Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
behindsomecloudsandwewereleftindarkness;itwouldnothavebeenwisetocontinue lest
I should take the wrong direction or lead the horses into places where the sand is so soft that
they would sink in up to their bellies.
My instinct for finding the direction had developed to a notable degree by this time, prob-
ably because I had not very much to think about besides keeping the horses' noses facing the
right way, but even when I knew exactly which way to go, fogs or darkness on several occa-
sions made me think it wiser to wait until I could see.
The first rays of the morning sun were hot, and I rightly anticipated that the day was going
to be a 'scorcher'. The horses plodded along as if they realised that they were in the midst of
a serious test, and when it was about one hour after noon I noticed that they lifted their heads
and sniffed the air. Immediately after they hurried their steps, and I believe they would have
broken into a gallop if I had permitted them to do so. I was wondering why the horses were
so keen to hurry along, and within an hour I knew the reason, for we arrived at the river, and
I am certain that the animals had scented water long before I could see it; obviously Mancha
and Gato still possessed the instincts of the wild horse.
of my already high opinion of the horses' resistance, I admired the splendid behaviour they
had shown during so long and trying a journey - a journey that would have killed most horses
unaccustomed to such conditions. After I had unsaddled them they had a good drink, and then
with good grass, and after both had rolled, stretched and shaken themselves, they started to
eat, and anybody might have believed they had only just returned from a short canter. I only
realised how tired and played out I was when I sat down on my saddles whilst a woman in a
hut prepared some food for me, and I thought I had only dozed off to sleep for a few moments
when I awoke in the evening. The good woman, knowing that I needed sleep more than food,
had kept my meal warm for me, and once I had the first taste of it I did not stop until the last
grain of rice and the last bean had disappeared. It had taken us exactly twenty hours to cross
the desert, and I have no desire ever to make another such ride.
All the coastal villages are much alike, equally depressing, hot and miserable. A few
hens and pigs roaming about in search of refuse that is simply thrown out of the houses into
the street, and on the roofs a few mournful-looking gallinazos (buzzards) waiting to pick up
bits of filth at which other animals refuse even to look. At the doors of some houses, and par-
ticularly in front of the palacio municipal (?), a primitive construction that is no better than
the rest of the dilapidated houses, men can be seen loitering all day and, although they never
seem to work, they always appear to have money enough to buy alcohol, and once they are
stimulated by its temporarily elevating effects they talk in such sums of money that even the
most powerful Wall Street magnates would prick up their ears. Rich mines, large estates, so-
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