Travel Reference
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ent, for the streets are well-paved and clean, and the little parks are quite pretty and neat.
An officer sent his orderly to stable the horses, but, having a presentiment, I went to see
to what kind of a place he was taking them, and was not surprised when I found them in a
backyard that would hardly have been fit for a self-respecting pig. Luckily a Swiss gentleman
came to the rescue and put his little farm in the outskirts of the town at my disposal.
TheprincipalbuildinginSanSalvadorCityisthe palacio de gobierno (governmenthouse),
where I went to pay my respects. From outside, the place is quite nice, but the interior, espe-
cially the courtyard, is very different. Rubbish was lying about, and vigilantes were sleeping
on benches or lazily leaning against the walls. In one sala a crowd was assembled, listening
to a display of verbal acrobatics. Suddenly a black fellow, dressed in what was supposed to be
a palmbeach suit, came running towards me, and to my surprise only stopped when his face
was but a few inches from mine, and then he began to bark at me, spraying me like a barber,
ment had somewhat cooled off, I was able to understand what he was spluttering at me with
the speed of a machine-gun. I had dressed especially for the occasion and, having no other
clothes, had put on a pair of clean white riding-breeches, brown top boots, a soft white shirt
but my attire did not seem to please this black fellow, who turned out to be the mayordomo
(principal porter) of the palacio . He thundered at me that only military people had the right
to enter this sacred place wearing breeches and riding boots, and that my offence constituted
an insult to the president, to himself, and to the republic in general. Most people who were on
business in the building wore no boots, jackets or collars, but obviously this is etiquette there.
The mayordomo 's verbal barrage was so heavy that none of my occasional words directed
at him reached their objective. Presently he started to push me towards the nearest door, but
when I took a firm grip of his wrist he shut his mouth like a rat-trap and listened to me. When
I had explained who I was, and on what errand I had come, he turned as white as his colour
permitted andgave vent tothe most elegant stream ofapologies Ihave ever heard, andhewas
still going on with it after I had left him. The officials I met were exceedingly pleasant, and in
some cases highly refined and educated.
During my ride I had opportunities to get an insight into social and educational conditions
of the countries I passed through. As a rule, the upper classes in most Southern republics are
exceptionally bright and quick at learning, but, on the other hand, they are usually very shal-
low and superficial. They pride themselves on the smattering of philosophy they possess, and
their chief ambitions are in the political line; the easiest way to wealth and power.
The average young man of buena familia is a born reciter of poems, and is generally
veryeffeminate, temperamental andsoft.Speech-making isacommonformofdiseaseamong
them, and in a fit of oratory they can touch on social reform, bits of history, philosophy, ex-
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