The island of Ceylon produces fine cinnamon and abundance of pepper, with great quantities of nuts and aroche. They here make great quantities of cayre of which ropes are manufactured, as formerly noticed. It likewise produces great store of that kind of crystal called ochi de gati or cats eyes, and it is said to produce some rubies; but on my return thither from Pegu, I sold some rubies here for a good price, which I had bought in that country. Being desirous to see how the cinnamon is gathered from the trees, and happening to be there during the season when it is gathered, which is in the month of April; at this time the Portuguese were in the field making war on the king of the country, yet to satisfy my curiosity, I took a guide and went out into a wood about three miles from the city, where there grew great numbers of cinnamon trees intermixed among other wild trees. The cinnamon is a small tree not very high, and has leaves resembling those of the bay tree. In March or April, when the sap rises, the cinnamon or bark is taken from the trees. They cut the bark of the trees round about in lengths, from knot to knot, or from joint to joint, both above and below, and then easily strip it off with their hands, after which it is laid in the sun to dry. Yet for all this the tree does not die, but recovers a new bark by the next year. That which is gathered every year is the best cinnamon, as what remains upon the trees for two or three years becomes thick and coarse, and not so good as the other. In these woods there grows much pepper.
[Footnote 150: The author probably here means cocoa-nuts and areka.—E.]
From the island of Ceylon a trade is carried on in small ships to Negapatam on the continent, and 72 miles off is a very great and populous city, full of Portuguese and native Christians, with many Gentiles. Almost the only trade here is for rice and cotton cloth, which is carried to various countries. It formerly abounded in victuals, on which account many Portuguese resorted thither and built houses, as they could live there at small expense, but provisions have now become scarcer and dearer. This city belongs to a Gentile nobleman of the kingdom of Bijanagur, yet the Portuguese and other Christians are well treated, and have built churches, together with a monastery of the Franciscans.