try to have words or dealings with them. It was of a kind that, if the other harbours had been praised, this one, he says, he praised more for its land, its temperateness, its locality, and its people. He comments on the wonders of the beauty of the countryside, and the trees, including pines and palms, and an immense, fertile valley [-72-] which, although not as flat as the southeast, is, nevertheless, level, but with smooth, low hills, and is the most beautiful sight in the world. In addition, many rivers emerge from it, with water which falls down from the mountains. After dropping anchor, the Admiral left in the boat to take soundings in the harbour, which was in the form of a small hammer. When he was at the south margin of the mouth, he found the entrance of a river that was wide enough to permit a galley to go upriver, but disposed in a manner invisible until one was upon it. Entering it by the length of the boat it was five to eight fathoms deep. Going towards it, it was an astonishing experience to see the woods, the greenery, the clearest of water, the birds, and the sweetness. He says it seemed to him that one could not want to depart from there. He went on to say to the men whom he had taken as companions, that in order to relate it to the Sovereigns, neither a thousand languages would suffice to reflect what they saw, nor his hand to describe it, for it appeared to him as though enchanted. He wished many other people, intelligent and credible, had set eyes upon it who, he says, one can be sure would not enlarge upon these things any less than he did. In addition, the Admiral expresses himself in these words:
"The amount of benefit that can be acquired from here, I do not put down in writing. It is certain, Princely Lords, that where there are such lands, they must possess an infinity of profitable things. However, I do not stop for long at any port, since I would like to see the greatest number of lands I possibly can, in order to present a report of them to your sovereigns. Also, I do not know the language, and the people of these lands neither understand me, nor anyone else from amongst those I have. These Indians I bring frequently understand one thing to be the opposite, and I do not place much trust in them because they have often tried to escape. Now, however, God willing, I will see as much as I can, and advancing step by step I shall understand, know, and teach this language to someone of my house, because I see that, thus far, it is all one language here. Afterwards, he will learn the benefits, and he will exert himself to make all these people Christian, for they will do so easily, as they neither belong to any religion, nor are they idolatrous, and your Highnesses will decree the establishment in these parts [-73-] of cities and fortresses, and these lands will be converted. I vouch to your Highnesses that, to me, it appears that they cannot be bettered underneath the sun in fertility, in the moderation of cold and warmth, or in abundance of good and salubrious waters, which are not at all like the rivers of Guinea, that are all pestilential, for I praise the Lord that, until the present time, from amongst all my men there has been nobody who has had a headache, or been in bed from illness, except for an old man with pain from a calculus, with which he has been afflicted all his life; and he soon recovered after a period of two days. What I have just stated applies to all three ships. Therefore, may it please God that your Highnesses might send envoys here, or direct learned men, and they will then see the truth of everything. Since, earlier, I already spoke of the Rio de Mares as a fine haven for the site of a town and fort, and as a province, and whilst everything I have said is certainly true, it bears no comparison with this here, or with the sea of Nuestra Señora. For here, down below, on land, there must be enormous settlements, innumerable people, and things of great benefit, and for here, including the other discovery, and all that I hope to discover before I sail to Castile, I say that Christianity having dealings with them, how much more could Spain, to which all must be subject. I say to your Highnesses that they should not consent that any stranger traffic, or set foot here, except catholic Christians, for this was the beginning and the end of the deliberation, that it should be for the increase and glory of the Christian religion, and that no one who is not a good Christian should come to these parts." These are all his words. He went up-river there, and came across some branches of the river, and encircling the harbour, he found at the mouth of the river there were some very pleasant woods, like a delightful garden. There, he also found a very beautiful almadía, or canoe, made from a tree-trunk, as large as a galiot* of twelve benches, beached underneath an 'atarazana'**, or a store of rowing gear, made of wood, and covered by huge palm leaves in such a way that neither the sun nor the water could damage it. He declares that it was a fitting place to establish a town or city, and a fort, because of the good port, the good water and land, good borders, and plentiful fuel. [-74-]
[Note: *The word used in the text is 'fusta', which in English was 'fuste', a small boat used in the Middle Ages, propelled by a sail or oars.
**Ataraçana, or the mediaeval arsenal, is derived from the Arabic, dār as-sināa -
Wednesday, 28th of November. - He stayed in the harbour that day, because it rained and the sky was greatly overcast, although he might have gone round the coast, with the wind S.W; he was on the stern, but since he could not see the land well, and could not assess the danger to the ships, he did not depart. Men from the ships went on shore, and some of them explored the land for a short time, while washing clothes. They discovered large settlements, but with empty houses, as everyone had run away. They returned by means of another river further down, larger than the one that was in the haven where they had berthed.
Thursday, 29th of November. - They did not leave because it rained, and the sky was somewhat gloomy. Some of the Christians came across another settlement near the part N.W., but did not find a soul, or anything, inside the houses. Along the way they ran into an old man who was unable to flee from them. They got hold of him, and said that they did not want to hurt him. They gave him small items of barter and let him be. The Admiral had wished to see him, in order to clothe him, and to exchange words with him, because the felicitousness of the country made him very content, as did the disposition which favoured settlement there, and he surmised that it must support large numbers of people. In one house, they found a loaf of wax that he took for the Sovereigns, and he says that where there is wax, there must also be a thousand other good things. The sailors also found the head of a man in a house, inside a small basket, covered by another basket, and hung from a pole of the house. They found another one, similarly situated, in another settlement. The Admiral believed that they had to belong to some ancestral chiefs of a lineage, because those houses were of a kind where many people were sheltered simultaneously within a single domicile, and they must be close relatives, descended from one person.
Friday, 30th of November. - He could not set off, because the wind blew easterly, and was very contrary in its direction. He sent eight, well-armed men, along with two Indians from among those he brought, so that they could view those settlements further inland, and to have words. They came by many houses but none had man or thing inside them, as everyone had fled. They saw four youths who were digging their plots of land. [-75-] As soon as they saw the Christians they ran away; they were not able to catch up with them. They walked, he says, quite a long way and they saw many villages, highly fertile land, all tilled, and great banks of water. Near one, they saw an almadía, or canoe, ninety-five hand spans long, and made from a single log. It was very beautiful, and in which a hundred and fifty people would have fitted and voyaged.
Saturday, 1st of December. - Departure was impossible, for the same reasons, the contrary wind, and the excessive rain. He planted a huge cross at the entrance of that harbour that I believe he called Puerto Santo, on some rocks with life on them. The point is that of the part S.W., at the entrance of the harbour, but someone wishing to enter this haven should reach more over to the N.W. part than the point over the S.E., because at the bottom of both, joined to the rock, it is twelve fathoms deep, and very clear. Furthermore, at the entrance of the harbour, above the S.E. point, there is a reef that rises above water, which is far enough apart from the point as would permit passage in the middle, if necessary, because at the foot of the reef, and the whole cape, the depth is twelve to fifteen fathoms, and at the entrance, the prow is to be placed to the S.W.
Sunday, 2nd of December. - The wind still ran contrary, and he could not set off. He says that in all of those nights, there was a land wind, but that all the ships that might be there need have no fear at all from the world’s tempests, as they could not penetrate inside because of a reef that exists at the commencement of the harbour, etc. At the mouth of that river, he says, a cabin boy found certain rocks that seemed to contain gold. He took them to show to the Sovereigns. He says that, about a shot of a cannon ball away, there are large rivers.
Monday, 3rd of December. – Due to constantly opposing winds, he did not leave the harbour, but decided to go and examine a very lovely extremity a quarter of a league to the S.E. of the haven. He went with boats and some armed men. At the foot of the headland, there was the mouth of a fine river. Placing the prow [-76-] S.E. in order to enter, he measured one hundred paces in width, and one fathom of depth at the entrance, or in the mouth, but twelve, five, four, or two fathoms further in, and as many ships as there are in Spain would be accommodated in there. Leaving a branch of that river, he proceeded S.E. and found a small creek in which he saw five, sizeable almadías, which the Indians call canoes, resembling a galiot, highly elaborate and very beautiful that, he says, were a pleasure to look at, and at the foot of the mound, it was all cultivated. They were under very dense trees, and taking a path that led them out, they hit upon a very well-constructed store, and covered so that neither sun nor water could cause any damage. Inside it, there was another canoe made from a single trunk, like the others, similar to a galiot of seventeen benches. It was delightful to see the beautiful workmanship that had gone into it. He ascended a mountain, and afterwards found it all level, and planted with many organic things, including calabashes, that it was a glory to behold. In its midst, there was a large settlement. He came suddenly upon the village folk and, as they caught sight of them, men and women, they made to get away. The Indian whom he had taken with him from on board reassured them saying that they had nothing to fear and that they were good people. The Admiral made him present bells, brass rings, and green and yellow glass beads, with which they were very content. He decided to return, having seen that they did not have gold or any other precious thing, and that it was sufficient to leave them reassured, for although the entire province was well-populated, they had fled from an excess of fear (here the Admiral assures the Sovereigns that ten men put ten thousand to flight, so cowardly and fearful are they, and that they do not bear arms, except for sticks, at the tip of which is a sharp, fire-tempered, twig). He says that he took all the sticks off them with great tact, offering exchanges so that they surrendered them all. Once returned to where they had left the boats, he sent some Christians to the place which they had climbed, because it seemed to him that he had seen a large bee-hive. Before those he sent had returned, many Indians joined up, and came to the boats where the Admiral had assembled with all his men. One of them went on ahead in the river, next to the stern of the boat, and made a long speech which the Admiral did not understand, but [-77-] the other Indians raised hands up to the sky, now and again, with a resounding chorus. The Admiral thought that they felt safe with him, and that he pleased them with his arrival. However, he saw the Indian who was journeying with him change his complexion, and turn as yellow as wax. He trembled a lot, indicating by signs that the Admiral should get out of the river as they wished to kill them. The Admiral went up to a Christian who had an armed crossbow, and displayed it to the Indians, for he intended to say to them that it would kill them all, because the crossbow had a long range and was deadly. At the same time, he took hold of a sword and drawing it from its sheath, he demonstrated it, and said the same thing. When they heard this, they all took to flight, leaving behind the said Indian still shaking out of cowardice, and a faint heart, despite being a man of decent stature and strength. The Admiral did not want to leave the river. Instead, he rowed to the shore towards where they were present in large number, all dyed red, and as naked as when given birth to by their mothers. Some had crested plumes on their heads, and others with different feathers, all holding bundles of javelins.
