The grace of the Holy Spirit be always in your soul, Amen. Since Father Vice-Provincial [Segura] has no opportunity to write to you, because of his concern over despatching the pilot in haste to your land, he has asked me to forward to you in his name an account of our journey up till now.
After having been delayed in arriving here much more than we had expected by those adversities which you understand are usual in the discovery of new regions, and by the discomforts of the weather, as the pilot will narrate to you more at length, we arrived here and unloaded our cargo yesterday, which was the tenth day of September. We departed as you know on the fifth of August from Santa Elena. We find the land of Don Luis in quite another condition than expected, not because he was at fault in his description of it, but because Our Lord has chastised it with six years of famine and death, which has brought it about that there is much less population than usual. Since many have died and many also have moved to other regions to ease their hunger, there remain but few of the tribe, whose leaders say that they wish to die where their fathers have died, although they have no maize, and have not found wild fruit, which they are accustomed to eat. Neither roots nor anything else can be had, save for a small amount obtained with great labor from the soil, which is very parched. So the Indians have nothing else to offer to us and to those who came on the ship but good will, and certainly these Indians have shown that in a kindly manner. They seemed to think that Don Luis had risen from the dead and come down from heaven, and since all who remained are his relatives, they are greatly consoled in him. They have recovered their courage and hope that God may seek to favor them, saying that they want to be like Don Luis, begging us to remain in this land with them. The chief has kept a brother of Don Luis, a boy of three years, who lies seriously ill, 6 or 8 leagues from here and now seems certain to die. He has requested that someone go and baptize him, for which reason it seemed good to Father Vice-Provincial to send last night one of Ours to baptize the boy so close to death.
Thus we have felt the good will which this tribe is showing. On the other hand, as I have said, they are so famished, that all believe they will perish of hunger and cold this winter. For only with great difficulty can they find roots by which they usually sustain themselves, and the great snows found in this land do not allow them to hunt for them. Seeing then the good will that this tribe has shown, great hope is had of its conversion and of the service of Our Lord and His Majesty and of an entrance into the mountains and to China, etc. Therefore, it has seemed best to Father to risk remaining despite such scanty stores, because on our trip we have consumed two of the four barrels of biscuit and the small amount of flour which was given us for the journey. We had to help the entire ship with some supplies, as we were ill-provisioned for the journey.
I am convinced that there will be no lack of opportunity to exercise patience, and to succeed we must suffer much. But it has seemed good to expose ourselves to that risk and this especially so, since in your kindness you might be able to send us a generous quantity of corn to sustain us and to let all this tribe take some for sowing. As it touches the service of Our Lord and His Majesty, it would be best that you see to it that we are supplied with all speed possible. If it cannot be done in the winter, it is imperative that some provisions arrive some time during March or at the beginning of April so that we can give seeds to the tribe for planting. At this time the planting is done here, and thus many of the tribes will come here after being scattered over the region in search of food and there will be a good opportunity for the Holy Gospel. The chief has sought this very thing especially. As to information about the land that touches the route along which the pilot must be directed, he himself will give it. It is not convenient to enter by the river we did, for we did not have as good information from the Indians as was necessary about the place we should have entered. And so, today, the pilot has gone overland 2 good leagues away to see a river, which he will enter when with good fortune he comes again to help us and visit us. Through this region he can go by water up to the place where we plan to make our encampment. To reach this spot, it is 2 good leagues by land and 2 others or more by water, so that the goods, which we have unloaded in this uninhabited place reached by the river where we now are, must be carried by the Indians on their shoulders for these 2 leagues and then embarked in canoes, which is sufficiently laborious.
From some Indians whom we met farther down this river we have some information about the region farther inland. Three or four days' journey from there lie the mountains. For two of these days one travels on a river. After crossing the mountains by another day's journey or two, one can see another sea. If any new information can be had with more certainty and clarity, we will get it. Furthermore, in making this trip a good shallop is a necessity, since with the famine and death this tribe does not have the canoes in which the trip could be made. The pilot has managed his voyage very well and has toiled in every possible way and has brought all the provisions that we took at Santa Elena. Moreover seeing our need of getting these provisions overland, he has helped us by giving us a large earthern wine jug, sacks for transporting the flour, and a chisel he brought along. He has also given us half his supply of tar to patch up one of the leaking canoes that the Indians have. With the great need of provisions for the entire crew, it has been thought necessary that they leave today, and we will remain here in this lonely region amid the trials mentioned above. So there has not been opportunity to get more information or to write further. May God Our Lord grant you prosperity in all your undertakings in His holy service as you desire.
From this port on the 12th of September, 1570.
By order of Father Vice-Provincial.
Your chaplain Quirós
My Lord, Since I could not do more, I ordered Father Quirós to give a long account to you of everything. I am writing to His Majesty about the conditions which I find in this region for spreading the Holy Gospel, and about the grave necessity in which we remain in the course of accomplishing our mission. I believe there is no need to return, but I must entreat you anew to send us with all speed a shipload of grain, but no other trifles, since you easily see the great importance of this being done at once. It is for the help and protection of the entire tribe, and for the service of God Our Lord and His Majesty. I am also writing to His Majesty that you will send on to His Majesty detailed information of the route to Axacam as far as it is known. In no way does it seem best to me to send you any Indian boy, as the pilot will explain, and for other reasons too. May Our Lord protect you unto a long life and favor you in His love and grace.
J. Baptista se Segura
Above I had forgotten to write to you that from the time it is understood that the frigate is to come with the help requested, one or two Indians will be sent with a letter to the mouth of the arm of the sea, along which any ship coming must sail. Thus, when they see the ship, they will make a large smoke signal by day and a fire at night. Furthermore the people there will have a sealed letter of yours and they will not return it until they receive another like it, which is to be a sign that those who come are friendly and are the ones who bring the message. Take heed of this sign or inform whoever comes about it. Our letter will carry information about the way which must be followed in entering and will serve as a guide.
May Our Lord be with you, Amen.
Don Luis has turned out well as was hoped, he is most obedient to the wishes of Father and shows deep respect for him, as also to the rest of us here, and he commends himself to you and to all your friends.
By a bit of blundering (I don't know who on the ship did it) someone made some sort of a poor trade in food. I see now the misfortune which followed, in that while up till now the Indians whom we met on the way would give to us from their poverty, now they are reluctant when they see they receive no trinkets for their ears of corn. They have brought the ears of corn and other foods and asked that they be given something when they handed them over. They say that they have done that with the others. Since Father had forbidden that they be given something, so that they would not be accustomed to receiving it and then afterwards not want to bargain with us, the Indians took the food away with them.
Thus it seemed good to Father that he should tell this to you since we must live in this land mainly with what the Indians give us. Take care that whoever comes here in no wise barters with the Indians, if need be under threat of severe punishments, and if they should bring something to barter, orders will be given that Don Luis force them to give in return something equal to whatever was bartered, and that they may not deal with the Indians except in the way judged fitting here.
Christ Our Lord be with everyone, Amen.