A LADY'S RIDE
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS
(Decorative copy on facing page is reproduced
from the front cover of the original volume)
A FACSIMILE of the 1884 EDITION
by DORIS STONE
LATIN AMERICAN GATEWAY SERIES
University of Florida Press
Latin American Gateway Series
of the 1884 EDITION
WITH PREFATORY MATERIAL, INTRODUCTION
& INDEX ADDED
NEW MATERIAL COPYRIGHT 1964
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
STATE INSTITUTIONS OF FLORIDA
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 64- 66325
LITHOPRINTED BY DOUGLAS PRINTING COMPANY, INC.
BOUND BY UNIVERSAL-DIXIE BINDERY, INC.
THE INAUGURATION of a new project may bring both
pleasure and pain, but the inauguration of a new
series of volumes such as the "Latin American Gate-
way Series" has brought only pleasure and pride.
The project, when first proposed by Director Lewis
F. Haines of the University of Florida Press,
brought compliments and congratulations from
everyone who learned about it. Many wondered why
such an idea had not been developed before. Con-
sequently, it was comparatively easy to pass the en-
thusiasm and excitement on to others, especially to
Mr. Joshua B. Powers of New York City, who for
many years has been interested in Latin American
culture and education as well as Latin American
travel and publications. Mr. Powers immediately saw
the significance of the plan and generously offered
to subsidize the inauguration of the project and to
assist in bringing it to fruition as soon as possible.
Such support made it extremely easy to sell the
idea to a number of scholars interested in Central
America. With few exceptions, the person invited to
serve as editor of each volume happily agreed. Ac-
cordingly, about a dozen books were selected for
facsimile reproduction, in a format similar to the
one so admirably and artistically designed by Helen
S. Haines for the Floridiana Facsimile &6 Reprint
In an undertaking such as this, a division of labor
had to be worked out. What should the volume
editors be expected to do? What was the general
editor's obligation to the volume editors, to the Uni-
versity of Florida Press, to the sponsor, and to the
public? Functions fell into place readily, and every-
one worked together to accomplish the final objec-
tive. Consequently the general editor has found his
task a pleasant one. Four volumes of nineteenth-
century travel in Central America were selected for
early publication and four scholars were invited to
edit them. Their acceptance made it possible to an-
nounce publicly that the series was actually being
Then a problem arose which had been anticipated
months in advance, but which had not been solved
completely. For greatest efficiency in reproducing
books in facsimile form, the printer needed two
copies of each work. Where could the books be ob-
tained? Logically, from certain libraries and private
collections. But how could such volumes be borrowed
from the owners, particularly since the books must
be unbound ("de-bound" is a better expression) in
order to photograph them satisfactorily? Books are
their owners' best friends, and lovers of books wish
to take care of them. So the question still remained:
How could copies of the books be secured? Uni-
versity of Florida Press at last made arrangements
with second-hand book dealers in the United States
and abroad to search for the titles. But frequently
when a title could be found, the price was prohibi-
tive--in one case $85. Fortunately, multiple copies
have now been found of several books in the series,
but the problem is still a serious one.
The very scarcity of these books makes the editing
and publishing of this series all the more significant
and satisfying. The market appears to be wide-
spread, and buyers, especially those who collect
books of travel as a hobby, seem to be eager to buy.
This situation doubles the satisfaction of everyone
connected with the plan; each one is eager to com-
plete his assignment as soon as possible.
For the general editor one of the pleasant by-
products of this series is the close association with
the volume editors. Mrs. Doris Stone, who edits this
first volume, is a scholar intimately acquainted with
Central America. Born in New Orleails, the daugh-
ter of Sarah and Samuel Zemurray, long connected
with the United Fruit Company, Mrs. Stone was
educated at Radcliffe and received an honorary Doc-
tor of Laws from Tulane University. She married
in 1930 and has two children. Her career has been
an eminent one in Central American archaeology
and anthropology. She belongs to many scientific and
professional societies and she is a member of the
boards of directors of several educational institu-
tions. Her many publications have appeared in Latin
America, in the United States, and in Europe. Since
one of her special interests is Honduras, she is a
most natural choice to edit A Lady's Ride Across
Spanish Honduras, by Maria Soltera, a pseudonym
for Mary Lester. Mrs. Stone makes her home in San
Jose, Costa Rica, but she frequently visits the United
viii EDITORIAL PREFACE.
States, and in December, 1951, the University of
Florida was privileged to have her read a paper at
the second Caribbean Conference. As general editor,
I am personally pleased that Mrs. Stone is associated
with this facsimile series.
A. CURTIS WILGUS
General Editor of the
LATIN AMERICAN GATEWAY SERIES
A Lady's Ride Across Spanish Honduras is exactly
what the title states. It is an autobiographical ac-
count of the experiences of an Englishwoman, well-
bred and refined, who rode muleback across Spanish
Honduras. The manuscript first appeared in print,
as the flyleaf indicates, in Blackwood's Magazine,
published by William Blackwood and Sons of Edin-
burgh and London, in Volume 135 in the following
No. 819, January 1884, pp. 115-142
No. 820, February 1884, pp. 185-197
No. 821, March 1884, pp. 291-309
No. 822, April 1884, pp. 452-468
No. 823, May 1884, pp. 582-604
In the same year, this firm was responsible for
the account's publication in book form. There are
six illustrations in the book, four of which bear the
initials D.F.E.Co. It is a pity that they do not faith-
fully depict Honduras. None looks like the country
and most are more European in character than
In both the book and the magazine articles the
author, Mary Lester, uses the pen name Maria Sol-
tera, Spanish for Mary Spinster, indicating her civil
status. A subsequent work was a three-volume novel
called The Fat of the Land, which was printed in
London in 1888.' She also assisted Thomas Campbell-
Copeland in the preparation of the American Colo-
nial Handbook, a ready reference book of facts,
figures, historical, geographical, and about Cuba,
Puerto Rico, Philippines, Hawaii, and Guam, a 108-
page work published by Funk & Wagnalls Co., New
York and London, in 1899.2
The personal experiences of Maria Soltera had
been varied before she undertook the Honduran ven-
ture. Of English descent, she was born in the Pyre-
nees and lived in many parts of the world, including
the Fiji Islands and Australia, which indicates her
adaptability to distinctive environments and her
power to cope with unexpected events. This was a
lucky coincidence, for not only did her journey
across Honduras require a flexible and at the same
time disciplined character, but also one which could
overcome the complete failure met at the end of the
ride and help her to preserve an equilibrium of
The account of the journey on a sidesaddle, a little
less than 300 miles, was taken from the author's
diary, and it is quite apparent that fatigue, lack of
proficiency in the language, and ignorance of Hon-
duras combined at the moment of writing to produce
some inaccuracies in linguistical and historical de-
tails. However, this does not lessen the value of the
book nor reduce the pleasure derived from reading
it. It is a journal teeming with the important inci-
dents which were responsible for the local conditions
at the end of the nineteenth century. This was a
period when many speculative schemes were started
in Honduras by clever and unscrupulous adventurers
who were often backed by a naive and innocent gov-
ernment in its struggle to develop the country in
spite of politically ambitious neighbors and of local
discontents, Such was the case in two events which
form the background of the experiences undergone
by the author of this book.
The first of these episodes and the reason for
Maria Soltera's ride was the plan, apparently well
advertised abroad, for the founding of a colony of
Europeans on the north coast of Honduras under
the leadership of a priest, William L. Pope, a British
subject. Up to here, the facts of the proposed colony
are backed by the Presidential Resolution signed by
Ram6n Rosa on May 3, 1879. This resolution ap-
peared in the official government newspaper, La
Gaceta, on May 9, 1879.,
One can comprehend the extent of the false ap-
proach made to possible colonists and the unscrupu-
lous audacity of Pope in the case of at least one of
his victims, Maria Soltera, who was convinced that
the site of the proposed colony was to be San Pedro
Sula when the agreement called for Trujillo, ap-
proximately 130 miles as the crow flies farther east,
and in very different terrain. Likewise, she had been
advised of British and French colonists (page 6 of
the text) when Pope had blithely committed himself
to at least 250 Irishmen.
The second example which involved international
bad faith becomes evident during the author's ride,
the main route of which followed the Goascoarin-
Comayagua basin, one of the four transversal passes
on the North American continent. It had been chosen
to serve as the roadbed for the much talked about
but never realized Inter-Oceanic Railway of Hon-
duras. The failure of this project strangely enough
was responsible for many of the hardships the un-
witting Englishwoman had to endure on her long
sojourn, and added by its non-existence to her dis-
comfort. For the background of this venture, we
refer the reader to the editorial note to page 2, line
23, of the text.
In the book itself we grasp an idea of the customs
and the landscape, everchanging under the devas-
tating and greedy hand of mani in his egotistical
abuse of natural resources. There are still some of
us who have had the privilege of living through many
of the experiences recounted in these pages, and we
can share with the writer the thirst, the hunger,
and then that indescribable beauty created by the
mountains of Honduras which in themselves help
make that country's history.
In 1881 the Republic of Honduras had stopped to
breathe the air of peace after having served for
what seemed interminable years as the battleground
for the political ambitions of General Justo Rufino
Barrios, President of Guatemala, in his efforts to
reunite Central America and to become the head of
the union. Marco Aurelio Soto, chief of the Hon-
duran republic, had managed to crush the latest up-
rising inspired by outside interests, and as a result
the Generals Jose Maria Medina and Ezequiel Marin
lay buried in the cemetery of Santa Rosa de Copan.
But all this had just come about at the eve and
the start of 1881. The too fresh memory remained
of pilfering bands and commandeering troops, and
what was worse, a lack of foodstuffs and abject
poverty still formed the common condition of the
countryside. No sane soul traveled after dark even
if the only available shelter should be filthy and
without provision. Men felt safer huddled together
under one roof, in the company of many rather
than alone or in pairs on what might be a bandit-
infested trail. Few if any travelers in a position to
afford a firearm would venture without some type
of weapon. Often just its presence lent a certain re-
assurance and feeling of safety, not alone for pro-
tection against a fellow human being, but also in
case of a preying beast or a venomous snake. If one
had to make a journey, one went well prepared with
the best riding animal at his command, a pistol, and
a tried and trusted servant and muleteer.
This was also, however, a period of intellectual
and economic rebirth, at least in certain sections of
the country. The university, founded in 1847 by the
Roman Catholic priest, Jose Trinidad Reyes, but
closed during the series of miserable internecine
wars, reopened its portals. Even the capital of the
nation had been changed. The centrally placed and
colonial city of Comayagua no longer was the seat
of government. Tegucigalpa, nestled in the pine-
covered hills like the creche at the foot of a pro-
tecting yule tree in a Latin American village, had
become the center of political and economic power.
The city's proximity to fabulous mines of silver, one
of which was El Rosario, had in part been respon-
sible for the transfer. Not only around Tegucigalpa
but also in the departments to the east, mining ven-
tures were undertaken, financed by foreign inves-
tors. Innumerable schemes and some actual attempts
to colonize distinct regions of the north coast were
perhaps better known outside than within Hon-
duras. In all respects, local investors were embit-
tered by the failure of the proposed railroad and
were not prone to speculate in ventures which could
only too well turn to naught.
It was to enter this Honduras that Maria Soltera
descended the iron steps of the steamer "Clyde" and
boarded the customhouse boat which was to take
her to Amapala, the Pacific port of entry. Behind
her lay the long voyage from San Francisco, a trans-
fer of ship at Acapulco in Mexico, and the subse-
quent stops of a coast-wise vessel.
Amapala is on Tigre Island in the Bay of Fonseca,
the ancient Gulf of Teca." This beautiful body of
water, interspersed by island peaks, was discovered
by Andres Nifio, pilot in 1522 of the expedition led
by Gil Gonzalez Divila up the west coast of Central
America from Panama, and named by him after his
benefactor Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, the Bishop
of Burgos, Spain. The town. of Amapala was founded
about 1770 under orders of the governor of San
Miguel, in what is now El Salvador, as a protective
measure against the English, French, and Dutch
pirates who periodically harassed Spanish domains.
The alcalde, or mayor, of Amapala, situated on the
Salvadorean mainland, forced his townfolk to accom-
pany him when he took possession of Tigre Island
and transferred the name of the settlement. The
bay is unfortunately too shallow to allow dockage
of ships of any size. The voyager must be carried
ashore or clamber up a small wharf from a dinghy
or bongo before he can set foot on the cobblestone
and dirt streets of the port. It is here that Maria
Soltera began her Honduran experiences and took
the first practical steps toward her impending ride
by securing a dependable manservant and purchas-
ing a right-sided sidesaddle, Honduran style, which
was to become her constant seat for the almost 300
hard miles across the mountainous mainland.
1. John Foster Kirk, A Supplement to Allibone's Critical Diction-
ary of English Literature, and British and American Authors, Phil-
adelphia, J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1891, II, 997.
2. Official catalog of the Library of Congress, Washington.
3. The following is a translation of the official text.
RESOLUTION ON THE SOLICITATION OF THE PRIEST WILLIAM L. POPE,
CONCEDING LANDS AND VARIOUS EXEMPTIONS TO THE IMMIGRANTS
WHICH HE PROPOSES TO BRING TO THE REPUBLIC TO FORM A COLONY.
TEGUCIGALPA, May 3, 1879.
SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT.
The exposition of Mr. William L. Pope has been brought to the
knowledge of the Government to the effect that he and some Irish-
men, the number of which will not be less than 250, are disposed to
move to this Republic and to form a colony which, being subjected
to the laws of the country, will be dedicated to agricultural enter-
prises, mining, the construction of roads; and he will establish a
national secondary school, served by foreign professors and under
the inspection of an Agent of the Executive power, named for this
purpose; but in order to carry out this intent, land concessions are
needed, exemption from military service, and that it be permitted
them to import free of duty all the materials, instruments, and
equipment which may be necessary for their work, construction of
habitations, and the same for the foodstuffs for their nourishment and
WHEREAS: the Republic needs honest and laborious immigrants
who know how to take advantage of the great sources of wealth
which are to be found here, and which at present are practically at
a standstill for lack of capital, work, and means of transport: and
WHEREAS: That the acceptance of the basis contained in Mr. Pope's
exposition and the accordance of some of the concessions requested
should be considered as proper and adaptable to promoting agricul-
ture and commercial relations; therefore, the President
RESOLVES: To grant the solicitation of Mr. Pope in the terms of
and under the following conditions:
1.-In the free and national lands included in the coastal zone
corresponding to Trujillo, up to seventy-five miles inland, Mr. Pope
and those whom he brings as immigrants can dedicate themselves to
agricultural work, mining, and all kinds of enterprises, making them-
selves proprietors of the land which they actually cultivate, accord-
ing to the resolution in the decree of April 29, 1877, in connection
with the development of agriculture.
2.-The instruments and agricultural equipment which might be
introduced by the colonists, the materials for the construction of
houses, the grains and other articles strictly necessary for their
nourishment, the clothing for daily use, and all the instruments,
books, and utensils which may be employed in teaching, scientific
observations, and industrial works, are declared free of all duties.
The concessions to which this clause refers will last for five years,
counted from the establishment of the colony.
3.-The immigrants will be exempt for a period of five years from
obligatory military service to which they will be subject only in case
of revolutions, rebellions, or insurrections in the proximity of the
4.-The immigrants, during the terms specified for the establish-
ment of their enterprises, must construct yearly two miles of high-
road, and establish primary schools for their account.
5.-Mr. Pope and his colonists will be obligated to construct, ac-
cording to his offer, a building for the secondary school, the value
of which will not exceed 20,000 pesos, and which will be finished
within five years from the first of January of the coming year. This
establishment will be served by foreign professors and will be sub-
ject to the inspection of an agent of the Executive power named
especially for this particular purpose.
6.-Mr. Pope will pay all the traveling and establishing expenses
of the colonists, without the government having responsibility what-
soever for the expenses incurred.
7.-The immigrants in connection with their transactions, con-
tracts, etc., will remain subject to the laws of the country from the
time they enter the Republic, and must obey and respect the legally
established authorities. At the termination of the period of time
which, according to the Constitution of the Republic, is necessary
for the naturalization of the immigrants, according to the offer made
by the solicitor, they will be considered as Hondurans, the national-
ity to which they may belong will be considered as renounced, and
they will be subject to the observance of all the laws of the country
as if they were natives of the Republic.
8.-The immigrants, for a period of five years, are exempt from
the payment of all contributions or extraordinary taxes, but not from
the payment of those contributions which might be vicinal in char-
acter, nor from the indirect taxes proceeding from their transactions
9.-The colony once established, the government will protect it by
all the means within its reach and in the orbit of its attributes.
Communicated and recorded.
Signed by Mr. President.
4. For references, see the editorial note to p. 294 of the text.
5. Relacion breve y verdadera de Fray Alonso Ponce en las pro-
vincias de la Nueva Espahia, 1873. vol. 1. p. 375. Madrid.
A Lady's Ride Across Spanish Honduras.
PAGE 1, TITLE. Honduras means "great depths,"
an appropriate name when one takes into considera-
tion the lofty and rugged mountains that form the
backbone of the country. The republic borders on
Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, and was
formerly called Spanish Honduras to differentiate
it from British Honduras, or Belize, which lies to
the east of Guatemala and south of the Yucatan
Peninsula of Mexico.
PAGE 1, LINE 5. Amapala (see the Introduction).
PAGE 1, LINE 7. San Pedro Sula was founded in
1536 by Pedro de Alvarado, conqueror of Guatemala,
far enough up the edge of the Sula Valley to protect
the town from the devastating floods of the Uluia
and Chamelecon Rivers (Patronato, Leg. 20). Be-
tween 1760 and 1770 it was moved farther to the
west (Vallejo, 1893, p. 86). The city lies at the base
of the mountains of Omoa, part of the Merend6n
PAGE 2, LINE 9. Panama fever, so called because
it took a heavy toll during all the attempts to dig a
canal across Panama, is also known as Woodsman's,
Chagres, canal, and yellow fever. It is a violent in-
fectious disease and is commonly carried by a mos-
quito (Aedes aegypti) which lives in the foliage of
tall forest trees. It was in 1881 that Ferdinand de
Lesseps began his unlucky effort to dig a canal in
PAGE 2, LINE 17. Puerto Cortez (now usually
printed Puerto Cortes) at the eastern end of the Bay
of Omoa is the former Puerto Caballos, so called be-
cause Gil Gonzalez Davila in 1524, caught by a ter-
rible storm when he was trying to locate the Carib-
bean entrance to the fresh-water lakes of Nicaragua,
was forced to throw some of his horses overboard
to save the vessel, although no town was then
founded there (Oviedo, 1853, t. III, p. 113; Herrera,
1726, Dec. III, p. 171). The location and the bay
were also known as San Andres. Three attempts
were made to establish a settlement, the first in
1525 by Francisco de Las Casas in honor of his rela-
tive Hernan Cortes, another by Cortes himself who
called the place Navidad de Nuestra Sefiora in honor
of its foundation (Cortes, 1946, pp. 579-80), and the
third by Francisco de Montejo in 1539 (Doc. ined.,
1864-84, t. 24, pp. 250-97). None of the attempts
succeeded. However, the protected waters of the
bay with the salt-water lagoon on one side lent them-
selves to the making of an important port, and by
1542 it was permanent enough to have a mayor, or
alcalde (Chamberlain,. 1953, pp. 232-33). Later,
Puerto Caballos was temporarily transferred to
Omoa because of the Spanish wars with the English
and Dutch (Squier, 1858, p. 682). In 1870 the name
was changed from Caballos to Cortes in memory of
the Conqueror (Vallejo, 1893, p. 86).
PAGE 2, LINE 23. The derogatory effect of the
failure of the Honduras Inter-Oceanic Railway
should not be underestimated. From it grew the first
large foreign debt of Honduras and the association
of the country's name with swindle in the minds of
large numbers of the English and French publics.
The most important documents relative to this ill-
fated enterprise somehow are not to be found in
the National Archives. The project appears to have
commenced jointly between the United States, Great
Britain, and Honduras (see Squier, 1858, pp. x,
680). The first contract was signed during the ad-
ministration of Trinidad Cabanias in 1852, and a
second on June 23, 1853, by the Honorable E. G.
Squier, at one time Charge d'affairs for the United
States of America in the Republics of Central
America (Squier, 1858, p. 700). It was not until
three years later, in 1866 under the government of
Jose Maria Medina, that various loans were carried
out in Europe with the idea of obtaining both the
financial means and the personnel needed to begin
the work. The negotiators of this sorry business
were the ministers of Honduras in London and in
Paris, Don Carlos Gutierrez and Don Victor Herran,
who were given a free hand to act as they saw fit,
with no stipulation relative to the control of the'
funds obtained. One has only to read the Decree of
May 26, 1866, signed by President Medina and For-
eign Minister Ponciano Leiva, which names the two
representatives, to realize the extent of the power
given them. The original exists in the Libro de
decretos of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Government of Honduras for the years 1864 to 1867
in the National Archives, Tegucigalpa. As a result
of this authorization, three loans were made: two
in London, and one in Paris, the total sum reaching
5,990,108 pounds sterling. Out of this amount the
Honduran government received only 75,000 pounds
sterling with which the stretch of railroad from
Puerto Cortes to La Pimienta was built. There is
no record of the remainder, but in the world market
Honduras, not the individual ministers, received the
blame. Payment of interest and the amortization of
the loans were suspended soon after the loans were
made. The creditors attempted to obtain the inter-
vention of the British government as early as 1875,
but the English Parliament refused to lend itself to
what it considered an undertaking corrupt from its
very roots. Nevertheless, in Honduras the tendency
of the people was to hold England, home of the
grantors of the majority of the loans and the domi-
cile of the construction company contracting for the
job, responsible for the failure of the project both
materially and financially as well as to resent bit-
terly the existence of the large foreign debt.
During General Medina's presidency, Mr. F. De-
brot, an Englishman, and a Mr. Kraft obtained a
lease on the finished portion of the railroad. This
lease was canceled in 1875, but the actual transac-
tion was never put into motion by the government
(see Soto's Message to the National Congress, Coma-
yagua, May 27, 1877, in Duron, 1944, p. 82). On
August 21, 1876, Medina resigned in favor of Marco
Aurelio Soto, who formed a provisional government
in Amapala on August 27.
The new president of Honduras inherited a state
of anarchy and bankruptcy, and the affairs of the
Inter-Oceanic Railway did not help to ease his bur-
den. On December 26 a resolution was issued to take
over the railroad formally and "to convert into cash
the obligations of the contractors, take inventory of
the buildings, engines, and other utilities of the busi-
ness, and efficiently to take care of the conservation
and the reparation of the line" (ibid.).
The finished section was reclaimed but found to
be in a deplorable condition, with the result that
78,817.16 pesos were spent on repairs (see Soto's
Message to the National Congress, March 9, 1879,
in Duron, 1944, p. 106). The ex-ministers of Hon-
duras in London and Paris were called to account
by the government, but the investigation came to
The line was leased twice to North Americans,
in 1880 to Mr. R. H. Haydon (Soto's Message to the
National Congress, January 28, 1881 in Duron, 1944,
pp. 139-40), and in 1883 to Mr. John J. Waterbury
and Mr. Joseph L. Hance of New York ibidd., p.
164), but the length of the iron road, from Puerto
Cortes to La Pimienta, was not augmented until
years later, and then only to Potrerillos. The south-
ern portion of the Comayagua-Goascoaran basin
with its rises and drops, the route taken by Soltera,
remains a mule trail to this day and the northern
part has become a road for the horseless carriage,
while above it all the airplane darts on its markless
PAGE 7, LINE 10. Dr. Soto, President of the Re-
public (see the Introduction and the preceding note).
