TRAVEL DESCRIPTION FROM MUSHU TO DONGOLA
[p. 232] On the twenty-second [of January 1701] we set off at about
eleven o'clock, but only half the caravan.
About an hour before sundown we pitched camp in the desert
near to the inhabited land.
Today the shaykh of Mushu rode out and followed after us.
His whole costume consisted of a fine blue Nubian shirt and a white silk robe.
He was accompanied by ten or twelve Barabra mounted on the most
elegant Nubian horses [p. 233]
and also by others riding dromedaries, along with fifty or sixty women
who, according to their custom, cheered, shouted, and called Gua, Gua, Gua!
Before him rode a man on a proud dromedary beating kettledrums.
He took accommodation in Baenne with that Barbarin who had honored us
with the camel because we had given him medicine.
We camped at this place also, and as soon as this Barbarin learned of our arrival, he
sent us in the night two bowls of meat as a further sign of appreciation for our
good deed in curing him.
Today along the way we met the small king or patron of all these villages.
He rode elegantly on a fine Arabian horse, his tobacco-pipe in his mouth,
and accompanied by four slaves on foot and four mounted soldiers.
As for his clothing, he wore a Nubian linen shirt without sleeves,
from which one could have boiled several quarters of fat.
His loins were bound about with a blue and white striped cotton sash
several ells long.
In addition to this he had a pair of tattered Turkish trousers,
and on his head a hat made of cotton with a silk facilet in
place of a turban.
He greeted us in a friendly manner, and brought us confirmation that
Father Brevedent of the Society of Jesus, who had gone to Ethiopia
two years ago with the three [Franciscan] Fathers Pasquale da Montella,
Antonio della Terza and Benedetto da Tripalda, had died on the way.
After we had unpacked our camels we busied ourselves with gathering stones and other clods of earth on which
to place our trunks and things, because in Mushu and these districts a certain
sort of worm is to be found that will eat through all trunks and whatever else
is standing on the earth, as already reported.
On the twenty-third [of January 1701] we had to spend the whole day motionless in camp,
by order and command of this shaykh.
To us this was worse than the most difficult journey.
On the twenty-fourth [of January 1701] after very complicated negotiations
we received permission to go on.
Today we rode as far as Baenne, but most of the caravan has gone on further.
One should know that Mushu, Baenne and other such places
are not only a village, but that a whole district which extends for
many miles along the river is identified by that name.
On the twenty-fifth [of January 1701] a large number of insolent Barabra came into our camp.
There were three parties, namely we ourselves [p. 234], Hasan, and
another merchant of the king.
These Barabra were very angry with us.
They were astounded by our clothes, and that we did not go naked as they did.
They sat down in the midst of us and our trunks,
and when we tried to go further they gave us this answer:
"Here and not any other place is where you are going to stay!"
They called us dogs, painted men, and had the nerve to demand that we
convert to the Muhammadan faith if we did not want to experience
their violence and cruelty.
At these deadly threats my blood arose to accept the martyr's palm.
We said only that we were Christians, and that we wanted to
live or die for the love of Jesus Christ and the one faith that brings
redemption; did they want anything else from us?
When Hasan and the other royal merchant saw the great insolence
they pressed in among the Barabra with their lances, and threatening them
their lives, ordered them out of the caravan--to which they paid no attention.
They said that they, not we, were on home ground, and [asked if the two royal
merchants] were not ashamed to keep company with such outspoken enemies
of the Muhammadan faith, and to protect them?
It would be better to render a blood-sacrifice to God and his Prophet and
massacre us all, rather than to leave us alive.
This comedy lasted over two hours, during which they had no other
intent than to take our lives.
We, however, unanimously resolved to pour out our last drop of blood
for our faith, which alone brings redemption.
The two merchants who stood by us now had to contain the
wrath and rebellion of the people,
and we did not know what was coming next.
At about nine o'clock they told us to get our camels moving and march
on to the rest of the caravan, and that is what we did.
Let this be a warning to all travelers never to leave their company
or society, even though you can do better and cheaper alone.
Such parsimony may cost you everything you have, including your life.
By about sunset we reached Zafrie, where the whole caravan was.
