Book VI, Chapter XXII
About the people named chacopati, who the Spanish call magueyes, that go their entire lives without drinking, doing so only once or extremely rarely.
Translated by Kendal Simmons ’23
On the Mainland, close to the province of Araya, there are a people that the Spanish call agoreros because of a certain fruit that goes by the same name. Nearby, there is another group that they call magueyes because of a certain plant called maguey, which is very useful in that land and is discussed further in Chapter XI of Book XI. The magueyes call the natives of that land chacopati. The chacopati husk an herb of the same name and cook its stalk in order to make a nutritious delicacy. They nourish themselves with this delicacy and extract the juice from its leaves through heat and distillation. They drink that liquor because the only water that they have access to is the sea, which is not bearable to drink. They do not have rivers, nor do they have springs, lakes, or anything of the sort. Throughout their whole lives, they do not drink water except for when it rains. Most years it only rains a few times, while some years it does not rain at all. When it does rain, some Indians drink from the puddles of rainwater on the ground, just as a dog or other animal might do if they came across that water. But they do not drink from the puddle because they are suffering or because they crave the water from being raised without it. So, either their habits influence their natural disposition, or their natural disposition influences their habits.
When the moon is eclipsed, the chacopati and other Indians from other regions join together against the moon and launch many arrows towards it because they believe that the moon is angry with them and that it will destroy them and all of their belongings. Later, they give orders to trade, exchange, and barter what they have with one another because they share the belief that moving their belongings from one owner to another will protect them from the danger that they faced or expected if they did not make this trade. They continue from one town to another in order to make the same exchanges and trades with their neighbors and with whomever they can until they have nothing left to barter. That exchange is similar to how in Spanish they say trade and to how in the language of this island of Hispaniola they say serra. In the language of these magueyes or chacopati, to trade means uchibican.
Image retrieved from John Carter Brown Library at Brown University