PAGE 7, LINE 13. The meaning of the supposedly
Lenca Indian name, "Comayagua," is not known.
The original town was founded in 1537 by followers
of Francisco Montejo, Conqueror of Yucatan, and
called Santa Maria de Comayagua (Stone, 1954, p.
117) but was burned by rebellious Indians. It was
re-established as Nuestra Sefiora de Valladolid de
Comayagua after the fall of the chieftain Lempira
(Chamberlain, 1953, p. 95), and received the title
of city on December 20, 1557, when rich silver mines
were opened in the vicinity (Stone, 1954, p. 139).
In 1573 Comayagua was made the capital of the
province of Honduras (Dur6n, 1927, p. 23), a posi-
tion which it enjoyed until the National Congress,
prodded by Marco Aurelio Soto, changed the seat of
government to Tegucigalpa in 1880.
PAGE 7, LINE 19. The meaning of Tegucigalpa has
been interpreted in various forms, but the one most
generally accepted is "Hills of Silver." Literally,
galpa means "land" or "earth" (Guerra y Ayala,
1608, p. 45). The complete name of the capital is
San Miguel de Tegucigalpa. In its vicinity were the
famous mines of El Rosario and Santa Lucia.
PAGE 8, LINE 19. The Honduran Mosquitia, or
Mosquito, lies in the northeastern portion of the re-
public from the Aguan River to the Segovia, or
Wanks, River. It has enjoyed a mythical fame which
probably started at the time of the Discovery when
varied and warlike Indian groups dominated the
dense woodlands and navigated the large lagoons
and rivers of this region. Fables of ancient ruins
and secret mines have stirred adventurers of all
classes and nationalities to penetrate this section.
In the nineteenth century it formed part of the
famous Mosquito Kingdom, and in 1820 the "King,"
George Frederic, gave the Scottish companion-at-
arms of the Generals Miranda and Bolivar a conces-
sion to colonize from the Aguan River, including the
Bay Islands, to the Patuca River and the area near
the source of the Wanks, or Segovia. Later General
William Walker, in his futile attempts to form a
slave colony in Central America, was caught in the
Honduran Mosquitia by British and Honduran
troops and shot at Trujillo in 1860. (For a brief re-
sume of the Honduran Mosquitia, see Stone, 1954,
pp. 48-63.) These and similar would-be enterprises
made this coast rather well known, at least in cer-
tain English circles.
PAGE 11, LINE 13. The tiger (Felis tigris) is not
native to the American continent. In Latin America
almost all felines, with the exception of the common
house cat, are vulgarly termed tigre or "tiger," al-
though the jaguar (Felis onca) is usually meant.
PAGE 19, LINE 13. Acajutto. This should be spelled
Acajutla and is in the republic of El Salvador near
the border of Guatemala. The Conqueror, Pedro de
Alvarado, had boats built in Acajutla and sailed
from the port for the Spice Islands, also called the
Moluccas, in the Malay Archipelago. Acajutla was
likewise a port of embarcation for Peru. At the time
of Maria Soltera it was of great importance for the
Salvadorean city of Sonsonate. Today fertilizer and
cement factories have ruined it as a resort.
PAGE 43, LINE 3. La Union is a port in El Salvador
on the Bay of Fonseca. It is an important com-
mercial point as it is easily accessible to the city
of San Miguel in El Salvador, and to Honduras and
PAGE 52, LINE 18. The Peninsular Wars cover the
period of 1808-14. The last one refers to the cam-
paign of 1813 when the Duke of Wellington and his
troops marched from Portugal into Spain and with
England's Iberian allies defeated the armies of
Napoleon, winding up in France itself. The phrase
is typically British. In Spain this period is known
as the War of Independence.
PAGE 66, LINE 15. La Libertad, one of the three
ports of El Salvador, is the nearest to the capital.
It is not a good harbor.
PAGE 90, LINE 8. Came asada is a typical dish of
Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Its popular-
ity primarily is due to the lack of necessity of re-
frigeration. The beef is cut into strips, salted, and
sun dried. It is then hung on the kitchen rafters
until needed, when it is put on a stick and roasted
over the fire.
Picadillo is equally important as a vegetable dish.
The most common ingredients in Honduras are the
vegetable pear (Sechium edule Sw.) and potato.
These are chopped fine with a little onion and garlic
if available, and boiled.
PAGE 92, LINE 5. The ceiba tree (Ceiba pentandra
Gaertn.) is one of the imposing trees in the Ameri-
can tropics and is known to reach 40 meters in
height. Its seeds are covered with kapok which is
often used to stuff cushions and mattresses. The
ceiba was the sacred tree of the Maya Indians.
PAGE 92, LINE 19. El Aceituno, not Aceitufia, is no
longer used as a port. However, it is still known for
its salines. These are open spaces which tidal water
is allowed to cover in the dry season, and they are
then dammed. Exposure to the hot sun evaporates
the water, and the brine that remains is burned,
leaving salt as a residue.
PAGE 94, LINE 11. La Brea is a port of entry to
the Honduran mainland, suitable only for very small
craft. It is still used, although San Lorenzo is more
PAGE 97, LINE 5. Side-saddle (see Introduction).
PAGE 111, LINE 6. Bongos, the Honduran boats,
are oversized canoes which as a rule are built with
planks, although occasionally one is hollowed from a
giant tree. The larger bongos are capable of carry-
ing numerous tons of cargo as well as passengers
who must sit near the stern. Wooden planks are
used as seats by the oarsmen, who are often as many
as twelve and who both row or pole according to the
depth of the water. Sometimes sails are used but
this is exceptional.
PAGE 113, LINE 14. El Aceituno is not on a creek,
but on an estuary fed by tidal waters and navigable
by very small craft for 16 miles.
PAGE 113, LINE 15. Mangrove trees (Rhizophora
mangle) compose the common estuary growth in
Central America. Oysters often live on their trunks
and are gathered at low tide.
PAGE 115, LINE 22. The word nagua, or enagua,
means "petticoat," or "skirt," in American Spanish,
and is here applied to the long skirt which reaches
the ankle or a little above and frequently has one or
two ruffles at the hem. It is still, in 1964, part of the
characteristic attire of country women in Honduras
and much of Central America.
PAGE 119, LINE 12. Arimesine is a misspelling of
Aramecina in the Goascoaran basin. It is near what
was once an important mining section.
PAGE 127, LINE 17. The first location of Goas-
coaran, not Goascaron as Soltera spells it, was
nearer to the coast at a place called San Jer6nimo,
but was transferred in 1686 to its actual location
for better protection against buccaneers and the
English (Vallejo, 1893, p. 42).
PAGE 130, LINE 21. The term "tortilla" applies to
thin maize cakes associated with Mexican tribes or
peoples who have come under their influence. In Cen-
tral America, for example, the tortilla is virtually
unknown in southern Costa Rica (see, Stone, 1956;
Stone and Balser, 1957). With the exception of the
Mosquito Coast in Honduras and Nicaragua, the
tortilla takes the place of bread in northern Central
America and in Mexico. The cakes are made by hull-
ing the kernel in lime water or in water with ash.
The grain is then mixed with a little water and
ground on a stone with a stone rolling pin, after
which the wet meal is patted in the hands until it
takes the form of a pancake. Finally, the tortilla is
placed on a clay or iron griddle or a stone over a hot
PAGE 132, LINE 2. Hondo means "deep" and not
a pond or brook.
PAGE 143, LINE 21. What Maria Soltera means by
"furnace" is a raised hearth or stove, the fog6n in
Spanish America, where the cooking takes place.
The "stone for rolling" is the grinding stone men-
tioned in the note to page 130. It is often called by
the Nahua word metate.
PAGE 165, LINE 19. The reference to chestnut trees
is interesting. It is possible that Maria Soltera was
confused by the breadfruit tree (Artocarpus spp.),
often called by the vulgar names of castania in Span-
ish and "chestnut" or "breadnut" in English. It may
be, however, that someone actually planted and
raised chestnut trees in this part of Honduras.
PAGE 168, LINE 20. The quinine tree is probably
PAGE 169, LINE 14. The water vines probably are
PAGE 170, LINE 20. The gourd-shell is the pericarp
of the fruit of the gourd tree (Crescentia cujete L.)
and is commonly used throughout Central America
as a drinking vessel and for such foods as soup and
porridge. In the mountain provinces of Honduras,
up to the middle of the twentieth century, the two
essential items for a lady's trip were the chamber
pot and the gourd, both of which were carried on
the unpommeled side of the saddle. It was not un-
usual for the ladies who were members of the old
families in the interior of the country to have these
artifacts made of silver. These were inherited from
colonial times when in the mining towns porcelain
or any other material had to be imported and car-
ried to its final destination on mule or human back,
whereas silver was to be had right at hand from the
PAGE 172, LINE 20. San Juan del Norte is sur-
rounded by great forests of yellow pine.
PAGE 174, LINE 12. Aguardiente is sugar-cane al-
cohol, not brandy. Its name literally signifies "burn-
PAGE 180, LINE 11. Aleppo fir, a conifer, is known
as true cedar, or Lebanon cedar. It is native to
PAGE 180, LINE 13. The deodara is Cedrus deo-
dara, a native of the Himalayas.
PAGE 186, LINE 16. Among the Digitalis is the
foxglove. They are European plants.
PAGE 187, LINE 24. Frequently, either the school
or the cabildo, which is equivalent to the town hall,
was placed at the disposal of mounted travelers of
the upper category in the interior of Honduras.
PAGE 189, LINE 24. A sheet anchor is a storm an-
chor used for emergency, especially in small craft
or sailing ships. It is made of canvas and is gener-
ally cone-shaped. This type of anchor does not go to
the bottom but rides the waves partly submerged
and keeps the vessel straight into the wind, thereby
preventing its being caught broadside.
PAGE 191, LINE 4. The Juan River does not appear
in John Lloyd Stephens' accounts of his travels. It is
a name applied to the upper part of the Goascoaran
River. In Honduras the confusing practice exists of
calling a single river by different names according
to the locality.
PAGE 199, LINE 20. Charles V, a Hapsburg, was
the grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.
He became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, the
year of Cortez' invasion of Mexico. As King of
Spain and Holy Roman Emperor he wielded great
power in the affairs of America during the first
years of the Conquest.
PAGE 206, LINE 18. The Hotel de Comayagua was
owned by Margarita Olano. It was situated on a
corner by the Plazuela de San Francisco in front
of the Governor's office and that of the Commander
of the District of Comayagua. There appears to have
been neither an inn nor a pension run by "Madame
Victorine." On the contrary, La Victorina, as she
was called, had a very comfortable house well fur-
nished in the European style which she put at the
disposition of any distinguished visitor in Coma-
yagua. This is a custom which continues to be ob-
served in many places in the interior of Honduras.
Born Victorine Berlioz, she came with her cousins
to Central America from France at the start of the
survey of the railroad under the government of
Guardiola. She was a very industrious woman and
amassed a fortune. In Comayagua she acquired the
valuable property of El Sitio, about three kilometers
east of the city, which today serves as the source of
its water supply.
Her enterprises were multiple and included a
sugar-cane press or mill, the planting of cacao (Theo-
broma cacao L.) and coffee trees, and the processing
of coffee. She founded a large store and had business
transactions not only with people in the valley of
Comayagua, but also with all of the towns of the
department and those of the mountainous region
known as La Sierra. On various occasions La Vic-
torina lent the government money: 20,000 pesos to
Guardiola, and later 100,000 to Sierra.