On the twenty-sixth, seventh and eighth [of January 1701] the
whole caravan was immobile, which weighed more heavily upon us
than continual traveling on.
On the twenty-ninth [of January 1701] we, Hasan and some other merchants
set off with permission, though many others did not follow. [p. 235]
After a two hour march we pitched camp in an open field,
for along the river Nile there is no formed city or village,
but rather one house stands next to another,
the whole surrounded by the most beautiful palm gardens.
One district is called Mushu, another Zafrie, another Baenne, etc.
On the thirtieth [of January 1701] at about eight o'clock we saw
marching toward us the caravan that had remained behind.
Meanwhile, however, three Barabra rode up on horses that a
prince would not be ashamed to use,
and ordered us all not to move.
As the whole caravan came up to us, some with lances who did
not want to obey were wounded.
The order was given not to move this night.
We made good use of our licenses acquired yesterday,
but the others were ordered to return to their former encampment.
Those who refused to do so would be considered rebels against the king--and
all were obliged to go back.
Three days ago another governor arrived,
upon whom this governor at Mushu is dependent.
He demanded a piece of soap from each member of the caravan.
At first the caravan refused to pay,
but in order to avoid staying here another month we paid the tribute
demanded, as did all the others who traveled with us.
This evening, with God's help, we have set off for Dongola.
Nothing could irritate me more than that the Jesuit Fathers are not with us.
Soap is held in very high regard in these lands,
and it has a high value.
The Moors do not know how to manufacture it, but because their bodies
and clothing are covered with pure fat,
lard and grease, they are greatly in need of it.
On the thirty-first [of January 1701] we were ready to march three hours after dark
(here as always I mean German and not Italian time) and we rode the whole
day continually without even a quarter hour's rest,
and enjoyed no food except for a few dates.
At about seven o'clock we finally reached Backbri,
and there we posted ourselves.
Along the way we met some Barabra, who asked what sort of saint had led us into these lands.
They could not marvel enough that we were white and well-clothed,
while they were naked and completely dark.
Father Joseph gave them a humorous answer,
but one very offensive [p. 236] to them.
On the first and second [of February 1701] we set out again and
pushed on as yesterday from four hours before day until six in the
evening, when we pitched camp at Goled.
Today we passed by two very old and rather ruined churches.
These were built, the Barabra told us, because about one hundred years
ago this kingdom still adhered to the "sect" (as they put it)
of the Christian religion.
We went in to look at them and [saw] the altars and some paintings.
The latter we could not recognize at once,
though we believed that Saint Antonio Abbas was painted on one wall.
On the second [of February 1701] we again left camp two hours after
midnight and rode continually for twelve whole hours.
Today and yesterday we have been marching past very miserable villages,
completely devoid of life, uninhabited and deserted.
There are not any palm trees, the earth is not sown,
and the desert comes right down to the river on both sides of the Nile.
The desert is just like that through which we have been going ever since the first day of our
departure from Assiut in Egypt, without setting foot in an inhabited place,
and finding our lodging in it as we went along.
In these uninhabited deserts we found the colocynth that grows in the
fields of sandy earth, and likewise the most noble senna leaves,
which grow on small stalks not unlike blackberries.
They grow like weeds in such profusion that one could easily load up
a whole ship full of either one.
In this place where we are now day and night are of almost equal length,
for we are not far from the equator.
Two hours after sunset we made ready to travel.
On the third [of February 1701] at about one hour past midnight we passed
by the capital city of Nubia, called Dongola, where the whole caravan reformed.
Mister Hasan wanted to take us to his house, which lay four good miles
beyond Dongola, in order to spare us and our camels some expense.
We arrived there at about nine o'clock in the morning and pitched camp in a pretty place
beside the river Nile.
It came quickly to the ear of the governor in Dongola that we were not far away,
and he immediately sent four horsemen to order us back.
Hasan rejected this forcefully, [p. 237] saying that he
was under orders from the king of Sinnar, the overlord of Nubia,
to bring us to him as his physicians.
Because our wares belonged to the king himself, [the governor of Dongola]
had no claim over them; however, we sent him twenty pieces of soap,
as each camel must pay two pieces as customs dues.
