Title Page
 Editorial preface
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 The kingdom of Guatemala
 The Atlantic Coast and its...
 Across the continent westward to...
 From Coban to Quezaltenango
 From Quezaltenango to the...
 Guatemala City
 Guatemala to Esquipulas
 Esquipulas and Quirigua
 In the olden time
 The Republic of Guatemala
 Vegetable and animal productio...
 Earthquakes and volcanoes


Guatemala: the land of the quetzal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00103087/00001
 Material Information
Title: Guatemala: the land of the quetzal a sketch. A facsimile reproduction of the 1887 ed
Series Title: Latin American gateway series
Physical Description: xv, 453 p. : illus., coat of arms, facsim., maps (3 fold.), ports. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Brigham, William Tufts, 1841-1926
Publisher: University of Florida Press
Place of Publication: Gainesville, FL
Manufacturer: Douglas Printing Company, Inc,
Universal-Dixie Bindery, Inc,.
Publication Date: 1965
Edition: Reproduction of 1887 edition
Subjects / Keywords: Description and travel -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Antiquities -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Bibliography -- Central America   ( lcsh )
Descriptions et voyages -- Guatemala   ( rvm )
Antiquités -- Guatemala   ( rvm )
Bibliographie -- Amérique centrale   ( rvm )
Genre: Bibliography   ( lcsh )
Bibliographie   ( rvm )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Guatemala
Statement of Responsibility: Introd. by Wilson Popenoe.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University Press of Florida
Holding Location: University Press of Florida
Rights Management: Copyright by the Board of Regents of the State of Florida. This work is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/. You are free to electronically copy, distribute, and transmit this work if you attribute authorship. However, all printing rights are reserved by the University Press of Florida (http://www.upf.com). Please contact UPF for information about how to obtain copies of the work for print distribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the University Press of Florida. Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author's moral rights.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 00500363
lccn - 65014894
System ID: UF00103087:00001

Table of Contents
        Page A-i
        Page A-ii
    Title Page
        Page A-iii
        Page A-iv
    Editorial preface
        Page A-v
        Page A-vi
        Page A-vii
        Page A-viii
        Page A-ix
        Page A-x
        Page A-xi
        Page A-xii
    Half Title
        Page B-i
        Page B-ii
    Title Page
        Page B-iii
        Page B-iv
        Page B-v
        Page B-vi
        Page B-vii
        Page B-viii
    Table of Contents
        Page B-ix
        Page B-x
    List of Illustrations
        Page B-xi
        Page B-xii
        Page B-xiii
        Page B-xiv
        Page B-xv
        Page B-xvi
    The kingdom of Guatemala
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 6a
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
    The Atlantic Coast and its connections
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 28a
        Page 28b
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 30a
        Page 30b
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 32a
        Page 32b
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 36a
        Page 36b
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 44a
        Page 44b
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
    Across the continent westward to Coban
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 94a
        Page 94b
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
    From Coban to Quezaltenango
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 106a
        Page 106b
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 108a
        Page 108b
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 114a
        Page 114b
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 118a
        Page 118b
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 138a
        Page 138b
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
    From Quezaltenango to the Pacific
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 156a
        Page 156b
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
    Guatemala City
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 178a
        Page 178b
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
    Guatemala to Esquipulas
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
    Esquipulas and Quirigua
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 202a
        Page 202b
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 218a
        Page 218b
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 222a
        Page 222b
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
    In the olden time
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 270a
        Page 270b
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 272a
        Page 272b
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 274a
        Page 274b
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 276a
        Page 276b
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
    The Republic of Guatemala
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 318a
        Page 318b
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
    Vegetable and animal productions
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 324a
        Page 324b
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 330a
        Page 330b
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
        Page 340
        Page 341
        Page 342
        Page 343
        Page 344
        Page 345
        Page 346
        Page 347
        Page 348
        Page 349
        Page 350
        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
        Page 358
        Page 359
        Page 360
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
        Page 366
        Page 367
        Page 368
        Page 369
        Page 370
        Page 371
        Page 372
        Page 373
        Page 374
        Page 375
        Page 376
        Page 376a
    Earthquakes and volcanoes
        Page 377
        Page 378
        Page 379
        Page 380
        Page 381
        Page 382
        Page 383
        Page 384
        Page 385
        Page 386
        Page 387
        Page 388
        Page 389
        Page 390
        Page 391
        Page 392
        Page 392a
        Page 392b
        Page 393
        Page 394
        Page 395
        Page 396
        Page 397
        Page 398
        Page 399
        Page 400
        Page 401
        Page 402
        Page 403
        Page 404
        Page 405
        Page 406
        Page 407
        Page 408
        Page 409
        Page 410
        Page 411
        Page 412
        Page 413
        Page 414
        Page 415
        Page 416
        Page 417
        Page 418
        Page 419
        Page 420
        Page 421
        Page 422
        Page 423
        Page 424
        Page 425
        Page 426
        Page 427
        Page 428
        Page 429
        Page 430
        Page 431
        Page 432
        Page 433
        Page 434
        Page 435
        Page 436
        Page 437
        Page 438
        Page 439
        Page 440
        Page 441
        Page 442
        Page 443
        Page 444
        Page 445
        Page 446
        Page 447
        Page 448
        Page 449
        Page 450
        Page 451
        Page 452
        Page 453
        Page 454
Full Text





a aDietcj





University of Florida Press


Latin American Gateway Series



Published Under the Sponsorship


Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 65-14894



TO INTRODUCE the second volume of the Latin Ameri-
can Gateway Series, we are truly fortunate in having
Dr. Wilson Popenoe as editor. It is rare indeed that a schol-
ar of such world-wide distinction can be persuaded to take
time from a busy schedule to undertake an editorial task.
But Dr. Popenoe, as educator, horticulturist, and explorer,
has such a deep interest in, and knowledge of, Central
America that he welcomed with the enthusiasm which is
characteristic of him the opportunity to undertake this
assignment. We are happy therefore to present, with an
editorial introduction by Dr. Popenoe, this classic account
by William T. Brigham, Guatemala: The Land of the Quet-
zal, first published in 1887 by Charles Scribner's Sons in
New York.
For half a century Dr. Popenoe has explored Latin
America, and Central America in particular, in search of
useful plants worthy of introduction into the United States.
In this way he has met persons at all political, economic,
social, and cultural levels. He particularly has become the
friend of presidents and other high-ranking political lead-
ers. While seeking to find products for cultivation, he has
also helped several countries in the Western Hemisphere,
and Spain and Portugal as well, to improve their agricul-
tural production. A by-product of this selfless activity on
the part of Dr. Popenoe has been the recognition of his
efforts through numerous honors. Many governments have
presented him with national medals and decorations; among
them are Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecua-
dor, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Cuba. Dr. Popenoe holds


honorary degrees from several institutions, including the
University of San Marcos, Pomona College, and the Uni-
versity of Florida, and he has taught in schools of higher
learning in several countries. He served from 1913 to 1925
with the United States Department of Agriculture, and
since 1925 with the United Fruit Company. Among his most
outstanding accomplishments was the founding in 1942 of
the Escuela Agricola Panamericana at Tegucigalpa, Hon-
duras, which he served as Director until 1957. Since then
he has been Director Emeritus. But perhaps among all his
honors and titles he likes best that of "Mr. Avocado," used
in Spain and in various parts of Latin America because of
his introduction of this tropical fruit into so many areas.
As the reader takes a word journey through Brigham's
account, it will become clear that both the author and the
editor have much in common in interests and experiences.
The association of one with the other through this facsimile
reprint is not a coincidence. To every one who reads this
book it will appear to be a most fortunate circumstance.
General Editor of the



F OR those persons who are interested in the Guatemala
of the early days, that is, from the time of the Conquest
down to the end of the nineteenth century, and who prefer
information in the English language, I believe there are
three outstanding books. First, the very readable story
written by Friar Thomas Gage, A New Survey of the West
Indies, published in London in 1648. Of this there have been
subsequent editions, which testify to the popularity of the
work, a popularity based, perhaps, on the author's some-
what scandalous account of the doings of the Spaniards at
the time of his residence in Guatemala. He lived and said
Mass in various Guatemalan towns during what I like to
call the Golden Era, when Spain was enriching herself
from the mines of the Indies, and at the same time develop-
ing plant and animal resources to an extent which I feel is
not always recognized by modern writers.
Two centuries later came John Lloyd Stephens, whose
Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yuca-
tdn, has become a classic, perhaps the classic, on Central
America. Like that of Friar Thomas Gage, it has been re-
published several times. Stephens came at a time-the 1840's
-when the provinces of the Kingdom of Guatemala were
quarreling among themselves as to whether there would
be a federal republic or a group of independent republics,
and he had the good fortune to meet two of the great figures
who took part in this struggle, Francisco Morazan and
Rafael Carrera. His personal impressions of these leaders
are unique and invaluable, coming as they do from an
observer who has no axe to grind.


Then came William T. Brigham, author of the present
book, the reproduction of which by the University of Flor-
ida Press is a tremendous contribution to our knowledge of
Guatemala because, unlike the earlier works of Friar
Thomas Gage and John Lloyd Stephens, it has long been
out of print and not easily available to the English-speaking
It is greatly to be regretted that Bernal Diaz de Cas-
tillo, who took part with Hernan Cortes in the Conquest of
Mexico and later in the expedition to Honduras, did not
tell us more about Guatemala in his famous True History
of the Conquest of New Spain (Mexico), which he wrote
during his long residence in Santiago de los Caballeros de
Guatemala (the present Antigua Guatemala) where he was
a Regidor Perpetuo (lifetime member of the city govern-
ment), and where he was, in consequence, in close touch
with all happenings during a highly interesting period-
that between his abandonment of Mexico and his death in
Guatemala in 1581. What a story he could have told of life
in the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala, which included
the present Mexican state of Chiapas and all of the land
down to Panama! Herbert Cerwin has dug into the archives
in Spain and Guatemala and has published in his recent
book, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, much information regarding
the life of this picturesque old warrior in Guatemala, but
the old warrior himself obviously was interested mainly in
recounting the exploits of his companions-in-arms (not ig-
noring his own part) in the Conquest of Mexico. He seems
to have felt that Cortes, for whom he had the greatest ad-
miration and to whom he was loyal to the end, had not
given enough credit to many conquistadores who had borne
the brunt of the battle.
But to come down to the present work, Guatemala:
The Land of the Quetzal, a Sketch by William T. Brigham,
A.M., was first published in New York in 1887 by Charles
Scribner's Sons. Unfortunately I know nothing of the
author's background, except that he made it clear in the
book that he came from the Boston area. One would
naturally assume that he earned his A.M. at Harvard. He



was a scholar in the best sense of the word. Obviously he
had read widely, before and after his three trips to Guate-
mala in 1869 and the 1880's, and he was versatile to a re-
markable degree. So far as I am aware, no writer before
his time-nor even any of the present century (unless it
be one or two of the Germans, such as the great Karl
Sapper)-has shown such knowledge of the geology, the
flora, and the fauna of Guatemala. The botanical names of
common plants, of which he cites so many, are good to
the present day in a large number of instances. Others
have of course been changed by taxonomists, but at the
time he wrote he was remarkably accurate, partly, of
course, because he had the assistance of Professor Sereno"
Watson at Harvard.
In the field of anthropology, his account of the "Black
Caribs" of the north coast of Guatemala is highly inter-
esting, but he did not attempt to study intensively, at first
hand, the Indians of the highlands. One might get the
impression, perhaps wrongly, that he was not too sym-
pathetic with the Indians of his day, just as he was not
very sympathetic with some of the customs, which he would
probably have termed "shortcomings," of the Ladinos, or
Guatemalans of mixed Spanish and Indian blood. On his
way up to Cobin, on the Rio Polochic, he did not like the
way a soldier treated him, so he "pitched him into the
river"; at Totonicapan he was told that he must take off
his spurs before entering the office of the Comandante (a
gesture most of us think rather appropriate). He refused
to do so, and demanded that the Comandante come out to
talk with him; and at Esquipulas, that Guatemalan Holy of
Holies, he noted that his companion Frank was told he
must leave his huge revolver outside. I doubt that he himself
would have entered King's Chapel in Boston, adorned with
a Colt .45. And while on this subject, I am constrained to
mention that I do not feel he shows proper respect to the
Roman Catholic Church, obviously not his church, but due
the respect a broadminded man of culture should give any
He seems also to lack a real sense of humor. The



