It is impossible to know what was in the facile

It is impossible to know what was in the facile, highly charged mind of Cortes that morning, anticipating his first meeting with the reluctant Montezuma; but Bernal Diaz, who was present, tells us what was on the minds of the soldiers. They asked each other was it real-gleaming Iztapalapa behind them, the smooth causeway beneath their feet, imposing Tenochtitlan ahead? The Spanish had been in the New World for twenty-seven years, but what they discovered in the Valley of Mexico that fall “had never been heard of or seen before, nor even dreamed about” in their world. What astounded them was not, solely, the extent and sophistication of the engineering that divided and encompassed the lakes surrounding Tenochtitlan; nor the evidence that a separate culture, utterly different from their own, pursued a complex life in this huge city. It was the depth and pervasiveness of the natural beauty before their senses.