17th of November, 1521

[153] On Sunday morning that same king came to the ships and desired to see how we fought and how we discharged our guns, and he took the greatest pleasure in it and then immediately departed. We were told that he had been a great fighter in his youth.

[154] That same day, I went ashore to see how the clove grows. The clove tree is tall and as thick as a man’s body or thereabout. Its branches spread out somewhat widely in the middle, but at the top they have the shape of a summit. Its leaves resemble those of the laurel, and the bark is olive coloured. The cloves grow at the end of the twigs, ten or twenty in a cluster. Those trees have generally more cloves on one side than on the other, according to the weather conditions. When the cloves sprout they are white, when ripe, red, and when dried, black. They are gathered twice per year, once at the nativity of our Saviour, and the other at the nativity of St John the Baptist; for the climate is more moderate at those two seasons, but more so at the time of the Nativity of our Savior. When the year is very hot and there is little rain, those people gather three or four hundred bahars [of cloves] in each of those islands. Those trees grow only in the mountains, and if any of them are planted in the lowlands near the mountains they do not survive. The leaves, the bark, and the green wood are as strong as the cloves. If the latter are not gathered when they are ripe, they become large and so hard that only their husk is good. No cloves are grown in the world except in the five mountains of those five islands, except that some are found in Gilolo and in a small island between Tidore and Motir, by name Mareh, but they are not good . Almost every day we saw a mist descend and encircle now one and now another of those mountains, on account of which those cloves become perfect. Each of those people possesses clove trees, and each one watches over his own trees although he does not cultivate them.

[155] Some nutmeg trees are found in that island: the tree resembles our walnut tree, and has leaves like it. When the nut is gathered it is as large as a small quince, with the same sort of down, and it is of the same color. Its first rind is as thick as the green rind of our walnut. Under that there is a thin layer, under which is found the mace, which is a brilliant red and is wrapped about the rind of the nut, and within that is the nutmeg.

The houses of those people are built like those of the others, but are not raised so high from the ground, and are surrounded with bamboos like a hedge.

The women there are ugly and go naked like the others, [covered only] with those cloths made from the bark of trees. Those cloths are made in the following manner: they take a piece of bark and leave it in the water until it becomes soft, and then they beat it with bits of wood and [thus] make it as long and as wide as they wish. It becomes like a veil of raw silk, and has certain threads within it that appear as if woven. They eat wooden bread made from a tree resembling the palm, which is made as follows: they take a piece of that soft wood from which they take certain long black thorns, and then they pound the wood, and so make the bread. They eat that bread almost only while at sea, and they call it saghu. The men there go naked as do the others [of those regions], but they are so jealous of their wives that they do not wish us to go ashore with our drawers exposed; for they assert that their women imagine that we are always in readiness.

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