When Sir Thomas Kirpatrick was sent to Coma-
yagua as representative of the British Crown to
investigate the railway investment and the English
contract, he and La Victorina fell in love and she
bore him two children who later inherited her prop-
erty, Elisse Berlioz Kirpatrick and Edward Berlioz
Kirpatrick. Their descendants live today in Hon-
duras. La Victorina is buried in the church of San
Francisco in Comayagua. (Information from the
great-grandson of La Victorina, the historian Jose
PAGE 207, LINE 18. Ilex trees (Ilex spp.).
PAGE 211, LINE 24. The cathedral and not the
church is meant when Maria Soltera talks of "some
curious relics." The cathedral was built between
1703 and 1724, and is a gem of colonial art. It is the
only one in America in which the palm-tree motif is
used to decorate the facade and the interior of the
Sagrario chapel. (For a detailed description of this
cathedral see Kelemen, 1951, pp. 36-37.) One of the
curious relics is the mummified remains of a Fran-
ciscan Bishop, the Ilmo. Fray Antonio L6pez de
Guadalupe, sometimes wrongly called Fray Fern-
ando, who was responsible for completing the dec-
oration of the cathedral. He died in 1742 and,
according to Dr. Jose Reina Valenzuela, was prob-
ably embalmed by the friars of the Hospital of San
Juan de Dios. All the bells in Comayagua are bronze.
There are no silver ones.
PAGE 212, LINE 7. The Bishop of Comayagua in
1881 was Fray Juan Felix de Jesus Zepeda y Zepeda.
He was a native of the mining town of San Antonio
de Oriente, and his reputation was that of a virtu-
ous, prudent, and just man.
PAGE 212, LINE 21. Convolvuli is the plural of the
generic name for one of the morning-glories.
PAGE 213, LINE 3. The date palm is either the
Phoenix dactylifera or Phoenix canariensis.
PAGE 215, LINE 1. The oleander is Nerium olean-
PAGE 220, LINE 14. The ex-Empress of the French
refers to Eugenie, the widow of Napoleon III. After
the fall of the Empire, the royal family settled in
England where Queen Victoria became a fond
friend. Eugenie's son, Eugene Louis Jean Joseph,
was killed in 1879 in South Africa as a British
soldier in the Zulu rebellion.
PAGE 220, LINE 24. The Ritualist Party of the
Church of England grew out of the Oxford Move-
ment which terminated in 1845 with the secession
of Cardinal Newman to the Roman Catholic Church.
The doctrine of high church and ritual usages were
the primary objectives behind the formation of the
English Church Union in 1860. The differences be-
tween low and broad churchmen and the Ritualist
group led to scandalous disputes and litigations,
forcing the appointment in 1881 of a royal com-
mission on ecclesiastical courts.
PAGE 228, LINE 24. During the first years of the
administration of Dr. Soto, Mr. F. Debrot was Her
Britannic Majesty's consul in Puerto Cortes. See
also the note to page 2, line 23.
PAGE 231, LINE 20. Quevos should be spelled Cue-
vas. It is on the old mule trail or camino real, and
always has had a fame for cleanliness.
PAGE 233, LINE 2. The principal drainage of Lake
Yojoa is a subterranean channel which rises about
6 or 9 kilometers to the north and forms the Blanco
River, a beautiful but narrow tributary of the Ulua
PAGE 234, LINE 3. The origin of the tamarind tree
(Tamarindus indica) is uncertain. Some botanists
credit Ceylon and others Africa.
PAGE 234, LINE 5. Prendas de Amor is the Qua-
moclit pennata (Desr.) Bojeror or the Quamoclit
coccinea (L.) Moench. The popular name is not
translated properly here. It means a "pledge of
PAGE 238, LINE 14. The mulefly is the same as a
horsefly or gadfly.
PAGE 239, LINE 14. Santa Cruz de Yojoa is a de-
lightful spot surrounded by pine forests at an alti-
tude of 55.03 meters (1800 feet).
PAGE 241, LINE 18. The common cedar of Central
America is known as Spanish cedar (Cedrela odo-
PAGE 244, LINE 1. Maniobar is properly spelled
"Meambar" or "Miambur."
PAGE 244, LINE 6. Coalcar does not exist. The au-
thor probably confused the name of Coyolar, or
Coalcar might have pertained to an hacienda, or
farm, which no longer remains.
PAGE 244, LINE 13. Machetes are long flat-bladed
knives which no Honduran muleteer or farmer is
ever without. They serve for almost any emergency,
from cutting fodder, firewood, and fingernails to
protection against assault.
PAGE 248, LINE 23. Spinarosa is probably the haw-
thorn (Crataegus spp.), a thorny shrub of the rose
family, very typical of the English countryside
where it is used for hedges.
PAGE 252, LINE 8. Maria Soltera is confused geo-
graphically. There are no ruins in this section. The
Maya ruins of Palenque are in the state of Chiapas,
PAGE 253, LINE 2. This is another case of the lack
of geographic orientation. There is very little differ-
ence in the length of the mule trail between Omoa
and CopAn and that between Omoa and Comayagua.
PAGE 255, LINE 8. Potrerillos means "little pas-
tures." At present it is the end of the National Rail-
PAGE 269, LINE 2. The clematis vine belongs to
the crowfoot family (Ranunculaceae).
PAGE 269, LINE 4. It is probable that the author
means crotons and not balsams, as she indicates the
red and orange colors of the plants. Crotons belong
to the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae, Croton spp.)
and are used as a hedge or border of walks in many
of the gardens of Potrerillos and lowland Honduras.
PAGE 269, LINE 12. The Palenque River is not a
separate waterway but a small section of the Uluia
River where it passes Palenque Hill in the Sula plain
near La Pimienta. The term is not used today.
PAGE 270, LINE 6. The plain of Sula is the broad
flood plain of the Uluia River, although the Chamele-
c6n River also flows through its western edge, and
in times of flood the waters of the two often inter-
mingle. The plain has a shoreline of a little more
than 50 miles and is bordered at the northeast and
west by the foothills of the mountains of Congrehoy
and Omoa respectively. It terminates in the south
with the terraced rise of the plateau whereon lies
Lake Yojoa. This Sula Valley, as it is sometimes
called, comprises one of the richest areas of Hon-
duras. When the Spaniards first arrived, Maya In-
dians cultivated cacao in its fertile soil (Probanza,
1533). In the twentieth century, bananas and, to
a much lesser extent, sugar cane are the chief
PAGE 294, LINE 1. The celebration in honor of the
fourth anniversary of the government of Honduras
was in reality a tribute to Marco Aurelio Soto who
had successfully maintained his office and organized
important civil, penal, and economic reforms de-
spite the activities of rebellious groups and the writ-
ing of a new constitution. More than once his term
had been on the verge of collapse. Dr. Soto was
called to the Presidency by popular acclaim after
Medina resigned and indicated him as President on
August 21, 1876. On August 27, 1876, Soto inau-
gurated his provisional government in Amapala
(Duron, 1927, p. 177). This administration lasted
until May 27, 1877, when an extraordinary session
of the National Congress declared Dr. Soto Chief
of State. Confusion and civil war reigned in Hon-
duras, however, and continued until the execution of
Generals Medina and Marin. A Constitutional As-
sembly was called under pressure of Congress and
on October 30, 1880, the capital was transferred
from Comayagua to Tegucigalpa, and the next
month on November 1, a new constitution was
adopted. In accordance with this, Dr. Soto was elect-
ed for four years. He began his second administra-
tion on February 1, 1881.
PAGE 297, LINE 4. The Lanza is a Honduran adap-
tation of the "Lancer Quadrilles" and was still
danced in Comayagua in the middle of the twentieth
PAGE 304, LINE 22. From the description, this
should be called a parakeet as the bird was small
enough to be carried in the pocket.
PAGE 309, LINE 19. Although Soltera did not
know, the route from Puerto Cortes to San Pedro
Sula was first opened in 1539 by Pedro de Alvarado
for his bride, Beatriz de la Cueva. Two hundred men
were put to work so that the pair might pass with
ease over the jungle-covered terrain (Stone, 1954,
PAGE 311, LINE 7. Madame .B- was Madame Bi-
raud who had one of the principal hotels in Hon-
duras as late as the early twentieth century.
PAGE 313, LINE 8. Dr. M. G. Reinhold Fritz Gaert-
ner, sometimes spelled Fritzgairtner, was born in
Prussia and lived for a while in the United States
whence he went to Honduras. One of his chief inter-
ests seems to have been mines. He became Govern-
ment Geologist and Inspector-General of Mines for
Honduras as well as part owner of the mine of La
Plomosa in the vicinity of Santa Lucia. Dr. Fritz
Gaertner can further be credited for the founding
of the first English-language newspaper in Central
America, the bi-weekly Honduras Progress (see
Charles, 1890, pp. 10, 30, 60). The following con-
tract, signed on March 1, 1882, for the canalization
of the Ulua and Blanco Rivers by Fritz Gaertner
and Shears was published in La Gaceta, Number
167, Series 17, in Tegucigalpa, July 14, 1882:
CONTRACT FOR THE CANALIZATION OF THE ULUA
AND BLANCO RIVERS.
Ram6n Rosa, Secretary of State in the Office of
Foreign Affairs, etc., etc., representing the Govern-
ment, and executing instructions of the President of
the Republic, George W. Shears, of Washington,
District of Columbia, United States, and M. G. R.
Fritz Gaertner, of Bonanza, Territory of New Mexi-
co, United States: After having conferred upon the
importance of improving the channels of the Ulia
and Blanco Rivers, and establishing on them steam-
boat navigation; and having considered the petition
which with respect to this Messrs. Shears and Fritz
Gaertner have presented, have agreed to conclude
the contract that is expressed in the articles which
ART. 1.-Misters Shears and Fritz Gaertner are
obliged to clean and to canalize perfectly the Uluia
and Blanco Rivers throughout the extent in which
it is possible to make them navigable, and to put on
them, within the term of a year, counting from this
date, a steamboat and other steamboats which might
be necessary and which will be increased precisely
in proportion to the increase which the commerce
of the country might have.
ART. 2.-Likewise they are committed to bring
immigrants, in the shortest period possible, to de-
velop the commerce of the Republic, in its internal
and external relations, and to establish centers of
population and stations within the zone encompassed
between both rivers as soon as the needs of the im-
migration and the commerce require them.
ART. 3.-They are committed besides to keep in
good condition the steamers which might be set up
and to fix by tariffs, which will be approved by the
Government, the prices of the transports.
ART. 4.-They are obliged, in order to make pos-
sible and to maintain and to expedite the navigation
of the rivers, to use adequate machines, as powerful
as might be necessary, to remove all the difficulties
which might impede navigation.
ART. 5.-The Government commits itself to give
to Messrs. Shears and Fritz Gaertner, for the term
of twelve years, which begins at this date, the exclu-
sive privilege of the navigation of the Ulua and
ART. 6.-It is furthermore obliged to give to the
concessionaries the places chosen by them, and which
might be fit for their business, forty-three cabal-
lerias [a caballeria is about 331/2 acres, although it
is variable] of land destined for the immigrants who
must establish themselves in the country in virtue
ART. 7.-It is expressly agreed that the given
forty-three caballerias must be in state-owned lands
which are in no manner compromised by former con-
cessions, and with absolute exclusion of the ten-mile
zone at the sides of the railway. Furthermore, the
Government will have equal parts, the possession of
intermediary sections in the ceded lands; but it is
understood that the concessionaries, notwithstand-
ing the intermediary possession of the Government,
will have the complete forty-three caballerias which
are mentioned in ART. 6 of this contract.
ART. 8.-The Government is obliged to give to the
concessionaries the exclusive right to cut for expor-
tation, at their own expense, what woods might be
in the forty-three caballerias of land already indi-
cated; but the exportation of the wood cannot be
effective until there be at least one steamboat navi-
gating in the Ulua and Blanco Rivers, and these
perfectly equipped for navigation, and previous to
the payment of the taxes on the exportation wood.