"I went up to them, gave them some morsels of bread, and demanded the javelins from them, in exchange for which, I gave to some a little bell, to some others a small brass ring, and to others some glass beads; in this way they all calmed down and came to the boats, giving what they had for whatever it was that they gave them. The sailors had killed a turtle, and the shell was in the boat in pieces. The cabin boys offered them bits from it, such as the claw, and the Indians gave them bundles of javelins in exchange. They are people like the others that I have encountered," the Admiral says, "holding the same beliefs, and believing that we came from the sky. They soon give away what they possess for any thing that they are given, without saying that it is too little, and I believe they would do the same with spices, or gold, if they had any. I saw a lovely house, not too large, and with two doors, as they all have. I entered it, and I saw astonishing work, like chambers done in a certain manner that one cannot describe in words. Suspended from the sky were shells, and other objects. I thought that it was a temple. I called them, and asked, using signs, if they prayed there. They said, no, and one of them [-78-] climbed up and offered everything that was there to me, from which I took a portion".
Tuesday, 4th of December. - Gave sail to the wind, and left that port which he named Puerto Santo. Two leagues further on, he saw a river, finer than the one he described yesterday. He went along the length of the coast and skirted the whole shore, to pass by the said extremity, from S.E to W.N.W., as far as the Cabo Lindo, that to the Cabo del Monte, to the E.1/4 S.E. is five leagues, one from the other. A league and a half from the Cabo del Monte, there is a large, somewhat restricted, river. It appeared to have a good entrance, and was very deep. From there, after three-quarters of a league, he saw another immense river that must have come a very long way. At the mouth, it measured a good hundred paces, and lacked a bank, and was eight fathoms deep at the mouth, which made for a good entrance. Therefore, he sent out the boat, to take a look, and to sound it. He found fresh water going right down to the sea, and given the plentiful supply that he had discovered, it ought to support numerous people. Past the Cabo Lindo there is a great bay that would provide good passage for heading E.N.E and S.E and S.S.E.
Wednesday, 5th of December. - All night he tacked to windward beyond the Cabo Lindo, where he spent the night, in order to view the land that went east. At sunrise, he saw another promontory, two and a half leagues eastwards. Having passed it, he saw the coast veered S, and kept to the S.W. Shortly after, he saw a very beautiful, high cape in the said direction, but another seven leagues away. He wanted to go there, but because of the desire that he had to get to the island of Babeque that, according to the Indians on board, was due N.E., he desisted. Still less could he proceed to Babeque, since the prevailing wind was a north-easterly. Sailing thus, he looked out S.E., and saw land. It was a huge island which, from information given by the Indians, who called the island Bohio, he says he held to be inhabited by people. He says that the people of Cuba, or Juana, and all these other islands are greatly afraid of these people because, he says, they ate human beings. The Indians told him other extraordinary things, by signs, but the Admiral says he did not believe them, except that those of the island of Bohio must be more astute and [-79-] cleverer than they were to capture them, because they were very faint-hearted. Thus, since the wind was N.E, and then took to the N., he determined to leave Cuba, or Juana, which, until then, he had considered as mainland, because of its large size, as he had traversed along one coastline well nigh a hundred and twenty leagues. He departed heading S.E.1/4E., although the land that he had spied was to the S.E. He took this precautionary measure because the wind always swung round from N. to N.E., and then to the E. and S.E. The wind blew stronger and he unfurled all the sails. The smooth sea, and the current which assisted it, were of a kind that, from the morning until one in the afternoon, progress along the route was at eight miles per hour, which was still short of six hours, they say, for the nights there were about fifteen hours long. Later, they sped at ten miles per hour, and he sailed eighty-eight miles thus, until sunset, or twenty-two leagues, all directed S.E. When night began to fall, he ordered the caravel, Niña, to race on ahead, as it was faster, to find a haven at daylight and, arriving at the mouth of a harbour that was like the bay of Cadiz while it was still night-time, he sent a boat to sound the harbour, which showed a lantern light. Before the Admiral got to where the caravel was, tacking to windward, and hoping that the boat would signal for him to enter the harbour, the light on the boat was switched off. The caravel, seeing the light out, ran the distance, and showed a light to the Admiral, and having reached him, they recounted what had happened. In this situation, those in the boat lit another light; the caravel went to it, but the Admiral could not, and spent all that night tiding over.
Thursday, 6th of December. - When day broke, he was four leagues from the haven, which he named Puerto María. He saw a handsome promontory to the S.1/4S.W., to which he gave the name of Cabo de la Estrella. It seemed to him to be the utmost part of that island, towards the south, twenty-eight miles away from the Admiral. Another, not very large, island-like piece of land lay to the east, and would have been forty miles from him. There was [-80-] another fine, well-formed cape to the E.1/4S.W., which he named Cabo del Elefante, at a distance now of fifty-four miles. There was another extremity to the E.S.E, which he named the Cabo de Cinquin; it would have been twenty-eight miles away from him. There was a great scissure, or opening, or a cleft of the sea that seemed to him to be a river to the S.E., which kept to the E., that was, perhaps, twenty miles from him. It seemed that between the Cabo del Elefante and the Cabo de Cinquin there was a huge entrance. Some of the sailors said that they were parts of an island; to it they gave the name of the Isla de la Tortuga. That large island appeared to be uplifted highland, not enclosed by mountains, but rather smooth, like beautiful fields, and all, or a large part of it, appeared to be cultivated, and looked as though it had been sown like the fields of Cordova are in the month of May with wheat. They observed many fires that night, and in the day a lot of smoke, like that of watch-towers, which seemed to be a warning sign of some people with whom war was being waged. All of that coastal land extends eastwards. At the time for evensong, he entered the said harbour and named it Puerto de San Nicolao, in his honour because it was the day of St. Nicholas and, at its entrance, he was seized with wonder by its beauty and fairness. Although he has a great deal of praise for the ports of Cuba, nevertheless, he says, without a doubt, this one is no less, and surpasses those before, and that none other matched it. At the mouth, or entrance, it was a league and a half wide, and the prow was set facing S.S.E. but, due to its great width, the prow could be positioned in any direction desired. It proceeds in this manner, heading S.S.E., for two leagues. The southern part of the entrance had the form of a headland, and from there it continues evenly, thus, up to the cape, where there is a very beautiful beach, and a plain full of trees of a thousand different kinds, all laden with fruit. These, the Admiral thought were spices and nutmeg, but they were unripe, and he did not know them. There was a river in the middle of the beach. The depth of this harbour is astonishing, for until it reaches land up to a distance of [...], he did not reach the bottom, or plumb the depth, in applying forty fathoms. [-81-], whereas up to this stretch there is a depth of fifteen fathoms, and it is very clear; the same holds for the whole of this harbour, from each cape, inside of a traverse of land, there is a depth of fifteen fathoms, which is clear. In the same manner, the entire coast has deep anchorage and is clear, so that not a single shoal is apparent. At its foot, inside the length of a boat's oar from land, it is five fathoms deep, and beyond the length of this harbour, bearing S.S.E, along the length of which a thousand carracks could beat, an arm of the harbour drops N.E. towards land in the space of a large half-league, always maintaining the same width, as though it had been formed with a tape-measure. It is such that, being located in that branch, which has a width of twenty-five paces, the mouth of the large entrance is invisible, and is thus like being in an enclosed harbour. The depth of this arm is maintained from the beginning to the end, at eleven fathoms, and it is all clean sand; and until as far as gangplanks can be placed on the grass on land, it is eight fathoms deep. The whole of this port is very airy and pure, with close-cropped trees. All of this island seemed to him to be rockier than any other he had encountered, with the trees smaller, and many of these have a Spanish character, such as holm oak, arbutus and others, and the same with the plants. It is very elevated land, and all open fields or low shrub, with a very fine atmosphere; he had not come across a climate as cool as it was there, although it was not to be counted as cool, having said it merely in respect of the other places. In front of that harbour there was a lovely fertile valley, amid which ran the aforesaid river. A large number of people must exist in that region (he says), judging by the almadías they saw, in which they voyage, which were so many, and as large as a galiot of fifteen benches. All the Indians tended to flee when they saw the ships. Those on board with him yearned so much to return to their land that he thought (says the Admiral) that, after they departed from there, he had to take them back to their homes; already they were suspicious of him as he did not take the route that would take them home. As a result of this, he says, he did not believe in what they said to him, and neither he understood them well, nor they him. He says that they have the greatest fear in the world of the people of that island. Also that, in order to converse [-82-] with the people of that island, it would be necessary for him to halt for a few days in that harbour, but, he would not, in order to see much of the land, and the misgiving that time might run out for him. He trusted in our Lord that the Indians he bore with him would know their language, and he, theirs, and afterwards, he would return to speak with those people, and that it might please His Majesty (he says) that he should find some worthwhile transaction of gold before he returned.
