Travel Reference
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howling, wailing and drinking. Judging by the condition most men were in, they had freely
answered the 'sad' chords.
Many yellow and black weaver-birds had made their pretty bag-like nests of horse-hair
which hung down from the trees along our path. The natives say that these birds nip the tail-
hairs off horses whilst they are asleep.
The republic of San Salvador is densely populated, and, as in other Latin American coun-
tries, my chief delight was to visit the invariably dirty market-places, where the essence of
national life can be seen, and where I often had to buy my food from some stall. I ate as little
meat as possible, and never fish, which, owing to the climate, is dangerous unless it is abso-
lutely fresh. Regular swarms of flies cover the meat, and it is a regular habit among the sellers
towavethemawaywiththeirhandswhilst mechanically saying'shoo',andIhaveevenheard
some whistle at them whilst they temporarily buzzed around, only to settle down again with
apparently new appetites.
On entering and leaving each village and town I was stopped by the police. Usually the
vigilantes were dark and greasy and clad in rags that were supposed to be uniforms. They de-
manded documentos , name, and any other detail that occurred to them, and had it not been for
the official recommendation I was fortunate enough to possess, I really believe I should still
be lingering in San Salvador. These precautions were due to the country being under martial
law, and to prevent revolutionary movements.
Chinese merchants abound everywhere, and when one day a dusky vigilante stopped me
for information, a group of these collected around us, together with some tough-looking
loafers. The vigilante tried to look as officious as possible and took out what was supposed to
be a notebook, ready to pretend that he could read and write. When I showed him my official
pass this was too much for him, so he handed it to an 'educated' bystander to read out, which
he did slowly and painfully. When he had finished spelling out the contents of this weighty
dirty sun-helmet over his eyes. How the mighty can sometimes fall.
has the same name as the town, and which shows great activity at times. Along the road
many large lizards basked in the sun, and practically naked women washed near the streams,
everywhere; coffee and a great variety of tropical fruit being grown. The heat in the daytime
was oppressive and sweltering, obliging me to make the journey short and to let the horses
cool down a little wherever we found a shady spot. We met a few bullock-wagons with creak-
ing wooden wheels. Most of these vehicles are covered by wooden arches, over which skins
are tied to make a roof as protection against sun and rain. The native men are dressed in
loosely fitting white trousers and a shirt or blouse of the same colour; as a rule these clothes
are hanging in rags and are very dirty. They wear wide-brimmed straw hats with high crowns,
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