ART. 9.-It is agreed that the concessionaries will
have right over all the minerals which may be in the
ceded terrains, provided that they are not of other
individuals, or companies, and to export them free
of taxes, and to import machinery or instruments
for the exclusive use of the business of navigation,
agriculture, and mining, without paying duties.
ART. 10.-It is agreed that the steamers which
navigate the rivers will go to the qualified ports so
that the merchandise which is imported and ex-
ported in them can be inspected and the correspond-
ing payment of duties be effected.
ART. 11.-The ceded lands for the establishment
of the immigration, which at the canceling of this
contract or at the termination of this concession
might not be occupied and cultivated, will be re-
turned to the dominion of the State.
ART. 12.-If in a year after this date, the conces-
sionaries should not have at least one steamboat or
a tug in the Ulua and Blanco Rivers, it is agreed
that the present contract will be without any effect;
ART. 13.-Also it will be agreed of no value nor
effect in the case of suspension of steamer services,
and likewise if the concessionaries do not establish
all the steamers necessary for commerce. The terms
of these articles are understood with the exception
of the fortuitous cases justly proven.
With faith in that agreed upon, the undersigners
sign this document in duplicate, in the city of
Tegucigalpa, Capital of the Republic, on the 1st
of March, 1882. Because of the absence of the
Secretary of the Office, that of Foreign Rela-
tions.-Ram6n Rosa.-Geo. Shears.-M. G. R. Fritz
The project appears to have been one of con-
siderable importance. Even Dr. Soto, in his last
Message to the National Congress which he read on
February 19, 1883, two years after the journey of
Soltera but within the period of the given contract,
said: "Our navigable rivers will shortly be traversed
by steamers: The Ulua and the Blanco will be the
first to receive the benefits of steamboat navigation.
In order to accomplish this, the Government con-
cluded a Contract covering the canalization and
navigation of these rivers. The pact is about to be
executed, and at the latest, in the following month,
according to the contractor's offer, a steamboat will
be moving through the waters of the Ulua. Un-
doubtedly our commerce will obtain greater progress
and extraordinary advantages, thanks to the estab-
lishment of navigation in our river ways . ."
(Dur6n, 1944, p. 160).
PAGE 313, LINE 12. Formerly the term Ulda River
was applied only to that portion which flowed
through the plain of Sula, or better said, from the
union with the Humuya and Blanco Rivers by the
town of Santiago. Above this point, the river was
called the Venta, or the Santiago, and was consid-
ered the greatest tributary of the Ulua (see Squier,
1856, p. 256).
PAGE 318, LINE 9. Albany de Grenier Fonblanque,
a prolific writer, was born in 1829 and died in 1924.
The works mentioned refer to his publications. The
titles of some of these appear under this name in A
Catalog of Books Represented by Library of Con-
gress Printed Cards. A more complete listing is to
be found in the British Museum's General Catalogue
of Printed Books under the name Albany Fonblan-
que, the Younger, as distinct from his father, Albany
Fonblanque, the Elder.
Chamberlain, Robert S. 1953. The Conquest and Colonization of
Honduras. Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington. Pub-
Charles, Cecil. 1890. Honduras: The Land of Great Depths. Chicago
and New York: Rand McNally & Co.
Cortes, Hernan. 1946. Cartas y relaciones. Buenos Aires: Emece Edi-
Documentos ineditos. 1864-1884. Coleccion de documents ineditos,
relatives al descubrimiento, conquista y organizacion de las anti-
guas posesiones espahiolas en America y Oceania, sacados de los
archives del reino y muy especialmente del de Indias. Tomo 24.
Dur6n, R6mulo E. 1927. Bosquejo hist6rico de Honduras. San Pedro
1944. Biografia del Dr. Marco Aurelio Soto. "Biblioteca de
la Sociedad de Geografia e Historia de Honduras." Tegucigalpa.
Guerra y Ayala, Juan de. 1608. "Relaci6n de la visit hecha por don
Juan de Guerra y Ayala a la gobernaci6n de Honduras. Aiio 1608."
Boletin del Archivo General del Gobierno. Tomo XI, nuimeros 1 y
2, paginas, 44-54.
Herrera, Antonio de. 1726. Historia general. Decade III, Madrid.
Kelemen, Pal. 1951. Baroque and Rococo in Latin America. New
York: Macmillan Co.
La Gaceta. 1879. Comayagua.
Libro de decretos. 1864-1867. Libro copiador de decretos del Minis-
terio de relaciones extranjeras del gobierno de Honduras. Archive
Nacional de Tegucigalpa.
Oviedo y Valdez, Gonzalo FernAndez de. 1853. Historia general y
natural de las Indias, islas y tierra fire del Mar Oceano. Tomo
Patronato, Leg. 20. Archivo General de Indias. Sevilla.
Ponce, Fray Alonso. 1873. Relaciin breve y verdadera de Fray
Alonso Ponce en las provincias de la Nueva Espafia. Tomo I.
Squier, E. G. 1856. Apuntamientos sobre Centro-America, parti-
cularmente sobre los Estados de Honduras y San Salvador: su
geografia, topografia, clima, poblaci6n, riqueza, producciones, etc.,
etc., y el propuesto camino de hierro de Honduras. Traducidos del
ingles por un hondurefio. Paris: Imprenta de Gustavo Gratiot.
1858. The States of Central America. New York.
Stone, Doris. 1954. Estampas de Honduras. Mexico: Impresora Galve,
1956. "Date of Maize in Telamanca, Costa Rica: An Hypothe-
sis." Journal de la Socidet des Amiricanistes. Nouvelle sirie, tome
XLV, pages 189-94. Paris.
,_ and Carlos Balser. 1957. "Grinding Stones and Mullers of
Costa Rica." Journal de la Societe des Americanistes. Nouvelle
serie, tome XLVI, pages 165-79.
Vallejo, Antonio R. 1893. Primer anuario estadistico. Tegucigalpa.
A LADY'S RIDE
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 'BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE'
HACIENDA NEAR SAN ANTONIO.
A LADY'S RIDE
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
All Rights reserved
TO THE DEAR MEMORY OF
THE MOST REVEREND
ROGER BEDE VAUGHAN
LATE ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY, N.S.W.
THIS RECORD OF MY WANDERINGS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
HACIENDA NEAR SAN ANTONIO, .
SE DUERMA-HE SLEEPS,
PASS BEYOND GOASCARON, .
POSADA NEAR SAN PEDRO SULA, .
. To face page 158
. ,, 164
. ,, 207
. ,, 244
. ,, 276
A LADY'S RIDE ACROSS SPANISH
IT was the question of pounds, shillings, and
pence. Should I take steamer from San Fran-
cisco to Panama, cross the isthmus, and from
the Atlantic side enter Spanish Honduras ? or
had I better travel by steamer as far as Ama-
pala, and thence take mules and ride across the
country to San Pedro Sula-my destination-
a distance of about two hundred and nineteen
miles ? Thus was perplexed the mind of your
globe-trotting servant "Soltera," as she pored
over railway and steamboat guides and calcu-
lated expenses, in her comfortable but very
costly bedroom in the Palace Hotel, San Fran-
A LADY'S RIDE
cisco, in the month of June, in year of grace
The steamer to Panama! A fine expense!
And once arrived at that place, the end of the
journey is not by any means reached. After en-
during more or less sea-sickness, much thunder,
and lightning unlimited, for about twelve days,
there would be the further risk of catching the
This fever is often irreverently styled the
canal fever (in grim compliment to that cutting),
and its general result is to put a decided stop to
all plans and locomotion for many a day;. often
for ever. Should I avoid that misfortune, there
would be the certainty of being detained at some
miserable place to wait for a vessel going to
Puerto Cortez. A bill for "discomfort sup-
plied," at a fearful charge of dollars, would be
the inevitable result of that detention.
Arrived at Puerto Cortez, which is also called
Puerto Caballo, there would still be fifty miles
to travel over mountains, through streams, and
upon the ruins of the late Inter-Oceanic Rail-
way of Honduras, till the haven of San Pedro
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
Sula were reached. So far the one side of the
Now for its converse.
Take steamer as far as Amapala, which is the
only Pacific port of entry to Spanish Honduras;
invade the consulate threat; make a friend and
ally of good Senor Don Pedro Bahl; ask him to
provide mules, servant, and muleteer; and thus
ride straight and hard for San Pedro Sula. That
is the better plan. It will also be the cheaper
route; and I shall, by this means, enjoy the
mountains I love so well, and see them in all
their beauty, the grand Honduras mountains,
over which few Englishmen, and still fewer
Englishwomen, have ridden!
It has been ascertained, and I have been
assured of this from Honduras, that the dangers
of this route have been much exaggerated, the
chief drawback being the bad roads and the
peril of fording some of the streams. There
exists also a great difficulty in obtaining food.
But I shall have a servant and a nmuleteer to
forage, and I can live as they do for twelve
days or so (rash asseveration); and let me only
A LADY'S RIDE
come by a tolerable supply of milk, and I will
travel far and well.
Now falls on my soul the remembrance that
I am alone in the world; and at this moment
the knowledge brings no pang. No one near
of kin exists whose anxieties might deter me;
no loving heart will be broken should my por-
tion be evil. Suffering, physical and mental,
will fall upon myself solely; and should this
expedition end in the last disaster," there re-
main those outside the ties of kin, thank God,
who will hold me in kindly remembrance and
deal gently with my name. Let me forward
whilst I have health and willing spirit. I am
alone in the world. Yes; but I go with God.
What are you doing, Soltera ? why are you
going to San Pedro Sula, and where on earth is
the place ?" had inquired of me, some weeks
previously, my handsome young cousin of the
clan Campbell, who had come on board at
Auckland, whereat the steamer Australia (in
which I formed one of the passengers) touched,
from lovely, hospitable Sydney. We were bound
to San Francisco, and had to stay a few hours in
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
Auckland in order to take in the New Zealand
contingent of mails and seafarers. This cousin
and his wife were bound home on a visit, and
it was quite in the usual accidental nature of
things in travel, that we should thus meet with-
out the slightest provocation thereto on either
Rail and steam here gave evidence that the
world is small enough to render chance en-
counters with long-parted friends a common
Apart from the fact that the presence of this
relative would contribute to throw an air of re-
spectability over me, I was very glad to meet
him, and to secure an auditor as to my plans
In answer to his inquiries, I informed Mr
Campbell that San Pedro Sula was a large town
in the Republic of Honduras, situate about fifty
miles, or rather more, off the Atlantic coast, at
the foot of a range of mountains, name forgotten.
That its climate, according to a pamphlet com-
piled by the Rev. Dr Pope, is salubrious (it is no
such thing-but the nights are bearable); that
A LADY'S RIDE
a colony of Britons and some French people were
being located threat. In addition to this, the
Government of Honduras was granting large
concessions of land (quite true), and doing its
utmost to get Europeans to make a settlement
What has all this to do with you ?" cut in
my cousin, who seemed to fear that the whole
contents of the pamphlet were about to be let
loose upon him.
Simply this: as I speak Spanish fairly, and
can be otherwise useful, I am invited (after some
correspondence on the subject) to take charge
of the school which is being erected for the
colonists' children at San Pedro Sula. A salary
has been guaranteed me; and in addition to
this, the Government will assign me a planta-
tion of one hundred and sixty acres for the
taking it, subject, of course, to its being cul-
tivated and kept in order. Dr Pope writes me
that a plantation once put in working trim, re-
quires little further outlay, beyond the first or
second year's expenses."
Who is this Dr Pope?"
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
"The agent of the Honduras Government
and a Catholic priest. He has already located
a number of families from Ireland, and he is to
return shortly and fetch out four hundred more.
The pamphlet is circulated as a proclamation
and confirmation of his position to the outside
world, and contains, both in the Spanish and the
English language, a copy of all the engagements
existing between the President of the Republic,
Dr Soto, and this agent. There are also pub-
lished letters of authority from most of the
principal persons of the State, the Dutch con-
sul, and the Bishop of Comayagua."
