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Map of the Shipwreck of Valdivia (1511)


An accidental Spanish landing in Yucatán occurred after a1511 shipwreck during the voyage of Enciso y Valdivia. In the Spring of that year Valdivia had sailed from Darién in Panama to Santo Domingo. The ship broke up on reefs near Jamaica, and the few survivors drifted in an open boat to the eastern shore of Yucatan, where they were either killed or enslaved by Maya caciques or nobles.

Two survivors, Gonzalo Guerrero and Geronimo Aguilar, remained alive when Cortés reached Yucatán in 1519. Aguilar, a former priest who had been made a slave to a Maya cacique, was rescued by Cortés and became an interpretor, while Guerrero, who had married a Mayan wife, remained in his Yucatec village.

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[Fig.1: Probable route of the 1511 Valdivia shipwreck and landing of the survivors around Cozumel Island.]


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