The Tour of the world project:

Pedro Ordóñez de Ceballos,
El viaje del mundo (Madrid: 1614).

Book I, Chapter 15 (Part 2)

Uploaded on 2 October 2012 by .

Permalink for this paragraph 0 [36r continued]

Permalink for this paragraph 0 In that estate, which is on the road to Barranca,1 was a one-eyed steward. And everything that belonged to him had to be one-eyed as well. And so even horses, [36v] dogs, cats, birds, and other living things in his house, all had one eye, as did an Indian woman who served him. She welcomed us, inviting us into the house herself, because her master was not there. We asked her for food, and she said that all she had was a pot of amaranth,2 which she gave us. And even though it was cold, and had too little salt and too many peppers, it tasted so good to us that Captain Bolaños kept asking, ‘has there ever been anything more delicious?’. We ate the amaranth, along with some buns of maize, which is the wheat that in Spain is known as wheat of the Indies. And even though these were mouldy and bitter, our hunger made them as delicious as the amaranth. One of us went to the pot for more, and looking inside, he brought it over to us, laughing and saying ‘behold the delicious amaranth of Captain Bolaños’. He took a spoonful out, and we saw that more than half of it was silt, because the water around there was taken from puddles. And so now everyone around there, and even around the New Kingdom of Granada, has the saying, ‘how delicious, is this the amaranth of Captain Bolaños?’, meaning that there is no such thing as stale bread to the starving.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 I left this place with my men, and on the road to Barranca we ran into two sons of Mateo Rodriguez, judge of Barranca, who were taking a prisoner to Cartagena. We asked what his crime was, and we learned that he was a deserter from the fleet. I asked them to hand the prisoner over to me, and that they join me in helping my lieutenant, because we had heard that he was surrounded by the runaway slaves. The elder son replied: ‘If Your Mercy is a Captain, my father is a judge, and so we will not go.’ I took the prisoner anyway, and left him with my people, whom I ordered to march quietly up a certain hill until they reached the mountain range. I left with Pedro de Lomelín and another two men for Barranca, where I found fifteen Spaniards. [37r] I was empowered to take as many as I wanted, but I asked politely whether they would join me in securing the roads. They agreed, and so we rushed off and met the main party of my men at the top of the hill. From there we saw my second-in-command, Bartolomé Pérez, on another range of mountains, and a great multitude of blacks. We headed towards them, but because it was so far we did not reach them until the next day.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 At dawn, we heard the sound of conch shells, which was the sign that they were ready for battle. We climbed the final league and a half of the slope, and on the summit I ordered all the Indians with Captain Bolaños to prepare an ambush, and then my man Ortiz with the slaves and the other Spaniards to prepare another. Nine men were armed with rifles, and everyone else with swords and bucklers. I went ahead alone but for with Pedro Lomelín, and we arrived just in time, for our slaves were retreating, in the face of two male runaways and some hundred and fifty females, who fought even more fiercely than the men. They were armed with darts and clubs, and had already killed three of our men. We had only managed to kill one of their women. As I arrived, confronted the men who were retreating, saying ‘Santiago! Men, why do you flee? Look, they are but women!’. And so we repelled their attack, even though managed to kill two of my slaves.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 As soon as I reached my lieutenant, I said, ‘let us retreat from these devils, and if they want pardons and freedom I will pardon them all’. One of the runaways fought with such fury and courage that I stopped to watch him. The lieutenant shouted: ‘Pedro Martinillo, here I am’. He turned around, saying ‘Portuguese demon, the mines were not enough, even here you pursue me!’, and he leapt towards the Spaniards, and we retreated uphill. One of the black woman shouted, ‘follow them up, and I’ll deal with this brave one’, and she stayed there fighting with the Portuguese, lieutenant to lieutenant. [37v] We continued to fight as best we could, luring them towards where our men were waiting in ambush. Suddenly, they all appeared, and the Indians shot their arrows, and the Spaniards and slaves fired their arquebuses and darts. I thought this would end the battle quickly, but because the runaways were fighting for their lives and freedom, they fought back with their spears, darts, and clubs so fiercely that they even leapt in front of our arquebusiers, took their guns out of their hands, and beat them with them. The Indians withdrew into the bushes, and eight of them died. More than were wounded. The slaves I had brought and my lieutenant came together on some rocks, and there they tried to defend themselves. Three more slaves died. Us Spaniards were faring best, and we all charged towards where the Indians were fighting, as I pitied them the most. Even though I lost a man on the way, and nine more were wounded, I was glad to have joined them and come to their defence.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 Around this time, Polonia, the black woman fighting my lieutenant, left him, because three brave slave of ours came to relieve him. She started shouting: ‘Where is the treacherous Cordobés Captain,3 who deceives us with ambushes? I too was born in Córdoba’. I walked towards her with my sword and buckler, thinking that if this demon who had resisted Bartolomé Pérez managed to embolden and inspire her people we would be in trouble, and that it was best to distract her. And so I said, ‘I am the Cordobés, from the best land in the world. Try to kill me, and if you do you manage it you can boast that a woman killed the man who esteemed her the most: even if you were not as gentle and beautiful as you are (which, for a black woman, she certainly was), the fact that you are from Córdoba like I am would be enough. For even though you have denounced your countrymen as traitors, you well know that we are [38r] the cream of the world.’ Without saying another word, she threw a dart at me, of the three that she carried. It hit my buckler with an infernal fury. She threw another, but I avoided it. She threw the third, but missed again. Then she took an enormous club in her hands, and said, ‘see if you avoid this one’. The rest of what I went through with this monstrous woman I will save for the next chapter.

  1. It is not entirely clear what he is referring to. It is probably Barranca, in the modern Colombian municipality of San Onofre, in the department of Sucre. Suggestions welcome. []
  2. Also known as Kiwicha. []
  3. i.e. from Córdoba. []