During this time Castillo saw, on the neck of an Indian, a little buckle from a swordbelt, and in it was sewed a horseshoe nail. He took it from the Indian, and we asked what it was; they said it had come from Heaven. We further asked who had brought it, and they answered that some men, with beards like ours, had come from Heaven to that river; that they had horses, lances and swords, and had lanced two of them.
As cautiously as possible, we then inquired what had become of those men; and they replied they had gone to sea, putting their lances into the water and going into it themselves, and that afterwards they saw them on top of the waves moving towards sunset.
We gave God our Lord many thanks for what we had heard, for we were despairing to ever hear of Christians again. On the other hand, we were in great sorrow and much dejected, lest those people had come by sea for the sake of discovery only. Finally, having such positive notice of them, we hastened onward, always finding more traces of the Christians, and we told the Indians that we were now sure to find the Christians, and would tell them not to kill Indians or make them slaves, nor take them out of their country, or do any other harm, and of that they were very glad.
We travelled over a great part of the country, and found it all deserted, as the people had fled to the mountains, leaving houses and fields out of fear of the Christians. This filled our hearts with sorrow, seeing the land so fertile and beautiful, so full of water and streams, but abandoned and the places burned down, and the people, so thin and wan, fleeing and hiding; and as they did not raise any crops their destitution had become so great that they ate tree-bark and roots. Of this distress we had our share all the way along, because they could provide little for us in their indigence, and it looked as if they were going to die. They brought us blankets, which they had been concealing from the Christians, and gave them to us, and told us how the Christians had penetrated into the country before, and had destroyed and burnt the villages, taking with them half of the men and all the women and children, and how those who could escaped by flight. Seeing them in this plight, afraid to stay anywhere, and that they neither would nor could cultivate the soil, preferring to die rather than suffer such cruelties, while they showed the greatest pleasure at being with us, we began to apprehend that the Indians who were in arms against the Christians might ill-treat us in retaliation for what the Christians did to them. But when it pleased God our Lord to take us to those Indians, they respected us and held us precious, as the former had done, and even a little more, at which we were not a little astonished, while it clearly shows how, in order to bring those people to Christianity and obedience unto Your Imperial Majesty, they should be well treated, and not otherwise.
They took us to a village on the crest of a mountain, which can be reached only by a very steep trail, where we found a great many people, who had gathered there out of dread of the Christians. These received us very well, giving us all they had: over two thousand loads of maize, which we distributed among the poor, famished people who had led us to the place. The next day we dispatched (as we were wont to do) four runners, to call together as many as could be reached, to a village three journeys away; and on the next day we followed with all the people that were at the place, always meeting with signs and vestiges where the Christians had slept.
At noon we met our messengers, who told us they had not found anybody, because all were hidden in the woods, lest the Christians might kill or enslave them; also that, on the night before, they had seen the Christians and watched their movements, under cover of some trees, behind which they concealed themselves, and saw the Christians take many Indians along in chains. At this the people who were with us became frightened, and some turned back to give the alarm through the land that Christians were coming, and many more would have done the same had we not told them to stay and have no fear, at which they quieted down and were comforted. We had Indians with us at the time who came from a distance of a hundred leagues, and whom we could not induce to go back to their homes. So, in order to reassure them, we slept there that night and the next day went further, and slept on the road; and the day after those we had sent to explore guided us to where they had seen the Christians. Reaching the place in the evening, we clearly saw they had told the truth, and also, from the stakes to which the horses had been tied, that there were horsemen among them.
From here, which is called the river of Petutan, to the river which Diego de Guzman reached, there may be, from the place where we first heard of the Christians, eighty leagues; then to the village where the rain overtook us, twelve leagues; and from there to the South Sea twelve leagues. Throughout all that country, wherever it is mountainous, we saw many signs of gold, antimony, iron, copper and other metals. Where the permanent houses are it is so hot that even in January the air is very warm. From there to the southward the land, which is uninhabited as far as the Sea of the North, is very barren and poor. There we suffered great and almost incredible starvation; and those who roam through that country and dwell in it are very cruel people, of evil inclinations and habits. The Indians who live in permanent houses and those in the rear of them pay not attention to gold nor silver, nor have they any use for either of these metals.