Cabeza de Vaca was one of the hundreds of Spanish men who traveled to North America in the sixteenth century. He is the author of his journey from Spain to Florida, Texas, Mexico, and the journey back. His work is called, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America which was published to the public in 1542. The 600 men, including Vaca and the Governor Pamfilo de Narvaez, left the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda in Spain on June 17th in 1527. However, only 400 men with 4 ships carried them to the land of Florida. Where their journey continued but escalated the more they stayed on land.
After being ordered by the Governor to travel along the interior of what would eventually be Florida, Vaca and 299 other men eventually had to create barges and use them to swim along the Mississippi River. There, the men were forced to split, but only Vaca’s barge was thought to have survived and not capsized. They landed, this time thought to have been Galveston Island, Texas, but they were hungry and tired. Indians took pity and brought them food and water for several days. Soon, the Indians took them to their village, where Vaca’s group regrouped with the Governor’s barge crew.
The Indians grew sick because of the disease carried with Vaca’s group. The Indians gained control soon enough and imprisoned the white men. Vaca and his men escaped and traveled farther into Texas meeting different Indian tribes along the way. This is where we finally come upon my most memorable moment(s) in the book.
Vaca and the other men, coming from a rich society knew how to mend, soothe, and heal wounds. This is how they stayed alive. They healed Indians. After every tribe they contacted with, that tribe would go down with an illness. The men would then try and end the illness by the means of medicines and other ways of healing. Therefore, the Indians did not kill them even though they should have wanted to.
What surprised me the most was how the different tribes found about the healing white man before Vaca’s men reached that tribe. Word spread. Probably a tribe sent the word via children. They either ran or rode. Eventually, it became so known that Indians brought their sick to Vaca’s group before they even reached their homes. All the Indians that had followed them were in awe of their healing abilities. But that attitude eventually changed.
One Indian man had been shot with an arrowhead. Said weapon was found in his body. His fellow tribe mates begged Vaca to heal him. Vaca dug the arrowhead out and stitched the Indian back up. One day later, the Indian was so close to being completely healed with barely even a scratch over the area of the operation. This made the Indians go from awe to fear. Every Indian that followed them thought Vaca’s group had the power to kill them in a blink of an eye. Funnily enough, this is what Vaca and his men had feared but not in the supernatural sense.
This is my favorite and memorable moment. Why? I find Native Americans very interesting, and enjoy every moment I can find of how they acted, what their culture was like, etc. Because of Vaca, I will probably never forget this moment in his journey.