The female is normally larger by 1/4 or 1/2 inch in length than the male, and has a rather thicker body.
The average length of the migratory locust is from 2-1/2 to 3 inches and about 3/8 inch in thickness in the abdomen. Locusts generally lay their eggs in the spring, and the manner in which the females, having selected a favourable site, make an excavation in the earth for depositing their eggs is intensely interesting and wonderful.
At the very extremity of the abdomen the female has two pairs of horny valves or hooks, each pair placed back to back with their points directed outwards, and arranged so that all four hooks can be brought with their points close together. By this means a sharp pointed lever is formed which can be turned around, evolved, and forked. With this apparatus she drills a small hole and by means of a series of muscular efforts and the continuing opening and closing of the valves provided with the formation of the abdomen, she actually bores to a depth of 6 to 7 centimetres, or about 3 inches. Here she deposits her eggs—normally about eighty—regularly arranged in a long cylindrical mass and envelopes them in a spumous or sort of glutinous secretion, so that the whole are quite tapped up and level with the surface of the ground. This substance when dried is more or less impassable and affords protection to the eggs from the elements and secures an easy outlet to the surface for the young locust when hatched. The eggs resemble in shape grains of small rice and are about 1/4 inch long.
The eggs hatch in from twenty-five to sixty days, usually about forty days, but the period may vary a little according to temperature, humidity, etc. The young locusts are known as "hoppers," in which stage they pass some forty-five or fifty days before arriving at the fully developed stage known as "fliers." To reach the "flying" or "migratory" stage they pass through six different states, changing the colour of their skin several times, gradually approaching to full growth, and finally growing wings.
They have no quiescent stage, and whilst they are naturally yet incapable of flight, their locomotive powers are very considerable, and they are very destructive, for their voracity is great. Comparatively speaking, the flying locusts do less damage to the growing crops than the hoppers, who devour everything clean before them.
It is interesting to state that the "hoppers" in the first stage are in length about 7 to 9 mm., or not quite one-third of an inch, and that the feelers have thirteen divisions, extending to twenty-seven divisions at full growth.
During the cold weather they usually gather together in thousands, clinging closely to all kinds of vegetation and to each other. In this season the general rule seems to be that comparatively little food is taken of any kind. For the purpose of watching the development of their eggs, several hundred locusts have been opened during the winter months by entomologists, and invariably their cases have been found empty.
Perhaps the most feasible suggestion as to the cause of their migratory impulse is that locusts naturally breed in dry sandy districts in which food is scarce, and are thus impelled to wander in order to procure the necessaries of life.
The rate of travel varies according to circumstances. With an unfavourable wind, or little wind, they seldom travel more than five miles an hour. At other times, when the wind is favourable, they will cover fifteen to twenty miles per hour. When on the wing it is certain that a distance of 1,000 miles may, in particular cases, be taken as a moderate estimate of flight, and whilst, probably, it is often much less, it is sometimes much more. Their height of flight has been variously estimated at from forty to two hundred feet. "A dropping from the clouds" is a common expression used by observers when describing the apparition of a swarm.
It will not be denied that the presence of locusts in force constitutes a terrible plague. They make their appearance in swarms and eat up everything. It is wellnigh impossible to estimate the number in a cloud of locusts, but some idea may be formed from the fact that when they are driven, as sometimes is the case in a storm, into the sea and drowned, so many are washed ashore, that it is said by one observer that their dead bodies formed a bank of nearly 40 miles long and 300 yards wide, and many feet in depth, and the stench from the corruption of their bodies proceeded 150 miles inland.
When a swarm of locusts temporarily settles in a district, all vegetation rapidly disappears, and then hunger urges them on another stage. Such is their voracity that cannibalism amongst them has been asserted as an outcome of the failure of other kinds of food.
Locusts have their natural enemies. Many birds greedily devour them, in fact a migratory swarm is usually followed by myriads of birds, especially sea gulls; they are often found 150 to 200 miles inland. Often a flock of gulls will clean up a "manga" of locusts; they devour them by thousands, and will then go to a neighbouring laguna, take a little water, and throw up all they have eaten, and at a given signal go off again to fill up with more locusts, only to repeat the operation time after time. Predatory insects of other orders also attack them, especially when in the unwinged state. They have still more deadly foes in parasites, some of which attack the fully developed locust, but the greater number adopt the more insidious method of attacking the eggs.
Many inventions have been brought out with the object of exterminating the locusts, some of which, at least, have doubtless been partly successful, but determined and combined effort by the nation and land proprietors is imperative if the remedial and preventive measures proposed are to reap the success hoped for.
The Agricultural Defence Department reports having spent $10,561,540 mn. from 1st January, 1909, to 31st May, 1910, in fighting the locusts. The total area invaded was 135,000,000 hectares (about 337,500,000 acres).
From 1892 to date, and with what is required for the present year, $54,000,000 have been spent in combating locusts and like plagues to agriculture.
CONSCRIPT LIFE IN THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC.
The life of a conscript is more agreeable than most people in the Argentine Republic imagine it to be, although it has its disadvantages as well as its advantages.
Every year all over the Republic a drawing takes place, calling to arms, for a year in the Army or two in the Navy, Argentines who have attained the age of twenty-one. At an average 12,000 to 15,000 are called out every year and distributed in the different regiments, according to height; from 1.75 metres upwards to Cavalry, middle height to Infantry, and short men to Artillery.
For eight months the troops are drilled daily, and at the end of this period a big manoeuvre is held in which every regiment has to take part. This manoeuvre is divided into two parts: in the month of September all troops pertaining to the I., II., and IV. Regions are mobilised, and in November those of the III. and V.
The daily routine is as follows: At 4 a.m. at the call of a bugle all troops have to rise, and the roll is called over; at 4.30 a.m. coffee is served; at 5.0 every morning orders are given to saddle-up horses and arm, and they have to be ready to leave the barracks at 5.30 for morning drill on horseback or to go to the shooting range, according to the time-table; the drilling continues till 10 o'clock, at which hour the troops are due back at the barracks, having to go through a course of drilling on foot up till 11 o'clock.
At 11 o'clock the troops have to turn out and clean and brush down their horses until 11.30, at which hour lunch is served out; after which they are allowed to do as they like (except leave the barracks) till 1.30 p.m.; from 1.30 to 3 p.m. the troops are drilled on foot, and at 3 p.m. "Mate-cocido" is served out; at 3.30 they have to attend class until 4.30 p.m., either on "Campaign Service," "Military Duties or Laws," or on the "Carabine or Sword"; every other day class is given on the different parts of a horse, and on how to look after and clean same. From 4.30 to 5.30 p.m. there is revision and cleaning of arms. At 5.30 dinner is served out, after which those who have leave are allowed out until 10 p.m., or in some cases until 4 a.m. next morning.
Those drawn for the Navy have to go through a preliminary course of training on shore before being sent on board the training ship "Sarmiento," which every two years leaves Buenos Aires for a trip round the world, occupying, on an average, eighteen months.
There are certain allowances made for students, who at the age of nineteen are allowed to enlist in the 8th Cavalry, where they have to serve for three months. At the end of this period they are put through a very severe examination, and should they pass, are promoted to the grade of Sub-Lieutenant of the Reserve, having to serve for a month every year in a regiment allotted to them.
The advantages of conscription are many. It brings half-breeds from all parts of the Republic in touch with civilization, it teaches them obedience, respect for their superiors, and, above all, how to shoot. After their year's service they leave the barracks knowing a good deal more about things in general than when they entered them.
There is also the better class of lads to be considered. Conscription teaches them a few things also, viz., to knuckle down (which is a great failing of the Anglo-Argentines), and be made to do things which they have not been accustomed to, clean out stable, etc., and look after their equipment properly, as anything they may happen to lose is deducted from their wages, which are very small, $5 per month.
The food in the Army is good and plentiful: there is coffee in the morning on rising, a mid-day meal and dinner, which are usually similar, consisting of soup and "puchero" (a national dish made of beef and vegetables boiled), and an occasional dish of "pulenta" (boiled maize).
The general treatment in the barracks is good. There are cases of miscarriage of justice and ill-treatment, but these are rare. A conscript may have to suffer punishment although in the right, and is not allowed to protest his innocence against an officer until after he has completed his punishment.
