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Expanded Diary of Pedro Font

Tuesday, April 2.—I said Mass. The night was serene and not very cold, and day dawned very clear and beautiful. It remained clear all day and was somewhat hot, which tempered the fresh wind which blew softly from the northwest. We set out from the little arroyo at seven o'clock in the morning, and passed through a village [Footnote 355] to which we were invited by some ten Indians, who came to the camp very early in the morning singing. We were welcomed by the Indians of the village, whom I estimated at some four hundred persons, with singular demonstrations of joy, singing, and dancing.

Their method of welcoming us was like this: At sunrise the ten Indians came, one behind another, signing and dancing. One carried the air, making music with a little stick, rather long and split in the middle, which he struck against his hand and which sounded something like a castanet. They reached the camp and continued their singing and dancing for a little while. Then they stopped dancing, all making a step in unison, shaking the body and saying dryly and in one voice, " Ha, ha, ha ! " Next they sat down on the ground and signalled to us that we must sit down also. So we sat down in front of them, the commander, I, and the commissary. Now an Indian arose and presented the commander with a string of cacomites, and again sat down. Shortly afterward he rose again and gave me a present of another string of cacomites and again sat down. In this way they went making us their little presents, another Indian giving me a very large root of chuchupate which he began to eat, telling me by signs that it was good.

This compliment being over, they invited us to go to their village, indicating that it was near by. The commander consented to give them this pleasure, and at once we began to travel. They followed after us with their singing and dancing, which I interrupted by chanting the Alabado; as we did every day on beginning the journey, but as soon as I finished they continued their singing and shouting with great vigor and in a higher key, as if they wished to respond to our chant. After going a short distance we came to the village, which was in a little valley on the bank of a small arroyo, the Indians welcoming us with an indescribable hullabaloo. Three of them came to the edge of the village with some long poles with feathers on the end, and some long and narrow strips of skin with the hair on, which looked to me like rabbit skin, hanging like a pennant, this being their sign of peace. They led us to the middle of the village where there was a level spot like a plaza, and then began to dance with other Indians of the place with much clatter and yelling.

A little afterward a rather old Indian woman came out, and in front of us, for we were on horse back, nobody having dismounted, she began to dance alone, making motions very indicative of pleasure, and at times stopping to talk to us, making signs with her hands as if bidding us welcome. After a short while I said to the commander that that was enough. So he gave presents of glass beads to all the women, they regaled us with their cacomites, and we said goodbye to everybody, in order to continue on our way. They were apparently sad because we were leaving, and I was moved to tenderness at seeing the joy with which we were welcomed by those poor Indians. Their color and other qualities of nakedness, slight beard, etc., are the same as those seen hitherto, and the same as those we saw farther on. Some wear the hair long, others short, and some have beards rather long and heavy.

We continued about a long league to the north and northeast and at nine o'clock arrived at the shore of the water near to and inside the Boca del Puerto Dulce, indicated on the map by the letter I, which hitherto has been considered as a large river, but which it is not, according to the experiments which we made and for reasons which I shall set forth. Here the commander decided that we should halt until after midday in order to observe the latitude of this place. [Footnote 356]

As soon as we arrived at the shore of the water we began to doubt that it was a river, because we did not see that it had any current, nor did the water have any more movement than that which we observed at the mouth of the port of San Francisco, where we noted a very gentle and inconspicuous motion, caused no doubt by the tide. Moreover, we did not notice on the banks any sign of a flood, much less any driftwood or trees, which naturally it would bring in its floods if it were a river, and especially so large a river. It might be argued that it brings no debris because its source is not very far away and that it runs through open country from which it cannot bring trees or other things, because there are none; but at least it must be conceded that it would have floods and that if it had them it would leave signs of them on its banks. But these banks are without any sign of floods, and its beaches, where it has any, are like those which we saw at the port. [Footnote 357]

This Puerto Dulce, indeed, is a gulf of fresh water, enclosed in canyon by hills of medium height on one side and the other. It runs almost to the east for a distance of some six leagues, and then widens out greatly in some immense plains, [Footnote 358] of which I shall speak tomorrow and day after tomorrow. In some places its banks are very precipitous, and in others it has a narrow beach on which, near the mouth, there were great piles of fresh-water mussels. The hills which from this channel are without trees, but those on this side have plentiful pasturage, while those on the other side appeared somewhat bald, with little grass, the earth being reddish in color. I tasted the water and found it salty although not so salty as that of the sea outside.

We saw there some launches very well made of tule, with their prows or points somewhat elevated. They had been anchored near the shore with some stones for anchors, and in the middle of the water some Indians were fishing in one, for in all this gulf of the Puerto Dulce the Indians enjoy plenty of excellent fish, among them being very fine salmon in abundance. I saw that they were fishing with nets and that they anchored the launch with some very long slim poles. By the way thay anchored it I was confirmed in the suspicion or opinion which I had already formed that the water had no current toward the bay, for I noticed that they anchored the raft on the upper side and headed in the direction opposite the mouth, which apparently would have been just the reverse if the water had flowed downstream. [Footnote 359] Seeing that they anchored the launch with these poles it was natural that they should reach the bottom. So I measured one of them and found it to be eleven and a half varas long, and by subtracting a good piece which remained out of water and above the launch in which the Indian fishermen were seated, I estimated that the water would be some nine or ten varas deep, noting at the same time that it is very quiet and placid.

Another proof I am going to give that the water had no current toward the bay. Among other fish which they caught the Indians who were fishing pulled out two very large ones, about two varas long, and their method of catching them was this: as soon as they felt from the pull made by the fish that it was in the net, which was tied to the two poles, they began gradually to raise one of the poles, and as soon as the fish and the net came into sight, without taking it from the water they gave the fish many blows on the head. Once I counted fifteen blows in succession and in another case twenty-odd. Now that it was dead and had lost its strength they took it from the net and put it inside the launch.

We called to these Indians, offering to buy their fish from them. At first they paid no attention to us, but as soon as the commander showed them a colored handkerchief they came to the shore in a hurry, bringing the two very large fish. I was not able to determine whether or not they were those called tollos, although from their form they appeared to be those, for they had a very large head, little eyes, small mouth like a tube which they puffed out and sucked in, the body having no scales, thick skin, and some spots like little stars and other figures, caused by some little bones which they had between the skin and the flesh. The flesh was very white, savory, and without spines and the bones were soft and spongy like tendons.

The commander offered glass beads for them, but the Indians woud not accept them at all, wishing to trade them only for clothing. Indeed, I did not see in any other place Indians like these, so desirous of clothing and so greedy for it that I was surprised, for they preferred any old rag to all the glass beads, which others are so fond of. Indeed, when the commander refused to give them clothing, a soldier bought a fish in exchange for an old cotton rag. But before delivering it they took the spawn from the stomach and an intestine like a pocket, and right there on the spot they ate the spawn raw and put what was left over in the intestine. Then they went to eat the other fish, which they dispatched quickly. Making a little fire, they put it in, and in a short time, almost before it was hot, like brutes they ate it as it was, almost raw. The soldier gave me a piece of his fish, and so we ate some of it.

Now comes the proof. As soon as the Indians ate the fish they got into their launch, and others embarked in others which were near the land. Raising the anchors, which were stones tied by a rope, they went to the other side of the water with great ease, steadiness, and rapidity, and only in the middle did we see that they used their oars a little. Now, they landed on the opposite side a good distance above the place from which they had set out on this side: whereas it appears the contrary would have been the case if the water had a current, for it is natural that if the water ran toward the bay, even though they should row they would come out on the other side below the place whence they set out on this side.

From a small elevation near the water and distant from the mouth about a quarter of a league upstream. I observed the width of the mouth, and from my observation I calculated that it would be a little less than a quarter of a league wide. [Footnote 360] In the bay and in front of the mouth there is an island which must be more than a league long from east to west, and about a quarter of a league wide. [Footnote 361] It is near the mouth, not in the middle of it, but toward the north side, and so placed as to divide that stretch of water into two branches, one larger than the other. All this I observed with the graphometer in the following way: I set the graphometer on a little elevation about a quarter of a league from the mouth, from which everything was visible, and sighting both ends of the island through the sights, the alidade showed me 40° in the clear, divided in this way, 6° from the island to the point on the other side, and 19° from the island to the point on this side. These 25° represented the water as divided into two branches, and the 15° remaining comprised the island, which was seen in the middle and somewhat outside of the mouth, toward the bay.

