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“By the twenty second of September we had eaten all but one of the horses.’’
To Spaniard Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, part of a 1527 expedition, Florida was the land “to which we had been brought by our sins, an awful country, so strange and so bad…’’
The locals were adapted to Florida; the arrivals, anything but. Ship-killing hurricanes, trees split top to bottom by lightning, mosquitoes—all was affliction.
Of 600 men, four lived. When Cabeza de Vaca wrote his account for Charles V he explained: “This is the only thing that a man who returned naked could bring back.”