ACROSS THE BOLIVIAN ANDES IN 1901.
Recollections of a journey from the Peruvian port of Mollendo to the Bolivian interior, which the writer made in the year stated, are here transcribed. No rhetorical merit is claimed, facts only are related, and the compiler of the manuscript only hopes that his efforts may, in part at least, justify a cursory perusal, without exhausting the patience of the readers, or overtaxing their indulgence. These notes are transcribed nearly ten years after the trip was made, and any readers who may have visited Bolivia at a more recent date are requested to make allowance for such modifications or change of conditions of which they can be the only judges.
I have crossed the Andes Chain in other places farther south, in Chile; but on this occasion I will confine my observations to the trip as headed.
Mollendo is one of the worst ports on the Pacific coast, but is of some importance on account of the fact that the railway through Peru to Lake Titicaca starts here. All vessels have to lie at least half a mile from the land on account of the constant heavy swell, and the landing is always attended by a certain amount of danger, so much so that not infrequently passengers have to be "slung" on to the landing stage in baskets made for the purpose. Like most of the South American coast from Valparaiso northwards there is little or no vegetation, and the scenery is not of the kind generally associated with tropical climes, of which one reads so much. Sand dunes and waste meet the eye on all sides, and the traveller for the interior is generally glad when the railway journey commences.
Of the country through which the railway takes one there is not much to be said, but the attention of the traveller is at once called to the marvellous ingenuity of the famous engineer Meiggs, who built the railway. Gradually rising as the coast recedes, the train reaches Arequipa, at an elevation of 7,500 feet, and distant from Mollendo about 200 miles. Arequipa has about 45,000 inhabitants, and, while rather prettily situated in a small valley surrounded by high volcanoes, it does not have anything of particular interest to attract one. Moreover, it suffers frequently from earthquakes, which does not surprise one when you look at the giant volcano "El Misti," towering up to 18,000 feet, at no great distance off. The houses are all built with "vaulted" foundations, the better to resist the "earth-tremblings," but on this occasion I did not experience any shocks.
Leaving Arequipa behind, the ascent continues until the highest point is reached at Crucero Alto, where a notice board indicates that we are now 14,666 feet above sea level. It is before reaching this altitude that the wonderful enterprise of the engineer shows up. The line goes on winding and climbing, twisting back again but always ascending, for hours, until a point is reached where passengers, looking down from the carriage windows, may see right below them, only a few feet down, the actual railway track over which they have passed an hour before. At one place there are actually three tracks visible, one right below the other, just like steps and stairs, and I believe there is nothing quite like it in Argentina. Leaving Crucero Alto the descent is very gradual until Puno is reached, on the shore of Lake Titicaca, but still at an altitude of 12,000 feet or more. I did not actually see the town, which is a short distance from the station, but went straight on board the "Coya," the steamer which was to ferry us across to Chililaya or Puerto Perez, on the Bolivian side of the immense lake.[F] The distance in this direction is about 110 miles, and the passage was made in ten hours, during the night, so that I had not on this occasion an opportunity of seeing the surrounding scenery.
On another occasion I saw too much of it, as the steamer missed the canalized strip which extends several miles out from Puno, and we remained hard aground for thirty hours. We had over a hundred Japanese passengers—immigrants going to the rubber country—and all armed with huge revolvers; but as the food lasted out until we were relieved by another small steamer belonging to the railway company they were kept in good humour, and they gave no trouble at all. Before floating again about 100 tons of cargo had to be transhipped to the other steamer, and when we again got into the deep channel it was again transferred to the s.s. "Coya." This latter boat was about 150 feet long; it was quite a comfortable boat, and the food and bedding were decent, when you consider the part of the world you were in. The bill of fare and wine list contained many quaint delicacies, and I shall never forget how the printer of same spelt the word indicating Scotch wine (commonly known as whisky). He was quite phonetic from the Spanish point of view, and the word read "Gueiscki," but it tasted all right.
Landing at the Bolivian side of Puerto Perez, the immense plateau which covers all the centre of Bolivia stretches out on all sides landwards, until it meets the inner and higher range of the Cordilleras.
La Paz, the then capital of Bolivia, on account of the fact that the President, General Pando, lived there, was our next objective point, and we found the old "Diligence Coach," drawn by eight horses, awaiting to convey us the forty-two miles across the plain. This part of the journey is most uninteresting, and the road was only fair. All along it is the same level, stony ground, entirely devoid of trees, and covered completely with large, round stones. These latter the Indians have to gather in heaps, and thus make some open patches for growing their potatoes and grain, which, with their "Chalona," or sheep dried in the sun, are their principal foodstuffs throughout the year. Besides, the surplus produce is conveyed to the larger towns on llamas, and there realised to the best advantage. It is a very interesting sight every Sunday morning to see the "market," and the curio hunter would just be in his element, as not only do the Indians bring in vegetables and fruits, but all sorts of native silver in quaint shapes, and ornaments made by the Indians themselves can be picked up very cheaply. The dresses of the Indian squaws are also very picturesque, and, as far as I can remember, red, green, and bright yellow were the dominating colours. But I am getting away from the main subject.
Right ahead of us there is the gigantic Illimani, silent and majestic, with its perpetually white crown rising 22,000 feet above sea-level. One begins to wonder where La Paz can be, as the plain seems to extend right to the foot of the mountain. Keeping steadily on, however, the coach eventually arrives at the brink of a hitherto unnoticed hollow, and the scene that here awaits the traveller is magnificent in the extreme. To describe the view baffles my limited vocabulary. There you are looking down on the roofs of the houses in La Paz, which lies snugly 1,200 feet below you. It just seems that you could drop a stone on to them, so precipitate are the cliffs; but it is the enormous drop that deceives the eye, because, of the route over which the coach passes, six miles have yet to be traversed before getting into the town. I have seen La Paz from the top of the "Cuesta" both by day and night, and the latter effect, while losing much of its grandeur and magnificence, on account of the darkness, almost surpasses in beauty that of the daylight vision. The whole city is lit up by electricity, and it just seems as if one were gazing down on another firmament, if such a thing can be imagined. I repeat, that to fully appreciate this special scenery words fail me.
Allow me to transgress once more. On the first occasion that I reached the top of the entrance to La Paz it was under rather "sporting" circumstances, which, I think, I may be excused for interpolating here. I had come on horseback and alone from the mining town of Coro Coro, sixty-six miles off, and it is a very hard and tiring journey. The elevation above the sea varies from about 14,000 feet to 12,000 feet at the La Paz end, and therefore great speed is impossible on account of the rarity of the air. Apparently I had journeyed too fast for my horse, as the poor animal died when I was still eighteen miles from La Paz. Here was a nice "kettle of fish." It was all right enough as long as daylight lasted, but when darkness overtook me I was fairly "in the soup." Not knowing the road, and there being nothing to guide me and no one to consult, I simply walked along slowly, hoping to strike up against some Indian settlement, and pass the night somehow or other. I trudged along for goodness knows how long until I eventually did hear some sounds indicating that at any rate I was nearing some encampment or habitation. I could hear what was supposed to be music, and in the dark made my way, as near as I could judge, in the direction of the sound, and in about half an hour my efforts were rewarded, as I had overtaken a band of roving Indians, all in fancy dress, playing funny reed instruments and dancing continuously as they travelled. They could not speak Spanish, but at that time I knew sufficient of their language—"Aymara," as it is called—and soon explained to them my position. I was allowed to accompany them, as I found they also were bound for La Paz, and soon became a lifelong friend of theirs when I produced a small bottle of whisky which I had with me. The experience was of a unique nature for a white man, but I must confess I rather appreciated the novelty than otherwise, and when I reached La Paz about 1 a.m. I felt that I had had quite an adventure, which might easily have had a more sinister termination, had my Indian escort shown the other side of their nature. Well, to come back to our old coach, which I think I left at the top of the La Paz entrance, I resumed my seat and got into the city at mid-day. I put up at an excellent hotel, of which there were several, and at once bethought me of looking for work, as the balance in my bank (otherwise my pocket) did not warrant my looking upon my visit to La Paz as one of pleasure only. At the time I write of there was one solitary Britisher resident in La Paz, and he was a Scotchman like myself. This was before the railway from Oruro was built, and he was proprietor of the coaches that ran, once a week, from La Paz to the south; and I understood had quite a remunerative business. La Paz is a peculiarly situated city, as the reader may imagine from my description of its position. The streets are mostly hilly and steep, with the exception of one or two which run parallel to each other on both sides of the valley, at the foot of, and in the centre of which flows, the La Paz river. This it bridged in about half a dozen places for horse traffic, and while, for most of the year, there is scarcely any water in the river, when the snow melts it is converted into a veritable roaring torrent; and I happened to be present during one of the most serious accidents that had ever occurred from this cause.
It had rained very copiously for some days, and the river had risen enormously—in fact higher than ever before recorded—and many were the predictions as to how the bridges would stand the weight of water. The usual sightseers were about, and, unfortunately, a large number of them paid the penalty with their lives. They had been duly warned that a certain bridge was dangerous and threatened to give way, but this evidently excited their curiosity all the more; at any rate, a crowd tried to cross, with the result that the bridge tumbled into the raging stream, carrying with it over 200 people, and many of them were drowned—the exact number was never known.
Quite an important city is La Paz, and a large number of wealthy mine-owners reside there, drawing their incomes from rich tin mines in the neighbourhood. There are also numerous stores from which the wants of the distant population that reside in the rubber country are supplied. The larger proportion of the inhabitants are Indians, and I cannot help remarking that the Bolivian Indians, men and women, are about the ugliest type of human creatures I have yet seen. Besides, they are very illiterate, and it is estimated that, of the total population of Bolivia, only about 30 per cent. can read or write. In the south, Aymara is chiefly spoken; but further north, Quechua is the commoner language. I saw several bull fights in the bullring of which the town boasts, but they were so very disgusting that I refrain from nauseating my readers with details.
The Cathedral was only half completed when I was there, and I understand is still in the same condition. I was forgetting to mention that there was no British Minister or Consul in La Paz, and the story goes that, at some previous period, a Bolivian President compelled the British official representative to ride round the plaza seated on a donkey, but with his face to the tail; the consequence being that the Prime Minister of Great Britain figuratively wiped Bolivia off the map. Anything which we required from the Diplomatic Service had to be obtained through the medium of the British Minister resident in Lima, in Peru. This may now be altered, but I am not aware of the fact. I remained several months in La Paz in the employment of a Bolivian magnate, but the remuneration not being commensurate with my ambitions, I eventually arranged to accompany the proprietor of a very large rubber forest on a trip to his properties on the higher reaches of the River Amazon, and hence my privilege of being able to offer you a perusal of my experiences across the inner ranges of the Cordillera mountains. His daughter also accompanied him, and, although the journey is a most uncomfortable one in more ways than one, she stood the fatigue of many days' riding on mule-back, over trails which did not deserve the name of roads, just about as well as any of the rest of us.
For a trip of this kind many provisions have to be made, as very little indeed can be procured on the journey in the way of good food or lodging. We accordingly had to carry our beds and bedding, and in fact everything we could think of in the form of clothes, food, firearms, and, of course, the necessary accompaniment in liquid form. Most of our baggage and what we might not require at a moment's notice we sent on ahead with a day's anticipation, and eventually on the 20th May, 1901, our caravan departed from the then capital of Bolivia, at 8 a.m. Our conveyance, to start with, consisted of a coach drawn by four mules, and it took much longer to climb the steep "Cuesta" than it had taken us to descend on previous occasions already mentioned. However, our animals were good and in about an hour and a-half we reached the top of the hill, and I took what proved to be my last view of La Paz City.
The journey for the first forty miles is over the same ground as I have already referred to, in the direction of Lake Titicaca, and there is nothing more to be said about it, beyond that we changed animals at a place called Ocomisto, this being simply a few Indian huts where there is always a supply of grain and water for the animals, and the ordinary country fare for the passing traveller. There was a long journey ahead of us, so we only remained during the time that was occupied in outspanning the tired mules and inspanning the fresh lot. At 1 o'clock we reached Machacamarca, another "tambo" or resting-place, and were very disgusted to find that our pack animals, which we had dispatched the day before, had got no farther than this point. Our desired destination for the night was the Indian town of Achicachi, twelve leagues off, but as it was now quite out of the question to think of travelling our baggage animals so far before night should overtake us, we had to change our plans and therefore directed our coach towards Guarina, another Indian town on the shores of Lake Titicaca, but much nearer than Achicachi, and we eventually arrived there at 5 p.m., having covered, more or less, fifty miles since morning. The journey seemed longer, as the country is so much alike all along the route; but as the roads were fair, travelling was quite comfortable.
Guarina is purely an Indian fishing village, and the only white people are the Bolivian half-caste authorities. As I have already stated, there are no hotels or even lodging-houses in these Indian towns, and ordinary travellers have just to hunt about until they find a place suitable to put beds for the night. However, as my friend was a "personage" in Bolivia, in other words, a man of position and power in political circles, we of course fared considerably better than we should otherwise have done had he not been with us; and we were invited to put up in the house of one of these men in authority. He did his best for us in their frugal way of living, and gave us a meal consisting of "Chairo," which is soup as black as coal, and made from frozen potatoes which are called "chuno." These are about the size of walnuts, hard and black, and have to be well soaked before cooking, and then they are not a savoury bite. The next plate consisted of "Chalona," already described as lean sheep dried in the sun, and which, generally speaking, is very repugnant in appearance, smell, and taste. Never mind, we were hungry and partook of whatever was brought along, until the "inner man" cried content! The meal, I may add, was washed down with a cheap "wine" distilled from cheaper raisins, but it was something wet, and for the time sufficed.
Our pack animals arrived at Guarina about 7 p.m., and we very soon had our things unpacked and occupied our beds, knowing that a pretty early start would be made in the morning. The night passed uneventfully, and at daybreak we got under way, bound for Achicachi, about five leagues off. There is still a road for vehicles to this town, and keeping along the shores of Lake Titicaca, we reached this larger Indian town about 9 a.m. The population was about 5,000 Indians, but it is a very uninteresting, bleak spot, and we only remained long enough to have a square meal, which we were again fortunate enough to have provided for us by the reigning magistrate. That over, we then dispatched our coach on its return journey to La Paz, and thought of our other means of transport for the forward journey. Good mules we had sent ahead, and were now awaiting us saddled and ready, and we at last got started on this the more arduous part of our journey inland. Our destination for the night was Gualata, a small holding belonging to my fellow-traveller, and we reached it at about 1 o'clock, having climbed probably 2,000 feet higher up the mountains. Cultivation of cereals and potatoes is carried on on a limited scale, owing to the altitude, and taking it all round, the house, although comfortable enough, was situated in about as bleak and bare a spot as it is pretty well possible to imagine.
Nevertheless, it was peopled by about sixty Indians, who turned out in true Indian style in their beautifully coloured robes and making horrible discordant noises which were intended for music—all, of course, to show their appreciation of their "patron." Here, of course, we got all we required, and as there were any amount of fowls to be had, our bill-of-fare improved in accordance. There was nothing to do specially, and we did not feel inclined to move about much at this elevation above the sea, so we were quite pleased when bed-time came round, and without any ceremony each retired to their respective couches on the floor. Owing to excessive cold, however, sleep was out of the question, and it was a relief when day dawned on May 22nd. After refreshing ourselves with a cup of tea we set out for Sorata, distant about six leagues. Travelling was now much slower as the roads were very bad, and in some places very steep and covered with loose stones. This made the foothold bad for the mules, but we trusted to the useful animals entirely, letting them go along on a loose rein to choose their own footing, which they did very successfully. We passed the Indian village of Illabaya, perched on the side of a hill, and all plotted out in small squares for the cultivation of vegetables, etc., of which we bought a supply for our own use. The highest point we passed was over 14,000 feet, and then began the gradual descent into the pretty little town of Sorata, 6,000 feet lower down. The path was not of the best, and the pace was very slow; but the scenery was quite refreshing compared with what we had already passed through.
Sorata is indeed very pretty and quaint, and although comparatively out of the world, a traveller can spend a short time there pleasantly, and personally speaking, the few days we remained were very enjoyable, thanks once more to my friend's influence. For a change we did not sleep on the floor, and by way of recreation I scented out a billiard table, not a good one, it is true, and the balls were rather elliptical; but as I had once personated the "Mikado," a la Gilbert & Sullivan, the conditions were not so disconcerting as they would doubtless have been to a less famous personage! Sorata, being the nearest town to the Bolivian rubber districts which export their products to the Pacific coast, is naturally of more consequence on that account, as all materials and merchandise for the interior must pass through the hands of the Sorata merchants, while the rubber exported to the coast also finds its way through the medium of Sorata agents.
There is the usual plaza in the centre of the town, where the youth and beauty disport themselves in the way peculiar to these mountainous regions, which consists of walking round and round at a good pace to keep up the circulation, as the weather is nearly always cold in Sorata. Illampu, the competitor of Illimani and Aconcagua, and which claims to be the highest peak in South America, rises up magnificently right above and round the town, and visitors for the first time must really wonder how they are to find a road to cross these gigantic mountains, as the town appears to be so completely shut in.
However, on 27th May we started to ascend the track forming the way to the interior, and got a fine send-off by the inhabitants, the more important of whom turned out to bid us adieu and wish us luck over a case or two of beer. The climb before us was a constant one for 18 miles, and to-day we were to pass the highest point of our entire trip. This we reached about midday, at just under 16,000 feet. We were above the perpetual snow-line for a short time, and it was piercingly cold, besides we had to go slowly on account of the thin air, but we kept steadily on and reached an old mining establishment called "El Injenio" at 5 p.m., having done 24 miles in all since morning. There is a long, steep descent to the old mining camp by a narrow winding track cut out of the mountain side, and as the drop on one side to the little stream down below was about 40 to 50 feet, and there was no protecting fence of any kind, we decided to get off our mules, and accordingly completed the worst part of the way on foot, and of course this made travelling very much slower.
Apparently, gold-washing had not been carried on for a very long time, as although the main building still has a roof, the whole place has a very deserted look about it; but, nevertheless, it still affords a covering for weary travellers like ourselves, and we soon began to select the most comfortable looking corners for our beds. There was an old Indian there who earns a meagre existence by selling forage to passing travellers for their beasts of burden; and he was also utilised by us for getting a fire ready and boiling water for a welcome cup of warm tea.
One thousand feet above our heads, as it seemed, we could see Llane, another of these quaint, Indian hamlets, but the appearance of the exceedingly precipitate track up to it did not excite us in any desire to make the ascent. After partaking of some food, we got under our blankets in the usual way at sunset to once more sleep the sleep of the contented traveller. By 6.15 next morning we were again in the saddle and under way—the road was now even narrower than before, about two feet wide only—winding round and round the mountain side, ascending all the time, and in some parts far too steep for comfortable riding. From now onwards the journey was over tracks, not roads, and many of the ascents and descents were so steep that it was quite out of the question to attempt to negotiate them on muleback. We, accordingly, with philosophic patience had just to accept the inevitable, and get off and lead our animals over these now really dangerous parts. Some of the precipices down to the river bed were now much deeper, and had we slid over, we might have experienced considerable inconvenience at the bottom, and a greater difficulty in getting up again. The roads became worse and worse, and really they could be given no other name than "goat-tracks," but the mule is a wonderful beast, and let him have his head (on no account attempt to guide him), there is not much fear of any serious trouble. Our sleeping place for the night was to be at an old ruin of a house at a bare, but more level, opening in the mountains, called Tolapampa, and before reaching this we had to negotiate much the worst pass on the whole route. This is called the "tornillo" (screw), and it is a real corkscrew path, cut out of the mountain side at an angle of about 50 deg., and about 450 feet of a climb.
Riding was of course impossible, and we scrambled more than walked until we safely got over the top, very tired and puffed out. The mules with their cargo followed our example, and it was wonderful to see how they kept their feet; as one false step might have sent them to the bottom, carrying everything behind them too, and on more than one occasion this has happened, the animals falling, generally being killed outright in the fall. Pushing on as fast as possible, it was not till 4 o'clock p.m. that our residence for the night loomed in view, and it did not inspire one that it could supply much in the way of home comforts. Sure, the old hovel had walls and a roof, but beyond that there were no windows, and where the door ought to have been there was only a hole in the wall, but nothing to close it with to keep out the intense cold.
We, of course, knew when we started that we would have to rough it, so there was no use grumbling now, and therefore set about at once to get something to make a fire with. With great good fortune we, after a great deal of searching and gathering, obtained some old rubbish that burned. I say with good luck, because this is a treeless region yet, at an elevation of 10,000 feet, and fuel is naturally always at a premium. For cooking it did not matter so much, as we had a spirit lamp, but it was to warm our bodies and keep up our spirits that made the fire so desirable. Darkness was on us before we finished our evening meal, and we looked forward to the night with no very pleasant forebodings—and it did turn out a tiresome night—it rained all the time and the cold was extreme—so much so, that we eventually sat up most of the time, hoping by daylight to move on to a more charitable atmosphere.
I think I should not miss this opportunity of relating an experience of mine when I journeyed over the same route on another occasion. Then I was only accompanied by two Indians—no white people—and was travelling towards Sorata. I remember very well we reached Tolapampa, already described, in the afternoon, it having rained constantly all day. I was suffering from malaria very acutely, and the high levels at which we had been travelling also affected me grievously. I arrived at Tolapampa soaked to the skin, shivering cold, and really more dead than alive. To aggravate matters we could not light a fire—everything was wet—and I can assure you it was anything but a bright outlook for us. Another gang of about ten Indians also turned up, and we did look a sorry lot. However, these natives, seeing that I was so weak (I had had malaria almost constantly during the previous six months), did all they could to get me to "buck up," and kept moving me backwards and forwards to warm myself, which operation I well remember was a very tedious one. They also tried to get me to eat of their cold frugal fare; but that was beyond me; and after they decided it was time to rest for the night, I scrambled in amongst them—Indians all round me—so as to benefit from the heat of their bodies. It was neither a very pleasant nor a very clean position that I occupied, and I can hardly realise how I had the courage to do what I did; but the facts remain the same, and at any rate I got some rest.
It poured all night, and when at daybreak I suggested to my men that it was time to start, they positively refused to move until the rain ceased. I brought all my persuasive powers to bear, but it was of no avail, and as I had decided to go on alone, all I got out of them was a promise they would follow me at 10 o'clock. It was very disappointing, but I was determined to get forward at all cost. I therefore started on my lonely journey at eight o'clock, with the rain, and at times sleet, coming down in bucketfuls; I could hardly see in front of me at times, and it was destined to be a trip of which I shall always retain very vivid recollections. On this occasion, owing to the excessive rains, all the little mountain streams, which under normal circumstances are of no inconvenience to travellers, had been converted into veritable roaring torrents, causing me on more than one occasion to think twice before attempting a crossing. To condense matters as much as possible, let me remark that it rained all day; travelling was not only difficult but positively dangerous, and I, being so ill, could hardly keep my seat on my mule. All this made travelling so slow that I was still a long way from "El Injenio," my objective point for the night, when darkness overtook me. I had the narrow, dangerous paths to go along which I have already described, and I therefore did not trust to getting over them on muleback, but took the safer and, in my opinion, more sensible plan of leading my animal. This was tedious work, but it was to become worse very soon. I arrived at one of those swollen mountain streams, the appearance of which in the darkness fairly frightened me. My mule would not look at it, and for a while I did not know exactly what to do. I could judge that it was four or five feet deep, and rushing past at a great rate. Neither mule nor I could ever have hoped to keep our feet if we had attempted crossing, as it was about thirty feet wide. I left my mule and commenced to reconnoitre along the side, when I came to what had been a bridge, but which was partly washed away, leaving a gap of about four feet in the middle, as far as I could judge in the uncertain light, and over which it was impossible for a mule to go. Leaving my mule, I made a good jump, and, fortunately, got over all right, but, after all, I did not know in the least where I was, and, before attempting to return to my animal, I started to go forward in the hope of at least striking some sheltered spot where I might pass the night. Meantime, however, I heard a crash, and, as it turned out, away had gone the remainder of the bridge, leaving me on one side, and now completely isolated from my mule and saddle-bags. There was no use fretting, so I continued moving on—it was now dark—feeling my way, and keeping very carefully away from the river. I had not proceeded very far before my progress was all too suddenly arrested. I did not until the next morning know what actually did take place, but the facts are as follows: In groping my way along I had actually been walking on the very edge of a sort of precipice, and apparently had simply stepped over the side. At any rate, I rolled to the bottom, which, luckily for me, was only about fifteen feet; but it was quite a bump, and I wondered where I had actually landed. As it was so black, and I did not know anything of my surroundings, I simply made up my mind to remain where I had fallen until morning. I ought to tell you that, although I had plenty of matches, they were all wet with the rain, so that they would not light, and I had to remain in darkness all night. My saddle-bags were with the mule, and I did not even know now where the animal might be. I was soaking wet, shivering with ague, nothing to eat, plenty of cigarettes and matches, but unable to smoke or even make a light, so my disagreeable plight can to some extent be imagined. Moreover, there were about six inches of water all round me, so that I could not attempt to sleep. The cold was intense, and I can safely say that I never spent such a long, disagreeable, and dreary night in all my previous experience, and I hope never to be compelled to do so again. There are bears in this district also, but I am thankful to say that I was not molested in any way.
