They Have Very Fair Wheat, The Ear Of Which Is Two Hand-Breadths Long
And As Big As A Great Bulrush, The Stem Or Straw Being Almost As Thick
As A Man's Little Finger.
The grains are white and round, shining like
pearls that have lost their lustre, and about the size of
Almost their whole substance turns to flour, leaving very little bran.
The ear is inclosed in three blades, each about two inches broad, and
longer than the ear; and in one of them I counted 260 grains of corn. By
this fruitfulness, the sun seems in some measure to compensate for the
trouble and distress produced by its excessive heat. Their drink is
either water, or the juice which drops from cut branches of the palmito,
a barren palm or date tree; to collect which they hang great gourds to
the cut branches every evening, or set them on the ground under the
trees, to receive the juice which issues during the night. Our people
said that this juice tasted like whey, but sweeter and more pleasant.
The branches of the palmito are cut every evening to obtain this juice,
as the heat of the sun during the day dries up and sears over the wound.
They have likewise large beans, as big as chesnuts, and very hard,
having shells instead of husks or pods. While formerly describing the
fruit containing the _grains_ or Guinea pepper, called by the physicians
_grana paradisi_, I remarked that they have holes through them, as in
effect they have when brought to us; but I have been since informed,
that these holes are made on purpose to put strings or twigs through,
for hanging up the fruit to dry in the sun.
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