CHAPTER 31: The Tribal Split and News of the Remaining Barge
WHEN THE six months I had been biding my time were up, the Indians proceeded to the prickly pears thirty leagues away [the vicinity of San Antonio], and the moment to execute our escape plan drew nigh. [This migration must have occurred in August 1533.] When we drew near the point of flight, our Indian masters quarreled over a woman. After a scuffle in which heads were bruised with fists and sticks, each took his lodge and went his own way. So we Christians found ourselves separated with no means of reuniting for another year.
During this year my lot was hard, as much from hunger as harsh treatment. Three times I had to run from my masters, who came after me with intent to kill; but each time, God our Lord preserved me. When the prickly pear season at last arrived again, we Christians came together with the aggregation of all the tribe in the cactus thickets.
We set a time for our escape, but that same day the Indians dispersed to different locales of the cactus country. I told my comrades I would wait for them at a certain spot among the prickly pear plants until the full moon. This day I was speaking to them was the new moon, September 1 [1534, in which year the new moon actually occurred on September 8]. I said that if they did not appear by the time the moon was full, I would go on alone. So we parted, each going with his Indian group.
On the thirteenth day of the moon, Andrés Dorantes came with Estevénico and told me they had left Castillo with other Indians nearby, called Anagados [Lanegados, 1555 edition]; that they had encountered great obstacles and got lost; that tomorrow the Mariames were going to move to the place where Castillo was and unite in friendship with this tribe which held him, having heretofore been at war with them. In this way we would recover Castillo.
The thirst we had all the while we ate the pears, we quenched with their juice. We caught it in a hole we hollowed out in the ground [surely in rock]. When the hole was full, we drank until slaked. The juice is sweet and must-colored The Indians collect it like this for lack of vessels. There are many kinds of prickly pear, some very good; they all seemed so to me, hunger never leaving me the leisure to discriminate
Aside from prickly pear juice, nearly all these people drink rain water, which lies about in puddles. There are rivers; but since the Indians know no fixed abode, they have no familiar places for getting water.
Over all the region we saw vast and beautiful plains that would make good pasture. I think the land would prove very productive if developed by civilized men. We saw no mountains.
When the tribes made their juncture next day, the [Anagado] Indians told us that another people, immediately ahead of us, called Camones, who came from close to the coast, had killed the men who landed in the barge of Peñalosa and Téllez. These men arrived so feeble that they could offer no resistance even while being slain, and the Camones slew them to a man. We were shown their clothes and arms and learned that the barge remained stranded where it landed. Now all five barges had been accounted for.