In 1527, Cabeza de Vaca Stopped Wearing Shoes

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After reading about George Bush’s voracious reading habit, I felt like I had to increase the amount of pages I consume yearly. So I picked up a book I’ve been reading for too long called American Nomads, where the author loosley follows the trail of the conquistador Cabeza de Vaca, who roamed the southwest and nearly became an indian between 1527 and 1541.

He started out as a Spanish nobleman, but as he and his men fought the harsh conditions in the New World he eventually found a new life for himself as a trader. He stopped wearing shoes and clothes and roamed Indian trails, bringing cones, conches and pieces of sea-snail to warring tribes who used them to cut hides. He was a neutral merchant among warring tribes, so his customers were eager to barter with him. He wrote a journal with many details of his journey that was published as a book

After living this life of a wandering Indian, Cabeza de Vaca began to be repulsed by life in Spain, he hated wearing shoes and clothes felt itchy on his skin. He had survived in the harsh new world while most of his shipmates had died of disease or were killed and enslaved by the Indians.

He went back to Spain but only stayed a little while. Soon he was back on a ship headed for Asuncion, Paraguay where the Spanish outpost needed saving. He took off his shoes and led his men on another thousand-mile walk overland. He wanted to keep going through the dense jungles but his men threatened to mutiny. He was sent back to Spain in chains, he had too much sympathy for the Paraguayan Indians for the colonists to put up with.