FRONTIER FORMALITIES NEAR RUMICHACA
(Stone Bridge), a natural bridge which marks the border
between Ecuador and Columbia.
In many places the rocks were very hot, and when I noticed that my companion was smil-
ing at my uneasiness I foolishly told him I would go right down into the main crater. Before
he had time to stop me I went stumbling down over light, loose volcanic rocks. When I was at
the bottom I looked at the largest holes out of which fumes came seething.
Suddenly the rocks on which I stood began to shake and tremble, and before I knew what
was happening I was wrapped in a cloud of sulphur fumes. I put my handkerchief, which was
wet with the perspiration caused by the ascent, to my mouth and blindly stumbled backwards.
The fumes choked and irritated me, and finally I lay down to wait for my chance. A gust of
cold wind cleared a path for me and I lost no time in scrambling out of this hell. We began to
fear a serious eruption and hurriedly started on our return journey. For a long time we could
not find the place where we had made the ascent and with the approach of evening it became
dark, and a heavy rainstorm accompanied by thunder made things still more unpleasant.
Late that night we were back in our quarters, drenched to the skin and with sore feet, and I
made a vow to be more careful before entering the crater of a volcano again.
In this district the Indians wear short shirts of a dark colour, rather like Scotch kilts but
level with the chin. When they walk in groups they are accustomed to go in single file, one