Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Chapter I: From La Guaira...
 Chapter II: Caracas
 Chapter III: Excursions about...
 Chapter IV: Valleys of Aragua and...
 Chapter V: Valencia and Puerto...
 Chapter VI: Over the mountains...
 Chapter VII: Baul and San...
 Chapter VIII: Afloat upon...
 Chapter IX: Urbana
 Chapter X: Up the Orinoco
 Chapter XI: The great cataracts...
 Chapter XII: Atabapo and upper...
 Chapter XIII: Voyage down the Rio...
 Chapter XIV: From Panama to...
 Chapter XV: Crossing the Andes
 Chapter XVI: Quito
 Chapter XVII: Mountains about the...
 Chapter XVIII: Over the Eastern...
 Chapter XIX: Beneath the fores...
 Chapter XX: Canoe-voyage down the...
 Chapter XXI: The upper Amazons
 Chapter XXII: The lower Amazon...
 Map of northern South America

Group Title: Life and nature under the tropics: or, Sketches of travels among the Andes, and on the Orinoco, Rio Negro, Amazons, and in Central America
Title: Life and nature under the tropics
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00073981/00001
 Material Information
Title: Life and nature under the tropics
Physical Description: 3 p. l., v-xvi, 358 p. : 7 pl. (incl. front.) fold. map. ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Myers, Henry Morris, d. 1872
Myers, Phillip Van Ness, 1846-1937
Publisher: D. Appleton and company
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1871
Edition: Rev. ed.
Subject: Scientific expeditions   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- South America   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Honduras   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: By H.M. and P.V.N. Myers.
General Note: Narrative of a scientific expedition sent out by the Lyceum of natural histroy of Williams college in the summer of 1867. The present edition includes a brief record of an expedition to Honduras in 1870-1871.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00073981
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000608340
oclc - 22945394
notis - ADD7471

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
    Chapter I: From La Guaira to Caracas
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 2a
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Chapter II: Caracas
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 10a
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Chapter III: Excursions about Caracas
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    Chapter IV: Valleys of Aragua and Valencia
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    Chapter V: Valencia and Puerto Cabello
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
    Chapter VI: Over the mountains to the Llanos - afloat in the forest
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 74a
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
    Chapter VII: Baul and San Fernando
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
    Chapter VIII: Afloat upon the Llanos
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    Chapter IX: Urbana
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
    Chapter X: Up the Orinoco
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 140a
    Chapter XI: The great cataracts of the Orinoco
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
    Chapter XII: Atabapo and upper Rio Negro
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
    Chapter XIII: Voyage down the Rio Negro
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
    Chapter XIV: From Panama to Bodegas
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 204a
        Page 205
        Page 206
    Chapter XV: Crossing the Andes
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
    Chapter XVI: Quito
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
    Chapter XVII: Mountains about the valley of Quito
        Page 238
        Page 238a
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
    Chapter XVIII: Over the Eastern Cordillera
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 254a
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
    Chapter XIX: Beneath the forest
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 270a
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
    Chapter XX: Canoe-voyage down the Rio Napo
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
    Chapter XXI: The upper Amazons
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
    Chapter XXII: The lower Amazons
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
    Map of northern South America
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
Full Text

-1 ~4~ ---.-- h

A1 r c



\ ^-








90, 92 & 94


ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.











"Nowhere does Nature more deeply impress us with a sense of her great.
ness, nowhere does she speak to us more forcibly, than in the tropical

"It is a goodly sight to see
What Heaven has done for this delicious land I
What fruits of fragrance blush on every tree,
What good prospects o'er the hills expand:
But man would mar them with an impious hand."


THE following pages are a narrative of a scientific
expedition from Williams College to the tropical re-
gions of South America. The Lyceum of Natural
History of this institution has sent out several expe-
ditions to different localities that have presented them-
selves as favorable fields for new and interesting re-
search. The one whose:history is given in this volume
was sent out in the summer of 1867. Upon its first
inception, Prof. A. Hopkins was intending to accom-
pany the expedition; but business and educational re-
lations having rendered this impossible, an invitation
was extended to Prof. James Orton, of Rochester Uni-
versity, to take charge, and was accepted.
Colonel P. Staunton, Vice-Chancellor of Ingham
University, Leroy, N. Y., accompanied the expedition
as its artist; the party was also joined by F. S. Wil-
liams, Esq., of Albany, N. Y.; Messrs. A. Bushnell,
W. Gilbert, R. H. Forbes, and the authors, were the
members from Williams College. The expedition was
formed into two divisions: one, consisting of three
members, Messrs. Gilbert, Forbes, and H. M. Myers,
proceeding from Caracas, upon the northern coast,


penetrated to the Amazons, by the courses of the Ori-
noco and Rio Negro; the other party crossed the con-
tinent from the west, first ascending the Andes to
Quito, then descending the slope of the Eastern Cor-
dillera to the Rio Napo, and, by a canoe-voyage down
that stream, reaching the Amazons, which was followed
to its mouth.
As the scientific results of the western branch have
been given to the public by Prof. Orton, we have
made brief the portion of our narrative referring to
that division; yet, while divesting it of details, we have
made sufficient noting of our experiences and observa-
tions to give completeness to our history. Portions of
the work have been taken, with but few incidental
corrections, from articles written by us while upon our
tour, or after our return, and which have appeared in
different papers and periodicals. Neither part is dis-
tinctly that of either author; but in the preparation
of the work we have freely interchanged notes and
While giving, in our boyish way, mainly the results
of our own observations, we have not failed to avail
ourselves of the labors of others, and have carefully
examined the few works within our reach relative to
the regions traversed. In the first portion of our work
we have been guided by the Travels of the eminent
German naturalist, Humboldt, to whose observations
we have made frequent allusions in the course of our
narrative; to the graphically-written work of Paez we
are also indebted for many suggestions; upon Ecuador,
Hassaurek's "Four Years among Spanish-Americans "
has been almost our only guide. The greater portion 1
of the volume is devoted to the Orinoco, Rio Negro,


and the Andes. We have given but two chapters on
the Amazons, for the wonders of that river have been
made known by such writers as Agassiz, Wallace, and
Bates, and many earlier travellers, and to these writers
we would refer those of our readers who may desire a *
better knowledge of the valley of the Great River.
The desire of many that a complete narrative of the
expedition from our college should be given in a per-
manent form, and our own wish that others might
share with us the pleasure we experienced in viewing
a tropical Nature in those equatorial regions where she
presents herself in forms so strange and grand, coupled
with the fact that so little has been written upon those
interesting portions of the continent to which sections
our work is principally devoted, are the only considera-
tions that could have led us to undertake the preparation
of the present volume. We are conscious that our work
has all the imperfections incident to a first effort, and
that its kind reception can come only through the kindly
indulgence of our readers.
The illustrations which embellish the work are prin-
cipally from our own sketch-book, and are, for the most
part, representations of natural scenery. In this con-
nection we would express our especial indebtedness to
Miss F. A. Snyder, to whom our sketches were submit-
ted to be prepared for the engraver.
The expedition is under deep indebtedness to the
Smithsonian Institution, which provided instruments
for making meteorological observations, and secured
transportation of collections, besides giving essential
aid in other ways.
We desire to express our kindest thanks to Dr. Asa
Gray, for the identification of many of our plants; to


Don Ramon Paez, of Venezuela, for valuable assistance
rendered us in the preparation of our work; to Senor
E. Staal, of Valencia, for much information kindly
given us; to Mr. James Henderson, of ParA, J. F.
SReeve, Esq., of Guayaquil, and Dr. William Jameson,
of Quito, for many favors. We would also express
our deep obligations to Prof. A. Hopkins, for valuable
suggestions and kind encouragement ih our work; to
Dr. J. Torrey, for the examination of plants.submitted
to him; to R. H. Forbes, our fellow-traveller, for notes
generously placed at our disposal; to Albert Bushnell,
also our friend and companion; to C. P. Williams, Esq.,
of Albany; to W. P. Palmer, Esq., and Cyrus W. Field,
Esq., of New York; and to R. B. Hall, Esq., of Ash-
field, Mass. Nor would we forget to acknowledge our
indebtedness to Captain Lee, of Guayaquil, to Captain
Raygado, of the Peruvian steamer Morona," to Com-
mandante Cardozo, of the Brazilian steamer Icami-
Aba," on the Amazons, and to the many other friends
that have aided us, and whose favors are gratefully re-
WILLIAMS COLLEGE, November, 1870.


First View of the Tropics.-Silla-La Guaira.-Fortiflcations.-Custom-
house "Reasonableness." -Ascent of the Cordillera.-Picturesque
Scenery.-Arrival at Caracas PAGE

Valley of Caracas.-Site of the City.--Houses.-Cathedral.-Public Build-
ings.-Pulperias.-Earthquake of 1812.-People.-Dress.-Education.
-Literature.-Religion.-Cemeteries 9

Trip to the Cave of Encantado.-Railroad.-Thunder-storm.-Petare.-A
Hopeful Student.-Experience at a Posada.-The Cave.-Pineapple-
Plant.-Calabash-Tree.-Yuca-Shrub.-Death of Mr. Wilson.-La
Valle.-Cerro de Avila 20

Departure from Caracas.-Scenery of the Rio Guaira.-Beautiful View
from Mount Higuerote.-The "Garden of Venezuela."-Victoria.-
Spanish Extortion.-A Word on Mules.-Venezuelian Coaches.-Mara-
cai.-Castilian Etiquette.-Fast in a Stream.-Entrance into Valen-
cia.-The City.-Lake Tacarigua 30


Hacienda of Mr. GlOckler.-Coffee.-Cacao.-Tiger-Hunt.-A Tropical
Forest.-Lost on the Mountains.-A Cheerless Night.-Exit from the
Wilds.-Return to Valencia.-Descent to the Sea-coast.-Papaw-
Tree.-" Cow-Tree."-Thermal Springs.-Discomforts of Life at a
Hacienda.-Cocoa-Palm.-Mangroves.-Puerto Cabello PAGE 44

Water-system of South America.-Our Route.-Leave Puerto Cabello.-
Last Visit to Valencia.-A South American Road.-Fording a River.-
Wild Scenery.-Night at a Posadn.-First View of Llanos.-Their Ex-
tent and General Features.-Town of Pao.-Embarked for Baul.-Our
Bongo.-" Very bad" to wash before Breakfast.-Palms.-Bam-
boos.-Alligators.-Howling Monkeys.-Lost in the Forest.-Navigat-
ing under Difficulties.-Shooting Rapids.-Night at a Llano Hut 58

Over the Flooded Llanos.-Abundance of Animated Life.-On the Rio
Trinaco.-A Tropical Shower.-Sickness.-Arrival at Baul.-One of
the Party Homeward bound.-Sad Reflections.-Stay at Baul.-Down
the Portuguesa.-Arrival at San Fernando.-The Town.-Preparations
for continuing our Voyage.-A Deliberate Crew 81

Aspect of the Inundated Plains.-Wild Horses and Cattle.-Crocodiles.-
Anacondas.-Electric Eels.-Cannibal-Fish.-Experiences upon the
Payara.-Myriads of Aquatic Birds.-A Breakfast and Cock-fight.-
Manati, or "Sea-cow."-Upon the Arauca.-Over Flooded Savan-
nas.-At Asaiba.-Niguas.-Jaguar.-Abnormal Butchering.-Em-
barked for the Orinoco.-Navigating Submerged Forest.-Lost upon
the Llanos.-An Uncomfortable Night.-Arrival upon the Orinoco.
The Orinoco.-Preparations for entering Urbana.-Reception at the Town.
-A Fiesta-Day.-Our Quarters.-Smoking out Bats.-Description of


Town.-Ascent of Cerro.-Picturesque View.-Harper's Weekly.-
Insects and Birds.-Annoying Delays.-Arrangements for Voyage up
the Orinoco PAE 111



Farewell to Urbana.-Strait of Baraguan.-Mirage.-IHarvest of Turtles'
Eggs.-Camp of Indians.-Santa Barbara.-Indian Simplicity and Be-
liefs.-Features of the River.-Castillo de los Espafioles.-A Legend.-
Piedra del Tigre.-Music in the Rocks.-Raudal de Cariben.-Rio
Meta.-A Wild Scene.-Bats and Other Annoyances 123



Grandeur of the Rapids of Atures.-Passing the Cataracts.-Village of
Atures.-Weapons of the Natives.-Suffering from Insects,-Cave of
Ataruipe.-Beautiful Palms.-Arrive at the Raudales de Maypures.-
Magnificent View of the Cataracts.-Thanksgiving Dinner.-Village
of Maypures.-Nature's Chronometer.-Farewell to the Orinoco.-At
San Fernando de Atabapo 141



Village of San Fernando.-Ship-building.-Voyage up the Atabapo.-Its
Peculiar Features.-Arrival at Javita.-Portage to Pimichin.-Down
the Pimichin.-Rio Negro.-Village of Mor6a.-Scarcity of Food.-
Repairing a Yankee Clock.-Arrangements for Voyage to the Ama-
zons.-Leave Mor6a.-San Carlos.-Enter Brazil 158



First Glimpse of Portuguese Civilization.-Climate.-Cross the Equator.-
Cataracts of San Gabriel.-Grand Scenery.-Desertion of Guide.-
India-Rubber Manufacture.-Christmas on the Rio Negro.-Floating
at Night.-Beauty of the Southern Firmament.-Lost on the River.-
Barcellos.-Geology of the Rio Negro.-Desolation of the River.-
Reach Mana6s.-Tidings from the Quitonian Party of our Expedition.-
Farewell to the Rio Negro 175


Aspinwall.-Across the Isthmus.-Tropical Vegetation.-Panama.-Upon
the Pacific.-Paita.-Peruvian Coast.-Ancient Sea-Beaches.-Causes
of Sterility and Low Temperature.-Return Northward.-Forest.-
Guayaquil.-Preparations for Climbing the Andes.-Scenery of the
Guayas.-First View of Chimborazo.-Night-Scene upon the River.
PAGE 194
Bodegas.-Beneath the Forest.-Climbing the Cordillera.--Our Mules.-
Above the Clouds.-Descending Trains.-Camino Real.-Valley of
Chimbo.-Guaranda.-Upon the Crest of the Andes.-Arenal.-The
Snow-line.-Dreary Ride.-Zones of Vegetation.-Coloration of
Flowers of High Altitudes.-Valley of Quito.-At the Foot of Chim-
borazo.-Mocha.-A Posada-scene.-Spanish Curiosity.-Ambato.-
Vespers among the Andes.-Indian Hospitality.-Latacunga.-Plain
of Turubamba.-Glimpse of Quito 07

Situation of the Capital.-Delightful Climate.-History- of the City.-
Modern Quito.-Houses.-Plazas.-Traces of Earthquakes.-Popula-
tion.-Results of Amalgamation.-No Progress.-Religion.-Future
of the City.-Hacienda of Chillo 226

Groups of Volcanoes.-Quitonian Peaks.-What gives them their Inter-
est.-Chimborazo.-Its Summit gained by M. Remy.-Sangai.-Coto-
paxi.-Antisana.-Pichincha.-Our Ascent.-Wild Scene from its
Summft.-Down its Crater.-A Thunder-storm within.-Climbing
out.-Lost upon the Volcano.-Return to Quito 238


Amazonian Forest.-Preparations for our Journey.-Our Artist's Grave.-
Religious Intolerance.-Across the Valley.-Mimosas.-Haeienda of
Itulcachi.-Tablon.-Sunset among the Andes.-The Home of the
Incas.-Indigenous Civilizations.-Condors.-Over the Crest.-View


of the Amazonian Valley.-First Waters of the Great River.-Andean
Road.-Reception at Papallacta.-Indian Burial.-Arrangements for
our March to the Napo PAGE 252

Leave Papallacta.-Wretched Trail.-Torrents and Land-slides.-Our
Camp.-Baeza.-Fording the Hondachi.-Separated from our Train.-
Archidona and Archidonians. -Photographing Indians.-A New
Train.-Tropical Forest.-Scarcity of Animals.-Sight of the Rio
Napo .267

Napo Valley.-An Island-home.-Bees.-Indian Tribes.-Their Lan-
guage.-Down the River.-Shooting Rapids.-Santa Rosa.-An Indif-
ferent Crew.-Coco Village.-Our "Ziparo."-Last View of the
Andes.-Birds upon the Napo. -Toucans. Hummers. Turtles'
Eggs.-Sancudos. Camp upon a Playa.-Our Indians.-Tropical
Vegetation.-View of the Marafion 278

The River.-Origin of its Name.-Pebas.-Marine Shells.-Geology of the
Valley.-Glacial Phenomena.-Farewell to our "ZAparo."-Steam-
ers upon the Amazons.-The "Morona."-Maucallacta.-Indians
Alarmed.-Loreto.-Tabatinga.-The "Icamiaba."--Fonte Boa.-
Teffe.-" Merry Christmas! "-Arrival at Manaos 294


Departure from Manios-Our Steamer.-Monkeys.-Madeira River.-Rise
and Fall of the Amazons.-Flooded Forest.-Igarapis.-Victoria
Regia.-Villa Bella.-Mountain Scenery.-Straits of Obidos.-Tides.-
Santarem.-Breaks in the Great Forest.-Oceanic River.-Natural
Canals.-Forest.-Para Estuary.-Para.-Commerce of the Amazons.-
Settlement of the Valley.-A Pleasant Meeting.-Farewell to the
Tropics 308


SOUTH AMERICA is a part of the world about which little,
comparatively, is known. Owing to the disturbed politi-
cal state of the country, commerce has sought other chan-
nels, and enterprise has looked elsewhere for its reward.
A large capitalist said to the writer, many years ago,
"Convince me that money. can be iade, and I will put a
steamer upon the Magdalena at once." This was when
General Mosquera had lately been elected President of
New Granada, or, as it is now called, Colombia, and when
religious toleration had just been secured in that republic.
At that time the prospects for Colombia, politically and
religiously, seemed to be brightening, and the students of
Williams, wakeful to "the signs of the times," pledged
five hundred dollars to one of the officers of the College
to assist in the exploration of the country. The idea was,
that feasible points should be selected-points that could
be occupied as centres of a higher civilization and better
type of Christianity. Some years later, one of the stu-
dents, Frederick Hicks, proposed to realize this idea on
his own responsibility. After looking the ground over,
travelling somewhat extensively both in Colombia and
Ecuador, he returned to Panama and built a commodious


chapel, regarding that as a point which was central, and
from which an influence might be exerted northward as
well as southward. Frequent communications from Mr.
Hicks have fanned the South-American spirit on this
ground for a long time, and rendered the Lyceum of
Natural History the more willing to undertake an expe-
dition in that direction; so that, when Prof. Orton, with
whom a correspondence had been opened by the Lyceum
on the subject of an expedition, expressed a decided pref-
erence for South America, the thing was at once agreed to.
It is obvious that the expedition, by dividing as it did
at New York, was able to secure far more important re-
sults than could have accrued from a joint expedition. It
is especially obvious that the branch of the expedition
which struck the northern shore of the continent, explor-
ing first the Orinoco, and then the Rio Negro at least
eight hundred miles farther than Humboldt had done, has
performed a very valuable service in the interest of geog-
raphy, natural science, and ethnology.
Pro Orton has published an interesting account of
his observations in connection with the western branch of
the expedition. The northern branch now gives its report
to the world. Some independent observations made by a
member of the western branch of the expedition will also
accompany the present volume.
We have no Royal Geographical, Geological, or Astro-
nomical Societies in this country; but no doubt many
curious eyes will be eager to read, and many interested
ears to listen, while our young friends tell the story of
their explorations, and their adventures in a region purely
tropical, where every thing in Nature and man differs so
widely from any thing we see-a region, too, for the most
part, until recently, almost unknown.