"wretched" German hotelkeeper in one place, his "wretched
Mozo Santiago" in another: Why couldn't he see these
fellows as interesting rather than "wretched"? He could
easily have made some sound philosophical observations
about them, for every human being is interesting, as my
beloved chief David Fairchild used to say.
Perhaps a few comments, as we run through the book,
may not be out of place, bearing always in mind that they
are my comments. The only reason I feel I have a right to
make them is that I came to Guatemala in 1916 and have
lived in the country, off and on, ever since.
The first chapter, "The Kingdom of Guatemala," is a
rather remarkable, and I believe accurate, resume of geo-
graphical features of Central America, natural resources,
and population in Brigham's day. With regard to the last-
named point, it is interesting to compare his figures with
those of the present time. And right here, also, it should
be mentioned that the purpose of the three trips covered
by the book was, as stated in the preface, "to awaken among
Americans greater interest in the much-neglected regions
between the Republic of Mexico and the Isthmus of Darien."
Everywhere he went, Brigham was trying to size up the
possibilities of mineral resources (which subsequent experi-
ence has shown that he, like many others, overestimated),
tropical soils, and such natural resources as crops of great
commercial value. Florida readers must forgive him for
saying of the oranges of Telemin in the Polochic Valley
that they are "oranges such as Florida can never raise." If
you had been living on tortillas and beans for a week, then
came upon an orange tree, you might be tempted to make
a similar remark. He does not wax enthusiastic very often,
but he goes pretty far when he says, "All our sugar, all our
rice, all our chocolate, all our India-rubber ought to come
from Central America, where these products can be raised
better and cheaper than in any other country."
The account of his trip through Guatemala, com-
mencing with Chapter II, will be to many readers the most
interesting part of the book, especially to one like myself
who covered practically all of the same territory in the


years 1916 and 1917, on horse- or mule-back as Brigham
and his companion Frank did. Today one can do most of
this trip by automobile, over good roads, many of them
well engineered and beautifully paved; but in many of the
remote and small towns conditions remain much as the
author describes them. Notes on such things as the growing
of corn, the making of tortillas, and the life of the people
are highly interesting. Brigham was a keen observer and
loved to include all details.
Beginning with Chapter IX, "In The Olden Time," there
are notes on life before the coming of the Spaniards, some
of which have perhaps been presented more accurately by
recent writers; withal they are very much worth reading,
and the distribution of native dialects, taken from the great
authority Otto Stoll (another of those German sabios, or
savants, of the last century), will be found valuable by
visitors to the country who do not have more recent pub-
lications at their disposal.
Chapter X, "The Republic of Guatemala," is remark-
able because Brigham was in the country during the time
of Justo Rufino Barrios, now called "the Reformer," and
made a careful investigation of what this great leader had
accomplished and was accomplishing. His admiration for
Barrios (of whom an excellent portrait is presented earlier
in the book) is almost unlimited and he goes into great de-
tail regarding his personal impressions of the man-a
feature which complements the accounts of two earlier
figures in Central American history, Carrera and Morazan,
whom Stephens presented so well.
In succeeding chapters, the details regarding earth-
quakes and volcanos, as well as those regarding vegetable
and animal productions, are valuable contributions to our
knowledge of the country. All in all, it seems strange that
a work so important as this should not earlier have been
reprinted as were those of Friar Thomas Gage and John
Lloyd Stephens. They constitute a magnificent trio.














Copyright, 1887,



A BELIEF in the increasing importance of Central
America, both geographically and politically, has
led the writer of the following pages to collect for his
own use and print for the use of others, notes made
during three journeys in Guatemala and Honduras. He
does not pretend to offer a monograph on Guatemala, nor
to add to the general knowledge of Central America; but
remembering the lack of guidance from which he suffered
in travelling through the country, would in some measure
save others from the same inconvenience. He seeks also,
with perhaps more ambition, to awaken among Americans
greater interest in the much-neglected regions between
the Republic of Mexico and the Isthmus of Darien.
A land which was the cradle of civilization on this
continent, and whose recently explored monuments are
most justly claiming the study and admiration of arch-
veologists in Europe as well as in America, has been
strangely neglected by the American traveller as well as
by the American merchant. Since the Travels of Stephens
fascinated the public nearly half a century ago, the people
of the United States have paid very little attention to
Guatemala or its commerce. Even now there are thou-
sands of square miles of wholly unexplored territory
between the low Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Lake of


No country on the northern half of the American
continent has a finer climate or more beautiful and varied
scenery, or is a more attractive field for the genuine
traveller. Valleys rivalling the paradises of the islands
of the Pacific; uplands not unlike the plateau of the
Indian Neilgherries; forests as dense and luxuriant as
those of Brazil; lakes as picturesque as those of Switzer-
land; green slopes that might have been taken from the
Emerald Isle; glens like the Trossachs; desert wastes
that recall the Sahara; volcanoes like JEtna; and a
population as various as in that land whence comes the
Indian name, all these features make but the incom-
plete outline of the Guatemaltecan picture. Then there
is that charming freedom from conventionality which
permits a costume for comfort rather than for fashion,
accoutrements for convenience rather than for show. No
dangerous beast or savage man attempts the traveller's
life, no lurking danger or insidious pestilence is in his
path. The hair-breadth escapes, more interesting to the
reader than pleasant to the explorer, are rare here, and
the rough places and the irritations from which no land
on earth is wholly free, seem softened and vanishing to
the retrospective eye.
Old travellers know how soon the individuality of a
country is lost when once the tide of foreign travel is
turned through its towns or its by-ways; and when the
ship-railway of Eads crosses the Isthmus of Tehuantepec,
when the Northern Railroad extends through Guatemala,
when the Transcontinental Railway traverses the plains
of Honduras, and the Nicaraguan Canal unites the At-
lantic and the Pacific, the charm will be broken, the mule-
path and the mozo de cargo will be supplanted, and a
journey across Central America become almost as dull as
a journey from Chicago to Cheyenne.



In the sober work to which this Preface introduces the
reader, first impressions have been confirmed or corrected
by subsequent experience, and flights of the imagination
curbed by the truth-telling camera; from the published
maps the most correct portion has been selected, and the
statistics are from the Government reports. Many hun-
dred photographic plates made by the writer during a
period of three years have contributed to the illustrations
of this book, so that accuracy has been secured. Where
the plates are not direct reproductions from the negatives,
the ink drawings have been made from photographic
prints with care. There are no fancy sketches.

W. T. B.
BoSTON, June 16, 1887.

From an Ancient Manuscript.




















. Froni



GRATING CASSAVA . . . . . . . .

WEAVING A SERPIENTE . . . . . . . . .

EL RIO CHocoN . . . . . . . . .

COBAN CHURCH AND PLAZA (from the tower of the Cabildo) . .


CHICAMAN (two views taken from the same place before sunrise) . .


PLAZA OF SACAPULAS ............ .....

TOTONICAPAN VALLEY ........... ......

LAGO DE ATITLAN (from the road above Pauajachel) . . . .


GUATEMALA CITY (from the Church of the Carmen). . . ....


MONOLITH AT QUIRIGUA (E) . . . . . . .....



















ALTAR-STONES AT QUIRIGUA . . . . . . .. 222

ETHNOGRAPHIC CHART (after Dr. Stoll) . . . . . 271


Two CARIB Boys . . . . . .274

A CARIB PLAITING A PETACA . . . . . . .. 276

A COURT SCENE IN LIVINGSTON . . . . . . .. 318

IN THE FOREST . . . . . . . . 324

COHUNE PALMS (Attalea cohune, Mart.).. . . . . . 330

VOLCAN DE FUEGO (from the Cabildo, Antigua) . .. : . 392


FIGURES (from an ancient Manuscript) . . . . . vii

LUCIANO CALLETANO (captain at Chocon). . . . . 24


ENTRANCE TO THE RIO DULCE . . . . . . .. 41

FEMALE IGUANAS . . . . . . . . 47

BARBECUE AT BENITO . . . . . . . 50


DRAGON ROCK, CHOCON . . . . . . . . 55

SAN GIL (from the author's house at Livingston) . . . .. 59

PUERTO BARRIOS . . . . . . . . . 61

SULPHUR SPRING . . . . . . . . . 63

PADDLE AND MACHETE ....... ..... 65

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE (plan drawn by F. E. Blaisdell) .




MAKING TORTILLAS .................. 71

ROOF-TILE (from a sketch by F. E. Blaisdell) . . . . 89

IN HOTEL ALEMAN . . . . . ..91

PLAN OF HOTEL ALEMAN (by F. E. Blaisdell) . . . .. 92

THE CABILDO OF COBAN . . . . . . . . 93


PATTERN OF CLOTH ................. 95

QUETZAL (Macropharus mocino) . * . 97

INDIO OF COBAN . . . . . .......... 99

CUARTILLO OF GUATEMALA . . . . . . . 10%


QUICHE ALTAR OF TOHIL (Sacrificatorio) . . . 123

MARIMBA . ................. ..... 123

JICARA . . . . . . . . .. . . 124



MANUEL LISANDRO BARILLAS (President of Guatemala) . . 145



J. RUFINO BARRIOS (photograph taken in 1883) . . . . 149

BOAT ON THE LAGO DE ATITLAN . . . . . . .... 153

WASHOUT IN THE ROAD. . . .. . . . 157



RAILROADS FOR GUATEMALA . . .......... 168

BREAD-FRUIT (Artocarpus incisa) . . . . . . 170


0 0 0 0 a 16 0 0 176



CHURCH OF THE CARMEN .. . . . . . 179

SPANISH STIRRUP (of the time of Cortez) . . . ... 184


INDIAN POTTERY . . . . . . . . 189

PACAYA, FUEGO, AGUA . . . . . . . 190

HUNAPU FROM THE EASTWARD . . . . . . . 191

MOZO ON THE ROAD . . . . . . . . 198


INCENSE-BURNER (about half the size of the original) . . . 207

REMAINS AT QUIRIGUA (from Mr. Maudslay's plan) . . 217

MONOLITH AT QUIRIGUA (F) . . . . . . 219

MONOLITH E (portion of back) . . . . . . . 221

IZABAL (from the end of the wharf) .. . . . . 225


ANCIENT TEMPLE (from an old Manuscript) . . . . 245


IDEOGRAPHS . . . . . . . . . 251

ANCIENT INCENSE-BURNER . . . . . . . 251

STONE RING FOR BALL GAME (at Chichen Itza) . . . .. 257

A CARIB WOMAN ............... . . 272

INDIAN WOMEN, POCOMAM TRIBE . . ... . . .. 275

Mozos DE CARGO, QUICHE . . . . . . 279

CARVED STONE SEAT (Museo Nacional) . . . . . 280

ARMS OF GUATEMALA ................. 281

RAFAEL CARRERA (from a silver dollar) . . . . . . 288

MATAPALO-TREE . . . . . . . . .. 326

ATTALEA COHUNE (flowers and fruit). . . . . . 330


LEAF TIP OF CLIMBING PALM (Desmoneus) . . . 332


A PRIMITIVE SUGAR-MILL (common at Livingston) . . . 341

THEOBROMA CACAO (chocolate tree) . . . . . . 346

CASTILLOA ELASTICA (India-rubber tree) . . . . . 347

A BUNCH OF PLANTAINS (young) . . . . . . .. 352

POUNDING RICE .. . . . . . ....... 356

GROWTH OF A YOUNG COCONUT . . . . . . .. 360

PASSIFLORA BRIGHAMI . . . . .... 376

CONGREHOY PEAK . . . . .... . . . 384

COSEGUINA (from the sea) . . . . . . . .. 399

GRouP (from an ancient Manuscript). . . . . . 442



LAGO DE ATITLAN ..........



GUATEIALA . . . . . .

. . . . 6

. . . . 154

. . . 377

. . . 403

......End of Book





THAT part of the North American continent usually
known as Central America was included by the
Spanish conquerors in the kingdom of Guatemala; and
while my purpose is to describe the republic of Guate-
mala, a portion only of the ancient kingdom, I may
be pardoned if I call the attention of my readers briefly
to the geography and history of all that country which
once bore the name and is still closely allied with the
interests of Guatemala.
Central America should extend from the Isthmus of
Tehuantepec to that of Darien; from the Caribbean Sea
on the northeast, to the Pacific Ocean on the southwest.
Mexico, however, has taken Chiapas and Yucatan, on
the west and north, Great Britain has seized the east
coast of Guatemala (British Honduras), and the Isthmus
of Panama is included in the territory of South America.
The present independent republics of Guatemala, San
Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, con-
stitute what is known as Central America, a territory


extending between 8 10' and 190 20' north latitude, and
between 82 25' and 920 30' west longitude. In length
it measures between eight and nine hundred miles, while
its breadth varies from thirty to three hundred miles.
No competent survey has ever been made of this coun-
try, and even the coast-line is not always correctly
laid down on the best charts. Maps have been made
at haphazard in most cases, and very few positions
have been scientifically determined. Government sur-
veys along the lines of proposed canals or railways
have not extended beyond a narrow line, usually in
low regions remote from important centres. Dr. Frant-
zius 1 has published a very excellent map of Costa Rica;
but most of the so-called maps published by or under
the authority of individual republics are of no scien-
tific value, the course of the principal rivers and the
direction of the main mountain-chains being unknown.
To illustrate the uncertain geography of Central Amer-
ica, let me give the extent and population as pub-
lished by three authorities, (I.) Lippincott's Gazetteer,
(II.) Whittaker's Almanac, and (III.) the Geografia
de Centro-Amdrica" of Dr. Gonzalez.

