Of the second discovery made by the Adelantado Diego Velazquez, and in his name by Captain Johan de Grijalva, from the island of Cuba, of certain parts of New Spain, its coasts, and some newly discovered islands.
Translated by Isabella Perez ’21
After Diego Velazquez—alcaide, captain general, repartidor of the caciques and Indians of Fernandina for Their Majesties, and lieutenant of said island for the Viceroy Admiral, Don Diego Columbus—knew what Captain Francisco Hernandez and his companions had discovered of Yucatan, as was said earlier, and had some Indian interpreters or lenguas from that same (newly discovered) land, he decided to send an armada with Captain Johan de Grijalva and the pilot Anton de Alaminos (this pilot had been part of Captain Francisco Hernandez’ discovery) to the islands of Yucatan, Cozumel, Costila, and to the other nearby islands (though Yucatan is in fact just part of the Mainland, in those early days it was thought to be an island). And on January 20, 1518, Velazquez chose Johan de Grijalva as captain of this armada and Anton de Villasaña as its treasurer; for this they had permission from the Hieronymite monks that governed these parts, who ordered that Francisco de Peñalosa, a young gentleman from Segovia, should accompany this armada as veedor (overseer). These men were joined by forty gentleman, noblemen, and other persons in this number. And on January 22 they embarked in three caravels and a brigantine to the port called Matanzas, located in the province of Havana on the same island of Cuba, to pick up all the people there that had readied to go on this voyage, in addition to those I named, and to gather all the provisions and things that were necessary for the journey. The captain ship was called San Sebastian, there was also another ship of the same name, another caravel was called Trinidad, and the brigantine was called Santiago.
These four ships left the port of the city of Santiago on January 25, 1518, and they went to the port of Boyúcar, where they picked up four men who were skilled seamen. On February 12 this armada arrived at the port of Matanzas; there, on April 7, the captain assembled his people in the village of San Cristóbal in Havana, and there were in all 134 hired men. While they were there, they had sent the brigantine ahead to await the other ships on the cape or point of San Antonio, which is on the tip of Fernandina; on April 18, after all the people who had gathered from one part of the island or another to join this armada, the captain general, Johan de Grijalva, chose another three particular captains subordinate to him—Alonso Dávila, Commander Pedro de Alvarado, and Francisco de Montejo. The captain general took register of all the members of the expedition, and they counted 200 hired men, of both sea and land, among all those assembled; all these men embarked in the three ships that were mentioned above and another, called Santa Maria de los Remedios, making four ships in all. And on April 20, 1518, a Tuesday, this armada and its people set sail from the port of Matanzas; from there they went to the point or cape of San Antonio to join the brigantine that had gone ahead, up to which point there is a distance of seventy leagues. From there they took the route along the island of Santa Maria de los Remedios, which is ninety or a hundred leagues southeast of the cape of Sant Antonio, a quarter to the south—at which point the principal pilot that guided the fleet, Anton de Alaminos, informed all the pilots that the island they sought would be identified by three keys covered in white sand with few trees out at sea. And as they conceded the sails to the wind, God granted them good weather, and the following Thursday the armada arrived at the port of Carenas, which is in the same province of Havana, to pick up a few who had gone there to embark and take on some more provisions (they also removed from the ships a number of docile Indians from the island who had climbed onto them). This done, on the following day, April 23, the armada set sail from the port of Carenas and carried on its voyage. They arrived at the cape of San Antonio on the first day of May, on the day of San Felipe and Santiago at the hour of vespers, where they thought the brigantine would be; not seeing it, some men went on land and found a gourd hanging from a tree with a letter inside that said thus: “Those who came here with the brigantine turned back, for they had nothing to eat.”
Seeing this, they agreed not to stop (though they would come to miss this brigantine very much during later incidents), and that same day they carried on their way and took their route for the island of Santa Maria de los Remedios. The following Monday, May 3, they sighted land and saw a flat coast with a square building in one part of it, in the manner of a tower, white and low, which appeared to have a spire, and close to it to one side was a bohío or hut covered in straw; as it was the day of Santa Cruz, the island took this name, which the Indians called Cozumel. Thus the ships quickly sailed ahead along the coast and saw another building like the first, and they anchored in a cove at two leagues from this land. A little before sunset a canoe came towards the ships with five Indians and stopped at a distance from the ships; the captain general ordered an Indian interpreter he had brought with him (this interpreter, named Julian, was a native of the island of Santa Maria de los Remedios and had been in the hands of the Christians since the first voyage that I said was made to this land by Captain Francisco Hernandez in 1517) to tell them that they should approach the caravels without any fear and that the Spaniards would give them some of the gifts they had, and that no harm would come to them. And thus the interpreter spoke in a shout, because they were somewhat distant, but, although earlier they seemed to be considering the ships and armada, they did not respond nor desired to approach the Christians, and from there the Indians returned to land. At this time many smoke signals appeared along the coast, in a manner of warning and notice for those of the region. But because it was mentioned earlier that they offered them gifts, the principal gift that the Christians brought was very good wine from Guadalcanal—since the first voyage made by Francisco Fernandez it was known that the Indians of that land were inclined to it and drank plenty of it. And I say this not only of the Indians of that land, but throughout all the discovered lands of the Indies, where once they taste it, these people desire it more than anything the Christians can give them, and they drink it until they fall on their backs, if they are given that much.
The next day, Tuesday May 4, a canoe with three Indians arrived close to the caravels, and the captain ordered that the interpreter should speak with them, and so they were talking with this Julian and he with them; after a short time, another canoe came with three other Indians who joined the first and continued the talks, the interpreter saying what the captain ordered, and those in the canoes responding and replying. After a short while, one of these canoes returned to land and the other remained and came alongside the captain ship; from the prow the captain ordered the men to give the Indians some fine shirts using a rod, and a little wine in a bottle, which they received gladly, and meanwhile Julian told them that the Christians would not harm them, but rather desired to barter with them of their own accord. They asked them what land that was, and they told them it was Cozumel, which is one of the neighboring islands to Santa Maria de los Remedios, and they said the other land that appeared towards the northern part or behind the mountain was Yucatan, which the Christians called Santa Maria de los Remedios. They were also asked by the interpreter if they knew the whereabouts of two Christians that the interpreter said were in Yucatan, and they responded that one of them was dead from disease and the other was alive. And thus, these canoes gone, the captain ordered the ships to get as close to land as they could, and this was done. These two Christians who they asked about had been lost on the first discovery, and they wanted to retrieve them as much for the men’s safety as because it was presumed that they would already know something of the language and could be of much use. This island of Cozumel lies at nineteen degrees from the equinoctial line on the side of our pole and close to the coast of Yucatan.