First View of the Tropics.-Silla-La Guaira.-Fortifications.-Custom-
house Reasonableness." Ascent of the Cordilera.-Picturesque
Scenery.-Arrival at Caracas.

IT was on the afternoon of July 27th, after a voyage
of twenty-five days from New York, that we caught our
first glimpse of the tropics. Far to the southward could
be seen what appeared to be a mass of clouds piled one
upon another, which, to the unpractised eye, differed not
from those that encircled the entire heavens. That dark
pile, whose outline was so distinctly marked far up from the
horizon, was a branch of the Andes, that mighty range of
mountains which traverses our sphere almost from pole to
pole, and, although over sixty miles away, the irregular
contour of its lofty summit could be distinctly traced
upon the sky. We were not permitted to watch long the
scene before us. Clouds soon gathered in around, and the
darkness of approaching night veiled the land from our
By three o'clock, next morning, we were within five
miles of La Guaira, where we were obliged to wait for


day and a favorable breeze to carry us into port. The
wind, as is usual here in the early morning, blew but
feebly, so that we entered with some difficulty. At
length we gained the haven, and dropped.'anchor about
three hundred yards from shore. Directly before us,
rising abruptly out of the sea, looms up Silla, the highest
peak of the northern Cordillera of the Andes. Its rocky
and precipitous side, rising to the height of nearly nine
thousand feet, looks as if one of those convulsions of
Nature, which so often shake this "unstable land, would
overthrow the towering heights and bury forever in its
ruins the town La Guaira, which lies closely nestled at
its base. Clinging to its rugged slope, far up its side, is
a scanty, scrubby growth of bushes, with here and there,
in some ravine, a clump approaching somewhat to the
magnitude of trees. Interspersed throughout this under-
growth, and towering above it, are cactuses, some attain-
ing the height of thirty feet, and resembling at a distance
leafess and nearly branchless trees. Higher up the
mountain-side we see only Alpine grass, and this in turn
gives place to barren rocks which crown the lofty summit.
To heighten still more the grandeur of the scene, the
morning is clear and beautiful, and the sun, as it rises from
its ocean-bed, gilds the few fleecy clouds which float over
the crest and along the flank of Silla, presenting a scene
not often witnessed at this season, when clouds and
storms prevail in the tropics. One of the first things
which will attract the attention of the traveller, if he has
never before visited the equatorial regions, will be the
palms scattered along the coast, and which by their tall,
straight trunks, thirty and fdtty feet in height, topped
with a cluster of gigantic and elegantly-formed leaves,
will impress him at once with the strangeness as well as
beauty of vegetation within the tropics.
The port, or, rather, roadstead of La Guaira, opens



directly into the sea, with nothing to break the force of the
winds or waves. In the absence of a breakwater, which
might easily be constructed, wharves are, of course, useless.
Vessels are therefore obliged to anchor some distance
from land, and unload their cargoes by means of lighters.
The position of the town, wedged in between Mount Silla
and the sea, on a strip of land scarcely three hundred
yards in its greatest breadth, backed by an enormous
rocky wall, reflecting the heat of the sun on the red-tiled
roofs and stony pavements, renders it, according to Hum-
boldt, the hottest place upon the earth. La Guaira has a
population of about eight thousand. There are a theatre
and two churches; one of the latter, the temple of San
Juan de Dios, is one of the most elegant edifices in Vene-
zuela. As we wander through the long, narrow streets
of this antiquated city, we meet groups of every shade
of complexion and in every variety of costume, from the
gayly-dressed sefora in her flounces and extended trail,
with a black-laced mantilla over the shoulders and a veil
upon her head, to the negro boasting of pants and hat,
and the urchin clad only in Nature's simple garb.
Leaving the narrow and crowded streets, we clamber
to the fortifications which lift their battlements above the
town. A few cannon frown defiantly through the embra-
sures and over the parapets. Soldiers in almost as many
different costumes as in number, with "arms at will," are
lazily guarding the works. From this stand-point, we
have a fine view of the city and its environs; but we can-
not tarry long, for twilight is already deepening, and we
are reminded that in the tropics darkness quickly suc-
ceeds. We therefore hastily descend to our hotel, stop-
ping for a moment to view the evening muster of the sol-
diers within the fortifications that line the shore. These
works are quite formidable as well as those overlooking
the town on the mountaiprside, and if well manned wpuld


render the place impregnable to an approach from the sea,
which is the only side upon which an attack can well be
We cared not to protract our stay on the hot and arid
coast of La Guaira. We were also admonished, by the
death from yellow fever, the day before we arrived, of one
of our countrymen who had been for some years a resi-
dent of the place, that it would not be well for us to
remain long where that epidemic was raging. We there-
fore determined to leave on the morrow for the more ge-
nial and salubrious clime of the table-land of Caracas.
That beautiful and fertile valley is situated directly over
the mountain from La Guaira, at an elevation of some
four thousand feet above the sea. There are two roads
leading to it from the coast, the shorter but more precipi-
tous of which is a mule-path, leading over the summit
between the peak of Naiguanata and the Cerro de Avila,
the two forming what is called the Silla, or saddle, of
Caracas. The other, and the one we preferred, is a car-
riage-road which reaches the capital by a circuitous
route of fourteen miles. The old road, which was in use
at the time of Humboldt's visit to the country, was be-
tween the two we have mentioned. Before allowed to
take our departure for Caracas, we were what they termed
subjected to the inspections and extortions of custom-
house officials. Our arms, ammunition, and some other ar-
ticles, which were pronounced subject to duty, they were
willing, in consideration of the object for which we vis-
ited their country, to allow to pass upon the payment of
what they termed the reasonable amount of forty dollars,
although they claimed that much more was rightly due
them. Such "reasonableness" we hope it may be our
good fortune not often to meet with, Our coach, with
three abreast, at the appointed hour, is at the door of our
hotel, ourselves and baggage stowed within, and all is


ready. It is two p. M. as we take our departure. The
rays of a tropical sun pour down without mercy, and are
reverberated by every stone and rock until the very air
we breathe seems as if drawn from a heated furnace. We
lay aside-our outer garments and make ourselves as com-
fortable as circumstances will permit. The road leads
out of the town on the north, skirting the base of the
mountains, between which and the sea there is for some
distance scarcely room for the coach to pass; then- the
space widens, and we find ourselves riding through the
village of Marquitia with its beautiful cocoa-nut grove;
then turning up the mountain-slope, we wind along the
eastern side of the Quebrada de Tipe, a large ravine, the
aspect of the landscape varying at every turn. Here the
maguey, a plant'with agave leaves, finds its native home
and adorns by its unsurpassed beauty these rugged wilds.
Its lofty arboreal form, with its thousands of drooping
liliaceous flowers, presents a sight of which the traveller
never wearies.
As we continue our journey, slowly winding up the
zigzag road, we find ourselves rising into a purer atmos-
phere. We breathe more freely, and no longer feel that
languor and debility experienced while amid the burning
sands of the terra caliente, or hot land below. Reaching
what is called the half-way station, we stop and change
horses. There are two or three other wayside inns we have
passed, and which afford resting-places to the traveller and
trains of animals that daily pass over the road between La
Guaira and Caracas. Our garments, removed at the outset
of our journey, we now gladly replace, for we have at-
tained an altitude of nearly five thousand feet above the
sea. Above us and along the summit heavy clouds are gath-
ering, and, as they come sweeping down the mountain-side,
threaten to soon envelop us in their gloom. From this
point, the view, which the traveller has spread out before


him, is one of surpassing loveliness and grandeur. To his
left and far below he beholds the terminus of the deep
ravine of the Quebrada de Tipe, which running down the
mountain-slope, spreads out at its base into a plain of exu-
berant fertility, covered with beautiful estates of -growing
corn, bananas, and other productions, sustainedby irriga-
tion. The extension of this plain, or, rather, low ridge of
land, into the sea, forms the promontory of Cabo Blanco,
whose white, barren shores glisten in the distance.
Farther to the right, and almost beneath his feet, lie the
village of Marquitia and its grove of cocoa-nut trees,
which so impresses the traveller as he approaches from
the ocean. Looking to the right and southward are seen
vessels in the port, riding at their anchorage. And there
is La Guaira, encircled by the sea on the one side, and by
an amphitheatral wall of rock on the other, while beyond
the ocean stretches to the horizon, striped by lines of
billows which come rolling in toward the shore.
From the half-way station the ascent is much easier,
owing to the sinuosities of the road, and the less precipi-
tousness of the Cordillera as we approach its summit.
The scenery also grows wilder and vegetation less luxu-
riant as we ascend. The clouds through which we pass
give forth a drizzling rain, and the increasing cold renders
our overcoats necessary for comfort. Respecting the
change of temperature experienced in passing from the
tierra caliente to the tierra frio, as the high elevations are
called, one is liable to form a wrong estimate: for it must
be remembered that the traveller in his ascent passes in a
few hours from the burning sands of the tropical coast to
an altitude of some seven thousand feet, the highest point
of the range over which the road passes. This elevation,
although not great, has a temperature so codl, that, in
entering it suddenly from an extreme of heat, there is ex-
perienced a sensation that leads to an erroneous conclusion.


The same may be said in regard to the temperature of La
Guaira. The thermometer seldom rises above ninety de-
grees Fahrenheit; yet, as the variation during the twenty-
four hours, and even from one season to another, is com-
paratively slight, one can easily conceive that the quantity
of heat received must be very great. The intense suffering,
therefore, in the tropics, results, as Humboldt observes, not
from an excess of heat, but from its long continuance at a
high temperature.
The summit of the Cordillera is at length reached, and
over it we ride rapidly, and commence the descent at a
still greater pace. The first view of Caracas, which lies
just at the base of the mountain where the road makes
its descent into the valley, is obtained at no great distance.
It is nearly dark as we enter the capital of Venezuela.
Our lumbering, three-horse vehicle rattles over the rough,
stony pavement of the streets, and stops in front of a po-
sada, kept by Madame St. Amand, who welcoines us in
English, and shows us at once to a fine suite of rooms,
which, like all the apartments of the house, open upon a
court-yard in the centre, containing beautiful shrubbery
and a maguey-plant in full bloom.
Upon the evening of our arrival, we were met by Mr.
Wilson, the minister from our country, who gave us a
most cordial reception. We were also happy in making
the acquaintance of Profs. Ernst and Gearing, two dis-
tinguished German naturalists. The rich and varied flora
of the tropics, comparatively but little known to the bota-
nist, had enticed Mr. Ernst from Europe to this his adopted
country. For three years he had been engaged in his
favorite pursuit, confining his researches to the district of
Caracas and vicinity. During that time he had collected
and classified over three thousand species of plants, which
is more than twice the entire number described in the
Natural History of New York. The result of his labors


will in due time be given to the public, and will consti-
tute, if we except the published reports of Humboldt and
Bonpland, with those of some minor travellers, the first
botanical work that has ever been issued on that region.
Mr. Gearing had been in the country about a year, and
had succeeded in making a most valuable collection in the
department of ornithology. The researches of these gen-
tlemen in Northern Venezuela will add much to the cause
of science, and increase largely the facilities for others
who may desire to make investigations and collections in
the natural history of this country. Often did we in the
course of our travels have occasion to be grateful for in-
formation imparted to us, as well as many valuable sug-
gestions received from them during the short time we re-
mained in the city.



Valley of Caracas.-Site of the City.-Houses.-Cathedral.-Public Build-
ings.-Pulperias.-Earthquake of 1812.-People.-Dress.-Education.

IN the southern portion of Colombia,* the Andes, which
sweep along the western coast of the continent, through
Chili, Peru, and Ecuador, with a breadth of sixty to four
hundred miles, yet with a rigid preservation of their unity,
divide into three distinct ranges. The most western of
these branches runs close along the Pacific shore of Colom-
bia, and enters the Isthmus of Panama; the second trav-
erses the centre of the republic, until it touches the shores
of the Caribbean Sea ; the third takes a more easterly
direction, and, upon finding the ocean, skirts the northern
shore of Venezuela, terminating at the delta of the Ori-
noco. One of the most interesting features of this re-
markable and unparalleled mountain-system, aside from its
volcanoes, is its lofty table-lands and beautiful valleys,
lying between its longitudinal ranges. Far to the south
we find the Thibetan highlands of Bolivia, lying about
the shores of Lake Titicaca; under the equator the beauti-
ful plains of Quito; and, advancing still farther north, we

Called New Granada, until September 20, 1861, when a new consti-
tution was adopted, and the name changed to United States of Colombia.


find ourselves surrounded by the smiling vales and vbr-
dant plains of Bogota. If, from the tripartition cf the
system in Colombia, we journey along the eastern branch
until we reach the sea, then follow the range for one hun-
dred miles, as it sweeps along the coast, bathing its feet
in the waters of the Caribbean, we find ourselves in one
of the most beautiful valleys that fancy could -depict.
Here, lying between two parallel ranges of the Cordil-
lera, at an elevation of nearly three thousand feet (2,924)
above the Atlantic, is the picturesque valley of Caracas.
This plateau runs east and west, having a length of ten
miles, and a breadth of six or seven. On the south is a
range of hills which separates it from the valley of Tui,
while on the north are the high mountains of Silla and
Avila of the coast-chain. The Rio Guaira, taking its rise
in the mountains of Higuerote on the west, flows through
the valley, irrigating the soil, and maintaining a most
luxuriant growth of vegetation. The climate is that of
perpetual spring. What place can we conceive to be
more delightful than that where the temperature of the
day is never above eighty degrees, and at night seldom
below sixty; where vegetation is always green, flowers
ever blooming, and fruit in the greatest abundance and
variety at all seasons? Here, growing side by side, are
the banana, the cocoa-nut, pine-apple, orange, grape,
peach, Indian corn, and strawberry. There is no particu-
lar season for seed-time or harvest. Fields of maize may
be seen in every stage of growth, from the young and
tender blade just shooting upward into light, to the full
and ripened ear of harvest-time. From the same shrub
or tree may be enjoyed the fragrance of its flowers and
the flavor of its fruit.
Not less beautiful is Nature in her wildness than
when under the controlling influence of domestic culture.
The average annual temperature is 71.







Trees of magnificent growth, festooned with hanging
moss and pendant vines, their trunks and giant limbs
covered with parasitic plants of rich, brilliant hues, stand
alone in their majestic grandeur, or, by their united crowns
of fadeless green, bedecked with flowers of rare delicacy
and beauty, form picturesque bowers and arcades. Tow-
ering and crested palms, with their plumes wafted by the
breezes, adorn alike the forest and the plain with their
stately, graceful forms. Giant vegetation, in that variety
and beauty elsewhere unknown, springs up on every side,
while amid and beneath all-
"There spring the living herbs, profusely wild,
O'er all the deep-green earth, beyond the power
Of botanists to number up their tribe."