Square Miles. Population.
Guatemala . 40,777 1,190,754
Salvador .. 7,335 434,520
Honduras .. 47,090 351,700
Nicaragua . .. 58,000 236,000
Costa Rica . .. 21,495 180,000
174,697 2,392,974

1 Petermann's Mittheilingen, 1869.


Square Miles Population.
Guatemala. 40,776 1,500,000
Salvador .. 7,335 554,000
Honduras .. 39,600 300,000
Nicaragua . .. 58,170 300,000
Costa Rica .. 26,040 200,000
171,921 2,854,000

Guatemala . 50,600 1,200,000
Salvador .. 9,600 600,000
Honduras .. 40,000 400,000
Nicaragua . .. 40,000 (1882) 275,816
Costa Rica .. 21,000 200,000
161,200 2,675,816

Without surveys and without a proper census of the
Indian tribes no scientific description of the country can
be given. Humboldt's theory of an Andean cordillera
has been disputed, and his mountain-chain has proved
to be a confusing (but not confused) series of mountain-
ridges. Yet it well may prove that the great naturalist
was right; and so far as we now know from maps and
personal observation, the vast earth-wrinkle which ex-
tends along the western border of our continent is a
mountain-range of definite direction (about E. 200 S. to
W. 20 N.) in Central America, and there occupying
nearly the whole width of the continent. If we can
picture to ourselves the formation in those remote ages,
that it is the geologist's task to rehabilitate in thought,
of a vast ridge, not sharp like the typical mountain
range, but of broad dimensions like the swell of some
vast ocean, we shall have the material then forming


the earth's crust bent upwards, and in unelastic places
broken, and this partly or entirely beneath the ocean.
The rising land as the ages passed would be acted upon
not only by the ocean waves and currents, but by the
torrential rains, which were of a force and frequency
that even our water-spouts of the present age cannot
equal. Cracks were widened, gorges were formed; and
as the earth approached the present geological age, the
gentler rains only supplied the rivers and lakes which
now occupied the furrows ploughed deeply by primeval
torrents. The rough work was done, the statue blocked
out; and henceforth meteoric influences were merely to
finish, add expression and polish to the work.
A traveller crossing this territory from ocean to ocean
would sometimes follow the river valleys, then climb
ridges, again traverse a plain, cross a valley, ride along
another mountain-ridge, compassing a volcano, and finally
descend abruptly to the Pacific. His direction had not
changed, but the nature of his path had been wonder-
fully transformed.
Geologists know well that on one of these lines of
disturbance, such as has been described, molten and dis-
integrated material is apt to come to the surface as lava
and ashes; they expect also to find metallic veins, espe-
cially of the precious metals, and hot springs with vari-
ous minerals in solution, and they infer earthquakes.
All these phenomena are present in Central America in
full force. Immense cones have arisen along the Pacific
slope since the general features of the land were made,
and not only have spread vast deposits around their
base, but have blocked up valleys, forming lakes as
Atitlan, built promontories as Coseguina, islands as



Ometepec in the Lake of Nicaragua, and have turned
rivers, changed prevailing winds, and otherwise altered
the physical conditions of the country.
Gold sands from the disintegrated veins sparkle in
every mountain-brook, and the deposits of silver are
no doubt as rich as those of Mexico, Nevada, and Potosi.
Aguas calientes, or hot springs, are found all over the
country, and earthquakes, often severe, are common on
the Pacific slopes.
All along the Atlantic side the rock material is lime-
stone or dolomite, while as one goes westward he meets
andesyte and other forms of trachytic lava, such as
pumice and obsidian. Even among the limestone moun-
tains of the northeast are occasional volcanic deposits,
exactly as might be expected when so extensive an
upheaval has taken place.
Whatever has been the exact process by which this
essentially mountainous country has been formed, we
have at present at its northern boundary the high plain
of Anahuac, extending from Mexico (where it is inter-
rupted by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec) through Guate-
mala; of somewhat lower level in Honduras and Sal-
vador; sinking to almost sea-level in Nicaragua (154
feet); and rising again in the Altos of Veragua to about
3,250 feet. This main range has its axis much nearer
the Pacific shore and almost parallel to it, being in San
Salvador distant seventy-five miles, and in Guatemala
(Totonicapan) only fifty. Towards the Pacific the slope
is steep, interrupted by many volcanoes; while on the
Atlantic side the gently terraced incline is broken into
subsidiary ridges extending to the very shores. In the
oceanic valleys and along the coast are the only low-



lands of Central America; and these contain the wash
of volcanoes, limestone mountains, and ages of vegetable
growth and decay, forming the richest of soils for agri-
cultural purposes.
In Guatemala the mean height of the cordillera is
about seven thousand, and probably the mean height of
this republic is not less than five thousand, feet. The
Sierra Madre, or Cuchumatanes, in the Department of
Huehuetenango, is the highest land (always excepting
the volcanoes, which will be described later); and of the
less important ridges are the Sierra de Chamd (of lime-
stone, and full of caverns), which extends towards the
northeast and ends in the Cockscomb Range of British
Honduras; Sierra de Santa Cruz, also of limestone, ex-
tends nearly eastward, north of the Lago de Izabal and
the Rio Polochic, and south of the Rio Sarstun; Sierra
de las Minas, nearly parallel to the last, and separating
the valley of the Rio Motagua from that of the Polochic.
Of this range is the Montania del Mico and the peak of
San Gil, near Livingston: the material is no longer lime-
stone, but metamorphic rock, containing mines of some
importance. Last we have the Sierra del Merendon,
which forms the boundary between Guatemala and Span-
ish Honduras; and with various names it finally ends in
the Montana de Omoa on the coast, an important land-
mark several thousand feet high.
The mountains of Salvador are all volcanic and shore-
ward of the main chain; but in Honduras the lines again
repeat the general arrangement of Guatemala, while the
names are many, indicating a more broken system. Be-
tween the ranges are broad and fertile valleys, the Llano
de Comayagua being forty miles in length, with a breadth

22 90 98, 'sap
0 op
A 'P

4 0

-4c- A 1 e?
:Y, U-4/

4 i '"0 CC'
R. do San Pedro
I In
dil ?*ten
0 B A Y 0 F
T, 08641noo 5::P a
+ A
"'Adf,, LibertoAD 0 H 0 N D U R A

WvW-I .0 J, w D a
sin Pear* solom,

Caha, Po
*ban rajillo
Pa., to. o as ae. lar
a Pedro NW&
0 Huehuetenango
TonaU V. t&e an a k.,
Ov Ta)vTuIP -1--. U -4
San MI room 79_,'
aalon 0. Graelos moy
C cotonle &Pam Rr 0 .*tz -
I .(, 0
MUJAI f),4 a
%%Qu sfiftenvn 0 &no
Cl I A) AIUA LA rmcims
I .
0 Al' m&) t
tltla / /cotereq ut 'ecomayagua
M X&tonflm NAN--
Cui I PA N, L Piedras
Champ rL L uija utla, I I .,. I
co ITU p C tndaNk, Ir Isavc ALP
s *&ran
wo a 901910
91A ,"?an Conte a TL A.Uce
s &too I -" D i p
A Ii 0 X&GUA)rto
Acajil I La bres,
f are
VJJA holteea
i it pigs

v C 4ogwna auce


Sub i
i L-Ib t

arm. I&,( eAGWSPIL I

Memo IN 044
r1l: S. Itto

0. Juan 4101 1
an C.,-,.
Juan dI No
04. 0 Tee(

04bv.,Wir -foil I

Sarakin 10
Way "a, q
id id,
CA, "<)Wag
A -
Y H4rr&d xv-&
Cape junbe
X Blanco ro

V. Roval-1, .

cap* Matip 014 a

go. RO



of from five to fifteen miles. In Nicaragua the ridges
slope towards the southwest, breaking abruptly to the
Mosquito coast, and an important part of its territory is
occupied by the lakes of Managua and- Nicaragua. From
the broad valley the land again rises towards Costa Rica,
where it attains the height of forty-three hundred feet,
and, owing to the narrowness of the continent, the lat-
eral branches are insignificant. From the table-land of
Veragua the cordillera dwindles to the basaltic ridge of
Rivers are, next to mountains, the most important
factors in the physical aspect of the land; and in
Central America they are abundant, though, from the
broken nature of the country, not of great size. From
the position of the backbone of the land, most of the
watershed is towards the Gulf of Mexico and the Carib-
bean Sea; even the great lakes of Nicaragua, which are
really on the Pacific side, empty through the Rio San
Juan into the Atlantic, the river taking advantage of a
break in the cordillera. The lower or navigable portion
of the Central American rivers is the only part known;
the sources of even the largest streams are still un-
explored. So tortuous are the courses that names are
multiplied, and rivers that flow from inhabited valleys
through wild forests again appear in the lowlands as
unknown strangers; and the river that one traveller
describes as important and navigable, because he sees
it in the season of rain, the next visitor may cross knee-
deep, and know only as a brook.
On the Pacific side may be mentioned the Rio Lempa,
which rises near Esquipulas, receives the waters of the
considerable Lago de Guija (on the boundary of Guate-


mala and Salvador), and even after the dry season is of
large volume, thirty miles from its mouth attaining a
breadth of more than six hundred feet and a depth of
ten feet, which is nearly twenty-seven when the floods
of the rainy season occur. If it were not for the bar,
which has hardly a fathom of water, the navigation
would develop rich lands on either bank. The Rio Paz,
the Rio de los Esclavos, and the Rio Michatoya are not
navigable, although formerly the latter stream at its
mouth (Istapa) was large enough within the bar to admit
the construction of vessels of moderate size; it was here
that the Spaniards fitted out several fleets.
Far different are some of the rivers that find their way
into the Atlantic. Chief among them all is the noble
Usumacinta, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico through
the Lago de Terminos, and is navigable many miles
through a singularly fertile and interesting country, as
beautiful as fancy pictures the cradle of the human race,
- a land seldom visited by white men, and the home of
the unconquered and unbaptized (La Candones) Indios.
The swift Chixoy, the Rio de la Pasion, and the almost
unknown San Pedro unite to form this Child of many
The Belize River, rising in the Montania de Dolores near
Peten and crossing the British colony, is the principal
highway for the commerce of Peten, the pitpans bringing
down huge mahogany bowls, paddles, baskets, and other
Indian goods. The Sarstun forms the southern boun-
dary of the British possessions, and is navigable for
small canoes as far as the rapids of Gracias ai Dios.
None but timber-cutters disturb its solitudes. The Polochic
is at present the most useful river of Guatemala. It


rises near Tactic, and is a foaming torrent for much of
its course in Alta Verapaz. At Pansos the waters are
navigable for light-draft steamers, except in very dry
seasons; and not far below, its volume is materially
increased by the Cahabon. It flows through the Lake of
Izabal, and, as the Rio Dulce, empties into the Gulf of
Amatique over a bar of sand. The Motagua is nearly
parallel to the Polochic, and rises near Santa Cruz del
Quiche. From Gualan it is navigable in canoes. Smaller
streams are the Ulua, Aguan, and Segovia in Spanish
Honduras, which are navigable for pitpans. Finally we
have the San Juan, known as one of the elements of the
" Nicaragua Canal" route, but not at present navigable
for boats of any size.
All the rivers of Central America that can be used for
commerce require a special river service; for wherever
the depth of water is sufficient, the always-present bar
cuts off access to vessels drawing more than six feet.
Should the development of the country warrant it, the
bar of the Rio Dulce could be deepened sufficiently to
admit vessels drawing ten or fifteen feet.
Small lakes are common enough in the northern part
of Central America. The Laguna del Peten is about five
hundred feet above the sea, nine leagues long and five
broad. The Lago de Atitlan, in the Department of
Solol6, is sixteen and a half miles long from San Lucas
Toliman to San Juan, and eight miles wide from San
Buenaventura to Canajpu, and soundings show a depth
of a thousand feet. With the Laguna de Amatitlan, this
will be described in the Itinerary. Of Honduras, the
chief lakes are the Laguna de Caratasca, or Cartago,
close on the Atlantic coast, thirty-six miles long by


twelve wide; the Lago de Yojoa, between the Depart-
ments of Comayagua and Santa Barbara, twenty-five
miles long and from five .o eight wide; the Lago de
Cartina, eighteen miles by eight, and the Laguna de la
Criba, fifteen by seven miles. Of all the lakes of Central
America, none is so interesting commercially as the Lake
of Nicaragua. It is large (ninety miles by forty), and the
largest south of Lake Michigan. Of a depth sufficient
for all vessels (forty-five fathoms in places), and con-
nected with the Atlantic by the Rio San Juan, with the
Lago de Managua (thirty-five miles by sixteen), by the
Tipitapa, it has the serious disadvantage of being a vol-
canic basin, whose bottom may at any time be elevated
above the surface, as in the case of the volcano of
Ometepec. Whether the channel between these two lakes
is permanent, is a matter of some doubt, as travellers
have lately found no water flowing from Managua. The
Lago de Guija, between Guatemala and Salvador, is
seventeen miles long from east to west, and its mean
width is six. Fishes and alligators abound, and its waters
- which are not of the best quality discharge through
the Lempa to the Pacific. Another lake in Salvador has
attracted attention in late years by a curious volcanic
disturbance in its midst; Ilopango will be described with
the volcanoes.
With this bare list of some of the prominent features
of the country, we may join a brief account of those
other natural and political characteristics of what was
once Spain's stronghold on this continent that have most
immediate relation to the present inhabitants. Leaving
Guatemala for a separate chapter, the other four republics
may be described as follows : -



Salvador. The smallest in extent, but by far the
most populous, having no less than sixty-three inhabitants
to the square mile. The central part is an upland of a
mean elevation of two thousand feet above the sea, bounded
on the Pacific side by a chain of volcanic peaks; beyond
these a strip of lowland from ten to twenty miles wide.
Eastward and westward are two great depressions, San
Miguel and Sonsonate, the place of a hundred springs "
(centsonatl). The Gulf of Fonseca, fifty miles long and
nearly thirty wide, is said to be the most beautiful harbor
on the Pacific coast. On the southwest side is the prin-
cipal port of La Union, a town of little more than two
thousand inhabitants, and unhealthful, as are all the Pacific
ports. The mean temperature is 80 Fahr.; and were it
not for the capital commercial facilities of the town, its in-
habitants would be few. Libertad has an open roadstead,
and a population only half that of La Union. Acajutla
lies between the headlands of Remedios and Santiago, and
has but five hundred inhabitants; as the port of Sonsonate
(distant five leagues), however, it is much frequented, and
is provided with an iron pier, as is Libertad. In 1882 the
first railway in the republic was opened, from Acajutla to
Sonsonate, a distance of fifteen miles; and work has since
been slowly progressing in the direction of Santa Ana.
Mines of gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, and anthracite
coal are found within the borders of Salvador, the prin-
cipal being those of Loma-Larga, Corozal, Devisadero,
Encuentros, and Tabanco.
The capital was founded April 1, 1528, by Jorge de
Alvarado, brother of the conqueror of Guatemala; but
ten or twelve years afterwards it yvas removed to its
present site in the valley De los Hamacas, where it has



been many times ruined by the terrible earthquakes to
which this region is especially subject.
The republic is divided into fourteen departments,
twenty-nine districts, and two hundred and twenty-eight

Santa Ana.
La Libertad.
San Salvador.
La Paz.
San Vincente.
San Miguel.
La Union.