God be praised, we have put behind us half our journey from Assiut to Sinnar;
may God Most High help us onward!
On the following day [4 February 1701] at a quarter to nine in the morning
there came the two sons of the governor with a number of Barabra on horseback,
to bring us the order of their father to go to Dongola.
If we refused to go of our own free will,
they would bring camels and carry away our trunks by force.
Mr. Hasan again rejected this order out of hand,
and sent his own mounted messenger to Dongola to tell the governor
that he should realize that we were going to Sinnar as physicians to the
king, and were bringing goods to him.
Here one should note that already a year ago Father Pasquale,
as personal physician to the king of Sinnar, had obtained a letter from the king to the
effect that all wares which were sent in the name of Father Pasquale, as
well as those he brought himself,
should not be hindered or touched.
But because the shaykh or governor stuck hardheadedly by his
resolution, and Hasan refused to give in,
there would soon have been a rebellion had we not intervened.
The people of this village asked us if we wanted them to expell
and chase away the governor's sons and their soldiers by armed force!
We wanted to avoid that if possible.
The Jesuits also passed by Dongola and pitched their camp at the house
of one of their servants.
The same thing that happened to us happened to them, only worse.
On the fifth [of February 1701] a messenger arrived very early to bring us
back to Dongola.
Hasan in no way intended to obey, but we stepped in.
In order not to show ourselves to be rebels, we saddled four camels,
and Father Joseph and Father Carlo went into Dongola to see His Highness.
I myself and Father Francesco da Salemi, our Prefect, remained here with
our trunks, camels and two Barabra.
To this the messenger of the governor consented.
On the sixth [of February 1701] [p. 238] we suffered the whole day and
night from a cold wind.
Father Francesco Maria da Salemi and I celebrated Shrove Tuesday
with a little hen in the evening, but we ate nothing warm at noon.
On the seventh [of February 1701] a royal courier on a dromedary
came riding up to us at sundown.
He was on his way from the shaykh of Mushu to the king of Sinnar,
to report that the caravan (which is very strong) had arrived
safely in Nubia, and that it bore no unusual disease.
The shaykh of Mushu wrote down the names of all the merchants,
their rank and nationality, and how many camels they had.
This courier also brought us a letter from Father Joseph,
who was in Dongola with Father Carlo, in which he told us
that the governor there was demanding to see our goods by fair means or foul,
and would detain us until the caravan went on.
We would by no means consent to this, especially the former.
We sent the courier on his way with various gallantries,
and a letter to Sinnar addressed to "Our Brother Father Pasquale,
Physician to the King."
In it we lamented all the injustices to which we had been subjected,
and begged that he might obtain for us a letter from the king,
authorizing us to continue our journey.
[The authorization should also say that] no one should look into
our trunks, as we had a number of chalices and all the other things
necessary for reading the Mass, as well as very many books, etc.
These would have aroused great suspicion, made our journey difficult
if not impossible, and possibly caused us to be robbed of all
our possessions, and our lives as well.
On the eighth [of February 1701] the courier left extremely early.
On the ninth [of February 1701] Father Joseph again sent us a letter
by one of our Barabra in which he told us that the brother of Shaykh `Ali,
the viceroy in Sinnar, had arrived in Dongola.
Father Joseph had spoken with him and sought his protection.
He was a particularly good friend of Father Pasquale,
and promised to set everything right.
He spoke sharply and threateningly to the customs agents,
saying that they should not even pretend in the slightest
to look into our trunks, and that they should weigh carefully
the fact that we were bringing goods for the king and his personal
physician. If they did otherwise, they would be starting a transaction that would end very badly for them.
Paying no attention to all this, they deviated not in the slightest from
their evil intentions.
In these lands one must at all times live blamelessly,
so that no one [p. 239] can in the slightest criticize one's
actions and deeds.
If you act cheeky, the Nubian people will quickly get their backs up,
so to speak.
The tenth [of February 1701] was the first day of the Muhammadan fast, which will
be discussed at greater length in the proper place.
During the time of the fast one must neither eat, drink,
nor even smoke a pipe from the rising to the setting of the sun.
