Canal March

The "Shipwrecks" of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, a chronicle of survival

Carlos Martínez Shaw

The american colonial chronicle of the Shipwrecks (1542), by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, narrates the trials of survival and the calamities of the protagonist's journey and author of the chronicle along the Texan and northern Mexican coasts. The first chapter relates the arrival–on board of Panfilo de Narvaez's expedition–to the coasts of the current Tampa Bay (Florida) and the incursion in the Appalachian Mountains; the second one, the shipwrecks in the Gulf of Texas; and the third chapter covers the trek—along the Rio Grande, the northern New Spanish states and as far as Mexico City—of more than eleven thousand kilometres, during eight years, during which time he will be a captive of the Karankawas tribe and then a shaman or thaumaturge and a merchant among the natives. Likewise, Carlos Martínez Shaw, professor of Modern History at the UNED, reviews the unfortunate biography of explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.

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