Monday, January 19, 2009

To Cuba and Back by Richard Henry Dana JR.

Richard Henry Dana Jr.
Chapter VI Enero 18 2009 visita a Dana Point

If mosquito nets were invented for the pur-
pose of shutting mosquitoes in with you, they
answer their purpose very well. The beds
have no mattresses, an you lie on the hard
sacking . This favors coolness and neatness,.
I should fear a mattress , in the economy of
our hotel, al least. Where there in nothing
but an iron frame, canvas stretched over it,
and sheets and a blanket you may know
what you are dealing with.
The clocks of the churches and castles strike
the quarter hours , an at each stroke the
watchmen blow a kind a boatswain`s whis-
tle , an cry the time and the state of the
weather. which , from their name ( serenos),
should be always pleasant.
I have been advised to close the shutters
at night, whatever the heat , as the change of
air that often takes place before dawn is in-
jurious; an I notice that many of the bed-
rooms in the hotel are closed , both doors and
shutters, at night . This is too much for my
endurance, and I venture to leave the air to its
course, not beinf in the draught. One is also
cautioned not to step with bare feet on the
floor , for fear of the nigua ( or chingua ) , a very
small insect , that is said to enter the skin and
build tiny nest , and lay little eggs that can
only be seen by the microscope, but are tor-
menting and sometimes dangerous. This may
be excessive caution, but it is so easy to ob-
serve, that it is not worth while to test the
Saturday, February 19.- There are streaks
of a clear dawn ; it is nearly six o`clock , the
cocks are crowing, and the drums and trum-
pets soundinf. We have been told of sea-
baths , cut in the rock, near the Punta , at the
foot of our Paseo. I walk down, under the
trees, towards the Presidio. What is this
clanking sound ? Can it be cavalry , march-
ing on foot , their sabres rattling on the pave-
ment? No, it comes from that crowd of poor
looling creatures that are forming in files in
front of the Presidio. It is the chain-gang!
Poor wretches! I come nearer to them , and
wait until they are formed and numbered and
marched off. Each man has an iron band
riveted round his ankle , and another round
his waist, and the chain is fastened , one end
into each of these bands, and dangles between
them, clanking with every movement. This
leaves he wearers free to use their arms, and,
indeed their whole body , it being only a
weight and a badge and a note for discovery,
from which they cannot rid themselves. It is
kept on them day and night , working , eating,
or sleeping. In some cases , two are chained
together. They have passed their night in the
Presidio ( the great prison and garrison )., and
are marshalled for their day`s toil in the public
streets and on the public works , in the heat
if the sun. They look thoroughly wretched.
Can any of these be political offenders? It
is said that Carlists, from Old Spain , worked
in this gang. Sentence to the ching -gang in
summer , in the case of a foreigner, must be
nearly certain death.

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