Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
known in these regions, and so the houses are simply covered with bamboo canes, mud and
Fording some of the wide and usually slow-flowing rivers was not without its dangers,
treacherous quicksands lurking where one least expects to find them. If anybody happened to
live near a river I had to ford, I always offered a good reward if he were willing to show me
the best place where to cross, but often I had to try my luck alone.
One evening, after a long day's riding, I came to a solitary hut near the mouth of a river
where a fisherman and his family lived. I was very hungry and thirsty, and looked forward to
a change of diet, for I had lived on sardines and biscuits for some days. Two children were
playing in the sand outside the hut, and as it was always my policy to make friends with the
youngsters in order more easily to approach the parents, I thought I would do the same here,
and so gave them my last biscuits and the remaining tin of sardines. I thought this was a good
investment and a safe gamble to get something more agreeable to my taste from the grateful
parents later on, but to my bitter disappointment I was told that they had run out of supplies
Iwas given some hot water with which Ibrewed myself some tea, and even this Ihad to drink
without sugar, my supply having come to grief whilst crossing a river. The next journey being
a long one I had to start early, and so I had to do another day's hard riding on an empty stom-
ach, and it can easily be imagined how I blessed those children and how pleased I was with
myself for having given them that tin of sardines and the biscuits.
After a few hours we came to a river that had a very bad reputation for quicksands, and so
I rode upstream until I came to a hut where another fisherman lived. He was willing to help
me across. He had a pony which, he told me, served to drag his net through the shallow wa-
ter along the beach. Mounted on this animal he came to show me the way, but he only did
this after having received five soles (Peruvian standard currency) in advance for his services.
We had nearly reached the other side of the shallow but wide river when suddenly his pony's
hindlegs sank into the sand. Knowing what this meant, I hurried my horses along, made a
semi-circle around my guide, and was fortunate enough to reach the dryshore. Without losing
a moment I untied the lasso I always had handy, and then cautiously waded back to where the
man was still sitting on his animal, which was sinking deeper and deeper. As soon as I had
thrown him the lasso he put it around the pony's neck; then he jumped off and came towards
me, all the time holding on to the lasso in case he also should sink in. Whenever a horse sinks
into a quicksand hindlegs first, it is of no use to try to pull him out from in front, but to save
him one has to pull in such a manner as to make him fall on his side. This frees his hindlegs
andgives him buoyancy,andthen onecan usually rescue him. Shouldthe animal beleft alone
he will gradually sink in and finally drown, and the more he struggles and fights the quicker
will he sink. Working like Trojans we finally rescued the guide's pony, and in case the same
thing should happen to him again I waited until be had safely reached the home shore.
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