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constantly wander through the woods with no other weapons than their bows and arrows, there is no recollection of any one being killed by these beasts. They brought the Spaniards as many deer and wild-boar, slain with their arrows, as the latter desired. They did not possess cattle or goats or sheep, and they ate bread made of roots and bread made of grain the same as the islanders of Hispaniola. Their hair is black, thick, half curly, and long. They try to spoil the whiteness of their teeth, for almost the entire day they chew a herb which blackens them, and when they spit it out, they wash their mouth. It is the women who labour in the fields rather than the men, the latter spending their time in hunting, fighting, or leading dances and games. Pitchers, cups with handles, and pots are their earthenware utensils, which they procure from elsewhere, for they frequently hold markets, which all the neighbouring tribes attend, each bringing the products of his country to be exchanged for those of other places. In fact, there is nobody who is not delighted to obtain what is not to be had at home, because the love of novelty is an essential sentiment of human nature. They hang little birds and other small animals, artistically worked in base gold," to their pearls. These trinkets they obtain by trade, and the metal resembles the German gold used for coining florins. The men either carry their private parts enclosed in a little gourd which has been opened at the back, like our cod-piece, or they use a seashell. The gourd hangs from a cord tied round the waist.” The presence of the animals above mentioned, and many other indications not found in any of the islands, afford evidence that this land is a continent. The most conclusive proof 3 seems to be that the Spaniards followed the coast of Paria for a distance of about three thousand miles always in a westerly direction, but without discovering any end to it. When asked whence they procured their gold, the people of Curiana answered that it came from a country called Cauchieta situated about six suns distant (which means six days) to the west, and that it was the artisans of that region who worked the gold into the form in which they saw it. The Spaniards sailed towards Cauchieta and anchored there near the shore on the calends of November, I500. The natives fearlessly approached and brought them gold, which in its rough state is not valued amongst them. The people also wore pearls round their throats; but these came from Curiana, where they had been obtained in exchange for gold, and none of them wanted to part with anything they had obtained by trade. That is to say the people of Curiana kept their gold, and the people of Cauchieta their pearls, so that very little gold was obtained at Cauchieta." The Spaniards brought away Some very pretty monkeys and a number of parrots of varied colours, from that country. The temperature in the month of November was delicious, without a sign of cold. Each evening the stars which mark the north pole disappeared, so near is that region to the equator; but it was not possible to calculate precisely the polar degrees. The natives are sensible and not suspicious, and some of the people of Curiana passed the entire night in company with our men, coming out in their barques to join them. Pearls they call corixas. They are jealous, and when strangers visit them, they make their women withdraw behind the house, from whence the latter examine the guests as though they were prodigies. Cotton is plentiful and grows wild in Cauchieta, just as shrubs do in our forests, and of this they make trousers which they wear.
* A kind of alloyed gold called by the natives guanin; the Spaniards were often deceived by its glitter.
* The text continues: alibi in eo tractu intra vaginam mentularemgue nervum reducunt, funiculoque praeputium alligant.
3 Navarrete, iii., 14.
*A uri tamen partum apud Cauchietenses: lectum reperere meaning, doubtless, that they traded away most of their gold for pearls.
Continuing their course along the same coast, the Spaniards suddenly encountered about two thousand men armed according to the fashion of the country, who prevented them from landing. They were so barbarous and ferocious that it was impossible to establish the smallest relations with them or to effect any trade; so, as our men were satisfied with the pearls they had procured, they returned by the same course to Curiana, where they remained for another twenty days bountifully supplied with provisions.
It seems to me neither out of place nor useless to this history, to here narrate what happened when they arrived within sight of the coasts of Paria. They encountered by chance a squadron of eighteen canoes full of cannibals engaged in a man-hunt: this was near the Boca de la Sierpe and the strait leading to the gulf of Paria, which I have before described. The cannibals unconcernedly approached the ship, surrounding it, and shooting flights of arrows and javelins at our men. The Spaniards replied by a cannon shot, which promptly scattered them. In pursuing them, the ship's boat came up with one of their canoes, but was able to capture only a single cannibal and a bound prisoner, the others having all escaped by swimming. This prisoner burst into tears, and by his gestures and rolling his eyes, gave it to be understood that six of his companions had been cruelly disembowelled, cut into pieces, and devoured by those monsters, and that the same fate awaited him on the morrow. They made him a present of the cannibal, upon whom he immediately threw himself, gnashing his teeth and belabouring him with blows of a stick and his fists and with kicks, for he believed that the death of his companions would not be sufficiently avenged till he beheld the cannibal insensible and beaten black and blue. When questioned as to the customs and usages of the cannibals when they made expeditions to other countries, he said they always carried
with them, wherever they went, sticks prepared beforehand which they planted in the ground at the place of their encampment, and beneath whose shelter they passed the night. Hanging over the door of one of the chieftains in Curiana, the Spaniards found the head of a cannibal, which was regarded as a sort of standard or helmet captured from the enemy, and constituted a great honour for this chief. There is a district on the coast of Paria, called Haraia, which is remarkable for a peculiar kind of salt found there. It is a vast plain over which the waves of the sea are driven in heavy weather and when the waves subside and the sun comes out, the pools of water crystallise into masses of the whitest salt, in sufficient quantity for the natives to load all the ships that sail, did they arrive before it rained. The first rainfall melts the salt, which is then absorbed by the sands and thus returns through fissures in the earth, to the sea which produces it. Others pretend that this plain is not inundated by the sea, but that it possesses saline springs, more bitter than sea water, which send forth their waters when the tempest rages. The natives set great store on these salines, and they not only use the salt in the same way that we do, but they mould it into brick-shaped forms and trade it to foreigners for articles which they do not themselves possess. The bodies of the chiefs of the country are laid upon biers under which a slow fire is lighted which consumes the flesh, little by little, but leaves the bones and the skin intact. These dried bodies are then piously preserved, as though they were their penates. The Spaniards say that in one district they saw a man being thus dried for preservation and in another a woman. When, on the eighth day of the ides of February, the Spaniards were ready to leave the country of Curiana,
they found they had ninety-six pounds of pearls at eight ounces to the pound, which they had obtained at an average price of five cents. Although their return voyage was shorter than when they came from Hispaniola, it lasted sixty-one days, because continual currents running from east to west not only retarded their speed, but sometimes completely stopped the ship. Finally they arrived, loaded with pearls like other people come loaded with straw. The commander, Pedro Alonzo Nuñez, concealed an important quantity of valuable pearls, and thus cheated the royal revenues, to which a fifth of all merchandise belongs." His fellows denounced him, and Fernando de Vega, a learned statesman, who was Governor of Galicia where they landed, arrested him, and he was held in prison for a long time, but was finally released; and even to this day he still claims they robbed him of his share of the pearls. Many of these stones are as large as nuts, and resemble oriental pearls, but as they are badly pierced, they are less valuable. One day, when lunching with the illustrious Duke of Medina-Sidonia in Seville, I saw one of these pearls which had been presented to him. It weighed more than a hundred ounces, and I was charmed by its beauty and brilliancy. Some people claim that Nuñez did not find these pearls at Curiana, which is more than one hundred and twenty leagues distant from Boca de la Sierpe, but in the little districts of Cumana and Manacapana near by the Boca and the island of Margarita. They declare that Curiana is not rich in pearls. This question has not been decided; so let us treat of another subject. You now perceive what, in the course of years, may be the value of this newly discovered country and western coasts, since after a superficial exploration they have yielded such evidences of wealth.
* Navarrete, iii., 78. The treasure was sold in August, 1501, and the proceeds divided among the sailors.