Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
HavingfinishedmybusinessIreturnedtoPiuraandvisitedCatacaos, asmallvillageafew
miles to the south, on the very edge of the Sechura desert, where the best quality Panama hats
are made. These hats are made exclusively in the north of Peru and Southern Ecuador, and
their quality entirely depends on the selection and preparation of the fibre that is grown in the
low swampland along the coast of Ecuador.
Without wasting time I started back to the place where I had left the horses, for I was
anxious to return to them and to resume the trip towards the now near border of Ecuador.
When we were near the very place where we had met the broken-down car the radiator burst,
leaving us hopelessly stuck. However, the driver told me a friend of his was likely to follow
us with a passenger towards evening, so all we could do was to sit in the shade of the car and
trust to luck. We had two bottles of cold coffee with us so we were not too badly off. After a
while a fox appeared on a sand dune quite close to us and sat there observing us with intense
curiosity. The chauffeur thought he would test his marksmanship and took careful aim with
his automatic and fired. The bullet hit the sand a few inches to one side of the fox which gave
a queer leap and then went to smell the spot where the bullet had hit; then he looked towards
us as if wondering what all this was about. After a second shot had also missed, Mr Reynard
thoughttheremustbesomethingwrongsomewhereandstartedoffataslowjog-trot,stopping
to look back at us several times. The sun was about to set when we heard the pleasant noise of
an approaching automobile, and late that night we arrived in Chulacana.
It would be impossible to follow the low and swampy coast of Ecuador, so I took to the
mountains once more, and, as a matter of fact, I was glad of the prospects of a better and
healthier climate in the highland. It would be almost impossible to take an overland route
along the coast of Ecuador, the dense jungles and enormous swamps, not to mention the un-
healthy climate, being the chief obstacles. A man on foot can always canoe across bad places;
with horses such journeys are impossible.
Near the bordersofsome ofthe countries Ipassed throughImet smugglers, andmore than
oncetheyweretheonlypeoplewhocouldgivemesoundadviceaboutthetrails.'Hard-boiled'
as some of them were, I found them to be fine gentlemen at heart, for open-air life and hard-
ships will always bring out the finer qualities of a 'he-man' even though he be a smuggler.
On one occasion when I fell in with such a group, they invited me to feed with them and as
we sat around the fire after a hearty meal, during which there was a regular bombardment of
jokes, I entered into conversation with them. The boss of the 'gang' was a Turk; there were
two Scandinavians, an American, a Dutchman and some natives. All the foreigners had had
their troubles at home, and now they were trying to 'make good' in a new line. When I was
about to leave them in the morning they were all there to help me to saddle and pack. Judging
bytheunusualbulkofthesaddlebagsIrightlyguessedthatfoodandtobaccohadbeenslipped
into them byaroughbutkindly handduringthe night. After the bottle hadbeen handed round
I swung into the saddle and started off at a trot, and turning round shouted a loud Adios and
'good luck'; and I meant it.
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