if such it can be called, is thoroughly enjoyed by everybody, and I saw nothing but clean and
harmless humour displayed.
As soon as it was dark we all made ready to continue our march towards the sierras. The
country was very hilly and broken, and in places the trail was rocky, or again we rode through
forests or among a mass of cactus plants. Another fiesta was in store for me in the next small
village we touched and where my escort was relieved by a new one.
Of course there are no hotels or even inns in any of these small, primitive settlements,
where it is rare to see a stranger pass. We slept on the floor in front of the 'town hall', and the
horses were made safe in the courtyard. I was very tired, for, in addition to all the hard riding,
I had not had much sleep lately. However, try as I would, I was not allowed to retire to rest
until most of the men were drunk. A few had given trouble, and to make them safe until they
should recover they were locked up in the 'town hall', where they kept me awake by bellow-
ing all night.
rest for one day. A heavy rain fell that afternoon, and when some of the soldiers who had to
accompany me were frightened and ran to church to pray, I had a good guess that they were
afraid and probably not used to these wild mountain rivers. Their long-legged and fine-boned
horses did not inspire me with more confidence than the men, and I feared that they would be
about as much use in swift waters as a pocket in a shirt.
The next lap, over the sierras to Oaxaca, some 140 miles, proved to be a hard nut to crack.
We were now in very rugged, rough and mountainous country again, and as heavy rains had
fallen the bridgeless rivers were nasty propositions. Quite a number of the soldiers were un-
able to swim, and Mancha's tail was in great demand where waters were deep and swift, sev-
he had to wade over rocks, with a strong current reaching halfway up his flanks, he was re-
markably clever at forging his way through. Sometimes two or even three of us would get on
him to weigh him down more whilst others caught hold of his tail. Somehow he never objec-
off. When wading across swift-running rivers, horses often get giddy and fall, but luckily my
animals never seemed to be affected that way. If the rider's head begins to feel 'swimmy' the
best thing is not to look at the water but to fix his eyes on some object in the distance. Where
the current was so swift as to make it hard to keep standing, Mancha had a way of turning
his chest against the current and moving slowly sideways. He had learnt this trick by himself,
for obviously he had found out that in this way he offered less resistance to the water than by
exposing his flanks, and it was easier for him to keep his balance. Often the water and foam
splashed high over his head and body, but in spite of it he kept serene and slowly continued
towards the bank.
The part we were going through was practically uninhabited, but once or twice we camped
in tumbledown huts that hadlong ago been abandoned owing to the revolutions.