HotFreeBooks.com
Birdseye Views of Far Lands
by James T. Nichols
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Our first landing place on this sacred soil was at the city of Haifa, which is located at the foot of Mount Carmel near the northern part of the country. Haifa is a small city of some ten thousand people and to visit the market place in the early morning makes one think that the people are very much alive. Not far from the city are shown some rock-cut chambers in Mount Carmel that are said to be the very rooms where Elisha conducted his school for the young prophets.

On the top of this mountain perhaps four or five miles from Haifa is a sort of a natural amphitheater and in this an old, old, rock-cut altar that is pointed out as the place where Elijah and the prophets of Baal had the great test to see whose god would answer by fire. At the foot of the mountain is a large mound which is to this day called the "Priest's Mound" and which is the traditional burial place of the false prophets who were slain at that time.

From Haifa we went to Nazareth which is about eighteen miles in an eastward direction. We traveled for several miles along a railroad that the builders had started and then abandoned. The story told me at the time as to why this project was abandoned became quite significant when the war broke out, although it was told me several years before this happened. They said an English company secured the right to build a railway from Haifa to Damascus. About the time the work was started the Kaiser came to visit Palestine.

Great preparation had been made for this visit and as a worshipper (?) he visited all the sacred places. On his return he spent a week in Constantinople with the Sultan of Turkey and that immediately after this visit this Turkish ruler decided that this railway would give the English too much power and the company was compelled to give up the work. Of course the railway was finished later on, but not by the English. As it developed after the war broke out, the Kaiser and the Sultan of Turkey had worked together for years.

Stopping by the highway a Mohammedan woman was drawing water at a well and on request she cheerfully gave us a drink. These people never refuse to help even an enemy get a drink of water so I was told. The women do most of the hard work in Palestine. Where we stopped to pay the government tax that was always collected from travelers, I saw a man and woman building a stone wall. The only thing the man did was to sit on the wall while the woman mixed the mortar and carried both it and the stone to him. She even had to lift the stone up on the wall without any assistance from him, but he did manage to spread the mortar alone.

Spread out before us was the great Plain of Esdraelon, which was often spoken of as the world's greatest battlefield. Here more battles that decided the destiny of nations have been fought than on any other spot on the globe. To behold the place where "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera" and a score of other world-famous struggles was a marvelous sight to say the least.

Nazareth is a beautiful little city on the side of a mountain. The streets are narrow, the paving stones are worn slippery, and the shops are all open to the streets. In the Church of the Annunciation they point out "Joseph's Workshop" and "Mary's Kitchen" and with great solemnity show you the tools used by the Galilean carpenter and the cooking utensils used in the sacred home. There is in Nazareth one building the walls of which perhaps were standing nineteen hundred years ago. This old wall is hoary with age and the Hebrew characters above the door indicate that it used to be a Jewish synagogue. Possibly it was the place where the great sermon was preached which so enraged the people that they tried to mob the preacher, but he escaped from their hands.

An amusing experience was when we visited the Hall of Justice. The officials found that we had come into their city without permission from the authorities at Haifa. At once we were held up and fined. The fines and costs amounted to sixty cents each and I had to pay one dollar and twenty cents for myself and guide. When this was paid they gave us permission to proceed on our journey. That all might know that we had this permission it was so stated upon the back of our passports.

The last thing I remember before going to sleep one night in the city of Nazareth was the loud talk of a crazy man in the street near the window. As there were no asylums for these unfortunate people they often just wandered around. I visited the only asylum for crazy people in all Syria at that time, and Dr. Waldimier told me with his own lips that it took him nineteen long years to get permission from the Turkish government to found the institution.

From the top of the mountain near Nazareth one has a wonderful view of the entire country. As Palestine is less than one hundred and fifty miles long and but one-third as wide one can see almost entirely over the land from some high elevation. To the east and southeast of the top of this mountain lies the great Jordan valley with the mountains of Moab in the background. It was from one of these peaks, Mount Nebo, that Moses viewed the landscape o'er. Only about fifteen miles to the northeast lies the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias and Lake of Gennesaret. One cannot see the water in this lake, but the depression where it lies is very marked.

To the north is the "Horn of Hattin," where the famous Sermon on the Mount was given to the assembled multitude. Still further is Mount Hermon which was the scene of the transfiguration. Still farther away are the mountains of Lebanon. To the west is old Mount Carmel and beyond that the great Mediterranean Sea. Stretched out to the southwest is the Plain of Esdraelon, and beyond that the mountains of Samaria. Just east of this plain are Mount Tabor and Gilboa. One can stand for hours and not get tired of looking for every foot of the ground is historic.



CHAPTER XVI

A WORLD-FAMOUS CITY—JERUSALEM

The history of the world is largely the story of the rise and fall of great cities. In these great centers one can feel the heart-throb of civilization. Some of the great cities of today are famous for their size, such as New York and London; some for their beauty, like Paris and Rio Janeiro; some for their culture and learning, as Boston and Oxford; some for their manufacturing and commercial supremacy, as Detroit and Liverpool. But there is one city on the globe not nearly as large as Des Moines, not at all beautiful, its people neither cultured nor learned, has no factories and one narrow gauge railway takes care of most of its commerce, and yet it is by far the most famous city of all time. It is the city of Jerusalem.

The site of the city was once owned by a farmer whose name was Oman. He had a threshing floor on the top of Mount Moriah. The city as it is today is on top of two mountains, but the valley between has been filled up so that it is almost like one continuous mountain top. Higher mountains are practically on every side so that the moment one sees the city he thinks of the scripture, "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so is the Lord round about his people."

To get an idea of the city as it was when the war broke out you must imagine a city of about sixty thousand people, without street cars, electric lights, telephones, waterworks, sewer system or any modern improvements whatever. However, General Allenby's entrance into the city in December, 1917, was the beginning of a new era. In three months the English did more for the city than the Turk did in a thousand years.

There is an old Arab legend which says: "Not until the River Nile flows into Palestine will the Turk be driven from Palestine." Of course this was their way of saying that such a thing would never come to pass for the Turk actually believed that he had such a hold on that country that there was no power on earth that could make him give it up. But when the English started from Egypt they not only built a railroad as they went toward Jerusalem, but not far from the Nile they prepared a great filtering process to cleanse the water, and then laid a twelve-inch pipe and brought the pure water along with them for both man and beast.

Wherever they stopped for a length of time in the desert, "the glowing sands became pools," as the prophet had forecasted, and the desert began to "blossom as the rose." Sixty-five days after General Allenby entered the Jaffa Gate into the city of Jerusalem the water pipe or system was brought into the city and the Canadian engineer had made the Arab legend a reality, bringing the sweet waters of the Nile, a hundred and fifty miles away, into the City of the Great King.

Jerusalem is to this day a walled city. The walls average some thirty feet high and are about fifteen feet thick at the top. It is a little less than two and one-half miles around the city wall, but the city itself has outgrown these limitations, quite a portion of it being on the outside of the wall. The hotel at which the writer stopped while visiting the city some years ago, was located outside the wall, as are many of the best buildings. The streets are narrow, the houses have flat tops and many of them are but one or two stories high.

There was a time, however, when this city boasted of having the finest building ever erected by the hands of man, viz: Solomon's Temple. This was built on Mount Moriah which was a great flat mountain top of uneven rock. Great arches were built around the sides and then the top leveled off until the large temple area was formed. Below the sides of this area are still seen the massive rooms that are called Solomon's stables. The writer rambled for hours through these great underground vaults and saw the holes in the stone pillars where the horses were tied. Here multiplied thousands took refuge during some of the memorable sieges that the city went through.

Not far away are the great vaults known as Solomon's Quarries. Here is where the massive stones were "made ready" and the master builder's plans were so perfect that, "there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the temple while it was in building." The marks of the mason's tools and the niches where their lamps were placed can be seen to this day. It is a remarkable fact that in sinking shafts alongside the temple wall, great stones have been discovered but no stone chips are found by them. There are numerals and quarry marks and special mason marks on some of these stones but they are all Phoenician, thus confirming the Bible account that Hiram, the great Phoenician master builder prepared the stones and did the building for King Solomon.

Jerusalem has several large churches the most noted of which is the one built over the traditional tomb of Christ. It is called the "Church of the Holy Sepulchre." For sixteen hundred years there was no question but what this tomb was the identical one in which the body of Christ was laid. This church as it stands today is a magnificent building with two great entrances. The sad thing about it is the fact that it is divided up into various chapels, each held by sects of so-called Christians, and a large-armed guard has to be kept in the church to keep these fanatical people from killing each other. Before soldiers were placed there, scenes of conflict and bloodshed were very common indeed—a sad spectacle for Jews and Moslems and other enemies of the Christ to gaze upon.

In the Church of Pater Noster I counted the Lord's Prayer in thirty-two different languages inscribed on marble slabs so that almost any person from any country can read this prayer in his own language. In this connection it is interesting to note that at the gate entrance to the Pool of Bethesda the scripture story of the healing of the impotent man is written, or rather inscribed, beneath the arch, in fifty-one different languages.

