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 TWENTY-THREE
How We Left after Having Eaten the Dogs

After we ate the dogs, we thought we had enough strength to press onward. Commending ourselves to God our Lord to guide us, we said good-bye to those Indians. They led us to others near there who spoke their language. It rained all day long on the way. Besides this, we lost our way and ended up in a very large woodland. 1 We gathered many prickly pear leaves 2 and roasted them that night in an oven that we made. We heated them so much that by morning they were ready to be eaten. After eating them, we commended ourselves to God and departed. We found the trail that we had lost.

Once out of the woods, we found some Indian dwellings. When we reached them, we saw two women and some children who were around the woods. They were frightened. When they saw us, they fled and went to call some Indians who were in the woods. When they came, they stayed behind some trees to look at us. We called them and they came very fearfully. After we talked to them, they said that they were very hungry, but that they would take us to some dwellings of theirs near by. That night we reached a place with fifty lodges, where the people were astonished to see us and were very afraid. After their fear of us subsided, they touched our faces and bodies and then ran their hands along their own faces and bodies. 3 That is how we spent the night.

In the morning they brought their sick people to us, asking us to bless them. They gave us what they had to eat, which was prickly pear leaves and roasted green prickly pears. Since they treated us very well and gladly and willingly shared with us what they had, they themselves doing without so that they could give to us, we stayed with them several days. While we were there, others arrived from further away. When these were leaving, we told the first ones that we wanted to leave with them. They were very sad about this and insistently begged us to stay. Finally we said good-bye to them and left them weeping over our departure, because it caused them great sorrow.

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