Enclosing this beautiful valley, are lofty, rugged, and
barren mountain-cliffs, which break the strength of the
equinoctial winds, and shut out the burning atmosphere
of the plain on the coast. The contrast presented by
these barren ranges, and the stern, forbidding aspect of
their chilling peaks which rise into the region of the
clouds, only add to the loveliness of the valley which lies
encircled within their embrace. Here the sweeping pesti-
lence is seldom known, for those lofty Cordilleras, which
serve as a barrier to the winds, also prevent an approach
of those malignant diseases which are the scourges of
.southern ports. It seems scarcely possible that a spot
within the equatorial regions, less than five miles in a di-
rect line from where the earth is parched by the burning
heat of a tropical sun, could possess such a cool, salubri-
ous climate, and the luxuries of both temperate and torrid
At the western extremity of the valley, situated upon
a steep slope which inclines toward the southeast, is
Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. At the base of this


declivity, skirting the suburbs of the city, runs the
Rio Guaira, while crowding the town on the west are
rocky and sterile hills, which present a wild and gloomy
aspect. Rising abruptly on the north, is the Cerro de
Avila, down whose rugged slopes pour rushing torrents
into the streets of the city, whenever a storm sweeps over
the valley. Why Caracas was built in this wretched
corner, when so large and beautiful a plain lies spread out
before it, we cannot conceive. Could the town have been
placed farther to the southward amid the charming sce-
nery of the valley, it would have occupied a site in every
way far preferable to its present position. Caracas in its
greatest length is about one and a half miles, and is of
nearly an equal breadth. Its area, although small, has
crowded within its limits a population of fifty thousand
inhabitants. Intersecting the city are deep ravines, some
of which are dry, others the channels of small rivers, the
Catuche, Caroata, and Arauco, which descend from the
mountains. The ghastly appearance of these immense
gullies, with their unsightly weeds and bushes, impresses
the traveller still more unfavorably with the situation of
the town. From the Rio Catuche the city is supplied
with water, which is brought from a reservoir about a
mile up the stream on the slope of Avila, and furnished
the inhabitants at public and private fountains.
Caracas, like all Spanish-American towns, is regularly
built, with narrow streets crossing each other at right
angles. These are well paved, and slope toward the cen-
tre, thus making a sort of canal, which dispenses with
the need of gutters at the sides. The sidewalks, which
are found only on the principal streets, are flagged, and
scarcely wide enough to allow two persons to pass. The
houses enclose pleasant court-yards, are mostly one story
in height, and solidly built, so as better to resist the
shocks of earthquakes, which are frequent along this


coast. Inside the court-yard, along the upper story,
where such exists, runs an open gallery, while a corre-
sponding veranda generally extends outside, along the
front of the building. The roofs are tiled, and project far
over the walls of the houses, shading the narrow streets,
and affording protection to the pedestrian from the sun
and rains. The windows, unglazed, and covered with an
iron grating, protrude into the street, giving the house a
gloomy, prison-like aspect. The only way of ingiess and
egress, the one used alike by man and beast, is through a
large archway, which leads into the court-yard. The
massive folding-doors, with their clumsy iron hinges,
bolts, and fastenings, seem as if made for a fortress. The
house internally is as scantily and antiquely furnished as
the exterior indicates. The parlor of the Venezuelian
boasts no carpet upon its brick floor; the walls are
scantily ornamented with a few small pictures; one or
two cane-bottomed sofas, some plain chairs, and still
plainer tables, complete the furniture, useful and ornamen-
tal. The house has no chimney, the smoke and steam
finding their exit from beneath the raised roof.
On the east side of the Grand Plaza, or great square
of the city, stands the new cathedral, the largest and
finest architectural structure in Caracas. It was founded
nearly three centuries ago, but has since been modernized,
being completed and consecrated during our visit at the
capital. It is two hundred and fifty-feet in length, by one
hundred and fifty in breadth, and is supported by two
lines of gigantic columns. The floor is a marble mosaic,
while the walls are hung with tablets bearing Latin in-
scriptions, and with paintings illustrative of Scriptural
history, or of Roman Catholic mythology. This struct-
ure, although the pride of Caraquenians, will compare
but unfavorably with similar ecclesiastical efforts in coun-
tries where civilization has made greater progress; but


we must consider that it has been erected by a people
struggling against all the evils which beset this unfortu-
nate republic.
The government-house, which stands on the side of
the plaza opposite the cathedral, presents nothing attrac-
tive. A Venezuelian flag floating from a short staff, and
a few soldiers guarding the front and entrance, alone indi-
cate that it is the capitol of the republic. On the south
of the plaza is a university, founded in 1721, which ranks
as the finest institution of learning in the country. The
north side of the square is lined with dwellings and pub-
perias, or shops. A Venezuelian store is one of the curi-
osities of the country. The low, narrow room has two
doors, for the admission of persons and light. The stock
of the pulpero embraces, in kind, if not in quantity, suffi-
cient to establish a country fair. A few pieces of calico
and cotton cloth must occupy a prominent position upon
his shelves. He must have groceries of every description,
including hams, sardines, sausages, a few rounds of cas-
sava, the bread of the country we have yet to describe,
butter brought from Europe, some strips of dried beef, a
coil of native tobacco resembling tarred rope, some bot-
tles of Madeira and German wines, and also aguardiente,
an intoxicating drink made from the fermented juice of
the sugar-cane. Then there are articles of hardware,
such as nails, knives, and machetes, a huge knife with a
blade nearly two feet in length, the indispensable imple-
ment of the Spaniard. A dozen stalks of sugar-canes, a
few bundles of finely-split wood for fuel, and an armful of
green corn, occupy the corners. These, with a thousand
other articles, render the collection as unique as a college
There are scenes of a different nature that will interest
the traveller as he wanders through the city. On every
side will be seen traces of that terrible earthquake which


destroyed the town in 1812, and buried in its ruins over
ten thousand persons. Walls of buildings, overgrown
with vines and parasitic plants, still stand as silent wit-
nesses of that dreadful catastrophe. It is sad to reflect
that this beautiful valley should ever have been the scene
of such a fearful visitation, and a living sepulchre to thou-
sands of its inhabitants. The frequent threatening of
these convulsions of Nature tend to keep the people in a
constant state of alarm for their safety. Happy, indeed,
is the man who is not distrustful of the soil upon which
he lives. Among the few buildings which survived the
general destruction of the city, were the government-
house, the old cathedral, and the church of Altagracia,
which is not far from the Grand Plaza. The last men-
tioned, however, bears evidence of the powerful agency
which desolated the place. Its massive walls withstood
uninjured the violence of the shock, but its enormous
tower, about one third of the distance from the top, was
twisted and jutted over the lower part, where it will
probably remain until another earthquake shall complete
its downfall.
The destruction of Caracas occurred upon the 26th of
March, 1812, Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday of the
Church. The country was engaged in a desperate strug-
gle for its independence, and the ignorant and supersti-
tious people, with their fears augmented by the priests,
whose sympathies were with the mother-country, were
led to regard the calamity as the vengeance of Heaven
for their attempts to sever themselves from the crown of
Spain. The day is represented as perfectly calm, with
not a cloud in the heavens. Although at long intervals
quite severe shocks had been felt at Caracas, an almost
entire immunity .from any of destructive force had in-
spired a feeling of security, and led the people to believe
that, in their elevated valley, they were safe from such


fearful visitations, as frequently laid in ruins the cities of
other districts.* No one had any apprehension of danger.
The festivities of Holy Thursday had filled the churches.
Suddenly the earth trembles. The bells of the churches
toll as though "rung by an invisible hand." Caracas is
doomed. For four seconds the ground quakes,then rocks
with a sea-like movement, and in six seconds more the
city lies heaped in ruins. Heavy thundering rolled be-
neath the earth, and rocks were hurled from the sides of
Silla. Of fifty thousand inhabitants, ten thousand were
killed upon the first overthrow of the city, while thou-
sands afterward perished from injuries, hunger, and ex-
posure. Beneath the walls of San Carlos six hundred
soldiers were mustering. The barracks, says a chronicler,
hurled from their base, left not a man of the regiment.
Terrible scenes has our earth afforded; but none more
fearful than Caracas presented when the clouds of dust,
which at first veiled the ruins, lifted from the fated city.
The imagination alone can picture that scene of ghastly
ruins, terror, and consternation. So great was the num-
ber of victims, that, interment being impossible, for days
the survivors were employed in collecting and burning
the bodies upon vast funeral-pyres. Humboldt, in his
graphic account of the fearful calamity, alluding to the
tolling of the bells by the short tremor which preceded
the final shock, pens the following thrilling sentence: "It
was the hand of God, and not the hand of man, which
rang that funeral-dirge." f This passage possesses a pecu-
liar interest. While illustrating how powerfully Hum-
boldt was impressed by the contemplation of this phe-

The earthquake of Caracas was the culmination of a series of con-
vulsions during the years 1811-'13, felt through the West Indies and
over a large portion of the Mississippi Valley.
S" Es war Gottes, nicht Menschenhand, die hier sum Grabgelaute


nomenon, it also shows, as Agassiz, in an address given
upon the hundredth anniversary of the great German
naturalist, has remarked, that Humboldt was a believer in
a personal, superintending Providence. This fact has
been so often denied, and Humboldt even pronounced an
atheist, that we feel the cause of truth justifies us in
making this slight digression.
Dr. Tschudi, in his Travels in Peru," uses the follow-
ing language in illustrating the effects of an earthquake
upon the residents of the country and upon travellers:
" No familiarity with the phenomenon can blunt the feel-
ings. The inhabitant of Lima, who from childhood has
frequently witnessed these convulsions of Nature, is roused
from his sleep by the shock, and rushes from his apart-
ment with the cry of ''isericordia !' The foreigner from
the north of Europe, who knows nothing of earthquakes
but by description, waits with impatience to feel the
movement of the earth, and longs to hear with his own
ear the subterranean sounds which he has hitherto con-
sidered fabulous. With levity he treats the apprehen-
sion of a coming convulsion, and laughs at the fears of
the natives; but, as soon as his wish is gratified, he is
terror-stricken, and is involuntarily prompted to seek
safety in flight."
The inhabitants of Caracas, ethnologically and so-
cially, present but few interesting features. The entire
population of the city, as near as can be estimated, is fifty
thousand; while that of the whole republic, including In-
dians, is one and a half millions. It consists of whites,
mainly of Spanish extraction, negroes, and the various
classes produced by the intermingling of these. The
descendants of the foreign element, of whatever color, are
denominated Creoles.
The negroes were formerly kept in slavery; but by
virtue of a law which compelled the master to give free-


dom to a slave who should offer him three hundred dol-
lars; by the voluntary bestowment of liberty, which was
common; and by the proclamation of 1854, they have all
become emancipated. The Indians we shall have occa-
sion to speak of, when our journeyings lead us where man
as well as beast exists in a state of nature.
In dress, the upper class follow the European styles;
the man of modest pretensions considers himself equipped
when supplied with pants, camisa, which is worn outside
of the former, wool or panama hat, and leather sandals.
The children of the lower class are not inconvenienced by
clothing, until they have attained the age of eight or ten
years, when a camisa constitutes their outfit.
Education, although provided for by law, is sadly
neglected among all classes. Besides the university in
Caracas, already referred to, there has also been founded
a military academy. The need of books is much felt.
None are printed in Venezuela, and the foreign supply is
small and not of the highest order. It is, however, grati-
fying to state that much has been done of late to meet
this want of the people, and that no country has contrib-
uted more to supply the deficiency than our own. School-
books, as well as others, published in the Spanish lan-
guage and sent out from the United States, have been
widely circulated, and are now doing much toward the
advancement of educational interests in Venezuela. There
are in Caracas two printing-presses, each of which issues
a daily newspaper on a single sheet. Much difficulty is
experienced in preserving records, books, or papers, owing
to the ravages of termites, or "white ants," as they are
called, which possess an insatiable appetite for literature.
This was more particularly brought to our notice after-
ward at Valencia, where we found it difficult to procure,
for the use of our herbarium, any papers which had not
been more or less damaged by these voracious insects.


There are eighteen churches in Caracas and three con-
vents; the last are merely tolerated, as no monastic in-
stitutions are permitted by law in Venezuela. Here, as in
every Roman Catholic country, the Sabbath is but little
regarded. The services in the churches, the same as those
for the other days of the week, continue for one hour,
from five to six o'clock in the morning, when the religious
exercises of the day are over. All places of amusement
and public resort are then opened and thronged as they
are at no other time. The card and billiard tables are fre-
quented, but the cock-fights and bull-fights call together
the greatest crowds. Sabbath afternoons are especially
consecrated to the latter amusement. The cock-fight
partakes more of a domestic character, and there is scarce-
ly a family that has not its cockpit. All day long the
shops are opened for traffic, mules and donkeys laden
with merchandise wend their way through the streets,
soldiers parade the city, and, to destroy still more if pos-
sible the quietness and sanctity of the Sabbath, the bells
are in an eternal jingle. In the evening the theatre
affords the closing entertainment of the day.
Caracas has six Catholic cemeteries, the largest, which
is said to be the finest in South America, is north of the
city, upon the slope at the base of Cerro de Avila. It is
enclosed by a high wall, on the inside of which are niches,
or receptacles for the dead. Upon the payment of a cer-
tain sum, coffins are allowed to be placed within, where they
may remain three years. At the expiration of that time
they are taken, if not removed before by friends, and the
bones cast in the carnero, or common sepulchre. Those
who do not desire, or cannot afford for their deceased rela-
tives, these funereal niches, bury at once within the en-
closure of the cemetery. There are also two Protestant
burial-grounds, German and English, situated south of
the city.



Trip to the Cave of Encantado.-Railroad.-Thunder-storm.-Petare.-A
Hopeful Student.-Experience at a Posada.-The Cave.-Pineapple-
Plant.-Calabash-Tree.-Yuca-ShIrub.-Death of Mr. Wilson.- La
Valle.-Cerro de Avila.

DURING our stay at Caracas we made many excursions
to places of interest in the valley; the first of which was
to the Cave of Encantado, four leagues east of the city.
On the morning of our fourth day in the capital, we set
out for this place. The sun had not risen, yet the streets
of the city were already bustling with life-for the
Spaniard is an early riser, the morning being, more from
necessity than choice, the business part of the day. Scores
of water-carriers hastened along with their immense earth-
en pots, balanced upon their heads-burdens are seldom
carried in the hand; while donkeys, so completely buried
beneath their loads of maize, that they seemed like piles
of herbage endowed with locomotion, pushed stubbornly
through the street.
Crossing the Arauca, the stream which forms the
eastern boundary of the city, we passed at our left a line
of railway. The track, which was overgrown with grass
and weeds, terminated a short distance farther on. It had
been purposed to carry it to Petar6, but, like all Venezue-
lian enterprises, the affair had come to an untimely end.


At our right was a large coffee-estate, the shrubs shaded
by gigantic trees whose trunks and brawny arms were
clothed with parasitic plants, and hung with long, tangled
tufts of Tillandsie, that gray moss which so ornaments
our own Southern forests. On either side, the road was
hedged with trees and bushes, thickly interlaced with vines
and creeping plants. These at length gave place to rows
of mango-trees, whose arching boughs, spread with dark-
green foliage, formed a most beautiful arcade. The mango,
which to us seemed possessed of no particular gustatory
virtues, is considered by the natives as one of the finest
of tropical fruits.
About ten A. M., while enjoying our breakfast of
oranges and bananas, we were forced by a sudden shower
to seek shelter in a way-side pulperia. A thunder-storm
in the tropics is an incredible exaggeration of a northern
tempest. The rain does not spatter down in drops, but
falls in almost unbroken sheets of water, which in a few
minutes completely flood the earth.' The thunder and
lightning which accompany these showers in the elevated
regions of the country are generally moderate in quan-
tity but inferior in quality; yet on the llanos of the in-
terior they are in good keeping with the terrific storms
which sweep over those plains.
Our visit to Caracas was during the rainy season,
which commences about the last of April, and continues
until November. It must, however, not be supposed that
even during this season the sky is continually overcast with
clouds which are incessantly discharging their contents
upon the land. The showers generally last only a few
minutes, seldom half an hour, when they cease as suddenly
as they commence. The annual fall of rain is about thirty-
five inches; the time of greatest heat is during the wet
period. This regular alternation of the seasons in the val-
leys of Caracas and Valencia is not, however, the same


everywhere within the tropics, for in certain localities
various causes tend to modify essentially the tropical sea-
sons, which in sections often not far separated, but per-
haps upon opposite sides of mountain-ranges, are frequently
the reverse of each other.
Late in the afternoon we reached Petare, a town of
four or five thousand inhabitants; and it being still a
league farther to Encantado, over an unfrequented road,
requiring a guide that could not be had until morning,
we determined to spend the night here. After consider-
able difficulty we at length found a house labelled "Po-
sada," where accommodations were offered us. While din-
ner was preparing, which was promised luego (presently),
we strolled about, making a general inspection of the
establishment. In the largest apartment, and in real-
ity the only respectable one, was a billiard-table, which
seemed the centre of attraction to a crowd of men and
boys, among whom was an Englishman, who was wander-
ing about the world with apparently no fixed object, and
had happened into this out-of-the-way place. He was
not inclined to give much of his* history, leaving us to
draw our own inferences. There was also a young Span-
iard of quite an intelligent and prepossessing appearance,
who, learning we were Americans, brought us a copy of
an old English book of poetry, and repeated from it long
sections that he had memorized, but of the meaning of
which he had not the vaguest conception. He informed
us that he was desirous of acquiring the English lan-
guage; and for that purpose he was committing to memo-
ry the contents of the volume. He said that he found the
task an exceedingly difficult one, and that he had as yet
made no very satisfactory progress. We did not doubt
the truth of his statement. He, however, seemed confi-
dent of ultimate success, and expressed a desire to obtain
from us other English books, that he might prosecute his


studies. A more hopeful student under such adverse cir-
cumstances we have seldom met with.
From the long time which had intervened since our
order for dinner, we began to apprehend that, perhaps,
our host had forgotten the wishes of his hungry guest;
but, upon inquiry, we were comforted with the assurance
that it would be ready luego. Another hour of waiting,
and again we seek the cause. Paciencia, senores,
luego; but that was long since exhausted. A traveller
in this country will have abundant opportunity to exercise
his paciencia, for luego and maanan, presently and to-mor-
row, are words in frequent requisition among the Span-
iards, and are used in their broadest signification. Never
punctual, never in a hurry, are prominent characteristics
of this people. The meal was finally announced. In a
small room, upon a small table, was the food, which had
cost them so much labor and us so much patience. We
allow that the best had evidently been done to meet our
wants, but confess that we formed no very high opinion
of the ability displayed in the preparation, of the meal.
Early the following morning, having passed the night
in unsuccessful efforts to protect ourselves from the per-
sistent attacks of fleas, we gave a consideration of three
dollars, for the annoyance and suffering we had endured,
and, taking our guide, started for the Cave of Encantado.
Our road was simply a narrow foot-path, which led around
the base of densely-wooded hills, and then over a moun-
tain-range, the summit of which we reached just as the
sun was appearing over the top of Silla. We shall not soon
forget that glorious prospect. Clouds, with their upper
surface brilliant with the rising sun, filled the valleys
beneath us, while, piercing this sea of mist, the cragged
peaks of Silla rose majestically above the lower mountains,
which here and there scarcely pushed their summits above
the surface of the vapor-ocean. From the mountain we