Principal Cities.
Santa Ana (25,000).
Sonsonate (8,000).
Nueva San Salvador (Santa Tecla).
San Salvador (30,000).
Santa Lucia (Zacatecoluca).
San Vincente (10,000).
San Miguel.
San Carlos (La Union).

The legislative power is exercised by two chambers, -
one of Deputies, the other of Senators; each Department
elects a senator and a substitute, each District a repre-
sentative and his substitute. The executive power is in
the hands of a citizen elected as President by the people
directly; should there be no election by an absolute
majority of votes, the General Assembly elects from the
three citizens who have obtained the greatest number of
votes. -Three senators are designated as heirs-apparent.
The term of office is four years, without immediate
re-election. The judiciary is similar in order and func-
tions in all these republics, and will be described as in
Guatemala. The organized militia numbers about thirteen
thousand men; and in case of invasion, war lawfully



declared, and internal rebellion, all Salvadorenios between
the ages of eighteen and fifty are liable to military
In 1879 the number of primary schools was 624 (465
boys', and the rest girls'); and these were attended
by 20,400 boys and 4,038 girls, at a probable cost of
$150,000. There is a central university, with faculties
of Law, Medicine, Theology, and Civil Engineering, and
it has branches at Santa Ana and San Miguel.
There are six hundred and ninety-three miles of tele-
graph, with forty offices; and the service is reasonably
well performed by the Government officials. A railroad
between Santa Tecla and the capital, and five hun-
dred and nine leagues of cart-roads, afford communi-
cation; and there are lines of stages subsidized by the
In 1879 the imports were $2,549,160.19, and the
exports $4,122,888.05; the income $2,914,236.29, and
the expenditures $2,785,068. The funded debt was
$1,945,201, the floating debt $392,777.11, and there
is no foreign debt.
Salvador is essentially an agricultural state, and coffee,
indigo, balsam, tobacco, rice, cacao, sugar, rubber, and
other less important products are produced abundantly
from her fertile fields.
Honduras. The third republic of Central America
covers an area of about forty thousand square miles.
Its boundaries are seen on the map, and its surface is
diversified with high mountain-ranges, broad and fertile
valleys, vast forests, and plentiful streams. Its climate
is extremely hot on the coast; but in the mountain
region, as at Intibuca, the temperature is low. Never



so hot as a summer in New England cities, and not so
cold as to check a most luxuriant vegetable growth, the
traveller has an alternation of spring and summer as he
changes his level, irrespective of the astronomical year.
Four hundred miles of Atlantic coast-line, dotted with
river-mouths, bays, and ports; sixty miles on the Pacific
side, in the secure Gulf of Fonseca, seem to provide
ample commercial advantages; and to make these of use
are the following resources: vast plains in Comayagua
and Olancho, covered with excellent grass, pasture large
herds of cattle, thousands of which are shipped each
year to Cuba.1 The forests, which occupy much of the
Atlantic coast-region and the lower mountain-slopes
abound in mahogany, rosewood, cedar (Bursera), logwood
(Hcematoxylon campecheanum), brazil-wood (Ccesalpinia
Braziliensis), sarsaparilla (Smilax), and other marketable
products; the principal timber regions being on the rivers
Ulua, Aguan, Negro, and Patuca, all on the Atlantic
side. In mineral wealth Honduras easily outranks all her
sister republics. Silver ores are exceedingly abundant,
chiefly on the Pacific slopes; and among them are chlorides
of remarkable richness. Gold washings occur in Olancho,
and are now worked by several foreign companies. Cop-
per deposits are often mingled with silver; iron exists as
magnetite, sometimes so pure that it may be worked
without smelting; antimony, tin, and zinc also have been
reported. Beds of lignite are found in the Department of
Gracias; and here too are the Hondurefian opals. Fruits
of many kinds are now grown in the neighborhood of
Puerto Cortez, such as bananas, plantains, coconuts,
1 This business is declining, owing to the inferior cattle produced in
Florida and shipped at a cheaper rate.



pines, for which there is a constant demand from the
steamers which come here from New Orleans. Of indigo
little is now exported; but the production of tobacco is
increasing. Especially fine is the leaf. grown near Copan,
rivalling, when properly cured, the best product of the
Cuban valleys; but the common cigars, which are sold for
eight dollars per thousand, are dear even at that price. In
1879 the importations were valued at about one million
dollars, and the exports twice that amount. In later
years these exports have largely increased. A railroad
of narrow gauge extends from Puerto Cortez to San
Pedro, thirty-seven miles; and while the republic is
sadly deficient in cart-roads, it is only fair to say that the
authorities are doing something to improve these very
necessary means, in the expectation that the country is
to develop as it deserves.
The government is very like that of Salvador, and
the administrative departments are : -

Departments. Chief Cities.
Islas de la Bahia. Coxen Hole (Roatan).
Yoro. Yoro.
Olancho. Juticalpa.
Paraiso. Yuscaran.
Tegucigalpa. Tegucigalpa (12,000).
Choluteca. Choluteca.
La Paz. La Paz.
Comayagua. Comayagua (10,000).
Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara.
Gracias. Gracias.
Copan. Santa Rosa.
Colon. Trujillo.

Public lands are abundant, and are granted to actual
settlers of any nationality at low rates, provided they



will cultivate them. The towns are all small, although
some of them were flourishing sixty years before the
settlement of Jamestown in Virginia. Of the more im-
portant are Tegucigalpa, the capital, in the midst of a
plain some three thousand feet above the sea, and sur-
rounded by a mining region. It possesses a Universidad
Central, founded in 1849 by Don Juan Lindo, then Pres-
ident. Comayagua was founded in 1540 by Alonzo de
Caceres, also in the midst of a plain, where still are
visible the monuments of antiquity, the less perishable
works of a people more energetic than their successors;
for with the exception of some few churches, little of
the work of the present inhabitants would survive three
centuries of occupation by a foreign invader. Amapala,
on the Island of Tigre, in the Gulf of Fonseca, was for-
merly a favorite rendezvous of the buccaneers, Drake
making it his base of operations in the South Sea. Now
it is no less desirable as a port, having deep water close
to shore. Puerto Cortez, or Puerto Caballos, as Cortez
called it, from the death of some of his horses here, -
on the north coast, in latitude 150 49' N., and longitude
870 57' W., was selected by Cortez as the entrep6t of
New Spain, under the name of Navedad. For more
than two hundred years it was the principal port on the
coast; but dread of the buccaneers caused the removal to
Omoa. The bay is nine miles in circumference, with a
depth of from four to twelve fathoms over its principal
area; and on the northern side, where the water is
deepest, large ocean steamers may come to the wharves.
Omoa, in latitude 150 47' N. and longitude 880 5' W.,
has a smaller harbor, defended by the Castillo de San
Fernando. Trujillo, an ancient port on the western shore



of a noble bay, is now growing in importance with the
development of Olancho, of which it is the natural sea-
port; but it has no wharf or any sufficient landing-
place for merchandise.
The Bay Islands are small, but of considerable impor-
tance. Roatan, the largest, is about thirty miles long
by nine broad, and in its highest part nearly a thousand
feet above the sea. Guanaja, or Bonaca, the first land
of Central America discovered by Columbus on his fourth
voyage, is fifteen miles from Roatan, and of an extent of
five by nine miles. This group is fertile, and with a fine
climate should prove very attractive to settlers from the
North who appreciate the waste of life in an arctic cli-
mate of eight months each year, when all vegetation
ceases to grow, and man himself can be kept alive only
by artificial heat, where the farmer must toil wearily four
months for the poor produce that is to sustain him all
the famine months," and the laborer live poorly all the
twelvemonth, whatever be his work.
The history of Honduras has not been a happy one,
even since its revolt from the Spanish yoke in 1821, and
revolutions have been the rule; but in 1865 a new Con-
stitution was adopted, with some prospect of internal
quiet. The four hundred thousand inhabitants include
perhaps seven thousand whites, the Spanish population
being mainly on the Pacific side, Caribs along the Atlantic
coast, and several thousand of the mixed races, the great
majority being Indios, known as Xicaques and Poyas.
Perhaps the most adverse influence to the progress of this
naturally rich republic, next to the revolutions, was the
scandalous loan for building the Honduras Inter-oceanic
Railway from Puerto Cortez to the Gulf of Fonseca, a


hundred and forty-eight miles. This loan, amounting in
1876 to $27,000,000, was as complete a swindle as has
ever disgraced American finances; but the people of Hon-
duras, although responsible for the debt, had little to do
with its origin, and cannot rightly be blamed for not pay-
ing interest on what they never had any advantage from.
The internal debt is about $2,000,000.
Nicaragua.-- Of nearly the same area as Honduras,
Nicaragua is chiefly distinguished by its lower level and
the great lake which offers so inviting a route for an
inter-oceanic canal. The same fertility and genial climate
extend from the Hondurenian uplands into Chontales and
Segovia, where Northerners can enjoy life; but it is hot
and unwholesome near the sea, especially throughout the
Mosquito Reservation, where the frequent river-floods
and the miasmatic marshes breed an endemic fever very
fatal to Europeans. The mean annual temperature (ex-
cepting the highlands) is about 800 F., falling to 70 at
night, and rising to 90 in the hottest weather. The
seasons, as elsewhere in Central America, are two, the
wet from May to November, the dry including the winter
months. At Rivas, on the isthmus between the Lago de
Nicaragua and the Pacific, the annual rainfall is about
a hundred and two inches; elsewhere the summer rain-
fall is about ninety, and the winter less than ten.
Geologically, Nicaragua is no less rich than Honduras
in variety of structure and mineral possibilities. The
volcanic formations on the extreme West are rich in
pumice and sulphur, while across the lake are andesyte,
trachyte, greenstone, and metalliferous porphyries, suc-
ceeded by crystallized schists, dolerites, and metamorphic
beds, extending, so far as is known, beneath the alluvial




deposits of the coast-region. The Chontales gold mines
have been worked for some time near Libertad, and so
have the silver mines of Matagalpa and Dipilto; but the
total annual yield of precious metals seldom exceeds
The chief articles of export are cacao, hides, coffee,
and gums, as well as gold and silver bullion; and in
1880 the exports amounted to $2,057,500, and the im-
ports to $1,475,000. The revenue for this year was
$2,435,000, while the expenditures slightly exceeded it.
All Nicaraguans between the age of eighteen and thirty-
five are in the army.
For more than half a century Nicaragua has been
darkly distinguished above all other countries of the
world by war and bloodshed. Military pronunciami-
entos, civil war, and popular revolts have so exhausted all
the resources of this rich country that it is quiet at last
from utter exhaustion. Could these fermenting repub-
lics be induced to give up their absurd and expensive
military establishments, and expend the money, now
worse than wasted, in opening roads and teaching the
people something besides military drill, the prosperity
of this wonderfully fertile and agreeable region would
be assured. Only their revolutionary habits now stand
in the way of the introduction of foreign capital; and
are not these habits fostered by the constant military
display which guards the President and judges alike ? It
is certainly foreign to all Northern ideas to have a court
of justice guarded by military sentinels. Would that this
Eden might be reclaimed, the swords beaten into plough-
shares, and the generals and other officers turn their
wasted energies to agriculture and commerce !



