Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

such an idea of the vastness of the works erected by the aboriginal inhabitants. Pressed as we were, we deter mined to remain and make a thorough exploration. It was nearly dark when we returned to the village. Immediately we called upon the alcalde, but found on the very threshold detention and delay. He repeated the schoolmaster's warning that nothing could be done violenter. It would take two days to get together men and implements, and these last of the kind necessary could not be had at all. There was not a crowbar in the place ; but the alcalde said one could be made, and in the same breath that there was no iron; there was half a blacksmith, but no iron nearer than Tobasco, about eight or ten days’ journey. While we were with him another terrible storm came on. We hurried back in the midst of it, and determined forthwith to push on to Palenque. I am strongly of opinion that there is at this place much to reward the future traveller. We were told that there were other ruins about ten leagues distant, along the same range of mountains; and it has additional interest in our eyes, from the circumstance that this would be the best point from which to attempt the discovery of the mysterious city seen from the top of the Cordilleras. At Ocosingo we were on the line of travel of Captain Dupaix, whose great work on Mexican Antiquities, published in Paris in 1834–5, awakened the attention of the learned in Europe. His expedition to Palenque was made in 1807. He reached this place from the city of Mexico, under a commission from the government, attended by a draughtsman and secretary, and part of a regiment of dragoons. “Palenque,” he says, “is eight days' march from Ocosingo. The journey is very fatiguing. The roads, if they can be so called, are only

[ocr errors]

narrow and difficult paths, which wind across mountains and precipices, and which it is necessary to follow sometimes on mules, sometimes on foot, sometimes on the shoulders of Indians, and sometimes in hammocks. In some places it is necessary to pass on bridges, or, rather, trunks of trees badly secured, and over lands covered with wood, desert and dispeopled, and to sleep in the open air, excepting a very few villages and huts. “We had with us thirty or forty vigorous Indians to carry our luggage and hammocks. After having experienced in this long and painful journey every kind of fatigue and discomfort, we arrived, thank God, at the village of Palenque.” This was now the journey before us; and, according to the stages we had arranged, to avoid sleeping out at night, it was to be made in five instead of eight days. The terrible rains of the two preceding nights had infected us with a sort of terror, and Pawling was completely shaken in his purpose of continuing with us. The people of the village told him that after the rains had fairly set in it would be impossible to return, and in the morning, though reluctantly, he determined abruptly to leave us and go back. We were very unwilling to part with him, but, under the circumstances, could not urge him to continue. Our luggage and little traps, which we had used in common, were separated; Mr. Catherwood bade him good-by and rode on; but while mounted, and in the act of shaking hands to pursue our opposite roads, I made him a proposition which induced him again to change his determination, at the risk of remaining on the other side of the mountains until the rainy season was over. In a few minutes we overtook Mr. Catherwood. The fact is, we had some apprehensions from the

badness of the roads. Our route lay through an Indian country, in parts of which the Indians bore a notoriously bad character. We had no dragoons, our party of attendants was very small, and, in reality, we had not a single man upon whom we could rely; under which state of things Pawling's pistols and double-barrelled

gun were a matter of some consequence.

We left Ocosingo at a quarter past eight. So little impression did any of our attendants make upon me, that I have entirely forgotten every one of them. Indeed, this was the case throughout the journey. In other countries a Greek muleteer, an Arab boatman, or a Bedouin guide was a companion; here the people had no character, and nothing in which we took any interest except their backs. Each Indian carried, besides his burden, a net bag containing his provisions for the road, viz., a few tortillas, and large balls of mashed Indian corn wrapped in leaves. A drinking cup, being half a calabash, he carried sometimes on the crown of his head. At every stream he filled his cup with water, into which he stirred some of his corn, making a sort of cold porridge; and this throughout the country is the staff of life for the Indian on a journey. In half an hour we passed at some distance on our right large mounds, formerly structures which formed part of the old city. At nine o'clock we crossed the Rio Grande or Huacachahoul, followed some distance on the bank, and passed three cascades spreading over the rocky bed of the river, unique and peculiar in beauty, and probably many more of the same character were breaking unnoticed and unknown in the wilderness through which it rolled; but, turning up a rugged mountain, we lost sight of it. The road was broken and mountainous. We did not meet a single person, and at three

[ocr errors]

o'clock, moving in a north-northwest direction, we entered the village of Huacachahoul, standing in an open situation, surrounded by mountains, and peopled entirely by Indians, wilder and nore savage than any we had yet seen. The men were without hats, but wore their long black hair reaching to their shoulders; and the old men and women, with harsh and haggard features and dark rolling eyes, had a most unbaptized appearance. They gave us no greetings, and their wild but steady glare made us feel a little nervous. A collection of naked boys and girls called Mr. Catherwood “Tata,” mistaking him for a padre. We had some misgivings when we put the village behind us, and felt ourselves enclosed in the country of wild Indians. We stopped an hour near a stream, and at half past six arrived at Chillon, where, to our surprise and pleasure, we found a sub-prefect, a white man, and intelligent, who had travelled to San Salvador, and knew General Morazan. He was very anxious to know whether there was any revolution in Ciudad Real, as, with a pliancy becoming an office-holder, he wished to give in his adhesion to the new government.

The next morning, at a quarter before seven, we started with a new set of Indians. The road was good to Yahalon, which we reached at ten o'clock. Before entering it we met a young Indian girl with her father, of extraordinary beauty of face, in the costume of the country, but with a modest expression of countenance, which we all particularly remarked as evidence of her innocence and unconsciousness of anything wrong in her appearance. Every village we passed was most picturesque in position, and here the church was very effective; as in the preceding villages, it was undergoing repairs.

[ocr errors]

Here we were obliged to take another set of Indians, and perhaps we should have lost the day but for the padre, who called off some men working at the church. At a quarter past eleven we set off again; at a quarter before one we stopped at the side of a stream to lunch. At this place a young Indian overtook us, with a very intelligent face, who seated himself beside me, and said, in remarkably good Spanish, that we must beware of the Indians. I gave him some tortillas. He broke off a small piece, and holding it in his fingers, looked at me, and with great emphasis said he had eaten enough; it was of no use to eat; he ate all he could get, and did not grow fat; and, thrusting his livid face into mine, told me to see how thin he was. His face was calm, but one accidental expression betrayed him as a maniac; and I now noticed in his face, and all over his body, white spots of leprosy, and started away from him. I endeavoured to persuade him to go back to the village, but he said it made no difference whether he went to the village or not; he wanted a remedio for his thinness.

Soon after we came upon the banks of the River of Yahalon. It was excessively hot, the river as pure as water could be, and we stopped and had a delightful bath. After this we commenced ascending a steep mountain, and when high up saw the poor crazed young Indian standing in the same place on the bank of the river. At half past five, after a toilsome ascent, we reached the top of the mountain, and rode along the borders of a table of land several thousand feet high, looking down into an immense valley, and turning to the left, around the corner of the forest, entered the outskirts of Tumbala. The huts were distributed among high, rugged, and picturesque rocks, which had the appearance of having once formed the crater of a volcano. Drunken Indians were

« FöregåendeFortsätt »