Cabeza de Vaca's crew were all on the brink of death, having barely enough food for half a handful of corn a day. It wasn't until they shipwrecked, landing on an island, that the men finally found drinking water and began to regain their senses.
After some time on the island they encountered the Indians, bows and arrows in hand. The men couldn't hope to fight back, so they tried to pledge friendship by giving them beads and bells. The Indians accepted; each gave an arrow, and they promised to bring food.
As they promised, the Indians came back the next morning bringing food. They came back again that evening with more food, bringing their women and children to see the men. They were also given beads and bells, at which they greatly appreciated.
Provided with all that they needed, the men planned to embark again. They struggled to dig the barge out of the sand and launch, but they prevailed. Not too soon afterwards a wave covered them, and another capsized them, tossing the crew out and into the water.
Some of the men drowned, and other men survived. But due to the intense cold with no heat or clothes, only a few pulled through. The Indians came again, alarmed at first seeing their state, then mourned for the men when they realized their full plight.
The men remained at the Indian village for the next six years. The Indians, wanting the men to be some use to them, made them physicians, hunger forcing them to obey. The Indians treated them kindly afterwards, giving food, skins, and other tokens of gratitude.