Towards morning the rain slackened, and when daylight came I never felt more thankful in my life. I climbed out of my nest, and there, only about a hundred yards away, was my faithful mule standing exactly as I had left him. I waited until the water in the stream had gone down sufficiently, and crossing on foot, with the water about two feet deep, I mounted my mule, and then recrossed on muleback. I knew from the number of hours I had travelled on the previous day I could not be far from Injenio, and I was right, as in less than an hour I saw my destination right ahead of me. I was in a pitiful condition, and could hardly stand up. The old Indian recognised me and got me dry wraps after a fashion, and I got under his dry blankets. I could not eat, but I drank a large quantity of "Aguardiente," which at least put some life into me. In the meantime I did not know what had become of my pack animals and Indians, but I was not in a state to worry about them, and didn't. Instead, I kept my bed for about thirty hours, until I was revived somewhat. Then, luckily, my men turned up, and I was able to continue my journey to Sorata.
Well, we left Tolapampa about 6 a.m., and for the best part of the day the route was over country very similar to that passed on the previous day; but we were descending rapidly now, and the temperature became perceptibly much warmer, in fact, by the afternoon we had indications that soon we should arrive in the "montes," where we would have vegetation in abundance, and consequently we would at least have some shade during the heat of the day. The road, nevertheless, continued to be very rough and broken, and we had frequently to dismount and lead our animals for long distances at a time. The long pass of Margurani was unusually tiring, as it was down hill most of the time, and over loose rocks and stones, which were very hard on our poor feet. Pararani, a small stopping-place, was reached about 2 p.m., and as both we and the animals had just about had enough of it, we decided to remain for the night.
We were now right in tropical surroundings, and the beautiful palms and ferns, not to mention the magnificent butterflies of all colours, were a grateful contrast to the scenery we had been accustomed to since we left Sorata. We were now only about two thousand feet above sea level, and the weather was very hot indeed, mosquitoes and other worrying insects were very plentiful; but, bad as they can be, they seemed trivial troubles compared with what we had come through. At this "puesto" we were better treated, as we obtained vegetables, bananas, and oranges, and with our tinned stuffs made quite a decent repast. The place was owned by a Spaniard, and he, along with his wife, cultivates a little piece of ground, and supplied passing travellers with general rations for both man and beast. The place was clean in comparison with what we had been accustomed to, and we seemed to sigh a mutual sigh of content at our good luck in reaching this "oasis." We rested all afternoon, and got to bed early, and, although there were rats about, I slept "like a log," I was so fearfully tired.
In the morning, however, I awoke refreshed, and with our usual punctuality got away at 6 o'clock, feeling that at last we were nearing our journey's end, as we now directed our animals' heads towards Copacabana, the nearest of the rubber forests belonging to my friend. This was only three or four leagues off, and the going was somewhat improved also, so our progress was a good deal faster than usual. During the greater part of the present journey, the weather, so far, had been fairly good, that is, taking into consideration the high regions through which we had come, but we were not fated to be so successful on this our last day. In fact, we had not gone far, when a really characteristic tropical shower baptized us properly, and continued during the whole of the rest of the day, the result being, as may be imagined, that we arrived at "Copacabana" like the proverbial "drookit mice." As the path was beneath the trees all the way, we got the full benefit of the rain dripping from the branches overhanging, which was just like a shower bath all the time. However, I got into dry clothes, and, I think, felt when I got into the Estancia house, that after all the "roughing," the trip was, in part, compensated for by the new experiences I had gone through, making my way over these very mountainous regions at such a very high elevation.
However, I remained for over a year in the rubber districts, and had an opportunity of seeing how the work is carried on and of judging of the enormous profit which must result to the lucky owners. Unfortunately, the climate is of the very worst, and the malaria being of a very malignant nature, is very hard on white people. I had my full share of this "terciana," as it is called, and sometimes wonder how I really managed to work my way to the outside world again.
In conclusion, let me express a modest hope that the perusal of my humble effort to put personal adventures on paper may at least convey to the reader some idea of what has to be experienced if one chooses to be a wanderer like myself in remote places, and that he or she may to a certain extent enjoy the result nominally, without going through the hard work involved in the actual performance.
[F] Allow me to remind the reader that Lake Titicaca is the highest water in the world which is navigated by steam.
PROGRESS OF THE PORT OF BUENOS AIRES.
The first Custom House built for the port of Buenos Aires was in 1603. The only work carried out in the harbour up to the end of the eighteenth century was the construction of thirty-five metres of brick quay-wall at the site of the "Arsenal" on the Riachuelo. We find that although between the years 1852 and 1858 many plans were presented for building of piers, these were only carried into practice and built by the Government under the technical direction of Engineer E. Taylor; a new Custom House replacing the fortress, a timber pier for loading and unloading goods, and another pier for passenger traffic at the locality of the old mole. In the year 1878 the Riachuelo was first opened for traffic for sea-going ships, and in 1879, 197 vessels with 55,091 tonnage had entered the Riachuelo. As early as 1862 Ed. Madero turned his attention to the question of docks for the port of Buenos Aires, and in 1865 applied for permission to construct them at his own cost, but the application was rejected. Four years later he presented another application, which suffered the same fate. In 1869 the total exports from Buenos Aires were 397,722 tons, the bulk of which were loaded at the Riachuelo, and steamers over 100 metres long frequented the harbour about the time of 1870. It was not until 1882 that Ed. Madero succeeded in obtaining the concession of building the docks for the port of Buenos Aires. The docks were to be constructed on the river side of the city, between the gasworks on the north and the Riachuelo River on the south.
The trade of the City of Buenos Aires up to the time of the opening of the South Basin had nearly all been carried on between the shore and the steamers by lighters and small steam tenders. The usual anchorage for the ocean steamers was in the "bar anchorage," a distance of about fourteen miles from the city. The cargoes were transhipped into lighters, which brought them as near to the shore as possible, and from this point they were taken to the Custom House in specially-constructed carts with very large wheels. Passengers were transhipped in the bar anchorage into small tenders, and were brought to a point about 500 metres from the end of the passenger mole. From these tenders, when there was sufficient water, they were taken ashore in small boats, while, if the water was too low to go alongside the mole, they also had to be brought ashore in carts. In many cases, however, passengers were brought on in tenders and landed at the Riachuelo wharves, which were then under construction. The first steamers that arrived in the River Plate were those of the Royal Mail Company, followed by the French Messageries Maritimes, and shortly afterwards by the Lamport & Holt Line.
Up to the year 1870 these lines, and a few more that were started, progressed very slowly, although the rates of freight were then very high; but after that trade increased gradually, and not only a fair number of sailing-vessels arrived yearly, but the regular lines of steamers increased their number of sailings. The great drawback was the deficient state of the port, where steamers had to lie at a distance of fourteen to sixteen miles, and most of the sailing-vessels at ten to twelve miles from the shore. There was no channel dredged, and even the Riachuelo was so scantily supplied with water that lighters drawing seven to eight feet were sometimes for weeks prevented from getting out to deliver their cargo to the sea-going vessels in the outer roads. The discharge was exclusively effected into lighters, which, apart from the heavy expense incurred by the receiver of the goods, presented the great objection that a considerable portion of the cargo was often broached and pilfered before it reached the shore, claims for which had to be paid by the ship. Another point was that many of these lighters were old sailing-vessels or steamers, and, in the unseaworthy and leaky state they were in, often arrived with their cargo considerably damaged. On the completion of the South Basin on 28th January, 1889, passengers were able to embark or disembark with a little more comfort, and cargoes were landed on the quays. Docks 1 and 2 have each a water area of 23 acres, being 570 metres long by 160 metres wide, with a quay length of 1,420 metres. No. 3 Dock has a water area of 27 acres, is 690 metres long by 160 metres wide, with a quay length of 1,660 metres. No. 4 Dock has a water area of 25 acres, is 630 metres long by 160 metres wide, with a quay length of 1,535 metres.
