Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
After many long journeys through sandy deserts and a few miserable villages we reached
a little town called Lambayeque, not far from the great Sechura desert. The prison yard was
full of horses which seemed about to die from thirst and starvation. They had been stolen and
were waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners. The police were too lazy to take them to
water, the river being about half a mile distant, and naturally never dreamt of feeding them,
as this would mean expense that would be charged to the owner whether the animals had food
or not. I drove the whole troop to water with my animals and, having made a fence for mine
in a corner to separate them from the others, I bought all of them a good feed, although thus,
probably, only prolonging their sufferings.
In many of the police stations where I slept I saw pathetic things written on the walls; such
as, 'Here suffered innocently for two months Juan Rodriguez, a victim of his shameless polit-
ical enemies.' Or another: 'The good and patriotic Peruvian citizen, Pedro Alvarez, starved
and cried here for six months. The innocent are in jail, the guilty are in their homes living in
'Here lie eternally the mortal remains of X for having stolen a mule belonging to Y'; and in
another place I found the following: 'Here lie the bones of XX, a good man but a bad fighter.'
In order to avoid the big Sechura desert I had to change my route and swing towards the
Andes again. Leaving Lambayeque we followed a trail to Olmos, a small village on the out-
skirts of the despoblado . The trail led through forests, over hills and through prairies with
pretty flowers; a pleasant change after the eternal sands of the coastal regions. The horses
went without a bit, so they could eat as they went along, and I was delighted to watch them
pull off big mouthfuls and enjoy themselves. We passed through a gap in the mountain called
portachuelo (bigdoor)andarrivedinOlmoslateintheevening,whereIagainmadethepolice
station my headquarters.
The comisario and the only vigilante were about to leave the village next day, so the two
of them celebrated the occasion by drinking and serenading all night. Had the quality of tone
been as good as their lungs it might have been all right, but as this was not the case I had but
little sleep.
When I went to see the horses in the morning I found them at the gate of the paddock into
which I had turned them the night before, and it was easy to see that they had eaten nothing.
The paddock was full of tropical vegetation to which they were not accustomed, and judging
by the tracks they had not ventured to penetrate further in. Later I often found the same thing
happen, and I am convinced that fear of the unknown kept them near the spot where they had
entered and where I left them. Taking my sleepless night and the horses' empty stomachs into
grass. Thus I spent the whole day some three miles out of the village.
In the evening I returned to get something to eat for myself, and to see if anybody could
give me information about the trail ahead through the despoblado . Some government official,
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