The channel of the water runs to the east, not straight but forming bends and inlets, and its width for three leagues upstream is essentially the same as that of the mouth, after which it begins to open out more. At this same place I observed the latitude and found it without correction to be in 37° 56 1/2' and with correction [Footnote 362] in 38° 5 1/2', and so I say: at the mouth of the Puerto Dulce, April 2, 1776, meridian altitude of the lower limb of the sun, 57°.

After midday we set out from the mouth of the Puerto Dulce, and at five o'clock halted on the banks of the arroyo of Santa Angela de Fulgino, having traveled in all some seven long leagues.—Seven leagues.

The direction of the six leagues covered this afternoon was two leagues east along the top of the hills close to the water, and one east-southeast up a canyon which had some oaks and other trees, by which we again came out at the top of the hills near the water. From this height we saw that the water here makes a bend on this side and widens out to about twice the width of the mouth, and that on the other shore directly opposite this place a point of land juts out a little and near it there is a rock or farallón within the water. Looking northeast we saw an immense plain without any trees, through which the water extends for a long distance, having in it several little islands of lowland. And finally, on the other side of the immense plain, and at a distance of about forty leagues, we saw a great Sierra Nevada whose trend appeared to me to be from south-southeast to north-northwest.

We descended from the top of the hills, and, having gone about half a league to the northeast, we traveled some three leagues more to the east- southeast until we halted at the arroyo. [Footnote 363] This afternoon from the top of the hills we saw on the other side of the water some Indians, who shouted at us, and after we descended from the hills to the plain several of them came out to us on the road. They appeared to be jolly and happy and good, and were very talkative, following us all the way to the camp; but afterward I formed another opinion of them. To the camp came many Indians who from all accounts were from a village not very far away. Although they were apparently gentle they were rather impertinent, and they proved themselves to be somewhat thievish, especially in the matter of clothing, to which they were greatly inclined and attracted, manifesting themselves desirous of acquiring and possessing it. They showed themselves to be somewhat crafty and thievish, for as soon as one stolen thing was taken from their hands they stole another, and we did not have eyes enough to watch and care for everything. So we resorted to the expedient of putting them out of the camp and telling them goodbye in a good natured way, but this did not succeed, and one of them even became impudent with the commander, who thus far had shown great patience with them. So, half angry, he took from the Indian a stick which he had in his hands, gave him a light blow with it and then threw the stick far away. Thereupon all departed, talking rapidly and shouting loudly, which I suspected was a matter of threatening.

Some of them came to see us, carrying bows and arrows, for all had very good ones and well made, the bow of good wood, small and wound with tendons like those we saw on the Channel, [Footnote 364] and the arrows of little reeds, very smooth, well made, and with dints, transparent and very sharp. One came with a scalp hanging from a pole. This did not please me, for it suggested war. The thing which these Indians most coveted was clothing. When they went away something was missed because, in proof that they were stealers of anything that came to hand, we found ourselves without the little chocolate beater and a fillet with which the commander tied the tail of his horse. And so I formed a bad opinion of these Indians. The soldiers purchased four fish somewhat more than a vara long and about a third of a vara wide. At first we did not recognize it, but on opening it, and especially when we ate it, we saw that it was salmon, tenderer, fatter, and more savory than that which we ate at the mission of Carmelo, for perhaps because there is so much fresh water here it grows larger, fatter, and better flavored. Today the long- billed mosquitoes molested us somewhat on the road.

The arroyo of Santa Angela de Fulgino is in a plain of considerable extent, [Footnote 365] well grown with oaks and other trees. It would not be a bad place for a settlement, as Father Crespi said in his diary, if the arroyo should prove to be permanent, but this does not appear to be the case; for we found it without current and with only some little pools with a small amount of water, and that not very good. This place is distant from the shore of the Puerto Dulce or Agua Dulce somewhat more than a league. [Footnote 366] The plain in that direction is surrounded by a range of medium-sized hills, and on the opposite side it has a sierra of good height and well grown with trees. This apparently is the same range as that which ends at the mouth of the Puerto Dulce and which afterward we crossed, and of which I spoke on the 8th of March. Just as it is very long it is also very wide, and it encloses some small valleys. One of these is the valley of Santa Coleta, [Footnote 367] as they called it in the journey of Señor Fages, and through which they traveled when they returned. It is on the other side of the mountain which is seen from this place.

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