1500's, some Spanish ships wash up in Florida, and one guy (Cabeza de Vaca, which implausibly means "The Cow's Head") and his small crew end up crossing the continent to California. And living to write about it.
Years ago, when I lived in Boise, Idaho (I know, who the hell ever lives in Boise?), I saw a foreign film of this and assumed it was fiction. Had no idea the stuff actually happened. Or did it?
That's the question hanging over the book. What's true, what isn't? In this book, as in life, I'm inclined to believe the strangest stuff is true: the tall "Indians" somewhere in the southwest who dressed as women and practiced homosexuality, the village of Indians who were all blind, the years he spent as a slave to various tribes--had to be true. Also, throughout much of this book, Nunez does not make himself a conquering hero. He constantly points out that he is a naked observer, and I think that's largely true. And while he is fervidly Christian, he doesn't sit in judgment of the peoples and cultures he encounters, an improbable and remarkable feat for a Catholic of any age, but especially the 1500's. All in all, stragne, fascinating read.