descended into a valley through which rushed a broad,
rapid torrent, on whose opposite bank, directly in our
front, rose a perpendicular wall of limestone, in the face of
which, fifteen feet from the base, was the entrance to the
Cave of Encantado. Clambering up the cliff, we found our-
selves within a large, irregular, arched chamber, adorned
with beautiful stalactic formations. Diverging from this
chamber, are dark, contracted passage-ways, leading to
smaller apartments, the principal of which we entered, often
obliged to crawl upon hands and knees to gain admittance.
Swarms of bats, disturbed by our intrusion within their
haunts, hovered around us, making the place hideous with
their unearthly screechings. Shooting one of the creatures
only tended to arouse the others the more, while the deaf-
ening report of our gun, reverberating through the
cavern, fell with stunning effect upon our ears. Having
explored the cave, we dismissed our guide, purposing to
remain through the night, and return to Caracas on the
following day. We spent the night within the cave, where
upon our rocky beds, softened by wild-canes, we, undis-
turbed by our companion bats and owls, enjoyed a rest,
free from the fleas of Petar6.
Our visit to Encantado afforded us a most glorious
harvest of plants, the first gathering for our tropical her-
barium. Not a single species was familiar; yet some
were so closely allied to varieties in our own land as to
pleasantly recall many a botanical ramble there. Our re-
turn-trip also introduced us to several interesting prod-
ucts of the mountain valley of Caracas, among which
was the pineapple. There is, perhaps, no production of
the tropics which is so generally and deservedly esteemed
by the people of the North as this; yet of none have they
such vague ideas, as to manner of growth and propaga-
tion. The pineapple-plant (Ananassa sativa) is indi-
genous to tropical America, growing wild in the forests,


but cultivated largely in those regions, in the West Indies,
and on the Eastern Continent. It has fifteen or more long,
serrated, ridged, sharp-pointed leaves, springing from the
root, and in its general aspect resembles the century-plant,
but is much smaller. In the centre of this cluster of thick,
succulent leaves, springs up a short stalk, bearing a spike
of beautiful flowers, which in time produce a single pine-
apple. On the summit of the fruit is a tuft of small leaves,
capable of becoming a new plant, which, together with
suckers, is the means by which it is propagated, as the
cultivated fruit seldom produces seeds. It flourishes best
in a moist and warm climate, but is able to survive a long
drought and extreme heat. There are several varieties,
differing in their leaves being more or less spiny on their
margins, and in the shape, size, and color of the fruit.
Great care is requisite in its cultivation; otherwise it will
be coarse, fibrous, and deficient in saccharine matter.
Nothing can surpass the rich and delicate flavor of a pine-
apple which has been properly cultivated; or of the wild
fruit of the forests, which we always found equal, if not
superior, to the domesticated ones.
Of the arboreal productions of these plains, especially
interesting is the calabash or crockery-tree (Crescentia
cujete), which is seen growing by the side of every
Venezuelian hut. In size and appearance it resembles
an apple-tree, and yields a hard, roundish, ligneous-
shelled fruit, from three to twelve inches in diameter,
which supply the natives with cups, dishes, and many
useful utensils. They are sometimes fancifully carved,
or highly polished, and by the natives of the Ama-
zons* are beautifully tinted with various colors, both
mineral and vegetable substances being employed for the
purpose. But another more indispensable plant which
This name in Portuguese is Amazonas, and when Anglicized the plural
form should be retained.


we here found is the yuca,* or mandioca (MIanihot utilis-
sima), a shrub some ten to twelve feet in height, from the
large tubers of which are made the cassava of the Vene-
zuelian, and the farina of the Brazilian. The tubers are
first grated upon a concave board, thickly set with sharp
pieces of quartz gravel. The pulp is rendered still finer
by grinding with stones, and the pulverized mass sub-
jected to pressure for the purpose of removing, as far as
possible, its poisonous juice, which contains hydrocyanic
or prussic acid. The substance is then formed into round
cakes, two feet in diameter, and a quarter of an inch in
thickness, and baked upon concave plates, over a brisk
fire, which expels the remaining volatile juice. Farina,
the same as the mafioca of the Rio Negro and Upper Ori-
noco, is made by roasting the root, grated, into a coarse
flour-like substance. In these forms the yuca constitutes
an excellent and nutritious food, which retains its sweet-
ness for a long period. The mandioca, or yuca, is exten-
sively cultivated throughout the continent of South
America, and, with the plantain and banana, constitutes,
in many sections, the principal support of the people.
Tapioca of commerce is the sediment, obtained from the
expressed juice of the mandioca. This plant must not be
confounded with the yuca dulce, or sweet yuca (Manihot
aipium), a species similar in appearance, but which con-
tains none of the poisonous property of the first. The
former is preferred for cassava and mafoca, as it is richer
in fecula, while the latter is largely eaten as a vegetable.
Our return from Encantado was followed by the death
of Mr. Wilson, our minister, who contracted a fatal fever
while attending diplomatic business at La Guaira, upon
the coast. He was buried at Caracas, far away from
home and those he loved. But a few weeks previous to
his death, his family, who had been with him, returned to
Sometimes misspelt yucca, a plant to which it is in nowise allied.


their country, where he expected to join them soon. The
tidings of his death and burial, carried by the departing
steamer, were the only greeting for the waiting ones.
Among the many places of interest in the vicinity of
Caracas, that will repay a visit, is La Valle, half a league
south of the capital. Leaving the city by the route
which leads to the plains of Ocumare, the traveller
crosses the Rio Guaira, and ascends a gentle slope,
which brings him to the summit of a low range of hills.
This road passes over the ridge by a deep cut, made
through the soft micaceous rock, rendering the ascent an
easy one. Emerging from this gorge, there opens before
the observer a most fertile plain, presenting a beautiful
picture of waving grass and cultivated fields, dotted here
and there with haciendas and hamlets, nestled beneath the
shade of graceful palms. The posada and few houses
which bear the name of La Valle lie just a little distant
from where the traveller catches his first glimpse of the
valley. Botanical and zoological attractions led us to
make several excursions to this picturesque spot, from
which we always returned richly laden with collections.
The ascent of Silla promised excitement enough to
awaken a strong desire in us for a climb to its summit;
but the continuous rains which prevailed during our stay
at Caracas, rendered impracticable the scaling of the steep,
slippery heights of the mountain. But the accessible
slope directly under Cerro de Avila, clothed with magueys
and cactuses, and traversed by the wooded ravine of the
Catuche, was a most interesting spot, especially to the
naturalist; accordingly we planned a trip there. Follow-
ing up the river, the ascent was easy to the Toma de Agua,
a large reservoir from which the city receives its supply
of water. From here the gorge was deeper, and more
densely wooded, and we advanced with greater difficulty.
The trees attained no great size, yet some of the smaller


forms of vegetation were of gigantic proportions. We
found a species of equisetum which was twelve feet in
height, and we were assured by Mr. Ernst that it fre-
quently attains a height of over thirty. Epiphytes, usu-
ally called air-plants, so covered the limbs of the trees,
that it was often difficult to determine whether what they
concealed was alive, or in a state of decay. Some of the
flowers of these orchidaceous plants are of exceeding
beauty, resembling in shape, and surpassing in the bril-
liancy of their colors, winged insects. The butterfly-flow-
er (Orchidium papillio) is one of the most beautiful, and
is so similar in appearance to the insect whose name it
bears, that it not unfrequently deceives persons. unac-
quainted with it. Others look like humming-birds, glit-
tering with metallic lustre. Many animated objects of
Nature are thus imitated by Flora's kingdom of the
We followed the ravine until the steepness of the as-
cent and the density of vegetation rendered farther ad-
vance exceedingly laborious; when we climbed the high
banks that enclosed the gorge, and emerged upon the
open slope. The contrast between the vegetation in the
deep glen, and- that of the sunburnt side of the moun-
tain, was no less striking in the different degrees of luxu-
riousness than in the specific peculiarity of distinct forms.
In this rocky soil, which for several months during the
year is not moistened by a single refreshing shower,
thrive only plants that are capable of enduring a- long
season of drought, such as the maguey and cactus. The
straight, cylindric, and spiny trunks of cerei rise thirty
and forty feet in height amid straggling opuntias, whose
grotesque forms lend such a peculiar physiognomy to this
tropical landscape. A species of this consolidated form
of vegetation, the prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia tuna), is
cultivated by the Venezuelians for the sake of its edible


fruit, and is also employed for hedges, its spiny, branch-
ing stems admirably adapting it to that purpose.
There are two varieties of the maguey, differing in the
leaves of one being serrated while those of the other are
entire. The spreading panicle which shoots up from the
cluster of fleshy, sharp-pointed leaves, five to eight feet
in length, has straw-colored, liliaceous flowers pendulous
from the branches. At a distance the giant flower-stalk
resembles a tree in foliage, but on a nearer view the ar-
borescent plant exhibits its true nature and beauty. We
measured the stem of one, which was twenty inches in cir-
cumference at the base and thirty-eight feet in height, a
growth it had made in six or eight weeks. The maguey
is not only admired for its beauty, but also valued for the
uses to which it can be applied. From the fibres of its
leaves are made twine, rope, cloth, and hammocks, while
the thorn which arms their extremity, when removed with
a bundle of the attached fibres, furnishes a needle and
thread. The leaves furthermore yield an excellent deter-
gent, that washes equally well with salt water or fresh.
From the flower-stalk is obtained an excellent beverage,
while the pith of the stem, which contains silica, makes
excellent razor-strops. This plant, the Yucca acaulis of
Humboldt, and the Codonocrinum agavoides of later bota-
nists, is often mistaken for the Agave Americana, or cen-
tury-plant, which it resembles in its leaves, but from which
it differs essentially in its flowers and inflorescence; those
of the latter terminating the branches in erect clusters,
instead of being scattering and pendulous, as we have ob-
served, in the former. We did not see the Agave Ameri-
cana in Venezuela, although it is said to grow in some
districts of the littoral mountains.



Departure from Caracas.-Scenery of the Rio Guaira.-Beautiful View
from Mount Higuerote.-The Garden of Venezuela."-Victoria.-
Spanish Extortion.-A Word on Mules.-Venezuelian Coaches.-Mara-
cai.-Castilian Etiquette.-Fast in a Stream.-Entrance into Valen-
cia.-The City.-Lake Tacarigua.

AFTER two weeks spent in the beautiful valley of Ca-
racas, we left the capital for Valencia, the second city of
Venezuela, situated a hundred miles to the westward, upon
the shores of the picturesque lake whose name it bears.
Unfortunately, we were in the midst of the rainy season,
and the roads were now impassable by the stages which
run between the two cities. Moreover, the country was
suffering from one of its chronic revolutions, and roving
bands of outlaws interrupted communication, respecting
the persons or property of neither friend nor foe. How-
ever, we determined to undertake the journey, arming
ourselves well, in case of emergency. In lieu of stage-
conveyance, we contracted for mules to Victoria, a town
midway between Caracas and Valencia, paying ten pesos*
for each, just one-tenth the value of the beast, and an equal
amount for a muchacho, or muleteer, which proved near
his whole valuation.

The peso is the Spanish dollar, whose value is eighty cents.


At three o'clock, upon the morning of the 15th of Au-
gust, we were riding rapidly through the streets of the
slumbering capital, scarcely able to keep pace with our
muchacho, who ran by the side of the baggage-animals.
Our course led us along the Rio Guaira through a most
charming valley, whose beauty was enhanced by the light
of a full moon, which threw weird shadows down the bro-
ken slopes of the precipitous mountains that rose upon
either side. Just as we were falling into a poetical mood,
we were aroused by the imperative demands of a toll-gate
official, to whom we paid twenty-five cents for each mule,
which exorbitant exaction destroyed our good-humor for
the remainder of the day. The river, along which we
journeyed was bordered with caia brava, a gramineous
plant (Gynesium sacharoides), which attains a height of
fifteen to twenty feet, and is much used in the construc-
tion of fences and buildings. The declivities were cov-
ered with magueys, the last we met with in the country.
Often have we recalled the giant form 'of this arborescent
plant, which lends so strange a beauty to the landscape
of its mountain-home.
At length we commenced the ascent of Higuerote, still
following the course of the Guaira, which takes its rise
among the elevated peaks of this mountain-range. In
places the road led through deep ravines along the stream,
then over rugged summits, and on the steep side of preci-
pices, while far below we beheld the rushing torrent of the
Guaira as it went plunging and foaming down the heights
through rocky gorges worn by the incessant flow of waters
for many ages. After an easy ascent, but one difficult and
wearisome when made with a coach, we arrived at the
summit, where we were greeted with one of Nature's finest
pictures. Beneath us was one of the far-famed valleys of
Aragua, bounded by wooded slopes, upon which here and
there a hut was nestled in some quiet nook amid growing


corn and bananas, while far down in the lovely glen there
flowed a rivulet, which added its waters to those of the
larger stream that bears the name of the picturesque and
luxuriant valley through which it passes. The extent of
the prospect was not so great but that the whole could be
embraced at a single glance, and every portion, even the
most distant, was so distinctly seen that it appeared like
a vast picture set in bold relief before our vision. Many
were the glorious scenes we enjoyed in our tropical wan-
derings, some wilder, more romantic, surpassing by far, in
grandeur, any we ever beheld in our own land; yet this
view from Higuerote seemed to excel them all, and left an
impression upon the memory which the lapse of time can
never efface.
Along the southern declivity of the mountain-range,
bounding upon the north the valley we have described, is
the road, cut from the soft micaceous rock, which leads by
a gentle descent into the plain below. About half the
distance down we halted at a wretched venta for rest and
breakfast. With hunger half appeased by a scanty meal,
we again mounted and were on our way. The mountain-
side along which we were travelling received the full bene-
fit of a tropical sun, and, as mid-day approached, the heat
became most oppressive. We were often tempted within
the cool retreat of some shaded glen, such as were fre-
quently crossed as we zigzagged down the Cordillera into
the valley beneath us. But our destination for the night
was a long journey ahead, and we urged our animals for-
The descent was at length completed, when we entered
the valley, which, narrow at first, gradually widened as
we advanced, spreading out into a broad and beautiful
plain, which is one of the great coffee-regions of the world.
The valleys of Aragua have been fitly called the Garden
of Venezuela." Their elevation is nearly two thousand


feet above the sea, one-half that of the table-lands of Ca-
racas, and the average temperature during the day is 70
to 750 Fahr., falling at night to about 600. The soil is
most fertile, and every product of the tropics, with many of
northern latitudes, flourishes luxuriantly. Coffee is, how-
ever, the great staple of these regions. As we approached
Victoria, we passed extensive estates of this shrub, shaded
by gigantic trees to prevent the rapid absorption of moist-
ure from the soil, and to protect the ripening berry from
the burning heat of the sun. Great care in cultivation is
bestowed on these coffee-groves, and the harvest yielded
is proportionally fine; the berry being of a superior qual-
ity, and the quantity greater than in most other places
where the shrub is cultivated. Wheat was formerly raised,
and produced, according to Humboldt, nearly sixteenfold;
but, notwithstanding this large return, the greater profit
from the culture of coffee, cacao, and cotton, has caused
the cultivation of wheat to be wholly neglected, and the
demand for it is now supplied from the States. We saw
none of this cereal growing in the country, but were
informed that in the provinces of Merida and Trujillo
there is sufficient raised to supply the demands of these
It was nearly dark when we entered Victoria and
reined our jaded animals up in front of quite a respect-
able-appearing posada. Weary and sore from our journey
of sixteen leagues over a rough mountain-road, we gladly
alighted from our saddles. A call for dinner was answered
by eight o'clock, when we sat down to our meal, which we
enjoyed with a keen relish, notwithstanding the successful
efforts of the cooks in destroying the natural flavor of
every dish with the inevitable garlic.
In our wearied condition we were not, perhaps, in the
best humor to spare the feelings of our precious muchacho
-we recalled our paying ten pesos for his invaluable ser-


vices-who had lost by the way one of our herbariums,
filled with choice plants. The loss was an irreparable one;
for many of the species were known only to the high table-
land and mountains of Caracas, where they had been col-
lected, and consequently could not now be replaced.
The imposition again practised upon us in making ar-
rangements for the prosecution of our journey was the
next thing to destroy our equanimity, and to persuade
us, if not already convinced, that Venezuelian officials
and posaderos possess the fewest virtues of any mortals
we were ever privileged to meet. Our mules, which had
been engaged only to Victoria, were not allowed to go
farther, and others could not be obtained. We therefore
made a trial of coaches, which our post, who monopolized
this business in Victoria, furnished us for the moderate
sum of sixty pesos. This was the price of a single day's
ride in one of the miserable, wheeled arrangements of the
country. Nor did this include the keeping of the driver
and horses by the way. Such is Venezuelian extortion to
which the traveller in these fair lands is subject.
We will here add, for the benefit of any who may fol-
low us over this route through Northern Venezuela, that
complete arrangements should be made for the entire
journey at Caracas or Valencia, whichever place may be
the starting-point. If you are not familiar with the
Spanish language, procure an interpreter, who can al-
ways be had, to make the bargain for you, being particu-
lar to mention every thing, and have all agreed upon,
even to the feed for your animals, and also the toll which
may be extorted by the way. An occasional cigar and
glass of aguardiente will also be expected by your mule-
teer. The journey is most easily performed by mules.
Be contented with allowing the beast to choose his own
time for accomplishing the distance. Like his counter-
part, his master, he is a subtle animal; if not deceitful


