Columbus’s embassy to seek out the local Cuban ruler returned late Monday evening to report that the territory’s king had warmly received them and that the local people harvested great quantities of cotton. The locals also farmed a crop unknown in Europe they called mahisi (maize or corn) and inhaled the smoke of an herb they called tabaco by rolling it into a tube and kindling it. But there was no great city or wealth.
Columbus had spent almost ten years convincing a sovereign to underwrite his ships and the failure to readily locate Marco Polo’s Cathay didn’t diminish or alter his resolve to find it. He wrote in his Journal that he was convinced the inhabitants of the lands discovered would become Christian as soon as missionaries spoke their language. He hoped that Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand would bring these peoples to Christianity, just as they had destroyed those not recognizing Christ in Spain.