"Comayagua," I replied, the ancient capital
of Spanish Honduras. The seat of government
is transferred now to a town which lies further
south of Comayagua. The name of this town
is Tegucigalpa-perhaps you like that better ?"
"Don't chaff a fellow; the names are wonder-
ful! What a country it must be to stand such
queer-sounding appellations Excuse me fur-
ther. Let me hope that you have not bought
any land, or placed money in this agent's hands."
A LADY'S RIDE
Certainly not. You know that I have been
obliged to increase my pittance by taking
pupils in Sydney. I am very, very sorry to
part with these dear people; but I am not get-
ting younger, and I want to make a home of
my own. This appointment will help me on
till I do so. Don't you see ?"
Yes-well-and if it does not do, you can
go back again. I don't know much about the
matter, but I have always had the impression
that the climate out there is rather awful. Hot
as fire, is it not ?"
"Not among the mountains," I retorted
quickly; for a shadow of suspicion must not
be allowed to fall upon my beloved mountains.
" The climate is unhealthy, and worse, I know,
on the sea-coast and low-lying plains; but I
shall be very little among these."
Haven't they a place there called Mosquito ?
That sounds lively, but decidedly the reverse of
pleasant, eh ? "
Mosquito, my good cousin, is another pro-
vince altogether. Look at the map. You can
abuse that as much as you please. San Pedro
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
Sula lies in the interior of the country, and is
surrounded by the mountains. The only draw-
back of the situation is, that the town has been
placed at their base."
What are these mountains called ?"
I do not know that they have any partic-
ular designation; but they form part of the
chain of the principal range."
"You seem to be pretty well up in the
geography of these parts at any rate, and I
hope you will not be disappointed; for really,
Soltera, this is an undertaking, and no mistake
"Yes; and if you read in some newspaper a
few months hence, that a lady unknown, to-
gether with her mule, have been found at the
bottom of a precipice, make up your mind that
it is I. Better people can be spared; so any
way I will try it. Besides, my late residence
in Fiji has given me an insight both as regards
tropical and plantation life. I learnt a few
things when in those lovely isles of the Pacific
which I hope to turn to good account." (A
year previously I had been employed as a fin-
A LADY'S RIDE
fishing governess in a planter's family in one of
the islands of the Fijian group. This fact will in-
form the reader that I add the crime of poverty
to my other detriments.)
The foregoing conversation will also explain
the conflict anent ways and means which exer-
cised me during my stay at San Francisco, and
why the more perilous route chimed in so read-
ily with my purse and proclivities.
Time and the steamer vid the Mexican ports
of Mazatlan, San Blas, Manzanillo, and Puerto
Angel, saw me on my way to the Republic
of Honduras, and bound for its port of entry,
This latter place is so rarely marked on the
smaller maps, that I may mention that this
town is situate on a small island in the bay of
Fonseca; and that most people revile it as
being a hot, dirty, and not money-making place.
Having "been and seen" the stores of the
United States of American consul there, and
witnessed the traffic which goes on in his well-
stocked warehouse, I am much inclined to doubt
the latter part of this assertion.
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
Public opinion, furthermore, appeared to be
greatly aggrieved because the nightly lightning
which always works with great vigour at Ama-
pala has hitherto left the town intact, and this
by a peculiar and persistent perversion of right
and wrong. From the manner also in which
some persons talked about this coast, I was led
to believe that an inevitable lion was to be des-
cried, on its shores on the approach of a steamer,
watching, it was implied, for the rare meat
which, in the shape of a passenger, might de-
scend upon Amapala. This lion also enjoyed
the peculiarity of being reported as a "tiger,"
probably from the circumstance of an acclivity
called La Montana de los Tigres being close
to the landing-place, and whence the creature
might have hailed. Before the journey had
nearly ended, however, he had subsided (by de-
scription) into a mountain-leopard. Bad enough ;
but I never met him under any of these phases.
Acapulco is the one of the Mexican ports at
which we touched on our way down the coast,
of which I shall ever retain a "pleasant
memory." We arrived in its lovely harbour in
A LADY'S RIDE
the early morning; and the sight of the pictur-
esque little town, over the red roofs of which
the thin veil of the mists was slowly clearing
itself away, reminded me of the face of a friend
determined to wear a smile. Its situation be-
tween two irregular and projecting tongues of
land, with the background gradually widening
and rising towards the hills, invests it with an
air of coziness, and of being, at the same time,
thoroughly well protected.
A few trees, dotted about in all the beauty of
unprecision, serve to relieve the whole landscape
from the appearance of aridity so common to the
majority of seaboard towns. Several broken
rocks of peculiarly vivid colour jut out like an
advanced-guard to the right of a long pier at
the entrance, and upon this pier the natives,
in full costume or in little costume, stand out
in pleasing relief. Add to these the bright-
coloured fruit and fish, lying in baskets of every
shape and elegant texture, shrouded partially in
grand green leaves, which of themselves suggest
the idea of sheltering trees. Not overlooking,
either, the delicate shell-work held up for sale
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
in the hands of the loveliest female peasantry
in the world; the wonderful flowers; the boats
covered with every variety of gay awning, with
the Mexican flag at their prow, dancing here
and there on the liquid emerald of the sea.
Look with me, reader, in this mirror; you
will then have some idea of how appears, in
everyday garb, Acapulco.
How lovely these Mexican girls are !" said
the ship's doctor to me as we neared shore,-a
party intending to spend a few hours on land
whilst the good ship Colima took in cargo, and
transacted the business which would detain her
in harbour for the rest of the day. Quite
beautiful," continued the doctor, speaking to no
one in particular, and keeping his eyes riveted
upon a damsel who was waiting on the pier
ready to pounce down upon us, and bewitch us
into buying some of her shell-work. This was
a wreath of stephanotis, most artistically made
in small white shells, and as tastefully mounted
with green silk leaves. It was a crown for a
The doctor was a very young man-indeed
A LADY'S RIDE
this was, I think, his first trip as doctor on
board a steamer. He had talked during the
voyage from San Francisco with much contempt
concerning Mexico, the Mexicans, and all their
ways and works. In fact he could see nothing
admirable but the United States of America,
and had repudiated with great energy the
imputation often made by the passengers in
general, that America is only biding her time
to "annex" Mexico to the States.
"Nothing of the kind," he would asseverate;
" you are all wrong; the States would not take
the country as a gift. A land that requires
other people to point out her means of wealth,
and invites foreigners to exploit her mines and
build her railroads I A lazy, good-for-nothing
set of men; and as for the women- "
Hold hard there, doctor," had retorted a
young English engineer, who had embarked at
Mazatlan on his way to join a mining-camp
somewhere in Guatemala. "I give you the
men; but as for the women, nothing short
of paradise can beat them. I was in Mexico.
last year, so I think I know something about
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
it. I repeat, the ladies of Mexico" are all
This opinion was emphatically supported by
a party of students fresh from college at San
Francisco. These youths, who, in this most
cosmopolitan of cities, must have seen many
Mexican ladies, were unanimous in backing
the engineer's assertion. This gentleman had
a smattering of the Spanish language, and thus,
with the alliance of the students, his position
appeared to be impregnable; but the American
doctor stood to his guns.
Paradise, indeed! what have they to do
with the place ? They are too lazy to walk
in even if the door were opened to them.
No brains-no usefulness-can't do a thing
but thrum on a guitar. One American girl is
worth a hundred of them. And as for beauty,
- dirty, brown skins glaring, beady, black
eyes without intelligence. No- "
May I ask," interrupted the engineer,
politely, "who is the one American girl worth
half a hundred of-well-houris ?"
"Angels," suggested one of the students. I
A LADY'S RIDE
think he suspected that the engineer's appel-
lation might not be strong enough.
The deep flush on the quiet impassive face
of the doctor betrayed that the conversation
had taken a turn quite unlocked for by him.
Happily at that moment one of the stewards,
sent by his chief, came to ask for some quinine
pills. So the doctor got himself away, but not
before he had heard one of the company assert,
-" The Americans certainly have their pretty
women, like other nations; but, good Lord!
'them have all of them voices like a peacock.'"
"Surely that is rather a sweeping assertion,"
I made reply to the passenger who had ven-
Not a bit of it," he answered, with all
the hardihood of thorough conviction; "that
beautiful thing in woman, the soft low voice,'
is utterly unknown in America. The children in
the schools are taught to pitch their voices in a
high key. It is part of their education. One can
forgive a little of the peacock in a pretty woman;
but when it comes to the plain ones, it makes
one shiver whenever they open their mouths."
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
I don't know," I replied; but somehow it
does not seem to accord with our doctor's quiet
gentle manner to accredit him with a fancy
even for a girl with a harsh voice."
Can't help himself," was the rejoinder; and
I know pretty clearly what I am talking about."
This finished the conversation as far as I
was concerned; but I felt sure that the doctor,
though out of sight, was near enough to hear
these remarks. To prevent the subject coming
up again, I asked a young lady of ten years of
age to favour us with some music.
That performance had the effect of sending
every one at once out of the saloon; and the
next morning saw us invading a Mexican port,
and admiring the beauty of las Mejicanas."
In the multiplicity of his occupations by
night and day (for there was an apprehension
of fever breaking out) our Esculapius had en-
tirely forgotten the guerilla warfare of the
preceding evening, or he would not have so
enthusiastically exclaimed, "How lovely these
Mexican women are 1"
Fortunately his opponent had seated himself
A LADY'S RIDE
in the second boat, and so this involuntary
applause fell only on my ear and upon those
of the San Franciscan students.
These were quite good-natured fellows, and
their "chaff" was perfectly guileless of being
personal or bitter. They, however, would have
"Well done, doctor!" cried one who was
called Paul by his confreres, and who seemed
to be their leading spirit; "a confession and
retraction all in one. Now look here, doctor:
you must buy that wreath; and moreover, you
must present it to some lady who is not an
American. Do you consent?"
"Wa-al, and what then? I will buy the
wreath; and further, I can afford to say that
I have been mistaken. There is great intel-
ligence in that 'Mejicana's' eye. She is a
wonderfully beautiful woman. Ask the price
of the wreath and I will buy it, and present
it to a lady not American."
True to his promise, the doctor, aided by
the lad named Paul (who spoke English very
fairly), immediately upon landing began to
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
traffic with the Mexican girl, she, on her side,
being more than willing. Let those whose sole
acquaintance with shell-work is confined to the
hideous productions exhibited at Brighton, Mar-
gate, and others of Britain's coasts, know that
on their side of the world never have nor never
can be encountered those wonderful productions
of sand and glue and buried mussel which con-
stitutes nine-tenths of what is miscalled shell-
work in the above-named places.
The shells on the coast of Central America
generally are exquisitely delicate, and thin to
transparency. At a place called Acajutta, there
is a beach so famous for its rose-coloured shells
that it is commonly styled the bed of rose-leaves.
The making of these shell-flowers is a pre-
vailing industry along the coast, and the native
women, especially the Indians and the Mexicans,
derive a great emolument from their sale. The
art is also much practised by ladies of higher
rank, and it is taught as one of the accom-
plishments in the convent schools. It is certain
that nature gives a liberal helping-hand in the
tints of rose and yellow which in these shells
A LADY'S RIDE
are remarkably natural; but a good deal must
be accorded to the delicate touch and elegant
taste of those who arrange these charming
The wreath being bought, it was not difficult
to guess who was to be its recipient. Close
beside me stood a young Irish lady, who, with
her family, was on her way from Japan to New
York vid Aspinwall. The mother having the
care of a young infant, had asked me to chap-
eron "Beauty" and her sister on this little
expedition. At this moment I forget the
lady's Christian name. She was called Beauty
O'H- all over the ship; and she deserved
the appellation, being a simple innocent girl,
charming in every way.
