I should think the best opportunities for these brave sailors lie now in the Far East, in Macao and Cochin; getting there will mean much danger and malaise. The trip is brutal on our bodies and minds; lesser men die on the way, and even greater men can drown. Men and ships leave for Asia and don’t return for years, some for good. We come back fewer, always poorer in health, often near death.
The vapors on the ship give us blackened gums, weaknesses, and I’ve even seen old wounds reopen themselves, as if freshly cut on our limbs. The sailors call it mal de Luanda; perhaps the pictures in my diary will suffice. I took the time to draw Paçanha as he lay suffering on the deck. I’m afraid; my hands shake, gripping the rails as I see vital men low with pain. My health suffers; seeing your friends die is not easy. I try to make a few quick sketches so as not to forget their faces. If I cannot ease their suffering, at least I can hide my own.