not take me long to realise that it would be very dangerous to make the attempt unless one
happened to be thoroughly acquainted with every detail of the river.
In normal times cattle are swum across by chimbadores , who thus earn their living, but
when the waters are high nobody ever tries. When we had discussed the question my friends
went to look for the best of these men, to ask his opinion. After a long wait he arrived, and
having carefully studied the river said that he had his doubts about any animal reaching the
would be lost. I had been in some bad rivers before, and on every occasion my animals be-
haved admirably, so I did not hesitate to assure him that they were capable of performing the
feat. Finally we arranged to meet next morning and to make the attempt.
the proposedscene ofaction some were already there waiting forus,andeven onthe rockson
the opposite bank others had taken position.
People cross some of these rivers in a basket slung on a cable, and the one across this river
were taken across by means of the cable. When I thought everything was ready one of the
local authorities, who had been very friendly with me, came up and bluntly told me he would
not allow me to enter the river, for such a thing amounted to rank suicide, especially as I did
not know the tricks and dangers of these wild waters.
I could already see myself returning a beaten man and waiting for days, or maybe even
weeks, before being able to reach that other bank, and just then I saw the chimbadores stand-
ing near. I offered him a good sum of money if he would swim my animals across, and to
this nobody had any objection, for these men are wonderful swimmers and know every inch
and trick of the river. At first he refused to consider my offer, but when I agreed that he could
leave the horses if he saw that they could not reach the only landing place and save himself he
promised to try.
For a long time he studied the seething river, and sent a few men to different points up-
cha and to leave Gato to follow behind loose. The former would never let anyone but myself
ride him on dry land without bucking, so we coaxed him into the water where the man moun-
ted without trouble, and as soon as the 'all clear' signal was given they started to wade out,
and in a few moments the current swept the three downstream, Gato following close behind
The people on the bank had made bets as to whether or not the horses would cross, and I
must admit I passed minutes that seemed hours, until at long last there was a loud cheer from
many throats and both animals waded out on the other side nearly half a mile downstream.
The Rio Santa had been conquered in full flood.