The Account: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's Relación

By Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; Martin A. Favata et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Which Tells When the Fleet Sailed,
and of the Officers and People
Who Went with It

On the seventeenth day of the month of June of 1527, 1 Governor Pánfilo de Narváez2 departed from the port of San Lúcar de Barrameda 3 by authority and order of Your Majesty to conquer and govern the provinces which lie on the mainland from the River of Palms to Cape Florida. 4 The fleet that he took consisted of five ships in which went six hundred men, more or less. The officers that he took--for they ought to be mentioned--were those named here: Cabeza de Vaca as treasurer and Provost Marshall; 5 Alonso Enríquez, purser; Alonso de Solís as Your Majesty's Factor 6 and Inspector; a friar of the Order of St. Francis named Juan Suárez, went as Commissary, 7 along with four other friars of the same order.

We arrived at the island of Santo Domingo, 8 where we remained nearly forty-five days provisioning ourselves with necessary supplies, especially horses. Here more than 140 men deserted our fleet, wanting to remain there because of the proposals and promises made to them by the people of that land. From there we departed and sailed to Santiago, 9 a port on the island of Cuba, where during our stay of a few days the Governor supplied himself with men, arms and horses.

While there it happened that a gentleman named Vasco Porcalle, 10 resident of the town of Trinidad 11 on the same island, offered the governor certain provisions he had in Trinidad, one hundred leagues 12 from the aforementioned port of Santiago. The governor departed for Trinidad with the entire fleet. But having gone half the distance and having reached a port called Cape Santa Cruz, 13 it seemed to him that the fleet should wait there and send a ship to bring the provisions. For this purpose he sent a certain Captain Pantoja14 there with his ship and to be on the safe side, he ordered me to go with him. And the Governor remained with four ships, since he

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