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Dorado Tours.

 Ever since the day Columbus set foot on Guanahan Beach, strangers arriving in the New World had been asking its inhabitants for gold. These advised according to their best skill, and much precious metal was found by their advice; but the more of it was obtained, the more intense became its lust. It could not be satisfied by the endless treasures of Mexico, nor Perunka. No sacrifices, no pains were spared, as long as there were still regions in the discovered continents that had not been visited by gold seekers. Even more useless trips were made than successful ones. Often the Indians deliberately misled the greedy conquerors, when that was the only way to escape from them; and perhaps even more often the knowledge of the Indians was misunderstood, or their old fables were taken as true. Probably most of it,


Little by little, it is probably not known from what beginning, the same notion came to power among the Spaniards, that in the interior of South America there was an immensely rich place of gold, El Dorado, and for so long it was searched for, until almost the entire vast continent with its primeval forest was crossed and crossed for the same. According to one opinion, it was a city called Manoa, which was said to be full of gold and precious stones, according to another, a whole country, which was so rich in them that it earned the name of Dorado, along with Perunk.


However, the original roots of the Dorado legend may have been the celebrations that the small Chibcha kingdom used to celebrate in connection with the election of a ruler. The Spaniards on the sea coast heard from the natives that after his election that prince was generally covered with golden sand and then swam in Lake Guatavita. We now know that the rumor had a basis in fact. The new ruler's accession to power was celebrated with many kinds of spending, fasting and sacrifices. The last of the goings was the following: All the people gathered on the shore of Lake Guatavita. The priests escorted the young ruler to the shore of the lake, where a raft full of expensive offerings, gold and emeralds awaited him. The four most prominent advisors got on the raft, but the ruler's priests first stripped naked on the lake shore, smoking cigarettes, smoothed with clay and then hurriedly covered the heels with golden sand. Resembling the radiant sun of which he was supposed to be related, Dorado now boarded a raft that passed into the middle of the lake. There the ruler threw all the precious offerings on the raft to the gods living in the lake. Then he returned to the shore, and on land the festivities began again, lasting many days.


Imagination and lust for gold then created from this strange beginning a great gilt all the more easily, since the Chibchas were really good goldsmiths. The more the legend grew, the more vague the region became. The man who would be the first to reach those treasures was speculated upon, and every corner of the continent tried to compete for it. The most important of these tours are described below, combined under the common title of Dorado tours.


One of the earliest Dorado expeditions was the one made by Diego de Ordas to Venezuela and Guyana. His lieutenant Martinez claimed that "El Dorado" himself had saved him from shipwreck in 1531 and taken him to his capital Omoa. However, we don't know much about Martinez's adventures, perhaps precisely because he found what he was looking for. Several other expeditions did not find the fairytale land, but knew how to tell more about the jewelry-free reality.


Germans in Venezuela.


The Germans, despite the Hansa's extensive Nordic sea connections, were not used to sailing on the ocean; but the temptation of new countries and India was now too great not to try to join. Influential Germans easily obtained trading rights in the Spanish territories, when the Spanish king was also the German emperor. The Welsers of Augsburg, the richest merchant families of their time, received from Charles V the right to establish a colony on the northern coast of South America, and with quite a lot of energy they started to implement this enterprise. Dorado's reputation must have attracted the Welsers as well. Welser had to equip four ships and 300 men, and 50 mountain men, and conquer the coast and hinterland of present-day Venezuela and Guyana. There was no lack of money. The Welsers were a great world house, which had branches in the biggest trading cities of the time, including Seville and Lisbon. They had a dominant position in the spice trade. Portuguese ships brought them loads of spices to Lisbon, from where they sent them on with their own ships. Welser's own ships also sailed as far as the East Indies. Now this room itself became a big colonial tree.


Considerable forces were sent to colonize and conquer Venezuela, but soon the German leaders were seduced by the same gold rush that was also the supreme determinant of Spanish actions. With a few hundred men and even fewer troops, they crossed the country. The interior was mostly relatively well populated and the natives were somewhat advanced. Just like in Mexico, horses aroused general fear in Venezuela and large numbers fled in front of them. Somehow a lot of gold was collected on these expeditions, but not so much that it would have been worth mentioning alongside the Peruvian catch; on the contrary, Welser's funds were spent without accomplishing anything. In the end, permanent conflicts arose between the Germans and the Spanish, and in 1555 the colony was taken away from the Welsers.


