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 FIVE
How the Governor Left the Ships

On Saturday, the first of May, the same day on which this had occurred, the Governor ordered that each of the men who were to accompany him be given two pounds of biscuit and half a pound of bacon. And so we departed to go inland, taking a total of three hundred men, 1 among them Commissary Friar Juan Suárez, another friar named Juan de Palos, three clergymen and the officers. Those of us going with them on horseback numbered forty.

We traveled for two weeks with those provisions, finding nothing else to eat except palmettos like the ones in Andalusia. During this entire time we found no Indians nor dwellings nor settlements. Finally we reached a river 2 which we crossed with great difficulty by swimming and on rafts. We spent one day crossing it, for it had a strong current. When we reached the other side two hundred Indians, 3 more or less, approached us. The Governor went up to them and spoke to them by signs. They indicated by signs in such a way that we had to fight with them. We captured five or six of them, who took us to their lodges about half a league from there. There we found a large amount of corn ready to be picked. We thanked our Lord deeply for having come to our aid when we were in such great need, for besides being very tired we were weakened by hunger. On the third day after our arrival, the Purser, the Inspector, the Commissary and I joined in asking the Governor to send a party to search for the coast in the hope of finding a port, since the Indians had told us that we were not far from the sea. He replied that we should not even talk about such things because the coast was very far from there.

Since I was the most insistent, 4 he told me to go on foot with forty men to search for the coast and to look for a harbor. So the next day I left with Captain Alonso del Castillo and forty of his men. We walked until midday, when we arrived at sandbanks 5 by the sea, which appeared to go far inland. We walked on them about a league and a halt 6 in knee-deep water, stepping on oysters that cut our feet severely and caused us a lot of hardship, until

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