Monday, December 20, 2010

Stephens and Catherwood (6): Mico Mountain

The next section of their journey into the Guatemalan interior was a white-knuckle mule trail up a steep and forested incline, where the pair had to dodge mud-holes, projecting tree roots and sudden torrents. "Withal, I felt that our inglorious epitaph might be, 'tossed over the head of a mule, brained by the trunk of a mahogany tree, and buried in the mud of the Mico Mountain,'" Stephens writes, recalling the dark premonitions which accompanied their expedition at this stage.

Nearing the summit of this most ferocious of glorified hills, they then had a most unexpected encounter...

"When, at a sudden turn, we met a solitary traveller. He was a tall, dark-complexioned man, with a broad-brimmed Panama hat, rolled up at the sides; a striped woolen Guatemala jacket, with a fringe at the bottom; plaid pantaloons, leather spatterdashes, spurs, and saddle, and the butts of a pair of horseman's pistols peeped out of the holsters. His face was covered with sweat and mud; his breast and legs were spattered and his right side was a complete incrustation; altogether, his appearance was fearful.

"It seemed strange to meet anyone on such a road; and, to our surprise, he accosted us in English. He has set out with muleteers and Indians, but had lost them in some of the winding of the woods, and he was seeking his way alone. He had crossed the mountain twice before, but had never known it so bad; he had been thrown twice; once his mule rolled over him, and nearly crushed him; and now she was so frightened that he could hardly urge her along. He dismounted and the trembling beast and his own exhausted state confirmed all that he had said.

"He asked us for brandy, wine or water, anything to revive him; but, unfortunately, our stores were ahead, and for him to go back one step was out of the question. Imagine our surprise, when, with his feet buried in the mud, he told he had been two years in Guatemala 'negotiating' for a bank charter. Fresh as I was from the world of banks, I almost thought he intended a fling at me; but he did not look like one in a humour for jesting; and, for the benefit of those who will regard it as an evidence of incipient improvement, I am able to state that he had the charter secured when he rolled over in the mud, and was then on his way to England to sell the stock."


Begonia said...

When you do these excerpts, can you link back to the blog where the complete entry is recounted? I am having trouble finding it via a google search.

Do you have any guesses as to what part of the country they were in? I am assuming they have now left Rio Dulce and are on their way through the Verapaces to Guatemala City?

GC said...

It looks to me as if the blog is a work in progress which is no longer making much progress. It has been stuck in Oct 1839 for a while.

The second part of this book is available as a free download online. (See Gutenberg or Feedbooks) However the first part, from which I am currently snatching excerpts is out of print at the moment.

I have found references to the Mico Mountain range as 'just south' of the Rio Dulce, so they were still in the modern dept of Izabal at this stage.