There is a mountain range in Nicaragua called the Sierra Amerique, and a group of Indians
called Los Amerriques. These mountains stretch between Juigalpa and Libertad in the province of Chontales, and they seperate Nicaragua from the Mosquito Coast. The Amerriques had, since pre-Columbian times, always been in contact with the area
around Cape Garcia a Dios, and the whole length of the Mosquito Coast. In 1502, Columbus visited this coast at Carrai and Carambaru. In 1497, Vespucci landed at Cape Garcia a Dios, and, in 1505, also sailed along the Mosquito Coast. Both navigators must certainly have heard the word "Amerrique" from the Indians over and over again during those voyages.
After the initial greetings and the limping exchanges of pleasantries, it was a tradition with explorers like Coloumbus and Vespucci to ask their hosts where gold could be found. The alluvial gravels of the Sierra Amerrique had yielded gold for the Indians from time immemorial. They used gold, the sun's sweat, to create objects of surpassing beauty. In their eyes, it had little value in itself until it was touched by a man's creative genius, therefore they saw it as a good metal for sculpture. By capturing light on it's burnished surfaces, gold could link human beings to the sun, and both the sculptor's act of creative labor and the object created could become touched by magic, mystery and beauty. Sometimes they indented chunks of raw gold, and putting them in a sack full of sand, allowed the sea or a running stream to sculpt and polish them, and through this process the object, man, nature and the gods could become one.
Forthe colonizer, on the other hand, gold meant money, personal and national aggrandizement, and power over others. In their burgeoning mercantilist system, gold could buy a place in the very Throne Room of the Kingdom of Heaven for the most despicable sinoises to the Almighty and gave generously to the Church, he could be assured of absolution from any crime committed against the colonized. Cortez had declared that he came for gold, not to till the land. He was noted for occasional outbursts of brutal candour about himself and his countrymen. Their lust for gold was such that the Indians declared that the colonizer would even rape the sun to rob it of it's miraculous sweat. Cortez had also confessed to a Mexican nobleman in monezuma's court that Spaniards tended to suffer from a disease that only gold could cure.
For Colombus and Vespucci, therefore, the words "Amerrique" and "gold" would have become synonymous. After his visits to the Mosquito Coast, he made the last one in 1505, Vespucci changed his Christian name from Alberigo to Amerigo. In the archives of Toledo, a letter from Vespucci to the Cardinal dated December 9, 1508, is signed Amerrigo with the double 'r', as in the Indian Amerrique. And between 1508 and 1512, the year in which Vespucci died, at least two other signatures with the Christian name Amerrigo were recorded. Dr A. Le Plongeon, a 19th century scholar from Merida (Yutacan), in a letter to the French Professor Jules Marcou dated December 10th, 1881 wrote:
The name America or Amerrique in the Mayan language means a country of perpetually strong wind, or the Land of the Wind, and sometimes the suffix "-que", "-ik" and "-ika" can mean not only wind or air but also a spirit that breathes, life itself...
We must, therefore, reclaim the name of our America and restore it once again to it's primordial and evocative meaning:
Land of Wind, the fountain head of life and movement.
In the Mayan genesis myth, the Popol Vuh, Wind stands at the center of creation. As the story unfolds, we are told that it was manifested to the gods:
That at dawn man should appear. So they decided on the creation and the growth of trees and bees and the birth of life and the creation of man. this was resolved in the darkness and in the night by the Heart of Heaven called Hurricane.
On the rocky eastern slopes of the Sierra Amerrique, the wind continues to pound insistently like giant fists upon the gates of time, demanding to be recognized.