tomary way of doing this among the gauchos of the pampas. All day long we wound our way
through high quebradas , where not a living being was to be seen, and had it not been for the
shifting clouds above I might have believed myself to be travelling through a vast tomb, for
the stillness of these places is most impressive. Towards evening we reached the top of a long
incline, and from there I beheld a panorama that would defy the brush of the cleverest master.
Straight to the west, in front of us, the main mesa of Bolivia spread in all its vastness at
our feet, and the evening sun made Lake Popo glitter like a huge golden mirror on which the
gorgeously coloured clouds were reflected like rolling masses of molten ore. Far beyond the
lake I could see the dark and shaggy outline of the next mountain range, and to the north and
south the vast, flat and barren mesa or altiplano, lost itself in glimmering horizons. It seemed
impossible that this lake is over 11,000 feet above sea level, and only then did I fully realise
how high up we had been for the last two or three weeks.
I could have remained there until dark, watching these heavenly fireworks, but knowing
that our trail down would be long and steep, and possibly even dangerous in parts, I lost no
time, and when I had re-saddled the horses we started off along the rocky trail. I was glad to
think that we would soon hit the railroad that passes towards La Paz, and that we would make
better time on the plain below. Night overtook us long before we had reached the plain, but
fortunately the moon was bright, and so we could see sufficiently to continue without running
Tired and weary we entered a little village where most of the people were already asleep.
After no little trouble I found the house of the local autoridad , where I was given shelter for
the night. The horses fed and watered and having eaten a few bites myself, I was shown a
room where I could sleep. I found the place packed with Indians, who were curled up in their
blankets on the floor, and after making some of them shift I had enough room to squeeze in
my saddles and myself. Next day there was to be a fiesta , and for this reason these men had
arrived in good time to start merrymaking early in the morning.
Although the atmosphere in the stuffy room was not what health apostles might recom-
mend, and in spite of a regular mass attack of crawlers and jumpers, I was soon dreaming
about more pleasant things, and never stirred until one of the early risers stumbled over me in
La Paz, and as there was an abundance of fodder here I decided to stay, although my quarters
were anything but attractive; after all, I had been in many more uncomfortable, and further
along my luck might be even worse.