CHAPTER 54: The Great Transformation

As SOON as these Indians got home, all the inhabitants of that province who were friendly to the Christians and had heard of us, came to visit, bearing beads and feathers. We commanded them to build churches with crosses; up to that time none had been erected. We also bade them bring their principal men to be baptized.

Then the Captain made a solemn covenant with God not to invade or consent to invasion, or enslave any of that region we had guaranteed safety; to enforce and defend this sacred contract until Your Majesty and Governor Nuño de Guzmán, or the Viceroy in your name, should direct further as to the service of God and Your Highness.

Indians came to us shortly with tidings that many people had descended from the mountains and were living again in the valleys; that they had erected churches with crosses, and were doing everything we required. Each day we heard further to the same effect.

Fifteen days after our taking up residence in this town, Alcaraz got back with his cohorts [possibily in response to peremptory orders sent out by Diaz]. They reported to the Captain the way the Indians had come down and repopulated the plain; how they would issue from their formerly deserted villages carrying crosses, take the visitors to their houses and give of what they had. The Christians even slept among these hosts overnight! They could not comprehend such a novelty. Since the natives said their safety had been officially assured, the Christians decided to depart quietly.

We are thankful to our merciful God that it should be in the days of Your Majesty's dominion that these nations might all come voluntarily to Him who created and redeemed us. We are convinced that Your Majesty is destined to do this much and that it is entirely within reason to accomplish. For in the 2,000 leagues we sojourned by land and sea, including ten months' ceaseless travel after escaping captivity, we found no sacrifices and no idolatry.

In that period, we crossed from sea to sea. The data we took great pains to collect indicate that the width of the continent, at its widest, may be 200 leagues [which would be an excellent estimate measuring at the latitude of Culiacán]; and that pearls and great riches are to be found on the coast of the South Sea, near which the best and most opulent of all nations flourishes.