Three cheers from the lads, interlarded with
the complimentary expressions of "Good com-
rade man of good heart of honour," &c.,
notified the extreme satisfaction of the students
at this assignment of the purchase; whilst the
sapphire blue eyes of the girl beamed with
gratitude as she warmly tendered her thanks.
The doctor really at that moment did receive
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
the reward of virtue-that is, if virtue ever does
get any reward outside of tracts and little books.
A fellow-passenger, who rejoiced in the name
of Cookes, here remarked that he liked senti-
ment and all that sort of thing in its place.
He had come to Acapulco to see the peak of
distant Popocatepetl, that splendid mountain,
madam," he continued, particularly addressing
himself to me, which has his head covered
with clouds all the year round, and which- "
Here interposed Senfor Hernandez, a gentle
well-bred Spaniard, who might pass for being
perfectly sane, did he not acknowledge to the
ambition of becoming at no distant date presi-
dent of one of the Central American republics.
The Senfor's knowledge of English was limited,
but he had caught enough to understand
that Popocatepetl was being misrepresented.
"Pardon me, his head is not always in the
clouds," said he, taking up Mr Cookes; "and
if we want to see him in all his glory we must
walk a short way into the country. In such
splendid weather, I think we should be able to
count upon a very clear view."
A LADY'S RIDE
Do you know the way? )" inquired Mr
Cookes, who spoke the Castilian language re-
I was here many years ago, but I think I
can remember the route; there is no time to
lose. Remember our captain's words as we
left: 'If you do not return by five o'clock I
shall not wait, but sail away.' "
*This admonition put us on our mettle, and
taking the middle of the road, we set out on
our expedition. The streets of Acapulco as
they recede from the shore are hilly, and full
of sand and large holes. An attempt has for-
merly been made to repair them here and there,
but the result is not a success. Some of the
houses are very solidly built, with stone pillars
supporting the porticoes, and with broad stone
seats, firmly built in the wall, within these.
Apparently there was not a glass window in
the place, all these apertures being filled with
light lattice-work, painted a dull red colour.
In some casements thin bars of iron, placed
diagonally, admitted air and light.
The public school window was so furnished,
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
and a thick shutter hung outside, which could
be closed at pleasure, according to the strength
of the sun and glare. The schoolroom seemed
to be very roomy and clean, and its walls
were evidently of great thickness. We looked
through the iron lattice, and saw the scholars
busy at work. The master came forward and
bowed, and at a sign from him all the pupils
who were seated rose to their feet. This, from
all appearance, did not seem to be the first time
that the school had been noticed by strangers.
A few little fellows poked their heads through
the lower bars; and some big ones, who had
got into the street, followed us for a short dis-
tance as we wended on our way. They soon
turned back, and sped away to school again
with the speed of deer. Somebody was await-
A LADY'S RIDE
FORWARD being the word, we quickly cleared
the town of Acapulco. Its outskirts bear a
cultivated appearance, owing to the rows of
trees which are planted for some distance at
the side of the footpath. At this season they
bore a bunchy mauve-coloured flower, some-
thing between the lilac and the beautiful
climber Wistaria; but the blossom was not
so clearly defined, and it crumbled away in the
hand at the slightest touch.
It was pleasant to find the China rose (with
such a lovely pink on its cheek 1) peeping out
here and there from a dilapidated hedge. This
place must surely be some deserted garden. A
look through a gap confirmed this conjecture,
as we described several tall hollyhock-looking
plants, bearing about them a decided air of
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
culture. They appeared as if they were on guard,
distracting by their gaudy array the attention
of the passers-by from the desolation within.
A party endowed with plenty of life and
tongue generally travels quickly, and gets over
a good span of ground and time at almost
imperceptible speed. This was certainly the
case with us as on and on we went, admiring
the fantastic peaks and heights by which the
near distance was intersected, and grumbling
a little when the ascent became more abrupt,
and the road rougher. Very shortly granite
rocks, and their usual companion the dwarf
cactus, stood out upon the scene; the huts,
too, had become more sparse; these were little
else than bare poles, with their roofing com-
posed of dirty skins and palm-leaves. Then
utter desolation: for nothing living, save a
large hare, which darted into some brushwood
in the background, gave evidence that any
created thing existed here.
My surprise was great when I heard this
animal declared to be a hare. "It is so large
and black," objected I.
A LADY'S RIDE
"Years ago, when I landed from a merchant
vessel here for a day, this place was overrun by
hares. I remember we made a party to go into
the interior and shoot them. They were mostly
large, and the flesh was very coarse," made
answer Mr Cookes.
You have been here before ?" inquired
Beauty O'H- .
"I have been almost all over Mexico and
the coast," returned Mr Cookes; but I
was only on shore at Acapulco for the one
day I allude to, and that was twenty years
This is how you come to speak Spanish so
well," said the same young lady.
Yes; I kept it up in Mexico; but I learned
the language in Spain, in the old country.
When very young I was sent into a counting-
house at Cadiz; but I soon tired of that, and
You know all about Popocatepetl then ?"
"No; I don't feel interested in mountains;
I have seen such a lot of them. This one is the
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
highest in America, they say; but it is only,
after all, a volcano out of work."
Doctor," said she, turning round, and speak-
ing to him with an air of confidence; you
know something about this mountain. Why is
it thought so much of, and where did it get
its frightful name ?"
"It got its frightful name in very far off
times," replied that gentleman; "I cannot tell
you when, but it was so called when the Span-
iards invaded Mexico, and conquered that coun-
try. The meaning of Popocatepetl is 'The hill
It does not smoke now?"
No; but at the time of the invasion I allude
to, it was in full play; and the eruption was so
terrific, and lasted so long, that the Indians be-
lieved it to be the portent of the destruction of
their city. You should read 'The Conquest of
Mexico,' by Prescott. You will learn all about
it far better in that work than from me."
"Prescott is an American ? "
"Yes," returned the doctor, proudly; "and
his writings are accepted as being standard
A LADY S RIDE
works in all the civilised world. If you prefer
to select an English author on the subject, read
Certainly not," replied the girl hastily;
" you Americans are so touchy. I only inquired
what Prescott's nationality was, to satisfy my
Come up here, all of you," shouted a voice
from the front-the owner being perched on an
elevated ridge a little to the right, and taking
advantage of the height to look down upon us
with the air of a discoverer. This was the stu-
We hastened to obey. The other students
helped up the girls, the Spaniard helped me, and
I hauled Mr Cookes, who was lame, with my
disengaged hand, the doctor propelling him in
Hats off, shouting, and an improvised war-
dance on the part of the students, announced us
to be in the presence of Popocatepetl, that is,
as far as eyesight was concerned. Actually it
was many, many leagues away in the far
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
In the far distance-true; but well did we
discern this magnificent peak, shooting like a
monolith straight and fair into the clouds. Was
his form irregular; had he gaping wounds, black
with cinder and burn, and disfigured by smoke ?
The rich soft mantle of snow veiled all these;
and troops of smaller cones far and wide, more
sober in their greyer tones, clustered around him
to conceal his scars and his power for evil.
From the point whence we viewed him, he was
the giant grand and beautiful, and we ignored
the destruction which he had wrought.
Let him not arouse," pray we; for should
His hand unloose him, who can tell what miseries
the pent-up fires of a century may rain on the
Some longing, lingering looks, and we descend
into the road which will take us back to the
town I Our tongues are free, for the weird
solemn scene had subdued the youngest of us
Now we all burst forth into praise, and admire
ourselves intensely for undertaking this pilgrim-
age. Ere long it leaks out that some of us are
A LADY'S RIDE
tired, and all confess to feeling very hungry and
Good Senor Hernandez is equal to this
"I have an old friend," said he, "whose
hacienda is very near the town,-it will not be
many steps out of the way. If he does not
happen to be at home, some of the family will
be. They are kind, hospitable people, and will
make us welcome."
"But we are such a gang," one of our number
reminded Senfor Hernandez.
"Never mind; there is plenty of room, and
my friend is a Spaniard of pure race." This
last expression meant many things; amongst
which the declaration of there being no admix-
ture of Indian blood in the composition of Sefor
Hernandez's friend was one; another, that a
true Spaniard never quarrels with the number
of his guests.
So we hied to the hacienda of Sefior Don
Candido, and were admitted through a broken
gate into a piece of ground, half coffee planta-
tion, half garden, and whole wilderness,-
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
brilliant flowers dotting themselves here and
there, mostly set on tall stalks. They reminded
me somewhat of some pert damsels I have seen,
who were determined not to be overlooked.
A long low building stood in the centre of
this enclosure; and presently there poured out
from this men, women, dogs, unlimited in num-
ber as they appeared, followed by a very hand-
some lad who carried a gun in his hand. In-
troductions over, we were soon seated in the
broad verandah-which is generally the place
of social gatherings in these Spanish houses.
Some handsomely netted hammocks and some
plain grass ones were slung between the several
posts of the verandah. Out of one of these a
head was raised up, and as quickly popped back
"'It is only Pepita," said the lady of the
house, in explanation. "Poor Pepita I she runs
about too much. Sleep on," she continued,
addressing the bulge in the hammock; these
good friends will excuse thee." And she gave
the hammock a swing, which, I suppose, sent
Pepita off to the land of Nod, but which effec-
A LADY'S RIDE
tually roused a cross parrot which had been
reposing with its mistress, and which flew out
of its enclosure, and without the slightest pro-
vocation made straight for me and attempted
to bite my feet. Failing in this, the bird clung
to my skirts, and attempted to climb upon me
beneath them. I tried to push the creature
away, but it seemed bent upon tasting European
flesh; and as the O'H- girls were afraid to
touch it, I had to rise to my feet and hurl it
from me. Just then the handsome lad-who
was called, I heard, Jaime (this is pronounced
Ha-ee-may, and is Castilian for our ugly, abrupt
James)-caught sight of what was going on,
and proceeded to put a stop to the parrot's
annoyance, for it was rushing at me again.
Don Jaime left the verandah-post against
which he had been leaning as he chatted to
Senor Hernandez, and brought out from some
corner a long and very thin bamboo switch.
With this he administered four or five cuts
sharply across the back and wings of the bird,
reproving it as he did so just as if it had been
a child under correction.
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
"Ah, naughty Marquita! Take thy whip-
ping; this is to teach thee manners. Wicked
bird I How dare you try to bite !"
I had never seen a bird whipped before; and
fearing that he might do it a mischief, I begged
the lad to refrain.
She must be tamed," replied the lad, as he
desisted at once ; "she is of a very strong kind,
and her temper is that of the demonio. No, I
would not hurt her; I know how much to cor-
All this time the bird was yelling and
squeaking like a veritable demonio, and flew
to the roof of the verandah, describing wide
circles about Don Jaime's head, and making
as if she would attack him with all the strength
of her will. The bamboo switch was evidently
a factor in the case; and at length she flew up
into a corner and contented herself with emit-
ting now and then some peculiar sounds, which
possibly might be hard bird-swearing.
The party at the other end of the verandah
talked calmly on, and never appeared even to
notice the hubbub which this had occasioned.
A LADY'S RIDE
I suppose in these parts it is not the correct
thing to expend unnecessary strength upon
Some excellent coffee and fruit were handed
to us, and at the same time cigars were offered
to all who would accept them. The lady of
the house presented her own to me, first light-
ing it and giving it two or three puffs at her
mouth as she did so. This is the most compli-
mentary manner of presenting a cigar, and I
felt sorry that natural and national prejudices
obliged me to decline the civility. The hostess
soon found a grateful recipient in one of our
fellow-travellers, and then she and her daugh-
ters smoked away as hard as any three London
The Misses O'H proposed to stroll out
into the garden, and the handsome Jaime put
down his coffee-cup and attended us. He
plucked some fine China roses, and placing
these against a background of coffee-tree stems
laden with berries, produced three beautiful
and unique bouquets. This young gentleman
told us that he was a nephew of the owner of
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
the house, and that he was paying a visit at
this time to Acapulco. We were all very much
taken with the appearance of the youth, and his
kind unaffected manner was truly charming.
