Travel Reference
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As I am writing this I can see them fighting their way up horrible trails, yard by yard, until
they disappear in the cold, shifting fogs of the peaks, only to descend again into the steaming
tropics. I can see their animals, in single file, winding their way along a narrow trail through
dense tropical vegetation whilst the men speed them along with shouts and curses that mean
nothing more than 'move on!'
In the last Peruvian village where I spent a night I slept in the office at the police station.
Like all the others this room was stacked with papers and documents, some brown and yellow
with age and all covered with dust. Several coffins were piled up along one wall. The chief
of the policia explained to me that these contained the bones of half a family. A heavy rain
had washed away the cemetery, and when the relatives in Lima heard this they asked that the
bones belonging to the defunct of their family be collected and sent to Lima for re-burial. I
was rather puzzled how the police could distinguish these particular bones from others that
were washed away at the same time, and when I enquired how this masterpiece of identifica-
tion work had been performed the chief blew a puff of smoke from his black cigar and with a
cunning smile told me that after all documents had for once been of use. 'Any fool,' he told
me, 'can select bones of the right size when he knows the age of the person they are supposed
to have belonged to.' He seemed highly amused and told me what he thought of charging for
his services.
er. The trees were covered with creepers bearing big pink and blue flowers. Strange 'ceiba'
trees with their smooth, green trunks, thin at the bottom, thick in the middle, and again thin at
the top, somewhat resembling huge Indian clubs, fascinated me with their grotesque beauty,
whilst flocks of green parrots chattered as we passed. In this neighbourhood grows a certain
poisonous creeper which cattle will sometimes eat, and the local name for which is borrach-
era (drunkenness). If cattle eat much of it, I am told, they die, but usually they stop when they
feel intoxicated, and then it often happens that they will fall down cliffs and thus be killed. I
mark is always left where people travel; for instance, here and there an interfering twig has
been cut off with a 'machete,' the broad knife, almost as long as a sword, without which no
native of the tropics will go out. Then there are places where somebody has camped or made
afire,ormarksontreeswherepackanimals havebumpedintothem.Oftenaburntmatch will
give the wanted clue, and tracks of shod animals are certain signs that one is following the
The river Macara forms the boundary between Ecuador and Peru, and on the Peruvian side
there is a hacienda , where we spent the last night on Peruvian soil. Here, as throughout the
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