Friday, 7th of December. - At first light, he hoisted sail and set off from the Puerto de San Nicolás. He sailed, with S.W. wind to the N.E., two leagues, as far as a cape which forms the Carenero where, to the S.E., there was a promontory, and to the S.W, the Cabo de la Estrella, a distance of twenty-four miles from the Admiral. From there, he voyaged east along the coast until cape Cinquin, which would be forty-eight miles, but really twenty of them were E.1/4N.E. All of that coast has land which is very high, and it has great depth, twenty to thirty fathoms before reaching the land; further out, as far as a shot from a canon, no bottom was to be found. The Admiral tested all of this for the coast on that day, much to his pleasure, with the wind S.W. The headland which he mentioned above goes, he says, to the Puerto de San Nicolás the distance of a shot from a lombard, that if that space were reduced and cut to be made an island, the rest would surround in the ring three or four miles. All of that land was very elevated, with no large trees, only the likes of holm-oak and arbutus, he says, proper to the land of Castile. Two leagues before he got to the said Cabo de Cinquin, he came across a roughness, like a mountain pass, through which he discovered an immense valley. He saw that it was all planted, as though with barley, and he felt that the valley must support a large number of inhabitants. Beyond it, there were huge and lofty mountains. When he arrived at the Cabo de Cinquin, the Cabo de la Tortuga bore to the N.E., about thirty-two miles, and a lombard shot away from this Cabo Cinquin, there is a rock that juts out from the sea such that it can be seen easily. The Admiral, once on this said cape, had the Cabo del Elefante to the E.1/4 S.E. [-83-] by a stretch of seventy miles, all across very high ground. At the end of six leagues, he came across a large promontory, and he saw, on the land within, very large valleys and open countryside, along with the highest of mountains, all of a likeness to Castile. Eight miles further on, he found a very deep river which was narrow, although a carrack could have easily entered inside, and its mouth, moreover, had no bank or reefs. Sixteen miles from there, he came across an anchorage that was very deep and wide. He could neither reach the bottom at the entrance, nor up to three paces from the margins, less than fifteen fathoms, and it continued for a quarter of a league inside. Then, although it was still very early, about an hour after noon, and the wind was strong and astern, since the sky threatened a lot of rain, and was thickly overcast, which is perilous when the terrain is known, but even more so in that which is unknown, he decided to enter into the haven, which he called Puerto de la Concepción. He landed by a river, not too large, at the end of the harbour, which came down across some valleys and open fields the loveliness of which was a marvel to behold. He carried nets for fishing, and before he got to land, he landed a striped mullet, like those peculiar to Spain. Until then, he had not seen fish that appeared similar to those of Castile. The sailors fished, and killed others, soles, and other fish like those of Castile. He walked about a little on that land that was all cultivated, and heard the nightingale sing, and other birds, like those of Castile. They saw five men, but rather than wait for them, they ran off. He found myrtle, and other trees and plants, like those of Castile, as is, also, the land and the mountains.
Saturday, 8th of December. - In that haven it poured down with rain, with a very strong northerly wind. The anchorage is secured from all winds except from the north, although it can cause no damage, because the undertow is immense, and yields no room by which either a ship is troubled on its moorings, or the water of the river. After midnight, the wind changed into a N.E., and then an easterly, from which winds that harbour is well protected by the isle of Tortuga that forms a limit at thirty-six miles. [-84-]
Sunday, 9th of December. – On this day it rained, and the weather was wintry, like October in Castile. He had not caught sight of any settlements apart from a most beautiful house in the Puerto de San Nicolás, better constructed than in the other parts he had visited. The island is very large and, says the Admiral, it would not be much that it has two hundred leagues in circumference. He saw that it was well tilled, and thought that the settlements were a distance away from the sea, where they went when they saw him arrive, and fleeing, thus, took everything that they possessed with them, and made smoke signals, like men at war. This harbour measures a thousand paces at the entrance, which is a quarter of a league. It has neither banks nor shallows, and hardly and bottom fathomable until almost up to land by the sea. Facing inwards, it stretches lengthwise, all clear and level, for three thousand paces, so that any ship could anchor there without fear, and enter in regardless. Its extremity contains two debouchements of rivers which contain little water. Beyond it, there is some lowland, the loveliest in the world, almost resembling the lands of Castile; these first ones have the advantage. For this reason, he named the island, the Isla Española.
Monday, 10th of December. - A strong northeasterly blew, and made them drag the anchors half a cable length. It drew surprise from the Admiral, who had considered the anchors well-grounded, and that the wind would pass over them. When he saw that it blew against his intended course, he despatched six men on shore, well-equipped with arms, to march two or three leagues inland and see if they could initiate a dialogue. They went and returned, having found neither people, nor houses. They did find, however, some cabins, very wide roads, and places where they had lit many fires. They beheld the best lands in the world and found many mastic trees, some of which they took. They said there was a lot, but now was not the time for gathering it, as it does not set.
Tuesday, 11th of December. - He did not depart because the wind was still E.and N.E. Bordering that harbour, as was mentioned, is the Isle of Tortuga. It appears as a large island, and its coastline runs almost like [-85-] the Española, and at most, perhaps, ten leagues separate the one from the other; one should be aware, from the Cabo de Cinquin at the top of the Tortuga; afterwards, its coastline bears due S.
He declares that he wanted to see the area in-between those two islands for a view of Española island, as it is the most beautiful thing in the world, and because, according to the Indians he brought with him, that was the way to go to the isle of Babeque. They said to him that it was as a very big island, with great mountains, rivers and valleys, and that the island of Bohío was larger than Juana, that they call Cuba. Moreover, that it was not surrounded by water and the implication seems to be that of mainland that lies behind this Española, which they call Caritaba, and that it is something boundless. They are almost right that those lands are cultivated by cunning people, as all these islands live in great fear of those from Caniba. Thus he reiterates, as I said at other times, that Caniba is nothing other than the people of the Great Khan, that it must be very close by, and that it had ships that came to capture them, and that as they do not return subsequently, they believe that they were eaten by them. Each day we understand these Indians better, and they us, although often they have understood one thing for another (the Admiral says). He sent men on shore, where they found a lot of mastic, without having set. He says that water was needed for it, and that in Chios, they gather it in March, but that in these areas, being so temperate, they could collect it in January. They caught many fish like those of Castile; mullet, salmon, hake, dory, perch, dace, sea trout, and shrimps, and they saw sardines. They found much wood-aloes.
Wednesday, 12th of December. - He did not leave that day, for the same reason, the said headwind. He placed a large cross at the entrance of the harbour to the west, at a very visible height, "as a token (he says) that your Highnesses hold the land as theirs, but principally as a sign of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and in honour of Christianity". Having placed it, three sailors made for the mountain to take a look at the trees and plants, where they heard a large crowd of people, who were all naked, as those before. They called out to them, and were behind them, but the Indians took to flight. [-86-] Finally, they got hold of a woman, who could not manage any more, because, I (he says) had ordered them to get hold of some so as to treat them with respect, and make them lose their fear, and to see whether they had something of benefit as, going by the beauty of the land, it appears it cannot be otherwise. Thus they took the very young and beautiful woman to the ship who talked with those Indians on board, because they shared the same language. The Admiral got her dressed, and presented her with glass beads, small bells, and brass rings. He then returned her back to shore with great honour, as was usual for him. He sent some people from the ship with her, along with three of the Indians who were with him, so that they might converse with the people. The sailors who went in the boat said to the Admiral that, when they reached shore, she no longer wanted to leave the ship, but rather to remain with the other Indian women he had taken in the Puerto de Mares, in the island of Juana, or Cuba. When the Indians went with that female Indian, he says, some came out in a canoe, which is a caravel in which they make their journey to some place, but when they appeared at the entrance of the harbour and saw the ships, they turned round, abandoned the canoe somewhere thereabouts, and made their way to the village. The woman showed the location of the settlement. She wore a small gold piece in the nose that was an indication of the presence of gold on that island.
Thursday, 13th of December. - The three men who had been sent by the Admiral with the woman returned at three o'clock in the night. They had not gone with her as far as the village, either because it appeared a long way off to them, or because they were afraid. They said that, on the following day, many people would come to the ships, as they would now be reassured by the information the woman would give. The Admiral, wishing to apprise himself of whether there was some thing profitable in that place, and in order to converse with those people, the land being so beautiful and fertile, and affected by the desire to serve the Sovereigns, determined to send to the village again, relying on the Indian woman to have reported the Christians as good people. For this purpose, he chose nine men bearing arms, and capable of such negotiation, accompanied by an Indian from the [-87-] the ones on board. They went to the village that was four and a half leagues to the southeast, which stood in a huge valley which was empty because everyone had fled into the interior when they heard the Christians coming, leaving whatever they had behind. The settlement contained a thousand houses, and more than a thousand men. The Indian, who had accompanied the Christians, ran after them, calling out and saying that they had nothing to fear, that the Christians were not from Cariba, but were from heaven, and that they gave many nice things to all those they encountered. So much did he impress them with what he said that they felt safer, and more than two thousand of them approached jointly. They came up to the Christians, and put their hands to their heads, as a sign of great reverence and amity, but they were all trembling until they had been much reassured by them. The Christians said that, after they had stopped feeling afraid, they all went to their houses. Each one brought for them whatever he had to eat, namely, bread made from yams, which are roots like large radishes that they sow and grow, and they plant it in all their lands. It is their means of subsistence. They make bread from it, but also cook and roast it, and it tastes like our chestnuts. No-one who eats them would imagine them to be anything other than chestnuts. They gave them bread, fish, and what else they had. As the Indians who were on the ship had understood that the Admiral wished to have some parrots, it seems that the Indian who accompanied the Christians must have told them something of this, for so they brought out parrots for them, and gave them as many as they asked for without wanting anything in return. They pleaded with them 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 assembled with the Christians, they saw arrive a great battalion, or a multitude, of people, along with the husband of the woman had been honoured and sent back by the Admiral. They carried the lady on their shoulders, and came to thank the Christians for the honour and the gifts that the Admiral had given him. The Christians declared to the Admiral that they were the most beautiful people, and in better condition than any other they had come across so far, but the Admiral says that he does not know how they can be in a better condition than the others, implying [-88-] that all those they had met with on the other islands were in a very fine condition. As for beauty, the Christians said there was nothing comparable, to the men just as to the women, and that they are fairer than the others. Among the fairer ones, they saw two young women as white as might be met with in Spain. They also spoke of the beauty of the lands and saw no comparison possible with the best of Castile, in loveliness or in bounty. The Admiral shared their view of what he had seen and what he saw now, and they told him that those lands he had seen before could not be compared in any way to those in that valley, and that the fields around Cordova did not come close to them, with the difference being as night is to day. They said that all those lands were tilled, and that amid that valley there flowed an extremely large, wide river that could water the whole land. All the trees were green, and laden with fruit, and the plants were all in full blossom, and very tall. The roads were very wide and good, the air was like April in Castile, and the nightingale sang, along with other birds, like they do in the same month in Spain, and they say that it was the gentlest place in the world. At nights, some birds sang melodiously, and the crickets and frogs were heard a lot. The fish was like in Spain, and they saw much mastic, wood-aloes, and cotton-fields, but they did not find gold which, for so short a period of time, came as no surprise. Here, the Admiral took measurements of the hours constituting the day and the night, from sunrise to sunset. He found that they exceeded twenty hour-glasses, the half-hourly ones, although he says that there might be a fault, either because they do not invert them quickly, or some delay in passing through. He also states that he found using the quadrant, that he was thirty-four degrees away from the equinoctial line.
Friday, 14th of December. - He left the Puerto de la Concepción with the wind blowing from land, but soon afterwards, it calmed a little, and this had been his experience every day that he had spent there. Later, the wind blew from the east, and he sailed with it due N.N.E., to reach the island of Tortuga, where he saw a point that he called the Punta Pierna. It was to the E.N.E. from the cape of the island, [-89-] about twelve miles away, and from there he sighted another point, that he named the Punta Lanzada, in the same N.E bearing, sixteen miles off. Similarly, from the cape of the Tortuga to the Punta Aguda was a distance of forty-four miles, that are eleven leagues due E.N.E. Along the route, there were some stretches of large beaches. This island of the Tortuga is quite high, but not mountainous, is extremely beautiful, and highly populated, with the people like those of the island of Española. The land is all equally well-cultivated, so that it looked like the countryside around Cordova. Seeing that the wind was against him, and that he could not head for Baneque (Babeque) island, he decided to return to the Puerto de la Concepción, from where he had departed, but could not get to a river that is two leagues east from the aforesaid.
Saturday, 15th of December. - He left the Puerto de la Concepción, once again keeping to the path, but, on leaving the harbour, a strong easterly wind was against him. He held the direction for Tortuga until he got there, and from there he made his way to examine the river that he had wanted to see the day before, but was unable to do so. This time, he accomplished it almost as little, although he found good and clear anchorage by a shore half a league leeward of it. He moored the ships, and went by boat to look at the river. He entered by means of an arm of the sea that is half a league further, but it was not the mouth. He turned back, and found the mouth although it was not even a fathom, but with a strong current. He went in through the mouth with the boats so as to get to the settlements that the men he had sent previously had visited. He ordered the tow-rope to be cast ashore and with the sailors pulling, the boats ascended a distance of two shots of a lombard up-river, but the strength of the current in the river prevented them from going any further. He saw some houses, and the great valley where the settlements were, and he said he had not seen anything more beautiful and, in the middle of the valley, there flowed the river. He also saw some people by the entrance of the river, but they all ran away. These people, he says, must be hunted a lot, as they live in such fear, since shortly after their arrival at some place, they send out smoke columns from high positions all over the land, and more so in this island, Española, and in Tortuga, which is also as large an island, than in the others [-90-] left behind. He named the valley, Valle del Paraíso, and the river, Guadalquivir, because, he says, in its passage it is as stately as is the Guadalquivir, by Cordova, and for its banks, or shores, made up of beaches of beautiful pebbles, all of it suitable for perambulation.
Sunday, 16th of December. - At midnight, with the land breeze, he filled the sails to emerge from that gulf. Arriving at the border of the island of Española on a bow-line, since the wind soon veered east, he encountered a canoe in the middle of the gulf, with a single Indian in it. The Admiral was struck with wonder as to how, in such a strong wind, he could stay afloat on the water. He had him, and his canoe, brought on board the ship, flattered him, and then gave him glass beads, bells, and brass rings, and conveyed him on the ship to land at the site of a settlement sixteen miles away from there, next to the sea. There, the Admiral dropped anchor, and found good anchorage by the beach adjoining the settlement. It appeared to have been recently built, as all the houses were new. The Indian soon went off with his canoe to the shore. He bore news of the Admiral, and of the Christians, as being good people, although it was by then quite old news, as they had already heard about them from the others who had been visited by the six Christians. Presently, more than five hundred men arrived, and after a short while, their king came, all in the beach next to the ships, as they were anchored very close to the shore. Soon, one by one, and then many at a time, came to the ship, without bringing anything of substance with them, although some of them wore some very fine grains of gold in the ears and the nose, which they voluntarily offered to them. The Admiral issued orders for everyone to be treated with honour, and says, "This, because they are the best people in the world, and the most peaceable, and above all, I have great hope in our Lord that your Highnesses will turn them all into Christians, and that they will all be yours, for I hold them on your behalf." He also observed that when the king was on the beach, everyone paid homage to him. The Admiral sent a gift to him that, he says, was received with much ceremony, and that he was young, perhaps as much as twenty-one years old. He had an elderly guardian, and other counsellors, who advised him, and responded to him, whereas he uttered only a few words. One [-91-] of the Indians the Admiral had brought along spoke to him, and said how the Christians had come from heaven, and that they went in search of gold, and wanted to go get to the island of Baneque. He replied that this was sound, and that there was much gold on the said island. He indicated to the Admiral's alguacil*, who had conveyed the present to him, the route that was to be taken, and that within two days it would take him there from where they were. Finally, if anything was needed from their country, it would be given most willingly. This king, and everyone else, walks about as naked as when their mothers gave birth to them. The women do likewise, without any shame, and are the most lovely men and women they had come across so far; very fair, so much so that if they went about clothed, and protected from the sun and the air, they would be almost as pale as Spaniards, because this land is very cool, and the best that can be expressed in speech. It is very high, but the greatest mountains are amenable to plowing by oxen, and all of it made into fields and valleys. In all Castile there is no soil that can be compared with it in goodness and beauty. The whole of this island, like that of Tortuga, is all cultivated, like the countryside around Cordova. They have them planted out with yams, which are grown from some small branches, and at their bottom sprout roots, like carrots. They use them as bread, for they grate, knead and make bread out of them, but afterwards they plant the same branch again in another part which, in turn, produces four or five of these roots, that are rich in flavour, and taste exactly like chestnuts. Here, they are bulkier and better than those seen anywhere else because, he says, they also have them in Guinea. At that place, they were the size of a leg. About the people, he says that they were all well-built and strong, and not at all feeble, like the others he had encountered before. Their conversation was very mild and non-sectarian. The trees, he says, were so lush, there, that the leaves, instead of being green, had the darkness of verdure. It was a marvellous thing to gaze at those valleys and the rivers full of water, and upon the land for bread, livestock of all sorts, of which they had none, orchards, and for all of the worldly things that human beings require. Later, in the afternoon, the king came to the ship. The Admiral accorded him the honour due, and had him informed that it belonged to the Sovereigns of Castile, [-92-] who were the greatest princes in the world. However, neither the Indians the Admiral had brought, who were the interpreters, nor the king any the less, believed anything other than that they had come from the sky, and that the kingdoms of the monarchs of Castile were celestial, and not in this world. They set down dishes from Castile for the king to eat. He ate a mouthful, but then gave it all to his councillors, the guardian and the others in his company. "Their Highnesses may well believe, that these lands are, in measure, so good and productive and, in particular, this island of Española, that nobody can find words for it, and no one who would believe it, had they not seen it. They may well believe that this island, and all the others, are indeed theirs, as much as Castile is, and that there is nothing wanting here, except for a base, and to command them to do what they desire, because I, with these men I bring along, who are not many, might run around these islands without affront, since I have already seen merely three sailors go on land, where there is a multitude of these Indians, and without intending to cause them harm, for all to take to flight. They are unarmed, all naked, have no skill in arms, and are very cowardly, so that thousands would not contemplate three. Thus, they are fit to give orders to, and to occupy in labour, to till and do all the other things that may be required, and to build towns, and to be taught to walk about clothed and to observe our customs."
