Season 1 Episode 5 (Where is the Spaniard?)


February 1519 – Cozumel 

Cortés and his men reach the island of Cozumel.  The inhabitants of the coastal villages flee into the interior.  In the next day or two, nine of the ten ships with which Cortés had left Cuba assemble at Cozumel. 

Cortés is so friendly that the Mayas of Cozumel listen to him with attention.  Melchor acts as a translator to Mayan.  He asks them to put up an image of the Virgin Mary in place of their idols.  Two carpenters build a cross, which is placed on top of the high tower of the main pyramid. 

The Mayas for their part are impressed by the Castilians’ beards and the color of their skin.  They tell Cortés that in the next-door land known as Yucatan, there were two Christians who had been carried there a long time ago in a boat, and a lord of that land had held them as captives.  The messengers carry a letter from Cortés explaining  they were on the island waiting for them. 

A few days later, they see a canoe coming towards them from Yucatan. The canoe carries three men naked except that their private parts were covered. Their hair is tied as women’s hair is tied, and they carry bows and arrows.  Cortés and his men think that they are all natives until one of them asks in Spanish “Gentlemen, are you Christians? Whose subjects are you?” This is Jerónimo de Aguilar, one of those men whom the people of Cozumel had told them were still alive.  He had received the Cortés’ letter. 

Jerónimo de Aguilar had been enslaved in Yucatán for eight years after surviving the shipwreck and was the only one who returns with Cortés.  The Mayas captured the survivors, sacrificed Valdivia and four others, and ate their bodies at a celebration.  Aguilar and some others were put in cages to be fattened, as they supposed, for a subsequent banquet.  They broke out of the cages and fled, being received by Xamanzana, another Maya chief.  He sheltered them, but kept them as slaves. After some time, all died, except for Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero.  Aguilar managed, through the strength of his faith, to keep himself from temptations in the forms of girls offered him by his hosts. He is more than ready to return to Spanish life.  Gonzalo Guerrero is not.  Aguilar had sent him Cortés’ letter, but Guerrero now had a Maya wife, the daughter of Na Chan Can, lord of Chactemal.  He had three children. He had had his nose and ears pierced, and his face and hands tattooed, as if he were a native. 

It immediately seems to Cortés that Aguilar can become the interpreter whom he needed.  

Unknown – Third World 

The third world, known as Rain Sun, was ruled by Tlaloc.  He reigned until Tezcatlipoca stole his first wife, the beautiful flower goddess Xochiquetzalnote .  Furious, Tlaloc gave the people no rain. Drought occurred until Quetzalcoatl overthrew Tlaloc and told him to make it rain. Out of spite, Tlaloc made it rain fire, destroying the world. The humans who survived turned into birds. 

February 1519 – Tenochtitlan 

Citlalin is waiting for Necalli to continue her training but he doesn’t show up.  Necalli is sentenced after being caught with a married woman.  Adultery was a capital offense for the guilty couple and for those who were aware of the offense and failed to report it.  After being caught, the woman is strangled to death and Necalli is brought to the husband of the female adulterer. The husband would then serve as the judge on the faith of Necalli.  He can decide to give mercy and forgiveness to Necalli but chooses to kill him with a strong blow to the head.  As part of the punishment, their bodies are fed to the vultures. 

February 1519 – Tabasco 

Tabscoob learns that strange men have arrived to the coasts of Campeche.  He gathers a group of warriors to go investigate and talk to the locals and see what they learn.   He sends Pedro with them who is afraid of what they may find knowing that they may be Spaniards like him.. 

March 1519 – Tabasco 

The fleet arrives at the river Grijalva.  Cortés takes with him two hundred men.  A mile and a half up the river, they find a settlement named Potonchan, it is an important commercial center. 

The Mayas tell the Spaniards that they should leave.  Cortés replies that he would enter the town that night.  He then has a statement read out demanding an acceptance of the supremacy of the King of Spain read out.  The Mayas immediately attack with bows and arrows, and stones flung from their slings. Twenty Spaniards are wounded. 

But within a short time, thanks to an attack from the rear by Alvarado and Ávila, the four hundred or so Indians who had been left to fight were either dead, had been taken prisoner, or had fled. The Spaniards then move into the center of the town. 

Melchor, the old interpreter, uses the battle as an opportunity to escape.  He tells the Mayas that they should attack the Spaniards day and night, since they were subject to the pains of death, just as other men were. 

The use of guns has a shock effect out of all proportion to their lethal consequence. The Spaniards are outnumbered at least ten to one, but because of the nature of Mayan weapons and tactics, the number of deaths is small because the Mayan fought in order to wound, not to kill.  

March 1519 – Campeche
Tabscoob’s emissaries arrive in Campeche and talk to the locals about the visitors who have already left.  Pedro recognizes the beach and, on his own, follows a path he recognizes.  He reaches the shelter that has been his home four years back.  The jungle has taken over the shelter.  He remembers the years he spent there with his father and with Solís.  He finds Solís’ Spanish Small-sword and takes it with him, he notices some of his father’s belongings next to the Bible.   Among the belongings, he finds a locket with a portrait of his mother.  He puts it around his neck. 

March 1519 – Tabasco 

The natives there are hostile.  Cortés’ troops defeat the natives commanded by Tabscoob in the Battle of Centla, their first battle that allows them to introduce horses as a new weapon.   

Cortés’ expeditions finds a substantial number of fields of maize near a village called Centla. They are, however, guarded. The Spaniards find themselves in the fields fighting five large Maya squadrons. 

Cortés and about a dozen horsemen (including some of his best men) have a sensational effect. This derives as much from the sight and speed of these animals as from the ease with which the Spanish use them.  

This battle of Centla is a signal victory for Cortés. Despite everything, they had still lost no one killed, even if sixty were wounded, some badly. 

Another altar and cross are put up by the carpenters. Several idols are smashed. 

As in the end of the Third World, after the battle, thousands of birds take to the sky.