Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small][merged small]

His crutch, mute evidence of his affliction, is prominently displayed in front of him. The well-worn sandal with rope sole, known as alpargata, is of the type brought from Spain by the

conquerors.

been picked to take home, and we bundled ourselves off to the station once more.

I had the pleasure of visiting the northern part of the sabana a second time, on which occasion Hernando and I traveled to the end of the railway line at Nemocón; and then, taking to the highroad, we tramped back toward Bogotá a distance of 10 or 15 miles, collecting plants along the wayside.

It was another such day as the sabana had given me at Cajicá: the air was fresh and cool, while the fields of corn and barley rustled softly in the breeze. The broad plain stretched away on either side, dotted with the houses of great haciendas and with the small homes of humbler folk.

Clumps of eucalyptus trees broke the monotony here and there.

THE ANCIENT CHIBCHA INDIANS WERE AN INDUSTRIOUS PEOPLE

I had been reading the history of Colombia during spare moments in Bogotá, and it was not difficult for me, as I trudged along the broad road, to repeople these fields, in imagination, with Chibcha Indians, just as they were in the days before the Conquest.

They must have led industrious lives. With no domestic animals to assist them in the cultivation of the land, nor with any of large size for use as food, they tilled the fields with their own hands, and

[graphic]

wrought from them a living in the form of maize, potatoes, the other Andean root crops which I have mentioned earlier in this article (see text, page 132), and a few more foodstuffs.

According to a Colombian authority, Vicente Restrepo, the Chibchas were one of two native American races which made use of money in carrying on trade. Their coins, he says, were small disks of gold. They had many gold ornaments, also, as well as emeralds, which were found abundantly in their territory. The emerald mines of Colombia are to-day one of the world's principal sources of these precious

stones.

They had an accurate calendar and hieroglyphic figures attached to certain numerals which referred to phases of the moon, sowing and harvesting of crops, and to certain superstitions, but they had not attained to the development of a written language.

Photograph by Wilson Popenoe

A BASKET OF COLOMBIAN BERRIES

Hernando Zamora, the author's native assistant, is here seen exhibiting a basket of fruit gathered in the mountains of El Peñón, on the road to Fusagasugá. These berries are sometimes sold in the markets of Bogotá, but they are never produced in cultivation. In color and flavor they strongly resemble loganberries. The plant will not withstand much frost and must have a cool, moist climate: hence it seems improbable that it can be grown successfully in many parts of the United States.

Along with their virtues they apparently had some vices, for the early chroniclers pictured their fiestas or celebrations as debauches of the worst sort. At the time of the Conquest their territory comprised only the sabana of Bogotá, about 150 miles long by 40 wide at the broadest point, yet it is believed that they numbered more than a million souls.

They were ruled by two chiefs, the Zipa and the Zaque, one in the north and the other in the south. They had a complex religious system; the sun and moon were objects of adoration, and they preserved traditions of ancient worthies who had preached to them and who had been

converted, in the course of ages, into heroes and demigods.

Such, then, was the race which peopled this plain when Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada came upon the scene and founded the city of Bogotá, in 1538. The Chibchas did not achieve a civilization as high as that of the Aztecs in Mexico, the Maya in Guatemala and Yucatan, or the Incas in Peru; yet they were making progress and might have gone far, had not the cata

[graphic][merged small]

POTATO VENDERS IN THE MARKET OF BOGOTÁ

The Colombian capital's great market place is divided into a number of sections, each of which is occupied by the venders of some particular group of products; thus there is the pottery section (see page 146), the basketry section, one devoted to fruits, another to root crops, and so on.

clysm of the Spanish Conquest wiped offer, with a few tins of bacon, crackers, them off the map.

DEPARTURE BY TRAIN IS A CIVIC
CEREMONY

More and more, as I rambled about the plateau, I became possessed with the desire to go down to Honda, on the Magdalena River, and, following the old overland route, travel on foot back to Bogotá. This would bring me over the trail built by the Spanish in colonial days-the same trail which was used by Colombians of modern times until the railway from Girardot was constructed.

The journey promised to be a hard one if I made it on foot, as I planned. I wanted a companion, and finally persuaded Thompson, of the American Legation in Bogotá, to accompany me. We provided ourselves with two of the best native-made ruanas the market could

sardines, and other comestibles, and then, at 6 o'clock on a chilly morning, made our way down to the railway station.

In many inland cities of Latin America the departure of the daily, semiweekly, or perhaps weekly train for the coast is an event of social importance. In few of them, however, does it assume the international aspect which attaches to the departure of the train for Girardot. Bogotá is a large city, by Latin American standards, and the people do not have overly much to amuse them. Furthermore, travel from this remote Andean capital to the Caribbean coast is not really heavy.

For all these reasons, the Bogotanos rarely fail to take full advantage of the departure of a friend for Europe or the United States. They come down to the train an hour before it is scheduled to leave-7 o'clock in the morning; there are

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

The poorer classes in the outskirts of Bogotá, who are unable to have water piped into their homes, obtain their supply daily from the nearest pila, or open tank.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

A COMFORTABLE COUNTRY RESIDENCE NEAR FACATATIVÁ

Well-to-do farmers of the Colombian highlands live in attractive homes such as this, built usually of adobe bricks covered with plaster, and sometimes, as in this particular instance, with brightly colored landscapes painted upon the walls.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

During the days of Spanish colonial administration an excellent road was built from Bogotá across the Andes to Honda, on the Magdalena River, whence the seaports of the Caribbean coast could be reached by boat. With the coming of the railroad, in relatively recent times, this road is no longer as important as in the past, but it is still much used, especially for the transportation of freight by mule trains.

flowers and sweetmeats to be presented; and good-byes are said and resaid many times before the train finally pulls out.

It is considered a particularly nice touch for a gentleman to accompany his friends as far as Facatativá, whence he can return to Bogotá on the afternoon train. I have also been told that Bogotanos still remember with singular affection an American minister of years gone by who always entertained his friends at a sumptuous banquet on the eve of their departure. After the party broke up at the first streak of dawn, he accompanied them to the train in his evening clothes and, dressed in this Bohemian fashion, rode with them to Girardot, a whole day's journey from the capital!

TRAVELERS AND THEIR HORSES PROCEED
ON THE SAME TRAIN

Two sharp blasts from the whistle indicated that we were about to start. There was a tremendous scrambling on board, accompanied by an equally tremendous

scrambling off the train of friends who had come to say good-bye. We pulled out across the sabana.

Prosperous-looking ranchmen, dressed in full riding outfit, spurs included, clambered down from our car at each small station. Their riding animals, saddled and ready for the road, were traveling in a stock car on the same train. The door was opened and the horse led out; its owner mounted, dug his spurs into the animal's flanks, and was off across the plain. The convenience of the system aroused our frank admiration.

At Facatativá, while changing cars, everyone had time to take a cup of steaming coffee, always a grateful opportunity in the chilly air of this altitude-more than 8,500 feet above the sea-and then we started down the steep slopes of the escarpment, our small engines, one ahead and one in the rear, puffing vigorously as they strove to hold down our speed.

Everyone in Colombia knows Esperanza. It is, or was originally, a coffee

« PreviousContinue »