This fast lasts a whole month, and is so strict that they would
rather collapse than eat any little thing in violation of their law.
No one is exempt from this law and fast, not even nursing mothers.
See, dear reader, how sharply and strongly the Turks practice the fast?
All Christians who have one drop of true Christian blood in their hearts
should be ashamed of themselves in the presence of this exemplary fasting by the
On the eleventh [of February 1701] a Barbarin came to us again,
letting us know that the action was not over yet.
We were miserable here, and not even double payment could free us.
We resolved that if the business did not get settled today or
tomorrow, and if we could not go on to a better land,
we would "turn the cart" toward Dongola and join Father Joseph and Father
Carlo with all our belongings.
On the fourteenth [of February 1701] I witnessed a remarkable voyage by boat.
For lack of wood they have no boats in these lands,
except where the caravans must cross the river.
Rather, they make floats in this manner.
First they take two trees, half again the height of a man,
and add strong cross pieces.
Then they tie on to the middle of this six or eight bundles,
half as thick as a man, of cane.
(That means the stalks on which grows the durra which they
feed their animals, and from which they make kisra.)
Ten or more persons can sit on top of it; they load the raft with several
They have no oars aside from poles onto which they tie a board a span long and a hand wide,
with which they steer the raft.
In order to get across the river they hitch to this wheel-less water wagon one, two or three
horses, which pull the raft while they swim.
One or two men swim next to the horses so that they take the right way
directly across the river.
One should know that in these [p. 240] lands everyone,
old and young, swim across the river like a poodle, with a bundle of
clothing on their heads.
They swim in a manner very different from us Germans,
for they never kick the feet, but stretch out one arm after the other
over the river, and then draw it back and under.
Camels, because they are too heavy [to swim] easily across the river,
are carried over in the following manner.
First they inflate two bladders or roughly tanned goatskins
such as one carries water about with in the desert.
These are so well made that no air escapes.
Then they tie these tightly to either side of the camel's belly.
Often they link many such camels to each other.
In order that they take the direct route across the river
a man clings to the long neck of the first camel,
directing it with his hand.
Sometimes another man clings to the tail in order to get across better.
I saw these voyages many times each day.
Today at sundown Father Carlo came to us from Dongola and reported that the doganier or
royal customs official there wanted fifty Venetian sequins worth of wares from us.
To this the brother of the vice-regent and we objected violently.
The day on which our business is supposed to conclude is set for tomorrow.
It would be best if the brother of the viceroy in Sinnar and Mr. Hasan should
take our party under their protection.
The Jesuit Fathers, however, who did not have this pretext, had an even
more tortuous time than we did.
But when we heard about that we also took them on out of a sense of duty,
with the resolve that the one must go with the other.
We were not spared expenses and presents.
About this time we all became sick with diarrhea and great stomach aches.
This was because we ate nothing but Nubian bread at noon and at night;
when we had the good fortune we contented ourselves with a few hardboiled eggs
and a warm soup.
In spite of [our illness] our missionary zeal was satisfied and strengthened.
We lived in the greatest hope that God the Almighty would look upon
our miserable situation and make our mission fruitful.
On the fifteenth and sixteenth [of February 1701] absolutely nothing new happened.
We spent the day cleaning wheat, for it was very full of sand.
Out of it we made strips of noodles, with which we will have to content
ourselves on the journey.
At noon we ate bread and drank water; at night either [p. 241] some
noodles soaked in water and seasoned with cheese instead of butter,
or an Italian omelette of four or six eggs into which we cut some onions.
That was our entire diet.
On the seventeenth [of February 1701] the weather got a little
better. The sharpest cold died away, along with the interminable wind.
All those who want to travel in strange lands--even India--should know
that they ought to be equipped with warm clothes.
It does no harm to keep the body warm in hot lands,
and on the other hand those who do not have enough clothing in these lands,
particularly in wintertime, will see very sharp winds, especially
Today Father Carlo came to us about an hour before sundown from Dongola,
alone on his donkey. He still had bad diarrhea, and told us that the
doganier or toll and customs agent in Dongola had again
created very great tension.
Therefore on the eighteenth [of February 1701] our Father Superior sent me
there very early with one of our Barabra.