Nicaragua is divided into the following departments,
according to the census of 1882: -

Departments. Chief Cities.
Managua . . 12,000 Managua . 7,800
Granada . . 51,056 Granada . 16,000
Leon . .. .26,389 Leon . .. .25,000
Rivas . .. .16,875 Rivas . .. 10,000
Chinandega . 17,578 Chinandega . 11,000
Chontales . 27,738 Libertad . 5,000
Matagalpa . 51,699 Matagalpa . 9,000
Nueva Segovia . 36,902 Ocotal . .. 3,000
San Juan del Norte 2,000 Greytown . 1,512
Mosquitia . 36,000 Blewfields . 1,000

These figures cannot, however, be relied upon for the
population. With a coast-line of two hundred and eighty
miles on the Caribbean Sea, the only port is San Juan del
Norte (Greytown), formed by the northern branch of the
delta of the San Juan; and this is now nearly choked
with sand. The Pacific coast is bold and rocky, extending
nearly two hundred miles from Coseguina Point to Sali-
nas Bay, and has several convenient harbors, as San Juan
del Sur, Brito, and, best of all, Realejo. Among the
chief cities is Leon, founded by Francisco Fernandez de
C6rdoba in 1523 in Imbita, near the northwest shore
of Lago de Managua, whence it was moved in 1610 to
the present site at the Indian town of Subtiaba. Mana-
gua, the capital of the republic, was nearly destroyed in
1876 by a land-slide, but is now rebuilt. Granada is the
collegiate town of the republic, and is on the shores of
the great lake. A railway has long been in process of
construction to connect the capital with the ocean. In
1882 the telegraphic system of eight hundred miles was
completed, and eighty-one thousand despatches were for-


warded the preceding year through twenty-six offices.
In 1882 the total attendance at the national schools was
only five thousand, or less than eight per cent of the
whole population. The annual grant for the purposes of
education was $50,000.
The Mosquito coast cuts from Nicaragua a large por-
tion of her shore-line, precisely as British Honduras robs
Guatemala of hers; and this has been a cause of serious
trouble. This territory, which is about forty miles wide,
had been under the protection of Great Britain from 1655
to 1850, when that very un-American document the Clay-
ton-Bulwer treaty gave England certain rights in her col-
ony of Belize in exchange for such claims as she had to
this coast, and by the treaty of Managua, in 1860, she
formally ceded her protectorate to Nicaragua; but there
are still several disputed points.
Costa Rica. The fifth and most southern republic of
Central America has an area of only twenty-one thousand
square miles. The Atlantic coast is low, and the country
is covered with a dense forest, while the Pacific slope is
characterized by wide savannas, or llanuras. Between
these borders are high volcanoes and an elevated table-
land three to four thousand feet above the sea, the
latter almost the only cultivated land in the State. The
forests are largely composed of very valuable trees, -
mahogany, ebony, brazil-wood, and oak; and the usual
tropical fruits grow well. Coffee, however, is the staple
export, being grown extensively in the neighborhood of
San Jose and Cartago; the soil most favorable being dark
volcanic ash, from three to eighteen feet deep. The
amount exported in 1874 was valued at $4,464,000; in
1885 the amount is placed at $4,219,617.


On the Atlantic side Puerto Limon is the chief com-
mercial town, and on the Pacific, Punta Arenas. In
1871 the Government negotiated a loan in London of
$5,000,000, and the next year another of $12,000,000,
- but from both of them never received more than
$5,058,059.60, with the avowed intention of building
an inter-oceanic railway between the two principal ports;
but only detached portions have been built, twenty-four
miles from Alajuela to Cartago, sixty from Limon to Car-
rillo, and six from Punta Arenas to Esparta. The country
is bankrupt, and makes no attempt to pay any part of its
liabilities; indeed, its revenues, derived from intolerable
duties (even on the export of coffee), monopolies of spirits
and tobacco, national bank, sales of land, and internal
taxes, do not balance the expenditures.
The legislature is composed of a Congress of Deputies,
- one for each electoral district, holding office six
years, half being renewed every three years. The mem-
bers of the Corte de Justicia are elected by Congress.
The present constitution (from 1871) is the seventh that
has been in force. The departments are, -
Departments. Chief Cities.
San Jose . 45,000 San Jose . 15,000
Cartago . .. 36,000 Cartago . .. 10,000
Heredia . .. 30,000 Heredia. . 9,000
Alajuela . 29,000 Alajuela . 6,000
Guanacaste . 8,000 Liberia . .. 2,000
Punta Arenas . 6,000 Punta Arenas . 1,800

The population is estimated by M. Belly.
Both the northern boundary on Nicaragua, and the
southern one on Columbia, are in dispute.'
1 Guatemala has been accepted (1886) by both Nicaragua and Costa Rica
as referee in the boundary dispute.




I have endeavored to give most briefly the chief mat-
ters of importance relating to the four republics that, with
Guatemala, constitute Central America. I am well aware
that I have turned, that I can turn but little light on
the darkness; too little is known of the country, beyond
its trade and political relations to the rest of the world.
Volcanoes, earthquakes, and revolutions have popularly
been associated with the whole region, and public taste
has been turned away from such unpleasant outbreaks of
subterranean fires or human passions. The time will
come when these regions, far more fertile and accessible
than those African wilds that for a score of years have
interested, strangely enough, both explorer and capitalist,
will claim the attention due their natural merits; and
the fertile plains will be the garden and orchard of the
United States, -not necessarily by political annexation,
but by commercial intercourse. All our sugar, all our
coffee, all our rice, all our chocolate, all our india-rubber
ought to come from Central America, where these pro-
ducts can be raised better and cheaper than in any other
country; and next to these staples, the subsidiary fruits,
as oranges, plantains, bananas, pines, limes, granadillas,
aguacates, and dozens of others now unknown to com-
merce, ought to come to us from Limon, Puerto Cortez,
and Livingston. These are to be obtained in Guatemala
of better quality and in better order than in the West
Indies. Louisiana would then perhaps give up the un-
natural cultivation of sugar, and Florida cease her use-
less striving to raise really good oranges, and both States
turn to the products they are better fitted for raising.
I will ask you to go with me through the republic
of Guatemala, and to see it, so far as you can, with my


eyes; and until that journey is ended, we will leave the
story of the old times, the present system of government,
the ethnology, the volcanoes, the flora and fauna, to
chapters by themselves, even if the unsystematic arrange-
ment should savor strongly of the irregularity of the
land we journey through.

Luciano Calletano (Captain at Chocon).





AS the steamer anchors far from the shore at the
port of Livingston, the traveller sees almost ex-
actly what the Spaniards saw, earth, sky, and sea, -
so little change have four centuries wrought on the outer
shores of Guatemala. Northward are the picturesque
hills of British Honduras, backed by the blue summits
of the Cockscomb range; southward the majestic San
Gil, bearing like another Atlas the clouds on his broad
shoulders; eastward the low Cays, covered with the
feathery coconuts; before him the shore, here marked
by a long limestone cliff crowned by the palm-sheltered
houses of the Caribs, while farther to the westward
rise the Santa Cruz mountains. The yellow waters of
some great river lave the vessel's sides; but no break
is visible in the landward horizon.
For a while all is as it was when Hernan Cortez, in
the year 1525, came to this shore after his terrible
march from Mexico. There was even then a little vil-
lage on the high bluff ; and he found two of his country-
men gathering sapotes (Lucuma mammosa) to save the
little colony of Spaniards, a few leagues farther south,
from starving. Waiting in the early dawn for the land-
ing-boats, I cannot but recall the ancient times ; imagina-


tion sinks the great steamer into the little caravel, and
the feelings of the conquistadores are mine for the time.
Soon the white sails drop out from the foliage, the canoes
are seen rapidly approaching, and the chatter of Caribs,
both men and women, banishes all day-dreams.
The Progreso," once a Buzzard Bay racer, sails rapidly
out and takes on board her cargo, -my friend, his mother,
and myself, and traps of no light weight. Her bows
are soon turned landward, and as she glides, along, all
the features of the shore unfold, the coco-palms of
marked luxuriance, the thatched houses with shining
white walls, the limestone cliff almost covered with con-
volvulus and other foliage, the narrow beach, the canoes
of various size and shape. We turn a point, and the town
of Livingston is before us, and we are in the mouth of
the Rio Dulce.
On the shore the only prominent building is the cus-
tom-house, built before Livingston was declared a free
port; and in front of this is a low, dilapidated wharf, at
which our tender landed us, the water being not more
than fifteen inches deep. The tides here are less than a
foot, so that shoal-water keeps boats of any size at a dis-
tance, making landing difficult. It was comforting to
know that a charter for a wharf had been obtained, and
that our successors may land with greater ease.
We did not find the heat greater than on the steamer
in the offing, and even the necessary bustle and trouble
in getting luggage transferred to the backs of men did
not cause discomfort. The custom-house and a few
offices occupy the front of an amphitheatre with very
steep sides, above which is the town. Springs burst
from the gravel and furnish pools for the washerwomen,



whose sturdy, yet graceful forms, barely concealed by
their scanty garb, are very attractive. Some stood in
the clear pools, others bent over the washing-stones,
some played with their children in the water, while
others climbed the steep path to the town, 'carrying a
head-burden of great weight.

S......mortar with which its bricks were laid.. so strong that

Barrack Point, Livingston.

Our abode was on the Campo Santo Viejo, the burial-
hill of former days, and right across our path lay the
empty tomb of a son of Carrera, the former President of
Guatemala ; as we passed this we noted the admirable
mortar with which its bricks were laid, so strong that
no brick can be cut out whole. On this resting-place
of perished Caribs the foreign inhabitants of Livingston
dwell. It is the west end of the town, and overlooks


both the river and the native town, where are also the
stores and the hotels.
All descriptions of a growing town must be unsatis-
factory, so rapidly does the population and topography
change; and a few words may convey all the geographical
knowledge needed. Rolling ground, which might easily
be drained, but is not; streets generally at right angles,
none paved, and most of them exceedingly muddy in
wet weather; fences of the rudest form, mostly sticks
bound together with vines; houses with walls of adobe
or of wattle, in both cases covered with mud plaster
and whitewashed, none of them over one story, but with
high roofs thatched with palm; yards, but no gardens;
stores here and there built of boards from New Orleans,
and occupied by foreigners, French, Germans, Italians,
Americans (del Norte); a dilapidated chapel on or
among the neglected foundations of an intended church;
beyond this the barracks on a beautiful point; children
of all ages playing in the dirt and merrily greeting
the passer-by with their black, shiny, healthy faces;
palm-trees, mangoes, sapotes, bread-fruit, oranges, anonas,
bananas, and coffee-trees scattered without order, and
wholly uncultivated, make the external features of
this place. No vehicles are in the streets, though a
few horses roam untethered through the town. Every
burden is carried on the heads of men or women. The
house-doors are all open; but the interior is generally
too dark to disclose much of the inner mysteries to the
stranger. Westward from the town lies the new Campo
Santo, and beyond this the almost impenetrable forest.
The situation of Livingston is good, at the mouth of
one of the finest rivers of the Atlantic coast of Central



America. The climate is very healthful and agreeable,
and the frequent communication by two lines of steamers
with New Orleans, one line with New York, and another
with Liverpool, make it an important business-centre.
All the fine coffee from Alta Verapaz and the fruit from
the plantations on the Chocon and Polochic is shipped
here; and the product might be indefinitely increased.
The drawbacks are a bar with only a fathom of water
at the mouth of a river navigable otherwise for many
miles by the largest steamers, no wharves, little enterprise
on the part of the native inhabitants, and a frequent sea-
breeze in the afternoon, which sometimes makes landing
through the rough water on the bar unpleasant. The
population is about two thousand, chiefly Caribs; and
long inaction and complete lack of enterprise have pro-
duced a people poor and careless of riches if obtained at
the price of labor. As in all similar places, there is no
lack of adventurers of the lowest character.
All this matter is not, however, learned at once, and
observation must be depended on rather than report; for
the merchants of Livingston see the prospects of their
town in very different lights when talking with a mere
visitor or with a possible rival in the small but very
profitable business. As a stranger, I was told that the
place was an el dorado; that limitless crops grew with-
out urging from a soil of unequalled richness; that the
climate was salubrious, and eternal summer reigned; that
business was brisk, and constantly increasing under wise
laws and a favoring government. As a settler, the song
was sung to me in a minor key: labor was not to be had;
no good lands could be obtained; the steamers were the
tyrants of the place, and all earnings were eaten up by

freights. Then there were the warnmg cries of those
unfortunate men who wanted to make money in a newly
opened country, but had not the necessary courage and
endurance for a pioneer. They had not met success, and
they had not grit enough to seek it. Micawbers far from
home, they waited for something to turn up.
The process of finding out about the place was not an
unpleasant one; it was what we had come for, and we
began it the first day at breakfast. While we lodged in
our house on the hill, we took our meals with the ex-
ception of early coffee and rolls in the town at the house
of Sefior Castellan; and they were in genuine Hispano-
American style. Eleven o'clock is the hour for almuerzo,
or breakfast, and thus the time for ceasing work and
taking the needed midday rest. Late in the afternoon
came the comida, or dinner,--differing from breakfast only
in the occasional provision of dulces, or sweetmeats. The
menu was constant; an oily soup, beans black or white,
beef or chicken stew with chillis, fish, bread, and coffee,
formed the almost unvarying round. Out waiters were
two little boys, one the son of our host, the other his
ward. With our coffee we generally had fresh milk; but
when the supply of this failed, a can of condensed milk
took its place. Not infrequently the sugar also failed;
and then one of the boys ran to the nearest store and
bought half a pound of a coarse brown kind, and replen-
ished the saucer that did duty as sugar-bowl. No supply
of anything was ever kept in the house.
Our dining-room was dark, the only light coming
from the open doors at either end. There was but the
earth, hard trodden, for the floor, and the furnishing was
simple enough, a rough table and half a dozen rickety




