Whatever Happened to Cabeza de Vaca?

Baker H. Morrow

Event, James A. Little Theater

Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 6:00–7:00 pm, Free

Brigantine or LaunchBrigantine or LaunchSketch by Baker H. Morrow.Brigantine or LaunchSketch by Baker H. Morrow.One of the most beloved explorers of the Southwest, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, wandered through southern New Mexico in the late 1520s and early 1530s, becoming the first European to walk across North America. His memoir of the trek, the Chronicles of the Narvaez Expedition, is the first major narrative detailing the exploration of North America by Spanish conquistadors. But what became of him once his epic ten-year journey was finished? A hint: he was the only Spaniard in the Age of Discovery to serve in an official capacity in both North and South America. His South American tales of the naked tribesmen of the rain forests who tie their earlobes behind their heads as they go off to war, of vampire bats who nibble horses’ noses, of folds of skin between people’s toes, and of the powdered horn of the unicorn used to ward off arsenic poisoning are the stuff of his legendary account of governorship and exploration. Baker Morrow presents a lively and illustrated talk on the life of Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca. The talk is free to the public.

The South American Expeditions, 1540–1545

Baker Morrow is a landscape architect. For forty-one years, he and the firm he founded, Morrow Reardon Wilkinson Miller Ltd, Landscape Architects, have created landscapes that have made our surroundings more beautiful. Among the many notable projects are the Big I, Balloon Fiesta Park, and the Lead-Coal corridor in Albuquerque. He is the first native New Mexican to be named a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architecture. A historian at heart and a Latin American Studies major at UNM, Baker has translated the writings of two Spaniards, most recently the explorer Cabeza de Vaca who recorded his journey for the King of Spain. First published in 1555, The South American Expeditions, 1540–1545 is the first complete English version of an account of the New World. For that the Spanish government recently awarded Baker its Ministry of Culture Award. With V.B. Price, Baker has also written about ancient architectures and landscapes of the Anasazi and the American Southwest.

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