Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

vehicles, mules, &c., threading their way up and down the mountainside, laden with foreign and domestic products. This is the only road of any extent for wheel-carriages in the country. It is kept in good repair by convicts, who are seen working in chains. A moveable prison or lock-up house, somewhat resembling the cages used in caravans of wild beasts, is used for their accommodation and security at night. The heavy merchandise is for the most part transported in ox-carts of enormous dimensions. Their wheels are clumsy and without tires, and the whole frame is made strongly with timber pinned together. Their perpendicular sides and rounded tops are wattled with cane and covered with bull's-hide. No iron is used in their structure; wooden pins and raw-hide lashings seem to answer the purpose better. The yoke is set on the heads of the oxen, behind the horns, and fastened to them. The creaking of these carts may be heard for miles, as the drivers never think of greasing the axles to lessen the friction. They are generally drawn by four or eight oxen. The wood-cut, at the end of this chapter, from a sketch taken by Mr. Drayton, will complete the description. Lighter articles are transported by mules, and immense numbers of these animals are seen on the road at all times.

[graphic]

The mode of changing horses is truly characteristic of the country. The relays are made as soon as the shaft-horse tires; he is quickly taken out, and one of the drove caught with a lasso, and put in his place, when on they go. These relays occur every eight or ten miles; the only relief the poor horses have is a trot out of harness, and without a load. The bilocheros seldom dismount; all is done on horseback. On going up hill, a third or even a fourth horse is soon hitched to the vehicle to assist the draught. The horses are all in good condition, and it is not a little remarkable that they should be so, for I understood that their only food at this season was chopped straw. The teamsters and Guachos themselves are equally abstemious. They live mostly upon bread and their favourite chicha, which is made from the grape, and resembles cider; but after it has passed through a fermentation, it is quite intoxicating. The mud huts or ranchos, on the road-side, are filled with happy and contented faces.

PEASANT's House.

Begging is common on the road to the city, and is quite a business. The beggars let themselves to the highest bidders, and value themselves according to their deformities. At Valparaiso two days are allowed in each week for begging. The plain of Maypo, which reaches to the foot of the Cuesta del Prado, is extremely level, and is almost thirty miles in width, extending to the foot of the Cordilleras. The road leads nearly in a straight line over it to the city of Santiago, which is situated on the eastern side of the plain. The elevation of Santiago above the sea is fifteen hundred and ninety-one feet, upon the third step or plain from the coast. Its entrance is through avenues bounded by high adobe walls, which shut out all the view, except the Cordilleras, which tower above and beyond it. The more the Cordilleras are viewed, the greater appears their attraction. They have at all times an imposing aspect from the neighbourhood of the city. Their irregular and jagged outline is constantly varying under the effects of light and shade. The rays of the setting sun, with the deepening shadows, throw the innumerable peaks mto bold relief, and at times produce yellow and red tints, which give a remarkable character to the whole scene. The red tints are often accompanied with a green hue in the sky. The city is surrounded by many fine orchards, gardens, farms, and grazing grounds. The former being enclosed by high adobe walls, give it a rather unpleasant appearance, until the city is fairly entered, when the streets have a fresh and clean look. The city is laid out in squares. Its streets are well paved, and have good sidewalks. This fresh and clean appearance, we afterwards understood was owing to a law, obliging all to whitewash their houses and walls once a year, a practice which gives a general uniformity, at least in colour, to the whole, and forms an agreeable contrast with the red-tiled roofs. The houses are mostly of one story, built in the form of a hollow square, from twenty to forty feet wide, round which the rooms are situated. The roof projects so as to form a kind of piazza or covered-way. The gateway is usually large, and the rooms on each side of it are not connected with the rest of the building, but are rented as shops. Opposite to the gateway is the centre window, guarded by a light and ornamental iron frame, painted green or richly gilt. The court-yard is usually neatly paved with small rounded pebbles from the bed of the Maypocho, arranged in fanciful forms; but in many cases they are laid out in flower-gardens, where roses and geraniums are seen in full bloom. The river Maypocho runs through one portion of the city, and supplies it with water, which is conducted through all the principal streets, assisting much in preserving their cleanliness, though not sufficient to supersede the necessity of scavengers. In the centre of the city is the great Plaza, where the public buildings are situated. These are built of a coarse kind of porphyry, obtained from the mountains, and are on a large scale. The cathedral and palace each occupy one side; in the centre is a fountain, with several statues of Italian marble; but which is entirely too small to have any effect in so large a square. All these buildings are much out of repair, having been at various times damaged by earthquakes. The cathedral is very large and extensive. Its altar is decked with a great quantity of gold and silver. There are many paintings and hangings, among which is a large number of trophies, which have been taken in their various wars, and are here preserved. The niches are filled with wax figures, representing saints; and there are also the remains of two martyrs of the church, in a tolerably good state of preservation. The palace was originally built for the Viceroy. It is now appro