above all things, at least desperately wicked. With a lit-
tle experience, however, you will soon learn to manage the
creatures, so that no difficulty need be apprehended. You
cannot change his wily nature; but do not call it forth by
placing yourself in violent-opposition to his will.
Punctuality is not one of the virtues of Venezuelians;
we were, therefore, not surprised that it was fully an hour
late in the morning when the wretched conveyance, in
which we were to be dragged to Valencia, was ready for
us. The prospect of a discomforting journey in no way
allayed our feelings of indignation which we entertained
for Venezuelian swindlers in general and our Victoria po-
sadero in particular. The coach in question was a sham-
bling affair, drawn by three horses abreast, which were
from the roaming herds of the plains, and, before our
journey's end was reached, gave evidence that their wild
and fractious nature had not been wholly subdued. Stow-
ing ourselves and baggage as best we could inside of
the concern, the driver cracked his long raw-hide whip,
shouted at his fiery steeds, and away we dashed over the
stony pavement of the streets with noise sufficient for a
train of artillery. Victoria is an unattractive town of
seven or eight thousand inhabitants, and of but little
commercial importance, although situated in the midst of
the rich growing valleys of Aragua, and upon one of the
great thoroughfares of the republic. The valley here is a
league in breadth, but widens as it approaches the Lake of
Valencia, until, embracing that beautiful sheet of water,
it expands into the broad plain bearing the same name.
The villages of San Mateo and Zurmero were passed,
when we came in sight of the Saman de Guere, an enor-
mous tree of the mimosa family, whose large hemispheri-
cal top looks more like a forest-crowned peak than the
summit of a single tree. The height of this giant of the
vegetable kingdom is only about sixty feet, with the cir-

cumference of its trunk thirty, dimensions less than those
of other trees of the same kind growing in the vicinity.
But its beauty and attraction consist in the extension of
its branches, which spread out on every side to the dis-
tance of nearly a hundred feet, making a spherical sum-
mit of about six hundred feet in circumference. Its small,
pinnated leaves form a most delicate foliage, which con-
trasts curiously with the gigantic size of the tree, and add
greatly to its beauty. The age of the Saman de Guere
must be very great, for tradition only tells of its anti-
quity. It was held in great veneration by the natives at
the time of the Spanish Conquest, and is now carefully
preserved by the government. Humboldt makes mention
of it, as seen by him during his visit to the country in
1800, when it was, he says, in the same state of preserva-
tion in which the first conquerors found it. It has since
been observed with increased interest and attention by
travellers, and no change has been noticed in its appear-
ance during the half century or more that has followed.
But there it stands, green and vigorous, as in the days
when first the aborigines of the country reclined in the
shade of its forest-top, even then rocked by the blasts of
many ages. It is more than probable that it will with-
stand for centuries yet to come the fury of tropical tem-
pests, an object of wonder and reverence to the traveller
who shall journey through the valley of Aragua.
Four leagues westward of Turmero, and six from Vic-
toria, is Maracai. a town of some eight thousand inhabit-
ants, where we stopped for breakfast. For the first and
only time while in the country we saw a woman seat her-
self at the table in company with men. Among the bet-
ter class of Venezuelians it is customary for ladies to take
their meals in their rooms, having them brought by ser-
vants; while among the middle and lower classes the
women wait until their lords have eaten, when they take


possession of the table with what may be left, or, as is
more commonly the case, they crouch with the children upon
the ground in the corner, where from the iron pots they
take their food. The wife of our host, disregarding this
custom of Spanish etiquette, placed herself with us at the
festive board, and together we enjoyed a pleasant repast.
After our mid-day siesta we left Maracai, and soon after
caught a glimpse of Lake Valencia, or Tacarigua, its In-
dian name. The road thus far had been tolerably good,
but now became outrageously bad, so that our progress
was slow and laborious. Swollen streams rushing from
the mountain-sides crossed our path, occasioning us often-
times no little difficulty in fording. To add to the perplex-
ities of the situation, our horses were weary, and began to
exhibit signs which forboded evil. We were making our
way over the plain which borders the lake upon the north,
at times riding quite briskly over a smooth patch of road,
and then floundering through mud hub-deep, when sud-
denly we came to a halt. Putting our heads out of the
open sides of the coach to learn the cause of our stopping,
we discovered ourselves in the middle of a broad stream;
the horses standing composedly in the water with a mali-
cious look of self-satisfaction at our ludicrous position.
Yes, there we were, and no amount of coaxing or lashing
could induce the obstinate brutes to budge. To the re-
peated blows of the driver, they responded with kicks,
throwing mud and water in a most spiteful manner in
every direction, until one at length threw himself com-
pletely out of the harness. Seeing that our present mode
of procedure was not likely to avail us much but kicks
and a liberal sprinkling with the contents of the stream,
we concluded to alight, in hopes that the rebellious crea-
tures might then, perhaps, be induced to extricate the
concern. This was no sooner done than their ugliness
took a new direction, and, with a spring, they started


forward, purposing no doubt to leave us to our reflections,
which, just at that crisis of affairs, were in no very solemn
strain. Our driver, however, being on the alert, the crea-
tures were checked in their career until we could regain
our seats, when the lines and the whip were both given,
and away we dashed wildly over the plain.
At five P. M. we reached the small village of San
Joaquin, distant from Valencia six leagues. We had
been so detained by the badness of the roads, and the re-
fractory performances of our steeds, that we concluded to
pass the night at this place. At the early hour of three
in the morning we were served bread and coffee by our
pompous host, who, to lessen the trouble of dressing, had
wrapped himself in his blanket. We were soon on our
way, riding rapidly over the bed of an ancient lake, which
formerly covered the entire plains of Aragua and Valen-
cia. Leaving the rich and beautiful regions of Aragua
and Maracai, we entered upon a broader plain, formed by
the receeding of the hills to a greater distance from the
lake. Bushes and stunted trees, alternating with belts
of grass-growing land, were the features which the land-
scape now presented. We drove for miles, meeting with
only an occasional hut on a cultivated plot. Within half
a mile of Valencia we passed to our right the Mono, a
rocky and precipitous semi-isolated hill, from whose sum-
mit can be obtained one of the finest views of the plain
and lake.
It was eight A. M. when the rumbling of our coach
through the streets of Valencia announced to its inhab-
itants an arrival, which is not an every-day occurrence,
but an event to be signalled by a general cessation of
business, and a simultaneous appearance of a multitude
of heads from windows, doors, and balconies. Crossing
the Rio de Valencia, a stream which flows through the
city, we passed up the principal street amid staring


crowds, and stopped at the posada of La Bella Alaza, on
the eastern side of the Gran Plaza. Immediately the
posadero, guests, porters, cooks, and a whole retinue of
attendants, came rushing out, and besieged us on every
side, so that with difficulty we forced an entrance to the
apartment we were to occupy. Our baggage was seized
by three times the number needed to carry it, and was
followed by as many more, who came thronging into our
room, which they so filled that we were scarcely able to
move. Their curiosity becoming somewhat satisfied when
they had seen and examined every thing it was possible to
get hold of, they gradually withdrew, until we were at
length left to ourselves.
The city of Valencia is situated in the midst of a most
salubrious and fertile valley, which, including the basin of
Aragua upon the east, and the grassy plains stretching
out upon the west, is about twenty-five leagues in length
and five in its greatest breadth. It is difficult to conceive
why Caracas, which is farther from the geographical cen-
tre of the republic, and so difficult of access from the
coast, with only an open roadstead for a port, should have
been preferred as the capital of Venezuela to the more
accessible and in every respect more desirable place of
Valencia, which is only fourteen leagues, by a splendid
road, from one of the finest harbors in the world. Valen-
cia has been a favored city; it has never been sacked by
an invading army, never thrown down by an earthquake.
It was even spared by the tyrant Lopez de Aguirre, whose
name spread such terror throughout the republic; and the
wild Carib tribe, which came up in hordes from the Orinoco
to lay waste the place, were turned back before they had
crossed the borders of the plain. Contending parties in
the political convulsions of later times have also chosen
other places in which to shed each other's blood. Not-
withstanding, Valencia has advanced but slowly in growth


and prosperity. Its population of ten thousand, three-
quarters of a century ago, has scarcely doubled. The
most prominent part of the place, as of every Spanish
town, is the Gran Plaza, upon the north side of which
stands the cathedral, built more than two centuries ago.
On the south is the government-house of Carabobo, of
which state Valencia is the capital; the remaining sides
of the square are occupied by hotels, shops, and private
residences. The city has four churches, and two others
in process of erection, but which it is more than probable
will never be completed. There is one regular newspaper,
but in times of revolution, which is the normal condition
of the country, two or three are issued.
Our first visit from Valencia was to the beautiful Lake
of Tacarigua, which, when the city was founded, in 1555,
was one-half league to the eastward, but, by the rapid
desiccation of that body of water, it is now distant over
two and a half leagues. Leaving the city by the road
which leads to Victoria, we soon reached Guias, a little
village one and a half league from Valencia; and here,
abandoning the main highway, we followed a crooked
trail, which took us through a forest tract, then across
flourishing plantations of maize, bananas, and groves ,of
cocoa-nut trees, broken by stifling jungles of reeds and
bushes. It was noon when we reached the western shores
of the lake; when, oppressed by the heat of mid-day, we
threw ourselves beneath the grateful shade of trees at the
base of a wooded hill, which was at one time an island of
the lake, and enjoyed a view that has but few rivals in
beauty or interest upon either continent. Formerly, the
shores of the lake were the mountains which now form the
boundaries of the valleys of Aragua and Valencia; the
geological formations of the mountain-slopes, and their
fresh-water fossils (ampullaria and planorbis), embracing
species now inhabiting the lake, are unmistakable evidence


of the extent of its ancient borders.* How rapid the
change of level was previous to the nineteenth century,
we have no exact means of estimating; but, judging from
the increase in the rapidity of its shrinking since that
date, we infer that .its rate of diminution formerly was
much slower than at present. The historian Oviedo states
that when Valencia was founded, in 1555, it was one-half
league distant from the western shore of the lake, and
Humboldt asserts that, according to his own measure-
ment, in 1800, the town was a little more than twice that
distance from its borders, and that the lake was ten leagues
long, and nowhere over two or three leagues broad. The
last accurate observer also makes mention of there being,
at the time of his visit, fifteen islands, and also adds that
many formerly such had become, by the retreating of the
waters, attached to the main-land, forming promontories.
The lake at present is about eight leagues in length, with
its width proportionally contracted. Within the last
three-quarters of a century, no islands have become at-
tached to the shore, by the lowering of the waters; but,
instead, seven new ones have appeared. The height of
the lake above the sea is nearly twelve hundred feet. The
water has a temperature of 750 to 80S Fahrenheit, and is
perfectly fresh, although stated by Eastwick as being
brackish. We used it exclusively during our stay upon
its borders. Humboldt found that the water upon evap-
oration left only a small residuum of carbonate of lime,
and a little nitrate of potash.
The desiccation of this great basin of Valencia has
excited general interest, and is a matter of no small im-
portance to the inhabitants of those regions. During the
last half-century the process has been going forward with

These fossils we found in strata often several feet in thickness; in
the vicinity of the lake, the soil, in places, is largely composed of them.


increasing rapidity, and immense tracts of land, which
were formerly inundated, are now fertile and cultivated
plains; as the country bordering the lake is so low and
level, that the lowering of a few inches in the surface of
the water lays dry a wide belt of land. The same nature
of the circumambient plain also causes considerable por-
tions to be submerged during the rainy period of the
year, preventing the planting of maize at that season.
There are twenty-two streams, some of them of con-
siderable size, that flow into the lake, but, as it has no dis-
coverable outlet, the waters must be removed wholly by
evaporation. Of the quantity of water which empties into
the basin of Valencia, some idea may be formed from the
calculations of Cordozzi, in his Res?2men de la Geografia
de Venezuela, published in 1841. This writer gives the
size of the lake as twenty-two square leagues, and the
area of the valleys of Caribobo and Aragua, which, from
their configuration, give their waters to the basin of Va-
lencia, as eighty-six square leagues. This, united to the
twenty-two of the lake, gives a surface of one hundred
and eight square leagues, over which it is said there year-
ly fall seventy-two inches of rain. This estimate will en-
able us to conceive how rapidly evaporation goes on in
the dry and heated atmosphere of the tropics. Certain
local causes have tended to greatly accelerate the desicca-
tion of the lake. The mountains which enclose the basin
were formerly covered with forest, which retained the
moisture of the earth, and produced copious springs that
fed the streams. This natural protection to the soil has
been removed, the land has become parched, streams
dried up, the heat of the valley augmented, and evapora-
tion has consequently become more rapid. The Pao,
which was the largest river that flowed into the lake, was,
at the close of the seventeenth century, diverted from its
original channel for the purpose of irrigating the country


to the southward, and its waters allowed to escape in the
Llanos. The low depression of the hills at the passage
of Bucarito was the outlet of the ancient lake; a rise of
the water forty feet above its present level would cause
it to discharge as heretofore. In less than a century, at
the present accelerated rate with which its shores are re-
ceding, desiccated plains, covered with growing crops and
luxuriant verdure, will mark the spot the lake now oc-



Hacienda of Mr. Gl1ckler.-Coffee.-Cacao.-Tiger-Hunt.-A Tropical
Forest.-Lost on the Mountains.-A Cheerless Night.-Exit from the
Wilds.-Return to Valencia.-Descent to the Sea-coast.-Papaw-
Tree.-" Cow-Tree."-Thermal Springs.-Discomforts of Life at a
Hacienda.-Cocoa-Palm.-Mangroves.-Puerto Cabello.

WHILE at Valencia, we made the acquaintance of Mr.
G1ockler, the German consul from Hamburg. Mr. Glick-
ler was the owner of a large estate about two leagues
from the city, and thither he invited us for the purpose of
a tiger*-hunt among the mountains. The pleasing diver-
sion which such an excursion promised, besides the oppor-
tunity presented of making valuable collections from the
high altitudes of the Cordilleras, toward whose lofty sum-
mits we had often cast a wistful eye during our abode
upon the plains, induced us to accept the proposal.
Leaving Valencia upon the road which leads to Puerto
Cabello, we soon abandoned it, and, turning to our left,
crossed a ridge of hills which brought us into a finely-cul-
tivated, lateral valley, opening upon the larger plain of
the lake. It was noon when we alighted at the hacienda,t
one of the largest and finest we saw in the country, where

The Felis onra of naturalists; generally known as the jaguar, or
American tiger.
t Hacienda is a term used to designate alike landed estate and the
usually large dwelling situated upon the same.


we were kindly received and hospitably entertained. The
house, a low two-story structure, occupied one side of a
large court-yard of about half an acre in extent, which
was enclosed on the remaining sides by high walls,
and the small dwellings of the laborers of the hacienda.
Outside of the enclosure were cocoa-nut, orange, banana,
and lemon trees, loaded with fruit in every stage of per-
fection. Of the last mentioned there are two species cul-
tivated in Venezuela; one (Citrus lemonium), the kind so
well known in commerce, the other (Citrus hlmia) a
sweet lemon, in which the acidity that belongs to the
other is entirely wanting.
The estate, which stretched far up the mountain ac-
clivity, was devoted principally to coffee-raising. How
much might be written of coffee-its growth, uses, and
the influence which it exerts commercially, socially, and
physically! The temperate valleys of Valencia and Ara-
gua seem peculiarly adapted to its cultivation, the yield
being large, and the berry of a superior quality. The
site for a coffee-plantation must be such that it can be ir-
rigated during the dry season; and the shrubs need to be
shaded by large trees, to protect them from the scorch-
ing rays of the sun. If grown from the slip, they will
produce their first crop the second year; but usually not
much is expected until the third. The average annual
yield is one and a half or two pounds from each bush,
although sometimes as many as fifteen pounds are gath-
ered from a single plant. The berries grow in fascicles,
or clusters, at the end of the branches, and, when ripe, re-
semble an oblong cranberry.
Another product of these temperate valleys, one which
thrives most luxuriantly and forms one of the chief export.
of Venezuela, is cacao (Theobroma cacao), the chocolate-
tree. The cacao is a native of Central and South America,
and was unknown to the inhabitants of the Old World,


until introduced after the discovery of the New. Among
the ancient Aztecs and Incas it was used as a medium of
exchange, besides affording them a most delicious bever-
age and nutritious food. Bananas and the erythrina are
planted at the same time with the cacao; the former,
which is a very rapidly-growing plant, protects the cacao
during the first stages of its growth, being removed as
soon as the latter tree attains sufficient size to afford the
requisite shade. The cacao-plant seldom rises higher than
twenty feet, and commences to bear at the age of six or
seven years, yielding two crops annually for an indefinite
number of years. The manner in which the fruit grows,
attached to the trunks and large limbs of the trees, will
strike one as a little curious. It resembles a short, thick
cucumber, four or five inches long, and two and a half or
three inches in diameter, and contains thirty or forty
large, flat beans of a dark-brown color, enveloped in a
sweet pulp. One or one and a half pound is the average
annual yield of a single tree. Notwithstanding this small
return, it is an exceedingly lucrative branch of culture,
as a plantation, when once established, requires but little
attention beyond the harvesting of the crop.
Toward evening of the same day of our arrival at- the
estate of the consul, we climbed the mountain to an upper
hacienda, also owned by him. On the way we were shown
some hieroglyphics, sculptured upon the rocks, the work
of a civilization prior, to the conquest. The designs were
those of animals and various other objects in nature,
rudely executed and still in a good state of preservation,
notwithstanding the rocks upon which they are carved
have been for centuries subjected to the destroying agen-
cies of a tropical climate. On the old road over the moun-
tains from Valencia to Puerto Cabello, and near the latter
place, are upon the rocks similar engravings, which must
be referred to the same origin and antiquity.


