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although the noise around us was deafening and the very ground was quivering, they never
tried to move, for obviously even they knew that the safest place was behind the rock where
we huddled together.
The hurricane only lasted a few minutes, and then the sky cleared with the same sudden-
ness as it had darkened, and before I could give the Indian some coca leaves I always carried
for this purpose he had disappeared down the steep slope.
to feel uncomfortable. More than once, when Indians saw me with this hideous protection,
they ran away shouting and screeching with fright, for they must have taken me for some evil
In former times there were official government resting-places along the main trails in
Bolivia, and these were called postas , but today only very few of them exist. In days gone
by the postas were, roughly, twenty miles distant from each other and there the needy trav-
eller could hire Indians to act as guides and to carry some of the pack, and at the same time
fodder could be obtained at reasonable prices. Many of these places had mules which were
hired to carry people and pack, and thus a person was able to go from one posta to the oth-
er without having to buy his own beasts. A few of these places were still working when I
travelled through Bolivia, but owing to the recently constructed railroad they were no longer
working as much as they had done previously.
High up, in a cold and barren region, I stopped at the first posta , consisting of a large, one-
Indians who were wearing loosely-fitting trousers that had once been white, heavy ponchos
and knitted skull-caps. In the middle of the room there was a large table, made entirely out of
stone, and along the walls I noticed some long, square stone blocks, which I later found out
were the beds on which the weary traveller has to make himself as comfortable as possible
black biscuit which is called tanta , this being the Indian word for bread. Shortly before sun-
set several other Indians arrived, and it was obvious that they had been working their little
plots of land high up on the mountain sides. As usual, I gave them coca leaves and a cigarette
each, after which they were the best of friends, and then I showed them a few simple conjur-
ing tricks I happened to remember, and I should not be surprised if they are still talking about
that wonderful entertainment today. In the morning I let them look through my field-glasses,
a mysterious marvel that seemed to fascinate them in the extreme and, judging by their signs,
they must have thought field-glasses were intended to make the mountains appear to be dan-
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