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ancient mummies that had been discovered near there in an old burial ground. I took every
precaution against the horrible disease and was particularly careful never to lie down to rest
unless I had previously sprinkled my bed with insect powder, for fleas and similar pests trans-
to start in the evening it was necessary to wait until the moon was at its brightest. I had heard
many terrible stories about this sandy wilderness, its very name, 'Matacaballo' (Horse-killer),
gave me food for reflection.
After four days' waiting I was ready to start, and as I did not intend to carry water for the
horses, I was careful not to give them anything to drink the day before we left, for I wanted
them to be thirsty and therefore not likely to refuse a good drink immediately before starting
with me were a few pieces of chocolate that had been in my pack for some days. Towards
evening we were ready, and when the sun was setting we crossed the river, on the other side
of which the rolling desert starts. I waited until the horses had finished their drink, and after
they had pawed and played with the cool water I mounted, and soon we were on the soft and
still hot sands that made a peculiar hissing sound under the hoofs of the animals. The indes-
cribable colours of a tropical sunset were reflected on the glittering waves of the ocean, and
their dread and desolate appearance, for now the sand dunes and undulations were one mass
of colour, from golden brown to dark purple, according to light and shadows. A few belated
sea birds were hurriedly flying towards their distant roosting places on some rocky island;
everything seemed to be different now, except the regular, eternal rolling of the breakers on
the shore. No sooner had the last clouds ceased to glow like fading beacon fires than dark-
ness set in, and after a while the moon rose over the mountain ranges in the far east, slowly,
majestically; and more than welcome to me.
The sensation of riding on soft sand is a peculiar one at first, until the body becomes used
to the peculiar springless motion of the horse. Knowing that such conditions mean a great
mount. We were twisting and winding our way through among high sand dunes and, whenev-
er it was possible, I guided the animals down to the wet sand on the beach where I would
urgethem intoaslowgallop. Oftenwecame torockyplaces ortoland-points whichstretched
far out, and thus I was forced to make a detour inland again, frequently for considerable dis-
tances. For the first few hours I observed everything around me and admired the brilliance of
the moon that made the ocean glitter like silver, and gave the often strange sand formations a
ghostly appearance. Soon even all this became monotonous to me, and every time I stopped
to rest the horses for a while or to adjust the saddles, I lit a cigarette to help pass the time
away. Shortly before dawn I had to halt for quite a long time, for the moon had gone down
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