Text: Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

  Category: North America
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Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

1. The Text:
First of all, I would like to present you the link to the entire text:

Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America, de Vaca


Fortunately, de Vaca, has kept a clear account of the number of men, survived through different issues. He listed the numbers of horses lost too.

"It seemed to me, I answered, that under no circumstances should we forsake the ships before they rested in a secure harbor which we controlled; that the pilots, after all, disagreed among themselves on every particular and did not so much as know where we then were; that we would be deprived of our horses in case we needed them; that we could anticipate no satisfactory communication with the Indians, having no interpreter, as we entered an unknown country; and that we did not have supplies to sustain a march we knew not where--no more than a pound of biscuit and a pound of bacon per man being possible from the ships' stores. I concluded that we had better re-embark and look for a harbor and soil better suited to settle, since what we had so far seen was the most desert and poor that had ever been discovered in that region. "
--   Alvar Nunez, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America
De Vaca describes the geography of the lands he walks on, as we can see from chapter 7, and from other chapters in passing.
"We saw three kinds of deer; rabbits and jackrabbits; bears and lions [panthers]; and other wild animals, including one [the opossum] which carries its young in a pouch on its belly until they are big enough to find food by themselves; but, even then, if someone approaches while they are foraging, the mother will not run before the little ones get into her pouch. [Evidently the expeditionaries saw no alligators.] "
--   Alvar Nunez, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America
He mentions the magnificent skills in archery by the Indians and also that their men were ambushed all the time. Also, worthy of mentioning is the concept of acting on the will of God and their king.
He also speaks of meating new tribes on their way inland, how they named their place of living Malhado.
I must however note the warfare, as it is unusual to the European style.
"Once while I was with the Aguenes [Doguenes], their [Quevene] enemies fell upon them suddenly at midnight, killed three, and wounded many. The Aguenes ran from their houses into the fields facing. When they perceived their assailants had retired, they went back to pick up all the arrows the latter had shot and followed after them so stealthily that the aggressors did not suspect their arrival in the village that night. At 4 A.M. the Aguenes attacked, killed five, and wounded quite a few. The Quevenes fled from their houses, leaving their bows and all they owned behind. In a little while, the wives of the Quevene warriors came to the Aguenes and made a treaty of friendship. The women, on the other hand, sometimes are the cause of war.  Whoever fights them must show no fear and no desire for anything that is theirs. While a war is on, they must be treated with utmost rigor; for if they detect the slightest timidity or covetousness, they are a race who readily note and exploit opportunities for vengeance. They draw strength from any weakness in their adversaries.   When they exhaust their supply of arrows in battle, each side withdraws his own way, neither following the other even if preponderant, such being their custom. At times an Indian will be run through by an arrow; but if it does not hit the entrails or heart, he recovers.   I believe these people see and hear better and have keener senses in general than any in the world. They know great hunger, thirst, and cold, as if they were made for enduring these more than other men, by habit and nature. "
--   Alvar Nunez, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America

I would also, for one of the last parts, present you the ending of the text.
"As soon as the Frenchman identified the nine sail, he let go the caravel which carried a cargo of Negroes, to make us think the caravel was Portuguese so we might wait for her. On casting her off, the Frenchman told her pilot and skipper that we were French and under his convoy. Suddenly sixty oars sprouted from the Frenchman and he moved out with incredible speed. The caravel went to the galleon and informed the commander that both we and the racing ship were French. The fleet therefore thought we might be bearing down upon them as we drew nigh, and bore up for us in battle formation. When we had converged close enough, we hailed them; and the discovery that we were friends was also the discovery that they had been duped into letting the pirate get away. Four caravels were sent in pursuit.   When the galleon came alongside, the commander, Diego de Silveira, called out to our captain: "Whence come ye, and what may be your merchandise?"   "From New Spain, laden with silver and gold."   "How much?"   "Three thousand castellanos."   "Ye do truly come passing rich, and such a sorry ship--sorrier artillery. Chee! That French son of a bitch missed a luscious morsel! Now mind that ye stick to my rear, that I may, with God's help, get you to Spain."   The caravels did not keep up their pursuit for long and came back. The Frenchman was too fast for them but, also, they hated to leave the fleet, which was guarding three spice-laden ships. So we made the island of Terceira and languished there fifteen days imbibing refreshment while awaiting the arrival of another Portuguese merchantman coming with a cargo from India to join the three spice ships and their convoy.   Time ran out and it did not show, so we left with the fleet and anchored in the port of Lisbon on August 9, on the eve of the day of our master Sant Laurencio, 1537. "
--   Alvar Nunez, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America
But the chapter I presented you is still not the last. But now, everyone, besides the few lines I have highlighted here, take up the book (or, prehaps I should say 'link') and go to have a fascinating read.
2. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

 Alvar was born around 1485’s into once great and important family. His forefather had served the King well. Alvar took part of the Narvàez expedition to Florida. He was one of the few to come back of the original company of 600 men. He did want the later place of the governor of Florida but Charles V had another man in mind and so, being jealous, Alvar refused to take part of another expedition or to give any helping remarks to them.

He was appointed the governor of La Plata but that place was not satisfactory enough for him. Around 1545 he was chained and taken to Spain. Later on he was exonerated.

3. Bibliography:
He wrote only two books, both on his exploration to Florida.
The first edition was published in 1542 under the name of La Relación (the Report). Today this is know as the Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America.
The second and more complete work of his was named Comentarios (Commentary) and is today known under the same name as La Relación.