« EelmineJätka »
when the dress is caught, for as one part is cleared another will be entangled. A yellow and brown flycatcher builds its nest in these bushes, and generally places it alongside that of a banded wasp, so that with the prickles and the wasps it is well guarded. I witnessed, however, the death of one of the birds from the very means it had chosen for the protection of its young. Darting hurriedly out of its domed nest as we were passing, it was caught just under its bill by one of the curved hook-like thorns, and in trying to extricate itself got further entangled. Its fluttering disturbed the wasps, who flew down upon it, and in less than a minute stung it to death. We tried in vain to rescue it, for the wasps attacked us also, and one of our party was severely stung by them. We had to leave it hanging up dead in front of its nest, whilst its mate flew round and round screaming out its terror and distress. I find that other travellers have noted the fact of birds building their nests near colonies of wasps for protection. Thus, according to Gosse, the grassquit of Jamaica (Spermophila olivacea) often selects a shrub on which wasps have built, and fixes the entrance to its domed nest close to their cells. Prince Maximilian Neuwied states in his “ Travels in Brazil,” that he found the curious parse-shaped nest of one of the Todies constantly placed near the nests of wasps, and that the natives informed him that it did so to secure itself from the attacks of its enemies. I should have thought that when building their nests they would be very liable to be attacked by the wasps. The nests placed in these positions appear always to be domed, probably for security against their unstable friends.
Concordia-Jinotega—Indian habits retained by the people - Indian
names of towns-Security of travellers in Nicaragua-Native flour-mill— Uncomfortable lodgings—Tierrabona–Dust whirlwind -Initial form of a cyclone—The origin of cyclones.
Some of the ranges were very craggy, and one was so steep and rocky that we had to dismount and lead our mules, and even then one of them fell several times. These craggy ranges were covered with the evergreen oaks, and we saw but few pine trees. Now and then we passed over the tracks of the leaf-cutting ants, who were hurrying along as usual, laden with pieces of foliage about the size of a sixpence. There were but few birds, and insects also were scarce, the bleak wet weather doubtless being unsuitable for them.
We now began to descend on the Matagalpa side of the elevated ranges we had been travelling over, and crossed many small valleys and streams, the latter everywhere cutting throngh boulder clay, with very few exposures of the bed rock. In the lower lands were many patches cultivated with maize and beans, but the country was very sparsely inhabited. At noon, we reached a small town called Concordia, where the houses were larger and better built than those in the small towns of Segovia. The church, on the other hand, was an ugly barn-like building, apparently much neglected. The rocks were trachytes, and the soil seemed fertile, but there was very little of it cultivated. Many of the men we met wore long swords instead of the usual machetes. There is a school for learning fencing at Concordia, and the people of the district are celebrated for being expert swordsmen. They have often fencing matches. The best man is called the champion, and he is bound to try conclusions with every one that challenges him.
After leaving Concordia we had only one more range to cross, then began to descend towards the plains below Jinotega, and about dusk reached that town and were kindly received by our former entertainers. Doubtless much European blood runs in the veins of the inhabitants of Jinotega, but in their whole manner of living they follow the Indian ways, and it is the same throughout Nicaragua, excepting amongst the higher classes in the large towns. All their cooking vessels are Indian. Just as in the Indian huts, every pot or pan is of coarse pottery, and each dish is cooked on a separate little fire. The drinks in common use are Indian, and have Indian names; tiste, pinul, pinullo, and chicha, all made from maize, sugar, and chocolate. As before observed, whatever was new to the Spaniards when they invaded the country retained its Indian
It is so with every stage of growth of the maize plant, chilote, elote, and maizorca. The stone for grinding the maize is exactly the same as those found in the old Indian graves, and it is still called the metlate. All the towns we passed through in Segovia retained their Indian names, though their present inhabitants know nothing of their meaning. The old names of many of the towns are probably remnants of a language earlier than that of the inhabitants at the time of the conquest, and their study might throw some light on the distribution of the ancient peoples. Unfortunately the names of places are very incorrectly given in the best maps of Central America, every traveller having spelt them phonetically according to the orthography of his own language. Throughout this book I have spelt proper names in accordance with the pronunciation of the Spanish letters.
Many of the names of towns in Nicaragua and Honduras end in “galpa,” as Muyogalpa, Juigalpa, Totagalpa, and Matagalpa. Places apparently of less consequence in Segovia often end in the termination “lee” strongly accented, as Jamailý, Esterlý, Darailý, &c., and in "guina” pronounced “weena,” as in Palacaguina and Yalaguina. In Chontales many end in "apa," or "apo,” as Cuapo, Comoapa, Comelapa, Acoyapo, and others.
The Spaniards, whenever they gave a name to a town, either named it after some city in Spain or after their Saints. There are dozens of Santo Rosas, San Juans, and San Tomases. Even some of the towns, which have well-known Indian names, are called officially after some Spanish saint, but the common people stick to the old names, and they are not to be thrust aside.
We had a long talk with our courteous host of the estanco at Jinotega. He had a small library of books, nearly all being missals and prayer-books. He had a little knowledge of geography and was wishful to learn about Europe, and at the same time most desirous that we should not think that he, one of the chief men of the town, did not know all about it. That England was a small island he admitted was new to him, as he thought it was part of the United States or at least joined to them. He asked if it was true that Rome was one of the four quarters of the globe. We explained that it was only a large city, to which he replied gravely that he knew it was so, but wished to have our opinion to confirm his own.
No newspapers come to Jinotega, excepting occasionally a Government gazette, and only a few of the grown-up people are able to read. News travel quickly from one town to another, but every incident is greatly exaggerated; and many extravagant stories are set afloat with no other foundation than the inventive faculties of some idle brain. To appreciate what an immense aid a newspaper press is to the dissemination of truth one must travel in some such country as Nicaragua where newspapers do not circulate. It is impossible to get trustworthy intelligence about any event that has happened a hundred miles away, and stories of murders and robberies that were never committed are widely circulated amongst the credulous people. As far as my experience goes highway robbery is unknown in Nicaragua. Foreigners entrusted with money have stated they have been robbed, but there has always been suspicions that they themselves embezzled the money that they said they lost. Personally I never carried arms for defence in the country, and was never molested nor even insulted, though I often travelled alone. The only dangerous characters in the country are the lower class of foreigners, and these are not
Petty thefts are common enough, and at