chairs. A tablecloth served also for napkins, and the
dishes were of many patterns, colors, and degrees of
dirtiness. It seemed absurd to call for a clean plate; but
we did so, to see what would happen. Besides our
own party of four, we had a padre and an Italian as
fellow-boarders; and a little observation of the habits
of these polite friends helped us much in our new
A large tame duck used to waddle under my chair,
and at last would take bits of tortilla from my hand.
Several mangy dogs and cats- had to be driven out when-
ever we sat down to eat; but the hens were not disturbed,
for they contributed so much to our larder that they
were privileged, and one nested in an old felt hat on a
corner shelf, while another came cackling out of one of
the dark bedrooms that opened on either side. In spite
of all these drawbacks, we liked the cookery, and did
ample justice to it.
As the ancient Romans in their luxury had entertain-
ment for the eye as they reclined at meat, we in our
simplicity had a constantly moving panorama at our
street door. Stout Carib women, straight as one could
wish, walked by, with every burden, however insignifi-
cant, balanced on the head. Half a pound of sugar or a
dose of salts would be placed above the turban as surely
as would a heavy jar of water or a house-timber. Some
fine forms, both of men and women, made part of this
procession; and the latter wore garments short at either
end, fastened over one shoulder only, and displaying the
bust perfectly. A soldier came along once in a while,
but only his cap and musket told his class. Boys wrest-
ling but seldom fighting, dogs fighting for a bone, all


helped us to prolong our meal. It was difficult to make
the boys understand that they must not spit on the floor
as they handed us the dishes. A large brick oven in the
courtyard furnished bread for a number of families, and
good bread.
In our walks about the town we were often politely
invited into the houses, and so had a chance to see the
cassava bread making. The tuberous roots of the manioc
(Manihot utilissima) often attain a weight of twenty or
thirty pounds, and are full of a poisonous juice, deadly when
swallowed. A mahogany board is provided, into which
broken crystals of quartz are inserted, and this serves to
grate the root into a coarse meal, which is washed care-
fully (the starch is partly removed, and settles in the
water as tapioca), and is then placed in a long sack of
basket-work, called very appropriately serpiente. This
ingenious press is fastened at one end to a house-beam,
while on a lever placed through the loop at the other end
all the children of the family sit in turn, or together if
they are small; and the squeezed mass is dexterously
made afterwards into flat loaves about three feet in diam-
eter, and not more than a quarter of an inch thick, dried,
and then baked. The result is a wholesome and very
nutritious bread, which keeps a long time and is capital
on an excursion. Later on, when our own housekeeping
was in order, we found it made excellent puddings, and
was better than crackers in soup; while in the woods
it was indispensable. It is also a capital diet in dys-
pepsia, can be eaten in sea-sickness when all other food
is rejected, and serves to fill out the bony outlines of an
emaciated human frame better than anything else. The
clean white loaves can be easily exported, and are very




attractive. Fine oranges we bought from a tree in the
yard of our cassava-maker at ten for a medio (five
The fine view from the fort can be seen in the illus-
tration; but as Frank and I stepped over the low wall
and set up the camera to photograph it, we attracted the
attention of the officer in charge, who at once ordered us
to come to him. A convenient temporary ignorance of
Spanish delayed us until the view was secured and a
squad of soldiers sent to arrest us, when the officer
wanted to know what we were telegraphing in the fort
for." With a very few words I exposed his ignorance to
his soldiers, who laughed as heartily at him as if they
had not been quite as stupid as he; and he begged us to
leave at once. Of this same garrison it is related that
some years ago a French corvette anchored off the point
and fired a salute. The first gun was all right; but the
second astonished the valiant soldiers, and at the third
they all threw down their guns and fled to the bush, fully
convinced that an attack on the village was intended.
After a while boys were sent out into the woods to tell
these warriors that it was safe to come home. The light-
house here, which all incoming vessels are taxed to main-
tain, consists of a stout pole; but the lantern has been
broken, and not replaced.
Below this military post is the usual landing-place for
canoas. These are nearly all dug out of single mahogany
or cedar logs, and are not only well made, but of good
form. Some are forty feet long and six feet wide. The
paddles were of mahogany, and the women paddled as
well and powerfully as the men; both, indeed, seemed
to be quite at home on the water.


Some of the incoming canoes were laden with coco-
nuts, others with bananas and plantains from the little
fincas along the coast, and yet others with fish. The
last we noted more carefully, as there is no fish-market
in Livingston, and the fish are always interesting to a
stranger; for odd and various as may be the fruits of a
new clime, the produce of the sea generally surpasses
that of the land in curious forms. There were some of
the oddest of the Central American waters ; and the man
who first ate them must have been very brave or very
hungry. One of them had flesh resembling beef in color,
and good and substantial when cooked.
Paths about the town are narrow and grass-grown, and
the hooked seeds of a Desmodium cling to the clothes,
and the thorns of the sensitive-plant (Mimosa pudicans)
scratch the bare feet of the passer; but worse than all
these, in the grass are tiny insects called coloradia,
which bite the ankles and other exposed parts, causing
red spots and an intolerable itching, easily allayed,
however, by salt-water or bay-rum applications. Mos-
quitoes were not troublesome, and we used no nettings;
nor did we see any house-flies.
A bath in the Rio Dulce was tempered by the dread of
sharks; and refreshing as the sweet water was, there
was a self-congratulatory feeling on getting safely back
to the huge square-hewn mahogany logs that served for
To the outward world Livingston is principally inter-
esting as the free port of Guatemala, the outlet of the
coffee of Alta Verapaz and the fruits of the Atlantic
coast-region. In its early history it was a settlement of
Caribs, those splendid negroes who were driven from



the islands of the sea, which still bear their name, when
the Spaniards enslaved or destroyed their fellow-owners of
the land. Its situation at the entrance of the chief water-
way to the interior and the capital soon marked it for a
Spanish post; but the buccaneers were too powerful, and
before their advance the port of entry was moved far up
the Rio Dulce to Izabal, on the lake of that name, the
fort of San Felipe blocking the way to these lawless ene-
mies. Not only pirates, but the Home Government has-
tened the decay and disuse of this port, and the banks of the
Rio Dulce were of little importance, except to the mahog-
any-cutters and sarsaparilla-gatherers, for two centuries.
An enlightened Government, in fostering the immense
agricultural wealth of Guatemala, turned the attention of
foreign capital, first to the rich coffee-lands in the neigh-
borhood of Coban, and later to the even richer fruit-lands
of the valleys east of the high table-lands of the interior.
The outlet for all the produce was by the Polochic, and
the shipping-port was Livingston; so the little village
built by the exiled Caribals (cannibals) has been gradually
occupied by business men of various nations, until now
the population may be nearly two thousand. The shores
are high and healthful, and the anchorage within the
river is secure. Dredging would easily open a channel,
and jetties like those placed in the Mississippi by Captain
Eads would doubtless keep the way open; for the current
is frequently very strong, but now wastes its strength
over a mile of shoal-water. At present all the ocean
steamers lie at anchor outside; and consequently the
lighterage is an important business.
In the immediate neighborhood of this port, and acces-
sible by water, are lands pre-eminently adapted for sugar


or cotton cultivation; although now, owing to the smaller
capital required, and speedier returns, bananas and plan-
tains are the chief produces. The Government deter-
mined to develop these lands, which have hitherto
been left to the solitude of their dense forests and the
occasional intrusion of the mahogany-cutter, and in
1882 declared Livingston a free port, including in its
territory a large triangular part of the eastern coast.
The public lands were then offered for sale at reasonable
rates; and in consequence, several capitalists from the
United States have purchased large tracts, and %re cul-
tivating soil perhaps the most fertile on the continent.
Climatic changes are insensible here, and it may truly
be said that the one season is summer. Never has yel-
low fever or other dangerous zymotic disease visited
Livingston, and the death-rate is about one quarter that
of Boston. The rapid increase of its population and
commercial importance will make imperative the demand
for improved harbor and wharf facilities.
Ten miles to the south of Livingston is the fine harbor
of Santo Tomas, where in 1843 a Belgian colony was es-
tablished; and as this unfortunate attempt has given an
ill reputation to all Central America, it is well to state
that failure was by no means due to the insalubrity of
the climate, but to the want of foresight of the projectors
and the abject ignorance of tropical trials on the part of
the immigrants. Landed in an unaccustomed climate, in
the wet season, without shelter, and inadequately pro-
visioned, they lost heart, health, or life itself.
Pioneers and frontiersmen should not be recruited
from shops and counters. The pluck and caution needed
for a struggle with untried conditions, the determination


t. ~






to be content with slim comforts and undaunted in the
face of every discouragement, looking always to the final
result, experience shows cannot be found in this class.
They do well enough as eleventh-hour assistants, when
the strong men have felled the forest and broken the
ground and built houses and shops for these weaker but
still useful brothers; but the first colonists must be of
sterner stuff. Probably, had shelter and good food been
provided for those inexperienced Belgians, there would
have been at Santo Tomas something more to-day than
the memory of their visit.
In 1881 the little town contained but one hundred and
twenty-nine inhabitants, mostly fishermen; but the con-
struction of the Ferro-carril del Norte, to connect the
capital with the Atlantic, changed for a time the sleepy
hamlet into the busy haunt of contractors and laborers.
The exigencies of the railroad calling for the deepest
water, however, the new town of Port Barrios has been
founded, some three miles to the eastward of the ancient
village. Curiously enough, the Bay of Santo Tomas has
no river; but it lies between the Rio Dulce and the
From Livingston to New Orleans the distance is 900
miles; to Belize, 125; to Kingston, Jamaica, 800; to
Puerto Cortez (Caballos), 55; to Izabal, 45; to Pansos,
90; and to Guatemala City (water to Izabal, and mule-
path thence), 120. The usual steamer time from New
Orleans is six days, including a stop of two days at
Belize; from New York, ten days, including stops at
Kingston and Belize; and three days should be ample to
New Orleans, seven to New York, and eight to Boston.
A glance at a map will show that the course as well as


the distance between Livingston and New York is much
in favor of that route over the better-known one from
Aspinwall to the metropolis; and when to this saving
of time and avoidance of the dangers of navigation is
added the greater facilities for raising and shipping fruit
which Livingston is now developing, there is great proba-
bility that New Orleans will not long be allowed to absorb
all the bananas, plantains, and pines, or England all the
coffee and mahogany, shipped at Livingston.
The natural advantages of a port and the conveniences
of trade between that and other countries are of small
moment if there is nothing beyond the port; and one must
look well into the interior of the country to see its pov-
erty or richness. Before crossing the republic, the fruit-
lands of Livingston are worthy of exploration. The little
plantations at Cocali, on the coast northward, and those
along the banks of the Rio Dulce, are easily seen, and in
their present condition offer nothing new or especially
interesting. Bananas and plantains are almost the only
product of commercial importance; for the pines grow
wild, cassava, bread-fruit, mangoes, and sapotes are not
exported, and the coconut is native on the shores.
No systematic cultivation is known in this region, and
the crops grow very much as they did in the Garden of
Eden. Plantation-work consists of clearing the land of
forest (which is done in January and February), allowing
the felled trees. to dry, burning in May, and planting in
June. No plough ever furrows the rich ground, and the
hoe is sufficient for the planter's needs, while most handy
for the laborers. As may be supposed, the labor of keep-
ing the crops clear of weeds is considerable, but not so
great as on our Northern farms; for although the vege-


table growth is very rapid, the country is as yet free from
foreign weeds. With us the most rapidly growing and
pernicious weeds have all been imported; and on the
Hawaiian Islands the vegetable growths that have laid
waste thousands of acres of the best pasturage are the
lantana, verbena, and indigo, not one of them indigenous.
In the course of years cultivation may bring these agri-
cultural curses; but at present the Guatemalan planter in
Livingston has only palms, canes, ferns, ginger, and other
easily eradicated plants to contend with.
Indian corn (maiz) is planted in slight holes made with
a stick and covered with the foot, and seed planted on
Thursday has been found four inches high on the follow-
ing Monday. The stalks are sometimes seventeen feet
high, and average three ears each; only ninety days are
required to mature the crop, which is gathered three times
each year. Upland rice is scattered broadcast on the soil,
and the straw grows six feet high, with generous heads,
yielding the finest rice known; two crops can be raised
each year. Sugar-cane has been found to yield three tons
of sugar per acre for twenty years without replanting, -
a result unknown in any other sugar-country. At present
there are no mills in eastern Guatemala, and only enough
cane is planted to supply the demand for eating, or rather
Bananas have within the last ten years become very
common all over the United States, and every one is fa-
miliar with the imported varieties; but few are aware that
the varieties grown in the tropics exceed two hundred,
many of them too delicate to bear transportation, and as
far superior to the common sorts as a choice table-apple
surpasses the cider-apple of our New England pastures.

