Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
the navy. The barracks are of modern construction and kept spotlessly clean, and I found the
officers and men thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Leaving Tucuman I took a northerly direction towards the Bolivian frontier. I was happy
to have reached the Andes, but I was much more pleased when I waved my last farewell to
them, nearly one year later, in the extreme north of the continent. For a few days we travelled
through green sugar-cane fields where Bolivian Indians and mestizos (half-castes) were busy
cutting the cane with large 'machetes' (long, broad knives, some two feet in length). The ap-
parently simple operation of cutting sugarcane requires great skill before the necessary speed
and endurance are acquired, and I was fascinated watching these men do their work. The set-
tlements and villages in this sector are about as primitive as I have ever seen, and the huts are
usually swarming with insects of all kinds. The majority of the men are heavy drinkers, and
here, unlike all other parts of the Argentine I know, drunkenness is not only common but gen-
eral. Strange to say, I found similar conditions all the way up the Andes as far as the extreme
north of the continent and later in Central America and Mexico; as the U.S. is theoretically
'dry' my observations in this line have to stop at the very wet Rio Grande.
In the town of Tucuman I could not help noticing the many exceedingly pretty and well-
dressed girls, but once out in the open, on my way towards the Bolivian border, I found the
type to be much darker and showing a very strong strain of Indian blood. Girls of eleven and
twelve years are fully developed, and mothers of that age are not uncommon
Entering the Mighty Andes
FromTucuman norththe country isverypicturesque andthe mountain trails lead throughfine
forests and through deep quebradas (gulleys) or again along vast and rocky riverbeds, and of-
ten we were threading our way along giddy paths on mountainsides with deep precipices in
of year when the rivers were low, and it could easily be seen what these must be like when
they come romping down in full flood, on their way down to the distant Atlantic.
Occasionally a rider crossed us, probably on his way to the next settlement or on some er-
rand to, the distant town. The shaggy and sturdy mountain ponies were usually saddled and
rigged out in their best and the rider wore some gaily coloured poncho and carried his few
belongings in saddlebags behind on the animals' haunches. It is no use asking these people
the way, for they have only one answer and will invariably reply, ' siga derecho no mas ' (just
go straight ahead), although the trail may wind and twist through a regular labyrinth of deep
canyons and valleys. If one enquires as to the distance to the next place the monotonous and
aggravating reply is always ' aquí á la vuelta no mas ' (here, just round the corner), or cer-
quita , which means 'quite close', although there may be scores of bends and side valleys and
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