When we put ashoar, and left the South Sea, we
all resolved to pass through your Country, or die in
the Attempt; and tho' there were as many Spaniards
of you as there is Grass in this Savanna, we should
not be afraid, but look upon you always in our Opinion Cowards, and we will pass on, and go where we will in spight of your Teeth.
The Officer being dismiss'd upon our arrival, mounted
his Horse to return from whence he came, and observing we were booted, and mounted upon his Companions Horses who guarded the Retrenchments, he shrunk up his shoulders, by way of amazement, and rode as fast as he could to carry the News to his own Party. As soon as he was got to them, who were not above a Musquet shot
off, we advanced, and fell upon them, to put them
out of Condition all at once to follow us any more: We
received their first Firing, to which we made no return
thirds of our Number, fight with the remaining part; yea, tho there were but one Man of us left, he should fight still against you all.
We should not fail still to otherwise than with our Pistols and Cutlasses, for them who had not yet got upon their Horses, for we cut a great many of them to pieces, insomuch that God crowning all the
Advantages we had had in the rest of our Engagements, by the Success we had in
and that unhappily.
On the 15th. we passed by the fore-mentioned Retrenchment, which was not yet finished, without any Resistance, this proceeding in all appearance from the Terror which the noise of our Victory had struck into the People, and lay at an Hatto three Leagues beyond it. On the 16th. we lay at another six Leagues farther; and at last, on the 17th. which was the sixteenth day since our setting out, we came to the so much desired River,
and presently entred into the Woods that grow upon the Banks thereof, where every one fell to work in good earnest to cut down Trees to build Piperies, wherein we might go down the same.
Some perhaps may think that these were some commodious Vessels, wherein to carry us with ease down the River, but there was nothing less than that in it.
What we called Piperies, were four or five Stocks of one kind of Tree, which they called Mahot; it's a light floating sort of Wood, which, after we have taken off the Bark, we joyn and tye together, instead of Cords, with a sort of Vines that grow in these Woods, and cling like Ivy unto every thing that is near them, and especially to Trees, to the height where of they mount; and when these Pieces are set together, they put two or three Men upon them, according to the bigness of the Pipery, and this is all the Equipment we make thereof.
The surest posture we can find our selves to be in, is to stand upright thereon, tho' they sink two or three Foot under Water; and you may judge by what follows, whether the continual apprehensions of Danger we were in, were well or ill grounded.
We built ours no bigger than to hold two Men, that so they might the more easily pass between those very harrow Rocks we foresaw, by those that already presented themselves to our view, we must meet with before we got unto the Sea-side.
When this pretty Floata was in a condition to put out, we dragged it to the River-side, after we had furnish'd our selves with long Poles, to keep up from being driven too violently upon the Rocks, where we were apprehensive we should be carryed by the violence of the Stream, as it came also frequently to pass.
This River springs in the Mountains of Segovia, and discharges it self into the North Sea at Cape Gracias a Dios, after having run a very long way in a most rapid manner cross a vast number of Rocks of a prodigious bigness, and by the most frightful Precipices that can be thought of, besides a great many Falls of Water, to the Number of at least an Hundred of all sorts, which it's impossible for a Man to look on without trembling, and making the Head of the most fearless to turn round, when he sees and hears the Water fall from such an height into those tremendous Whirlpools. In short, the whole is so formidable, that there are none but those who have some Experience, can have right conceptions of it: But for me, who have passed these Places, and who, as long as I live, shall have my Mind filled with those Risques I have run, it's impossible I should give such an Idea hereof but what will come far short of what I have really known of them.
'Twas therefore upon this dangerous River that we went down, the will of the Stream, in these pitiful Machines, whereof the greatest part was under Water, as has been said before, two or three Foot, insomuch that we were almost always up to the middle therein: But this was nothing
in comparison of the rapidity of it, which many times hurried us, in spight of all the resistance we could make, into the bubbling of foaming Water, where we now
and then found our selves buried with our pieces of Wood, which made many of our Men tye themselves thereon, as being in hopes, the Wood, that floated, would bear them up still upon the Water, but in this some of them were mistaken.
suffering our selves to be carryed along at
But as for those great Falls, they had, to our good Fortunes, at their entrance and goings out, a great Basin of still Water, which gave us the Opportunity to
get upon the Banks of the River, and draw our Piperies ashoar, to take off those things we had laid on them, which, as wet as we were, we carryed with us, leaping from Rock to Rock, till we came to the end of the Fall, from whence one of us afterwards returned to put our Pipery into the Water, and let her swim along to
him who waited for her below: But if he failed to catch hold (by swimming) of
those pieces of Wood, before they got out of the Basin below, the violence of the Stream would carry them away to rights, and the Men must then be necessitated to go and pick out Trees to make another.