The kinds of banana most raised near Livingston are the
same as those of Aspinwall; but the quality is superior.
Plantains are grown even more commonly than bananas,
and the domestic consumption is much greater. Among
Northern fruit-dealers the banana and plantain are fre-
quently confounded; but they are as different as pears
and apples. To grow either, simply requires planting of
suckers, which in nine months should bear a bunch of
fruit. The stem is now cut down, and from its base
sprout several suckers, all over three being removed for
planting elsewhere. It is only necessary to remove the
finished stem and extra suckers to insure crops for a
long series of years. No attempt has been made to use
the valuable fibre, of which there is an average of three
pounds to a stalk.
When we turn from what is done here to the consider-
ation of what may be, the interest vastly increases; and
to this end let the reader join us in an exploration of one
of the rivers flowing from a valley of great extent and
unrivalled fertility, but covered with forest, and unknown
save to the mahogany-cutters and an occasional hunts-
man. The Rio Chocon is almost unnoticed on the maps,
and its source unknown; but it probably rises in the
Santa Cruz mountains.
In the middle of October, 1883, the "Progreso" was
manned and provisioned, and in the early afternoon we
were on board waiting for the sea-breeze to help us up the
river. The light wind served to carry us across the Rio
Dulce, but no more; and anchoring, we sent three men
ashore to lay in a supply of plantains, bananas, coconuts,
and sugar-cane. Travelling in the tropics is usually far
from luxurious; and our present outfit was no exception




to the rule. Our captain had provided a Jamaica negro
for cook, Santiago, a half-breed, for montero, or guide in
the forest, and our crew consisted of Guillermo, an attrac-
tive looking but bad boy, who was always singing about
his corazon (heart), Francisco, and two other men, whose
exact ethnological classification was a puzzle. Our cook,
his oil-stove and canned provisions filled the little cabin;
but the cock-pit was large, and Frank shared with me
one side, while the captain occupied the other3 and at
night we had a canvas awning over the whole. Folding-
chairs served for beds as well, and our traps were put into
the capital water-proof baskets called petacas.

_..- .__. 7-7 1 _77...Z--7

Entrance to the Rio Dulce.

Later than usual the breeze freshened, and we were
sailing apparently for the spur of San Gil, which stretches
northward right across the river. As we advanced, the
walls opened, and we entered a gorge far finer than that


of the Saguenay; for the savage cliffs of the wild Cana-
dian stream are here replaced by white limestone preci-
pices jealously covered witv, palms and vines, until only
here and there could the rock be seen under or through
its richly colored mantle. The river is deep, in places
eighteen fathoms, and, except in the overhanging trees,
there was no place to land on either side for some
Frank shot at a fine pelican, but only broke a wing;
and although he pursued the wounded bird rapidly in a
little cayuco that we had in tow, he did not gain on the
powerful swimmer until a shot from the "Progreso"
killed the fugitive, whose remains measured seven feet
across the wings. Other birds tempted us, but the fast-
waning daylight warned us against delay; and as dark-
ness fell upon us with tropical rapidity, we came to the
lake-like Golfete, nine miles from Livingston, and an-
chored for the night off Cayo Paloma (Dove Island), the
only inhabited spot on the river. Our crew went ashore
for shelter, and we retired under our substantial awning,
which protected us from the rain which fell in torrents
during the night. We had found no mosquitoes at Liv-
ingston, and there were none here; so our sleep was not
broken until our boys came on board before daybreak.
Where we had entered this beautiful lake we strangers
did not know; and even when the direction was ascer-
tained, the opening of the river was invisible. Coconut-
palms and bananas will give a charm to any landscape;
yet the little Cayo Paloma hardly needed them, so
beautiful was it in itself.
Grand San Gil brushed the clouds from his forehead
and looked down smilingly upon us in promise of a


fair day as we sailed up the Golfete. A short league
brought us to a curious limestone rock on the northern
shore, a regular cube, rising from deep water, and
capped with a pyramid of foliage. So unusual a forma-
tion could hardly have failed to attract the aboriginal
mind; and there may be on the summit some remains, -
a sacrificial altar, or stele. We did not go near enough
to see any way of access; but the branches seem to hang
low enough on one side to promise an entrance to an
active climber, and we determined to try it some other
day when we had more time.'
If the entrance to the Rio Dulce was well concealed,
that to the Rio Chocon was still harder to find; and but
for the rock island, one might try several apparent open-
ings in the hedge-like border of the stream before enter-
ing the canal that sweeps in a semicircle into the actual
river. Two alligators sat, like the porters at an Egyp-
tian palace, opposite each other at the entrance, but
dropped incontinently into the stream before our rifles
were ready, giving us an unpleasant reminder of what
we might expect should we take a bath in the cool river.
From animal to vegetable was but a glance; and the
musky odor of the reptiles faded into the fragrance of
a large purple passion-flower, which hung so low that
we slipped into the cayuco, Frank and I, and paddled
from bank to bank in the little mahogany dug-out, pull-
ing down branches and vines, shaking out lizards and
beetles, while humming-birds of almost every bright
color, and butterflies of hues seldom seen in cooler cli-
mates, would hardly leave the fragrant flowers we gath-
1 Another year we climbed the rock and found several interesting plants,
but no human remains.

ered. Nothing could be seen beyond the river, for we
were in a green lane bordered by all the tropics can
produce of vegetable life; and as the day wore on we
felt the weariness of seeing. A little white passion-
flower (P. Brighami), with curiously clipped leaves, three
kinds of morning-glory, a crimson abutilon, and a host
of plants whose family alone was known to us, had been
consigned to the plant-press. At first there were no
palms; but as we ascended the stream, which was in
flood, the banks at last appeared, growing gradually
higher, and only on solid ground could the palms find
foothold. The cohune (Attalea cohune), with its long
clusters of hard oily nuts, came first; then a small pin-
nate-leaved, graceful, but unknown species ; then an
astrocarya, with dreadful spines and hard but edible
nuts; and finally, on the rocky banks, slender, long-
stemmed species, and a climbing palm that, like the rat-
tan, attained a length of several hundred feet. Our first
glimpse of the family in full force was at the junction of
the two mouths of the Chocon. Here there is an en-
largement of the river into a lagoon, and the eastern
branch looks as large and easily navigable as that we had
entered. At another time we found this was the case.
Bambus bent their graceful stems in clusters over the
water, and here and there tall reeds in blossom waved
their light plumes against the dark-green trees behind
With the drift floating down stream we noticed queer
green things which were evidently vegetable; but what
else ? At last we came to some sapoton-trees (Pachira);
and it was their fruit, now ripening,-like in size and
appearance to a husked coconut, that furnished our





puzzle. The fruits split while on the tree, and drop the
nuts, which are about as large as a hen's egg, into the
water, where they soon germinate, and float about with
expanded cotyledons until caught on some shoal, or at
the bank, where they take root.
Not once all day did we see a place to land; indeed,
until we had ascended the river several miles there was
no land, so high was the flood. Dense foliage, suitably
defended with spines of palm and the no less unpleasant
thorns of the guilandina and sarsaparilla, hid what might
be disagreeable of animal life along shore; and as we
could not land, neither could we plunge into the cool
river, that was already engaged by the alligators.
As the sun dropped behind the trees we made fast to
a large post in midstream, starting a whole family of
little leaf-nosed bats out of a woodpecker's hole in this
dead tree; and as our comida was being laid, I explored
more carefully this curious mooring. Water-logged and
stranded on the bottom, some twenty feet below us, it
was a perfect image of life in death; for every part
above the water was covered with a luxuriant growth
not its own, and yet perfectly in place. On one side
clung three different orchids in seed, a cluster of pepero-
mias in blossom, and a fine cereus, while mosses and
ferns quite covered the interstices. We did not at that
time know the naughty habits of the bright little bats,'

1 These were vampire bats (Phyllostoma sp.); and several times afterwards
we saw cattle that had been so severely bitten that the blood was still dripping
from their shoulders the next morning. These little fellows are about the
size of an English sparrow; and yet they do as much harm as their much larger
relatives of South America. They have ventured into our sleeping-room at
Livingston; but would generally awaken us by brushing our faces with their
wings, -perhaps because our feet (the part they usually attack) were covered.


or we should not have slept so quietly; as it was, the
mosquitoes were very thick, and only our veils pro-
tected us.
It was a strange bed-chamber. The river, black be-
neath and around us, was silent enough; for the current
hardly rippled against our boat, no wind moved the
leaves, and only our own voices broke the stillness while
we waited for sleep. Suddenly a sound between a shriek
and a roar burst almost over our heads. Tigre," mut-
tered Frank as he felt for his rifle. It was only a lion-
bird; but its terrible cry was repeated until it seemed to
awake all the nocturnal noises of the forests that stretched
for fifty miles around us. Howling monkeys (Mycetes
ursinus), a shrill water-bird, hooting owls, were all easily
distinguished by our montero; and we slept more tran-
quilly after his explanation, even though we thought we
felt the rough back of an alligator scrape the bottom
of our boat. I have heard the real tiger's howl in the
Sumatran jungle; but it was not so terrible as this
wretched bird, nor are the tropical nocturnal noises so
loud and various in any other place where I have been.
So far the country through which we passed was worth-
less for agricultural purposes; but early the next morning
we came to an elevated limestone ridge, and beyond this
outwork tle banks grew sensibly higher, until they were
some twelve feet above the present high water. With
the higher banks appeared the iguanas; and I made my
first shot,-- a large female,- which was picked up, while
three others fell into the water and sank before we could
reach them. It was some time before I learned to dis-
tinguish these reptiles; for they are nearly of the color of
the branches on which they bask, and until they move,



are to the unpractised eye only a part of the bewildering
foliage. I did not like to be told where to look, so be-
fore the day was half gone I could see an iguana as soon
as a native.

Female Iguanas.

A mouth like a toad's, green, glittering eyes, a large
pendulous dewlap, a row of lancet-shaped spines down
the back, slender claws, and a long, pointed tail, certainly
are not features to make the iguana an attractive pet;
and yet it is gentle, easily tamed, and there are people
who enjoy its company. Let not the Northern ladies
shudder as they look on this picture; for do they not
know, are there not among their number those who
fondle and kiss (!) even the deformed pugs and lap-dogs ?
Unlike the worthless curs, the iguana is a most excel-
lent food-animal; its delicate white meat is not unlike
chicken, and the eggs of which the female lays five or


six dozen are all yolk, and very delicious.1 Being good
swimmers, they drop from their perches over the river
when alarmed, and after a fall sometimes of sixty to
eighty feet the splash is suggestive of broken ribs, or at
least a total loss of wind; but they scramble nimbly up
the banks under the overhanging shrubs, and are lost in
the forest. Like the chameleon, they change color, and
from green of various hues become greenish gray when
taken from the trees. We had much less difficulty than
Columbus and his companions experienced in adding these
" serpentes" to our cosmopolitan bill of fare.
In the afternoon a boom across the river showed the
neighborhood of mahogany-cutters, and a short row
above this brought us to the head of navigation for our
large boat, and we made fast to a tree on the right bank,
where there was no clearing nor any easy way to land,
although we could see that the banks were some ten feet
above the water, and steep. Leaving the Progreso in
the cook's charge, we continued up stream in the little
cayuco until we broke a paddle and had to- return, not,
however, until we had made two landings.
Once up the steep and slippery bank, we found the
land level, and in the dense forest there was no under-
growth. It always seems odd to a stranger in the

1 These serpentes are lyke unto crocodiles, saving in bigness; they call
them guanas. Unto that day none of owre men durste aduenture to taste of
them, by reason of there horrible deformitie and lothsomnes. Yet the Ad-
elantado being entysed by the pleasantnes of the king's sister, Anacaona, deter-
mined to taste the serpentes. But when he felte the flesh thereof to be so
delicate to his tongue, he fel to amayne without al feare. The which thyng
his companions perceiuing, were not behynde hym in greedyness; insomuch
that they had now none other take than of the sweetnesse of these serpentes,
which they affirm to be of more pleasant taste than eyther our phesantes or
partriches." Peter Martyr, decad. i. book v. (Eden's English translation).


tropics, this entire absence of sod; but so dense is the
upper foliage that there is no chance for small plants
below, except such as can, like the sarsaparilla, climb
up into the light above, or orchids, like the vanilla,
which cling to, if they do not draw a part of their sus-
tenance from, the tree-stems. The cohune palm (Attalea
cohune, Martius.) was abundant, and by its presence con-
firmed the testimony of the dark chocolate soil to the
exceeding fertility of the land. This palm seems to have
three names applied to as many stages of growth. When
young and stemless, it is mdnaca; in middle age, when
the bases of the old leaves still cling to the trunk, it is
cohune; and when age removes these scales, the smooth
stem is corozo. I have never seen the manaca in flower or
fruit, but I believe the three are but one species. Other
palms were intermingled with these, some in blossom,
some in fruit, but none so common nor so large, both
in stem and leaf. Later on we shall see a picture of the
cohune and its very valuable fruit.
In one place along the bank I measured fourteen feet of
soil of the best quality; nor was this surprising, since the
valley through which the Rio Chocon flows is a catch-basin
for the detritus of the limestone ranges of the Sarstun and
Santa Cruz mountains, and its form guards against tor-
rential floods which might wash away the rich deposit.
When the summer rains flood the banks, as we fouiid
later, the water subsides in a few hours, owing to the
wide-open lower course of the river.
A gigantic ceiba-tree (Eriodendron) stood not far from
the river, and two of its great buttresses enclosed a semi-
circle thirty feet in diameter, while the projections them-
selves were not half a foot thick. Trees of very various

kinds throw out these supports. I have even seen a
goyava (Psidium), which usually has a rather slender

Barbecue at Benito.