[Note: *alguacil, said to be derived from Hispano-Arabic, 'al wazīr', was an inferior official of justice who executed the orders of the tribunal under which he served, often translated as 'constable']
Monday, 17th of December. - A fierce wind blew that night, an E.N.E wind, but the sea was not troubled much, because Tortuga island got in the way and shielded him, as it fronts it, and gives it shelter. Thus, he spent the day, there. He sent sailors out to fish with nets. The Indians passed a lot of time with the Christians, and they brought them certain arrows belonging to the Caniba, or Cannibals, that were made from spikes of cane, and they asked them for some poles, fired and sharpened, which are very long. They showed them two men, who had some pieces of flesh missing on their bodies, and gave them to understand that the cannibals had eaten them in mouthfuls, but the Admiral did not believe it. He sent some Christians again to the settlement, and in exchange for glass beads they obtained some pieces of gold worked into a delicate leaf. They saw on an individual, [-93-] whom the Admiral took to be governor of that province, called Cacique, a piece as large as a hand of that gold leaf, and he seemed to want to exchange it; he went to his house, while the others remained in the open space. He had gone to make fragments of that piece and, bringing one piece of it out at a time, he exchanged it. After he had no more, he said, in signs, that he had sent off for more, and that they would bring it on another day. All these things, and their manner, as also their customs, and mildness and counsel, indicate people more alert and astute than the others encountered so far, says the Admiral. In the afternoon, a canoe arrived from the island of Tortuga with nigh on forty men, and, upon reaching the shore, all the townsfolk, who were together, all sat down as a sign of peace, as some men from the canoe, and almost everybody, got down on to the ground. The Cacique, who stood up alone, and with words that seemed menacing, forced them to return to the canoe, and threw water at them, and took stones from the beach and flung them in the water, Afterwards, when with much compliance they got into, and set off in the canoe, he took a stone and put it in the hand of my alguacil, for him to throw at them. I had sent him on shore with the notary, and others, to see if something profitable could be obtained. The alguacil did not wish to do so. At that point, he hinted a great deal, the Cacique, that the Admiral had found favour with him. The canoe soon took off, and after it had gone they said to the Admiral that there was more gold in Tortuga than in the isle of Española, because it is nearer to Baneque. The Admiral said he thought that no gold mines existed, either on that island of Española, or in Tortuga, but that it was conveyed from Baneque, and they brought little because they do have nothing to offer in return. Moreover, the land is so productive that there is no necessity to do a lot of work, either to sustain oneself, or to be clothed, as they wander about naked. The Admiral believed he was very close to the source, and that our Lord would lead him to where the gold is produced. He had information that it was four days to Baneque from there, some thirty or forty leagues, and which, in good weather, could be traversed in a single day. [-94-]
Tuesday, 18th of December. - On this day, he remained anchored at that beach, because there was no wind, but also because the cacique had said he was going to bring gold. Not that he thought he had that much gold for the Admiral, he says, since there were no mines there, but, rather, to get a better idea of where they brought it from. Early, at dawn, he commanded the ship and the caravel to be decorated with arms and banners for the Feast of Santa Maria de la O, or the commemoration of the Annunciation, which fell on this day. They fired many rounds of the lombards, and the king of the island of Española, (the Admiral says) had risen early from his house, as he had to cover five leagues from there, as far as he could judge. He arrived at that village at three where the Admiral had already, previously, sent on some men from the ship to see if gold turned up. They reported that more than two hundred men came with the king, who was brought in a litter, carried by four men, and that he was young, as he said above. Today, while the Admiral was dining below the poop, he arrived at the ship with all his people. The Admiral declares to the Sovereigns: "Without doubt his estate, and the reverence that all show to him, would appear good to your Highnesses, though they all walk about naked. Thus he, upon coming on board the ship, discovered me dining at the table below the poop and, at a good pace, he came to sit beside me, without wishing to give me an opportunity to go up to him, or even that I should rise from the table but, rather, that I went on eating. I thought that he might well take to eat some of our meats, and I soon gave orders for them to be served, that he might eat. When he entered down into the poop, he gestured with his hand for all of his people to stay outside, and so they did, with the greatest haste and reverence in the world. They all sat in the cubicle, except for two men, mature in age, whom I considered to be his counsellors, and guardian, who came and sat down at his feet. Of the dishes that I placed in front of him, he took merely enough from each one to obtain a taste, and soon after, he sent over the rest to his companions, who all partook of them. In the same way, the drink had hardly touched his mouth when he passed it on to the others, and all with a wonderful bearing and very few words, and those that he uttered, from what I [-95-] could understand, were very firm and thoughtful, while those two watched his mouth, and spoke for him, and to him, with great respect. After dinner, a squire brought a belt, just like those of Castile in its form, except that it is of a different manufacture. He took it, and presented it to me, along with two pieces of wrought gold, rather fine, of which, I believe, little reaches him, although I hold that they are very near to its source, where it is present in large amounts. I saw that a spread I had on my bed pleased him. I gave it to him, together with some very good amber beads that I wore round the neck, a pair of red shoes, and a phial of orange blossom water, with which he was so content that it was marvellous; he, and his guardian and counsellors, felt very sad because they did not understand me, nor I them. Yet, I understood him to have said to me that if I wished for something here, the entire island was at my disposal. I sent for some beads of mine, as a token, since with them I have an 'excelente' of gold, in which your Highnesses are engraved. I showed it to him and said to him, again, as yesterday, that your Highnesses ruled, and controlled, the best part of the world, and that there were no princes so grand. I displayed for him the royal flags, and the others bearing the cross, which he regarded highly. He declared what great seigneurs your Highnesses must be, against his counsellors, because they had sent me so far, and from the sky, without fear. Much else went on, besides, that I did not understand, except that I noted well how he held everything in great wonder". After it had got late, and he wanted to leave, the Admiral sent him back in the boat in a very honourable manner, and fired several rounds of cannon. Upon landing, he was hoisted on a litter and he continued on his way with more than two hundred of his men. They raised his son on to the back of an Indian, a very distinguished man, who carried him on his shoulders. All sailors and men from the ships, he had ordered, wherever found, should be given food, and be accorded much honour. One sailor said that he had encountered them on the way, and seen all the items that the Admiral had given him, each one being carried ahead of the king by a man, one, who seemed to be the most worthy. The king's son followed a short space behind, with as big a retinue as his, [-96-] and again, similarly, a brother of the same king, except that the brother marched on foot, supported by the arms of two high-ranking men. This man came to the ship after the king, and the Admiral gave to him a few of the said exchangeable items and, there, the Admiral learnt that the king was called cacique in their language. On this day, he says, he exchanged only a little gold, but the Admiral came to know, from an old man, that there were many neighboring islands a hundred leagues or more away, as far as he could understand, in which a lot of gold originated, and in others, to the extent that he told him there was an island that was all gold. In the others, it existed in such quantities that it was collected and isolated, as with sieves, then smelted. They made bars out of it, and a thousand artefacts; they indicated the forms by signs. This old man signalled the direction, and the region in which it was located, to the Admiral; the Admiral was determined to go there, he said, and that if the said man was not such an important person for that king, he would have detained him and taken him along or, had he known the language, he would have requested it. He believed, since he was on good terms with him, and the Christians, that he would willingly have gone with him. However, because he now held those people for the Sovereigns of Castile, and it did not make sense to create problems, he decided to leave him. He planted a very heavy cross amid the open space of the settlement, in which the Indians assisted a lot, and, he says, they worshipped and adored it, and, from their outward appearance they give the Admiral the hope, in our Lord, that all those islands have to become Christian.
Wednesday, 19th of December. - In the night, he hoisted sails in order to leave the gulf, there, which is formed by the island of Tortuga, with the Española. By day, however, the wind came from the east, and throughout that day he was not able emerge from between those two islands. At night, he could not make it to a haven that had appeared thereabouts. He saw four promontories of land from there, a large bay, and a river, as, also, a very large inlet, which contained a settlement. Beyond it, there was a valley between the many high mountains, covered in trees that he considered to be pines. Over the two twin peaks there was a very high and sturdy mountain range running N. to S.W., and from the end of Torres to the E.S.E. lies a [-97-] small island, to which he gave the name of Santo Tomás, because his watch fell on the following day. The entire area around that island had wonderful capes and havens, as he assessed it from out at sea. Before the island, on the western side, there is a headland that enters from a great height to very low, far into the sea; hence, he named it Cabo Alto y Bajo. Sixty miles along the Torres path, due E.1/4S.E., there is a mountain, higher than the others, that enters the sea, and seems from afar like an island, as it is cut off from the land. He named it Mount Caribata, because that province was called Caribata. It is very beautiful, and full of bright, green trees, and without mist or snow. With regard to the air and temperature, it had been, there, at that time, like March in Castile, and as far as the trees and plants were concerned, like May. The nights, he says, were fourteen hours long.
