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inhabited mostly by half-breeds, at about eight o'clock, and securing our hammocks for the night in a small thatched house belonging to the mining company, who kept many of their draught bullocks at this place on account of the excellent pasture around. The village of Esquipula is built near the river Vico, which, rising in the forest-clad ranges to the eastward, runs for several miles through the savannahs, then again enters the forest and flows into the Atlantic at Blewfields, a broad and deep river. This river must have had at one time a large Indian population, dwelling in settled towns near its banks. Their burial-places, marked with great heaps of stones, are frequent, and pieces of pottery, broken stone statues and pedestals are often met with. Near Esquipula there some artificial-looking mounds, with great stones set round them; in fact, this and another village, a few miles to the south, called San Tomas, are, I believe, both built on the sites of old Indian towns. The Indians of the Rio Mico gave the Spaniards some trouble on their first settlement of the country. About two leagues from Acoyapo, the site of a small town was pointed out to me, now covered with low trees and brushwood. IIere the Spaniards were attacked in the night-time by the Rio Vico Indians, and all of them killed, excepting the young women, who were carried off into captivity, and the place has ever since lain desolate.

Many extravagant stories have been told of the great statues that are said to have been seen on the banks of the Mico, much lower down the river than where we crossed it; but V. Etienne, of Libertad, who descended it to Blewfields, and some Ulleros of San

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Tomas, who had frequents been on 2 isim
rubber, assured me that the resca soe ves
merely rude carvings of faces and in
They appear to be similar to ti se i ELIT
rivers running into the Caribbes Suit in
which were examined by Sibel
the Orinoco and Essequibo; s3 ba sa
undoubted Carib workmanship, bare banimi i
Virgin Islands, it is possible in vir
of that once-powerful race, ad esse
cultural and statue-making Lösssc 25
of the continent.

We started from Exc3 2. D.RIC, si crossed low thinly-timbered as it Pital, a scattered settlement é DIST LES houses, close to the borders beins edge of which were cleares zase THE LES which is cultivated entirely a beztiran some parts they had alres is our trees for fresh clearings; tese de San and the maize sown the first Date 151 primitive way, just as it was yra O Nas zari at the Spanish conquest. In cea a Eur the brushwood is first cut close to term. 26 would be difficult to do so after the larz z felled. The big timber is then cat 0912, 221 4:01 it is set fire to. All the snall word a las well; but most of the large trunks are lets, z. LUTE the branches. Most of the latur are eut rosa fence round the clearing, this at Pizzi ad Esmaz being made very close and high to kesa sa dagat May, the maize is sown; the sower is the des

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inhabited mostly by half-breeds, at about cight o'clock, and securing our hammocks for the night in a small thatched house belonging to the mining company, who kept many of their draught bullocks at this place on account of the excellent pasture around. The village of Esquipula is built near the river Mico, which, rising in the forest-clad ranges to the eastward, runs for several miles through the savannahs, then again enters the forest and flows into the Atlantic at Blewfields, a broad and deep river. This river must have had at one time a large Indian population, dwelling in settled towns near its banks. Their burial-places, marked with great heaps of stones, are frequent, and pieces of pottery, broken stone statues and pedestals are often inet with. Near Esquipula there some artificial-looking mounds, with great stones set round them; in fact, this and another village, a few miles to the south, called San Tomas, are, I believe, both built on the sites of old Indian towns. The Indians of the Rio Mico gave the Spaniards some trouble on their first settlement of the country. About two leagues from Acoyapo, the site of a small town was pointed out to me, now covered with low trees and brushwood. Here the Spaniards were attacked in the night-time by the Rio Vico Indians, and all of them killed, excepting the young women, who were carried off into captivity, and the place has ever since lain desolate.

Many extravagant stories have been told of the great statues that are said to have been seen on the banks of the Mico, much lower down the river than where we crossed it; but V. Etienne, of Libertad, who descended it to Blewfields, and some Ulleros of San

Ch. IV.]

SAVANNAIIS AND FOREST.

53

Tomas, who had frequently been down it after Indian rubber, assured me that the reported statues were merely rude carvings of faces and animals on the rocks. They appear to be similar to what are found on many rivers running into the Caribbean Sea, and to those which were examined by Schomburgk on the rocks of the Orinoco and Essequibo; as others like them, of undoubted Carib workmanship, have been found in the Virgin Islands, it is possible that they are all the work of that once-powerful race, and not of the settled agricultural and statue-making Indians of the western part of the continent.

We started from Esquipula early next morning, and crossed low thinly-timbered hills and savannahs to Pital, a scattered settlement of many small thatched houses, close to the borders of the great forest, on the edge of which were clearings made for growing maize, which is cultivated entirely on burnt forest land. At some parts they had already commenced cutting down trecs for fresh clearings; these would be burnt in April, and the maize sown the following month, in the usual primitive way, just as it was sown in Mexico before and at the Spanish conquest. In commencing a clearing, the brushwood is first cut close to the ground, as it would be difficult to do so after the large trees are felled. The big timber is then cut down, and in April it is set fire to. All the small wood and leaves burn well; but most of the large trunks are left, and many of the branches. Most of the latter are cut up to form a fence round the clearing, this at Pital and Esquipula being made very close and high to keep out deer. In May, the maize is sown ; the sower makes little holes

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with a pointed stick, a few feet apart, into each of which he drops two or three grains, and covers them with his foot. In a few days the green leaves shoot up, and grow very quickly. Numerous wild plants also spring up, and in June these are weeded out; the success of the crop greatly depending upon the thoroughness with which this is done. In July each plant has produced two or three cars; but before the grain is set these are pulled off, excepting one, as if more are left they do not mature well. The young ears are boiled whole, and make a tender and much-esteemed vegetable. They are called at this stage chilote," from the Aztec xilotl; and the ancient Mexicans in their eighth month, which began on the 16th July, made a great festival, called the feast of Xilonen. The poor Indians now have often reason to rejoice when this stage is reached, as their stores of corn are generally exhausted before then, and the “chilote" is the first fruits of the new crop. In the beginning of August the grains are fully formed, though still tender and white; and it is eaten as green corn, now called “clote." In September the maize is ripe, and is gathered when dry, and stowed away, generally over the rooms of the natives. A second crop is often sown in December.

Maize is very prolific, bearing a hundred fold, and ripening in April. From the most ancient times, maize has been the principal food of the inhabitants of the western side of tropical America. On the coast of Peru, Darwin found heads of it,* along with eighteen recent species of marine shells, in a raised beach eighty-five feet

“Geological Observations in South America, 1816,” p. 49; and " Inimals and Plants under Domestication,” vol. i. p. 3:20.

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