[graphic]

priated to the accommodation of the President, and the public offices Q.

On the side opposite to the palace is a colonnade, which is not yet finished, and will occupy the whole side of the square. Under its portico are fancy and dry-goods shops, and between the columns various trades, or lace and fringe-makers are at work. In the evening, this becomes a most busy scene. Females, with large flat baske's before them, are vending shoes, fruit, and fancy articles; others are employed in cooking cakes, and the whole lighted up as it is with numerous candles, affords much amusement to the stranger, besides giving him an opportunity to see a large number of the inhabitants. The greater part of those present are females. The mint occupies a whole square; it has never yet been completed, and has also suffered greatly from earthquakes. The operation of coining is in the rudest and oldest form, the same as practised in Europe in the last century. The rolling and cutting are done by mule-power, and the oldest kind of fly-press, with a great screw beam, having enormous balls at the end, is used. The dies they use are made from the male die, in the same way as with us, but they have not the same facilities, and want the modern improvements in the process. A toggle-jointed press was imported from France; but it was soon put out of order by the workmen, and there being no one to repair it, its use has been abandoned. The library is extensive, containing several thousand volumes, which formerly belonged to the Jesuits, and many curious manuscripts relating to the Indians. The amusements are not very remarkable. Santiago, however, boasts of a theatre, and a chingano. There appears to be little business doing, and it may be called a quiet city. The siesta is daily indulged in ; even the shops were shut in the afternoon, and the city is as quiet as midnight. Towards the cool of the evening, the Alameda is resorted to. It is a beautiful walk, about a mile in extent, well shaded, and occupies one bank of the river. It is planted with a double row of poplar trees, which seem to thrive well here. Streams of water are constantly running on each side of the walk. Every few yards stone seats are placed, which are at times filled with a welldressed population. The Alameda affords at all times a cool and pleasant promenade. The evenings are genorally passed at tertulias, in visiting socially, or in shopping in the colonnade. The inhabitants are much addicted to gambling. Monte is the game with the higher classes, whilst that of match-penny is the favourite of the lower orders. The Chilian ladies are remarkable for their ease of manner, kindness, and attention to strangers. They are fond of diversions of any kind, but more particularly those of dancing and music, both of which are much practised. They seem extravagantly fond of music. Dancing they are taught very young. Most of them have good figures, and some would be called quite pretty; but their teeth are generally defective, which causes them soon to look old. Their costume varies little from our own, except that the ladies wear no bonnets. The gentlemen follow the European fashions. The dress of the lower order is a mixture of Spanish and Indian. They are fond of bright colours. Over their shirt and trousers is worn a blue or brown poncha. A high-crowned and small-rimmed hat, tied on under the chin, over a bright cotton handkerchief on the head, completes their outfit. They are a well-disposed people, and good citizens, and have more the air of contentment than any other nation of South America.

[ocr errors]

The markets are well supplied. There is one large one near the banks of the Maypocho. It covers an area of four or five acres, and is surrounded by a low building, with a tile roof, supported by columns, under which meats of all kinds are sold. The centre is reserved for vegetables, fruits, flowers, poultry, and small-wares. The marketwomen are seen seated under awnings, screens, and large umbrellas, which are used to keep off the sun.

[graphic]
« PředchozíPokračovat »