Spending the night at the upper hacienda, at early
dawn we were preparing for the excursion of the day-a
tiger-hunt among the mountains. Hastily taking our
coffee, we mounted our saddles, and were on our way up
the Cordillera, attended by two natives and the hospitable
German who had charge of the hacienda. From time to
time in the ascent we caught a momentary glimpse of the
country below through openings in the white fleecy clouds,
but, as the highest point of observation was reached, the
mist was dispelled, and we had before us a picture that
we shall long remember. As we cast our eyes downward,
almost beneath our feet we beheld the charming valley we
had left, and beyond, separated by a range of wooded
.hills which appeared scarcely elevated above the sur-
rounding level, was the fertile plain of Valencia, and still
farther on the Golden Valleys of Aragua. There was the
city of Valencia, and beyond, in the midst of forest and
cultivated grounds, was that gem of lakes whose waters
glistened under the light of the morning sun. To our left
and far distant rose semi-isolated mountains with barren
slopes and sharp summits, while to the southward were
the sierras of Nirgua and Guique, and beyond, range
after range piled itself against the sky. Rarely, indeed,
does the eye behold a more glorious prospect than is
gained from the lofty mountains of Valencia.
Leaving the animals in charge of one of the natives,
with instructions to wait until our return, and taking the
other with us for a guide, we plunged into the dense for-
est. He who is acquainted only with northern woods can
have but a faint conception of the primeval forest of the
tropics. Gigantic trees rise to a height unknown in tem-
perate regions, displaying the greatest variety in the form
and aspect of their foliage. Towering and crested palms
shoot upward straight as an arrow, waving their pinion-
like leaves in the breezes. Arborescent ferns and grasses,


thirty and forty feet in height, add their colossal forms to
the greater monarchs of the forest. Parasitic plants cover
the huge trunks and limbs of the trees, and vines interlace
their wide-spreading branches, forming a thick, tangled
mass of verdure through which no ray of the sun ever
penetrates. Beneath, constituting what might be called
the lower stratum of vegetation, are bushes, ferns, and
creeping plants, which are so thickly interwoven as to
make a net-work that is almost impenetrable. The earth
is densely carpeted with leaves, mosses, and lichens, and
strewn in the greatest profusion with thousands of fallen
flowers. Such was the forest into which we had entered.
Our guide preceded us. opening a way with his machete,
and the party followed in single file. We had not pene-
trated far in these deep solitudes before we discovered the
fresh tracks of a huge tiger deeply embedded in the soft
earth. After several hours of fruitless travel in these tan-
gled wilds, finding pursuit with any prospect of success im-
possible, we abandoned the attempt, and determined upon
our return, taking a different course from the one we had
come. But this soon brought us into difficulty, for our
circuitous mode of travelling bewildered the guide, and,
although he endeavored to keep the fact from us, we were
not long in making the rather unpleasant discovery that,
for aught we knew, we were plunging deeper and deeper
into a boundless wilderness. We would descend one
mountain-ridge but to mount laboriously another. We
ascended the highest peaks, and climbed to the tops of the
tallest trees, only to be rewarded by the same cheerless,
interminable line of waving forest. Once were we glad-
dened by a view of the distant Lake of Tacarigua, but in
our wanderings in the inextricable labyrinth of woods our
direction was again lost. Nearly every step of our prog-
ress had to be cleared with the machete. Slowly we
toiled along, dragging our aching bodies wearily up pre-


cipitous cliffs, and, bruised and exhausted, would land at
the base of the opposite slope. Under these severe exer-
tions one of the party gave out completely, and another
was bitten on the hand by a mapanase, a venomous ser-
pent, the effects of which caused a frightful swelling of the
wounded member, but was prevented from proving fatal
by the application of liquid ammonia, an antidote we al-
ways took the precaution to be provided with.* Ex-
cepting coffee, early in the morning, we had taken nothing
since the day previous, and we had brought nothing with
us; all our outer garments were left behind, and those we
wore were not the better after our experiences of the day.
Darkness at last terminated our wanderings, when we
threw ourselves down upon the stony bank of a moun-
tain-torrent which came thundering down from the granitic
rocks that were piled above, with a roar that made the
surrounding hills tremble. Our scanty clothing protected
us but poorly against the chilling atmosphere of the moun-
tains, so that we suffered severely from the cold. The
spray from the stream rendered more chilly the air, and
a heavy storm, whose rising was indicated by a deeper
darkness and stronger gusts of wind through the forest,
threatened, for a time, to add to our discomfort; but for-
tunately it swept over with only a slight dash of rain.
Morning at length came. One of the party during the
night had unconsciously crawled to the edge of a preci-
pice, and there stretched himself upon some bushes and
tangled vines, where a single incautious move or an open-

This specific is employed with success by the natives for the bite of
all venomous serpents. It is also useful for the stings of poisonous in-
sects, and no traveller to the tropics should be unprovided with this sim-
ple means of security against the evil effects of venomous creatures
which inhabit those regions. Dr. Fayrer, of Calcutta, has, however, in a
very interesting series of experiments, shown that ammonia cannot coun-
teract the virulent poison of the cobra.


ing of the treacherous couch would have let him into the
gulf below. Picking up our rusty guns and ourselves,
wet and stiff from the rain and cold, we followed down
the bed of the torrent, climbing over the huge bowlders
of granite which blockaded the narrow gorge, forming
cascades and rapids, as the waters went leaping down in
their haste to reach the deep valley beneath. Whether
the stream flowed into the plain of Valencia or the Atlan-
tic, we knew not, but were certain that it must be in one,
and, in either event, by following its course, we would ex-
tricate ourselves from the forest. About the middle of
the forenoon we reached Trinchara, a hamlet about mid-
way on the road from Valencia to Puerto Cabello. The
stream which had been our guide, descending the Cor-
dillera to the northward, emptied its waters into the
Trinchara was seven or eight leagues from our hacienda
by the main road, but by the trail over the mountains the
distance was much shorter. The hope of gaining time
led us to choose the latter course, which for a while was
well defined, but at length became lost in a tangled thicket.
We cut our way through dense jungles of reeds and mat-
ted woods, climbed precipices, and crossed range after
range, until we reached a hut buried in the wilderness.
Learning from the occupants the nearest exit from the
forest, without further difficulty, save a long and weari-
some march, we reached, toward the close of the second
day of our setting out, the hacienda of the consul. The
native left with our mules had returned with them on the
previous night, bringing the tidings of our mysterious ab-
sence, which caused no little anxiety to our friends. Our
wearied condition induced us to accept proffered hospi-
tality and pass the night at the hacienda, dispatching a
servant for our baggage which we had left upon the moun-
tain. On the following morning we returned to the city,


and thus ended our unsuccessful and long-to-be-remem-
bered tiger-hunt in the mountains of Valencia.
Our excursions having now embraced most places of
interest upon the elevated table-lands of Caracas and the
valleys of Aragua and Valencia, we commenced prepara-
tions for our journey to the Llanos of the interior. We
determined, however, before starting, to visit once more
the tierra caliente of the coast, in order to acquaint our-
selves more fully with its botany and zoology, and that
we might also forward to the States the results of our
labors thus far, together with the unnecessary baggage,
which would prove an encumbrance to us in our long
journey to the Amazons. Accordingly, upon the morning
of the 7th of September, we left Valencia for Puerto Ca-
bello, reaching the summit of the Cordillera, over which
the road passes, just in time to witness a glorious sunrise.
Leaving the crest, we commenced the descent toward the
sea through a deep and at first narrow ravine, the road at
times running along the steep slope, overlooking deep
gorges, and then descending and following the stream
below. The sides of the sierras were clothed with a dense
and heavy forest. The trees were hung in drapery of long,
gray moss, and decked with garlands of convolvulus, pas-
sion-flowers, and an endless variety of parasitic plants.
Stately monarchs of the forest, stripped of their branches,
and covered from base to summit with climbing verdure,
rose like huge green columns in the surrounding woods.
Palm-trees, of all tropical vegetation the most majestic and
beautiful, lifted high toward the heavens their clusters of
rich, rustling verdure. Conspicuous in the midst of the
eternal green were seen the white trunks of cecropias, and
the branchless stems of the papaw-tree, crowned with its
immense leaves and gourd-like fruit. The milky juice of
the tree is said to have the efficacy of making meat tender
when boiled in it for a few minutes; and even animals and


fowls, when fed upon the leaves, will have tender flesh,
however tough it might have been otherwise. We could
not refrain from wishing that this tree, upon the strength
of the reputation of its lacteal fluid, might be widely in-
troduced in countries outside of the tropics.
But the most interesting form of vegetation which
flourishes in the greatest abundance through these rugged
mountain-wilds is the famous palo de vaca, or cow-tree,"
from which is obtained, when incisions are made in the
trunk, a milky juice, sweet and agreeable to the taste, and
which is considerably used by the natives, to whom it fur-
nishes an exceedingly nutritious food. The tree attains a
great height; the coriaceous leaves are from six to ten
inches in length. The wood is red, very hard and durable.
Mr. Wallace, in enumerating the various uses to which the
fluid is put at ParA upon the Amazons, where it grows in
great abundance, says that, applied fresh from the tree as
a glue, it is more durable than that used by carpenters; it
also makes good custard. "Amid the great number of
curious phenomena," says Humboldt, which I have ob-
served in the course of my travels, I confess there are few
that have made so powerful an impression on me as the
aspect of the cow-tree." There is, indeed; something pecu-
liarly impressive in this remarkable tree, which will not be
obliterated from the mind of the traveller by the many
other wonders of the equatorial regions that may come
under his observation. That there should be a tree mys-
teriously elaborating a substance devoid of all acidity,
bitterness, and the deleterious qualities usually belonging
to lactescent plants, and which is, moreover, a delicious
and wholesome aliment, is no less a remarkable fact than a
beneficent provision for the inhabitants of a country who
rely mainly upon the natural resources of the land for the
supplying of their wants.
At eight A. M. we reached Trinchera, the place of our


exit from the mountains when upon our memorable tiger-
hunt. Here we halted for coffee, and visited the thermal
springs which have given such a world-wide celebrity to
this place. They are situated a short distance from the
road, in a deep hollow, through which flows a rivulet,
from whose surface rose hot vapors, giving forth a strong
odor of sulphuretted hydrogen. The springs, which issue
from a coarse-grained granite, possess a temperature of
1960 Fahrenheit, and, according to Humboldt, are, next
to the fountain of Urijino in Japan, the hottest in the
world. The vapor of the water deposits carbonate of
lime, which forms incrustations upon the plants and stones
in the vicinity of the stream. If exposed in an open
vessel until the gas has escaped, it becomes in a short
time as pure as distilled water.
It was not a little surprising to behold how luxuriant
was the vegetation along this hot-water river. Giant
trees reared high their heads, and stretched their spread-
ing branches over this Stygian stream, as if delighting in
the hot, sulphurous exhalations that rose from the surface,
while other plants sprung up in the very midst of the
rivulet and flourished where we could not for a moment
endure to hold our hand. It is also a singular phenom-
enon that, at less than fifteen yards from the thermal
springs, there gush others from the granitic rock, whose
waters are perfectly pure and cold.
Resuming our journey from Trinchera, in four leagues
more, accomplished in as many hours, we came to the
wretched little village of Cambure, comprising about
thirty huts situated in a pestilential swamp. Having
rested a couple of hours, we proceeded on our way, the
valley widening as we neared the coast, and the stream
called Bio Agua Caliente, Hot-water River, that flowed at
the bottom of the ravine, swelling into a considerable tor-
rent. At 4 P. x., at a sudden turn in the road, we were


brought in full view of the ocean. We recalled the time
when, from the heights of Silla, we took our farewell look
of the Atlantic, but little expecting to see it again until
we should behold it three thousand miles away, upon the
eastern shore of the continent.
At the point where the road reaches the coast and
turns eastward is Palito, a settlement of a dozen hovels, a
wretched posada for travellers, and three or four pulperias.
Reaching here before sunset, we enjoyed a refreshing
bath in the sea, which breaks upon this unprotected coast
in heavy surges. We then sauntered through the town
and along the line of railway which is building from
Puerto Cabello to San Felipe, fifty miles to the westward.
This heathenish place of Palito is to be the first station,
and also the junction with a branch road that is to diverge
over the mountains to Valencia. But it is extremely
doubtful whether the lines will ever be completed; opera-
tions upon them have been suspended, owing to the inability
of the government to fulfil its contract with the company.
Sabbath was spent at Palito, and Monday morning, long
before day, we left for Puerto Cabello, following the line of
the coast to the eastward over a sandy plain a league in
breadth. We forded the Rio Caliente and a number of
other streams, which, by their overflow, form stagnant,
malarious pools, and sedgy, serpent-abounding jungles-
real Stygian marshes. As we approached the city, the
plain became more fertile and cultivated, and we passed
broad fields of maize, plantations of the broad-leaved
banana, and extensive groves of cocoa-nut palms. With-
in two miles of Puerto Cabello we stopped at a hacienda,
where we spent a few days. At night we swung our ham-
mocks in the front corridor; and here we slept-no, con-
tended with sancudos (mosquitoes) and fleas, and chafed
under the exciting effects of poison-ivy, aggravated by
an almost unendurable heat. The plant referred to is the


Rhus toxicodendron, so well known with us; it is the
bane of these lowlands of the coast. In such abundance
does it grow that it is almost impossible to avoid com-
ing in contact with it, and suffering thereby the usual
penalty. We here discovered also another of our north-
ern shrubs, Sambucus Canadensis, or common elder.
This last we found upon the high table-lands and also far
in the interior of the country. These were the only famil-
iar indigenous plants that we met with in our rambles in
South America; so different is equatorial vegetation from
our northern.
One of the marked features of this hot coast is the
groves of cocoa-nut palms which here find a genial home.
Not often does Nature produce a tree that is so variously
useful to man. The leaves are employed for thatching,
their fibres for manufacturing many articles, while their
ashes produce .potash in abundance. The fruit is eaten
raw, and in many ways prepared for food; the nut yields
an oil which is an important article of commerce; the
hard, woody shell answers for cups; the milk of the fruit
is a cooling beverage; the saccharine juice of the tree
'also affords an excellent drink, either before or after fer-
mentation; while from the young stems is obtained a fari-
naceous substance similar to that of the sago, or bread-
palm.* In the cocoa-nut palm, and the same can be said
of palm-trees generally, Nature admirably unites the use-
ful and ornamental. There is no other tree which contrib-
utes so largely to supply the wants of the inhabitants of

The bread-palm must not be confounded with the bread-fruit tree
( Carolinea princeps), which is not indigenous to Venezuela, although com-
mon in the country. The last is a majestic exogenous tree with im
mense, shining leaves two and a half feet in length and two in breadth.
The fruit is as large as a cocoa-nut, and contains many chestnut-like
peeds, which, cooked, have a taste somewhat resembling that of the po-


the tropics. It is one of the numerous causes which in
southern climes tend to encourage the careless indolence
of the people. We can imagine but few more beautiful
sights, or a more inviting retreat upon a sultry day, than
that of a grove of cocoa-nut palms, and, as we recall the
many hours of luxurious ease spent beneath their cool-
ing shades, we cannot but exclaim with the poet:

"Oh stretched amid these orchards of the sun,
Give me to drain the cocoa's milky bowl,
And from the palm to draw refreshing wine!"

Distant from our hacienda not over half a mile was
the sea, whither we frequently resorted. Fringing the
shore was a belt of mangrove-trees, whose aerial roots in-
terlacing form an impenetrable thicket, that is submerged
at every rise of the tide. This submarine lattice-work is
covered with shell-fish, clinging to its branches, and with
sea-weeds, drifted thither by the waves, while crabs and
mollusks in infinite numbers here shelter themselves from
the violence of an open sea. Thus mangrove-forests, by
deposits from the waves among their tangled net-work of
roots, cause a gradual encroachment of the land upon the
ocean; but this increase of territory results in their own
destruction; for, as the shore recedes, and their roots are
no longer washed by the tides, the trees perish, and mark
by their partially-buried trunks the ancients limits of the
ocean. The deleterious properties possessed by this sub-
marine vegetation, accompanied with the noxious exhala-
tions that usually arise from marshy ground covered with
forest, especially in a heated climate, render these regions
along the coast exceedingly unhealthy. The stifling heat
of these arid plains seemed to us almost insupportable,
after having enjoyed the cool and delightful atmosphere
of the valleys among the Cordilleras. The amount of
rain that falls annually is much less than at Valencia,


and irrigation is necessary to preserve verdure and pro-
mote fertility.
At the expiration of a week spent upon this burning
and pestilential plain, we took up our abode in Puerto
Cabello, the port of entry to Valencia. Affording good
commercial facilities, it has become a town of considera-
ble importance, containing a population of ten thousand,
among which are many foreigners, in whose hands is
much of the business of the place. We see here more in-
dications of thrift and enterprise than we have observed
elsewhere in the country. The trade is chiefly in exports,
of which coffee, cacao, cotton, hides, and indigo, form the
greater part. The harbor, unlike the roadstead of La
Guaira, is well sheltered, there being but a narrow en-
trance upon the west, which is also protected by islands,
and by the natural curvature of the main-land; so that
vessels can ride at anchor within, secure from the sea
which breaks so heavily upon the outer coast. The bay
swarms with voracious sharks, so that only at the peril of
life can the water be entered; while at La Guaira these
cetaceous monsters are harmless creatures, and there the
sea is continually filled with bathers, and with natives en-
gaged in transferring freight from shipboard to land.
The defences of the town are a battery, which guards the
entrance to the harbor; another that stands to the east of
the city; with a castle which crowns a rocky eminence five
hundred feet high, overlooking the place. There is, how-
ever, but little danger to be apprehended from foreign
invasion, the security of the city being threatened only by
the political convulsions to which this country is sub-
Our stay at Puerto Cabello, which was necessarily
short, now drew to a close, and with it terminated our
rambles in Northern Venezuela.



Water-system of South America.-Our Route.-Leave Puerto Cabello.-
Last Visit to Valencia.-A South American Road.-Fording a River.-
Wild Scenery.-Night at a Posada.-First View of Llanos.-Their Ex-
tent and General Features.-Town of Pao.-Embarked for Baul.-Our
Bongo.-" Very bad" to wash before Breakfast.-Palms.-Bam-
boos.-Alligators.-Howling Monkeys.--ost in the Forest.-Navigat-
ing under Difficulties.-Shooting Rapids.-Night at a Llano Hut.

