Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/178

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and that generally spoken along the coast, is the English tongue. The Mosquito state is an autonomy under the sovereignty of Nicaragua, but to understand its unique position in the family of nations it would be necessary to give an outline of its more recent history. Such a sketch would scarcely prove of interest, and would far exceed the limits of this article.

Bluefields, the capital and only port of the Mosquito Reservation, gets its name from a famous old pirate of the past, called Bleevelt, the remains of whose stronghold—in an advanced state of decay—are still seen on a high promontory at the entrance of the harbor known as the "Bluff." The town proper lies about six miles from the sea, and is reached by crossing a large lagoon of such shallowness that only after much tugging, pushing, and pulling in small boats of the lightest draught is the passenger landed at the Government wharf. Seen from the lagoon, the town presents a pleasant picture. Seated upon comparatively high ground, the luscious green of the luxuriant vegetation in which it is framed runs quite down to the water's edge, while here and there a stately palm or cocoanut tree, its leaves nodding lazily in the almost imperceptible breeze, gives the landscape that calm, dreamy look so characteristic of tropical life. There is but one street in the town (King Street) leading up from the wharf. On this street are its few stores and trade shops. The rest of the settlement—covering an area of two square miles—is scattered about, wheresoever the householders willed it, without plan or reference to streets and lanes. At the time of my visit the town contained three horses and two carts or wagons, so it is evident that streets would be of less use for traffic than for the sake of symmetry, and Sambo idea of symmetry is an unknown quantity. The houses of Bluefields, with the exception of a few native "shacks," are built of lumber brought from the United States, and are similar in style of architecture to those found in small American villages. All buildings are erected on j)osts, and raised two or three feet above the ground, to avoid the wet and mud of the rainy season. The population, numbering about fifteen hundred, is composed principally of the descendants of Jamaica negroes, with a sprinkling of cross-breed Indians, Spaniards, and negroes; these are known as "Sambos."

Bluefields and Bananas.—Such as it is, Bluefields owes its prosperity chiefly to American enterprise and capital. The increasing demand in the States for bananas, and the proximity of the Mosquito country to New Orleans (the journey being only four days by steamer), induced some Americans of a speculative turn to explore the country, with a view to supplying the demand for the fruit. Their ventures were successful beyond expectation, the soil and climate being peculiarly adapted for banana grow-