"What a lout the ordinary British youth of
the same age would be in this position !" said
the eldest Miss O'H- to me, as we walked
behind the others. "He would be wishing all
of us in Japan, and suffer the extreme of misery
in his own mind."
True," I answered; "but remember, when
the ordinary British lad arrives at maturity, he
generally remains in the plenitude of strength
and manhood for many years. When Lubin is
fifty, Antonio will be looking, and probably
feeling, sixty-five. The Spanish women, you
know, are considered to be old at thirty; but
they are formed and lovely at fifteen."
"I do not understand why this should be,"
continued my young friend.
Nor I either. I suppose it is in some degree
a fulfilment of the doctrine of compensation."
"Ah! that is my father's favourite theory,
don't you know ?"
A LADY'S RIDE
No, dear Hibernia, I did not know; but I
agree with your father. I confess to being a
great believer in the doctrine of compensation."
Have you had any compensation in your
life for your early troubles ? None of us have,
and papa has been done out of a lot of money,"
said the girl.
"So have I also; but compensation may not
come in the way we expect. Good health, hap-
piness, getting married, my dear, on your part,
and not getting married on mine, may perhaps
be a compensation for the loss of money."
So preached I; and the kind-hearted girl
pressed my arm, and said she only wished that
I had a large fortune, and that I could finish
my journey with her and her family. This
could not be, for the O'H--'s were on their
way to New York.
Now were gathered together our forces, for
we must be back on our way to the vessel.
The doctor was missing. Somebody surmised
that he had already returned to the ship. How-
ever, we unanimously decided that he would
turn up somewhere; and then we all took leave,
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
having well enjoyed our simple and cordial
"Ah I there you are, doctor; we could not
think what had become of you," exclaimed
Mr Cookes, as he caught sight of that gentle-
man sitting on a step busy overhauling the
contents of a candle-box-looking article. We
thought you had turned back for metal more
attractive-the Mexican shell-worker."
"You thought wrong, then. I strayed out
of the way to look for some marine plants, for
I aspire to be a little of a botanist. Not having
the faintest idea where you had got to, I walked
straight here; for you would be obliged to pass
this place to get to the pier."
"This place" was a large and well-stocked
store, hung without and within with a wonder-
ful collection of articles, and kept by a veritable
Englishman. I wanted some large white hand-
kerchiefs wherewith to cover my shoulders dur-
ing my proposed ride, as the back of the neck,
at the juncture of the head with the spine, is
the part which should be more carefully covered
even than the head itself under a burning sun.
A LADY'S RIDE
The girls, too, wanted the gayest handker-
chiefs they could find, to remind them of Mexico
when they arrived at home.
We were supplied with what we required at
a terrific prioe. The shopkeeper must have
netted forty per cent on an average upon our
We pay very high for the privilege of deal-
ing with a countryman," remarked Mr Cookes.
"The French, Greeks, and Spaniards certainly
do bleed foreigners pretty freely, but it is re-
served to the English all over the world to
overcharge and swindle those of their own
nation. Other peoples are considerate to their
own, but we are above the weakness of making
That is my experience in these countries.
Depend upon it, the worst people to be encoun-
tered in any part of the world are the low
whites," went on Mr Cookes. "They get all
they can out of the natives, and then, in some
cases, go home and cant about the wickedness
of the heathen."
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
This is in a measure true, as I knew by ex-
perience in the Fiji Islands, and from statements
of friends on whom I could rely.
Returning in the boat to the vessel, I found
myself again seated near the doctor. He asked
me to spare him a stem of the coffee-berries.
"I want them," said he, with a little hesita-
tion, "for a' school marm.' She is a good girl,
and, though an American, she has the low soft
voice so beautiful in woman." Here the doctor
looked very valiant, as if he would not recede
an inch from what he had averred.
I handed him the stem of coffee-berries, and
with it the finest of my roses. "The 'school
marm' will be the doctor's wife some fine day,
I predict," said I, shaking him by the hand.
" Now, do you dry that rose, and some far-off
time you may chance upon it, and remember
our little excursion in Acapulco."
The good gentleman returned the pressure of
my hand, and merely replied, "Yes; this has
been a red-letter day."
May all go well with you. Good-bye."
The boat had touched the ship's stair, and
A LADY'S RIDE
the doctor, after placing me on the lower step,
ran rapidly up on deck. Thus vanished out of
my sight, probably for ever, one of my pleasant
The captain was standing on board as we
ascended. "I have not had time to say much
to you," said he, addressing me; "but I hear
you are going to the Honduras. Surely it is
a terrible journey for you to take alone !"
"I do not fear a little hardship," said I,
perhaps too confidently. "I am the daughter
and sister of English soldiers, and my bringing
up has never been luxurious. Circumstances
in later years have compelled me to depend on
"It is a wonder to me," continued the cap-
tain, that your relatives allow you to go."
I have no near relations, and I go to make
a home of my own. We have all of us our
troubles, captain; do not discourage me. Hith-
erto I have got on very well, and the world in
general is kind to lone female travellers."
Yes, the civilised world." The captain here
shook his head.
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
I turned aside to answer a summons. The
speaker was a bedroom steward. "'Mr Smith
sends me to ask you to get together your things,
please, for the boat will be ready in twenty
minutes to take you on board the Clyde."
I looked at my roses and my beautiful bunch
of coffee-berries, and handed them silently over
to the youngest Miss O'H- ; for-the truth
must out-I was to say good-bye, and leave
these friends of a few days "for ever and a
day," as the saying goes. Yes; there stood the
vessel alongside of the Colima, the steamer
which we had seen in the harbour before we
went ashore. She was called the Clyde, was
smaller than the Colima, and warranted slow.
This vessel had been all day taking in and
discharging cargo, and now was ready to re-
ceive the last of the passengers of the Colima
who might be bound to the intermediate ports.
The future mission of the Colima was to dash
down to Panama without a stoppage; whilst
the Clyde was to dawdle leisurely along the
coast, stop at every port, and to cast anchor
every night from sundown to sunrise.
A LADY'S RIDE
Why is this ?" I inquired of Mr Smith, the
head steward,-that kindest and most courteous
of head stewards, wherever the others may be.
"The navigation is particularly dangerous
along that coast, and in some places the water
is very shallow and abounds in shoals. The
steamers always lay-to at night. The voyage
down there will be very tedious, and the heat
terrible, you'll find," returned Mr Smith. Do
not be startled at the lightning. It is very
alarming to a stranger, but you will soon be
accustomed to that. This is the season for it."
We have had a pretty fair share since we
left San Francisco. Will it be worse as we go
further south ?" I inquired.
"No; but you will think more of it, as you
will be lying still, and the steamer also. I
mention the subject, to assure you that I have
never heard of any vessel being struck; and
although moving objects, they say, run less risk,
the lightning on this coast seems to respect
vessels at anchor."
"Are any more of our passengers changing
for the Clyde ?" I inquired.
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
"One steerage passenger,-a gentleman in
every sense of the word. He goes only as far
as La Union, but he is willing to be useful to
you if he can. I am sorry to say that terrible
'lady,' Mrs C., and her children, will be your
only companions. I transferred them to the
other ship three hours ago, and they have been
shrieking ever since. By the way," continued
Mr Smith, with his good-natured laugh, "the
captain of the Clyde is in a terrible fright as
to what you may be like, as these C.'s are the
only specimens he has of the Colima's passen-
gers, and Mrs C. talks of her friend the English
I had only spoken to this individual once.
She was a demi-semi-gentlewoman, and her
manners and appearance were very unfortu-
nate. Her hardness to one of her children,
and the brazen way in which she had informed
the passengers in general that she had come
away in debt, and evaded her tradespeople in
San Francisco, had caused us to dislike her
We found that her husband was captain of
A LADY'S RIDE
a mine somewhere on the coast of Guatemala,
and that she and her family were on the way
to join him. According to her own account,
she had left San Francisco in disguise; but
from various discrepancies in her narrations, I
was led to think that she preferred being taken
for a vagabond than to pass as one of whom
there was nothing particular to be said.
Here they are, the boat and Mr Smith wait-
ing to transfer me to the Clyde. He brings in
his hand a glass of champagne, which is sent,
he says, with the Colima's compliments."
The O'H- 's and students say good-bye with
all the kindliness of their nature; and gentle,
unassuming Sefior Hernandez tells me not to
keep him waiting, for he is coming on board
with me to introduce me to the captain. And
so I get away, with a benison in my heart on
these kindly strangers. This was all my adieu,
for I could not speak. El buen Dios los guard
muchos ainos! (May God grant them many
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
THE steerage passenger described by the head
steward as being a thorough gentleman was
already seated in the boat which was to
convey us on board the Clyde. I saw at a
glance that he was one of Britannia's sons,
very poor, perhaps, but bearing withal that
unmistakable air of "breed," which neither
wealth, nor education even, has ever succeeded
in imitating with success. The true stamp
of nature's gentleman, the best of all, is ever
inborn. This fellow-wanderer assisted us to
seats, and then we exchanged a few words as
we were being rowed to our new vessel. I
gathered from these that this passenger was
bound for the mines in Guatemala; and he
added to this information an avowal of his
determination never to set foot in England
A LADY S RIDE
until he should return rich, or at least inde-
"I am going to work as a common miner,"
continued this young man, with great decision,
" whether my family like it or not. They sent
me off to make my way as best I could in the
colonies; and because I could not get a situa-
tion as a clerk in an office the moment I
landed, it is assumed that I am idle and all
the rest of it; and so I am going to take my
own way of it, and stick to the work that has
been offered to me on this side."
Mr Smith, who sat opposite, listened to all
this, and then said: You came from Sydney,
sir, did you not ?"
"Yes; I worked my passage to 'Frisco, and
am now on my way to join a mining camp."
From what transpired further, I found that
this young man was but one of the many who
suffer from the extraordinary delusions under
which many patres familiarum, uncles, and
widowed mothers of our nation labour with
regard to the demand and supply of educated
labour in the colonies. Generally speaking,
ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS.
when a young gentleman betrays, or has be-
trayed, a proclivity for spending too much
money, or cannot get what is called genteel
employment at home, or has perhaps com-
mitted himself in an act of grave misdoing,
there is always some fool at hand to suggest
his being sent out to the colonies. If he may
consent to enter farm or domestic service, to
learn a trade, or undertake any manual labour
-well, let him go. But no," says pater-
familias; "Dick has had a good education, he
must go out as a gentleman. What he has
learned in the office here will suffice to place
him at once; and Crammer, the emigration
agent, assures me that young men are sure to
be provided for at once in the colonies." And
so, with perhaps one respectable introduction,
and much oftener without any, young hopeful or
hopeless is sent on his way. He perhaps makes
some inquiries on his journey, and falls in gen-
erally with those who note only the successes.
Look how well have succeeded MacWuskey
and O'Scamp! and they landed in the colony
without a pound, sir!"
A LADY'S RIDE
Very true of forty years agone; but now are
changed days, and the field, in the older towns
at least, is full; besides, the sons of the colon-
ists must have their innings.
Thus it is, that when Dick and Tom Clerk,
London, first arrive in Sydney, for instance,
they walk, poor fellows, day after day, from
office to wharf, and from wharf to store count-
ing-house, seeking work in all honesty, and
finding none. In some instances they get
promises, but in general they are recommended
to betake themselves to the bush ; and in some
few cases they are roughly repelled, and re-
quested not to bother. Desperation, as they
find their small means diminishing, leads them
to invade the offices of the governor, the in-
spector of police, and the immigration agent.
Each and every one of these would do his best
to help, but he has already a list of applicants
as long as his arm. The answer to inquiries
for employment is invariably the same. "You
must wait. I will try and help you, if you
can stay for a month or so; if not, I advise
you to go into the bush as soon as you can."