Page:Darwin Journal of Researches.djvu/145

This page has been validated.
1833.]
123
EXCURSION TO ST. FÉ.

 

CHAPTER VII.

 
Excursion to St. Fé—Thistle Beds—Habits of the Bizcacha—Little Owl—Saline Streams—Level Plains —Mastodon—St. Fé—Change in Landscape—Geology—Tooth of extinct Horse—Relation of the Fossil and recent Quadrupeds of North and South America—Effects of a great Drought—Parana—Habits of the Jaguar—Scissor-beak—Kingfisher, Parrot, and Scissor-tail—Revolution—Buenos Ayres—State of Government.

BUENOS AYRES TO ST. FÉ.

September 27th.—In the evening I set out on an excursion to St. Fé, which is situated nearly three hundred English miles from Buenos Ayres, on the banks of the Parana. The roads in the neighbourhood of the city, after the rainy weather, were extraordinarily bad. I should never have thought it possible for a bullock waggon to have crawled along: as it was, they scarcely went at the rate of a mile an hour, and a man was kept ahead, to survey the best line for making the attempt. The bullocks were terribly jaded: it is a great mistake to suppose that with improved roads, and an accelerated rate of travelling, the sufferings of the animals increase in the same proportion. We passed a train of waggons and a troop of beasts on their road to Mendoza. The distance is about 580 geographical miles, and the journey is generally performed in fifty days. These waggons are very long, narrow, and thatched with reeds; they have only two wheels, the diameter of which in some cases is as much as ten feet. Each is drawn by six bullocks, which are urged on by a goad at least twenty feet long: this is suspended from within the roof; for the wheel bullocks a smaller one is kept; and for the intermediate pair, a point projects at right angles from the middle of the long one. The whole apparatus looked like some implement of war.

September 28th.—We passed the small town of Luxan, where there is a wooden bridge over the river—a most unusual convenience in this country. We passed also Areco. The plains