It was the twentieth day of November in the Year of Our Lord 1770. On the barren flank of the island’s volcano, brightly uniformed Spanish marines hefted ponderous muskets up to firing position. Behind them, a Christian cross crowned each of three small secondary volcanic cones. “Viva el Rey!” roared over a hundred Spaniards, at which moment the marines discharged an ear-splitting salvo. Several hundred naked islanders who had gathered nearby suddenly cried out for sheer terror, many still able to recall the murders that attended the first visit to their island by outsiders exactly forty-eight years earlier—after more than a millennium and a half of mind-numbing isolation. This was now only the second visit. For each cross the Spaniards shouted “Viva” three times. And the marines marked each bellow with a resounding fussilade. Down in the broad green bay below, two Spanish vessels—the San Lorenzo and the Santa Rosalia—responded with 21-cannon salutes that boomed like thunder. Then the marines paraded, their colorful flags fluttering, while resonant drums thumped out a martial cadence and pipesmen began celebrating the Spanish king.
KeywordsBurning Fishing Peru Tane Smallpox
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