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have been painted. It is possible that these inscriptions may be of Indian origin and date back a considerable time, but it appears to me to be absurd to try to establish a connection between them and the huaca builders. The paint, of course, is of comparatively modern origin, and there is no radical resemblance between the pictures and characters on this great stone and the figures taken out of the graves, or the ornamentation of the pottery. Then again, if the ancient inhabitants of Chiriqui left this monument, it is passing strange that it should be the only thing of the kind surviving them. The pedra pintada has probably been in its present condition during many generations. Although it is not described in any writing of which I am aware, the grandfathers of living Chiricanos spoke of it as an old landmark and the local Indians declare that it was there in its “painted” state when their people first came to that part of the country, which was certainly not less than one hundred and fifty years ago. But that would leave a gap of several centuries, at least, between the carved boulder and the last of the huaca makers.
More than one scientist has made an effort to solve the mystery of the ancient people of Chiriqui, but none with satisfactory result. A A doubtful authority once claimed to have discovered in one of the graves an article made of a certain stone, which he declared was not to be found in its natural state at any place nearer to Chiriqui than Behring Strait. Assuming this to be true, it affords a foundation for a very pretty conjecture.
The most puzzling feature of the question is the absence of any remains above ground. It must be supposed that a people who had reached the stage of development indicated by the metal and pottery work, and who displayed not a little structural skill in the fashioning and construction of their graves, must have made dwellings of stone which is abundant all over the country. But, if they did so, how has the last vestige of such buildings disappeared ? Probably we shall never know any more than we now do about the matter.
The presence of so much gold in the graves has led to the belief that it was plentiful in this region. Although the mining operations of late years have not yielded satisfactory results, it is quite possible that rich deposits do exist and that they will be discovered when closer attention is devoted to prospecting.
There are records of the Spaniards having mined successfully at a spot near the Costa Rican border in Chiriqui. Many attempts have been made to discover this mine and recently it was rumored that a party of Indians wandering through an unfrequented district had come across some old cast iron church bells, which are believed to indicate the site of the settlement that stood in the vicinity of the lost mine.
UP-COUNTRY IN A COASTING STEAMER
That part of Chiriqui that lies between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean is the garden spot of Panama. It contains the richest soil and has the finest scenery in the territory of the Republic. Its climate is delightful in the dry season and far from bad during the rains. Its people are friendly, law abiding and industrious in their easy-going way.
Few visitors to the Isthmus make the journey up to Chiriqui. Perhaps the discomforts of the voyage deter them, but more probably they are ignorant of the pleasures that await them at the end of it. Canal employes have only begun to go to the beautiful Province since the recent order permitting them to take their vacations at Boquete, on the slope of El Volcan, went into effect.
About the middle of April, 1908, I left Panama with the intention of spending three weeks in Chiriqui and of exploring the Island of Coiba on the way. In order to carry out the latter part of the program, it was necessary to arrange with the steamship company to have me dropped on the island by the boat on which I left Panama and picked up by the one following, a week later. I was accompanied on this expedition by Mr. C. J. Brown, an employe of the Commission, who speaks Spanish fluently, and who had been in Chiriqui as a Commissioner of the United States Government at the time of the election for President of Panama. Apropos of that election, the United States assigned several army officers and others to the temporary service of the Republic of Panama, with a view to their employment in maintaining order during the election and insuring a fair vote. As a matter of fact, the arrangement worked somewhat one-sidedly, for the natives, who were aware that the United States favored the candidacy of Don José de Obaldia, took it for granted that the commissioners were present in his behalf and voted accordingly. However, the result was the election of as good a man as the country could produce and one whose premature death was a distinct loss to it.