Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
By an odd custom, these Indian women lift their hats when
greeting friends or strangers along the trails.
have. Often I counted the gulps they swallowed, watching them go down their necks with the
regularity of the pulse. When they had taken their fill they would open their nostrils wide and
give a long snort, rather like a German when he has drained the last drop of beer out of his
massive pewter; and then they often pawed the water in play, as if annoyed at not being able
to drink more.
It was interesting to watch the Indians make their balsas, as the strange canoes on Lake
and pointed sausages, the ends being turned up. The sails are also made from the same plants,
but the long stems are split in two and tied together to make a large, square sheet, something
like a Japanese blind. The balsa is guided by means of a long pole, and if there happens to be
no wind, the same pole is used to propel it. Rough weather seems to make little difference to
them, and on one occasion while I was there, a heavy storm raged on the lake, but in spite of
the choppy waves the Indian fishermen were out in their balsas, and I was amazed to see how
they could keep their balance whilst their boats plunged and reared like bucking horses.
If the Indians happen to be ploughing a piece of land for the first time, they celebrate the
occasion by sticking many small flags into the ground, and the oxen which pull the primit-
ive wooden ploughs are also gaily decorated with pieces of coloured cloth and ribbons. Only
once or twice have I seen natives use modern steel ploughs, for they believe the steel poisons
the soil, and so they stick to the old system. Needless to say, chicha flows freely whereever
a new plot of land is being ploughed, women and children turning out in a body to witness
so important an event. As a rule, the Indians are very kind to their animals, and I have never
countries could learn from them!
One day, when I was hungry - a frequent occurrence - an Indian woman passed me, and
my mouth watered when I saw that the basket she was carrying on her head was full of eggs.
I immediately took out my dictionary and looked up what was the Aymara for eggs, and hav-
ing rehearsed my sesame I trotted after her, and showing a silver boliviano (one shilling and
sixpence), I said gauna (egg). Having examined my coin she emptied the whole basket on the
ground, and I think there must have been some fifty eggs there. I sucked as many as I could
and put a few into my pockets, and when I beckoned to the woman to take the rest away, she
with her load.
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