Travel Reference
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I had to sleep among drunken people in the same house where I had spent the previous night,
but I was getting so used to it that it hardly worried me.
where I was at last able to make the horses trot again, a thing that had been impossible up in
the mountains where I often considered myself lucky to have been able to proceed at all. Very
little is to be seen in this flat desert, and often we were short of water. The atmosphere is so
dry and clear that one can see enormous distances, which is the case throughout the Bolivian
highland. I did not follow the railway line, leaving it to our west, for along the route I had
chosen I knew that we would pass several villages where I was likely to find fodder for the
In one of those small places I ran into another of the many fiestas I saw in that happy land,
and this time the Indians were dancing a kind of devil dance. The musicians were standing
in a circle playing on huge drums or on strangely-shaped flutes. They were wearing enorm-
ous headgear of brightly-coloured feathers, mounted on light bamboo frames, and I could not
help thinking of my friends up near the lagoon. Other men were dressed up as devils and
some as what, to me, appeared intended to represent ugly Spanish conquerors with hideous
with double noses; in short, these disguises were the most grotesque I had ever seen. None of
the women were disguised, but forming a long snake line, led by a devil, they threaded their
way in and out among the musicians, and the disguised men jumped around within the circle,
shrieking and yelling whilst crowds of other Indians looked on with great solemnity.
After some extremely dull journeys we arrived in Oruro, a relatively busy town that owes
findout,thereisnohistoryattached tothem.Miragesareverycommononthealtiplano, andI
often thought I could see water ahead, and even the mountains had the appearance of floating
islands. Often I turned back to have a look at the country we had just left behind us, and lo!
even those stretches appeared to be vast lagoons.
I had hoped to find good fodder for the horses in Oruro, but here also there was nothing
but barley straw. At first my animals had trouble with the bristles of the barley ears, for many
of them stuck in their gums, which became very sore and seemed to cause considerable dis-
sores, which I did with a stick around one end of which I had wrapped a piece of cloth, using
it much in the same way as a toothbrush.
I took quarters in quite a fair hotel facing the main plaza, but when the owner first saw me
he obviously had his doubts about admitting so rough a specimen of humanity as I looked in
my leather suit, with my firearms and horribly chapped and burnt face. In the dining-room I
was placed into the farthest corner, and the sheepish looks some of the diners gave me were a
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