We thought at our setting out to go down the Water all together, to the end, that in case of any Accident one might give Assistance to the other; But at the end
of three days, when I knew the danger we exposed our selves to in this way of Swimming together, which had already been the occasion of our losing many Piperies,
I set my self against the design of our continuing thus together, by demonstrating to all our Men; That now
we had no Spaniards in these Parts to conflict with, but only the Difficulties of this dangerous River, it was convenient on the contrary to allow every Crew of us to advance a little before the other, and to keep as it were in a Line successively, that so in case the first were carried (as indeed it came to pass) by the violence of Stream upon the Rocks on the brink of the Water, whereof the River is full in an infinity of places; they might have time at least to get off before the arrival of the next Pipery, which had already wrought so much Disorder by the Wrecks that had been occasioned by their falling foul on one another, that all of us were in ma∣nifest danger of perishing.
I afterwards found, as well as several others of our People, who had made Trial hereof, that this foresight was not useless to us; for my Pipery happening to be cast upon such a Place, I was forced to untye the pieces of Wood, and to straddle upon one piece, while my Companion did the same upon another, and so leave our selves to be carryed down in this manner at the pleasure of the Stream, till it pleased God that we should meet with a Place, as we did indeed, that was not so rapid, where we could go upon the Bank of the River, which we could not have done if others had immediately followed us. I also advised, that those who went down first, should take care to set up in the most dangerous
Places a Flag or Banner at the top of a long Pole, that so we might discern it afar off, not so much to give notice to those who were hindermost, that there was a Fall in such a Place, for these would make themselves to be heard almost a League off, but to signify to them what side they were to put to land, which should be that where the Flag stood. These Methods being put in practice, saved the Lives of a great many Men, though for all these Precautions, several were also lost.
The many Bananiers which we found along the Banks
These Bananiers have partly been planted by the In∣dians, who dwell along the sides of this River, and partly by the overflowing of the Waters, which having dragged them along, and then left them dry, they took Root again, and so have multiplyed.
It was in this Place that those of our Men who had of this River, from starving; for our Arms being continually wet, and
our Powder all spoil'd, we could not possibly go a Hunt∣ing, tho' there is very good Game there; For as to the Horse-Flesh which we had salted, we were forced to throw it away in two days time, for it would not keep in the Water any longer was almost the only Food that kept us.
Some days after we found, down the River, some Carbets of an Indian Nation, called Albaouins, whom we chased to get their Victuals; there are a multitude of others, who dwell farther from the brink thereof on the opposite side to the former, and those of the one Bank have neither War nor Commerce with those of the other when we began to go
lost their Money by Gaming, Execution, and where I came to know that the warning formerly given me, was too true: For these Wretches being gone before, went and hid themselves behind the Rocks that are upon the brink of this River, by which we must necessarily pass. As every Man endeavoured to save himself as well as he could, and that for the Reasons already given, we went down the River at a distance one from another, and without any mistrust, they had but too much Time and Conveniency to pick out and Murder five English-men, whom they knew to be some of the best furnished with Booty, of which these Assassienes entirely deprived them.
My Companion and I found their Bodies upon the Rivers side; and I must freely confess, that such a Spectacle would have struck no small Terror into me, if I had been still the bearer of my winnings; I bless God with all my Heart, that inspired me with a Design to quit my Treasure, being then exposed, in going down the River as I was last after the English, to the Treachery of those Villains, where I must infallibly have run the same risque as they had done. None of our People knew any thing of this Murder, but when we were got all together farther down, I told them what I had seen, which was fully confirmed, as well by the absence of the dead Men, as
by that of the Assassienes, who durst not come and rejoin us, and whom we never saw from thence-forward.
On the 20th. of February we found the River large, and more spacious than before, and met with no more Falls therein; But the same was so incumbred with Trees and Bamboes, which the Floods carryed thither, that our wretched Machines could not be kept from overturning; but the depth of the Water in these Parts being a means to moderate the rapidness of it, there were not many drowned.
At last, farther, we found the River very good, the Stream very gentle, and no likelihood of our meeting any more Rocks nor Trees, tho' we had still above Sixty Leagues to the Sea-side. Wherefore now finding our selves freed from those Perils and Dangers which we had been exposed to in such terrible Places, where Death in the most frightful shape presented it self continually to our view, every one began to resume fresh Courage, and conceive good hopes of the remainder of the Voyage;
insomuch that being now all of us assembled together in the same Place where those who had gone before staid
for them that came after, and that we had now before us how we should go quite through with the rest of our Voyage, we agreed to divide our selves into several Companies, each consisting of Sixty Men, to build Canoes out of Mapou Wood, which sort of Trees grow in great numbers upon the Banks of the said River.
Having with wonderful Diligence finished four Canoes by the first of March, for the use of an Hundred and Twenty Men that were of us in one Canton, we put them into the Water, and embarked thereon, without staying for an Hundred and Forty more, who were finishing theirs; the ardent desire we had to be as soon is possibly satisfied, whether we should really be able to reach the North Sea, egged us mightily to put on; for according to the Idea we had conceived of our Passage, we were apprehensive of being carryed back into that of the South, as not being able to think we could be so Happy as to recover the sight of a Sea by which we might be carried home to our Native Countries, and which we had for so considerable a time longed for.
