CHAPTER 55: Arrival in Mexico City

WE STAYED IN Sant Miguel until May 15, the reason being that the devastated and enemy-ridden hundred leagues between there and Compostella, where Governor Nuño de Guzmán resided, required a convoy, which took time to arrange. Twenty mounted men escorted us forty leagues, and then six Christians, with five hundred slaves, escorted us the rest of the way. [A little over one hundred fifty miles on the road to Compostella, at the seaside town of Mazatlán, Cabeza de Vaca made his closest approach to the Pacific, which, however, could be sighted from the road sometime earlier.]

At Compostella the Governor received us graciously and outfitted us from his wardrobe. I could not stand to wear any clothes for some time, or to sleep anywhere but on the bare floor.

[Cabeza de Vaca does not mention quailing in the presence of five hundred Indian slaves the greater part of the trip from Cullacán, or that his gracious host was the prime mover of the slave raids in the Pima country. Guzmán was an extremely able man and, on occasion, charming, but also exceedingly cruel and predatory. Had the Narváez expeditionaries made it to Pánuco as they intended, they would have been received by Guzmán, who was then governor at that northernmost Spanish outpost. In the years Cabeza de Vaca ranged eastern Texas as a merchant, Guzmán founded Culiacán, the northernmost Spainsh outpost in western Mexico (farther north than Pánuco) . He also founded Compostella and Guadalajara, naming the latter after his own home town in Spain. He outraged the Spanish as well as the Indian population wherever he operated and had made mortal enemies of the other three most powerful men in New Spain: the Viceroy, Cortés, and the Archbishop. It was the licentiate Diego Pérez de Ia Torre, however, who as special investigator was closing in on Guzmán at the time Cabeza de Vaca was his guest and who had the Governor in jail within eight months.]

After ten or twelve days, we left for Mexico City [now mounted, by Guzmán's generosity], and all the way enjoyed the hospitality of Christians, numbers of whom came out on the road to see us, giving thanks to God for preserving us through so many calamities. [Their route lay along the already-established highway, via Guadalajara - a total distance from Culiacán to Mexico City of slightly over 900 miles.]

We rode into Mexico City on Sunday [July 24], the day before the vespers of Santiago [Saint James] and were royally and joyously received by the Viceroy [the great first one, Antonio de Mendoza] and the Marqués del Valle [the great conquistador, Cortés], who gave us clothes and offered whatever else they had.

The day of Santiago was celebrated with a fiesta and a bullfight.