Thursday, 20th of December. - Today, at sunset, he entered a haven that was between the island of Santo Tomás and the Cabo de Caribata, and anchored. This harbour is very beautiful, and would accommodate as many ships as there are in Christendom. An entry into it seems impossible from the sea to those who have not entered by it, because of rocky reefs which run from the mountain almost to the island, and which are not orderly, but lie here and there, some seawards, others landward. It requires one, therefore, to be alert, and to enter by means of some openings that are wide enough, and suitable for entering without fear. The depth everywhere is seven fathoms, but past the reefs, it is twelve fathoms inside. A ship can be secured anywhere with a rope, against whatever winds that might prevail. At the entrance of this harbour, he says, there was a channel, that lies west of an islet of sand containing many trees, and up to its foot it is seven fathoms deep. However, there are a number of shallows in that area, and it is right to be on the look-out until having reached harbour. Afterwards, there is nothing to fear from all the storms in the world. From this harbour, there comes into view an enormous, tilled, valley that descends into it from the S.E., and it is encircled all around by mountains so high that they seem to reach the sky. They are most beautiful, [-98-] and abound in green trees, and without doubt, are higher there than the island of Tenerife, in the Canaries, which is considered to be among the highest that can be found. From this side of the island of Santo Tomás, is this other islet one league away, and behind it, another, and in all of them are marvellous havens, although rocks must be foreseen. He also caught sight of villages, and columns of smoke that they made.
Friday, 21st of December. - Today, he went with boats from the ship to inspect that harbour, which he found to be such that he declared that none equalled it from however many he had ever seen, and he apologised, saying that he had praised those from before so much that he did not know how to appreciate it, and that he fears lest he be taken for one who exaggerates beyond the truth far in excess. He is satisfied in saying that the old sailors with him on board the ship say, and will say, the same, and everyone else who sails the seas. It should be recognised that all the words of praise that he uttered in respect of harbours visited before is the truth, but this one, being much better than all the others is, likewise, the truth. He says more, continuing in this manner: "I have sailed the seas for twenty-three years, without being absent from it for any significant length of time, and I have seen the whole of the East, and the West. I have made my way along the North passage, that is England, and I have been to Guinea. However, in all these regions, the perfection of the ports will not be encountered [...] always judged it [...] better than another, that I have been quite discreet in my writing, and I come back to say that I confirm that I wrote accurately, and that this, now, is the best haven of all, and one that would contain all the world's ships in it, and sheltered so that with one of the most weathered cables of a ship, it would be held securely moored". It is about five leagues from the entrance to the bottom. He saw some highly cultivated areas, although all are so, and ordered two men to disembark from the boats, and proceed on to a height so as to detect the presence of a town, because none had been seen from the sea. Still, at approximately ten o'clock that night, certain Indians came to the ship in a canoe to see the Admiral, and the Christians, in astonishment. He gave them some items, with [-99-] which they were delighted. The two Christians returned, and reported where they had seen a large settlement a short distance from the sea. The Admiral bid them row towards the part where the settlement was, until land was reached, when he saw some Indians who came to the edge of the sea, and it seemed that they came in fear. Consequently, he ordered the boats to stop, so that the Indians he had brought on the ship with him might tell them that they would not harm them. Then, they came nearer the sea, as the Admiral made more towards land. After they had completely lost their fear, so many came that they covered the ground, offering a thousand thanks, men, women, and children alike. They ran some hither, others thither, to bring us bread that they make from yams, which they call 'ajes', that are very white and good, and water in calabashes and earthen-ware pots, shaped like those of Castile, and brought for us as many of the worldly possessions they had that they knew the Admiral wanted, everything with a heart so generous and happy that it was wonderful. "It cannot be said that they gave it liberally because it was worth little", the Admiral says, "but because those who offered pieces of gold acted with equal generosity to those who provided a calabash of water. It is an easy thing to recognise when something is given with a very eager heart", the Admiral says. In his own words he goes on to say, "These people, and any others on this entire island, that I consider to be enormous, have neither poles, nor spears, nor any other arms. They are, thus, as naked as when they were born, women the same as men, and whilst in other places like Juana, or in parts of other islands, the women wear a thing of cotton in front with which they cover their natures, as large as a man's cod-piece, especially after they attain the age of twelve years, here, however, neither young nor old do so. In the other places, all the men hid their women from the Christians out of jealousy, but not here. The women have very comely bodies, and they are the first to arrive and render thanks to heaven, and to bring as much as they had, particularly things to eat, 'ajes' bread, dried nuts, and five or six kinds of fruit", some of which the Admiral asked to be preserved, [-100-] to take to the Sovereigns. No less, he says, did the women do in other parts, before they were concealed, and in all places the Admiral issued a warning to his men not to cause annoyance in any matter, and to take nothing that went against someone's wish and, equally, to pay them for all that they received. Finally, the Admiral says, he cannot believe any man has come across such good natured people, and free to give, and so timid that they undo everything to give to the Christians whatever they possess, so that upon meeting the Christians they soon ran to bring over everything. Later, the Admiral despatched six Christians to the settlement to see it for what it was. They accorded them as much honour as they could, or knew, and they gave them whatever they had, since they had no doubt left in their minds that the Admiral, and all his people, had come from heaven; the Indians from the other islands, brought by the Admiral himself, believed the same, although he had already told them what they ought to think. After the six Christians had gone, some canoes arrived with men to request the Admiral, on behalf of a gentleman, to come to his village when he took his leave from there. A canoe is a boat in which they voyage, and some of them are large, some small. He saw that the people of that gentleman were along the road, on a point of land, awaiting the Admiral in a crowd, that he went there. Before he departed, so many people came to the beach that it was frightening, men, women and children, calling out that for him not to depart, but to stay with them. The messengers of the other gentleman, who had come to invite him, stood waiting with their canoes so that he might not leave without going to see the gentleman. He did just that, and upon the Admiral’s arrival at where that gentleman stood awaiting him with many things to eat, he ordered all his people to sit down; he instructed them to load all the food on the boats where the Admiral was, by the sea-shore. When he saw that the Admiral had received what they had taken to him, all, or most, of the Indians ran off to the village, which would have been close by, to bring to him more foodstuffs, parrots, and other things they had with such a generous heart that it was a wonder. The Admiral presented them with glass beads, [-101-] brass rings, and jingle bells, not because they did demanded something, but because it seemed to him the right thing to do, and above all, the Admiral says, because he now regarded them as Christians, and for the Sovereigns of Castile, in addition to the people of Castile. He adds that nothing else is needed, except knowledge of the language, and to issue orders to them, because they carry out all that is asked of them without argument. The Admiral departed from there for the ships, while the Indians cried out, men, women and children alike, for him not to go away, and for the Christians to stay behind with them. After they left, canoes full of them came on from behind to the ship, and to them he showed great honour, and gave food, and other things which were on board. Earlier, another gentleman from the west side had also arrived, and a large number of people had even swum to get there, with the ship over half a league off-shore. To the gentleman, who I said before had returned, he sent certain people, so that they might see him, and ask him about these islands. He received them very cordially, and took them with him to his people, so as to give them large pieces of gold, but when they arrived at a big river, which the Indians happened swim by easily, the Christians could not, and, therefore, they turned back. There are extremely high mountains in all of this region that appear to reach the heavens, so that the one on the island of Tenerife bears nothing in comparison with them in height or beauty, and all are green, and covered in trees, that it is a wonder to behold. Gracious valleys lie amid them, and the southern end of this harbour has a valley so large that its extremity cannot be seen, despite the absence of any mountains getting in the way but it seems to be fifteen or twenty leagues long, along the length of which flows a river. It is populated and cultivated everywhere, and is at present as verdant as though it were in Castile during May or June, even though the nights are fourteen hours long, and the terrain much further north. Thus, this harbour is well-placed for any winds that might blow, sheltered and deep, and is wholly inhabited by very good and gentle people, who possess arms neither good nor evil. Any ship whatsoever can stay in it without fear of other ships that come by night for plunder, because although the mouth is quite wide at over two [-102-] leagues, it is shut in by the two rocky reefs that can scarcely be seen above the surface, save for one very restricted entry-point through this reef, that seems almost man-made, leaving a door open enough to enable ships to enter. At its mouth, it is seven fathoms deep, as far as the bottom of a flat islet that has a beach and trees lining it. To the west, it has the entrance, and a ship can get to it without anxiety until its side is placed next to the rock. There are three islands to the N.W, and a great river one league away from the tip of this harbour; it is the best in the world. He gave it the name of Puerto de la Mar de Santo Tomás, because it was his day that day, and he called it 'sea' because of its enormity.
Saturday, 22nd of December. - At dawn, he set sail to go on his way and look for the islands that the Indians had told him had a lot of gold, and of some which had more gold than land. However, the weather was not good, and he had to return to drop anchor, and despatched the boat to fish with a fishing-net. The seigneur of that area, who owned a place nearby, sent over a large canoe full of people, including his chief servant, to entreat the Admiral to go with his ships to his land, where he would give him as much as he could contain. He sent with him a girdle that instead of a purse bore a mask with two large ears made of beaten gold, a tongue, and a nose. As these people are so large-hearted that they give whatever is asked of them with the freest will in the world, so they consider it a great favour done to them when requesting something, says the Admiral. They bumped into the boat and gave the girdle to a cabin boy, and then came in their canoes to board the ship with their delegation. Before they could understand them, a part of the day had gone by; the Indians, too, whom he had brought along, did not understand them properly, because there was some difference in pronunciation of the names of things. Eventually, he managed to understand their invitation by signs. He determined to set off on Sunday for them, even though he did not usually depart from a harbour on Sundays, simply on account of his devotional duty, and not out of any superstition However, in the hope, he says, that these peoples would become Christian from the inclination that they exhibit, and belong to the Sovereigns of [-103-] Castile, and because he already holds them on their behalf, and so that they serve him with love, he wants, and strives, to make everyone happy. Before he set off today, he sent six men from there to a very large settlement three leagues away to the west, because the seigneur had come to the Admiral the day before and had said that he had certain pieces of gold. Upon the arrival of the Christians there, the seigneur took the Admiral's notary, who was one of them, by the hand, having been sent by the Admiral so as not to consent to something improper done by the others to the Indians, because since the Indians were as candid as the Spaniards were shrewd and excessive, it was not right to simply obtain whatever they wished from the Indians in exchange for a needle, a glass bead, a bowl, or some such thing that was of trifling value; for even without giving them anything, if they wanted it, they could have it all. It was something that the Admiral always prohibited, albeit, except for gold, there were many things of little value they offered to the Christians. Nevertheless, the Admiral, observing the large-heartedness of the Indians, who for six beads of glass would give, and gave, a piece of gold, expressly forbade for that reason any item to be accepted from them that was not exchanged for something in return. Thus the seigneur took the notary by the hand, and led him to his house, together with the whole village, which was very large, that accompanied him. He served them with food to eat, and all the Indians brought to them many objects worked in cotton, and in spun yarn. In the afternoon, the seigneur gave to them three very fat geese, and some small pieces of gold, and a large number of people came along with him, and carried all the things which they had obtained there, and insisted also on carrying their own selves on their backs, in fact, they did so across some rivers and some muddy ground. The Admiral ordered some things to be given to the seigneur, and left him, and all their people, highly content, genuinely believing that he had come from heaven, and that they had been very fortunate in gazing upon the Christians. On this day, more than a hundred and twenty canoes came to the ships, all loaded with people, and each bringing something along, especially their bread and fish, and water in pitchers of clay, in addition to seeds of many kinds that are of a good variety. [-104-] They threw a grain into a bowl of water and drank it, and the Indians who were being taken by the Admiral said that it was a very salubrious thing.
Sunday, 23rd of December. - He could not leave with the ships for the land of that seigneur who had sent a request, and an invitation, for lack of wind. However, he did send with the three messengers who waited there, men on boats, and the notary. In the interim, after they had gone, he sent two of the Indians he had brought with him to the villages that were located there, close to the shore where the ships were. They returned to the ship with a gentleman bearing news that in that island of Española there was a great quantity of gold, and that they came there to purchase it from other parts. They told him that he would find there as much as he wanted. Others came, who confirmed the presence of a lot of gold in it, and demonstrated the way in which it was gathered. All this was scarcely understood by the Admiral. Nevertheless, he held it for certain that there was an enormous amount of gold in those parts, and that, finding the place where it was obtained, there would be a huge exchange of it and, consequently, imagined that it would not be for nothing. He reiterates his beliefs that it must have much, because in the three days that he had been in that harbour, he had obtained good pieces of gold, and could not believe that it had been brought over from another land. In the words of the Admiral, "Our Lord, in whose hands are all things, sees what my remedy is, and to grant what shall be in his service". He says that in that hour he believes more than a thousand people to have visited the ship, all bringing something of what they possess. Before they reached the ship, half a shot of a crossbow away, they get up on to their feet in their canoes, and they hold what they bring in their hands, saying: "Take, take!" He also believes that more than five hundred of them swam to the ship, not having canoes, close to a league away from land. He reckoned that five seigneurs had come, sons of seigneurs, with their entire household, women and children, to see the Christians. The Admiral gave orders for all to be given something, since, he says, it was all worthwhile, and adds, "Our Lord prepares me, through his mercy, that I find this gold, I say, its source, which [-105-] I hold fully to be here, as they say who know it". These are his words. At night, the boats arrived. They reported that it had been a long way to where they had gone, and that at the mountain of Caribatan, they found many canoes, with a huge crowd of people coming to visit the Admiral and the Christians from the place where they went. He was sure that if the imminent Feast of the Nativity could take place in that port, the whole population from that island would come, which he now estimated, by sight, as being larger than that of England. They all turned back, along with the Christians, to the settlement, which they declared to be, he says, the largest, and the most organised in its streets, than the others encountered and passed by hitherto. He says it is a part of Punta Santa, some three leagues to the south-east. As the canoes go at speed with paddles, they went on ahead to inform the 'cacique', as they call him there. Until then the Admiral had not been able to understand whether by it they meant king or governor. They also invoke another word as a title for a grandee, 'nitayno'. He did not know if they meant by it a nobleman, governor, or judge. Finally, the cacique came to them, while the whole town was assembled in the open area that had been very well-swept, numbering more than two thousand men. This king showed great respect for the people from the ships, as did the common folk, and each person brought something to eat, and to drink for them. Afterwards, the king gave each of them some pieces of cotton that the women wear, parrots for the Admiral, and several pieces of gold. The common folk also gave the sailors the same cloth and other items from their houses for a trifle that they gave them which, when they received it, it seemed they regarded them as relics. Later in the afternoon, wishing to depart, the king requested them to remain for another day, as did the whole settlement. Seeing that they were determined to return, they accompanied them for a good deal of the way, taking what the cacique and the others had given them on their backs to the boats that they had left by the entrance of the river.
Monday, 24th of December. - Before sunrise, he weighed anchor with a land breeze. Amongst the many Indians who had come the day before to the ship, who had given them indications of the presence of gold on the island, [-106-] and who had listed the places where they collected it, he saw an individual seemingly more well-disposed and knowledgeable, or who spoke more readily, whom he cajoled and requested to go with him, and to show him the gold mines. This man brought with him another companion or relation, and in naming the other places where gold was collected, they spoke of Cipango, which they call Civao, where they declared there is a great amount of gold, and that the cacique carries banners of beaten gold, except that it is very far off to the east. The Admiral utters these words here to the Sovereigns: "Believe, your Highnesses, that there cannot be better or gentler people anywhere in the world. your Highnesses should feel great joy because, soon, they will become Christians, and will be educated in the fine traditions of your kingdoms, as better people or land cannot exist; and the people, and the land, are in such quantity that I do not know, now, how to express it in writing, since I have already spoken in superlative terms of the folk and the land of Juana, which they call Cuba; but there is altogether as much difference between them, and this, here, as between day and night, and I cannot believe that any one else who might see it would make less of it, or say less, than what I have said. I declare it as true that the things found here are a marvel, and the great peoples of the island, Española, for thus I called it, and which they call Bohío, and elsewhere, have a most unique and loving character, and are soft-spoken, not like the others who when they speak appear to be menacing, possess a good stature, men and women, and are not black. The truth is that they are all tinged, some of a black, others of a different colour, but mostly, of a reddish hue. I have recognised that they are so because of the sun, so that it does not harm them too much. The houses and places are so lovely, each with their seigneur, like a judge, or an elder, for them, whom everyone obeys, so that it is wonderful. All these lords are men of few words, and very elegant customs. Their bidding is more through signs made by hand, and is very rapidly understood, that it is a wonder". All these are the Admiral's words.
He who has to enter the sea of Santo Tomé, ought to put a good league over the mouth of the entrance above a flat islet that is in the middle, to which he gave the name La Amiga, lifting the prow [-107-] towards it. After he gets to within a stone's throw from it, he crosses over, leaving the west side for the east side, and should arrive at this and not the other part, because a very large reef comes from the west, and even out in the sea beyond it there are some three shallows. This reef reaches La Amiga to within a shot of a lombard, but in-between he can pass through and find, at the shallowest depths, seven fathoms, and gravel. Within, he will discover a haven for all the ships in the world, and that might be without mooring ropes. Another reef and shallows emerge east of this said Amiga island. They are very extensive, and projecting into the sea a great deal, they reach as far as the cape, almost two leagues off. However, between them it appeared that there was an entrance two shots of a lombard away from La Amiga, and at the bottom of Mount Caribatan, the west side has a very good and a very grand harbour.
