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A letter of the Licentiate John de Labera to the Licentiate Alonso Sapata de Henao in Castile in Calamea de la Sorengo, written from S. Fee de Bogota in the new kingdom of Granada , the 10. of May 1590. touching the rich silver mines of Marequita newly found out, and the long way thither by the river of Magdalena.

WITH other letters which I dispatched from hence in August 1589. I wrote unto your worship by 2. or 3. wayes: but I know not whether you have received them or no. Presently after I departed to the government of Popayan , which joineth with the citie of Quito in the coast of Peru , in companie of the governors lieutenant Don Diego Ordonez de Lara of Salamanca. But I was faine to forsake his companie, by reason I fell sicke in the citie of Marequita, where they have discovered the great silver mines: which citie is above 200. leagues from Cartagena : where I remained a certaine time very sicke. And because this countrey is extreme hotte, and I every day grew worse and worse, I was faine to travaile 30. leagues further up into the maine land to a citie called S. Fee in the new kingdom of Granada , being on the coast of Peru : which is a cold countrey: where I am admitted a procurator, for that the Royal audience is kept in this citie. So I finde my selfe very healthy of bodie, by reason this countrey is full of all kind of victuals, very good and very plentifull, as bread, cheese, bacon, beefe, great store of hennes, and great store of comfeitures. Onely here is want of golde: so that this countrey will be utterly undone, if the mines of Marequita help not to restore the same again: whereof there is good hope: for here is great store of metall already found, and the workmen are in hand to refine the said metal: so that we are in good hope that great store of silver will be found in these mines of great value and profite to his majestie. This river is called the great river of Magdalena. There is a fish in the river called Cayman, which followeth after the canoas: and if it can reach any man in the canoa, it will haile him out and devoure him. All night they lie in the sand on shore. In this river as we are going up, there is at certaine seasons great store of lightning and thunder, with such abundance of raine, as though the skies would fall downe: and so it doth continue from midnight until morning: so that we are faine to go aboord the canoas, & with certaine broad leaves which grow in the countrey, the mariners make a covering to cast over the wares which are laden in the canoas: and it doth keepe both the raine & sunne from us which are passengers. The canoas are drawen up this river of Magdalena by maine force of the mariners in rowing and haling them with ropes. There are 7. or 8. Indians commonly which guide these canoas, besides the Master which keepeth the helme, and the passengers. We are commonly two moneths in going up this river. It is 150. leagues to the landing place. And there the marchants unlade their marchandise, which serve for all the cities and townes which are in this newe kingdome of Granada . And the marchants lade the canoas backe againe from thence with great store of silver and golde which is gotten out of the mines for Cartagena , and there it is shipped for Spaine. And likewise here is great quantitie of treasure laden in the sayd canoas which is for the kings custome and other dueties which are paid: But they are but a moneth or three weekes going downe the river to Cartagena . These are the richest mines in all Peru . And thus I rest.

From Santa Fee de Bogota in the new kingdome of Granada in Peru the 10. of May 1590.The Licentiate JOHN de LABERA.

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