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overnight. Lucidly I had a recommendation to the coronel and another to the capitan, and so I
asked them if I might spend the night under their wing. To this they immediately agreed, and
I was invited to accommodate myself as best I could.
Thevillage, like all others ofits typeinGuatemala, wasfilthy anddepressing. Thebareplaza,
with its dilapidated church that had not been open within the remembrance of generations,
and a few irregular rows of tiled shacks is about all there is to be seen. A few ducks enjoyed
themselves in pools of slimy, stagnant water and pigs were wallowing in the mud, or roamed
about scavenging. The soldiers were mostly dark half-caste Indians and wore what had once
heavy sandals. The rifles were of all sorts of ancient models, and the gun-straps were made of
bits of rope, hide, and even of string. Some of the officers had no uniforms, but as a distin-
guishing mark they wore stripes on their sleeves and machetes instead of swords.
Here, as in Mexico, the soldiers are not fed by the State, but have to go to stalls or huts to
the trouble of taking me there.
I was no novice when it came to looking after myself, and long before anybody else
thought about it I had cleaned the floor in the best corner, arranged my pack and saddles, and
laid out my bed. As usual, the saddle served as pillow, whilst the by this time battered sheep-
skins and horse blankets took the place of mattress. Whenever I could find it I bought insect
powder, which I freely sprinkled into the wool of the skins.
place. They did not march in formation, but any way they liked. Some came far ahead, singly
or in pairs, and half an hour must have elapsed before the last stragglers came plodding along.
Some time after about twenty men had thus passed, the officer in charge appeared, mounted
on a mule. He had obviously halted along the road at a few huts where aguardiente (alcohol)
is sold, for he was so drunk that he nearly fell off his mount.
When it was dark the soldiers burnt splinters of fir wood that served as candles in our
'barracks'. Presently some prisoners who were locked up in dark and musty calabozos in
the backyard were brought before the coronel in twos. They were examined and cross-ex-
amined, thundered at and insulted, but only one was turned loose. All the others were once
more cooped up in the darkness and stench of the jail.
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