Journal of Antonio Pigafetta

18th of March, 1521

Monday, the 18th of March, after dinner, we saw a boat come towards us with nine men in it: upon which the captain-general ordered that no one should move or speak without his permission.[126] When these people had come into this island towards us, immediately the principal[127] one amongst them went towards the captain-general with demonstrations of being very joyous at our arrival. Five of the most showy[128] of them remained with us, the others who remained with the boat went to call some men who were fishing, and afterwards all of them came together.[129] The captain seeing that these people were reasonable,[130]ordered food and drink to be given them, and he gave them some red caps, looking glasses, combs, bells, ivory, and other things. When these people saw the politeness of the captain, they presented some fish, and a vessel of palm wine, which they call in their language Uraca;[131] figs more than a foot[132] long, and others smaller and of a better savour, and two cochos.[133] At that time they had nothing to give him, and they made signs to us with their hands that in four days they would bring us Umai, which is rice, cocos, and many other victuals.

To explain the kind of fruits above-named it must be known that the one which they call cochi, is the fruit which the palm trees bear. And as we have bread, wine, oil, and vinegar, proceeding from different kinds, so these people have those things proceeding from these palm trees only. It must be said that wine proceeds from the said palm trees in the following manner. They make a hole at the summit of the tree as far as its heart, which is named palmito, from which a liquor comes out in drops down the tree, like white must, which is sweet, but with somewhat of bitter.[134] They have canes as thick as the leg, in which they draw off this liquor, and they fasten them to the tree from the evening till next morning, and from the morning to the evening, because this liquor comes little by little. This palm produces a fruit named cocho, which is as large as the head, or thereabouts: its first husk is green, and two fingers in thickness, in it they find certain threads, with which they make the cords for fastening their boats. Under this husk there is another very hard, and thicker than that of a walnut. They burn this second rind, and make with it a powder which is useful to them. Under this rind there is a white marrow of a finger’s thickness, which they eat fresh with meat and fish, as we do bread, and it has the taste of an almond, and if anyone dried it[135] he might make bread of it. From the middle of this marrow there comes out a clear sweet water, and very cordial, which, when it has rested a little, and settled, congeals and becomes like an apple.[136] When they wish to make oil they take this fruit, the coco, and let it get rotten, and they corrupt this marrow in the water, then they boil it, and it becomes oil in the manner[137] of butter. When they want to make vinegar, they let the water in the cocoa-nut get bad, and they put it in the sun, when it turns to vinegar like white wine. From this fruit milk also can be made, as we experienced, for we scraped this marrow and then put it with its water, and passed it through a cloth, and thus it was milk like that of goats. This kind of palm tree is like the date-palm,[138] but not so rugged. Two of these trees can maintain a family of ten persons: but they do not draw wine as above-mentioned always from one tree, but draw from one for eight days, and from the other as long. For if they did not, otherwise the trees would dry up. In this manner they last a hundred years.[139]

These people became very familiar and friendly with us, and explained many things to us in their language, and told us the names of some islands which we saw with our eyes before us. *The island where they dwelt is called Zuluam, and it is not large.*[140] As they were sufficiently agreeable and conversible we had great pleasure with them. The captain seeing that they were of this good condition, to do them greater honour conducted them to the ship, and showed them all his goods, that is to say, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, mace,[141]gold and all that was in the ship. He also had some shots fired with his artillery, at which they were so much afraid that they wished to jump from the ship into the sea. They made signs that the things which the captain had shown them grew there where we were going. When they wished to leave us they took leave of the captain and of us with very good manners and gracefulness, promising us to come back to see us. The island we were at was named Humunu; nevertheless because we found there two springs of very fresh water we named it the Watering Place of good signs,[142] and because we found here the first signs of gold. There is much white coral to be found here, and large trees which bear fruit smaller than an almond, and which are like pines. There were also many palm trees both good and bad. In this place there were many circumjacent islands, on which account we named them the archipelago of St. Lazarus, because we stayed there on the day and feast of St. Lazarus. This region and archipelago is in ten degrees north latitude, and a hundred and sixty-one degrees longitude from the line of demarcation.