THE water-system of South America is a remarkable
one, not only in the vastness of its majestic rivers, but also
in the curious anastomosing of its great streams. The
Orinoco, Rio Negro, and Amazons, with their extended and
united arms, reach around and island the northeastern
portion of the continent, embracing Guiana, with a large
part of Venezuela, and a considerable portion of Brazil.
You might circumnavigate this tract with a canoe. No
continent affords better commercial facilities. Steamers
may pass up the Amazons, by its Peruvian waters, to the
foot of the Andes. The continent is thus not only
traversable its entire breadth, but also length, by means
of its water-courses. A canoe starting in at the delta of
the Orinoco can be paddled lengthwise of the continent to
the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, the paddling being
exchanged for short towages around the rapids of the
Upper Orinoco and Madeira Rivers.


But we must forego these general remarks, and, an-
ticipating the expectations of our readers, recount some
of the experiences and incidents which make up the his-
tory of our voyages upon these rivers. Let us first briefly
designate the route pursued across the continent. From
Puerto Cabello, we made the passage of the Cordilleras
to the head-waters of the Pao, a tributary of the Apure, and
passed down that river to its confluence with the latter, and
then down the Apure to the Orinoco. Then we ascended
that river, dragging our canoes around the cataracts en-
countered near its middle waters, and crossed by a portage
of ten miles to the Rio Negro.* Down the black waters of
the Rio Negro we floated to the Amazons, and then, ex-
changing our little craft for a steamer, passed down that
majestic river to the sea. The distance traversed was
over three thousand miles, with obstacles to overcome
that can only be conceived of by those who have pene-
trated into the trackless wilds of these almost unfrequent-
ed regions. Much of the journey was performed by
canoe across inundated plains, where the sun is the only
guide to the traveller; through flooded forest, penetrable
only as a path is opened with the axe; and upon impetuous
and rock-obstructed rivers. Our bed at night was often
the bank of some stream, or in the deep gloom of the for-
est, with the roaring of crocodiles, the plaintive cry of
monkeys, and the howl of tigers to lull us to sleep. More-
over, the climate of the interior was exceedingly hot and
malarious, and means of transportation were so limited
that scarcely sufficient could be carried to meet our most
urgent necessities during our protracted voyage of four
Our first care was to dispatch to the States every thing
excepting what would be absolutely indispensable to us
This portage might have been avoided by following the Cassiquiare,
a circuitous water-channel, which unites the waters of the two rivers.


upon our journey. For the sake of the curious, we will
incidentally remark that, aside from the suit worn, which
was woollen throughout, the extra clothing of each, to
which were added a few other necessary articles, was
packed in an ordinary army haversack. Each one was fur-
thermore supplied with a cobija, or poncho, and hammock,
and a gun with its accompanying paraphernalia. A few
simple instruments that were also added to our stock, with
a botanical box and press, completed our outfit, the en-
tire weight of which did not exceed one hundred and
twenty-five pounds, or an average of about forty pounds
to a man.
Preparations for our journey being completed, we left
Puerto Cabello upon the afternoon of the 17th of Septem-
ber, reaching Valencia upon the evening of the following
day, where we spent one day in concluding arrangements
for the journey of eighteen leagues over the Cordilleras to
Pao-the head of canoe-navigation upon Pao River. A
donkey, which we afterward gave away, was purchased
for ten pesos, for the transportation of our baggage, and
by 5 P. M. we were ready for starting. It was not with-
out many misgivings that we left the genial and salubri-
ous climate of the mountain valleys for the submerged
and malarious regions of the Llanos, and the wild, unex-
plored forests of the Orinoco. We parted, too, with
many regrets from the friends formed during our brief
stay at Valencia, whose kindness will not soon be forgot-
ten. Especially are we indebted to Sefor E. Staal, a let-
ter of introduction from whom to a gentleman in Pao was
the commencement of a series which extended from place
to place across the continent, and which proved of invalu-
able service to us. After many a hearty shake of the
hand, accompanied with endless "buenas viajes," and
"Dios guardss" we separated, turning our faces toward
the sierras of Nigua, with its long lines of shadowy bills


stretching away in the distance. As we wended our way
through the narrow streets, every window, door, and ve-
randa, was filled with heads, some drawn thither from
idle curiosity to see Los Americanos," others to give us
a parting adios.
The sun was lingering above the western hills when
we made our exit from the city, shedding its golden
beams over mountains, plains, and forests, as if to give us
one more glorious view of this lovely valley. We shall
not soon forget either the beauties of that sunset eve, or
the many scenes and associations of Valencia. It was
after dark when we halted for the night at the same
miserable posada which had sheltered us upon a previous
occasion, when overtaken by night, and lost upon the
plains. In a small room, shared with a man and boy,
benches, tables, boxes, saddles, boards, poles, hoes, water-
jars, barrels, green cornstalks, sancudos, and fleas, we
managed to pass the night. It was scarcely dawn when
we were again on our journey, our road leading across a
grassy plain toward the range of hills which separates the
valley of Valencia from the Llanos beyond.
One who has travelled only over the finely-built high-
ways of our country, can have but a faint conception of
what is analogous to such ,in the tropics. A road here
means simply a beaten path, with branches diverging in
every direction, to the utter bewilderment of the traveller.
Some of the roads consist of a number of parallel paths,
worn by the tread of animals into deep gullies, which,
upon the mountain-slopes, in the season of rains, consti-
tute water-channels, through which torrents flow down,
rendering travelling not only exceedingly difficult but
dangerous. No bridges span the streams, which must be
crossed by fording or swimming, while exposed to vora-
cious caimans, or alligators, and other dangerous pests of
these tropical waters.


It was along one of these trails that we were now di-
recting our course. We found the streams greatly swol-
len, and the road nearly impassable, for the rainy season
had not yet drawn to a close; but we-met with no serious
obstacle until some three leagues on our journey, when a
river, larger than any we had yet encountered, threw it-
self across our path. We sat down upon the bank of the
swollen torrent to discuss the probabilities of a safe tran-
sit, and to watch a party of natives who were making the
passage. The animals were forced to swim, while their
cargoes were carried over upon the heads of the men.
We watched the novel spectacle until sufficiently ac-
quainted with the modus operandi, when we commenced
the crossing, taking our packages upon our heads, d la
creole. We reached the opposite shore safely; but our
little donkey, unable to stem the current, was swept down
the stream; but, fortunately, the precaution had been
taken to attach a long rope to his neck, and by this poor
burro was dragged to land. After some time consumed
in these ferrying operations, we continued on over the
plain a league farther, when we commenced the gradual
ascent of the mountains, and, toward the close of the day,
we stood upon the summit of the first range of the Cor-
dillera crossed in going to Pao from Valencia, where we
enjoyed a wide sweep of wild mountain scenery. South-
ward rugged and barren ranges were piled one upon an-
other, and at their bases lay picturesque valleys, slightly
wooded, and sprinkled over with little huts, surrounded
with patches of maize and bananas, which presented
charming spots in the midst of the mountain ruggedness.
Wending our way down along the edge of a precipitous
cliff into one of the beautiful glens stretched out beneath
us, we stopped for the night at a mud posada, a way-side
inn, glorying in total darkness within.
The sun had not yet risen when we were again mak-


ing our way over a wild, barren region, either winding
through rugged defiles, or mounting by circuitous paths
the ranges of the Cordilleras. The trail at one time
would lead down abrupt descents into deep and almost
inextricable ravines, not unfrequently between cliffs near-
ly closing above us, over ranges, furrowed deeply by
torrents, and so precipitous and slippery that our animal
could mount them only as he was lifted almost bodily up
the heights. After a day of wearisome climbing we
reached by 5 p. i. a posada, whose inviting appearance,
added to the uncertainty of finding another stopping-
place within a convenient distance, induced us to make
this the terminus of our day's journey. Dinner being im-
mediately called for, was promised pronto (quickly), which
meant any time before next morning. A familiar cry,
heard soon after, prognosticating evil to a feathered
gamester, was suggestive of good things coming. For
three mortal hours, however, we waited for further de-
velopments, when at length came the summons, Venga a
conmer. Turning to the farther .corner of the apartment,
where we had been reclining in our hammocks, the faint
glimmering of a light from a bit of rag burning in a cup
of fat revealed to us, upon a table spread with a dirty
cloth, the disjointed members of a half-cooked fowl,
which, judging from its toughness, must have enjoyed
the walks of life for a much longer period of years than
usually falls to the lot of his race. In addition, there
wepe three calabashes of soup to be eaten by means of
pieces of broken crockery used as spoons.
In the morning, after the customary calabash of coffee,
we resumed our journey, winding along giddy heights,
where a traveller's sense of insecurity is not lessened by
the momentary prospect of meeting, at any turn of his
path, scarcely wide enough for his beast to tread, loaded
animals going in the opposite direction, which, rushing


down, threaten to hurl every opposing obstacle over the
frightful cliff. Trains of animals crossing the Cordilleras
have a bell attached to the neck of the leader, or are pre-
ceded by a drover with a conch-shell that is blown to
give notice of the approaching line, but which does not al-
ways prevent a collision that sometimes results most disas-
trously. We frequently encountered troops of pack-mules
and donkeys going to Valencia; but, being always on the
qui vive, we were spared any of these unpleasant episodes.
We at length descended into a heavily-timbered valley,
and, rising from this to the summit of the last range of
the Cordillera, we beheld for the first time the Llanos of
Venezuela. One can scarcely imagine the pleasure af-
forded us, as, after travelling amid the wildest of moun-
tain scenery, we looked down upon this great sea of ver-
dure which, joined with the sylvas of Brazil and the
pampas of Buenos Ayres, stretched far away thousands
of miles into the regions of southern frost.
The Llanos of Venezuela are separated from the great
forest of the Amazons by the mountains of Guiana, or, as
sometimes termed, the sierras of Parima, and bounded
upon the north by the littoral range of the coast, bearing
different local names, as the mountains of Puerto Cabello,
Caracas, and Cumana. The plains thus have a width of
about four hundred miles, while in length they stretch
from the great delta of the Orinoco more than a thousand
miles westward to the Andes of Colombia. By far the
greater portion of this immense plain is covered with
luxuriant grass, but often broken by tracts of forest, and
belted by the heavily-wooded courses of the many rivers.
Draining these savannas is the Orinoco, the second river
in size of South America, which is swollen by the thou-
sand streams from the mountains of Guiana upon the south,
and from the Andes of Colombia, and the coast-chain of
Venezuela, upon the west and north. The swelling of


these rivers during the season of rains causes the inun-
dation of large portions of the country, so that it can be
traversed only by canoes. When the waters subside, the
grass, which has been parched under the cloudless sky of
the dry season preceding the overflow, quickly springs
up, and in a short time the earth is again clothed with
beautiful verdure. That part of the Llanos situated
north of the Orinoco and Apure is divided into tracts
known as the plains of Maturin, Barcelona, and Guarico,
while the more southern portions are known as the savan-
nas of the Apure, Meta, and Guaviare. The general slope
of the Llanos is toward the northeast; or, rather, they
describe a quadrant, the upper portion of the basin slop-
ing toward the north, the lower toward the east, which
gives direction to the waters of the Orinoco. The slight
elevation of these great plains, as well as that of the
basin of the Amazons, is one of the striking features in
their physical aspect. "If," says Humboldt, "from the
effects of some peculiar attraction, the waters of the At-
lantic were to rise fifty toises at the mouth of the Ori-
noco, and two hundred toises at the mouth of the Amazons,
the floods would submerge more than the half of South
America. The entire eastern declivity, or the foot of the
Andes, now six hundred leagues distant from the coast of
Brazil, would become a shore beaten by the waves. "
One of the most significant of the streams that flow
into the basin of the Llanos of Venezuela from the north-
ern Cordilleras is the Rio Pao, which, taking its rise
among the mountains of the littoral chain, winds over the
plains in a southerly direction, assuming the name of
Portuguesa before its confluence with the Apure. Distant
one and a half leagues from the summit of the sierras, where
we first came in view of the Llanos, is situated the town
of Pao, upon the bank of the stream whose name it bears.
A toise is a French measure, containing about 6.4 English feet.


It was after sunset when we entered the place, which
comprises about five thousand inhabitants.
Through the assistance of Mr. E. Rodriguez, a German
resident, we secured a canoe and crew for our journey to
Baul, the first town reached in descending the Pao, and
about half the distance to San Fernando de Apure. Sup-
plies for a week's voyage were requisite, and these we set
about procuring. First was fresh beef, brought to us in
leathery strips and gristly sheets, which, after it was
thoroughly salted, we dried, and then, with the Venezue-
lians, called it came seca. To our meat were added cas-
sava, goats' cheese, salt, papelon, or the consolidated sugar
of the country, bottles of manteca, or butter, with a lib-
eral quantity of green plantains. Then there were culi-
nary utensils-two iron pots, one for coffee, the other for
general purposes-and the indispensable machete, which
answered for axe and carving-knife.
The morning of the 25th of October, after three days'
delay at El Pao, we were ready to embark upon our
voyage. Our craft was long-to uneducated American
minds, like ours, too long-but was not at all successful as
to width, but then it is in canoes as little as in mortals to
command success in every particular, and we can say for
our boat that length covered a multitude of sins as well
as feet. For a picture of it, scoop out forty .feet of a
tree, with the largest diameter less than two feet, and the
average hardly more than one, build a thatch, or carroza,
over the middle half, just filling out the original contour
of the log, tie a rough steering-oar to the stern, and call
the whole a bongo, and you have it complete. As at that
time we were modest and unpretending, our crew was
small. First, Viviano, generalissimo of the palanca, armed
with a long pole, occupied the bow. His duty was to
walk toward the stern as far as the carroza would permit,
leaning heavily on his palanca, placed on the bottom of


the river, or any neighboring rock or limb, as was most
convenient, then, using his pole as a balancer, to walk, c
la Blondin, up the inclined plane formed by the rise in
the bow, and repeat the operation. From his head to his
knees, Viviano differed not essentially from the gener-
ality of mortals, but below that was somewhat unique.
At his knees his legs dispersed, choosing paths of life as
diverging as possible. Whether Nature intended Viviano
for a palancasist, par excellence, is doubtful, but his form
was undoubtedly of great advantage to him, for, where
more commonplace men would walk with fear and uncer-
tainty, he, his feet just fitting nicely to the sides of the
bongo, walked with unconcern. Ever hungry and ever
eating, Viviano was yet the leanest of men; but that fact
was easily accounted for from his always talking when
compatible with eating. Our patron, Alvino by name,
who handled the clumsy steering-oar, was an old man of
eighty-two summers, if it is possible to say summers"
in reference to that country, and was the father of Viviano
and the small boy, who was perched on "airy nothing,"
behind his father. To the words of the patron, his sons and
every one whom we met paid the greatest deference, and
indeed the respect paid always to old age was very
marked; rarely did a young person salute an old man
without kneeling. El Patron's knowledge of geography
was not extensive, but at least patriotic; his enumeration
of the countries of the world ended with Venezuela, ut-
tered triumphantly as the incontrovertible acme of gran-
deur. Under the carroza were stowed our supplies, uten-
sils, arms, and baggage; and there was also, as Alvino
gravely informed us, to be our place of refuge from the
storms, although it was difficult for us to conceive how,
when every thing was in, there would be space left for
more than one at either end, and for only half the length
of the body at that.


At length we were under way, floating down the swift-
rolling waters of the Pao, adding the strength of the pa-
lanca to the progressive force of the current. Picture to
yourself a narrow, many-folded river-to which Tiber in
its turbidest was, undoubtedly, as a clear and sparkling
fountain-a stream so opaque that the idea suggested itself
to one of the party that perhaps Afric's sunny fountain "
had got lost, and by mistake had "rolled down its golden
sand" into El Dorado, which was successful in damping
it a little. However, so long as our gallant craft was
floated, we could not complain, and, as for drink, it went
further and gave us meat which, if not as nutritious, was
at least not tougher than the strips of toro which orna-
mented our carroza. The wooded banks were low, but a
few feet above high water, with now and then a hut, just
visible through the thick foliage of banana-leaves.
Our first day's voyage was short, as the hour was late
when we started, and nearly three hours were consumed
in obtaining a meal, which an untimely rain greatly im-
peded in preparation. The extended acquaintance of our
patron, and the respect his whitened head everywhere com-
manded, readily gained us admission for the night at the
house of a friend, the occupants retiring to a neighbor's
hut, giving us entire possession. Aroused by the patron
at the first appearance of day, we reembarked, and were
soon shooting swiftly down the current beneath the shad-
ows of the dark forest which rose from either bank. From
the depths of those solitudes no sound was heard, and
naught broke the death-like stillness of the early morning
save the stroke of the oar as it cleaved the waves, and the
plunge of the alligator, as, startled from his rest, he glided
off the slimy bank, and disappeared in the turbid waters.
Reaching, soon after sunrise, the base of a low, rocky
hill, we drew ashore for breakfast. At once we betook
ourselves to our morning ablutions, when the chiding voice


of Alvino, our ever-watchful guardian, was heard, as-
suring us it was muy malo (very bad) to wash before
breakfast, as it brought on the calenture, or fever. This
superstitious notion we found very prevalent among the
people of the Llanos; but, notwithstanding the warning
of our patron, who was evidently neither a Pharisee nor
a holder of their traditions, we went on with our bath.
Unfortunately for our side of the question, two of the
party eventually were prostrated with the calenture, when
the old sage shook his hoary head in confirmed conviction
of the fulfilment of his predictions. Generally we landed
but once during the day for a meal, and that for break-
fast, about nine or ten o'clock; our dinner-if the hour
will allow the name-being taken when we bivouacked for
the night.
Upon the morning referred to above, we delayed
several hours, while our boatmen gathered smooth, silicious
stones of an oval shape, and large blocks of sandstone.
The latter, when hollowed upon one side, together with
one of the smaller stones, form primitive mills, such as
are seen in every Venezuelian hut. Upon the Llanos,
where nothing more compact than sand can be obtained,
these stones command a good price; the larger size, in
weight about fifteen pounds, bringing from two to three
pesos each, and the smaller ones, of two pounds, twenty-
five cents apiece. As the remuneration received from us
by our patron was not large, we willingly acceded to his
wish to collect the stones; and, after our arrival at Baul,
we had the satisfaction of knowing that he realized a
good compensation for his labors.
With our extra ballast we again got under way,
gliding down through the forest channel, now no longer
silent, but awakened by Nature's gay-plumaged vocalists,
loquacious parrots and paroquets. Aquatic birds covered
the water and stalked the shore; while alligators, with


