Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
behind the other, and when all of them, one after the other, greet one with a friendly buen dia ,
one is apt to get tired of answering the same to each, especially if there happen to be many.
One morning when I brought the horses in from pasture I noticed that one had his mane
plaited. I tried to undo it, but found it tightly knotted. I asked the boy, Victor, if he knew any-
thing about this or if he had done it, and he immediately told me 'El Duende' had been with
the horses during the night. I had never heard this name and asked for an explanation. In the
meantime a half-caste Indian with whom I had spent the night had come up and assured me
that the boy was right.
It appears that El Duende, according to these people, is a dwarf who lives in deep canyons
and desolate valleys, where he can often be heard crying like a baby or, when he is in a bois-
terous mood, making noises rivalling thunder. Natives firmly believe that he is very fond of
horseback riding; but, being so small, is unable to sit on the horse's back, so he sits on the
animal's neck, making stirrups by plaiting the mane in such a way as to be able to put his feet
in it.
The only explanation I can give for this extraordinary plaiting is the dampness in the air,
which may twist the hair in such a way as to form these knots; or maybe the horse does it in
rubbing against a tree.
Still advancing south we crossed the hot Patia valley where a few negroes raise sheep and
goats. Wolves often do damage to their flocks which are always rounded up in corrals for the
Lepers are numerous and I shall never forget an elderly negro who crawled out of his hut,
his face blotched with disease. This ape-like being came right up to me and held out his hand,
begging for money. He even touched one of my horses, and I took the precaution of disinfect-
ing the animal thoroughly when I came to water. Near here occurred an incident that obliged
me to shoot in self-defence. An intoxicated negro insulted me, and finally attacked me with
his machete.
Coming out of the Patia valley we had some tiring journeys over broken and mountainous
the dirt floor is the only bed known. Sometimes one is fortunate in being treated to the luxury
of a large oxhide that takes the place of a mattress and helps to keep one's blankets clean.
Popayan is one of the quaintest little towns in all Colombia. Parks and gardens reflect the
good taste of the inhabitants, and the old houses are built in Spanish colonial style. In the dis-
tance one can see the active volcano, Purace, which throws up fire and smoke. The Sotara is
another volcano near there, but it is extinct. Near the town is the Rio Vinagre (Vinegar River),
uted to the fact that the river flows past the nearby volcano which abounds in sulphur.
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