A notable repository and comparison between the ebbing and flooding of the Huyapari and Nile Rivers.

Translated by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert

Isidore writes in his Ethymologies[1] of how the Nile River irrigates the land of Egypt and makes it bountiful. Pliny says the same in his Natural History[2], this being the reason for Egypt’s fertility, and how depending on its flooding, the yearly crops can be more or less abundant or scarce. I want to place here a repository about another powerful river in these our Indies, and whose movements are very similar to the flooding of the Nile. This I have seen and have spoken to many eyewitnesses who attest to what I will write here, and some of them are in this our city of Santo Domingo of the island of Hispaniola, men of credit. But I will deal with this in more detail in Book XXIV of the second part of these histories, in Chapter III, where the great river called Huyapari will be mentioned, with the history of those who navigated the river with Captain Diego de Ordaz. The river ebbs and floods twenty estados or fathoms, and starts to rise in the month of May and continues rising until the month of October, and from then on begins to ebb at the same rate until the month of May. So it rises for six months and moons and ebbs over the same time period; in such a way that a carrack in which they traveled during the flooding and was left in an estuary by the river was later found on dry land more than two and a half leagues inland, on a savannah or field in which the carrack could hardly be seen among the grasses; and to reach that point it had floated above the trees and from it, sailing upriver, they gathered fruit from the trees and cut branches to open the way ahead. When this river rises it floods the fields on both banks, coming very near the town they call Arvacay. And when the waters recede the Indians follow the waters, planting until the waters reach their normal course; and when it starts to flood again they star eating from the most recent crops they planted until the waters reach what is level with or closer to their homes. And thus they use their seeds in planting, as it appears most suitable to the patters of the flooding and according to whether they are early or late crops according to their type, and depending on the time they have left to enjoy them. And another way in which this river imitates the Nile is in the many lizards or cockatrices of twenty of more feet long to be found in them; and I call them cockatrices because they control and open the lower jaw as easily as the top. There are many things left to say about this river, very worthy of being known, which are related to the histories included in the second part and most appropriately in Book XXIV.

[1] Isidore, Book XIII, Chapter 21.

[2] Pliny, Book V, Chapter 10.