To Lord Gabriel Sanchez,
Treasurer of the Spanish Court,
As I know that it will please you that I have carried to completion the duty which I assumed, I decided to write you this letter to advise you of every single event and discovery of this voyage of ours. On the thirty-third day after I left the Canaries I reached the Indian Sea; there I found very many islands, inhabited by numberless people, all of which I took possession without opposition in the name of our most fortunate king by making formal proclamation and raising standards—and to the first of them I gave the name of San Salvador, the blessed Savior, through dependence on whose aid we reached both this and the others. The Indians however call it Guanahani. I gave each one of the others too a new name; to wit, one Santa Maria de la Concepción, another Fernandina, another Isabella, another Juana, and I ordered similar names to be used for the rest.
The island Juana and the other islands of the region, too, are as fertile as they can be. This one is surrounded by harbors, numerous, very safe and broad, and not to be compared with any others that I have seen anywhere; many large, wholesome rivers flow through this land, and there are also many very lofty mountains in it. All these islands are most beautiful and distinguished by various forms; one can travel through them, and they are full of trees of the greatest variety, which brush at the stars—and I believe they never lose their foliage. At any rate, I found them as green and beautiful as they usually are in the month of May in Spain; some of them were in bloom, some loaded with fruit, some flourished in one state, others in the other, each according to its kind. The nightingale was singing and there were countless other birds of many kinds in the month of November when I myself was making my way through them. There are furthermore, in the beforementioned island Juana, seven or eight kinds of palm trees, which easily surpass ours in height and beauty, as do all the other trees, grasses, and fruits. There are also remarkable pines, vast fields and meadows, many kinds of birds, many kinds of honey, and many kinds of metals, except iron.
There are moreover in Hispaniola fine, high mountains, broad stretches of country, forests, and extremely fruitful fields excellently adapted for sowing, grazing, and building houses. The convenience and superiority of the harbors in this island and its wealth in rivers, joined with wholesomeness for man, is such as to surpass belief unless one has seen them. The trees, coverage, and fruits of this island are very different from those of Juana. Besides, this Hispaniola is rich in various kinds of spice and in gold and in mines, and its inhabitants of either sex always go as naked as when they were born, except some women who cover their private parts with a leaf or a branch of some sort, or with a skirt of cotton which they themselves prepare for the purpose.
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