Page:Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan.djvu/40

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12
TRAVELS IN CENTRAL AMERICA.

was, that the colonel insisted upon our taking it, and I am afraid it was pretty well worn out before he received it again. The reader will infer from all this, that Mr. C. and I, with the help of Augustin, were fit to travel in any country.

But to return. It was a beautiful day. Our course lay nearly south, directly along the coast of Honduras. In his last voyage, Columbus discovered this part of the continent of America, but its verdant beauties could not win him to the shore. Without landing, he continued on to the Isthmus of Darien, in search of that passage to India which was the aim of all his hopes, but which it was destined he should never see.

Steamboats have destroyed some of the most pleasing illusions of my life. I was hurried up the Hellespont, past Sestos and Abydos, and the Plain of Troy, under the clatter of a steam-engine; and it struck at the root of all the romance connected with the adventures of Columbus, to follow in his track accompanied by the clamour of the same panting monster. Nevertheless, it was very pleasant. We sat down under an awning; the sun was intensely hot, but we were sheltered, and had a refreshing breeze. The coast assumed an appearance of grandeur and beauty that realized my ideas of tropical regions. There was a dense forest to the water's edge. Beyond were lofty mountains, covered to their tops with perpetual green, some isolated, and others running off in ranges, higher and higher, till they were lost in the clouds.

At eleven o'clock, we came in sight of Puenta Gorda, a settlement of Carib Indians, about a hundred and fifty miles down the coast, and the first place at which I had directed the captain to stop. As we approached, we saw an opening on the water s edge, with a range of low houses, reminding me of a clearing in our forests at home. It was but a speck on the great line of coast; on both sides were primeval trees. Behind towered an extraordinary mountain, apparently broken into two, like the back of a two-humped camel. As the steamboat turned in, where steamboat had never been before, the whole village was in commotion: women and children were running on the bank, and four men descended to the water, and came off in a canoe to meet us.

Our fellow-passenger, the padre, during his residence at Balize, had become acquainted with many of the Caribs, and, upon one occasion, by invitation from its chief had visited a settlement for the purpose of marrying and baptizing the inhabitants. He asked whether we had any objection to his taking advantage of the opportunity to do the same here; and as we had none, at the moment of disembarking