All these four docks, when they were originally finished, had a depth of 23 feet 9 inches below low water, so that, however low the river may be, there should never be less than 23 feet 9 inches in the docks. Since then dredging has been going on and the docks have been deepened to receive larger vessels. The docks are united by passages 20 metres in width, each passage being crossed by a swing bridge. Dock No. 4 is entered at its northern end by the north lock. This lock opens into the North Basin, which has a water area of 41 acres and a quay length of 1,409 metres and a depth of 21 feet 3 inches. The total area of the basins and the four docks is 174 acres, and the total length of quays 8,482 lineal metres. The following are the dates the various basins and docks were opened to traffic:—
South Basin ... ... ... 28th January, 1889 South Lock, Dock No. 1 ... 31st January, 1890 Dock No. 2 ... ... ... 26th September, 1890 Dock No. 3 ... ... ... 31st March, 1892 Dock No. 4, North Lock, North Basin, and Graving Docks ... 7th March, 1897 First half of North Channel... 15th June, 1897 Second half of North Channel, buoys and beacons ... ... 31st March, 1898
The timber sea-wall was built to a level of 16 feet above low water, and the stone sea-wall to 19 feet. Originally there were built three sheds in the South Basin, three sheds and two warehouses in Dock No. 1, two warehouses and two sheds in Dock No. 2, five warehouses in Dock No. 3, and four warehouses in Dock No. 4, the total capacity of these sheds and warehouses being 525,510 cubic metres, and the floor area 192,800 square metres. Since then, several warehouses have been built, and some burnt down. The total cost of the harbour works as contracted for by Ed. Madero was $35,000,000 gold, or, say, about L7,000,000. This includes the South Basin, Dock No. 1, Dock No. 2, Dock No. 3, Dock No. 4, North Basin, North Channel, Graving Docks, machinery, etc.
The following statement shows the total tonnage that passed through the port of Buenos Aires in 1880, 1890, 1900, and 1909, and clearly shows the advance made in the last 30 years.
These figures include steamers and sailing-vessels, and local as well as foreign trade.
1880 ... ... ... 644,750 tons 1890 ... ... ... 4,507,096 tons 1900 ... ... ... 8,047,010 tons 1909 ... ... ... 16,993,973 tons
In 1909 we find that 2,008 steamers and 137 sailing-vessels entered the port of Buenos Aires from foreign shores with a tonnage of 5,193,542, and 1,978 steamers and 129 sailing-vessels left the port for foreign shores with a tonnage of 5,174,114; out of these, British boats lead with 2,242 steamers and 37 sailing-vessels, or, say, 53-1/2 per cent, of the total.
JUST MY LUCK!
I really have had rather bad luck. As you know, I was wrecked on my way out from the Old Country. The good ship "Southern Cross" met her fate on a rock in Vigo Bay, and my luggage met its fate at the same time. This was something of a blow, but I expected to be treated a little more kindly by fate when once my destination was reached; I would be a stranger in a new country, and fate is proverbially kind to tyros of every sort.
R.M.S.P. "Danube," which carried the shipwrecked passengers of the "Southern Cross" from Vigo to Buenos Aires, arrived at the Argentine capital towards the end of January. At the conclusion of my journey, one of my fellow-passengers, to whom I was saying good-bye, gave me this sound piece of advice: "Take care of yourself, and the country will take care of you." I don't suppose I can have taken care of myself, for within two months I was down with typhoid fever. This is how fate treats strangers in a new country.
You know that I had the good fortune, shortly after my arrival, to find employment with the Santa Fe Land Company, and immediately on my falling ill, the Manager of the estancia sent me to bed, and reduced me to a milk diet. Two days later he himself took me down to the Buenos Aires British Hospital, and it is to this fact, and to the sensible treatment which I received in camp, that I in great measure owe my quick recovery. The journey to Buenos Aires was made as comfortable as possible. Even so, however, I must have been slightly delirious, for I remember thinking that everybody in the train was wearing a pink shirt without either coat or waistcoat. This must surely have been a delusion.
I reached the hospital on a Sunday morning, and was promptly carried upstairs to a private ward. Though my temperature was now as much as 104 deg., and my faculties were naturally not at their quickest, I could not help noticing the cheery look of the ward. There were flowers on the tables, the patients were obviously well cared for, everything was scrupulously clean, and the British nurses looked both efficient and attractive. The scrupulous cleanliness, together with the latest and most approved methods of treatment, were indeed a feature of the hospital in all its aspects.
It was a short time afterwards that one of the doctors, after carefully diagnosing my case, ordered me to the medical ward, where there would be greater facilities for giving me a course of baths. In the medical ward my treatment was as kind and as careful as formerly, but my new surroundings had for the moment a rather depressing effect. I was just able to realise that the cases around me were more serious than in the private ward, and that both doctors and nurses were more grave and intent on their work. I was soon, however, to become delirious again, and for the next few days was more or less oblivious to my environment. After a short time I became more alive to what was happening around me. We typhoid patients had four cold baths daily, and those patients who in their normal existence were unaccustomed to one warm bath a week were somewhat inclined to rebel. This was amusing. My sense of humour was reviving. The company here was certainly more mixed than in the private ward—consisting as it did of every class and of every nationality, from Montenegrin to Turk, but it was not on that account any the less entertaining. Two or three berths away a brawny Scot of monster dimensions, who was convalescent after an acute attack of rheumatism, would every night before getting into bed say, with a certain naivete, and without any sense of proportion, that he was going to his "little nest." And yet people accuse Scotsmen of a lack of imagination. On either side of me lay a typhoid patient—each delirious. The one on my right hand imagined he was at home drinking beer in Plymouth, and the one on my left, an Italian workman, would persistently call for his boots. It seemed he wished to return to his work and did not think any other article of dress necessary. The weather at the time was certainly hot, and this may have suggested such a daring flaunting of the conventions. It is curious that among typhoid patients this illusion of doing some action without sufficient clothing is rather prevalent. I myself at one time imagined that I had been discharged from the hospital with only the top of my pyjamas and a travelling rug. As I would carry the travelling rug on my arm, it scarcely compensated for the lack of other apparel. Through all these vagaries on the part of the patients the nurses remained kind and careful as ever. This was especially conspicuous in one case, where a patient insisted that his nurse was a Chinese pirate, and behaved accordingly, but she gave her charge the same excellent attention as before. At this time I began to be troubled with the pangs of a great hunger. After subsisting for five weeks on milk alone, my food diet began with small doses of cornflour and with large doses of castor oil, but at last there came a chicken. I shall never forget that first chicken, nor the nurse who brought it to me. How I tore those bones—of the chicken, not the nurse—apart, and how I attacked them in my fingers so that I should not leave any of the good meat. Eventually my bed in the medical ward was required for a more serious case than myself, and I was sufficiently well to be returned to the private ward for a few days of convalescence. The patients here were certainly more companionable than in the medical ward, and they suffered from less grave complaints. They were for the most part victims of accidents, and were all nearly well enough to leave the hospital. In the evenings we generally had some sort of amusement among ourselves. The piece de resistance was more often than not a wrestling match between the man with the amputated foot and the man who had undergone an operation for sciatica. As both performers were in ordinary circumstances compelled to use crutches, their efforts were distinctly humorous.
It was after two months of medical treatment that I was able to leave the British Hospital, and it was only when on the point of leaving that I realised what we Britishers owe to this institution.
The building itself is constructed on the most approved designs, it is fitted with every modern appliance, both medical and surgical; the treatment is excellent, the percentage of cures remarkable—not a single case has been lost in the medical ward during the current year; the doctors are not only experienced, but efficient; and finally, the nurses—but perhaps I have already dwelt with sufficient emphasis on their virtues.
All the same, thank Heaven I return to camp in a week, and may fate deal more kindly with me in the future.
PATRON SAINT: GEORGE WASHINGTON.
Saturday, March 26th, 1910.
When we consider the already overstocked journalistic world, and remember the innumerable papers and magazines which greet one at every street corner and nestle in every armchair, we feel that an apology is due to our readers (if any) for our temerity in swelling the overflow of periodicals, but let us assure you our reasons for putting another paper on the market are purely altruistic. It is no idea of mere gain, or even a desire for notoriety that urges us to issue "The Tacuru"; we have undertaken this responsibility because we know that the world would be the loser did we refuse to give to the public the highly scientific impressions formed by an extraordinarily intelligent party of pilgrims during a unique journey into the wild uncultivated northern lands of the Argentine, especially as some of the most intellectual (the superlative adverb is well chosen) members of the band have promised to give their scientific views on the lands through which we shall pass daily. Though this expedition is only advertised to last a fortnight, yet we have no intention of closing our paper at the end of that time, for we are certain that once the public have been educated to appreciate the high-class literature and useful information which it will be the aim of "The Tacuru" to supply, we shall have created a demand and interest which not even Halley's comet can rival, and we shall endeavour to satisfy that demand daily. Our only fear was that lest the world should be kept waiting for the publication of our paper, for though everything was in readiness yesterday for an early start to-day, the elements seemed inclined to delay us, and when rain had fallen steadily nearly all day, The Instigator of the trip was seen to clench his jaw yesterday afternoon, as he remarked "We cannot start till Monday." This fiat caused dire consternation; the idea of waiting for two days when all those carts were packed ready for our immediate outset, filled the party with annoyance, and had it not been for the fact that The Instigator is a man not to be trifled with, it is possible remonstrances might have been raised. But, fortunately, each member of the party only possessed the angelic variety of temper, so no expostulations were made, and peace was maintained. This unequalled patience under trials was rewarded, and great was the joy of the party when at 8 p.m. it was found that the rain had ceased, and the moon shone forth in such a way as to influence The Instigator to rescind his decision and declare an early start for to-day.
Rumour has it that The Jehu and his aide-de-camp and Our Hostess sat up till 12.30 a.m., finally arranging "places in the carriages, food supplies, blankets required," and all the innumerable details which made for the party's comfort.
Before we publish the impressions, contributed by one member of the band, on to-day's trip, we think our readers might appreciate a slight character sketch of each of our "Staff." There are nine Pilgrims.
FIRST: The Instigator. Well, he's right when you know him, but you do want to know him first. What possessed him to suggest that we should trek away north, goodness only knows, unless he was fired by a desire to imitate the Cook-Peary journeys, or it may have been the celebrated "Cristobal Cocktails" which inspired him to do great deeds.
We hear that coming out from England he earned a reputation on board ship as an auctioneer, and once even sold a live lord for a few shillings to the highest lady bidder. As a camp man he is a marvel, never seen on horseback, but generally discovered on his hands and knees fudging about with a thing he calls a pocket microscope, and occasionally going off into hysterics over some clod of earth, a leaf, or some weird microbes which he says are feeding on the alfalfa roots. Talking of feeding, The Instigator can eat anything, his motto is "tout jour"; he has the digestion of an ostrich, and says "it is just as well to make a good meal while you are about it, for you never know when and where you will get the next." His best friends cannot say he is musical (save when others are trying to sleep); but he has a favourite song, and it is that old music-hall classic entitled "Do, do, be always on the do." However, he is a very good fellow, and notwithstanding that square jaw of his, which seems to hint at the possibility of "a man of wrath" existing in that silent thoughtful being, he is kindness itself to all, and never fails to do his share of work as it comes along.
SECOND: Our Guest. The Wild Man discovered this rara avis in a railway carriage, babbling for "Kwilmez Beer," so he was brought along, and he had not been long at the Estancia before he was running first favourite in the Popularity Stakes. He was always ready for anything, and it must have been his desire to acquire knowledge which induced him to come with the party. The Saint has undertaken to explain to him how colonists thrive on the 8 per cent. system, and to teach him how many grains of maize make "ocho." We doubt whether she will succeed in the latter attempt, for we fancy Our Guest will never leave eight grains of maize uneaten; he is a wonder for that delicacy, and feeds on it constantly, and we hear rumours that he intends to take some maize cobs home with him to his native country, and proposes to feed his "team" on it.
THIRD: The Delineator. This is a misnomer, he really should be called "The Photographer," but that sounds so common, and his views are so uncommon that we called him The Delineator instead; besides, he always travels about with maps and charts (his own, or someone else's) and when appealed to as to what course we should take, replies in a cold, hard voice, "North by North, just as she goes." Like the rest of the party, he has never travelled quite the road we are going now, but the prospect of collecting a few new varieties of butterflies, moths, insects, and plants caused his eyes to light up with a wild gleam when he heard of the trip, and the yarns he spins of things unseen by the ordinary sober mortal are ever a joy to the listener, and make them whisper, se non e vero e ben trovato.
FOURTH: The Jehu. There is but one name for a man who handles his four-in-hand over tree-trunks, tacurus, and tussocks, as our coacher does. He drives as not even his namesake drove; in rain, in sunshine, in light, in darkness, over smooth ground or rough, he guides his steeds with consummate skill and care, which is wonderful to see. After a more than usually big bump he turns to his passengers with a cheery "All aboard?"; then gives his attention once more to the animals of which he is so fond, and in which he takes such pride. His knowledge of the horses he drives is marvellous. The Jehu is a man of great perception and information, and has a pleasant knack of being able to convey his knowledge to others. He and The Instigator have great arguments together which interest all listeners by day, but the discussions are not followed with quite so much delight by those who are privileged to hear them at night, when they often degenerate into a snoring competition.
FIFTH: The Wild Man—had been driven south by stress of weather and strikes. We should like to say something nice about him, for he always carries revolvers, knives, and cameras, but we fear that our kindest remarks may be misunderstood by one so unused to a quiet civilisation with no revolutions, so we refrain from all personal comments. This product of a land of luxuriant vegetation has a quaint penchant for collecting matchboxes (filled), old boots, deer horns, and any odd things lying about the camp belonging to himself or other people; still he is always cheerful and content, never grumbles, and can give valuable information respecting the ways of the natives who look upon him as a man and a brother.
SIXTH: The Chaperon—has his uses. It will be his business to see that we are housed, clothed, and fed. The horses and peons will also be under his care, and if anyone wants to grumble about anything The Chaperon is the person to abuse. Tent-erecting is what he considers himself to be very good at; but rumour has it that his best accomplishment is hairdressing (ladies or gentlemen, English or foreign styles). His resources know no bounds; he has been seen to fasten up a pair of leggings with bits of stick. His powers of annexation, both mentally and materially, are indeed marvellous. He prefers to make his bed on the bricks or the cold, hard ground, and then enlarges on the comfort thereof; he generally takes his food standing up, and is always on the spot ready for any emergency when required.
SEVENTH: The Saint—is a lady who will give away anything in her possession, save chicken or eggs. Just now she is making donations of pipes, tobacco, handkerchiefs (her own or The Instigator's), and good advice on matrimony. She is a person of importance, and is very keen on collecting knowledge which she is always ready to impart to others; unfortunately, some of her efforts to improve humanity have not been absolutely successful, but she is never discouraged, and takes up the next case on the list with equal enthusiasm. Most of us have to thank her for some good thing or other. She will do her best to keep every member of the party up to the mark, physically and mentally. Her accomplishments are numerous.
EIGHTH: My Lady—is a general favourite; she will look after the lot of us in her own gracious fashion. Everyone goes to her for advice, sympathy, or help, which she is always ready to give. Even without her tea-basket she would be an absolute necessity for the social success of the trip, for, as the advertisements say of patent sweepers and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "no party is complete without" her, so every one was glad to hear that she had agreed to accompany the northern pioneers. Those favoured ones who have seen her "on the boards," whisper that her histrionic genius is marvellous; we, who are not among the fortunate number, can only say that if her acting equals her talent for giving (when required) a really concise, lucid description of anything, it must indeed be wonderful. Her quotations, too, are so ready and apt, though occasionally they remind us, by their vagueness, of her namesake and favourite book.
