« EelmineJätka »
months and years—often indeed from generation to generation-on the same spot. Monkeys change their sleeping places almost daily. The ourang-outang, that makes a nest of the boughs of trees, is said to construct a fresh one every night. The dwelling-places of savages, often made of, or lined with, the skins of animals, with the dusty earth for a floor, harbour all kinds of insect vermin, and produce and perpetuate skin disease, due to the attacks of minute sarcopti. If the dog by losing its hair should obtain any protection from these and other insect pests, instead of wondering that a hairless breed of dogs has been produced in a tropical country, I am more surprised that haired ones should abound. That they do so must, I think, be owing to man having preferred the haired breeds for their superior beauty and greater variety, and encouraged their multiplication.
Olama—The “Sanate”—Muy-muy--Idleness of the people-Moun
tain road— The “bull rock”—The bull's-horn thorn-Ants kept as standing armies by some plants—Use of honey-secreting glands -Plant-lice, scale-insects, and leaf-hoppers furnish ants with honey, and in return are protected by the latter-Contest between wasps and ants—Waxy secretions of the homopterous hemiptera.
WE rode up to the large hacienda at Olama, and were asked to alight by a man whom I at first took to be the proprietor, but afterwards discovered to be a traveller like ourselves, buying cattle for the Leon market. The owner of the house and his sister were away at a little town three or four miles distant; and I was a little nervous about the reception we should have when they returned and found us making ourselves at home at their house. Velasquez had, however, no apprehensions on that score, as he knew that throughout the central departments of Nicaragua it is the custom for travellers to expect and to receive a welcome at any house they may arrive at by nightfall. Excepting in the towns, and on some of the main roads, there are no houses where travellers can stop and pay for a night's lodging. Every one expects to be called on at any time to give a night's shelter. This is all that is afforded, as travellers carry with them their hammocks and food.
hour after dark, the owner and his sister returned on mules, and the gentleman seemed pleased at finding us at his house. I was about to offer a chair to the sister; but Velasquez told me it was not the custom to show any civilities to the ladies, as they would probably be misconstrued. After a while, the master had some chocolate
SANATE,” OR QUISCALUS. brought to him by his sister, who waited upon him. The wife, the sister, and the daughter in the departments seldom sit down to their meals with the master of the house, but attend upon him like servants.
Whilst coffee was preparing next morning, I strolled about the outbuildings, and was much amused at the antics of the jet black Quiscalus, called "sanate" by the natives. They are about the size of a magpie, with much of the active movements of that bird. They are generally seen about cattle, sometimes picking the garrapatos off them, but more often one on each side, watching for the grasshoppers and other insects, that are frightened up as the cattle feed. On this morning, there were several of them on the top of a shed. Every now and then one would ruffle out its feathers, open its wings a little, give a step or two forward towards another, stretch out its neck, open its bill, and then give rather a long squeak-like whistle. As soon as it had done this, it would hurriedly close its feathers and wings, and hold its head straight up, with its bill pointing to the sky. All its movements were grotesque; and its sudden change in appearance after delivering its cry was ludicrous. It appeared as if it was ashamed of what it had done, and was trying to look as if it had not done it—just as I have seen a schoolboy throw a snowball, and then stand rigidly looking another way. After a few moments, the “sanate' would lower its head, and, in a short time, go through the same performance again, repeating every movement automatically.
Bidding adieu to our host, we rode over grassy savannahs, with much cattle feeding on them, and in about five miles reached a small village called Muymuy, which means “very-very.” I think it is a corruption of an old Indian word “Muyo," met with in other Indian names of towns, as, for instance, in Muyogalpa. After riding all round the plaza, which formed three-fourths of the town, we at last found a house where they consented to make us some tortillas, on condition that we would buy some native cheese also. The land around was fertile, but the people too lazy to cultivate it. Many of the houses were dilapidated huts. The place altogether had a most depressing aspect of poverty and idleness. I asked one man what the people worked at. He said, “Nada, nada, señor," that is, “Nothing, nothing, sir.” Some of them possess cattle; and those that have none sometimes help those that have, and get enough to keep them alive. The principal subject of interest seemed to be the “caritos," who had come up the river, and given them guns and iron pots for their black dogs; but no one had had the curiosity to ask what they wanted the dogs for. It was Sunday, and many of the country people from around had come into the village. All that had any money were at the estanco, drinking aguardiente. The men were dressed alike, with palm-tree hats, white calico jackets and trousers, the latter often rolled up to the thigh on one leg, as is the fashion in this part of the world. Nearly all were barefooted.
Having breakfasted off tortillas and cheese, we continued our journey, and crossed two rivers running to the eastward; then ascended a high and rocky range, along the top of which the path lay. We took this mountainpath to avoid some very
that we were told we should encounter if we went by the main road. The mountain range was bare and bleak, but we had a fine view over the surrounding country. Opposite to us, on the other side of a wide valley, was a similar range to that along which we were travelling, the sides partly wooded and partly cleared for planting maize. We passed several Indian huts with grass-thatched roofs, and met a party of Indians travelling down the mountain