COLOMBUS’S LETTER ON HIS FIRST VOYAGE
* 33 days he crossed from the Canary Islands to the Indies. * The first Island that he found, he named “San Salvador”; although the Indians called it “Guanahani”. * The second Island, he named “Santa María de Concepción”. * The third “Fernandina”.
* The fourth “Isabela”.
* The fifth “Juana”. And, definitely, all of them he renamed. Cuba: there were only small groups of houses whose inhabitants fled as soon as Columbus and his men approached. They continued to search any great towns or cities northwards. He sent two men inland to discover whether there was a king or any great cities. They travelled for 3 days, finding only a large number of small villages and great numbers of people, but nothing more substantial. He understood from some Indians who had captures elsewhere that this was an island, and he wanted to find it. From there, he found another Island, which he called Hispaniola. He remarks that all these islands are extremely fertile. The land is high and has many ranges of hills, and mountains incomparably finer than Tenerife. He saw them as green and lovely as they are in Spain in May. Hispaniola thus is a wonder, according to Columbus. He says that “The harbours are incredibly fine and there are many great rivers with broad channels and the majority contain gold”, but it is not prove that it is real as wee as the following statement that states that “In Hispaniola there are many spices and large mines of gold and other metals. The inhabitants of this island and all the rest that I discovered go naked, men and women indistinctly. Although some women (a few of them) cover themselves a single place with a leaf of a plant or piece of cotton which they weave for the purpose. Firstly, they have come out when we appeared but later when he gave them some of the various things I had, and received nothing in exchange, they lost their fear and offer them a share to anyone with demonstrations of heartfelt affection, and they are content with any small thing, valuable or valueless, that is given them. They have no religion and are not idolaters, but all believe that power and goodness dwell in the sky, and they also believe that Columbus came from the sky with these ships and people. Columbus did not believe that they are stupid to think this; he understood that it’s normal because they never before seen men clothed or ships like these. He comes back to the fist Island he discovered in the Indies and seized some natives in order to inquire and inform to him about things in these parts. They soon understood the Columbus’s purpose and with speech and signs, they were very useful. They also have the opinion that he come from the sky, and have gone running from house to house saying to neighbours that see man from the sky. -------------------------------------------------
They were really kind and offered them something to eat and drink with great show of love. In all these islands he didn’t see great differences in the looks of people, their customs or their language. On the other hand, all understand one another. This is his first voyage of 107 leagues in a straight line from west to east along the coast of Cuba, according to which he estimated that the island is larger than England and Scotland put together (Although actually Cuba is smaller than England without Scotland). In all these islands, women work more than men.
He had not found the human monsters that many people expected. On the contrary, the whole population is very well made. They are not Negroes as in Guinea, and their hair is straight, they are also strong. They get survive to winter thanks to their food, which they eat heavily seasoned with very hot spices. He had no found any monsters, except in the island “Quaris”, the second island, which all think that they are savage because they eat human flesh. They use canoes, which they travel throughout the islands to the...
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