NINTH: The Kid. Why she is brought along, nobody will ever know. It may have been as a "contrapeso" ("an addition of meat or fish of inferior quality, thrown in to complete the weight," vide Arturo Cuyas' Dictionary), but we think she came with the sheep. Anyhow, it was not until the first part of the journey had been accomplished that she was discovered bleating in the corner of one of the coaches. We had a meeting to decide whether she should come on with us or not, and arranged to put her on the job of tidying up for the trip; but her hopeless incompetence and ready impertinence to her superior officers, necessitated instant dismissal without a character. However, as she is really not worth the trouble of sending back, we locked up the tea tin, and let her continue the journey on the condition that she will not talk too much, awake or asleep. With any luck, we may yet lose her somewhere in the wilds.
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The one disappointment expressed by all the party was that Our Hostess decided not to accompany us on the trip, but to await our return at Cristobal.
We started out from the estancia house as soon as the ladies' luggage could be brought downstairs, and we should like to remark, in passing, that it was a very affecting sight to see Our Guest, The Delineator, and The Wild Man lifting and carrying heavy boxes and baggage (with no thought of gain) out to the peons, who, under the able direction of The Chaperon, loaded them scientifically on to one of the four carts, which, when ready, were sent on ahead with the nine peons who had been told off for the trip. Cameras appeared from every available corner as we prepared to move, and many invaluable photos of the start of the caravan must have been secured by those who gave us such a hearty send-off. When at last Our Hostess had put in the final cushion and rug, and provided us with biscuits and bull's-eyes, and was satisfied that even she could do nothing more for our comfort, we parted from her with great regret, promising that she should receive numerous marconigrams concerning our welfare, and our travels en route. First went off the four-in-hand driven by The Jehu, who had four members of the party in his care; he was followed by The Chaperon, who drove a pair, and looked after the rest of the explorers.
There is an old saying, "Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang him." The truth of this saying has never been better exemplified than in the case of the Chaco, which long held the reputation of being good for nothing. Rumour had it that the northern land was useless; life was impossible there for the white man; indeed, it was supposed that cattle even could not live there on account of the mosquitoes and garrapata; and Indians were said to be as thick as flies, and equally disturbing.
The Santa Fe Land Company has been one of the pioneers who steadily fought down these reports, and by showing what good cattle could be bred there, and what crops grown, has gradually opened up the possibilities of the northern lands to colonists and investors. Slowly but surely workers came north, first in fear and dread, but later with confidence, and now the cry is "They come, and still they come." Before we had gone far on our journey we had an opportunity of conversing with one lately arrived colonist. A wonderful crop of maize attracted our notice, and we stopped to speak to the great, jolly, strong-framed Italian who had grown it. He has moved up from the south with his wife and family, and his fellow-workmen. They started ploughing, and though it was late in the season, he was persuaded to try a catch-crop of maize, with the result that he has to-day banked $5,000, when he never expected to secure a chance harvest. And so sure is he that the land will repay all labour and time expended upon it that he is anxious to take up a league and colonize it with his fellow-countrymen.
It is the same story all through the northern lands; anyone with pluck, adaptability and grit can do what this man has done: indeed hard work and perseverance will as amply reward the labourer in the northern lands as they have done in the south. The sight of this great crop of valuable maize, on land which a few months before was a mere waste, brings the words of the Psalmist forcibly to one's thoughts, for surely of no country could it more truly be said than of the Argentine, "Dwell in the land, and be doing good, and, verily, thou shalt be fed"; and perhaps there are few countries in which there are less openings for the man whose mind is not set towards "doing good": the Argentine has little room for the shirker.
The rain of yesterday relieved us from the trials of dust on our journey, but it also made the going very heavy, and instead of travelling for the usual two hours before relieving horses, we were obliged to make an early stop for a change. This is always an interesting sight, for the animals are so well trained. Our total number is 87, and when a halt is called, these animals are all lined up in a row, generally against a wire fence. At the word of command they range themselves, backed close against the fence in a long line with their heads outwards. Packed tightly together they await the inspection of their master, who chooses the animals he requires, and as they are standing thus they allow themselves to be haltered up and led quietly away from the line to be harnessed. Their training is wonderful, but it is really amusing to watch the expression of the horses as they stand in a row while the selection takes place, they seem to be saying "Please, sir, not I this time." Where no wire fence is available, the peons stretch a rope or lasso out, and the horses will line up against that in the same manner. During our first change of horses, unexpected excitement occurred. The Saint perceived a plaid horse—at least this is what she called it, and we believed it to be German for piebald horse—from which a peon had dismounted. This horse must have reminded her of the circus-riders of her childhood (or possibly her action was owing to temporary aberration); anyhow, without a word of warning, she leapt astride the native saddle and gave a short display of how it should be done. However, fortunately from her point of view, though disappointingly from that of the spectators, the piebald animal had not been trained to circus tricks, and only quietly ambled along for a few yards, during which time the cameras came into full play. After The Saint had been persuaded to dismount, and the horses were harnessed up, an onward move was made, and it was not long before we met our host for the day. He had ridden to the furthest outposts of his section to join us, and under his guidance we were conducted to two or three spots, where The Instigator inspected rodeos of animals in his charge.
We arrived at the Section house of Polvareda about midday, and found that our host had prepared an alarmingly sumptuous repast for his influx of visitors: as course followed course, roast ducks dodged the turkey, and were pursued by plum pudding, etc., we began to wonder if our host thought that meal would have to last us for the fortnight of our trip. But we discovered that he came from the West of England, and had not forgotten the ideas of hospitality current in that part of the world. Rumour had it that he himself had been seen carrying about pails of scalded milk at 4 a.m. This proceeding explains the delicious Devonshire cream and butter we are enjoying.
The afternoon was spent in driving or riding round the section to inspect various windmills, more groups of cattle, wells, fencing, and new alfalfa, etc. Our host, as we were driving round, took the opportunity for giving us a short, successful exhibition of buck-jumping with his steed, whether willingly or not, neither he nor history mentions. At eventide, another excellent repast was provided, and The Saint was so impressed by the catering and culinary skill of our host, that she decided to inaugurate a prize to be won by the bachelor estanciero who shall provide the best meals for the hungry nomads during the trip; certainly our host for to-day has put the standard very high for the other competitors. A short telephonic communication was held during dinner with Our Hostess at Cristobal, and "All's well" was reported on both sides.
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Sunday, March 27th, 1910.
The party did not sit up late last night; they had a short talk on the verandah for the sake of digestion, and then all retired to bed, but alas! not to rest. Foolishly they had imagined that mosquitoes were things of the past, and no nets were put up, with the result that one and all soon learnt that for fresh blood and newcomers there was a plethora of these little demons waiting with their irritating song, sting, and bite: from some of the party we learn complaints of other songs, more human, and more nasal, and it is believed that it was Our Guest who was heard at midnight to be murmuring the chorus of a favourite song, viz., "Hush, boys! No noise! Silence ebryting! Listen, and you'll hear de little angels sing." At least it says "angels" in the song, but the word Our Guest used sounded like "demons," but probably he was dreaming of the "ping" of bullets and the roar of battle as the snores resounded through the room, or, one might almost say, through the house. Very early this morning there were cries for The Chaperon: he was wanted to tell the time; he was wanted to bring water for ablutions; he was wanted to tell us when breakfast would be ready; he was wanted to give advice or remedies for mosquito bites, and, in general, for a short space of time, he justified his existence. When at last the members of the party had collected themselves from all sorts of odd corners, coffee (with the addition of bacon and eggs, and several other things) was served, and the interval, before the order "All aboard" was issued, was chiefly occupied in observing and discussing the effects of our first night's experience of bichos. Our Guest, after due deliberation, laid down some useful rules for future guidance, the chief being, "Never be without a Mosquitero": his face and head were literally enlarged on this point, and he assured us that a mosquito's proboscis is an impressive point. Apparently The Kid, too, would have liked to give her views on mosquitoes and their ways, but her uninteresting remarks were cut short by The Wild Man's order of "kennel up," and, given a bottle of cana, she seemed quite happy. Our Guest seemed to have an impression, also, that someone had blundered. He knew someone had slumbered (some had not), and plaintively he begged that he might be allowed in future to sleep at one estancia further ahead of the rest of the party.