Among the trips of Welser's agents, the following should be mentioned: Nicolaus Federmann, a merciless cruel man, who had invaded Venezuela many times, met Benalcazar in the highlands of Bogota in 1539, who had arrived there from Quito across the mountains, and Gonzalo de Quesada, who had gone up there along the Magdalena River. Federmann had set out from Coro, where the Welser colony had been established. Before him, Ambrosius d'Alfinger, a still more violent man, had made a gold-seeking expedition to the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the cordillera of Merida, and in another expedition had penetrated as far as the valley of the Magdalena. In 1536-37, Yrjö Hohemuth and Filip v. Hutten sailed across the remote rivers of the Orinoco, Arauca and Mela, all the way to the northern remote reaches of the Amazon River, searching in vain for Dorado. After endless hardships, they finally returned back to Coro. It was worse for V. Hutten and a certain young Welser on the next trip, with which they reached the same regions, between the rivers Uaupes and Japura; on the way back, both Germans were executed at the whim of a Spanish leader of the auxiliary. This happened in 1546, and that was the end of Welser's business.


Colombia.


More permanent fruits than that in the country corresponding to present-day Venezuela were borne by gold prospecting in the Magdalena River basin, in present-day Colombia.


Gonzalo de Quesada in 1536-1537 ascended the Magdalena river inland and arrived at the highlands of Bogota, where he met two rivals, as we said above. None of these three received the land that became New Granada, but the Spanish government did take it as its own. Colonies were established there, which prospered well. Bogota became a large city, which was also famous for its literary civilization for a long time.


New Granada was one of the most beautiful countries in South America. Hardly anywhere else are the most breathtaking valleys with their palm trees and primeval forests and cool, healthy highlands so close together. There, almost under the equator, there are highlands where the summer is cooler than in Finland, and a large number of intermediate zones suitable for growing all possible crops. The capital, Bogota, is on a lovely fertile highland at 2,200 meters above sea level, where the same average temperature prevails throughout the year, around 13-14°C, and the thermometer in the shade hardly ever rises above 20°C and rarely drops below 4-8°C.


These natural circumstances caused the Spaniards to take a great liking to this country; they had also affected that it, like Mexico and Peru, had quite a bit of Civilization when the whites arrived. The Muisks lived in the highlands of Bogota, the Chibchats lived in the Tunja highlands. They had agriculture and cities, and they thought they got their civilization through the same divine influence as the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru. The Muisks and Chibchas have then merged with the Spaniards, but a more distant tribe has survived. In the mountains of Santa Marta lived the Taironas, who built excellent roads and made elaborate gold ornaments. But the coast and the valley of the Magdalena is hot and unhealthy, and for that reason the colonies established there did not succeed.


The Excursion of Gonzalo Pizarro.


Gonzalo Pizarro was appointed governor of Quito after Benalcazar. He had hardly reached his province before he began to equip for a great expedition to Dorado. The hope of a rich booty attracted adventurers, and soon Gonzalo had gathered 150 horsemen and 200 footmen, as well as 4000 Indians to carry luggage. The equipment was the best. An immense herd of pigs was taken as food, which was driven after the trailing crowd. The journey began in the early part of 1540. In the beginning, the difficulties were relatively small, when we were still in the Inca country. But when we ascended from the highlands to the passes of the eastern cordillera, both the landscape and the nature of the people changed, and the immense difficulties of this famous trip began. Several of the Indians died of cold. While the expedition was still in the mountains, a terrible earthquake occurred; the earth split in one place, sulfur fumes rose from the fissure, a village with hundreds of houses had plunged into the chasm. But the change in the atmosphere was even greater, when the expedition from the cordillera descended into the vast primeval forests of the eastern slope. The frost was followed by suffocating heat, and day and night thunderstorms and heavy rains attacked their necks from the gorge valleys of the mountains. It rained incessantly for the seventh week; drenched and exhausted, the hikers could barely get out of the place on the uneven waterlogged ground. It rained incessantly for the seventh week; drenched and exhausted, the hikers could barely get out of the place on the uneven waterlogged ground. It rained incessantly for the seventh week; drenched and exhausted, the hikers could barely get out of the place on the uneven waterlogged ground.


After a few months' arduous journey, after trudging through swamps and fording rivers, they finally arrived at the "cinnamon country," where large forests of a kind of cinnamon grew; but behind such a huge roadless mountain wall this spice was worthless. At last we met wandering tribes of foresters and heard from them that ten days' journey away was a fertile land with plenty of grain, gold and densely populated areas. Although Gonzalo Pizarro had already gone as far as he thought he could go without danger, this knowledge enticed him even further. The forests thinned out and we came to regions where open savannas and forests alternated. The Spaniards were amazed by the immense strength of the trees; others had to be surrounded by 16 men forging. The stems of the trees were entwined with vines, vines ran from tree to tree, hanging down to the ground from a height, forming tangled thickets that were wonderful to behold, but exceedingly difficult to penetrate. The road had to be cut with an axe, the half-rotten clothes of the Spaniards were torn and caught in the branches, so that the whole gallant group finally walked in ragged clothes. The food supplies had deteriorated and almost run out, the herds of pigs had either been eaten, destroyed in the mountains or dispersed into the forests. When they set out, they had nearly a thousand dogs, a large number of them bloodhounds used in chasing the unfortunate natives; these were now butchered and eaten, though even they hardly contained anything but skin and bones. After the dogs were eaten, there was no other food than grasses and roots that were found in the forest. The half-rotten clothes of the Spaniards were torn and caught in the branches, so that the whole gallant troop finally went about in ragged clothes. The food supplies had deteriorated and almost run out, the herds of pigs had either been eaten, destroyed in the mountains or dispersed into the forests. When they set out, they had nearly a thousand dogs, a large number of them bloodhounds used in chasing the unfortunate natives; these were now butchered and eaten, though even they hardly contained anything but skin and bones. After the dogs were eaten, there was no other food than grasses and roots that were found in the forest. The half-rotten clothes of the Spaniards were torn and caught in the branches, so that the whole gallant troop finally went about in ragged clothes. The food supplies had deteriorated and almost run out, the herds of pigs had either been eaten, destroyed in the mountains or dispersed into the forests. When they set out, they had nearly a thousand dogs, a large number of them bloodhounds used in chasing the unfortunate natives; these were now butchered and eaten, though even they hardly contained anything but skin and bones. After the dogs were eaten, there was no other food than grasses and roots that were found in the forest. a large number of them bloodhounds used in pursuit of the unfortunate natives; these were now butchered and eaten, though even they hardly contained anything but skin and bones. After the dogs were eaten, there was no other food than grasses and roots that were found in the forest. a large number of them bloodhounds used in pursuit of the unfortunate natives; these were now butchered and eaten, though even they hardly contained anything but skin and bones. After the dogs were eaten, there was no other food than grasses and roots that were found in the forest.


We finally came to the river, which was not nearly the biggest in America, but still, according to Europeans, it was quite a river. This river was the Napo, the upper reaches of the Amazon River. The running water delighted their eyes, for they hoped that the journey would now get better. But the thickets were so dense on the shores that it was only with the greatest effort that one could move forward. At one point there was an underground rumbling from ahead; after a while, the current becoming more and more violent, they came to a huge knoll, where the water fell into a chasm 360 meters deep, pushing from it a current of air, which raised with it a tall pillar of mist. But that was about all there was life in this hideous wilderness, apart from a huge giant snake and a hideous caiman basking by the river. Below Könkä, the river was so narrow in one direction that the expedition could cross a rickety bridge to go to the other bank to see if it was better there. From the bridge, the horseman and his horses derailed into the sea, the others happily got over. But they benefited very little from the change of shore. The beach was equally dense on that side; some roving bands of Indians were met with, but they were all hostile savages to be contended with. However, it was heard from them that a few days' journey away in the lowlands was a fertile region, and the expedition continued its journey with new hopes, only to be disappointed once again. From the bridge, the horseman and his horses derailed into the sea, the others happily got over. But they benefited very little from the change of shore. The beach was equally dense on that side; some roving bands of Indians were met with, but they were all hostile savages to be contended with. However, it was heard from them that a few days' journey away in the lowlands was a fertile region, and the expedition continued its journey with new hopes, only to be disappointed once again. From the bridge, the horseman and his horses derailed into the sea, the others happily got over. But they benefited very little from the change of shore. The beach was equally dense on that side; some roving bands of Indians were met with, but they were all hostile savages to be contended with. However, it was heard from them that a few days' journey away in the lowlands was a fertile region, and the expedition continued its journey with new hopes, only to be disappointed once again.