opened jaws, lay basking in the bright sun upon the
shelving borders of the stream. Not more strange and
varied were the forms of animated life than were the
beauty and exuberance of vegetation, which rose above
us in walls of eternal green, variegated with flowers that
decked richly the trees, and filled the air with their fra-
grance. The small, slender, and delicately-pinnated foli-
age of mimosas and tamarinds contrasted pleasingly with
the many large, coriaceous-leaved species that filled the
forest. The arum, that giant of aerial plants, trumpet-
flowered bignonias, banisterias, and passion-flowers, with
thousands of orchidaceous plants of exquisite beauty,
covered the branches and embowered the trees. Palms
rose in forms and numbers unknown in the higher altitudes
of the Cordilleras. Here was the palma de cobija ( Cory-
pha tectorum) or roofing palm, its palmate leaves few in
number, with the lower ones withered and drooping, giving
the tree a gloomy and mournful aspect. The stem, twenty
to thirty feet in height, like that of the palmetto so abun-
dant along our Southern seaboard, is remarkable for main-
taining a constant diameter of eight or ten inches in
all individuals of the species. The wood is hard 'and
durable, making excellent building-timber where exposure
to the weather is necessary, nor is it subject to the ravages
of ants, which are such wood-destroyers in the tropics.
The leaves are employed by the natives of the Llanos for
covering roofs.
But a far more beautiful palm growing here than the
one just described, and one more generally useful, is the
Moriche (Mauritia flexuosa), or what is known as the
sago or bread-tree of the country. It resembles the above
in the,form of its leaves, which are folded like a fan; but
these are much larger than are those of the former species,
as is also the trunk, which attains a height of fifty and
even eighty feet. It is a tree of wide distribution -and


very abundant, and with it is intimately connected the
existence of the Warauns, a tribe of Indians who inhabit
the delta, or submerged lands of the mouth of the Orino-
co. Their habitations are hung between the trees, above
the reach of wild beast and inundating floods. The fari-
naceous pith of the stem, its fruit, and saccharine juice,
supply the dwellers of these aerial homes with food and
drink, while from the fibres of the leaves they weave for
themselves mats and hammocks. "It is curious to ob-
serve," says Humboldt, in the lowest degree of human
civilization, the existence of a whole tribe depending on one
single species of palm-tree, similar to those insects which
feed on one and the same flower, or on one and the same
part of a plant." This veritable "Tree of Life," with
its large, shining leaves, preserves a beautiful verdure
through the season of greatest drought, and rises above
the summer-parched and barren soil of the Llanos, a
guide to the traveller and a grateful shelter from the
-heat of the noonday sun. The tree thrives only in moist
ground, and at its base may generally be found a foun-
tain of refreshing water; or such can be obtained by a
slight excavation. The fact that this palm-tree is always
found in the vicinity of water has given rise to the belief,
among the natives, that the tree attracts moisture from
the earth; but in this, as well as in many other cases,
they have confounded cause and effect. The sweet and
grateful juice of the Moriche palm, either fresh or ferment-
ed; the unexpanded young leaves, or what is called cab-
bage, a most excellent vegetable; the sago, from the fari-
naceous pith of the trunk; the fruit, which, like the plan-
tain, can be eaten raw when mature, or prepared by cook-
ing in an almost endless variety of ways; the spathe of
the fruit, resembling coarsely-woven cloth, and useful for
bags, mats, and the scanty apparel sometimes worn by the
native, the value of the leaves for thatching, and their


fibres for cordage, bowstrings, fish-nets, lines, sails, baskets,
cloth, and hammocks-all these from a single tree, supply-
ing the people in abundance with all the necessaries of
existence, is only another instance of the wonderful pro-
fuseness and adaptation of Nature, in this rude and uncul-
tivated land, for supplying the wants of its inhabitants.
But of the many and varied forms of vegetation that
shoot up in such rich luxuriance along the banks of the
Pao, and adorn the forests and the plains of this humid
clime, forming such a distinctive feature in the landscape,
none, perhaps, impresses the traveller from northern lati-
tudes more than the group of grasses. Among these the
gudua or bamboo (Bambusa gudua) is by far the most
majestic and picturesque. It is also a most useful plant
to the natives, furnishing them material for building,
their hollow stems serving for posts and rafters; and, when
split and laid open, they form boards for enclosing their
huts; and their joints, which are filled with a refreshing
drink for the thirsty traveller, answer for cups, vessels,
and various other purposes. This arborescent grass loves
a humid soil, and is found abundant along the borders
of streams, where the stems shoot up in thick clumps to the
height of forty and even fifty feet, with a diameter of
from four to six inches.* Masses of long, slender leaves
crown the summit of these pliant trunks, bending them
downward by their weight into graceful curves, which, by
their union over streams that they line, form long, beauti-
ful arcades of evergreen verdure, through which the voya-
ger floats in his canoe, his pathway gleaming with myri-
ads of insects, that rival in the brilliancy of their color-
ing the richest gems. "Their slender forms are suscepti-
ble to the slightest breeze, and, when the gale of the hurri-
Fletcher makes mention of this giant grass being found, on the
Organ Mountains of Brazil, from eighty to one hundred feet in height
and eighteen inches in diameter.


cane comes, these groves of bamboo exchange an aspect
of beauty for that of grandeur. They are heaved and
tossed like the billows of the sea, and their rich foliage,
driven in every direction, appears like surges breaking on
the rocks."*
We can convey to our readers but a faint concep-
tion of the richness and exuberance of the vegetation
which forms a belt of varying width along the banks
of the Llanos. So interested had we been in the count-
less objects of attraction which were continually coming
before us as we moved down the stream, that we were
scarcely conscious of the flight of time. The sun had al-
ready disappeared behind the deep-green wall of verdure
before we hauled up our canoe upon a stony beach for the
night. A fire was soon blazing from the drift-wood which
lined the shore, and the odor of stewing beef and plan-
tains foretold the evening meal. The impenetrability of
the matted woods obliged us to sleep upon the rocky
bank of the stream, where we spread our blankets as far
as possible from the water, that we might lessen the
chances of our furnishing a banquet to the various cai-
mans which filled the river, and at night sought the shore.
Truly not a comforting reflection to haunt our dreams,
that we were momentarily liable to be aroused from our
slumbers just in time to find ourselves within the cacious
jaws of one of these cannibalistic monsters, the next mo-
ment to be crushed out of existence. The scaly saurians
must have bent their steps that night in quest of other
game, for were mained undisturbed by them, but fell a
prey to a not much less dreaded enemy-sancudos-which
swarmed the river-banks.
Responding to the call of our patron at the earliest
dawn, we reombarked. So, floating down, the half-wake-

*" Adventures in South and Central America." Paez.


fulness, half-sleep of the dusky morning, hushing even Vi-
viano, we left our camp behind. Now and then we would
pass beneath rustling, sighing banana-groves, which, wav-
ing like great fields of corn at evening, brought to our
half-sleeping minds blended pictures of home and south-
ern scenes. To one who has never seen tropical forests,
no word-painting can convey any idea how grand and
weird and graceful they are-they stand so unutterably
mysterious and dark, as if-a race chained ages ago by
a conquering will-they, grown old and hoary, are wait-
ing a release to being.
By the time that we were fairly awake, we reached a
spot where the banks, breaking, extended a muddy flat
on the left side. Here we landed for breakfast, and,
while this was preparing, we wandered into the forest
with our rifles, proceeding in the direction whence was
heard the plaintive cry of araguatoes, apparently near at
hand. But we were as yet unenlightened as to how de-
ceiving is the distance these howling monkeys ban be
heard, and so were enticed farther and farther into the
tangled jungle. At length we came to the object of our
search-a group of large monkeys, walking leisurely
along the branches of a tree, casting down suspicious
glances upon the intruders on their realms. Selecting the
finest-looking fellow, he was brought wounded to the
ground; when the whole band, that had ceased their
noise at our approach, set up again a most terrific howl-
ing. As we stood a little exultant over the bleeding ani-
mal, he turned up his large eyes, filled with tears, and,
casting upon us a look that we shall ever remember, ut-
tered a mournful cry, which was answered by the wails of
his companions in the trees.
The araguatoes, which are the largest monkeys of tho
New World, are represented by several species. Accord,
ing to measurement, we found one of these animals (Myce-

-~~ __. *i7-r
-~ ~~p~ C -b -

~ s~~




tes ursinus) four feet from tip to tip, or about three feet
when in an erect posture. This species is the most com-
mon, has thick fur of a reddish-brown color, and a long,
prehensile tail, which answers as a third hand. The feat-
ures of its face have a grave and melancholy expression;
its beard is long, and its movements like the slow and
measured gait of an old man. It generally seems perfect-
ly indifferent as to what is transpiring about it; but, when
aroused, its whole aspect changes, and it will perform evo-
lutions through the trees with surprising agility. As
Humboldt observes, "monkeys are melancholy in propor-
tion as they have more resemblance to man. Their
sprightliness diminishes as their intellectual faculties ap-
pear to increase." In disposition the araguato is mis-
chievous and savage, and will, when wounded, attack
man in a most ferocious manner. It cannot be tamed,
and shows none of that affection for human beings which
some of the smaller species of the monkey-tribe exhibit.
It is gregarious in its habits, and delights in the solitary
forest, feeding upon nuts and fruits. One peculiarity
that distinguishes the howlers from other members of
the monkey group is, the remarkable development of the
larynx, by which it is enabled to produce those tremen-
dous noises that are heard at so great a distance. When
the causes were favorable for the propagation of sounds,
we heard the yelling of these creatures over half a league.
Frequently during the darkness of the night they break
forth with their terrible howls, such as deeply impress the
traveller who hears them for the first time, and "leads
him to suppose," as truthfully observes Waterton, "that
half the wild beasts of the forest were collecting for the
work of carnage: now it is the tremendous roar of the
jaguar, as he springs on his prey; now it changes to his
deep-toned growlings, as he is pressed on all sides by su-


perior force; and now you hear his last dying moan be-
neath a mortal wound."
There is, perhaps, no animal that possesses a greater
interest than the monkey. It has been the subject of
countless nursery-tales, and a fruitless source of fiction,
arising from that inherent propensity so characteristic of
human nature for making what is marvellous appear still
more so. The oft-repeated story, familiar to every boy,
and which finds credence among so many, of monkeys
crossing streams on aerial bridges, constructed from their
own bodies, exists only in fancy. Travellers to South
America have often referred to it as one of the astonish-
ing feats of these animals. In the course of our travels
in the tropics, during which we saw multitudes of these
creatures, our observations convinced us that there was
no foundation for the truth of the tale of the bridge-build-
ing monkeys; and in this belief we were, moreover, fur-
ther confirmed by the statement of the natives, who tes-
tified to their having never witnessed such a novel per-
formance. Humboldt also says that five years' observa-
tions of these animals led him to place no confidence in
the statements respecting these monkey-bridges.
Returning to our canoe from our ramble in the forest,
we found in waiting a smoking breakfast of sancocho, the
national dish of the Venezuelian-a concoction of beef,
yuca, bananas, peppers, garlic, and annatto for a color-
ing principle. Our energetic Viviano had also been on a
foraging expedition with Angel, the small boy, to a house
upon the opposite bank, and returned with plenty of milk,

Annatto is the product of a shrub (Biza orellana) ten or twelve
feet in height, with a foliage resembling our common lilac. The bush
bears a prickly bur, like the chestnut, only smaller, that contains the
seeds from which the coloring substance is obtained. It grows wild
throughout Venezuela, and is extensively cultivated in Brazil, constitute.
ing one of the exports from that country.


enabling us to enjoy the luxury of cafe con leche. We
were amused to see our patron pound the tough, leathery,
jerked meat between two stones; but it was not long be-
fore we learned to follow his example, and even then, with
our full quota of molars, experienced no slight difficulty,
and much hard work, in making an impression on the
nearest approach to leather that ever went by the honor-
able name of meat.
On again, all the morning, till toward noon the banks
began to sink, and finally were not to be distinguished
from the river, save by the lines of forest that marked
their limits. Then we knew that we had reached the
delta country of El Pao, and, coming to an igarapk, or
canoe-path, we turned in and deserted a river that soon
would have deserted us. But our igarap6 soon lost all
individuality, and we floated in a flooded, tangled forest,
with no path but what we might cut ourselves. The dif-
ficulty of this can only be apparent to those who have
undergone a like experience. Our bongo, long beyond all
proportion, and as cranky as is natural to a log, could
make no short turns, and continually suggested the possi-
bility of our becoming food for the caimans. Then the*
matted and snake-like curtains of vines, aerial roots and
branches, hard as southern wood only can be, presented
an .obstacle almost insurmountable, had it continued long.
Often, after having cut a way in one direction, we would
be brought to a stand-still by a fallen tree, or the neces-
sity of a short turn, and be obliged to back out and try
again. Occasionally Viviano would utter a low hush, and,
gathering himself into the smallest possible compass, push
silently back. That meant, usually, an immense nest
of bees, or perhaps a long, green, velvet spotted snake
stretched out along the branches. Sometimes the water
would be shallow, and we would float on a slimy mass of
black mud, requiring all of Viviano's strength and skill to

continue our journey and keep us right side up. On one
of these occasions, when the mixture was a little denser
than usual, Viviano, bracing his palanca against a tree,
bent all his might to cleave the flood, but unfortunately
his pole slipped, and, his very form aiding the catastrophe,
by holding his feet firmly in the boat, he disappeared head-
long into the chocolate-colored paste. Both El Patron
and Angel screamed out simultaneously, "Look out for
the caiman!" but Viviano needed no warning to hasten his
return to the boat, and so great was his nervous hurry
that, had it not been for a friendly tree to steady us, we
should have upset. The wrath in the face of our mucha-
cho warned us not to laugh, but his mud-lorn features
were too much for us; and we were forced to grin audibly.
As a consequence, Viviano was grandly silent the rest of
the day. Providentially for us, the forest along the river-
banks never extends very far back from the stream, and
late in the afternoon we emerged from our toiling labyrinth
into the wide Llanos. But Llanos no longer-rather a
great sea, illimitable in extent, but very limitable in depth;
lacking the ceaseless motion of the ocean, it was ten times
more lonely and waste. Silence does not necessarily en-
hance loneliness. The forest through which we passed
was at mid-day as silent as the grave; the few birds flitted
about noiselessly without a note of song, yet the forest
even then was as a company of friends, compared to the
loneliness of the Llanos, which, however, were flooded
with a multitude of noises. Numberless guacharacas,
whose name itself means ever-moaning, myriads of ducks,
geese, and water-birds of every kind, filled the air with
strange cries, till finally, as the sun went down, they disap-
peared and left us still. For a short distance out from the
forest stood isolated trunks of trees, which, covered deep
under luxuriant masses of vines, were shaped into many
graceful and often grotesque forms. Sometimes in the


rapidly-gathering dusk we would seem to see a thatched
hut rise up friendly before us, but, on approaching it,
some disturbed bird would fly out with a scream and dis-
pel the illusion.
For some time before we reached the open water, we
perceived that our crew were in doubt as to the direction,
and just as the sun went down we were brought to a
stand-still on a little spot of land rising out of the water,
with no idea where to turn. El Patron and Viviano left
the boat to have a reconnoitre and consultation, while we
waited for them in a dubious frame of mind. "Angel,
we are lost, are we not ?" Yes, sir." A pleasant idea,
that of spending the night in the boat, no possibility of
lying down, the air full of the deadliest miasma, while the
low humming song from millions of tiny pipers, gradually
growing louder and louder, told us of a night of torture
worse than the mere loss of sleep.
But our journey for the day was not yet at an end.
As we sat meditating in the dark, there came to us faintly
a roar as of distant water. "El caion," said our patron,
and we immediately started in the direction of the sound.
Soon we entered a little narrow stream, barely wide
enough for our canoe, but running with considerable
swiftness, which rapidly increased, till we were hurrying
along like a race-horse. Viviano stood up in the bow,
using his palanca like a madman, now on one side, now
on the other, to keep us free from the banks, but suddenly
his pole was torn from his grasp, scraping along the car-
roza to the imminent danger of our heads, while at the
same moment, the river making a quick bend, our bongo
far too long to turn, stuck fast in the bend, keeling over till
the water rushed in at the lower side. Disembarking with
our available crew, we righted our craft and then dug
away the bank till there was room enough for us to turn.
Galloping on, the stream grew wider, and the current


suddenly so swift, that we endeavored to fasten to the
bank, but it was too late; we could no more stop our
courser than the stream itself, and as we turned a bend
we were greeted by a roar that sent our hearts into our
mouths. But a moment longer, and we were swept into
a seething, boiling raudal,* nothing visible but the leap-
ing, white foam on which our log was tossed like a feather.
Viviano dropped down helpless with a stifled caramba,
while we speculated on the chances of the rapid ending
in a fall. El Patron clung to his steering-oar like a hero,
and kept the bongo head on, which was our only chance.
By the rocks we dashed like lightning, for what seemed
an interminable length of time. But the caimans were
cheated of their prey for once. We escaped the rocks,
with no more damage than a large amount of water
shipped, and floated quietly on deep water once again.
Our zest for adventure for that day, however, was gone,
and the sooner we were on dry land again the better. Our
patron now knowing his whereabouts, we travelled on,
sleepy and tired, till the faint glimmer of a light ahead re-
vived us, and soon we were watching our supper cooking
over the fire, and slinging our hammock within the walls
of a Llano farm-house. Great slabs of leathery meat dis-
appeared like snow in summer, washed down by number-
less calabashes of coffee and milk, before we desisted, and
then we turned into our hammocks, while El Patron, in a
low, monotonous tone which came from a cloud of tobacco-
smoke, like the voice of some ancient bard, sang the day's
story, till the song, blended with a hum of mosquito-music,
turned a lullaby, and the day was finished.

* A rapid.

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