Leaving the snakeskin of place after place
going on- after the trees
the grass, a bird flying after a song.
William Stafford, "For the grave of
Adventures in the Unknown Interior has never been widely read, and one cannot credit it with infuencing later American literature, or habits of mind.Cabeza de Vaca had become an American by the time he wrote it. He had been through an odyssey that was not possible in Europe, and by the end of it he no longer though or behaved like a European. In a sense he had been conquered by America...
...How permanent was his tranformation? What became of the failed conquistador in the end?
In 1537* Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain and could not wait to leave. He felt uneasy and confined in walled cities, court gossip let him cold, and he never did get used to wearing shoes again. His only ambition was to return to the Americas.
In 1540, after three years of lobbying, he managed to get command of an expedition to Paraguay: the beleaguered Spanish outpost at Asuncion needed saving. He landed on the coast of Brazil, where ships were waiting to take him on the established sea route via Buenos Aires and up the rivers.
Instead, Cabeza de Vaca took off his shoes and led his men on a thousand-mile walk overland, through a tangled hell of jungle, mountains and cannibal villages that was thought impassable - killing no Indians and losing none of his men along the way. The next year he made another thousand-mile barefoot march, and would have kept going if his men hadn't threatened to mutiny.
In 1543 Cabeza de Vaca was sent back to Spain in chains for trying to prevent the exploitation of Paraguayan Indians. No monument stands to him in either continent.
Travels with American Nomads
* Από το 1528 ως το 1536 ο Cabeza de Vaca, περπάτησε περί τα 6000 μίλια μέσα στη ζούγκλα..