We arrived at about noon, as our donkeys went quickly.
I found Father Joseph very thin and crestfallen, to my surprise.
He was just ordering the camels to be loaded with their burdens
for the march, having paid the customs officer, on the order of our
Father Superior, fifty florins toll or customs dues on our trunks.
This was with the condition that if we received no letter from
the king of Sinnar--for which we were certainly hoping--we would
have to pay out more.
This was confirmed by the witnesses solicited thereto.
When everything was ready for the march the governor of Dongola
again raised hindrances, and gave orders not to leave until
morning. Father Joseph offered no contradiction, but at four o'clock
in the afternoon got on his donkey and went to Tangassi along with our camels.
I remained in Dongola with our eight trunks and my donkey.
The two Jesuits and I pulled our luggage together and made a Roman banquet with a drink of water.
As I dared not spend the night alone by our trunks the Father Superior Antoine Granier
joined me; leaving his canopy he stayed with me under the open sky.
On the nineteenth [of February 1701] we waited until nightfall in the
hope that our Barabra, Father Joseph [p. 242] or Father Carlo would appear.
But my hope of meeting someone was in vain.
All day I ate nothing, but had dinner with the Jesuit Fathers.
During the meal a Barbarin came to me bringing a letter from our Father Prefect to the effect that
the next day he would summon me to Tangassi.
On the twentieth [of February 1701] I got up before sunrise and packed onto my donkey all the
little things that Father Joseph had left behind.
Those trunks with good locks I left in an open place,
leaving word for the governor of Dongola that if anything had been moved
in the slightest, he would have to give account to the king of Sinnar.
The journey began and at about twelve o'clock I came to my
colleagues in Tangassi.
They welcomed me joyfully, and for the rest of the day we did nothing
but talk about our miseries.
On the twenty-first [of February 1701] Hasan came to us with the report that we might collect our trunks
from Dongola, with the condition that if a letter came from the king of Sinnar making
us toll-free, the money we had paid out would be returned.
(Although no money is current among the ordinary people of this land,
yet it has its value among the merchants and other nobility.)
That, however, did not happen, and the fifty florins were gone.
On the twenty-second [of February 1701] we sent two of our Barabra with four camels to Dongola to
bring our trunks. Meanwhile we stayed here.
On the twenty-third [of February 1701] our Barabra returned with the four
camels and the trunks.
They were followed by two customs officers on foot, with whom, in the
presence of Hasan, we confirmed the contract anew.
(One should know that we missionii apostolici, of whatever order
or profession we might be, had a papal dispensation to do this.)
On top of it all, as a sort of "drink to seal the bargain," we had to
give them a pound of blue wool (which cost two guilders in this land),
the same amount of blue linen, and two Nubian coats or rather shirts.
We also gave them a few spoons of pepper, mahlib, shibshab,
fennel, wormwood and some little nails.
All this would not have cost us more than a Reichsthaler in Europe,
but its price here is very high.
On the twenty-fourth [of February 1701] and also on the following day we spent our time cleaning wheat.
In these Egyptian lands all grain is full of sand and earth because it is threshed
in the field and not cleaned after that.
Dear reader, you should know that wherever the river Nile [p. 243] flows,
in all of Egypt, likewise in Nubia and the Funj kingdom as well as in other
kingdoms round about, there are no water mills to be found.
In Egypt they grind the flour with two oxen, or a horse, camel or donkey,
that turns the millstones.
In this land they grind flour by hand on a stone about three spans long and one
and a half wide. In shape it is similar to that used by a painter to rub his
colors. It is unbelievably heavy work, and is performed by slaves.
Very little wheat is to be found around here, whereas Egypt has much of it.
In its place the inhabitants of these lands use the already-mentioned durra, from
which they make bread, as already discussed.
Because of our stomachs and natural inclinations we swore off this
indigestable bread completely, which left us in the greatest need of
finding another sort of bread to bake.
Namely, we took some ground flour mixed with a little yeast
(which can be easily extracted from the powder) and put it into a wooden bowl.
We worked it over as best we could and with all our strength.
In order to make it rise we placed it in the sun, covered with a cloth.