One of the large churches in the city was dedicated by the ex-kaiser when he visited the city in 1898. It was later found out that this German church was built for military purposes. During the war a wireless outfit and great searchlights were found in its tower. This self-appointed world ruler is represented on the ceiling of the chapel of a building on Mount Olivet in a companion panel with the Deity. In this same building the ex-kaiser is represented as a crusader by a figure and the Psalmist is painted with the moustache of a German general. When the ex-kaiser entered the city of Jerusalem, a breach was made in the wall near the Jaffa Gate, so instead of entering through the gate like an ordinary mortal, he went in through a hole in the wall. He would no doubt be glad now to go through another "hole in the wall" to have his liberty.

To the writer, however, perhaps the most interesting place in or about the entire city is the Garden Tomb and Mount Calvary. This is almost north of the Damascus gate and on the great highway from Jerusalem from the north. Mount Calvary is only a small hill. The Jews speak of it as the Hill of Execution, or the Skull Place, as the outline of the hill seen from a certain direction resembles the form of a gigantic skull. It is said that no Jew cares to pass this place after night and if he passes it in daylight he will mutter a curse upon the memory of him who presumed to be the King of the Jews.

Near this Skull Place is an old tomb that just fits the Bible narrative, viz: "Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre wherein never man was yet laid." This tomb was discovered many years ago by General Gordon and is often spoken of as Gordon's Tomb, also called the Garden Tomb. When excavating about it a wall was found which proved to be a garden wall the end of which butts up against Mount Calvary. One writer who has examined every nook and corner says in regard to this tomb: "It stands in the mass of rock which forms the northern boundary of a garden which literally runs into the hillside to the west of Mount Calvary itself."

One of the first things noted as the writer went into this tomb was the fact that it is a Jewish tomb. They made their tombs different from those of any other people. That it was a "rich man's tomb" is also very certain, as is the fact that it dates back to the Herodian period in which Jesus lived. There is also some frescoed work upon it showing that it was held sacred by the early Christians. Then the "rolling stone" and the groove in which it was placed is very interesting. This was something like a gigantic grindstone which rolled in the groove and was large enough to cover the opening when the tomb was closed.

While in and about Jerusalem the writer visited the famous "Upper Room," the "Jew's Wailing Place," the "Mosque of Omar," which stands upon the very spot where Solomon's Temple used to stand, the "Way of Sorrows," the "Ecco Homo Arch," the "Castle of Antonio," "Tower of David," the "Pool of Siloam," and a great many other interesting places. The Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives as well as scores of other places were fascinating but it would take a large volume to describe them all.



CHAPTER XVII

A WORLD-FAMOUS RIVER—THE JORDAN

The great Mississippi and Amazon rivers are noted for their length; the Hudson and the Rhine for their scenery; the Thames and Tiber for the great cities on their banks; the Volga and the Dneiper for their commerce; the Nile and the Yellow rivers for their annual overflow, the former to give life and the latter to destroy; and the Euphrates and Tigress for the ruins of mighty cities of other days.

But this chapter is a description of a river only a little more than two hundred miles in length, no scenery to speak of near it, never a great city on its banks, no sail or steamboat for commerce ever traveled upon its waters, no one scarcely ever cared whether it was within its banks or not, and not even any ruins worth while along its shores; and yet it is today and has been for centuries the most famous river on the face of the earth.

It is the River Jordan, and a glimpse of it brings forth some of the most wonderful characteristics possessed by any river, as well as many historical events that make their memories dear to the hearts of men and women wherever civilization has found its way. Unlike all other rivers which rise in some elevated place and flow toward the sea level, nearly every mile of this river is below the surface of the ocean.

At the foot of Mount Herman in northern Palestine there is a spring of water that is almost ice cold. That spring is but a few hundred feet above sea level. The water from this spring is joined by that of several other springs and small rivulets caused by the melting snows on the mountain, flows to the south a distance of a few miles, and forms a small lake which is about three miles wide and four miles long. This lake is just on a level with the Mediterranean Sea which is only about thirty miles to the west. This is spoken of in the Bible as "the waters of Merom." From the southern end of this lake the Jordan begins.

The first ten and one-half miles the water falls six hundred and eighty feet to where it enters the Sea of Galilee. This pear-shaped body of water is a little more than a dozen miles long and half that wide and is surrounded by mountains. The river enters through a small canyon at the northwest and passes out through another canyon at the south end. Sometimes the wind will rush down the canyon at the northwest and in a few moments the waters of the lake are like a great whirlpool. These sudden storms often imperil any small boats which may be out on the sea as was the case in Bible times when the Master was sleeping and his disciples awakened him, saying: "Lord, save us; we perish."

From this body of water to the point where the Jordan empties into the Dead Sea is only sixty-five miles by airline, but the way the river winds like a gigantic serpent, one would travel twice that distance were he to go in a boat. This Jordan valley is from four to fourteen miles wide and the mountains on each side rise to the height of from fifteen hundred to three thousand feet.

Within this Jordan valley is what might be called an inner valley which is from a quarter of a mile to a mile wide, and from fifty to something like seventy-five feet deep. This might be called the river bottom and the river winds like a snake in this smaller valley. That boy was a wise lad who wrote a description of the Jordan as follows: "The Jordan is a river which runs straight down through the middle of Palestine, but if you look at it very closely, it wriggles about." When the river overflows it simply covers the bottom of this inner valley.

As noted above, the Sea of Galilee is six hundred and eighty feet below the level of the ocean. During this sixty-five miles (airline) to the Dead Sea, it falls more than six hundred feet more, so that the Dead Sea itself is about thirteen hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea which is only forty miles west. Should a canal be cut across to the Mediterranean which would let the water through, not only would the Dead Sea and the River Jordan disappear, but the Sea of Galilee be included in a great inland sea east of Palestine.

While the Jordan as well as other smaller streams flow continually into the Dead Sea, it is said that it never raises an inch. This, with the fact that this body of water has no outlet whatever, makes a problem to which geologists and scientific men have failed to give a satisfactory solution. Of course, the water evaporates very rapidly, but in the spring when the Jordan overflows and pours a much greater volume of water into it, how does it come that it evaporates so much faster than at any other time in the year?

When the writer visited the Dead Sea the water was as smooth as glass. The water is so salty that a human body will not sink in it at all. Should the body go under it will bob up again like a cork. I have never learned to swim; in deep water simply cannot keep my feet up, but in the Dead Sea they could not be kept down, and of course I could swim like a duck. Nothing grows near this body of water. Everything about it is dead. Like some people, it is always receiving but never giving. At the mouth of the Jordan one can see dead fish floating on the water. When carried by the swift current into this salty water they soon die.

The River Jordan runs very swiftly. It is about the size of the Des Moines river in northern Iowa, not nearly so large as this river in the southern part of the state. At the fords of the Jordan I waded out into the stream but the current was so swift that I did not attempt to go entirely across.

Here at this ford occurred some of the greatest events of Bible history. On the plain just east of the river the Children of Israel were encamped when Moses went up on Mount Nebo, looked over the Promised Land, folded his arms and peacefully passed into the great beyond. It must have been an exciting day for the entire camp when they last saw their great leader become a mere speck on the mountain side and finally disappear altogether. They not only never saw him again but they never were able to find a trace of his body.

There must have been much speculation among these people as to what became of Moses until in some miraculous way Joshua was informed that the great leader was dead and that he must now take charge and lead the people across the Jordan into the Promised Land. After thirty days mourning for Moses, the great company marched down to the river; it was opened for them and they crossed on dry ground. The record also states that this crossing was at the time when the river was out of its banks and this whole bottom, nearly a mile wide, was a rushing torrent. Perhaps this accounts for the fact that the enemies who had taken possession of the Promised Land were totally unprepared for their coming, feeling secure while the river was so high and dangerous.

Another great event which occurred was when the old prophet Elijah and the young prophet Elisha crossed the river together and the young man came back alone later on for Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Now fifty young men had followed the two prophets to the river and when Elisha came back alone and told them how the chariot of fire came after Elijah they simply couldn't believe it and finally went across and searched the mountains for three days trying to find his body. Failing to find the body, together with the fact that they had witnessed the parting of the waters when the two men went over and the same when Elisha came back alone, was sufficient evidence to them that the young prophet had told the truth.

Evidently this event created a great impression all over the country and young men came to the school for the prophets which was located near, that the buildings had to be enlarged. Every student borrowed an ax and went to work felling trees along the river bank. In one case the ax flew off the handle and went into the water. The young man was greatly troubled about this for it was a borrowed one. Word reached the prophet Elisha and he came out and caused the ax to come to the surface.

But perhaps the greatest of all events that occurred at this place was the baptism of Christ. John the Baptist must have been the Billy Sunday of his day for the crowds that came to hear him were immense. One day among others who came was a fine looking young man who asked for baptism. But the preacher knew him and refused, saying that he was unworthy to do this, but the young man, who was no other than the Master himself, explained the situation and the preacher hesitated no longer.

In connection with the River Jordan and the bodies of water at each end, it is interesting to note that the first man to take the level and give to the world the remarkable facts about the physical characteristics of this wonderful and world-famous river, was an American. His name was Lynch and he was a lieutenant in the American Navy. At the close of the Mexican War, our Government permitted Lieutenant Lynch to take ten seamen and two small boats and make this exploration. The boats were taken overland to the Sea of Galilee and launched and this man and his helpers went down the river to the Dead Sea in them, and thus gave to the world the remarkable facts about this wonderful country.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE PLAYGROUND OF MOSES—EGYPT

Next to Palestine, Egypt is perhaps the most interesting country on the globe to visit. For great antiquity and splendor no land surpasses this cradle of civilization. The science, art and architecture of the Egyptians is the marvel of leading men even to this day. The schools of Egypt produced the greatest characters of all ages before the coming of Christ. The wisdom of this ancient race as well as some of the engineering feats command the respect of these modern days.

Take a map of Texas and California together, place a map of modern Egypt upon it and you will have enough left to make West Virginia. Ancient Egypt was only about one-fourth as large as modern Egypt. The greater portion of the land always has been and is today a desert. The thirteen million people practically live on the narrow valley of the Nile in a strip of territory from five to fifteen miles wide except down near the sea.

Not far from Cairo is a place called Fayoum. The name means "A Thousand Days." A missionary told me how it got this name. When Joseph was an old man some of the younger officers wanted him deposed and they said that he was no longer fit to be at the head of affairs. They said that near the city was a great swamp and if he were capable he would have drained this land. They, of course, did not think this was possible, hence the suggestion.

Putting their heads together they went to the old councillor and persuaded him to put the impossible task up to Joseph believing that his failure would be so ignominious that he would be deposed. At once Joseph called Egypt's greatest civil engineers, outlined his plan, took hundreds of laborers, went to work and in sixty days the swamp was completely drained. When the old adviser was taken out to see how well the work was done, he was so amazed that he exclaimed: "That would have been a mighty work for a thousand days," and it is called Fayoum to this day. Today the gardens and orchards of Fayoum are among the finest and most productive in all Egypt.

No one can go over this land without walking in the footsteps of Moses, for Egypt was his playground. Of course I was shown the exact (?) spot where the little ark was found among the bullrushes in the River Nile. When Pharoah's daughter saw the little child she was touched and thus the destiny of a nation hung on the cry of a little child. Miriam, the sister of Moses appeared just in the nick of time and when the princess told her to call one of the Hebrew women her feet hardly touched the ground in her effort to get her mother to the spot. When the little hands were held out toward the joyous mother she was told to take the child and nurse him and thus she was paid wages for bringing up her own child upon whom the sentence of death had been pronounced.

Not far from the spot mentioned above is the famous Nilometer that Moses looked upon many a time. As I went down the steps to get a nearer view of this measuring apparatus a panorama of the old days seemed to come before my eyes. The very life of the people depended upon the overflow of the Nile. June 17th was one of the great days for on that day almost as regular as the sunrise the upper Nile began to rise. A few days later an anxious crowd gathered to see the water mark on the Nilometer begin to come up. About July third the criers started on their daily rounds through the city announcing the measurement. If it was up to normal the people were happy and if not they were sad. When the rise was about twenty feet the "Completion" or "Abundance of the Nile" was announced and preparation was made for the opening of the canal which time was a regular jubilee among the people.

All night long before this ceremony rockets were fired at intervals and in the morning at the appointed time the governor and those with him "cut the dam" and the inundation started. For more than a month the canals were full, and the fields were flooded and a thin coat of fine pulverized soil was spread over the ground like a carpet and when seed was placed in the ground it grew like in a hothouse. At Cairo the Nile would often rise twenty-five feet.

During these days a great deal of irrigating is done all through the season. In some places ponderous machinery is used but to this day a large portion of work is done by hand. One of the most common sights along the Nile is the shadoof. This is a long pole with a weight on one end and a bucket on the other. Hour after hour half dressed men and women will dip up water and pour it into irrigation ditches. Great wooden waterwheels are also used and an ox or donkey or man or woman or a blinded camel will go round and round and you can hear this wooden wheel squeak for a mile. The little buckets on the waterwheel keep an almost endless stream flowing into the irrigation ditch.

Another method is a sort of a paddle wheel on a windlass upon which a native will walk hour after hour. This turns a kind of an endless chain something like the old-fashioned cistern pump with which we are all familiar. In Egypt nearly everything is done by hand as man power is cheaper than machinery. I saw them grading a railroad with wheelbarrows, not even a cart or a donkey on the job. The great bridge across the Nile used to be opened by hand and boats pulled through by hand. It was a most interesting sight to the writer for a hundred or more men to get hold of a large rope and begin to heave-to. Soon the boat would begin to move slowly.

As a rule people in Egypt are very poor. The plague of flies has not yet ceased in Egypt. Children are dirty and often diseased and the streets of the old portion of the city of Cairo literally swarm with them. While the people generally look quite hearty and well fed, yet beggars are everywhere. "Backsheesh" is about the first word the little child learns to speak and the last word an old beggar lisps before he dies. From noon until two-thirty or three o'clock shops are closed and thousands of people drop down where they are and go to sleep. Riding through old Cairo at this time of day my donkey had to pick his way, often stepping over people who were sound asleep.

Many of the customs of Egyptians always have been different from those of other nations. Here women seldom pray to any god but men pray to all of them. Women carry burdens on their shoulders while men carry them on their heads. Women buy and sell in the market while their men sit at home and spin. The daughter instead of the son is supposed to care for the old folks when they become feeble and helpless. In kneading dough they use their feet while in handling mud they use their hands. Other peoples consider themselves above the beasts but the Egyptians made gods of the beasts and worshipped them. When an ancient enemy attacked Egypt, dogs, cats, and other beasts were driven at the head of the army and the Egyptians would surrender rather than run the risk of killing their sacred animals.

The people in Egyptian cities do not eat their evening meal until from eight to ten at night. The restaurants have their tables in the streets and the people eat and shop at the same time. Watching the people at a large restaurant in Cairo, one night, I wrote down a list of the articles offered for sale while they were eating their evening meal. Here is the list: Alarm clocks, nuts, bread, lead pencils, fish, knives, cards, live chickens, cigars, cigarettes, cakes, eggs, mutton, matches, melons, watches, flowers, rugs, fancy boxes, stands, socks, perfumes, balloons, fruits of all kinds, slippers, canes, neckties, whips and guns.

In addition to these venders, blind beggars and cripples, traveling musicians, gamblers with all kinds of devices, fortune tellers with wheels of fortune and many others were among the people all the time. After eating, many of the people drink wine and play cards until the early morning. All this time nearly everybody was talking at once and it was a regular circus to watch them. Several times hot words were passed but as a rule the people were in good humor and seemed to be having a good time.

One of the much used and often abused beasts in Egypt is the camel. Riding a camel for the first time is quite an experience. The beast will lie down, but it is continually snarling and when it gets up you go through all kinds of motions. As I rode around the great pyramid and sphinx on one of these beasts the swing was not unlike that of a great rocking chair and while this ship of the desert did not seem to be going fast I noticed that the driver was running and the donkey alongside was on the gallop most of the time.

At the time I was in Egypt one could purchase a fairly good camel for a little less than one hundred dollars. These beasts can live on next to nothing. They will strip a shrub of leaves and stems. A camel can eat and drink enough at one time to last it a week or ten days. The natives say that it lives on the fat of its hump. When a camel is weary from a long march across the desert the hump almost disappears and then as it eats its fill the hump becomes strong and hard again. It will carry a burden of from five to six hundred pounds.

The city of Cairo is full of interesting sights. The streets of the better portion of the city are well paved and the buildings substantial and several stories high. The streets are sprinkled by hand. These men carry a skin of water—often half a barrel—and by means of a nozzle they throw it everywhere. There are many beautiful parks and drives in and about the city. The wonderful palms and other trees furnish shade and although the sun shines very hot it is quite cool under these trees.

Runners go ahead of carriages containing prominent persons telling people to get out of the way for so and so is coming. Many people stop and look as they go by. An interesting sight was a wedding procession. It was headed by a band and an enclosed carriage with a black cloth over it contained the bride while the groom walked alongside holding on to the carriage. Following along behind on foot were the relatives and the rabble of the streets. My guide explained that when a wedding takes place a cloth is hung from the window and kept there for three days so one can go through the city and pick out the homes where they have had a wedding within that time.

One of the lost arts is the Egyptian method of embalming the bodies of the dead. It seems that they believed that the spirit will return to the body in the course of time and they undertook to preserve the body as near perfect as possible until that time arrived. There are multiplied thousands of these mummies in Egypt. In the great museum in Cairo the mummy of the Pharoah who made the burdens of the enslaved Hebrews heavier can be seen today. Little did he think that in thousands of years the descendants of these people would spit in the face of his mummy, but they often do that very thing.

In the old days it is said that they used to license robbery and govern it by law. The spoil was taken to the robber chief and the victim could go and claim his property and by paying a certain per cent of its value recover the property, after which the man who did the stealing could secure from the chief his portion of the proceeds. We laugh at this but how much worse is it than some of the things we license today?

I had a most pleasant visit in the home of Dr. Ewing, a United Presbyterian missionary. The United Presbyterian people have done and are doing a most remarkable work in Egypt. A visit to their mission in Cairo was wonderfully interesting to say the least. I was presented with some coins there, the smallest of which was worth, at that time, one-sixteenth of a penny, but the missionaries assured me that those coins were seldom used except in church collections.



CHAPTER XIX

A COUNTRY WITH A THOUSAND RIVERS—VENEZUELA

Years ago two miners worked together for months and finally came to know each other as Tom and Jack. One day Tom was not well and could not do much but watch Jack dig. After noting some movements of the body that seemed familiar he said: "Jack, where did you come from?" The two men sat down and talked of boyhood days and found that they were born in the same community and had played together when they were small boys. Here they had worked together for months without knowing that they were neighbors; they actually got up and shook hands with each other.

Venezuela is our nearest neighbor to the south. This country is nearer to Florida than New Orleans is to New York and yet we have lived side by side for four hundred years and hardly knew we were neighbors. We might have been friends and greatly assisted each other all these years. Is it not about time we were getting acquainted and shaking hands with each other?

It is surprising to know that Venezuela is as large as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, the two Virginias, North and South Carolina and Georgia combined. It is a country that has a thousand rivers. In some parts of it you can travel for days in regions where as yet no white man has ever set his foot. One writer says that of all the countries in the world Venezuela is the one for which God has done the most and man has done the least.

This great country has been called the hunting ground of South America. This is not so much because of the abundance of game, although all kinds of wild animals are plentiful; it has been given this appellation because of its unstable government. Its treasury has been looted again and again. Even the president of Venezuela was for years a criminal. He robbed merchants of other countries who tried to do business with his government. He imprisoned those who refused to assist him and ran things in a high-handed way. Business firms of other lands found this out and did not care to do business with such a country or help develop its resources in any way.

We are not ashamed of our revolution in 1776 for its purpose was to gain our independence. During the past seventy or eighty years Venezuela has had more than a half hundred revolutions but generally they were gotten up to give an excuse for pillage and robbery rather than to make a better country or government. Things are better now, however, and a new day is dawning for these unhappy people.

The main port or entrance to this country is La Guaira and sailors say it is about the worst port to enter in the world. This port city contains about fifteen thousand people and has but a single street. The high mountains are so near the sea that there is only a narrow strip of land at the foot and on this narrow strip the city is built. The sea is nearly always rough and the weather always hot. How people can endure such extreme heat all the time is a mystery.

All along this coast strip of Venezuela are plantations generally covered with cocoa trees. From the beans of this tree are made cocoa and chocolate. Coffee is also a staple crop. At the piers will be noticed bags of coffee and cocoa beans, great quantities of rubber and piles of hides. As we are nearer to them than other foreign countries we now use much of their products. The population of this great country is only a little more than that of the state of Iowa.

Back only six or eight miles, in a direct line, from La Guaira and the blue waters of the Caribbean sea, high up in the mountains is a great valley in which is located the capital city of Venezuela. This city, Caracas, is about as large as Sioux City, Iowa, but to get to it is some job. It is only about twenty-five miles by rail and this railroad was about as difficult to build as any of our mountain railroads. The tracks cling to the mountain sides almost like vines cling to brick walls, and the curves are so short that one riding in the end coach can nearly reach the engineer. One can look hundreds of feet into caverns and gorges that seem almost like the bottomless pit.

Venezuela got its name from Venice, Italy, in the following way. One of the earliest explorers sailing along the coast saw the Indian villages built on piles in the water along the shore and was reminded of the Italian city and called the country Venezuela, which means "little Venice."

Here lived Las Casas, a priest who was the Indian's greatest champion in the early days and who is said to be the father of African Slavery in the new world. It was he who suggested that negroes be imported to labor in the fields and mines that the Indians might have an easier time. Brought from Africa to work that the Indians might rest, these black people became the slaves of all.

Venezuela was the birthplace of the great Simon Bolivar and other patriots who were fired with enthusiasm against Spanish oppression and literally gave their lives that the colonies might be free. Even the coins of the old days were stamped with Bolivar's name and everywhere he is revered as the George Washington of that country.

In one of the large museums is a room in which are kept the great liberator's clothing, saddle, boots and spears and these things are as sacred to them as the Ark of the Covenant was to the Jews. In this same room is a portrait of Washington upon which is the inscription: "This picture of the liberator of North America is sent by his adopted son to him who acquired equal glory in South America."

Through this country runs one of the world's greatest rivers, the Orinoco, which with its tributaries furnishes more than four thousand miles of navigable rivers. This great river system drains a territory of three hundred and sixty thousand square miles.

It is rather strange that in this country with lovely and productive valleys whose irrigated orchards and gardens make a regular paradise, that the farming classes should be poor and ignorant, without ambition or education and be satisfied to live in comfortless, tumble-down huts without furniture or any of the improvements that make life worth living. But such is the case. Here where there are millions of coffee trees, fields of sugar cane and orchards of oranges, lemons and all kinds of tropical fruit, where the farmer could be happiest, he is about the most miserable creature that could be found. In his miserable home he has no lamp or candle, no books or papers of any sort.

While Venezuela is rich in mines and forests, grain and livestock, coffee and rubber, dyes and medicines, gold and copper, lead and coal, to say nothing of tropical fruits and vegetables, she has another product that makes her known the world around. This is asphalt, or mineral pitch as it is sometimes called. This makes the smoothest street paving of any material known. It is also used extensively for calking vessels, making waterproof roofs, lining cold storage plants, making varnishes as well as shoe blacking as well as in a hundred other ways.

At the mouth of the Orinoco river is the Island of Trinidad upon which is the famous pitch lake. This is the most noted deposit of asphalt known. This lake is a mile and a half across and looks, from a distance, like a pond surrounded with trees. Nearing it, however, one soon discovers that it contains anything but water.

This material is of a dark green color and at the border is hard and strong enough to bear quite a heavy weight, but near the center it is almost like a boiling mass. The asphalt is dug from the edges of the lake, loaded on carts, hauled to the port and from there shipped to nearly every country on the globe. Two hundred thousand tons per year have been taken from the lake and yet there is no hole to be seen. Negro workmen dig it to the depth of a couple of feet and in a week or so the hole is level with the top again.

The government of Trinidad has leased the asphalt lake to an American company and the income amounts to nearly a quarter of a million dollars per year. Nobody knows how deep the asphalt bed is for borings have been made a hundred feet or more deep and there was no bottom. The heat is intense all around this lake.

About fifty miles from the coast in Venezuela there is another asphalt lake and the material in it is of finer quality than at Trinidad, but it is hard to reach. Some believe that the two deposits are connected by a subterranean passage and supplied from the same source. It was from this inland lake of asphalt that the material was procured to protect the New York subway tunnels from moisture, so it is said.

In the central part of Venezuela are the llanos which are said to be about the best pasture lands in the world. The chief industry here is cattle raising. More than two million head of cattle feed, upon these llanos, but they are capable of feeding many times that number.

One reason why the people of this country have no ambition to lay up for the future or even get large herds of cattle has been because of the numerous revolutions of the past. Every time they have succeeded in getting large herds of cattle or stores of grain a revolution would come and their property be seized and often destroyed.

No people can be prosperous and happy without a stable government, schools and colleges and the influences that are uplifting. This is the great need of many of the countries of South America today. Just here it is well for the farmers of this country to congratulate themselves. The writer of these lines has traveled nearly all over the world and having been a farmer all his early life it is only natural that he would try to study the problems of the farmers in all lands.

It is therefore with pride that one can say that considering all the complex problems with which the American farmer has to grapple, he is a hundred times better off than his brother farmers in any country in the world. He is more independent, has more privileges, more opportunities for making the most of life, has higher ideals, and lives better than the tillers of the soil in any other country on earth.



CHAPTER XX

A LAND OF GREAT INDUSTRIES—BRAZIL

You could take a map of the whole United States, lay it down on Brazil and still have room for England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Denmark and Switzerland left. Walk around Brazil and you have traveled a distance equal to two-thirds of a journey around the globe. If every man, woman and child in the United States were placed in Matto Grasso, the state in Brazil where Roosevelt discovered the "River of Doubt," in 1914, that state would not have as many people to the square mile as England has at this moment. If all the people on earth were placed in Brazil the population of that country would not be as dense as that of Belgium today.

Brazil could produce enough rubber to supply the whole world with automobile tires for generations and never have to plant another rubber tree to do it, that is, of course, if all her rubber forests could be utilized. From a single Brazilian port is shipped one-fourth of all the coffee used in the whole world. In a single Brazilian state there are ten thousand coffee plantations that have more than fifty thousand trees each and six hundred of them have more than one hundred thousand trees each.

Brazil might be called the "jewel box" of the world. Her diamond fields rival those of South Africa. Her mines produced a single stone that sold for fifteen million dollars. One writer says: "Of all the fabulous tales related of bonanza princes the palm for extravagance belongs to the early mining days of Brazil, when horses were shod with gold, when lawyers supported their pleadings before judges with gifts of what appeared at first sight to be oranges and bananas, but proved to be solid gold imitations, when guests were entertained at dinner with pebbles of gold in their soup and when nuggets were the most convenient medium of exchange in the money market."

Would you like to go nutting? Brazil has the greatest groves on earth. Some of these nut trees grow to a height of a hundred and fifty feet and have a girth of twenty feet, fifty feet up from the ground. A single tree is said to produce as many as three tons of nuts during a season. In the trees of Brazil are found sixteen hundred species of birds. There are parrots galore and sixty-five varieties of woodpeckers have been catalogued. One family of birds in Brazil are said to be devout Christians as they never work but six days in the week.

One would naturally suppose that in Brazil the weather would be extremely hot as the equator runs across the great Amazon valley. But the nights are cool and sunstroke is unknown. Frost can be seen in the highlands at certain times in the year. While fevers rage in parts of the land, yet most of the country is conducive to good health. The very dangerous parts of the Amazon valley are limited to certain parts of the country.

Some years ago at a contest in Paris between twelve hundred children the first prize for healthy appearance was given to a boy born in Manaos of Amazonian parents. This city is in the very heart of the jungle in the Amazon valley. There is one authenticated case of a man in this valley who lived to be one hundred and forty-five years old.

In the dense forests of the uplands of Brazil there are people who are living in the stone age of culture. They are practically wild tribes who know nothing about the use of metal, in fact, they know but little about civilization. They are said to be ignorant of common food such as bananas and rice. They seem to have no idea of a supreme being, believe in a soul that goes wandering about after death.

In some parts of Brazil rice is cultivated quite extensively and it makes a cheap food. It is said that in one place a man from Louisiana is running an experimental rice farm showing the Brazilian farmers how to cultivate Japanese rice. Rather strange, isn't it, that United States farmers should be teaching the Brazilian farmers Japanese agriculture?

A peculiar thing about the land of Brazil is the absence of earth worms. In our country these worms improve the physical condition of the soil but there this lack is made up by the multiplied millions of ants that burrow down deep into the earth. In our country, too, the chemical changes of winter help prepare the soil for the coming crops, but in Brazil there is no winter season when the land "sleeps" and it does not seem to be necessary.

While in the great rubber industry of Brazil the trees grow and produce with but little if any cultivation, this is not true of the coffee trees. They have to be cultivated and carefully looked after. Insect pests that are so destructive to coffee trees in many countries, are almost absent in Brazil and this fact has not a little to do with making this the greatest coffee country in the world. In the state of Sao Paulo almost the entire energies of the people are absorbed in the coffee industry.

This state is a little larger than Colorado and is the most powerful state of the twenty that make up the United States of Brazil. The name of the capital is the same as that of the state and the city of Sao Paulo is about as large as Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is noted for its beauty and industry. The climate is delightful, always cool, but never freezing cold. With more than one hundred elementary schools besides numerous high schools and colleges it is perhaps the greatest educational center of the country. Near this city is the largest coffee plantation in the world. It contains something like eight million trees and takes about eight thousand people to run it. This one plantation produces twenty million pounds of coffee annually and there are thirty railroad stations upon it.

A well kept coffee tree is about twelve feet high when full grown. The leaves are a shiny green, a little like holly. The trees bloom in September and fill the air with fragrance. As the white blossoms fade the berries begin to form. May is the harvest time. Harvest hands come in large numbers as they do in Kansas or the Dakotas during the wheat harvest. Workmen are paid according to the amount they gather and some of them gather fifty pounds a day.

The coffee berries are first stripped from the tree then raked and piled into baskets. Next they are run through a machine that takes the bean out of the covering, then into tanks of water where they are thoroughly washed and then comes the drying process. It used to take weeks to get the coffee beans well dried and men had to watch and keep stirring the piles continually, but quite recently a new process was discovered by which they are dried by steam.

After the coffee beans are thoroughly dried they are run through rollers that break the skin covering and great ventilators blow the chaff away. Then the beans are poured into a gigantic sieve with different sized holes which are chutes in reality and from which endless streams of coffee graded according to size run into a large room. At each stream stand women who pick out imperfect or damaged grains. The coffee is then sacked and is ready for shipment. The ordinary bag of coffee weighs about one hundred and twenty pounds. Santo is the great coffee port and here can be seen ships from every civilized land taking on cargoes of coffee. If it is well kept coffee gets better with age, so it can be piled in great warehouses for months or even years and not deteriorate. Nearly a dozen million bags of coffee are shipped from Santo annually and as we are the greatest coffee drinkers in the world about half of the entire crop comes to us.

Formerly many of the coffee plantations were worked by slaves. Negroes were brought from South Africa, as they were brought to work in the cotton fields in the south in anti-slavery days. In the year 1888 Brazil freed her slaves and the sudden freeing of a half million slaves almost demoralized the coffee and sugar industries of the country. Many of these negroes thought that freedom meant that they would never have to work any more and they became loafers and often criminals. Of course thousands of them drifted to the great centers of population and Brazil has had and is still having her share of race troubles.

Many of the workers on the coffee plantations at present are Italians. They come in large numbers to work on these estates. Each family is given a certain number of trees to look after; sometimes a single family will take care of several thousand trees. They have to do a lot of hoeing and weeding. The soil is almost red and these workmen take on largely the color of the soil as their faces and clothes are stained with red dust and water. Families are furnished houses to live in and they live their own lives as if they were in their home country.

After coffee and rubber comes sugar. For many years Brazil furnished more sugar than any other country; now there are a half dozen countries ahead of her in the production of sugar. This is largely accounted for, not so much because of inability to produce, as because of the antiquated methods in use. There are places in the country where it is said that the same variety of sugar has been grown for two hundred years and that without any attempt on the part of the planters to restore the soil.

One of the first things ever exported from Brazil was tobacco. This weed has been grown there ever since the country was discovered. Modern methods of culture are now being used so more of it will be produced than ever. They say, too, that Brazil produces as fine a quality of tobacco as Cuba. Cotton is also produced in large quantities.

The Brazilians are an interesting people. I like them. They are always courteous and polite. Men often tip their hats to each other and kiss each other's hands. In Rio de Janeiro nearly everyone is well dressed. The women are good looking. The Brazil people are more friendly than any other South American people. The language, except among the Italians and other foreigners, is largely Portuguese while in practically all other South American countries the people speak Spanish.

Although Brazil has millions of acres of the best timber in the world I never saw a wooden building in their great capital city. In Rio, nearly every automobile factory in the United States is represented. In this land of rubber they have no manufacturing plants to utilize it. Wages for common laborers are low and yet the people only work part of the time. In coaling a ship the men will work like beavers for a couple of hours and then sit down and smoke and talk as long and no urging them to work seems to do any good. One can make a living there with half the work it takes here and that is all they care for.

The Brazilians have some odd customs. People always carry their burdens on their heads. Baskets as large as barrels are carried in this way without a bit of trouble. They say that four men will carry a heavy piano on their heads but I never saw them moving one. On almost every street there are venders of sweetmeats, vegetables, brooms, baskets and furniture. I saw one vender with two dozen brooms, a dozen mops, two chairs, and a lot of other truck on his head. He had the chairs hooked on the brooms, baskets on the chairs and a lot of other stuff piled up so that he looked like a moving express wagon.

Streets in Brazilian cities are often named for days or months. I noticed one of the prominent streets in Rio named "13th of September," another "15th of November." Rio de Janeiro means "River of January." I never saw a chimney in the city, yet the streets and many of the houses are washed every night. Everything is shining. They seem to have a wonderful appreciation of beauty and never in any other city in the world have I seen more beautiful or artistic shop windows.

Everybody seemed to be in a good humor. Policemen are small of stature, but they direct the street traffic in a most wonderful way. Everybody smiles and there is no loud talking, or drunkenness. The national drink is coffee and there are coffee shops with tables and cups everywhere. Men often drink a cup or two of coffee a dozen times a day. There are hundreds of coffee shops in Rio. Of course, liquor is sold in many places, but it is mostly drunk by foreigners. I never saw a Brazilian drinking liquor in their capital city.



CHAPTER XXI

URUGUAY AND PARAGUAY

Uruguay is the smallest of the South American republics. It is just a little larger than the state of Oklahoma. It is a little wedge between Brazil and Argentina and is, all in all, the most advanced country in South America. At the time of the visit of the writer it was the only country in South America whose dollar was worth a hundred cents. The population is about a million and a quarter—eighteen to the square mile. The principal industry is stock raising. The country has something like nine million head of cattle and fifteen million head of sheep. The meat packing business is enormous for such a small country.

Fray Bentos, a town near Montevideo, boasts of the largest establishment in the world for the preparation of beef extract. The tall chimneys of this great factory make it look like a large city. The employees number thousands. They are well cared for and contented. There are no strikes there. They are well paid while able to work and pensioned when they reach old age.

Thus, the Leibig company, has given all South America an example of the better way to treat men and women who toil. Schools are provided for the children. The religious nature is looked after, the company furnishing a church building. The company also provides hospitals for the sick. The cottages of the working people are supplied with electricity and are quite comfortable.

This company has its own gas and water systems. In the great slaughter house many hundred head of cattle are killed each day. It only takes eight minutes from the time an animal is killed until it is in the refrigerating rooms ready to be made into beef extract. Every drop of blood is saved in this factory, being dried and made into chicken feed or something else that is useful. Chicago, however, goes Fray Bentos one better for there you know the squeal is caught by the phonograph and the records sold for grand opera.

This establishment is not the only one of its kind in Uruguay. There are many other great plants where meat is chilled or frozen in the most modern, up-to-date way. In no country in the world is meat more carefully or scientifically cared for than in these great establishments and no one need be afraid to eat the meat that comes from Uruguay. The inspection is said to be the most rigid of any packing plants in the world.

The Uruguayan boasts that every acre of ground in his country is productive. The grass is green the year around and stock does not have to be housed and fed in winter as in our country. All the grains and vegetables that will grow in our middle west will grow in Uruguay and there the farmers never have such a thing as a killing frost.

The greatest city in Uruguay is Montevideo, the capital city. It is located on the Rio de la Plata river, which really seems more like a sea than a river, being sixty-two miles wide at this place. Buenos Aires is but a hundred and ten miles away and to reach it you just go angling across this great river. Montevideo is larger than Kansas City, Missouri. It has many splendid buildings, but no skyscrapers. The parks or plazas as they are called, are as pretty as nature and the hands of man can make them.

These people claim that Montevideo is the most healthful city on the globe, but the traveler often finds the same claim made for other cities. Most of the streets are narrow but are well paved and generally quite clean. Their street car system is certainly a good one. When the street is wide enough for a double track the tracks are laid close to the sidewalks which leaves the center of the street free for autos and other vehicles. This plan could certainly be adopted by the cities in our country and be a blessing. I had no idea that any city contained so many beautiful homes and flower gardens until I took a ride into the suburbs of this city. Almost every home, or villa, has a rose garden and there must be many wealthy people for it takes a tremendous amount of labor to keep these wonderful flower gardens in such good order.

The people of Uruguay as a whole are better educated and brighter looking than the people of most other South American countries. Their schools and colleges are said to be the very best. The people, as a rule, dress well and seem to be prosperous and happy. A ramble through the streets and plazas lingers in one's memory like a pleasant dream.

Away to the north in the very heart of the south central part of the continent is the country of Paraguay. While nearly twice as large as Uruguay it has but few more than half as many people and a majority of them are women. This ought to be called a bachelor's paradise.

Paraguay came to be a woman's country in the following manner. Years ago Paraguay got into trouble with Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, all her neighbors, at the same time. These countries combined their forces and all but annihilated the Paraguayan army. As all the able bodied men were in the army they were nearly all killed. It used to be said that there were five women to every man in Paraguay and from all reports conditions have not greatly changed yet. It is almost dangerous for an unmarried man to show his head.

The country is naturally divided into two parts, eastern and western. The most of the people live in the eastern part for the western part is flat and the rivers overflow, covering a great portion of the country. No wonder that great swarms of ferocious mosquitoes make parts of the country almost uninhabitable, fever-infested and unhealthy. Besides these unpleasant features the heat is often almost unbearable.

The summer in Paraguay lasts from October to March and the winter from April to September, July and August being the coldest months. The Parana river takes to the sea a greater volume of water than our great Mississippi. Near the place where the Iguassu river empties into the Parana are the famous Iguassu Falls which are twice as wide and fifty feet higher than Niagara Falls.

In the eastern part of Paraguay are great orange groves and all kinds of tropical fruits. The oranges are delicious and are so plentiful that they are fed to the pigs. As many as thirty are sometimes sold for a penny. Wheat and corn are grown and tobacco and cotton plantations are numerous.

They say that in Paraguay a great many of the women smoke, but I imagine that this is greatly exaggerated. The same has been said of other South American countries but after traveling more than twelve thousand miles in and around this country I here record the fact that in not more than a case or two did I see a woman smoking. My traveling company only saw two or three cases so we are forced to think that many talk who do not know. For if any large number, as is often reported, used the weed in this way we would have discovered it.

There is a very valuable tree that grows in Paraguay that is not often found in other countries. It is called the quebracho tree. The name really means "ax-breaker," and the wood is almost as hard as iron. A quebracho log will not float upon water, but will sink like iron. This wood makes the most valuable railroad ties known.

But a certain variety of the quebracho tree is much more valuable for another purpose, viz: the tanning of leather. For ages the world's great tanneries used the bark of oak, hemlock and other trees for that purpose. But it was discovered that not only the bark of this tree but the wood itself makes better tanning extract than any other bark or tree known.

In the heart of the continent there is a vast plain that takes in not only western Paraguay but reaches into Brazil and Bolivia on the north and Argentina on the south. This is called the Gran Chaco and it is nearly as large as the state of Texas. Most of this region is as yet unexplored. In parts of it are tribes of wild Indians as well as wild and ferocious beasts, alligators and snakes that are usually found in tropical jungles. In other parts are grassy plains suitable for cattle and other livestock. Already there are many ranches here, one of the largest of which is run by a stockman from the United States.

Here in this far away and unknown country are millions of acres of quebracho forests in which this tanning extract is already being made. Thousands of men are employed in the forest to cut the trees and others with oxen haul them to the factories where hundreds of expert workmen are making this extract and shipping it to all parts of the world. It is said that a single one of these companies owns two million acres of this forest land. More than ten thousand men are employed by this one firm, so it is said, and as might be expected it is a United States company.

But perhaps the greatest industry in Paraguay is the tea called by the name of the country. In their country they call it "mate." It is much more valuable than ordinary tea. It is a stimulant that leaves no bad effect and is said to be more healthful than the tea we use. People who have a good supply of this tea can work harder and with less fatigue than by using any other stimulant known.

The plant or tree from which this "mate" is secured often grows as large as an orange tree and the leaves are green and shiny. There are thousands of acres of this growing wild and the product made from that in the wild state is as good as any. Thousands of Indians, as well as white people, are engaged in the harvesting and shipping of this tea.

The largest city in Paraguay is Asuncion, the capital city. It is nearly as large as Des Moines, Iowa, and a portion of it is simply the ruins of the ancient city that was ruled by tyrants. One can see the massive uncompleted tomb where the last of these rulers expected to be buried. The two million dollar palace in which he lived in luxury and unspeakable vice can also be seen. But another part of the city is modern and up-to-date.

Before closing this article at least one man noted in the story of Paraguay should be mentioned. He was the first of the tyrants that ruled immediately after Paraguay freed herself from Spanish oppression. His name was Dr. Jose R. G. Francia and, according to the historian, for twenty-five years he was the government of Paraguay. In all history no man ever so dominated and controlled a nation as did he. He had no confidants or assistants. No one was allowed to approach him on terms of equality. He neither received nor sent consuls from or to any foreign countries. He was the sole foreign merchant of his country.

This man was gloomy and peculiar and assumed supreme power without marrying, was against the educated classes and ordered wholesale executions. So fearful was he of assassination that he lived in several houses and no one but himself knew where he would sleep at night. When he walked the streets guards walked both in front and behind him. The very news that he was out was sufficient to clear the streets. And yet, powerful and cruel that he was, the humblest Indian could receive a hearing and justice from him. He was modest in a way, abstemious and never used his power for selfish indulgence. He was one of the wonders of history.



CHAPTER XXII

THE WONDERFUL ARGENTINE REPUBLIC

The wonderful Argentine Republic is a little world in itself. Take all the United States east of the Mississippi river, add the state of Texas, place them in the Argentine Republic and there will be room for more. Here you can find some of the highest and most rugged mountains and then you can travel two thousand miles and hardly find a hill worthy of the name.

From the torrid heat of the north you can go to the cold, bleak glacial regions of the south, all in Argentine. The seasons are just the opposite from ours. July is their coldest month and the hottest time in the year is in January. The north side of the house is the sunny side. In the Argentine there are some of the finest forest regions imaginable and then you can travel a thousand miles across level plains and never see a tree.

The southern part of Argentina used to be called Patagonia. This is the Alaska of South America. The extreme southern point is the island of Tierra del Fuego, which is divided between Argentina and Chile. Argentina's part of the island is as large as the state of Massachusetts.

Argentina has nearly five hundred million acres of ground that can be cultivated and this great area is extended over well watered plains, all of which are so accessible to the sea that the simplest railway construction is all that is necessary. Of this vast area only about one-fifth has as yet been cultivated or brought within the present railway area.

At present the country has less than one-tenth as many miles of railway as the United States and what they have is practically under English control. Engines and cars are all of English pattern. American locomotive works make engines for some of these lines, but everyone of them must be made strictly according to the English pattern.

One-fifth of the eight million people in the Argentine live in Buenos Aires, the capital city. This city is the Paris of South America and is one of the great cities of the world. Here can be seen more extravagance perhaps than in any other city in the world. The advertised rates in the best hotels are from twelve to sixty dollars per day and these hotels are nearly always crowded. The writer attended a luncheon given by the United States Chamber of Commerce at the Hotel Plaza. The price was three dollars and a half per plate; there was scarcely anything to eat and the waiters expected a dollar tip from each man.

These people buy their clothes in Paris and are only satisfied with the latest fashion. They drink French liquor in French style and demand the best Parisian comedy and opera in their theaters. The Colon theater is finer than anything in New York, and rivals any playhouse in Europe. It seats thirty-seven hundred and fifty people and I am told that a man cannot get in unless he is dressed in an evening suit.

Buenos Aires boasts of the greatest newspaper on the globe and surely no other paper rivals it when it comes to service to its patrons. That paper is the La Prensa and it is housed in a beautiful building. The office of its editor in chief makes one think of a king's palace. This paper provides a company of the best physicians and surgeons who minister to all who apply free of charge. Its expert lawyers give council and advice free, its skilled teachers of music instruct all who enter one or more of the five series of classes. The prizes given annually by this journal for altruistic acts and deeds of heroism are worth a large sum. The chemical, industrial and agricultural bureaus are a boon to those interested in such subjects.

This city also has the greatest race tracks in any land and the weekly races are generally attended by from thirty to fifty thousand people. The money bet on a single day's races often runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Jockey Club that owns the race tracks is so rich that it is embarrassing to get its money spent.

Of all the cemeteries the writer ever visited, the aristocratic burying ground in Buenos Aires caps the climax. To be laid away in this ground costs a fortune. The tombs, many of them, are above the ground and nearly every family tomb is a little chapel. Here the living friends gather on certain days, visit, drink tea, and smoke cigarettes with coffins all around them. In many of these tombs chairs are always in order with flowers arranged, kept so by the servants of the tomb.

There are thirty-six public markets in the city, some of which are very large. The wool market alone covers thirty acres of ground and the iron and steel building cost four million dollars. In it are seventy-two cranes and elevators and fifty million pounds of wool can be stored at one time. Not far from this building is another almost as large where the sheep are killed. The arrangements are so complete and the men so skilled that it is said a single man has killed as many as six thousand sheep in a day.

Buenos Aires is a city of locked doors. People never think of leaving their homes even for a few moments without locking the doors. If a business house or hotel has a rug at the door on which to wipe the shoes it will be chained fast. Stealing and pilfering is carried on extensively all over the city. Shippers claim that there is an international organization for stealing at the port cities all along the coast and it is hard to get at. In one shipment of thirty automobiles twenty-nine of the boxes had been opened and the set of tools taken. It is the custom at that factory to pack the set of tools in a certain corner of the case. A hole was cut exactly in the right place and the set of tools neatly taken out. In two instances that I was told about a drygoods firm had shipments opened and ten thousand dollars worth of silks and velvets taken.

Near the city is said to be the largest dairy in the world. They milk seven thousand cows and this is done with the latest and most up-to-date machinery. At an annual stock show recently the crowds were so dense that men paid five dollars each to get near enough to the judges to see them do their work. The sale at the close was attended by five thousand people. The champion shorthorn bull sold for more than forty thousand dollars of American money. The champion Hereford sold for $32,737.00 and a two-year-old bull sold for $23,643.00. One ram sold for more than four thousand dollars.

The Argentine could be made a great sugar producing country, but for some reason this industry is not being developed very rapidly. During the war special inducements were offered but the 1919 crop was but little more than that of 1913. There are only forty-three mills and refineries in the whole country and the surplus for exportation for 1919 was only three hundred thousand tons and that is insignificant when one thinks of the possibilities of this great industry.

But one can hardly think of Argentina without thinking of cattle ranches and wheat fields. It is in these industries that she shines. She now has thirty million head of cattle, but strange as it may seem she had as many ten years ago. She has thirty million sheep which makes her the greatest wool producing country on earth except Australia and if I am correctly informed she is not far behind that country.

In Argentina the country is called "Elcampo" and the large farms "Estancias." These great estancias often consist of thousands of acres. A single one of them is said to be as large as the state of Rhode Island. The owners generally have good houses but do not live in them much of the time. They are in Buenos Aires, or traveling in Europe, and their children are in the colleges and universities. A number of overseers look after the farm but the work is largely done by foreigners, mostly Italians. Their lives are far from easy.

The homes of these workers are generally made of mud. The floors are often nothing but the bare ground. These people are generally called colonists and work the soil on shares. They are in debt to start on; the overseers generally manipulate things so that they often never do get out of debt. The poor man's children do not have much in common with those of the rich. They are generally kept entirely separate from each other.

While the cities are filled with beautiful parks and clinging roses are nearly everywhere, yet I never saw a country town with any thing beautiful in sight. The streets of these towns are either mud holes or dust piles, no work whatever being done upon them. The houses and stores are one-story buildings and often look like hovels. The one exception is the railroad station and often that is quite well kept.

There are no four-wheeled wagons like ours in this country. All the hauling is done on large lumbersome carts often pulled by oxen. But they sure load them heavy; how they get so much stuff on them is a mystery. Much of the farming is slovenly done. While England produces thirty bushels of wheat per acre the rich fields of Argentine only produce eleven bushels per acre. This is but little more than half as much per acre as is raised in Saskatchewan and Argentine soil is fully as rich as Canadian grain fields.

I crossed the great Argentine plain in October. Wheat was just beginning to head. Corn planting was in progress. Alfalfa fields were green while both trees and flowers were in bloom. But in riding six hundred miles without a hill, or tree except those planted by the hands of man, the journey soon became monotonous. Thousands of acres were almost covered with cattle and sheep.

On Sunday men and women were in the fields almost the same as any other day. At the towns almost the entire population came down to see the International train go through. This train only runs twice a week. The young women were dressed in their best but they were never with the young men. They would parade up and down the platform while the young men would go in the other direction and the lads and lassies hardly seemed to notice each other.

The train ran almost on the dot. A hotbox delayed it thirty minutes on one occasion but it was carefully watched. At every stop for hours the train would hardly come to a standstill before a couple of men were at that box. The engines have no bells on them and the whistle is blown just before the train starts rather than before it stops as in our country. The train was largely made up of sleepers and a diner. The cars were quite comfortable. The berths are crosswise rather than lengthwise as in our sleepers. Everything on this train, however, from fare to eats was very expensive.

On many of the larger farms the better breeds of stock are being raised, agricultural schools are springing up and scientific farming is being talked about. The government is taking a hand along many lines. Some of the great estancias are being divided and subdivided. The Welch people have a large settlement where better methods are being introduced. The Jews have a large colony and even the Italians are looking forward to a better day. Men from this country are entering in small numbers but with ideas that will revolutionize things, and especially the school house. An Englishman truly said: "Wherever the Germans go you find the arsenal; wherever the French go you find the railroad; wherever the British go you find the custom house, but wherever the Americans go you find the school house."



CHAPTER XXIII

YANKEEDOM OF SOUTH AMERICA—CHILE

On account of their energy and enterprise the people of Chile have been called the Yankees of South America. They are a quick tempered people but often show a disposition to be whiter than their skin would signify.

On a railroad train I saw a well-dressed young Chilean raise the car window. Behind him was an elderly man who did not like the wind blowing in and he evidently made some sign to the conductor, who simply put the window down.

This angered the young man who raised the window again. A little later the conductor came back and said something to the young man who lowered the window immediately. The old gentleman had moved by this time and I supposed that the incident was closed.

A little later the young man called the conductor and had him go and apologize to the old gentleman who came and sat down in the seat with the young man. Then they settled their differences, smoked and visited together like old friends. I felt a sort of admiration for these men that they would settle their difference on the spot and became friends. Such a procedure is much better than carrying a grouch.

The country of Chile is a narrow strip of land from fifty to two hundred and fifty miles wide, but so long that if one end were placed at New Orleans the other end would reach to the Arctic Circle. The mighty ridge of the Andes mountains extends almost the entire distance. One of these peaks in Chile is nearly five miles high—the highest on the globe except Mount Everest.

In Chile there are many rich valleys yet much of the land is a desolate desert. One writer suggests regarding this awful silent region that the Desert of Sahara is a botanical garden in comparison with it. I traveled five hundred miles along this desert without seeing a tree or a blade of grass. This was in the northern part where it never rains. Much of the southern part is covered with water-soaked forests.

Yet this Chilean desert is almost as valuable as a gold mine. Here are the only large deposits of nitrate of soda in the world. While no plants of any kind grow in this desert yet from it is obtained the product that farmers all over the world use for fertilizer. Plants of all kinds must have food to make them grow and this Chilean desert alone furnishes this food in abundance and in suitable form.

Many millions are invested in establishments to get this nitrate, or saltpeter as it is often called, from the worthless material with which it is mixed and railroads to carry it to port. Little towns have sprung up along the seashore where the nitrates make up cargoes of hundreds of ships which carry this fertilizer to all parts of the world.

A gentleman who lives in Santiago told me how he could set out tomato plants in the best soil, take a little handful of nitrates that look like common salt, dissolve it in water and pour it on the soil and the difference it would make is almost unbelievable. But a spoonful dropped on the plant will kill it. It never rains on these nitrate beds—if it did they would be worthless.

Of course, the people who do the work in these deserts or in the little ports along the shore have a hard life. No green lawns or trees adorn their villages. The dust is irritable and the people are a hard-looking class. In one of these towns which I saw, Antofagasta by name, the water the people use is brought nearly two hundred miles. The people used to drink champagne mostly for it was cheaper than water.

Not far from Antofagasta are the great salt plains, said to be large enough to supply the whole world with this commodity for generations. The real nitrate beds are from fifteen to fifty miles from the ocean and at least three thousand feet above sea level. The largest beds are from four to five hundred miles in length so the supply is practically inexhaustible. When the nitrates are richest they are mixed with rock—about half and half. It is blasted out with dynamite, loaded on carts and dumped into great machines that grind it to a coarse powder, then thrown into immense tanks of boiling water where it forms in crystals on the sides and bottom. The water is then drawn off, the white sparkling stuff shoveled onto drying boards and when thoroughly dry is sacked and shipped.

