They Have Few Land Animals, Except A
Kind Of Rabbits Like Those Of Hispaniola; But To Make Amends For This Want,
They Have Vast Quantities Of Fish Both In The Sea And The Rivers:
these the chiefest is tortoises or turtles, in vast abundance, excellent
of their kind, and very wholesome, which cure the leprosy and the itch, in
such as are content to make them their constant food.
It produces maize or
Indian corn in great abundance; and every thing considered, it may be
pronounced the finest and best provided country in that part of the world.
The natives of Cuba were of the same nation with those of the Lucayos
islands, a good sort of people, and very well tempered. They were governed
by caciques, having towns of 200 or 300 houses, in each of which several
families resided, as in Hispaniola.
They had no religion, having no temples, idols, or sacrifices; but they
had a kind of conjuring priests or jugglers, like those in Hispaniola, who
pretended to have communication with the devil, and to obtain answers from
him to their questions. To obtain this favour, they fasted three or four
months, using only the juice of herbs; and when reduced to extreme
weakness, they were worthy of inspiration, and to be informed whether the
seasons of the year would be favourable or otherwise; what children were
to be born, and whether those born were to live, and such like questions.
These conjurors, who were called behiques, were the oracles of the
natives, whom they led into many superstitions and absurdities; pretending
to cure the sick by blowing on them, and other mummeries, muttering some
unintelligible words between their teeth.
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