Obrázky stránek
[blocks in formation]

travellers before us have found grateful rest in the shade of their giant branches. Don Lorenzo's mother was a Jovenet, a member of another old family of Chiriqui which owns tens of thousands of hectares of the richest land.

Some day these Chiriqui properties will represent great wealth. At present they yield only a few thousand dollars a year from the sale of the cattle raised upon them. The landowners of Chiriqui, like the old-time planters of our South, have long since fallen into confirmed habits of ease, which they could not shake off, if they would. It must be left to another generation to apply enterprising methods to the development of their lands.

Another deterrent to improvement has been the constantly disturbed condition of the land since the wars of independence began, early in the last century. Revolutions have been frequent in the past hundred years, and each was the occasion for destruction and confiscation of property. In one of these uprisings, which occurred shortly before our occupation of the Canal Zone, the late President Obaldia was forced to flee for his life from his Chiriqui estate. The insurrectos seized his youngest son and, in the belief that the father had hidden a large sum of money somewhere on the ranch, subjected the boy to the most inhuman treatment, in the attempt to make him reveal the supposed hiding place.

There is a half-sunken boat in the river at Pedragal, immediately opposite the wharf. At the time of the revolution in question it was afloat. On this the insurgents kept young Obaldia prisoner for weeks. He was scantily fed, and only half clothed. The mosquitoes and sand flies drove him to the verge of insanity. His captors constantly threatened him with death and kept him for long periods without water. But they failed to break down the youngster's fortitude and, if there was any truth in the story of hidden money, he maintained his determination not to reveal its whereabouts.

David is a picturesque city of from four to five thousand inhabitants. Of these, perhaps, five per cent are well-to-do, the majority being poor, but having all their actual needs supplied, which, after all, is a condition approximating wealth. Most of the dwellings are one-storied structures of frame or mud, with thatched roofs and small courtyards, or patios. The

[graphic][ocr errors]





« PředchozíPokračovat »