« FöregåendeFortsätt »
CULTIVATION OP COFFEE. 373
and his son mounted his horse and accompanied us. It was a beautiful walk, but in that country gentlemen never walk.
The cultivation of coffee on the plains of San Jose has increased rapidly within a few years. Seven years before the whole crop was not more than five hundred quintals, and this year it was supposed that it would amount to more than ninety thousand. Don Mariano was one of the largest planters, and had three cafetals in that neighbourhood; that which we visited contained twenty-seven thousand trees, and he was preparing to make great additions the next year. He had expended a large sum of money in buildings and machinery; and though his countrymen said he would ruin himself, every year he planted more trees. His wife, La Senora, was busily engaged in superintending the details of husking and drying the grains. In San Jose, by-theway, all the ladies were what might be called good business-men, kept stores, bought and sold goods, looked out for bargains, and were particularly knowing in the article of coffee.
Departure for Guatimala.—Esparza-Town of Costa Rica.—The Barranca– History of a Countryman.—Wild Scenery.—Hacienda of Aranjuez-River Lagartos.-Cerros of Collito.—Herds of Deer.—Santa Rosa.--Don Juan José Bonilla. — An Earthquake. — A Cattle Farm. – Bagases.— Guanacaste.—An agreeable Welcome.—Belle of Guanacaste.—Pleasant Lodgings.-Cordilleras. —Wolcanoes of Rincon and Orosi.-Hacienda of San Teresa.-Sunset View. —The Pacific again.
ON the thirteenth day of February I mounted for my journey to Guatimala. My equipage was reduced to articles of the last necessity: a hammock of striped cotton cloth laid over my pellon, a pair of alforgas, and a poncha strapped on behind. Nicolas had strung across his alvarda behind a pair of leather cohines, in shape like buckets, with the inner side flat, containing biscuit, chocolate, sausages, and dolces, and in front, on the pommel, my wearing apparel rolled up in an oxhide, after the fashion of the country. During my whole stay at the convent the attentions of the padre were unremitted. Besides the services he actually rendered me, I have no doubt he considers that he saved my life; for during my sickness he entered my room while I was preparing to shave, and made me desist from so dangerous an operation. I washed my face by stealth, but his kindness added another to the list of obligations I was already under to the padres of Central America.
I felt great satisfaction at being able once more to resume my journey, pleased with the lightness of my equipage, the spirit of my mules, and looked my journey of twelve hundred miles boldly in the face. All at once I heard a clattering behind, and Nicolas swept by me on a full run. My macho was what was called es
pantosa, or scary, and started. I had very little strength, and was fairly run away with. If I had bought my beasts for racing I should have had no reason to complain; but, unluckily, my saddle turned, and I came to the ground, fortunately clearing the stirrups, and the beast ran, scattering on the road pistols, holsters, saddle-cloths, and saddle, and continued on bare-backed toward the town. To my great relief, some muleteers intercepted him, and saved my credit as a horseman in San José. We were more than an hour in recovering scattered articles and repairing broken trappings. For three days my road was the same that I had travelled in entering Costa Rica. The fourth morning I rose without any recurrence of fever. Mr. Lawrence had kindly borne me company from San José, and was still with me; he had relieved me from all trouble, and had made my journey so easy and comfortable that, instead of being wearied, I was recruited, and abandoned all idea of returning by sea. At seven o’clock we started, and in half an hour reached Esparza. From this place to Nicaragua, a distance of three hundred miles, the road lay through a wilderness; except the frontier town of Costa Rica, there were only a few straggling haciendas, twenty, thirty, and forty miles apart. I replenished my stock of provisions, and my last purchase was a yard and a half of American cotton from a Massachusetts factory, called by the imposing name of Manta del Norte. In half an hour we crossed the Barranca, a broad, rapid, and beautiful river, but which lost in my eyes ali its beauty, for here Mr. Lawrence left me. Since the day of my arrival at San José he had been almost constantly with me, had accompanied me in every excursion, and during my sickness had attended me constant
ly. He was a native of Middletown in Connecticut, about fifty years old, and by trade a silversmith, and with the exception of a single return visit, had been nineteen years from home. In 1822 he went to Peru, where, besides carrying on his legitimate business upon a large scale, his science and knowledge of the precious metals brought him into prominent public positions. In 1830 he sold a mint to the government of Costa Rica, and was offered the place of its director. Business connected with the mint brought him to Costa Rica, and during his absence he left his affairs in the hands of a partner, who mismanaged them and died. Mr. L. returned to Peru, but without engaging in active business, and in the mean time the mint purchased of him was worn out, and another imported from Europe, so complicated that no one in Costa Rica could work it. Offers were made to Mr. L. of such a nature, that, connected with mining purposes of his own, they induced him to return. Don Manuel de Aguila was then Gefe del Estado, and on Mr. L.'s arrival at the port he met Don Manuel banished and flying from the state. The whole pobcy of the government was changed. Mr. L. remained quietly in San Jos6, and when I left intended to establish himself at Pont Arenas, to traffic with the pearl fishermen. Such is, in brief, the history of one of our many countrymen scattered in different parts of the world, and it would be a proud thing for the country if all sustained as honourable a reputation as his. We exchanged adieus from the backs of our mules, and, not to be sentimental, lighted our cigars. Whether we shall ever meet again or not is uncertain.
I was again setting out alone. I had travelled so long with companions or in ships, that when the mo
WILD SCENERY. 377
ment for plunging into the wilderness came, my courage almost failed me. And it was a moment that required some energy; for we struck off immediately into one of the wildest paths that I met on the whole of that desolate journey. The trees were so close as to darken it, and the branches so low that it was necessary to keep the head constantly bent to avoid hitting them. The noise of the locusts, which had accompanied us since we reached the mountain of Aguacate, here became startling. Very soon families of monkeys, walking heavily on the tops of the trees, disturbed these noisy tenants of the woods, and sent them flying around us in such swarms that we were obliged to beat them off with our hats. My macho snorted and pulled violently on the bit, dragging me against the trees; and I could not help thinking, if this is the outset, what will be the end?
Parting with Mr. Lawrence advanced the position of Nicolas. Man is a talking animal; Nicolas was particularly so, and very soon I knew the history of his life. His father was a muleteer, and he seemed constructed for the same rough business; but after a few journeys to Nicaragua he retired in disgust, married, and had two children. The trying moment of his life was when compelled to serve as a soldier. His great regret was that he could not read or write, and his astonishment that he worked hard and yet could not get on. He wanted to go with me to Mexico, to go to my country, to be away two years, and to return with a sum of money in hand, as 'Hezoos had done. He knew that General Morazan was a great man, for when he visited Costa Rica there was a great firing of cannons and a ball. He was a poor man himself, and did not know what the wars were about; and supposed that
Vol. I.—3 B