After it had risen we made round tents as thick as your finger
and threw them into a well-heated pan.
We put in a lump of fat as big as an Italian nut while it baked in order
not to burn it and completely ruin the pan.
This was our bread, and each one can imagine for himself how good and
tasty it was.
Aside from that we did not know what to have during our fasting-time,
and it served us well.
We could get nothing except a few eggs at that time, which we fried in fat,
and almost every day we cooked cut noodles made from flour,
a spoonfull of fat and pure water.
This was all we ate at night; at noon we settled for bread and water,
and we had to eat it and like it.
Today on the twenty-fifth [of February 1701] a few jallabs came to us
with their camels at about three in the afternoon.
They told us that within a few days the caravan would set off for Sinnar,
which is to be highly desired.
Meanwhile we hope that the courier with whom we sent a letter to Father Pasquale
in Sinnar will return before our departure,
bringing an order from the king to the effect that we [p. 244] should be
freed and liberated from the heavy tribute demanded of us--and partly received--by
the governor of Dongola.
On the twenty-sixth [of February 1701] the jallabs who came yesterday
marched off toward Sinnar.
The Jesuit Fathers had already been ready to leave Dongola on the twenty-fourth,
but had to unload their camels because they refused to give the
customs officers anything.
They had to give even more than we did, in spite of the fact that we had
more camels (they had given out most of their wares to other jallabs,
in order not to appear important) because in these lands might makes right.
On the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth [of February 1701] nothing remarkable happened,
except that we have to submit, without [adequate] human means or knowledge,
to the hot, heavy and hungry yoke of the remaining half of our journey to Sinnar--even
after all we have had to live through, survive and endure.
Yet the grace and strength of God, upon whom we place all
our hopes, will see us through, unworthy instruments of the mission,
and bring us to our intended goal.
These barbaric people could not wonder enough at their kindly and gentle
treatment and quick recovery, for in these lands most illnesses
are cured with scorching, cutting and burning--rather as they
also customarily do to donkeys, camels and horses.
If one of their beasts is worn out through the weight of its load of trunks or ceaseless riding,
or is stricken with sores, convulsions, etc. in any part of its body,
they throw it to the ground, bind the feet tightly with a strong rope
so that it can not move, bend or bite, and draw the head down
onto the belly.
At this time it lets out an extraordinary outcry.
When this is done they burn--four or five times in succession--a
ring or crescent around the sore so that it can not spread, searing through
skin and flesh with a bent iron apparatus heated in the fire.
[p. 245] After they singe it for the last time they pour cold water on the iron.
Since the skin goes to pieces more easily than if the sore had followed its course,
leaving dead flesh with worms growing in the wound, they next apply
shabb or alum, about which we have already spoken
in the desert, or they cut away the dead flesh with a knife.
This cure is not only applied to camels and donkeys, but to a certain extent
also to human beings in these lands.
If a person has sciatica they take a cotton cloth and tie it tightly, a good
thumb-thickness, and then ignite it, burning the whole backbone
right up to the neck, but leaving intervals two or three fingers wide.
They cure colic in a similar manner, cauterizing all around the navel
at an interval of three fingers.
To cure a headache they apply the same barbaric treatment under the
ears and on the temples, and there is much more to tell.
Further, if one of the Barabra goes hard and, let us say, a
foot swells, they take a razor and wound the whole foot from toe to ankle,
and cut so deeply that it bleeds profusely.
These and other such things are remarkable cures, with which one would get a very great
reputation in our lands, except among those with gout!
Today in the evening Father Antoine Granier of the Society of Jesus
came to us. He could not stop describing to us the great tyranny
to which he had been subjected in Dongola until he got the whole
business off his chest.
They had been forced to go back [to Dongola] from the house of the
servant some time ago.
They had to pay even more than we did, since someone from the caravan
falsely accused them of carrying nothing but precious and expensive
things in their trunks.
On the first of March  we received news that the capuzini
(in Nubia the Arabs are called this in their language) had stolen a
camel from the Jesuit Fathers.
These [Arabs] live outside the villages and towns of these lands,
in the desert but not too far from the water.
There are many of them, and they are tolerated because they recognize
the king of Sinnar.
