Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
thebestaremadefromtheskinofthe carpincho orwaterhog.Thesearefasteneddownwitha
narrow over-cinch. This gives the rider the appearance of a man sitting astride a dining-table,
but yet the gaucho of the pampas seems very comfortable in this strange saddle.
I slept very soundly that night and next day proceeded on my journey.
After this one day was like another; there was nothing to be seen but flat country, the only
thing to break the monotony being a very occasional boliche or wayside inn. Here - although
necessities,chattingoveraglassofwine,orplaying bochas ,agameresemblingbowls,except
that the bowl is thrown instead of rolled.
silver there is about the belt the greater the owner's pride. These knives are not primarily for
fighting, as some people imagine, but for practical use; killing and skinning cattle, repairing
leather, cutting the meat at meals. It is an uncommon thing today to hear of a serious fight,
and if knives are drawn it is usually out of bravado. Occasionally serious harm is done, and to
prevent this there is a law that every man on entering an inn must hand over his arms to the
proprietor. This law is more honoured in the breach than the observance and sometimes when
the news arrives that a policeman is approaching there is a scramble to hand over weapons
before his entrance. When a fight does occur the landlord is held responsible.
Inthevillagesthetwoplaceswherepeopleassemblearethestationandthe almacen .Inthe
turns out to greet it. In the almacen - the word really means a store - almost anything can be
obtained, and it is the news centre of the district. As long as it is open there will be horses tied
to the posts outside, patiently waiting for their masters who are inside making purchases or
having a game of cards over a drink and, of course, gossiping. The acknowledged king of the
place is the local comisario (chief of police). A vigilante has to be on the platform when the
train is in and the rest of his time is usually spent round about the almacen . Although people
spend a long time over their drinks they really do not drink very much, and there is very little
drunkenness among the Argentines, except in the north where possibly a large strain of Indian
unprincipled dealer has diluted a jar of wine with two or three jars of water and then fortified
the mixture with a bottle of cana (spirit made from the sugar-cane) in which tobacco has been
steeped. This concoction has a punch more powerful than Dempsey's best and is the cause of
a lot of trouble and even if the victims do not get into a fight, they are totally unfit for work
the next day.
The weather continued abominable, but fortunately I was in no hurry, for I had calculated
onreaching the Bolivian borderinAugustwhich marks the commencement ofthe dryseason.
I slept under cover whenever possible and was usually fortunate. One evening I arrived at a
monastery and as it was getting late decided to try my luck. Having knocked at the door and
been duly inspected through a small window, I was admitted, and found myself in an Irish
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