On this date… November 2, 1542… California

On this date in 1542, a party erupted on the deck of the San Salvador anchored off Santa Barbara, California.

The captain of the ship was raised on the Cuban genocide, came of age in the conquest of Mexico, and grew wealthy as a slave master in Guatemala.  He was the right-hand man of Pedro de Alvarado, the red devil of Central America.  He made the boats that laid siege to Tenochitlán, caulking them with the boiled human fat of Aztec bodies.  He was Juan Rodrígues Cabrillo, and with three ships, he fought the wind and current that sweeps the coast of California clean.


On this date he was confronted with the spirit of the people.

Underneath the warm hills of Santa Barbara, where the blue sea meets the white sand, the people of Cicacut, loaded with sardines and acorns and nuts and seeds from a good year, were in a gracious mood.  Large canoes were filled with party-goers, adorned with beads, bone, shell, stone, and feathers.  Musicians, armed with pipes and rattling reeds, were brought forth.  They were all rowed to Cabrillo’s flagship, anchored offshore, for a party on the deck that lasted several days.  The Spanish sailors broke out the bagpipes and tambourines.  In the end, the sailors were worn-out hosts and it was only with the threat of violence that they sent the guests back to shore.

Kelsey, Harry. 1986. Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo.

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