CHAPTER 41: A Smoke; a Tea; Women and Eunuchs

EVERYWHERE they produce a stupor with a smoke [of, presumably, peyote cactus, imported from tribes of the Río Grande valley and southward], for which they will give whatever they possess.

They drink a yellow tea made of leaves from a holly-like shrub [ Ilex cassine] which they parch in a pot; then the pot is filled with water while still on the fire. [This became popularly known elsewhere as "black drink" and "Carolina tea."] When the beverage has boiled twice, they pour it into a jar and thence into a half gourd. As soon as it is frothy, they drink it as hot as they can stand. From the time it is poured from the pot to the time of the first sip, they are shouting, "Who wants to drink?"

When the women hear these shouts, they stand motionless, fearing to move. Even if heavily laden, they dare not budge. Should a woman make a motion, they dishonor her, beat her with sticks, and in great vexation throw out the liquor that is prepared. Those who have drunk any of it regurgitate, which they do readily and painlessly. They say they do this because a woman's movement when she hears the shout causes the tea to carry something pernicious into the drinker's body which will presently kill him.

At the time of boiling, the pot must be covered. If it happens to be open when a woman passes, the rest of that potful is thrown out. The village is three days drinking this tea, eating nothing the whole time. Each person has an arroba and a half [about five or six gallons] a day.

When the women have their indisposition, they seek food only for themselves; no one else will eat of what they bring. In the time I was among these people, I witnessed a diabolical practice: a man. living with a eunuch. Eunuchs go partly dressed, like women, and perform women's duties, but use the bow and carry very heavy loads. We saw many thus mutilated. They are more muscular and taller than other men and can lift tremendous weight.