Tuesday, November 8, 2022

"The Journey of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca" Book/ Audiobook/ Movie Review

Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1488 or 90- 1556 or 58) is among the history of explorers during the 16th century. A short biography of him appears on the Christopher Columbus Encyclopedia. He had a few things in common with Columbus, like his opposition to the mistreatment of natives and that he was removed from office by “mutinous colonists.” (pp. 83-84)

De Vaca was a Spanish explorer whose epic story also resembles Robinson Crusoe, the character created by Daniel Defoe, since he was shipwrecked and stranded for several years, but in De Vaca’s case, in North America. Out of the crew of 350 men, only he and three others (including a Black African) survived the adventure. Many of them died due to the attacks of North American tribes, while others died of starvation. He and those who survived were enslaved by the natives, who constantly abused them. 

Unlike the 1991 boring Spanish movie version, De Vaca never lost his mind or his faith in Christ. In fact, he said that during his trials he would meditate on the sufferings of Christ and “the blood He shed for me” and this gave him comfort and strength. The movie version focuses mainly on his time on land after the shipwreck. As usual, the book (the real story) is better than the movie (and their “artistic license”). I didn't like the movie, but it's available here in Spanish with English subtitles if you want to watch it:

At some point in the real story, Cabeza de Vaca prayed for the healing of a native person who was healed. Several more were healed by him and one was raised from the dead. This gave him, along with his companions, the grace they needed with the natives, and the opportunity to preach the gospel to them. 

Eventually, De Vaca and his companions were reunited with the Spaniards. However, strong arguments were exchanged because De Vaca didn’t want the Spaniards to enslave the natives anymore. In spite of his sufferings, De Vaca believed they could bring the natives to the Christian faith with kindness. 

This amazing story is available as a primary source as a book, ebook, or audiobook. The audiobook was made by LibriVox, based on “The Journey of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca” by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and translated by Fanny Bandelier (1869-1936). Here is the link to listen to the audiobook version:

If you were wondering about the strange last name, “Cabeza de Vaca,” it literally means “Cow’s head.” It was a made-up last name by one of De Vaca’s ancestors from his mother's side during the 13th century. It signified his family's transition from peasants to nobles after they won a victory in a war, this according to the (audiobook’s) introduction on the link above.

#CabezaDeVaca #Audiobook #BookReview #LibriVox #YouTube #AlvarNúñezCabezaDeVaca

1 comment: