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under the trees. Neither Romaldi nor my guide could be prevailed upon to remain and watch them; they said it would be death to sleep there. The river is the outlet of the Lake of Amatitan, and is said to be navigable from the Falls of San Pedro Martyr, seventy miles from its mouth; but there are no boats upon it, and its banks are in the wildness of primeval nature. The crossingplace was at the old mouth of the river. The sandbar extends about a mile farther, and has been formed since the conquest. Landing, I walked across the sand to the house or hut of the captain of the port, and a few steps beyond saw the object of my journey, the boundless waters of the Pacific. When Nunez de Balboa, after crossing swamps and rivers, mountains and woods, which had never been passed but by straggling Indians, came down upon the shores of this newly-discovered sea, he rushed up to the middle in the waves with his buckler and sword, and took possession of it in the name of the king his master, vowing to defend it in arms against all his enemies. But Nunez had the assurance that beyond that sea "he would find immense stores of gold, out of which people did eat and drink." I had only to go back again. I had ridden nearly sixty miles; the sun was intensely hot, the sand burning, and very soon I entered the hut and threw myself into a hammock. The hut was built of poles set up in the sand, thatched with the branches of trees; furnished with a wooden table, a bench, and some boxes of merchandise, and swarming with moschetoes. The captain of the port, as he brushed them away, complained of the desolation and dreariness of the place, its isolation and separation from the world, its unhealthiness, and th« misery of a man doomed to live there; and yet he
PORT OF tSTAPA.
feared the result of the war, a change of administration, and being turned out of office!
Toward evening, rested and refreshed, I walked out upon the shore. The port is an open roadstead, without bay, headland, rock, or reef, or anything whatever to distinguish it from the line of the coast. There is no light at night, and vessels at sea take their bearings from the great volcanoes of the Antigua, more than sixty miles inland. A buoy was anchored outside of the breakers, with a cable attached, and under the sheds were three large launches for embarking and disembarking cargoes. The ship, which was from Bordeaux, lay off more than a mile from the shore. Her boat had landed the supercargo and passengers, since which she had had no communication with the land, and seemed proudly independent of so desolate a place. Behind the sandbar were a few Indian huts, and Indians nearly naked were sitting by me on the shore. Yet this desolate place was once the focus of ambitious hopes, high aspirations, lust of power and gold, and romantic adventure. Here Alvarado fitted out his armament, and embarked with his followers to dispute with Pizarro the riches of Peru. The sun was sinking, and the red globe touched the ocean; clouds were visible on its face, and when it disappeared, ocean and land were illuminated with a ruddy haze. I returned to the hut and threw myself into my hammock. Could it be that I was again so far from home, and that these were the waves of the great Southern Ocean breaking on my ears?
Vol. I.—O O 25
The Return.—Hunt for a Mule.—Overo.—Masagua.—Escuintla.—Falls of Saa Pedro Martyr.—Michetoya River.—Village of San Pedro.—A Major-domo.— San Cristoval.—Amatitan.—A roving American.—Entry into Guatimala.—Letter from Mr. Catherwood.—Christmas Eve.—Arrival of Mr. Catherwood.— Plaza de Toroa.—A Bullfight.—The Theatre.—Official Business.—The Aristocracy of Guatimala.—State of the Country.—Newyear'a Day.—Ferocity of Party.
At three o'clock Romaldi woke me to set out on my return. The moonbeams were glancing over the water, and the canoe was ready. I bade farewell to my host as he lay in his hammock, and crossed the river. Here I found an unexpected difficulty. My spare mule had broken her halter, and was nowhere to be seen. We beat about among the woods till daylight, and concluding that she must have taken the only path open, and set out for home on her own account, we saddled and rode on to Overo, a distance of twenty miles. But no stray mule had passed the hacienda, and I stopped and sent Romaldi back to the port.
Very soon I became tired of waiting at the miserable hacienda, saddled my mule, and started alone. The Toad was so shaded that I did not stop for the noonday heat. For twenty-one miles farther the road was perfectly desolate, the only sound being occasionally the crash of a falling tree. At the village of Masagua I rode up to a house, at which I saw a woman under the shed, and, unsaddling my mule, got her to send a man out to cut sacate, and to make me some chocolate. I was so pleased with my independence that I almost resolved to travel altogether by myself, without servant or change of apparel. In half an hour I resumed my
FALLS OF SAN PEDRO. 291
journey. Toward sundown I met drunken Indians coming out from Escuintla, and, looking back over the great plain, saw the sun fast sinking into the Pacific. Some time after dark I rode up to the house of the corregidor, having performed in the two days a hundred and ten miles. Unfortunately, there was no sacate for my mule. This article is brought into the towns by the Indians daily, and every person buys just enough for the night, and no more. There was not a spare lock of grass in the place. With a servant of the corregidor's I made an exploring expedition through the town, and by an affecting appeal to an old woman, enforced by treble price, bought from under their very noses the portion of two mules, and left them supperless. I waited till two o'clock the next day for Romaldi and the mule, and, after a vain endeavour to procure a guide to the falls of San Pedro Martyr, set out alone direct for Guatimala. At the distance of two leagues, ascending a steep hill, I passed a trapiche or sugarmill, in a magnificent situation, commanding a full view of the plain I had crossed and the ocean beyond. Two oxen were grinding sugarcane, and under a shed was a large boiling caldron for making panela, a brown sugar, in lumps of about two pounds each, an enormous quantity of which is consumed in the country. Here the humour seized me to make some inquiries about the falls of San Pedro Martyr. A man out at elbows, and every other mentionable and unmentionable part of his body, glad to get rid of regular work, offered to conduct me. I had passed, a league back, the place where I ought to have turned off; and proceeding onward to the village of San Pedro, he turned off to the right, and went back almost in the same direction by a narrow path descending through thick woods choked with bushes, and in a ravine reached the Michetoya River, which I had crossed at Istapa. It was narrow and rapid, breaking wildly over a stony bed, with a high mountain on the opposite side. Following it, we reached the cataract, consisting of four streams separated by granite rock, partly concealed by bushes, and precipated from a height of about two hundred feet, forming with the wild scenery around a striking and romantic view. A little below it were a sugar-mill worked by water, and an uncommonly fine hacienda, which commanded a view of the falls, and at which I was very much disposed to pass the night. The major-domo, a black man, was somewhat surprised at my visit; but when he learned that I did not come to see the mill, but only the falls, he seemed to suspect that I was no better than I should be; and when I asked him if I could reach San Cristoval before dark, he answered that I could if I started immediately. This was not exactly an invitation to stay, and I left him. It shows the want of curiosity and indolence of the people, that, though these falls are but a pleasant afternoon's ride from Escuintla, which for two months is thronged with visiters from Guatimala, nobody ever visits them.
Hurrying back by the same wild path, we reached the main road, and, as it was late, I hired my guide to go on with me to San Cristoval. We passed through the village of San Pedro, which was a collection of miserable huts, with an estanco or place for the sale of agua ardiente, and thronged with half-intoxicated Indians. As we advanced, clouds began to gather around the mountains, and there was every appearance of heavy rain. I had no cloak or greatcoat, and, being particularly apprehensive of fevers and rheumatisms, after riding about a mile I returned to San Pedro. The most