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neatest tropical towns that I have visited. The houses, especially in the business portion of the town, are well built of wood, and painted white with brown roofs. Pretty flower gardens surround or front many of them. Others are nearly hidden amongst palms and breadfruit, orange, mango, and other tropical fruit trees. A lovely creeper (Antigonon leptopus), with festoons of pink and rose-coloured flowers, adorns some of the gardens. It is called la vegessima, “the beautiful,” by the natives, and I found it afterwards growing wild in the provinces of Matagalpa and Segovia, where it was one of the great favourites of the flower-loving Indians. The land at and around Greytown is perfectly level. The square, the open spaces, and many of the streets are covered with short grass that makes a beautful sward to walk on.
The trade in the town is almost entirely in the hands of foreign residents, amongst whom Mr. Hollenbeck, a citizen of the United States, is one of the most enterprising. A considerable import trade is done with the States and England. Coffee, indigo, hides, cacao, sugar, logwood, and india-rubber are the principal exports. I called on Dr. Green, the British Consul, and found him a most courteous and amiable gentleman, ready to afford protection or advice to his countrymen, and on very friendly terms with the native authorities. He has lived for many years in Nicaragua, and his many charitable kindnesses, and especially the medical assistance that he renders in all cases of emergency, free of charge, have made him very popular at Greytown. His beautiful house and grounds, with a fine avenue of coconut trees in full bearing, form one of the most attractive sights in Greytown. I found Mr. Paton, the vice-consul, Ch. I.]
CLIMATE OF GREYTOWN.
equally obliging, and I am indebted to him for much information respecting the trade of the port, particularly with regard to the export of india-rubber, the development of which trade he was one of the first to encourage.
Behind the town there is a long lagoon, and for several miles back the land is quite level, and interspersed with lakes and ponds with much marshy ground. Perfectly level, surrounded by swamps, and without any system of drainage, either natural or artificial, excepting such as the sandy soil affords, Greytown might be thought a very unhealthy site for a town. Notwithstanding, however, its apparent disadvantages, and that for nine months of the year it is subject to heavy tropical rains, it is comparatively healthy, and freer from fever than many places that appear at first sight better situated. Much is due to the porous sandy soil, but more I believe to what appears at first sight an element of danger, the perfect flatness of the ground. Where there are hills there must be hollows, and in these the air stagnates ; whilst here, where the land is quite level, the trade winds that blow pretty constantly find their way to every part, and carry off the emanations from the soil. As a similar instance I may mention the city of Pernambuco, on the eastern coast of Brazil, containing 80,000 inhabitants. It is perfectly level like Greytown, surrounded and intersected with channels of water, above the level of which it only stands a few feet. The crowded parts of the town are noted for their evil smells and filth, but, though entirely without drainage, it is celebrated for its healthiness; whilst a little lower down the coast, the town of Maceio, situated about sixty feet above the sea, surrounded by undulating ranges
and with a good natural drainage, is much more unhealthy, fevers being very prevalent. As at Greytown so at Pernambuco, the trade winds blow with much regularity, and there are neither hills nor hollows to interfere with the movements of the air, so that miasmatic exhalations cannot accumulate.
Surrounding the cleared portions around Greytown is a scrubby bush, amongst which are many guayava trees (Psidium sp.) having a fruit like a small apple filled with seeds, of a sub-acid flavour, from which the celebrated guava jelly is made. The fruit itself often occasions severe fits of indigestion, and many of the natives will not swallow the small seeds, but only the pulpy portion, which is said to be harmless. I saw another fruit growing here, a yellow berry about the size of a cherry, called “ Nancito” by the natives. It is often preserved by them with spirit and eaten like olives. Beyond the brushwood, which grows where the original forest has been cut down, there are large trees covered with numerous epiphytes—— Tillandsias, orchids, ferns, and a hundred others, that make every big tree an aërial garden. Great arums perch on the forks and send down roots like cords to the ground, whilst lianas run from tree to tree or hang in loops and folds like the disordered tackle of a ship.
Green parrots fly over in screaming flocks, or nestle in loving couples amidst the foliage, toucans hop along the branches, turning their long, highly-coloured beaks from side to side with an old-fashioned look, and beautiful tanagers (Ramphocælus passerinii) frequent the outskirts of the forest, all velvety black, excepting a large patch of fiery-red above the tail, which renders the bird
Ch. I.] BEETLES RESEMBLING CATERPILLARS.
very conspicuous. It is only the male that is thus coloured, the female being clothed in a sober suit of greenish-brown. I think this bird is polygamous, for several of the brown ones were always seen with one of the red-and-black ones. The bright colours of the male must make it very conspicuous to birds of prey, and, probably in consequence, it is not nearly so bold as the obscurely-coloured females. When a clear space in the brushwood is to be crossed, such as a road, two or three of the females will fly across first, before the male will venture to do so, and he is always more careful to get himself concealed amongst the foliage than his mates.
I walked some distance into the forest along swampy paths cut by charcoal burners, and saw many beautiful and curious insects. Amongst the numerous butterflies, large blue Morphos and narrow, weak-winged Heliconidæ, striped and spotted with yellow, red, and black, were the most conspicuous and most characteristic of tropical America. Amongst the beetles I found a curious longicorn (Desmiphora fasciculata), covered with long brown and black hairs, and closely resembling some of the short, thick, hairy caterpillars that are common on the bushes. Other closely allied species hide under fallen branches and logs, but this one clung exposed amongst the leaves, its antennæ concealed against its body, and it resemblance to a caterpillar so great, that I was at first deceived by it. It is well known that insectivorous birds will not touch a hairy caterpillar, and this is only one of numberless instances where insects, that have some special protection against their enemies, are closely imitated by others belonging to different genera, and even different orders. Thus, wasps and stinging ants have hosts of imitators amongst moths, beetles, and bugs, and I shall have many curious facts to relate concerning these mimetic resemblances. To those not acquainted with Mr. Bates's admirable remarks on mimetic forms, I must explain that we have to speak of one species imitating another, as if it were a conscious act, only on account of the poverty of our language. No such idea is entertained, and it would have been well if some new term had been adopted to express what is meant. These deceptive resemblances are supposed, by the advocates of the origin of species by natural selection, to have been brought about by varieties of one species somewhat resembling another having special means of protection, and preserved from their enemies in consequence of that unconscious imitation. The resemblance, which was perhaps at first only remote, is supposed to have been increased in the course of ages by the varieties being protected that more and more closely approached the species imitated, in form, colour, and movements. These resemblances are not only between insects of different genera and orders, but between insects and flowers, leaves, twigs, and bark of trees, and between insects and inanimate nature. They serve often for concealment, as when leaves are innitated by leaf-insects and many butterflies, or for a disguise that enables predatory species to get within reach of their prey, as in those spiders that resemble the petals of flowers amongst which they hide.