Now we came to a long southward running tongue of Trinidad. Point Arenal, he named it. A corresponding tongue of that low Holy Island reached out toward it, and between the two flowed an azure strait. Here, off Point Arenal, the three ships rested at anchor, and now there came to us from Holy Island a big canoe, filled with Indians. As they came near the Esperanza we saw that they were somewhat lighter in hue than those Indians to whom we were used. Moreover they wore bright-colored loin cloths, and twists of white or colored cotton about their heads, like slight turbans, and they carried not only bows and arrows to which we were used, but round bucklers to which we were not used. They looked at us in amazement, but they were ready for war.
We invited them with every gesture of amity, holding out glass beads and hawk bells, but they would not come close to us. As they hung upon the blue water out of the shadow of the ship, the Admiral would have our musicians begin loudly to play. But when the drums began, the fife and the castanets, the canoe started, quivered, the paddlers dipped, it raced back to that shore whence it came, that shore that we thought island.
“Lighter than Haytiens!” exclaimed the Admiral. “I have thought that as we neared the Equator we should find them black!”
Afterwards he expanded upon this. “Jayme Ferrer thinks as I think, that the nearer we come to the Equator the more precious grow all things, the more gold, the more diamonds, rubies and emeralds, the more prodigal and delicious the spices! The people are burnt black, but they grow gentler and more wise, and under the line they are makers of white magic. I have not told you, Juan Lepe, but I hold that now we begin to come to where our Mother Earth herself climbs, and climbs auspiciously!”
“That we come to great mountains?”
“No, not that, though there may be great mountains. But I have thought it out, and now I hold that the earth is not an orb, but is shaped, as it were, like a pear. It would take an hour to give you all the reasons that decide me! But I hold that from hereabouts it mounts fairer and fairer, until under the line, about where would be the stem of the pear, we come to the ancient Earthly Paradise, the old Garden of Eden!”
I looked to the southward. Certainly there is nowhere where there is not something!
He gazed over the truly azure and beauteous sea, and the air blew soft and cool upon our foreheads, and the fragrance which came to us from land seemed new. “Would you not look for the halcyons? Trinidad! Holy Island! We approach, I hold, the Holy Mountain of the World. And hark to me, Juan Lepe, make vow that if it be permitted I will found there an abbey whence shall arise perpetual orison for the souls of our first parents!”