When Orellana arrived in Quito to join Gonzalo's expedition, he learned that Gonzalo's army had already departed. When Orellana finally caught up with Gonzalo at Zumaco, Gonzalo gratefully appointed him second in command. At this point, Gonzalo decided to build a brigantine, which they named El Barco, to take them down river.
In Christmas of 1541, Gonzallo, Orellana, and their men were plagued by hunger. Orellana offered to take the boat, with a crew of 57 men, down the Napo River to locate badly-needed food and supplies. On the eighth day, Orellana and his starving men arrived at the village of Imara. The Indians were afraid of their beards, armor, bowed legs, and the brigantine, and they ran away. The Spanish ate their food, but treated the Indians well.
Realizing that the river current was dangerously swift, the men wrote a petition begging Orellana not to travel back to meet Pizarro. Fearing a mutiny, Orellana agreed and they remained at Imara for a month. [more]