Gonzalo finally decided to build a ship, to carry the weaker and cargo. There was no shortage of wood, nails were forged from horseshoes, seams were blocked with clothes rumps and gum that dripped from the trees. The work was extremely difficult, but after a couple of months a clumsy ship had been completed, which was so spacious that the other half of the Spaniards could fit in it. Francisco de Orellana, a knight in whose courage and loyalty Gonzalo Pizarro thought he could fully trust, embarked as leader. The journey then continued, so that the land force and the ship tried to keep up. We traveled like this for many weeks, but the horrible wilderness of the Napo river just didn't end. Every morsel had been eaten, the last horse had been slaughtered, saddles and harnesses had been eaten for lack of other food. We ate frogs, snakes, whatever was available. It was now heard that the Napo was lower down into a larger river flowing towards the east, and when there was to be no more than several days' journey to the place, Gonzalo Pizarro decided to send Orellana on board ahead to procure provisions. He then had to go back upstream and bring them to the land force as well, which was left waiting. Orellana got 50 men with him and set off.


Days passed, weeks passed, Orellana was not heard from. Scouts were sent to investigate, but they returned empty-handed. Gonzalo then decided to go further until he came to the confluence of both rivers. It took a couple of months to go, my strength was exhausted; a large number did not get there in the first place, but died on the way. We finally reached Maranjon beach, but Orellana was nowhere to be seen or heard. The country was a little more populated, but the inhabitants were even more hostile. It was thought that Orellana and his companions were doomed, but by chance a half-naked Spaniard, known as Sanchez de Vargaa, a knight of noble birth, who was held in high esteem among the expedition, was met with in the thicket on the shore. It was heard from him that Orellana had traveled that way in barely three days, on which they had stayed for two months. He could not find provisions, it was impossible to return against the current on a ship, it seemed too horrible to try the shores, he therefore proposed to his companions not to return, but to lower the river into the sea; maybe a Dorado would be found on the way. The comrades happily agreed to the proposal. Vargas alone opposed this dishonorable proposal, and Orellana retaliated by driving him to this desolate beach to die.


After this sad news, Gonzalo Pizarro and his expedition had no choice but to return. Gonzalo was a good leader, and as Kuta's condition worsened, his energy grew stronger. He praised the endurance shown by his men and urged them to continue to be worthy of the reputation of Castile. If not gold, then at least honor would await them if they still traveled the same distance back. But they would probably find more populated regions besides that, because he was going to lead them back another way. Depressed minds gained new courage. Gonzalo was trusted, he was liked, for without hesitation he had shared the portion of his soldiers on the journey, contented himself with the same bad food, cared for the sick, encouraged the depressed, and had been to them not only a leader, but also a good companion.


On the way back, we took a slightly more northerly route, but there was no food along it either, although there were a little less obstacles. The greater the misery, the more difficult it was to accompany the weaker ones, and in the end there was no other option but to leave them in the forest to die or to be preyed upon by wild beasts. It had been a year on the way out, another year on the way back. In June 1542, the exhausted group finally arrived back at the highlands of Quito without horses, with broken, rusted weapons, forest animal skins instead of clothes, hair falling on their shoulders, faces burned black, the rest of the body ravaged by hunger, full of scars. Slowly and limping, this group made its way towards the city, where at last rest awaited them. More than half of the 4,000 Indians had perished on the journey, of the Spaniards only 80 returned, besides those 50, who had descended the Amazon river with Orellana. As soon as he arrived in his capital, Gonzalo Pizarro and his troops went to the church to thank the Almighty for salvation.


This is how the trip to the Amazon River ended, the likes of which are hardly known in the history of American discovery.



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