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COLUMBUS ARRIVES - AND DIES

During the "areitos", the People, both naborias and nitaino, performed the round dances and ceremonies of story telling. They gave thanks for the spirits of their world and ancient stories were told. Stories of the ancient time of Creation. Stories of Deminan and his brothers. Skydwellers. Walkers on clouds and blue sky. The four sacred directions, called Caracaracolesin Taino, orphaned at birth by their virgin mother, they ruled over the spirit world. Sacred beings, wandering the sky islands, here and there. Their powers coming from a more ancient time even. Out of jicaras, they created the oceans and fish. Out of out of a turtle, the islands. From spirit babies they created the toads from which, in turn they created the rains and waters. From clay and stars they created men. And, as if in answer to the prayers of the men, prayers offered to statues created from jobo trees, the Four, from the river manatee, created women.
The sea was calm as a pond that morning. But even in such calmness, the low, eternally rolling, swells gently raised and lowered the boat as it came ever nearer to land. On the rise of each swell, Columbus could see more of the detail of the new land. The trees were like none he had seen before - even on his travels along the edge of Africa. The white sand rose from the clear blue water a distance of about 200 feet where a solid wall of greenery defined the limit of his view. There were no mountains or other features to break the line of green or establish any farther horizon. Perhaps they were just obscured by the heavy mist that absorbed all detail and swallowed the forest. He had an uneasy feeling that the formless land flowing to the neaby horizon had merely replaced the formless sea as a place he would wander forever. The thought quickly passed.
It was Diego who first saw Caonabo’.
“Captain! Look!” His gesture led Columbus gaze off to the port.
“I see him. Do you see any others?” responded Columbus.
“No, Captain. Just the one”

THE TAINO GREET THE IBERIANS

Hua’laguani, decked out in feathered garments almost as impressive as those of Bohequio, stood in the proper place for a nitayno - next to his chief. He pointed Columbus toward an empty cushion - one of many arrayed around a low table covered with a colorful array of foods, none of which was recognizable to him. He sat, as did all the others. Around to his left sat Caonabo’, the jewel sword at his side. Columbus could now see that it was all of one piece. Close up, it looked more like Genoan glass than gemstone. The blade had a series of overlapping, semicircular, indentations running its full length and width, almost like scales on a fish. Where the circumference of an arc met the edge of the blade, it looked to be exceedingly sharp. While beautiful, thought Columbus, it would not make a good weapon - it looked too fragile. Continuing around to the left were several other villagers, also decked out in feathery finery. All appeared more solemn than would be expected during what, outside the hut, was clearly a festival for the villagers.

 

 

REBECCA AND MARCEL EXPLORE THE MEANING OF THE CEMI

 

“Marcel, tell me about this” she said as she picked it up. The stone felt almost warm to her touch and its smooth, beautifully proportioned, segments melded into her grip as though it knew she had picked it up. “It is remarkable.”
“I should make you guess what it is. But I will give you a clue. It is the head of beast of burden.” He reached out, took it from her grasp and rotated it ninety degrees. “You were misled because it only makes a good paper weight when I lay it on its back.”
“Where did it come from?” She took it back and turned it over several times in her hands, trying to see the image.
“I would tell you . . . but it would only mis-lead you. It is interesting that your eye settled on that particular piece as it is one a pair I consider the most fascinating of all my collection.”
“So mislead me.”
“It is a carved head of a llama.”
“Then it is Quecha?”
“No. At least it is not from Tawantinsuyu but there is a connection.”
“Where did it come from?” Rebecca thought he must be teasing her because llama lived only in the Collao, the high plain of the southern mountains.
“It is from Cacibajagua.”
Rebecca was astonished.
“How can this be from the Black Cave. That is no where near the Tawantinsuyu.”
“You are correct. It is from Wai`tukubuli. And it is one of two that I have that I believe were carved by the same artist. At least the stone is identical.” He turned to a shelf behind him and unerringly reached into the clutter to retrieve a second cemi. It was roughly the same size and the color was identical.
 

THE CAHOKIAN PRINCESS