Tuesday, 25 of December, Christmas Day. - Sailing in light breeze the day before, from the sea of Santo Tomé up to the Punta Santa, he was thus one league away from it until the first quarter had elapsed, that would be eleven o'clock at night, when he decided to get some sleep, because he had not slept for two days and a night. As conditions were calm, the helmsman in charge of the rudder decided to go away and sleep, leaving a cabin boy at the helm. The Admiral had always absolutely forbidden this on the entire voyage, whether it was calm or stormy. It should be known that they did not leave cabin boys at the tiller. The Admiral felt safe from banks and rocks because on the Sunday, when he had sent the boats to the king, they had passed a good three and a half leagues east of the said Punta Santa, and the sailors had viewed the whole coast, including the shallows that run from the said Punta Santa a good three leagues, and had seen where they could pass through, which had not been the case for this whole voyage. It was our Lord’s wish that, at twelve o'clock at night, having seen the Admiral lying down to rest, and seeing that it was a dead calm, and the sea as though it were in a basin, everyone else had fallen asleep, with the helm left in the hands of [-108-] that boy, the currents carried the ship towards one of those sand banks. Those, as it was night-time, sounded as though they came from a good league away when heard and seen, and it happened so gently that it was almost not felt. The boy, who felt the rudder, and heard the noise of the sea, called out, at which the Admiral emerged. It had been so sudden that simply no one had felt that they had run aground. Shortly, the master of the ship, whose watch it was, came out. The Admiral asked him, and the others, to haul the small boat that was carried on the poop, and to seize an anchor and cast it astern, and he, along with many others, jumped into the boat, and the Admiral thought they had done what he had bid them do. Instead, their only thought was to escape to the caravel that stood half a league to leeward. The caravel did not want to accept them, on moral grounds, and so they returned to the ship, but, all the same, the boat from the caravel got there first. When the Admiral saw that they had fled, and that they were his own crew, with the waters receding, and the ship already lying cross-wise to the sea, and seeing no other cure, he gave orders to cut the mast, and to lighten the ship's load by off-loading as much as they could, to see whether he might rescue it. However, as the waters continued to ebb, he was not able to remedy the situation. It keeled over sideways, lying athwart the sea as the water was low, or not at all, and then the sides broke open, and the ship was gone. The Admiral went to the caravel to gather into safety the people of the ship in the caravel and, as there blew a land breeze now and also as much of the night still remained, and they did not know how much the bank extended, he bided time aboard until daylight. Soon, he went to the ship, on the inner part of the sand bank, but before then, he had sent the small boat ashore with Diego de Arana, of Cordova, the sergeant of the ship, and Pedro Gutiérrez, seaman steward royal, to inform the king who had sent the invitation on the Saturday, requesting the presence of him, and his ships, at his harbour. He had his residence one and a half leagues further on from this sand bank. He wept, they said, when he came to know of it, and despatched all his people in the village equipped with very large canoes, in great number, to unload the entire vessel. It was done, thus, and in a short while, everything in the holds had been unloaded; such was the [-109-] measure of the great readiness and care that that king tendered. He, in person, along with brothers and relations, was being attentive in the ship as much as in the custody of what had been salvaged on land, in which everything had been taken into safe custody very well. At times, he sent over one of his weeping relations to the Admiral to console him, saying that he should not feel any pain or annoyance, as he would provide him with as much as he had. The Admiral assured the Sovereigns that such good recovery of all the items, without so much as a needle going astray, could not have taken place in any part of Castile. He commanded everything to be put into the houses in one place, while he emptied some things that he wanted to give, where the whole lot could be placed and guarded, together. He ordered the posting of armed men all around, to keep watch all night. "He, together with the people, cried so much," the Admiral says, " and they are such loving people, without covetousness, and reasonable in all matters, that I certify to your Highnesses that, I believe, that there are neither better people nor better land. They love those near to them as much as themselves, and their speech is the sweetest and gentlest in the world, always accompanied by smiles. They walk naked, men and women, as when given birth to by their mothers. However, your Highnesses may well believe that amongst them they have very fine customs. The king bears himself wonderfully, so restrained in a certain way, that it is altogether a pleasure to see, as is the memory that they possess, their wish to examine everything, and their questions about what is, and what for". All this is said by Admiral.
Wednesday, 26th of December. - Today, at sunrise, the king of the land in that area came to the caravel, Niña, where the Admiral was, and almost in tears asked him not to be distressed, that he would replace whatever he had, and that he had provided the Christians who were ashore with two very large houses, and would give them more should the need arise. In addition, he had offered them as many canoes as they required for loading, and to unload the ship, with as many people as necessary to put it on land. He had done as much the day before without taking even a breadcrumb, or any other thing. So trust-worthy, and without covetousness are they, the Admiral says, of someone else’s possessions, and that the virtuous king, in this regard, stood above all. While the Admiral [-110-] was talking to him, a canoe came, from another place, bringing certain pieces of gold, which they wanted to give for a small bell, because they desired nothing else as much as bells. Even as the canoe drew to the side they called out and showed the pieces of gold, saying 'chuq chuq' for jingle bells, for they were in places driven to distraction by them. After having seen this, and taking leave of the canoes that were from the other places, they called out to the Admiral, and requested him to order them to put a bell aside until the next day, because he(the king) would bring four pieces of gold, as large as a hand. The Admiral was delighted to hear this and, later, a sailor who had been on shore said to the Admiral that the gold pieces exchanged for almost nothing by the Christians who were on land were astonishing. For a needle they gave pieces of gold larger than two castellanos, and that this was nothing compared to what it would be in a month’s time. The king was delighted to see the Admiral happy, and understood that he wanted a lot of gold. He indicated, using gestures, that he knew where there was a great deal of it in huge amounts nearby, and that he should be of good cheer, as he would give him as much gold as might desire. He gave, he says, an explanation for this, in particular, that it was present in Cipango, which they called Civao, to such an extent, that they regard it as worthless. He would bring it over, although in that island of Española, also, which they call Bohío, and in the province of Caribata, there was much more to be had. The king dined with the Admiral in the caravel. Afterwards, he left with him to go on shore, where he accorded the Admiral great honour, and presented him with a collection of two or three types of 'ajes', with shrimps, game, and others meats that they had, and their bread, called 'cazavi'. He took him, then, to look at some banks of trees next to the houses. Well nigh a thousand people, all naked, accompanied him. The seigneur now wore the shirt and the gloves that the Admiral had given to him, and he revelled much more in the gloves than in anything else he had given. In his conduct at dinner, with his honesty, and his elegant neatness, he showed himself to be of good lineage. After having eaten, as he stayed for a short while at table, they fetched some herbs with which he rubbed his hands a lot. [-111-] The Admiral believed it was done to soften them, and they offered him water for a hand-wash. After they had completed their meal, he took the Admiral to the beach. The Admiral sent for a Turkish bow, and a sheaf of arrows, and made to shoot at a man of his company, one who knew of it beforehand. To the seigneur, not knowing what weapons were, as they neither have them, nor use them, it appeared to be something momentous. Nevertheless, he says, there began a conversation about those from Caniba, whom they call Caribes, who come to seize them, bearing bows and arrows without iron, of which all those lands have no recollection, or steel, or any other metal, except for copper and gold, although the Admiral had seen only very little of copper. The Admiral told him, using gestures, that the Sovereigns of Castile would order the destruction of the Caribes, and would require them to all be taken in fetters. The Admiral commanded the shot of a lombard, and smaller ordnance, and seeing the effect their power had, and their penetration, he was left amazed. When his people heard the shots they all fell on the ground. They brought a large mask to the Admiral that had large pieces of gold in its ears, eyes, and other parts, which they gave to him, along with other gold ornaments that king himself placed on the Admiral's head and neck, and they also gave much to the other Christians there, besides him. The Admiral obtained a lot of pleasure and solace from these things that he saw. It tempered the sorrow and pain that he had felt, and retained, upon the loss of the ship, and he understood that our Lord had made the ship run aground there, so that he might create a base there. He says, "From this, so many things came to hand that, in truth, the disaster was nothing but tremendous good fortune." "Since it is certain," he says, "that had I not run aground, I would have been outside at large, without having anchored at this place, because it is situated here within a great bay, and inside it are two or three shallow reefs. I would not have left men here on this trip, and even if I might have wished to leave them, I would not have been able to give them such a good destination, or so much equipment, provision, and apparatus for a fort. It is most true that many people who have come here have asked me, and pleaded with me, that I give them permission to stay behind. For now, I have ordered the building [-112-] of a tower and a fort, all well-constructed, and a large cavern, not that I believe that it is necessary for these people, because I believe that with these people I bring with me I could subdue the whole of this island, which I believe to be greater than Portugal, and more than double its population; but they are naked and defenceless, and timid beyond remedy. However, it makes sense that this tower is built, and that it is as it should be, being so far from your Highnesses, so that they might discern the ingenuity of the people belonging to your Highnesses, and what they can do, so that with love and fear they obey them. Thus, they complete the planks in order to construct all the defences from them, and stores of bread and wine for over a year, seed stock for sowing, and the boat from the ship, along with a caulker, a carpenter, a cannoneer, and a barrel-maker. Many men amongst them greatly desire, in the service of your Highnesses, and to please me, to learn about the mine where the gold is extracted. Thus, everything is working out much as it should to make the start. Above all, when the ship ran aground, it happened at such a pace that one was hardly aware of it, with neither wave nor wind". The Admiral expresses all this. He goes on to show that it was a great blessing and the pre-determined will of God that the ship ran aground there, so as to leave behind people, since if it had not been for the treason of the master and the crew, who were all, or mostly all, his countrymen, in not wanting to throw the anchor by the poop to rescue the ship, as the Admiral had bid them do, the ship would have been saved, and, consequently, it would not have been possible to get to know the land, he says, as well as he knows it from the days that he has been there, and in the future, from those he intended to leave behind there, because he travelled always with the intention to explore, and not to halt anywhere for longer than a day, unless it was due to lack of wind, as the ship was very heavy, he says, and not for the work of discovery. Having taken such a ship, he says, that those at Palos effected, who had not completed it as they had promised to the King and Queen, namely, to provide ships fit for that day, which they had not done. The Admiral ends by saying that of everything that was in the ship, he had not lost a needle, not a plank or a nail, because it remained sound, just as it was when it set off, except that it had been cut and split, to salvage the vessel and all the [-113-] merchandise, and to have it all put on land, and well-guarded, as has been said. He trusts, he says, in God, that at the time of returning when he intended to make for Castile, he will have found a barrelful of gold which will have been bartered by those he was to leave behind, and that they would have found the source of gold and spices in quantities such that, within three years, the Sovereigns might undertake and are ready for the conquest of the holy house, "for thus it was," he says, "that I protested to your Highnesses that all the gains of this my enterprise might be spent in the conquest of Jerusalem, and your Highnesses smiled, and said that it pleased them, and that, without this, they held that longing". The Admiral's own words.
Translated by M.Kudrati MB Bch(Cantab)
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