Imagine eight months on a long distance road trip with five children and a van.
Now imagine doing it without modern convenience. No rest stops, no cars, no roads, no wheels of any kind. Juan Bautista de Anza led 30 families with over 240 people, of which 97 were children, on a 1000+ mile trip into unfamiliar lands. They traveled on horseback and on foot. A trip that would take 15 hours today took them 8 months.
Asking Directions and Help From Local Tribes
Juan Bautista de Anza's caravan travelled with over 1000 head of cattle, horses and mules that sometimes stretched a mile wide. They could not have done it without the help of local tribes. Parts of the route comprised traditional trade routes used by Native Americans for centuries. Some local tribes helped the families by assisting them across the Colorado River, others provided food and other aide as they passed trough their lands. Amazingly, the expedition lost only one member along the way, due to natural causes.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
The Spanish soldiers who would join the Anza Expedition were used to the arid desert where the weather was extreme, and life for their families was hard. When Anza described the Bay Area and the abundant wildlife, plant
life, and fertile soils waiting to be farmed, it must have sounded like paradise. Soldiers and their families were accepted into the expedition regardless of their social standing, or casta, an offer unprecedented for the times. Anza promised the soldiers land on two conditions: they had to bring their families and they had to stay and settle the land. For those who had very little, this was an opportunity for a better life.