trunk, expand most astonishingly into these buttresses
when growing in a rich loose soil. It will, not un-



naturally, occur to the reader that this must greatly in-
crease the difficulty of felling such trees in clearing land.
The difficulty is met by the woodmen in this way. A plat-
form called, strangely enough, a barbecue "-- is built
of slim poles, often to a height of fifteen feet; and balanced
on these frail supports, the cutter swings his long-handled
axe. Of course he leaves a stump as high as his barbecue;
but the ants (comajen) soon reduce this to dust. I have
since then watched the cutters, and have wondered how
they so speedily fell (they call it "fall ") a hard-wood tree,
with no better vantage than two poles for their bare feet
to cling to.
All through the forest there was a close, damp feeling,
and in some places there was little light. We saw sarsa-
parilla, india-rubber, vanilla, and cacao growing wild, and
every step brought some new thing to view; but it was
less oppressive on the river, where there was sky above us
of the true blue, so much better to our tastes than the
green canopy that met our eyes as we looked up on land.
While on the river, we saw some curious long-legged
spiders, seemingly plastered against the white limestone;
and they were very unwilling to move their legs, which
were two inches long. The vejucos from the over-hang-
ing branches were very interesting, as these long, slender
rootlets, if rootlets they be, hung sometimes a hundred
feet, ending close to the water, but not touching it except
in flood-time, nor do they, like subterranean roots, have
branches or fibrous ends, although sometimes they seem
to be unravelled into separate strands, like a cord whose
form they imitate and whose use they usurp. We often
pulled them and shook the branches from which they
spring, without detaching them. The water was now


clear and cool, and everything was enticing us to loiter;
but the day was closing, and comida awaiting us on the
" Progreso."
The moon that night was full; and with no mosquitoes
in the air, we hardly cared to creep under our toldo. The
light filtered through the palm-leaves and sparkled on the
black river as it glided around the bend. We could see
but a few rods either up or down stream, and we almost
wondered how we came there, and should we ever get
away. Far in the distance the howls of the monkeys and
the cries of the night-birds broke the stillness around us;
but we slept unconscious of the shower that poured on our
toldo before morning.
A very bright, warm morning in the middle of October
is not unpleasant in the temperate zone; but here it seemed
almost too warm to be seasonable, although the thermome-
ter persisted in indicating 83. Five of us were in our
little cayuco at early dawn on our way down stream.
The cayuco was not especially crank, but it was loaded to
the water's edge with five solid men; and as my hands
grasped the gunwales, my fingers dipped in water on both
sides. It was impossible for me to restrain the attempt
to balance, which of course kept the cayuco in a constant
quiver, alike unpleasant to myself and my companions.
Add to this the consciousness that alligators were ready
for us if we did upset, and it will be supposed that the
voyage was not altogether agreeable.
We landed at last, and had a hard scramble up the steep,
muddy bank, as many of the palms were armed with spines
like needles (Acrocomia sp.), and there was little else 'to
catch by. I was on the watch for snakes, and had my ma-
chete in my hand; but the first living denizen of the forest


that met me was a fine blue butterfly (Morpho), nearly eight
inches across. I could not, and Guillermo would not, catch
it, because he said it was mala por los ojos (bad for the
eyes). It was a sight for sair e'en." I found this curious
superstition about butterflies common all through the coun-
try, and I confess that following their brilliantly colored
wings in their rapid flight, under a blazing sun, does give
one's eyes a very tired feeling that may explain the origin
of the popular belief. I will not compel any one to follow
me through the forest, nor up the steep limestone ridges
where the corroded rock was worn into fantastic forms
and partly covered with begonias, lycopodiums, and other
plants. We found several circular valleys among those
ridges drained by sink-holes, and often I heard water run-
ning beneath my feet. In some places were little wells,
like the cenotes of Yucatan, containing fish, which pass
from one to another by underground aqueducts. Again
and again I mistook for serpents the huge, green, scaly
creepers that flattened themselves against the trees or
swung from the branches. Sluggish and insignificant
centipedes were not uncommon on the trees; but noth-
ing except tracks of wild hogs, peccaries, jaguars, and
tapirs indicated that the forest was the resort of trouble-
some animals. The entire absence of any fallen or de-
caying trees or dead branches was a marked feature of
this forest. The insects had eaten all this unpleasant
matter; and in one place we saw a cavity as large as a
barrel, where the ants had eaten a palm-stump, leaving
only the fibrous roots to keep the earth in place about
the large hole.
Towards noon the air, loaded with moisture and un-
moved by any wind in the forest, became almost unbear-


able, and we were parched with thirst. Santiago came to
our aid; and selecting a rough-looking vine, of which we
could not see the leaves, cut from it a length of some three
feet, and from this trickled a tumblerful of clear, cool,
tasteless water. This vejuco de agua was as large as
a man's wrist, of tender substance and very porous. The
mozos declared that if the vejuco was
cut only once, the juice would all run
/ 9 /} up from the pendent end; so it was
/necessary to cut at once above, and
block its retreat. On the palm-trees
section of were often found clusters of nuts of
Vejuco de Agua.
various sizes, some with such hard
shells that even the parrots must have been baffled. We
cracked several kinds, and found them more woody and
less oily than the coconut. Several mahogany-trees came
in our way, and they impressed me more than the sequoias
of California or the banians and baobabs of India. Rising
with a straight and uniform stem far above the surround-
ing trees, they then spread their dense foliage like a
massive oak above the tree-top plane. Rosewood, palo de
mulatto, sapodilla, ironwood, and many other kinds were
recognized, and our exploration ended for the day with a
bath on board the boat, in which we dashed the cool river
water over each other. The air was 860, while the water
was 780. Our men who had been sent up stream to build
a champa, or native house, returned to us at sundown in
true monkey style, swinging down on to the boat from the
branches of the tree overhanging the Progreso." The ab-
sence of mosquitoes puzzled us, as it had the night before.
After the rain ceased, the next morning about seven,
we paddled up stream in the cayuco. I have never seen



rocks so curiously corroded; in some places they were like
fossil bones of mammoth size, then like battered capitals
and fluted columns, always of rather smooth surface,
sometimes quite perforated. In the hollows were ferns,
selaginellas, and sometimes curious spiders; one rock
was just like some monster crawling into the river. On

Dragon Rock, Chocon.

the right bank several small springs trickled in, and on the
other side a swift-flowing creek added materially to the
volume of the river. Still we were getting into shallower
water, and after passing in one way and another fifteen
rapids or corrientes, we came to a huge tree that com-
pletely blocked our way. With a satisfied feeling, we de-
clined to drag our heavy cayuco over, but beached her on


a sand-spit, and waited for the return through the forest
of part of our men whom we had sent to explore inland.
Wild figs of good size came tumbling into the stream from
the trees above ; but they were not to our taste, although
Guillermo said they were eaten when ripe. While we
waited, a large canoe came down from the mahogany re-
gion miles above, and the three Caribs in it dragged it over
the log with great labor. Besides their petacas, they had
mahogany mortars for rice-hulling, and mahogany plat-
ters. In the forest their work is task-work, and they often
have half the day to themselves; in this leisure time they
carve the rejected butts into various useful articles, which
they sell at the Boca, or mouth of the river. As we re-
turned, we saw another use to which the ever-present
machete is put; it is in turn knife, axe, adze, hammer,
spoon, back-scratcher, shovel, pump-handle, door-bolt,
blind-fastener, and now a fishing-rod! Guillermo ac-
tually split the head of a large fish that was in the shadow
of a rock, a fish weighing some five pounds!
In the afternoon we inspected the champa our men had
been building. The building process was certainly a novel
one. On receiving our orders, the Caribs held a brief con-
sultation, chattering in their very unattractive language;
while we knew no more of their talk than we knew of
the intelligent ants, who are equally black, and hold their
consultations unbeknown to us. The result was, however,
that they separated and disappeared in the forest. Soon
we heard the blows of the machetes; and then they came
straggling back, two with the aucones or main posts of
the house, others with side-posts, rafters, coils of vejucos,
and bundles of mandca-leaves. In an incredibly short
time the frame was tied together. The thatching with the


palm-leaves took longer, as it was necessary to split each
of the immense leaves, which were quite thirty feet long.
These were tied on to the rafters closely, like clapboards,
and formed an excellent roof, only surpassed by that made
of another palm, called confra, found nearer the sea,
which is so durable as to last eight or ten years. Butts
of the manica formed the sides of the champa; and then
we had a house large enough for twenty men, with the
labor of five men a day and a half, at a cost of $3.75.
For our purpose it was better than the Palace of the
One morning I explored the tree to which we were
moored. A fine balloon-vine (Cardiospermum) hung in
festoons of fragrant flowers from the branches; among
them was a humming-bird's nest fashioned as daintily as
usual of the golden down of tree-ferns, and shingled with
bits of lichens. It was not the season for eggs; but I have
at other times found many nests, with never more thap
two white eggs of the size of a small bean. The young
birds, I may add, are, when first hatched, most amusing
little things, all heads and eyes, and without the long
bill of maturer days. I found also a green grasshopper
(Tropideres), five inches long, and very handsome of his
kind. I wondered if he ate sugar-cane, and other things
one might want to grow if living in the champa.
One day, going ashore to cut some sticks for an
awning on the canoa, I hacked with my machete at a
tall, slim tree very common along the banks, and which
had often bothered me by its curled, dried leaves, cling-
ing to the tree and looking very much like the doves
(qualm) which were so often on the tree that it is named
for them. This tree, which is botanically known as a

cecropia, one of the nettle family, had a hollow trunk
divided transversely by thin partitions, and from this
cavity came a swarm of ants. I had here a chance to
verify the interesting description given by Mr. Belt 1 of
the habits of these remarkable creatures. As he says,
they get into the tree by boring a small hole, and then
eat their way through the many floors of this vegetable
tower; they do not, however, eat the tree directly for
sustenance, but import with great care numbers of coc-
cide, or scale-insects, to feed on the tree-juices and elab-
orate a honey-like matter, which the ants eagerly suck
from a pore on the back of these little cows. I tried in
vain to find the queen ant; but while every cecropia that
I touched was tenanted by ants, never a single female
came to light. There are several small outer doors, for
the disturbed stem is dotted with the pugnacious little
ants in a very short time. What first taught the ants to
farm these dull, inert coccid ? Other vegetables are ant-
inhabited, but none that I know of afford such spacious
Pleasant as this life on the river and in the forest
was, the time came when we must return; and it was
startling how many things we saw on our way down which
we had passed unnoticed coming up, tall reeds with
feathery blossoms more graceful than the pampas-grass;
palms with bluish green foliage; flowers of the arum
family more beautiful than a calla; blue herons; butter-
flies of the most attractive colors; fish like glass, that
is as transparent, and about a foot long. Frank shot a
beautiful grossbeak with scarlet breast and metallic green
back, and brought me a fine purple passion-flower; an-
1 The Naturalist in Nicaragua, by Thomas Belt, p. 222.




other of the party shot an alligator, who turned over,
exposing his yellow belly as he died. Altogether, the
voyage down was more agreeable than the hard run up.
Trees that were bare a few days before were now covered
with white feathery flowers, and others presented masses
of greenish flowers on their flat tops. We sailed and
floated down the Rio Dulce by moonlight, and at early
dawn anchored at Livingston.

San Gil, from Author's House in Livingston.

Opposite the town are lands fertile and capable of pro-
ducing fine crops to an enterprising owner. Frank and
I rowed over several times, once exploring a neglected
finca, where cane, sapotes, cassava, bananas, plantains,
rose-apples, and coconuts were all jumbled together;
at another time visiting a cacao-plantation farther up
the stream. There is certainly room for a wise invest-


ment of capital on these lands on the eastern slope
of San Gil as far as Santo Tomas. And here let me
write of this port, Puerto Barrios, and the Northern
Railroad, although I did not visit them until the spring
of 1885.
Santo Tomas is beautifully situated ; but since the sad
failure of the Belgian colony established there by a
legislative decree of April, 1843, it has borne a bad
reputation, and its inhabitants diminished to the insig-
nificant number of a hundred and twenty-nine by the last
census. Its harbor, into which no large river' empties, is
an exceedingly good one, and a wharf might be con-
structed on deep water; but the authorities, in selecting
a terminus for the projected railway which is to connect
Guatemala City with the Atlantic coast, and so unite
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, chose a place some three
miles eastward from Santo Tomas, where they must con-
struct a wharf some three hundred feet in length to
reach twenty feet of water, and where often ships can-
not lie, but must run for Santo Tomas in bad weather.
Add to this that the site of the fine city of Puerto
Barrios is a swamp at present uninhabitable, although
laid out (on paper) in a very attractive way, with
castle, theatre, hippodrome, and all the elements of a
Centro-American city of the first rank. The splendid
mango-trees, with their dark, dense foliage, are abun-
dant in the old village, while here even the palms are
Arriving at Puerto Barrios late in the afternoon, we
were kindly received by the contractors, and after an
exceedingly good supper allotted comfortable beds in the
large storehouse. We had heard of the cruelty practised



towards the workmen on the railroad, and wished to
know the truth. I of course understood the circum-
stances under which men were induced to go there
to work, and knew that agents in New Orleans and
elsewhere might and did make unauthorized promises
to the shiftless adventurers who sought to better their

Puerto Barrios.

fortunes in a new land. Men from the North cannot
do hard manual work in this climate unless they are
very careful in regard to diet, clothing, and general sani-
tary conditions. If they get wet, and sleep in their wet
clothes, they will have a malarial fever in a newly cleared
country. If they eat improper food, or proper food at
improper times, their bowels will certainly protest. Now,
I was convinced that the contractors did not take these
precautions with their men, that in consequence of this