buy it, I gave them as much of the best as I could obtain, and incidentally this expense was
Whirlwinds were continuously lifting sand in high columns which danced about in the dis-
tance and around us like strange mythological giants.
I had been especially requested to pass through a small mining town, and as things turned
out, I was lucky to have written to the mayor, accepting his invitation, for when we arrived in
a small settlement, some twenty miles before our goal, it was already dark. The place seemed
to be deserted, for not a soul was to be seen. After riding up and down the one and only street,
a door opened and a man appeared. I asked him for the presidente municipal , whereupon he
slowly moved to another house, where he knocked. Several people came out, but the mayor
was not among them, and then this reinforcement joined in looking for the wanted man, until
finally we ran him to earth. Soon he brought a large key, a thing I had long ago learned to re-
cognise as the key of the 'town hall,' which invariably is an adobe hut like any other building,
except that it has a door with a big lock, and a dark gaol where all kinds of insects wait for
their next meal when a prisoner is brought in, prior to being brought before the juez (judge)
in the capital of the district. I was given quarters in the office (?), where I prepared my bed
by pushing two long wooden benches together, and placing my saddle blankets on them. The
horses were in the filthy back yard, which is usually the favourite latrine in such settlements;
as is the custom in some Latin American countries where lavatories have never been heard of
among most of the country people. The back yards of the 'town halls' are the preferred places
for discussing politics and hard times, weather conditions and social events, whilst squatting
where the walls afford shade.
Before leaving this subject, I must mention an amusing thing a man told me in Panama.
are kept clean for the sake of public health, and the neglect of these expensive installations
is sometimes punished with a fine. 'Señor,' this Panamanian told me, 'since the gringos have
invaded our happy shores, liberty has ceased to exist, for even the doing of our necessity has
been put under control!' This man, like many others, does not seem to appreciate what the
Anglo-Saxon race has done towards the sanitation of the world.
When I asked the mayor of the little Mexican settlement where I could purchase food and
fodder, he told me that it was so scarce in the place that they could not spare any, and I was
just getting ready to spend another night on water and tobacco only when a policeman arrived
on horseback. He had been sent by his chief in the mining town to look out for me, and to
order the presidente municipal of this settlement to attend to me. As if by magic, everything
that an hour before was not to be had, coffee, frijoles and hot tortillas , turned up, and soon the
horses were tearing dry cornstalks to pieces, and the formerly disobliging mayor could not do
enough for me until I left.
Next day I was met by many riders who had come to escort us into their town, where I had
to remain four days. When we reached the outskirts, the municipal band, consisting of some