Estevánico (c. 1500-1539) was a North African born slave who was one of only four survivors of the disastrous Narváez expedition of 1527. Estevánico, his master Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, and Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, walked across the deserts of modern Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas, before finally reaching civilization in 1536.
Estevánico was part of the expedition put together by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado to find the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. Estevánico was part of an advance group led by Fray Marcos de Niza. Eventually, on his own, Estevánico arrived at the Zuni village of Hawikuh in present-day New Mexico, and was killed shortly after warning the Zuni of the coming Spanish, and demanding turquoise and women.
Estevánico in "Eyewear"
Estevánico was a Moorish slave who'd been captured in his youth by Portuguese trader. His captor threatened to murder the Muslim Estevánico on the spot if he didn't convert to Catholicism. Estvánico did, although he privately maintained some of the tenants of his upbringing in faith. In 1520, he was sold to Spanish nobleman, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza. Dorantes and Estevánico joined Pánfilo de Narváez's expedition to Florida in 1527. The expedition was a disaster, and most of the men were killed the following year.
In 1532, Estevánico, his master Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, and Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, were the last survivors of the expedition. They had no choice but to cross Mexico on foot. One night, while on watch, Estevánico came across a piece of eyewear similar to spectacles. When he tried them on, he was shown a vision of himself waking Cabeza de Vaca for his watch. He decided to keep the eyewear to himself, but the next night, he met a man with long wavy white hair and a pronounced nose who appeared out of nowhere. When the man introduced himself, Estevánico simultaneously heard the names Esperanza and Amal, the Spanish and Arabic words for "hope," respectively.
Esperanza/Amal obliquely explained his own origins: he was a time-traveler, but he couldn't say from where or when without creating paradoxes. He also described how the eyewear worked: that it would "suggest things", particularly things that would meet the goals of the wearer. When he attempted to go into more detail, Esperanza/Amal vanished. Estevánico would not see him again for several months.
The next day, the group came to a crossroads. When a debate arose as to which route they should take, Estevánico put on the eyewear, and selected the path. He explained to the others what the eyewear was and how he'd found it. The other three wore it in turn, and were amazed and concerned by the device. While Castillo worried that the eyewear might be a trick of Satan, Cabeza de Vaca disagreed. However, Dorantes decided that Estevánico should use the eyewear exclusively, on the off-chance they were somehow a Satanic trap.
They continued on. While they were on the correct path, they couldn't move very fast. They frequently came to Native villages, where, thanks to the eyewear, they had success as healers. The Spaniards also preached Catholicism to the natives. Estevánico was impressed with his master's sincere beliefs.
After some months, Esperanza/Amal returned. During this second visit, Estevánico learned that Spain was in the process of conquering another civilization, richer in gold than the Aztec, further south than New Spain. Estevánico was bitterly amused by this, and his low regard for the late Pánfilo de Narváez fell further. Esperanza/Amal also hinted that Estevánico and his companions would survive, and that their trek would be remembered.
The group continued on, with Estevánico as their "compass". Soon, they came across more evidence of modern civilization. Esperanza/Amal warned Estevánico to continue to heed the eyewear, but that the eyewear was not perfect. He explained that Hernán Cortés also had the eyewear, encased in a mask. He also warned Estevánico to beware of the Aztecs, a statement which caused Esperanaza/Amal to vanish. Confused by the statement, as the Aztec had been thoroughly crushed, Estevánico dismissed Esperanza/Amal's warning.
Finally, they made contact with Spanish soldiers in led by Diego de Alcaraz in New Spain, near Culiacán, in 1636. Upon their contact with the Spanish, the group tacitly agreed to say nothing of the eyewear. Estevánico was particularly incensed when Alcaraz did not provide the slave a horse. The group then made their way to Mexico City. Not long after their arrival, Dorantes sold Estevánico to New Spain's Viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza. Dorantes ordered Estevánico to leave the eyewear before moving on to Mendoza's household. Estevánico took it anyway, assuming correctly that Dorantes would say nothing.
After some three years in the Mendoza household, in 1539, Mendoza questioned Estevánico about whether or not the survivors of the Narváez expedition had seen the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. Estevánico stated that while they hadn't seen them, they'd met natives who had. This was an exaggeration, but given the eyewear, Estevánico was confident that he could find the cities. While Mendoza clearly believed that Estevánico was exaggerating, he nonetheless ordered the slave to join Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's expedition north. Estevánico was to be paired with Fray Marcos de Niza, who had claimed to have seen the Seven Cities himself.
Just after this meeting, Estevánico met Esperanza/Amal for what would prove to be the last time. Esperanza/Amal reminded Estevánico to always heed the eyewear. He also again warned Estevánico about the Aztecs, stating that they hadn't left their brutality behind after 700 years, before he disappeared.
The dire tone of the warning prompted Estevánico to start wearing the eyewear all the time. He was walking home one night when the eyewear warned him that he was being pursued. On its advice, he jumped into a sewage canal, and successfully hid from his pursuers. While in the filthy water, he heard his pursuers speak to each other, and realized that they were speaking a language similar to what the Aztecs spoke. He reconsidered Esperanza/Amal's warning, and was happy to leave the city.
While Estevánico was pleased to see that Coronado appeared to know what he was doing, he found Fray Marcos's endless talking irritating. He even contemplated killing Marcos, but the eyewear showed him that he couldn't get away with it. Both he and Marcos were sent by Coronado north. In time, with a few servants, Estevánico broke off and advance scouted without the fray. He used the clues provided by the eyewear to find native groups, and convince them to provide turquoise and women in exchange for his talents as a healer. He put the eyewear on every night before he went to sleep. On one occasion, it revealed to him that he was being pursued, and advised him to place slippery lard on two rocks along a narrow pass on a high cliff. He did this, and from a safe distance, watched one of the Aztecs who'd pursued him step on first the one, then other, and fall to his death from the pass.
Estevánico's end resulted from a moment of carelessness. One night, he went to sleep without consulting the eyewear. In the morning his wallet containing the eyewear was gone, stolen by a servant. The rocky conditions of the area made tracking the thief impossible. Estevánico pressed on, arriving at the Zuni adobe village of Hawikuh, where he was led up a rope ladder to the top of the village. Without the eyewear, Estevánico quickly overplayed his hand, warning the Zuni that "white men" were coming, and that for a price of turquoise and a woman, Estevánico would convince the white men to go easy on the Zuni. The Zuni leader didn't believe Estevánico's claim. He ordered Estevánico be stabbed in the back with a spear. While the initial spear thrust was not immediately fatal, Estevánico died when he was thrown from the village.