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 THIRTY
How the Custom of Welcoming Us Changed

From this point on, the custom of receiving changed with regard to looting, and the people who came out to the roads to bring us something were not robbed by those who were with us. After we had entered their homes, they offered us everything they had, including their dwellings. We would give all these things to their leaders for them to distribute. The people who had lost things always followed us, and the number of people wishing to make up their loss was growing larger. Their leaders told them to take care not to hide any of their belongings, saying that if we found out we might cause them all to die because the sun would tell us to do so. Their leaders made them so fearful that for the first few days that these people were with us they did nothing but tremble without daring to speak or to look up towards the sky.

These people guided us through more than fifty leagues of uninhabited and rugged mountains. Since it was such dry country, there was no game in it, and for this reason we suffered a great deal of hunger. After this we crossed a very large river, 1 with water up to our chests. From this point on many of the people we had with us began to suffer from the great hunger and hardship they had endured in those mountains, which were extremely barren and harsh. These same people took us to some plains near the mountains, where other people were coming from a great distance to receive us. They welcomed us as the others had done, giving so much wealth to those who had come with us that they had to leave half of it because they could not carry it. We told the Indians who had given it to take the remainder back so that it would not remain there and go to waste. They replied that they would in no way do so, because it was not their custom to take back what they had already given away. So they did not value it and left it there, losing it all.

We told these people that we wanted to go towards the sunset. They replied that in that direction there were no people for a long distance, but we told them to send messengers to let them know we were coming. As best they could, they declined to do this, because those people were their enemies

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