The English, got in their Piperies before us to the Sea-side: Here they met with an English Boat from Jamaica at Anchor, whom they were very forward to press to go and ask Leave of the Governour of that Island for their safe coming thither, because they had gone out without any Commission; but that Vessel being unwilling to go thither, without they laid down Six Thousand Pounds Sterling by way of Advance, and they being not in a condition to run the hazard of such a Sum, because many of them had lost their Money, as several amongst us had done,
which they would have carryed with them, by the oversetting of the Piperies, they staid with the Moustick Indians, that dwell some Leagues to Windward of the Mouth of this River, and who are very kind to them, because of the Trinkets they bring them from trading who would not make any Canoes, had. Thus that Boat proving to be of no use to these Eng∣lish, they politickly bethought themselves to send us word hereof, as hoping we, in acknowledgment of this Kindness, would obtain leave of the Governour of St. Domingo for them to retire, and be protected in that Island.
This News we received by two Moustick Indians, whom in a Boat they sent to meet us Forty Leagues up the River, and who told us, that there should no more than Forty Men only come down, because that ship could contain no more, by reason of the smallness of it, and its scantiness of Provision: But for all this, the Hundred and Twenty that made up one of our Companies, went down together, for every one pretended to be of the number of the said Forty.
Though this River we are now leaving, is by some Spanish Maps made to run directly fourscore Leagues, and then to fall into the North Sea, yet we have computed the same to run above Three Hundred, being almost always carryed to the South-East for to go to the North.
We happily arrived on the 9th. at the Mouth of the River at Cape Gracia de Dios, and entred into the Sea, which with much Satisfaction we knew to be that of
the North, where we were obliged to wait for the English Ship that was at the Isles of Pearls, which are a dozen Leagues distant from that Cape to the East:
Here we staid till the 14th. with the Mulasters that live in these Parts, and who fed us for some days with Fish.
This Cape, which stands on the Continent, hath been inhabited for a long time by these Mulasters and Negroes, both Men and Women, who have greatly multiplied
there, since a Spanish Ship, bound from Guinea, freighted with their Fathers, was lost by coming too near the Shoar, which is very dangerous in these Party:
Now, those who had escaped the Shipwreck were courteously received by the Moustick Indians living about this Canton, who were well pleased with the loss of that Ship, and of the Spaniards their Enemies that were in it.
Those Indians assigned their new Guests a place to grub up, finest Country of Savanna's, that reach along the River from the Mouth of it for five or six Leagues upwards. Here for their Sustenance they Plant Maes, where they built themselves Cottages in the Bananiers, and Magniots, which the Indians gave them; They also taught them to make a most Nourishing sort of Drink, which they call Hoon; they prepare the same of a Fruit that is produced on the top of a kind of a Palm-Tree, which grows naturally in these Woods, and never exceeds ten Foot in height: Each of these Trees bears no more than one Bunch or Grape, but most of them are a full Load for one Man: Its Grain is of the same form and thickness as an Olive; some of them are yellowish, others reddish, and containing in a very hard stone an exceeding oily Kernel: They pound the Fruit, Stone, and Kernel all together, boiling the same afterwards in Water, and this makes up all the Composition:
When the same is grown cold, or but lukewarm, they
put what quantity they are minded to drink into a Calabass pierced through with small holes like unto a
Skimmer; this Drink, besides that it is very Nourish∣ing, and fattens very much, is also a pleasanter Liquor than any that is to be met with among the other Indians the same being only peculiar to this Nation.
The Río Coco, formerly known as the Río Segovia, Cape River, or Yara River, is a river in northern Nicaragua and southern Honduras. It is the longest river that runs entirely within the Central American isthmus.
Cabo Gracias a Dios
Cabo Gracias a Dios is a cape located in the middle of the east coast of Central America, within what is variously called the Mosquito Coast and La Mosquitia. It is the point where the Rio Coco flows into the Caribbean, and is the border between the Nicaraguan North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region and the Honduran department also known as Gracias a Dios.
Frequency and Resonance
In the 70s I watched a film (movie) on late night TV. It seem rekindle some long forgotten subconscious memories such that I still remember the film most vividly. I watch it with my father-in-law John Frederick Danter who owned the Fish and Chip shop in Minster-in-Thanet. It was called.....
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (German: Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes; [aˈɡɪʁə deːɐ̯ ˌtsɔʁn ˈɡɔtəs]) is a 1972 epic historical drama film produced, written and directed by Werner Herzog. The soundtrack was composed and performed by West German kosmische band Popol Vuh. Klaus Kinski stars in the title role of Spanish soldier Lope de Aguirre, who leads a group of conquistadores down the Amazon River in South America in search of the legendary city of gold, El Dorado.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aguirre,_the_Wrath_of_God
Indeed it was a most memorable adventure! The film comes close to Raveneau de Lussan experience ..... and my memory of it.