Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
When I grew tired of carrying so gruesome a cargo with me I gave it to an acquaintance, a
thingIhaveregretted eversince.Theseheadsareoftenofferedforsale,althoughthistrafficis
I saw a number of these Jibaro Indians arrive in a village, and all the boys followed them,
teasing them and cracking jokes at their expense. At all this the Jibaros merely laughed in
good humour, although I am sure they were not exactly pleased.
I was thinking about giving the horses a rest as soon as we should reach a village where I
couldbuythemgoodfodderandwheretheycouldenjoythemselves intheirownfashion.Ad-
venture is often found where one least expects it, and the truth of this was proved in a village
where I stopped for two days.
The horses were in a corral where they ate good grass, brought by an Indian who went to
cut it some distance away, while I was living in a room that faced the one and only street of
the village. A woman brought me food which was cooked in some other house, and usually
curious children came to stare in through the door whilst I was eating. There being no win-
dows the door had to be left open to admit light and air.
One poor, hungry-looking Indian boy to whom I had given some of the food that was left
over was always there, and when I went to the corral he followed me like a dog. He had long
hair and was dressed in rags, and only possessed an old 'poncho' to protect him against the
cold at night. He was always ready to give me a helping hand with anything and liked noth-
ing better than to help me with the grooming of the horses, and whenever I was eating he was
on the spot, squatting somewhere near the door where I could not help seeing him. When I
enquired about him, the alcalde (mayor) told me he was a poor orphan who lived on charity
and had no home, and suggested that I take the boy with me to serve as mozo , as they call the
mule-boys who accompany travellers. Accordingly, after some reflection, I made up my mind
to take the kid with me, or at least to give him a trial. Should he prove useless, I could always
leave him in the next town, where he would have a better chance to keep alive than in this
miserable village.
He called himself Victor and claimed to be sixteen years of age, but I very much doubted
this, giving him only about fourteen or fifteen at the outside. However, I had some kind of pa-
pers made out for him, under the name of Victor Jimenez, aged sixteen, and even thought of a
clipped, and after I had disinfected him thoroughly I made him wear a new shirt and trousers
I had purchased, but as he had never worn boots I did not buy him any lest he blister his feet.
I made him trot along on foot for three days, just to test his grit and to see if he would
give in, but by the time we reached Loja, the first town we hit in Ecuador, the boy had proved
so willing and useful that I decided to take him with me for good. Accordingly I bought him
a little black mountain pony, a saddle, a few more clothes, and - to his delight - a coat and
a pair of shoes! Never shall I forget the proud way he walked down the street when he first
wore those garments. It was easy to tell that he had never worn boots, for he walked along
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