Journal of Antonio Pigafetta

11th of February, 1522

Tuesday night (between it and Wednesday,) on the 11th of February of 1522, we left the island of Timor, and entered upon the great sea named Laut Chidol [280] and taking a west-south-west course, we left to the right and to the North, from fear of the Portuguese, the island of Zumatra, anciently named Taprobana; also Pegu, Bengala, Urizza, Chelim, where are the Malabars, subjects of the King of Narsinga: Calicut which is under the same king; Cambaya in which are the Guzeratis; Cananor, Goa, Armus, and all the other coast of India major.

In this kingdom dwell six classes of persons, that is to say: Nairs, Panicals, Franas, Pangelins, Macuas, and Poleas. The Nairs are the chiefs; the Panicals are the townspeople; these two classes live and converse together. The Franas collect the wine from the palm trees and the bananas. The Macuas are fishermen; and the Poleas sow and harvest the rice; these last always dwell in the fields, and never enter the city, and when it is desired to give them anything, it is placed on the ground and they take it. When they go along the roads they always cry out, po, po, po, that is take care of yourself; and we were told that a Nair who had been accidentally touched by a Polea, not to survive such a disgrace, had himself killed.

In order to double the Cape of Good Hope, we went as far as 42° South latitude, and we remained off that cape for nine weeks, with the sails struck on account of the Western and North-western gales which beat against our bows with fierce squalls. The Cape of Good Hope is in 34° 30′ South latitude, 1600 leagues distant from the Cape of Malacca, and it is the largest and most dangerous cape in the world.

Some of our men, and among them the sick, would have liked to land at a place belonging to the Portuguese called Mozambique, both because the ship made much water, and because of the great cold which we suffered; and much more because we had nothing but rice and water for food and drink, all the meat of which we had made provision having putrified, for the want of salt had not permitted us to salt it. But the greater number of us, prizing honour more than life itself, decided on attempting at any risk to return to Spain.