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This is one of numerous points of transshipment on the route between the Caribbean and Bogotá. It is here that the long voyage up the Magdalena, broken at one point in order to pass the rapids of Honda, is terminated, the remainder of the journey from here to Bogotá being by rail.
to furnish the required information, in the best Spanish at my command.
"Pues, agradezco la fineza de su merced, y perdóname," he said in parting. (I thank Your Grace for the courtesy, nevertheless; and please pardon me!)
FASHION STALKS THE STREETS OF
I have seen no place in all the world where more attention is given to dress than in this remote Andean city. Even the humblest citizen possesses a cutaway coat and silk hat, reserved to be worn only upon great occasions. Those who can afford it don this garb regularly in the afternoon, changing with almost equal regularity to evening dress at sundown. The use of the walking stick is universal.
Thus it is that the streets of Bogotá present the appearance of a European capital, with even more stress on formal attire than is at present customary in Europe. The tailors of Bogotá, and their name is legion, receive fashion plates from London and Paris by every mail and strive to outdo each other in dressing their patrons according to the latest styles.
This attention to dress extends even to shoes, and bootblacks swarm around the citizen with dirty footwear like flies around a molasses jug. Thinking to avoid this nuisance, I always made certain that my shoes were clean before sallying forth from my hotel. But it was of no avail. The bootblacks insisted on doing the work over again, and on many occasions fifteen minutes after one youngster had finished with me I have been approached by another who insisted on repeating the performance.
When one's shoes positively refuse to tolerate further application of polish, the energetic bootblack gets down on his knees, flicks imaginary dust from one's toes, and attempts to collect half the price of a full shine.
Needless to say, the result of all this attention to dress is highly pleasing to the visitor, who may find, however, that the clothes he has brought from home clothes which he has considered suitable for all occasions-fail to meet the rigid requirements of this South American capital, where formality is the rule, and few liberties are taken.
Daily, at 8 o'clock, Hernando called for me at my hotel, and we started out together for the market place. At this early hour the streets were empty, save for laborers going to their work; cargadores bringing in loads of fruits and vegetables from the surrounding country; and dignified señoras, closely veiled in black, hastening home from early mass. In the Plaza of San Francisco a few energetic students, out earlier than their fellows, were walking up and down, reading their lessons in a low monotone.
Here in Bogotá I soon realized that I had left behind the beans-corn-and-squash complex and had entered into a new region, the Andean zone, in which the potato replaces Indian corn to a large extent, while other root crops — cubios, hibias, arracachas, and chuguas-play important rôles (see pages 144, 145, 147).
I was interested in testing these products, so I arranged with the cook at my hotel to prepare them for me. With the exception of the potato, they are not often seen on the tables of the well-to-do; they are staples among the lower classes, but are relegated to the background by those who can afford to do so.
I think the arracacha is the one most likely to please the palate of a northerner. It suggests the parsnip in character, but is, to my mind, of better flavor and texture than that somewhat unappreciated vegetable. In the homes of the humbler folk— and sometimes, also, on the best tables in Bogotá, for this vegetable enjoys wide popularity small chunks of arracacha root are often found in the savory sancocho, a sort of South American Irish stew.
Drawn by A. H. Bumstead
I still remember those sancochos! When properly made, what really delectable dishes they can be! The mention of the word calls up memories of the Hotel Victoria and of mi señora Mercedes, who did the catering; generous, substantial soul was she, who, judging our capacity by her own, never failed to set before us meals which would satisfy the most ravenous appetite.
It was the cold season; Congress was in session, and three Deputies and a Senator honored the Victoria with their patronage. Nightly we gathered about the long table in the huge, chill, dimly lighted dining room, each of us wearing a heavy
With what pleasure we hailed the arrival of those steaming bowls of sancocho, destined to serve more effectively than any overcoat in keeping down the shivers
which were commencing to creep up our spines! What chunks of juicy beef, what thick slices of turnips and carrots, what succulent bits of arracacha, and of the golden, mealy, chestnut-flavored Andean potato were hidden in the bottom of that savory stew!
The hibia (Oxalis tuberosa) is a slender, pinkish-white tuber, which yields, when stewed with sugar, a product strikingly like green apple sauce. The cubio (Tropaeolum tuberosum), a white tuber about the size and shape of a small sweet potato, and the chugua (Ullucus sp.) are of a mucilaginous consistency and insipid flavor not likely to please the novice.
ONE OF THE MOST COMPLETE MARKETS OF
But to return to the market; it impressed me as one of the most complete I have seen in all tropical America. It occupies an entire city square of large size and is divided into a number of sections, each devoted to some particular product or group of products. Hernando knew just where to go for everything, and in response to my request would lead me to the best shops, those, perhaps, where he was known, and where, if I made a particularly large purchase, he felt at liberty to walk off with some small article by way of "commission."
Here was a long row of stalls, all handling nothing but root crops and grains: there another row, where fruits only were sold, and close beside it the vegetable section. Elsewhere were baskets and native articles of bamboo, as well as ropes, fiber sandals, pack saddles, and the like; and finally, along the northern edge of the inclosure, a row of tiny shops, boasting
Mountains rise almost abruptly at the eastern edge of the city of Bogotá. Along the lower slopes are the modest homes of the laboring classes, often scattered among groves of eucalyptus trees.
more dignity than the others, wherein the
THE RUANA IS A CARMENT OF GRACE AND
The ruana is the Colombian equivalent. of the poncho, so widely used elsewhere in Latin America. It is somewhat less ample than the latter, measuring usually four to five feet in diameter; it is square and made of two strips of native woolen cloth sewed together, leaving a slit in the center through which the head of the wearer can be thrust.
My description may not give the impression of an elaborate, nor yet an elegant, garment; but I have never seen anything more expressive of unaffected grace than the manner in which a country gentleman of the Colombian Andes dons his ruana when mounting for his morning ride about the hacienda. With one hand
he gathers up the folds and opens the slit in the center; then with a majestic toss he throws it over his head, allowing the folds to fall upon his back and shoulders. If the weather is fair, he turns up the two corners in front and drops them one over each shoulder.
For the cold winds and drizzling rains of the high Andes, there is no better garment than the ruana, unless it be the woolen poncho of Ecuador, thicker and larger, to meet the more rigorous climate to which its wearer is exposed. It is warm. it keeps out the rain, and at night it serves as a grateful addition to the slender allotment of blankets supplied by most Andean inns.
TRAVEL BY TRAIN IN COLOMBIA
"Hernando," I said one morning, addressing my companion of a week's stay in Bogotá, during which we had watched the market place daily for interesting