Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
who had arrived, and came to interview me in the evening; next day the change of attitude in
the dining-room was very marked.
Oruro is by no means an attractive town, for most of its houses are old-fashioned, and
many of them as dirty as are its rough cobble-stone-paved streets. The horses were lodged in
a tambo , as public corrals are called there, and when I went to feed them I found two young
Beau Brummells in the corral, one of them chasing the horses around the small enclosure by
hitting them with his walking-stick. I introduced myself to these caballeros in language that
suited the occasion, whereupon one told me that he merely wished to see if the animals had
a good gallop. I recommended both of them to go to a certain place, or at least to do me the
favour of leaving the corral I had hired. One of them protested, and added that he considered
these horses to be public property, and that he could do as he liked in his town, and then he
turned and hit one of the frightened horses once more. I fully realise that every dog is entitled
to bark in his own kennel, but it is out of place for a puppy to try to bark like a dog, and had
that caballero carried this in mind, he would have saved himself a sound beating and being
rolled in the filth of the corral. Before disappearing he swore that he would have me prosec-
uted for so vile and brutal an offence against the dignity of a Bolivian gentleman, but that was
the last I heard and saw of him.
After leaving Oruro we once more went towards the mountain range, leaving the railroad
tothewest.Wepassedthroughseveralmiserablevillages,insomeofwhich fiestas werebeing
celebrated. In one place I was invited to join the dance, and when I started to hop and charge
about like a Jersey heifer the onlookers were delighted, and asked me if this was the way we
were accustomed to dance.
We were still among Aymara Indians, and I was able to see a great deal of their ways and
habits, and to observe what kind of treatment they receive at the hands of the corregidores , as
the government officials are called, most of whom are mestizos. No office is without its bull-
whip, which is used more often than the occasion might possibly demand, and considering all
in all, I am surprised that uprisings do not take place with more frequency.
Once I saw an Indian murderer brought into the office where I was given shelter for the
was easy to guess what it was all about. The accused man stood against one of the walls with
the corregidor , a dark-skinned specimen with bloodshot eyes and a thin, drooping Chinese
moustache. Being strictly on business, he had his whip in his hand, and every now and again
struck the accused man with it, on the head, in the face, or wherever he wished. The accusers
were kneeling on the floor in a semi-circle, the men in front and the women behind. At times
all started to chatter at once, and then the corregidor stepped in among them and lashed his
terrible whip in all directions in order to restore quiet. The poor Indians merely doubled up,
covering themselves with their arms and ponchos, and neither women nor children escaped
the blind fury of this human monster, but no more than a suppressed or muffled exclamation
of pain ever escaped these stoics. My fingers fairly itched to pull my guns out of their holsters
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