They must also give him one-tenth of all their livestock,
grain and children.
On the second [of March 1701] our Father Prefect rode off to visit
the Jesuit Fathers, who are again in the house of their servant
not far from Dongola, in order to obtain a common accord with the governor.
On the third [of March 1701] our Father Superior and the Jesuits were doing
the same. They told us that capuzini stole their camels and hid them
in a house with bound knees so that no one should see.
They were later returned, but only for a bribe of four guilders.
On the fourth [of March 1701] Hajji Hammad, a Turk who has been in the
company with us all along, marched out with some soldiers
who are bringing money to the king of Sinnar.
We, however, as well as the Jesuit Fathers,
are not going to go until the whole caravan does so,
and the vice-regent gives us soldiers to escort us and the king's goods through the desert--which is full of royal
rebels and Arabs.
It is now the time of year to harvest the fields of durra from which they make
kisra, or bread.
Not only here, but in other Moorish lands,
they make of this durra a drink or beer which they call buza.
They do it this way.
They soak the grain in water, then dry it in the sun, by which it soon becomes
like our malt.
Then they crush it into a meal, pour water over it,
and let it stand until it is cold.
Then they lace it with yeast until it is like a brew in color and smell.
They really fill up on this beer which, when one drinks it, piles up on the
beard in heaps. (One seldom or never shaves in these lands.)
Out of sheer disgust I could never try any.
On the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth [of March 1701] as on all these days
we busied ourselves with dispensing medicine, grinding wheat and baking bread.
I cured the son of the viceroy in Dongola of a headache by means of a good
medicine, which one must give in double or triple dose in these lands.
In this way I made him our particular friend.
He is commander over all the soldiers, and will accompany us through the desert as captain.
On the same morning as he took the medicine he went swimming in the river Nile,
which did not cause him pain or other bodily discomfort.
The heat grows greater from day to day, but one can always refresh the tired limbs
with a month-long bath in the world famous [p. 246] river Nile.
Today a jallab in the service of the Jesuit Fathers slit the throat
of his unmarried sister, as it had come to his ears that she
had been living an immodest life.
The full penalty for this killing was fifteen guilders; when one kills
a brother or sister the legal penalty is lighter than if one should
take the life of a stranger.
If one kills his own slave he has already paid the penalty;
if it is the slave of another, then he must settle with the master.
On the ninth [of March 1701] I rode over early to visit the Jesuit Fathers with an Arab I brought along as a safe-conduct.
They showed me every honor, and after a couple of hours Father Paoletti accompanied me back.
Today we received a letter from our three missionaries in Sinnar, saying that
news had reached them that some Franks (for so the Europeans are called)
were to be found in the caravan.
In their opinion that must refer to the [Franciscan] missionaries,
and they sent greetings to whomever it might be, and awaited them
The courier who brought the letter told us that he also had a letter
authorizing the caravan to march on to Sinnar.
We hope that the caravan will very soon be freed from its arrest, without
special orders from the king [of Dongola] not to go on. [p. 247]
On the tenth [of March 1701] the Barabra awaited with joy the first sign
of the new moon after sundown.
That marked the end of their fast, and they watched for it assiduously.
But because the moon could not be seen today, they must also fast tomorrow.
On the eleventh [of March 1701] a courier from Mushu brought us the news that the rest of the
caravan, which we had left behind in Assiut, had arrived
in Mushu on the sixth of this month.
[They had waited in Assiut] because they did not want to follow the route we took,
but were forced to do so eventually for fear of the Arabs occupying al-Wah.
He also told us that the Arabs of al-Wah had been beaten and driven out of the desert.
This gave additional confirmation to my inference that our caravan
will have to wait here for a few days more until both parts unite for strength
on the last half of the journey.
(People tell us that Dongola is halfway between Assiut and Sinnar.)
Today the Turks celebrated their Easter (because the newly-waxing moon could
easily be seen in the sky), with great cries of joy, cheers, singing and jumping,
congratulations and salutations, with beating of the kettledrums and discharge of
all their muskets, a mock battle, and all other conceivable expressions of
joy. It was certainly fun to watch and to hear. [p. 248]
On the twelfth [of March 1701] nothing notable occured except that Father Granier
visited us, and on the thirteenth had lunch with us.
