[Footnote 174: Such is the manner in which the hire of these servants is expressed in Hakluyt. Perhaps meaning 500 pence; and as the Venetian sol is about a halfpenny, this will amount to about a guinea, but it does not appear whether this is the sum for each person, or for all three.—E.]
By these precautions we made the journey over the desert without any trouble, as, whenever the camels stopt for rest, our tent was always the first erected. The caravan makes but small journeys of about 20 miles a-day, setting out every morning two hours before day, and stopping about two hours after noon. We had good fortune on our journey as it rained, so that we were never in want of water; yet we always carried one camel load of water for our party for whatever might happen in the desert, so that we were in no want of any thing whatever that this country affords. Among other things we had fresh mutton every day, as we had many shepherds along with us taking care of the sheep we had bought at Babylon, each merchant having his own marked with a distinguishing mark. We gave each shepherd a medin, which is twopence of our money, for keeping and feeding our sheep by the way, and for killing them; besides which the shepherds got the heads, skins, and entrails of all the sheep for themselves. We six bought 20 sheep, and 7 of them remained alive when we came to Aleppo. While on our journey through the desert, we used to lend flesh to each other, so as never to carry any from station to station, being repaid next day by those to whom we lent the day before.
From Babylon to Aleppo is 40 days journey, of which 36 days are through the desert or wilderness, in which neither trees, houses, nor inhabitants are anywhere to be seen, being all an uniform extended plain or dreary waste, with no object whatever to relieve the eye. On the journey, the pilots or guides go always in front, followed by the caravan in regular order. When the guides stop, all the caravan does the same, and unloads the camels, as the guides know where wells are to be found. I have said that the caravan takes 36 days to travel across the wilderness; besides these, for the two first days after leaving Babylon we go past inhabited villages, till such time as we cross the Euphrates; and then we have two days journey through among inhabited villages before reaching Aleppo. Along with each caravan there is a captain, who dispenses justice to all men, and every night there is a guard appointed to keep watch for the security of the whole. From Aleppo we went to Tripoli, in Syria, where M. Florinasca, M. Andrea Polo, and I, with a friar in company, hired a bark to carry us towards Jerusalem. We accordingly sailed from Tripoli to Jaffa, from which place we travelled in a day and a half to Jerusalem, leaving orders that the bark should wait for our return. We remained 14 days at Jerusalem visiting the holy places, whence we returned to Jaffa, and thence back to Tripoli, and there we embarked in a ship belonging to Venice, called the Bajazzana; and, by the aid of the divine goodness, we safely arrived in Venice on the 5th of November 1581.