While Doing the Wash

More unforeseen events occur.

On March 4, 1565, the San Lucas pulled up anchor and continued rounding the immense island of Mindanao . . . at an unspecified site, the voyagers found a good place to wash their clothes. An officer and two cabin boys were dispatched ashore with everyone’s dirty garments. The two servants had just started washing when they spotted several islanders closing in on them and thus had to run for their lives, abandoning a mountain of clothes that the voyagers would miss sorely when the weather turned extremely cold later in their adventure.

Conquering the Pacific, p. 131

The conquistadores have lost their clothes! Self doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

Stay tuned.

The Unforeseen

Human nature is incalculable. Four of the twenty crew from the San Lucas (the first ship from the Legazpi expedition to reach the Philippines; they beat the commander by about a month) mutiny, steal a rowboat, several arquebuses, and — this is the real clincher — the only flint stone on the San Lucas, which was used not just for cooking but for lighting fires in general. As the commander later reflected, “without fire the Indians would gain the upper hand over us at any time they wanted.”

It therefore becomes vitally important to track down the four escapees.

“One evening, the men of the San Lucas spotted a campfire in the distance. The four runaways were boldly moving inward toward the closest” native settlement, “willing to take their chances with” a native they had just met.

WHAT? Why would they do that? Escape from their countrymen and hope the natives will help them? What’s in it for the natives? Talk about stupid.

The men giving chase from the ship are able to steal up to the mutineers’ campsite, and the lookout is shot (with “27 pellets” from an arquebus, from about a tree away). All four men are marched back to the ship (including the one who was shot; guess being shot with 27 pellets from an arquebus isn’t so bad!)

When they get to the ship, the commander finds himself in a real pickle: the San Lucas has a skeleton crew of 20. The punishment for mutiny is hanging. If the commander follows the letter of the law and hangs the four, he’ll only have a crew of 16.

Oh my goodness!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“I take possession . . . in the name of the Spanish Crown.”

This is how Commander Miguel Lopez de Legazpi took possession of the island of Guam in the name of the Spanish Crown in the Year of Our Lord Fifteen-hundred and Sixty-Five:

He walked around the beach, cutting tree branches with his sword, pulling some grass, making stone monuments, and carving crosses into some of the coconut trees. The Augustinian friars said mass.

Conquering the Pacific, p. 124

Dammit! This exact same scene is in self’s novel! Why is she having such a hard time getting an agent? Self’s version is ever so much more dramatic because she has crabs scuttling on the beach, and monitor lizards sticking out forked tongues, and coconuts falling on the heads of the Spaniards as they kneel in prayer. In other words, her version is so much more immersive. It just isn’t FAIR!

But, enough of this whining. Reading further, self learns that Legazpi was tempted to stop his expedition in Guam. Then the Philippines would have remained FREE! Woo hoo! Can’t you just imagine?

Alas, someone reminded Legazpi that his instructions from the Crown explicitly stated THE PHILIPPINES. Fearful of the repercussions if he disobeyed his monarch’s orders, Legazpi and his ships continued.

It is so ineffably sad that the natives of the Philippines had absolutely no idea that they were in the sights of a monarch from across the sea, a monarch they had never even heard of.

Stay tuned.

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