That consisted of bean soup, an omelette, and a drink of water.
We had this expensive layout at noon in his honor, but at night we
contented ourselves with bread and water.
On the sixteenth [of March 1701] the caravan, as I reported earlier,
arrived in Dongola along with its chief and guide `Abdin,
a royal merchant of Sinnar.
So we will have to remain here for some time,
at great expense and much against our will.
The town of [Old] Dongola lies on the other side of the river.
It is a beautiful place on a hill,
built so that each house adjoins the one higher up.
The hill is of hard stone.
Behind the town, as throughout Nubia on both sides [of the Nile] lies the great desert.
In all Egypt, Barbaria, yes, even in Christendom I have never seen a place which,
in my opinion, could be made into a better fortress than Dongola.
But because it is in the hands of the Barabra its houses are not distinguished
from the others of this kingdom, but are built of earth with no particular plan.
In it is a very old church, which no Turk may enter now that these people have abandoned the true Catholic faith and embraced the seductive Muhammadan sect.
A few tried it but all died.
These days the place is walled up.
On the eighteenth [of March 1701] the Arabs told us to watch out because a
hippopotamus had been seen in this district.
It is dreadful, and neither man nor beast can resist it.
Once it gets its victim in its power, it sucks out all the blood
through the neck, and the reasoning and unreasoning creatures of God
must give up the ghost. [p. 249]
Description of the Hipporani; the Nile, River or Sea-Horse
On the nineteenth [of March 1701] we saw an awful crocodile swimming by in
I shot at it, and though I probably hit it, I did not
penetrate its steel-hard armor.
If they are not hit from below, all weapons and balls bounce off.
Today we suffered from the greatest heat, so that I could not stand barefoot on the ground
long enough to say one or two Pater Nosters.
The further we go toward Ethiopia, the hotter it gets.
On the twentieth [of March 1701] as on Sunday, Father Paoletti of the Jesuits visited us.
He brought a letter from Father Hieronymo de Trapani, our Procurator Missionum
Apostolicarum in Cairo.
The French consul had given letters to be brought here by one of his Barabra,
and he forwarded ours among them.
In this letter it was reported:
REPORT ON CHURCH POLITICS OMITTED
On the twenty-first [of March 1701] we performed our Easter services and
communion right among the Barabra without shyness--though quietly.
Father da Salemi read the Mass three hours before sunrise, and gave us
When we performed the Mass today we built a small altar out of our trunks.
One of us stood watch in front of the tent at all times in case a Barbarin came by.
If anyone had discovered us they would have thought that we were sorcerors--they
think all Franks to be sorcerors anyway.
We would have been killed.
It cannot be described how people in these lands, and in Turkey as well,
detest the "Franks," as all European Christians are called.
In Cairo and other places subject to the Ottoman Porte,
when boys or other Turks see a Frank or a priest they immediately
repeat the profession of their false faith in order to avoid
If they want to insult a man as being the most godless creature between
heaven and earth they call him a Frank.
The schismatic Christians allow that they would rather become a Turk than a Frank.
In these lands we Franks are generally considered to be dogs without law or faith,
betrayers of the people, sorcerors, warlocks, the abyss of godlessness,
and whatever else you can find in a godless man.
Each one may imagine for himself what sort of [p. 253] consolation
(leaving aside spiritual consolation) this was on top of all
the other miseries we had to endure.
Today the Father Prefect da Salemi told us that our two missionaries who had been in
Sinnar, Father Antonio and Father Benedetto, had gone on to Ethiopia.
On the twenty-fourth [of March 1701] on the high festival of Green Wednesday
we held our devotion, as we did three days ago, without shyness.
Again our Father Prefect performed the holy Mass three hours before
daybreak, during which he offered the Body of Jesus Christ.
We then had lunch at an early hour, because after that we were
inclined to set out, and "turn the wagon" toward Sinnar.
While we were saddling our camels, however, the royal jallabs who
had been staying in Dongola arrived.
We saluted them with the discharge of three pistol shots,
and so our further journey together began.
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