National Geographic : 1891 Mar 28
Gardiner G. IHubbard-SouthAmerica. stream which, rising in the Andes, near Quito, flowed eastward; to explore the country, and find the happy land. He set out with 350 Cavaliers, mounted on Spanish horses and attended by 4000 Indian slaves. The first part of the route was easy ; the little stream soon became a river, then broadened into the Napo; but the farther they went, the slower and more difficult was their progress as they passed from the open forest and the cool and invigorating breezes of the Andes into the sultry valley of the Napo. Their way now led through forests more dense, darker and more impen etrable than those described by Stanley, for the valley of the Amazon is richer than the valley of the Congo. Natives armed with poisoned arrows opposed their progress ; food became scarce, treachery was on every side, and their number gradually dimin ished by death and by desertion of the slaves. The natives told them of a greater river than the Napo which they would find a few days' voyage farther down. This river, they said, flowed through a more populous and richer country, where food was abundant and gold was found in every stream. Pizarro determined to build a bark and to send Orellano as commander to find and return with food and succor. For this vessel, the forests furnished the timber ; the shoes of the horses were converted into nails, distilled gum was used for pitch, and the garments of the soldiers were a substitute for oakum. In two months, a brigantine was launched, the first European vessel that ever floated on the waters of the Amazon. The Napo grew broader and deeper as the little company rapidly floated down, until it became a mile wide. Three days after they left Pizarro, they saw before them a river, many times larger than the Napo, which the Indians called Parana-tinega, King of Waters; but we call it the Amazon. There was no cultivation, little food could be obtained, and the Indians were hostile instead of friendly. What was to be done ? Behind them was the wilderness, before them the promised land. The journey back would be difficult and dangerous; the temptation to explore the wonderful river was too great to resist. One man alone was faithful to Pizarro, and he was left on the bank while Orellano sailed down the river. The wonder of the explorers daily increased as other rivers larger than the Napo flowed into the Amazon, now on the north, more frequently on the south. Month after month passed, the river grew so broad that they could not see from one side to the other.
1891 Apr 1