Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Guatemala, the Land of the Quetzal
From the Salvadorian border to Guatemala City there is a fair road, but many steep inclines
The prospects of reaching the highlands and healthy cool climate pleased me and filled me
with eagerness to go on. At the border there were two houses. In one lived the telegraph oper-
I needed any help, and thus I was allowed to proceed into Guatemalan territory without being
molested with the usual formalities.
I had ridden some distance through delightful hilly and wooded country when a group of
soldiers stopped me. All were barefooted and wore high-crowned straw hats with wide brims,
and were armed with old-fashioned Mauser rifles. A fellow who was either a corporal or a
general wanted to know what right I had to carry firearms. I might have returned to the border
with them, where my friend the inspector would have vouched for me, but this would have
meant aconsiderable lossoftime anddistance. Ihadnospecial licence forfirearms, butwhen
my pockets, I pulled it out and showed it to the fellow. I do not know whether it is experience,
instinct, or observation, but somehow I was able to tell if a person could read and write, and
only very rarely did I make a mistake. In this case I had judged right, for this imposing-look-
ing document, the hotel bill, immediately worked the miracle, and I was given a free pass.
We skirted a pretty lagoon and soon began to climb up the winding road. We crossed
through the remarkable valley of Mita, and later, from above, had a fine view of it. In this val-
ley there are many small hills of volcanic origin. All are of similar shape, like sugar loaves,
and I could not help imagining what this place must have looked like ages ago when all these
craters spat out fire and smoke. It seemed like an unreal and delightful dream to see lovely
fir trees once more. Some of the hills were covered with regular forests of them, and I deeply
good grass everywhere, not the coarse and watery type of the tropical lowland, but the strong
and aromatic varieties of cool and healthy regions.
Cold rains set in and every day we were soaked to the skin by heavy showers. Thunder-
ening. In spite of the adverse weather conditions and heavy mists I rode along happy and sat-
easy for me.
I had been warned to avoid stopping in a village called Guilapa. This place had had a
very bad reputation for murder and assault for many years and, in spite of a contingent of
soldiers, expressly stationed there, conditions had not changed. However, although I tried to
pass through the place in the daytime, I arrived there so late in the evening that I had to stay
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