Of the Journey from Damascus to Mecca, and of the Manners of the Arabians.
On the 8th of April 1503, having hired certain camels to go with the caravan to Mecca, and being then ignorant of the manners and customs of those with whom I was to travel, I entered into familiarity and friendship with a certain Mameluke captain who had forsaken our faith, with whom I agreed for the expences of my journey, and who supplied me with apparel like that worn by the Mamelukes, and gave me a good horse, so that I went in his company along with other Mamelukes. This advantage cost me much money and many gifts. Thus entering on our journey, we came in three days to a place called Mezaris, where we tarried other three days that the merchants might provide all necessaries for the journey, and especially camels. There is a certain prince called Zambei, of great power in Arabia, who had three brothers and four sons. This prince possessed 40,000 horses, 10,000 mares, and 4000 camels, which he kept in a country two days journey in extent. His power is so great, that he is at war with the Soldan of Egypt, the governor of Damascus, and the prince of Jerusalem all at once. His chief time of robbing and plundering is in harvest, when, he often falls unexpectedly on the Arabians, invading their lands and carrying away their wheat and barley, employing himself continually in predatory incursions. When his mares are weary with continual running, he stops to rest them, and gives them camels milk to drink, to refresh and cool them after their fatigue. These mares are of most wonderful swiftness, and when I saw them they seemed rather to fly than to run in riding, these Arabians only cover their horses with cloths or mats, and their own clothing is confined to a single vesture somewhat like a petticoat. Their weapons are long lances or darts made of reeds, ten or twelve cubits long, pointed with iron and fringed with silk. The men are despicable looking people, of small stature, of a colour between black and yellow, which we call olive, having voices like women, and long black hair flowing on their shoulders. They are more numerous than can well be believed, and are continually at war among themselves. They inhabit the mountains, and have certain times appointed for going out on predatory excursions, when they march in troops in great order, carrying with them their wives and children, and all their goods. Their houses or tents rather are carried on camels, having no other houses, but dwelling always in tents like soldiers. These tents are made of wool, and look black and filthy.