The liquid that is drawn off from these vats is made into iodine, which is so valuable that a cask of it is worth several hundred dollars. Chile owns about all the nitrate deposits yet discovered. She exports millions of tons of it annually, levies a tax on every ton of it and thus the government receives an immense income each year from this one industry.

In addition to the nitrate industry, Chile has immense stores of copper, tin and other metals. At one port where the ship stopped a small boat brought out a few sacks of copper ore. It took but a few minutes to put it on board but one of the officers said it was worth thirteen thousand dollars. At another Chilean port six hundred tons of tin were added to our cargo. Chile is about the only country in South America where coal is found in anything like large quantities.

Of course such a mountainous region is volcanic. There are many earthquakes but they seldom do much harm. My first night in Chile was spent in Los Andes and I had not been in bed five minutes until an earthquake shock made it tremble like a leaf. But the people are so used to it that they pay no attention whatever to these minor quakes. At the time San Francisco was ruined, Valparaiso was all but destroyed but you would never know it by a visit to the city now.

Chile includes a large part of the island of Tierra del Fuego. At the very southern tip of this is Cape Horn. This is a gigantic rock fourteen hundred feet high that juts out into the ocean and the great waves that continually lash against it make it perhaps the most dreaded spot by sailors in all the trade routes of the world. On all sides are wrecked vessels and this rock has been named the Giant Headstone in the Sailor's Graveyard.

It was the famous Magellan who discovered the water passage above Cape Horn and it is called the Strait of Magellan. While safer than the route around Cape Horn, yet many are the stories of shipwreck, hunger and suffering told by those who went this way during the earlier days. Here are some of the names of places along the Strait: "Fury Island," "Famine Reach," "Desolation Harbor," "Fatal Bay," "Hope Inlet," and "Last Wreck Point."

No one lives down at this point but tribes of Indians. It was the signals and campfires of these Indians that caused Magellan to call the island "Tierra del Fuego." The name means "Land of Fire." These Indians are said to be one of the lowest classes of human beings in existence today. Although the weather is very cold these savages wear but little clothing—in fact, they wore none until of later years they began getting cast off garments from wrecks and are now making some of their own clothing from the skins of animals.

On this strait is located Punta Arenas, which is the southernmost town in the world. It is directly south of Boston and farther south of the equator than Winnipeg is north of it. Only about a thousand people live here. Many of them are rough characters and live hard and comfortless lives. This town is the only port within a thousand miles.

Although cold and cheerless most of the time, yet millions of sheep are raised in this southern land and Punta Arenas is the shipping point. A kind of coarse grass grows here that is nourishing and sheep thrive and live for weeks alone on the open plains. Wool, hides and meat are brought to this port and shipped to the outside world. Of course all clothing, building material and machinery must be brought in for there are no factories in Punta Arenas.

Santiago, the capital of Chile, is located in a valley that has been called the "Garden of South America." This valley is seven hundred miles long, fifty or sixty miles wide and hundreds of feet above sea level. On the east are the snow-capped Andes and on the west the coast ranges. On the mountain slopes on either side are the great herds of cattle and sheep and lower down the rich fields of alfalfa and grain, fruit and flowers.

Strange to say the farming is nearly all done with oxen. I counted six yoke of oxen in a ten-acre field. Women as well as men work in the fields. The fences are made of stone but in many parts of the valley you never see a stone in the field. If they have any modern farm machinery I did not see it. All the fields are irrigated, as it seldom rains in this valley in the summer time.

Most of the best land is owned by wealthy men who live in the city. Those who do the work are mostly Indians or half breeds, and they have but few of the comforts of life. Many of the farms are great tracts and there is a store where the worker can purchase what he needs but the prices are high and he is kept in debt. A country can never really prosper where the tillers of the soil are ignorant and have no say in the affairs of the government.

It is in this valley where most of the Chileans live. While in other parts of the country there are but two people to the square mile, here in this valley there are seventeen to the square mile. Here are most of the schools and colleges, cities, railways and manufacturing plants. When about sixty per cent of the people are illiterate and this class is almost entirely the laboring class it does not look as if conditions would be changed very soon.

I saw more drinking in Chile than in any other South American country. A portion of the city of Valparaiso seems to be given over almost entirely to the liquor dealers and the people who throng that district are hard-looking folks. The fag ends of civilization seem to have gathered here. This is the only city in South America where I was accosted by both men and women and they almost try to hold one up in the streets in broad daylight.

Nearly all the Chilean women dress in black. A black shawl is worn and you would think they are all dressed in mourning, but they are not. This black cloth is called a manto and all women, both rich and poor, wear them. The business portion of the city of Valparaiso is built on a narrow strip of land at the foot of a high hill.

All along there are elevators or lifts as they call them. For a couple of pennies you can step into one of these lifts and be taken up a hundred feet or more. While one lift goes up another comes down as they are always built in pairs. There are winding ways where horses and donkeys can walk up but no wheeled vehicle can be taken up or down for it is too steep.

For this reason the dairymen and venders all have donkeys or small horses. A dairyman will have a couple of large milk cans, one on either side of the beast, or perhaps a small barrel on the top of a frame or saddle. The man leads or drives the animal and they are so sure-footed that they can go up a place so steep that one not used to climbing could not make the ascent.

There are but few North Americans in Chile. I had breakfast (they call the noon meal breakfast) with the American Club. There were but twenty-five or thirty present, mostly business men. But few of these men are satisfied to stay long in Chile.

The American Y. M. C. A. is doing some good work in Valparaiso, as in all other South American cities. The rooms are well patronized and it was homelike to see the leading magazines of the United States upon the reading table. The Sunday afternoon program that I attended was well gotten up and very interesting.

While in Chile you see more to remind you of the United States than in any other South American country but I was not favorably impressed with the people. They will not compare in looks or actions with the people east of the Andes. Lack of education, culture and refinement are noticeable everywhere. Religion and morality are conspicuous by their absence and one cannot but pity those who live among them although one sees some good traits in many of them.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE SWITZERLAND OF SOUTH AMERICA—BOLIVIA

In the very heart of the South American continent there is a vast table-land nearly as large as the great Mississippi valley, that some titanic convulsion has boosted up nearly three miles in the air. This great plateau is hemmed in by mountains, the coast range on the west and the main range on the east.

These mountain peaks rise as high as twenty-two thousand feet. In these heights, two and one-half miles above sea level is Lake Titicaca, which is one hundred and sixty miles long and thirty miles wide. This lake, which is the highest body of water in the western hemisphere, is fed by streams of water from the Andes and is so cold that ice is formed along the edge every night in the year although the lake itself is never frozen over. The lake has no outlet and the color of the water is a steely blue.

This lake forms the northwestern border of Bolivia. Situated as it is, including both mountains and table-land, Bolivia has been called the Switzerland of South America. It is more than twelve times as large as the state of Iowa and is the cradle of the ancient civilization that made up the world-famous Inca empire which existed many centuries ago.

The people of Bolivia today have the blood of this ancient race in their veins and they are an industrious people. Visiting a mission school in Buenos Aires I was much impressed by one young man who seemed to be the peer of the two hundred students in the school.

On talking to this young man I found that he was from Bolivia. How he heard about this mission school I have forgotten, but the story of how he tramped two hundred miles over the mountains and then across the great Argentine plains determined to reach this school and work his way through, could not be forgotten. On Sunday morning I went to the American church and this fellow was at the door as an usher and the friendly greeting and winning smile he had for everyone gave me great respect for him and his people as well.

Portions of this great Bolivian plateau are very beautiful. One noted naturalist coming from Paraguay said as he beheld this region, "If tradition has lost the records of the place where Paradise is located the traveler who visits these regions of Bolivia feels at once the impulse to exclaim: 'Here is Eden.'"

Here grows the famous chincona tree from which we get quinine. Also the coca plant from which we get cocaine. Perhaps when the dentist pulled your tooth he used cocaine that came from this country. The natives chew the coca leaf as a stimulant. It is actually said that by the use of this leaf a man can go for many hours without food and perform feats of endurance that seem to us impossible.

The cultivation of the coca plant is one of the important industries of eastern Bolivia. The plant grows as a shrub and must not be confused with the cocoa tree from the beans of which our chocolate and cocoa are made. The Bolivians produce eight to ten million pounds of coca leaves annually. The telegraph system of portions of this region is made up of fleet-footed Indians and it is said that with a supply of coca leaves and parched corn they can run fifty miles a day.

Here too grows the quinna which is not only a substitute for wheat but more nutritious and easier raised if reports are true. Cotton and sugar are produced in Bolivia as are the nutmeg and castor bean. Oranges and all such fruit are also grown in some parts of this country. But the supply and variety of medicinal plants is remarkable. The list includes aconite, arnica, absinthe, belladonna, camphor, cocaine, ginger, ipecac, opium, sarsaparilla and a lot of others.

But this great inland country is noted the world around for its rich mines. Mount Potosi is often spoken of as a mountain of silver. It is said that not only millions but billions of dollars worth of silver have been taken from this one mountain. There are said to be six thousand abandoned mines on its slopes to say nothing of the hundreds that are being worked today. The city of Potosi used to be the largest city in the western hemisphere and was ten times its present size when the early settlements of the United States were but small villages.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse