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tentious edifices were seldom more than one story high. The walls were of brick or adobe, and the floors and roofs of red tile. The walls of the humbler residences were made of bamboo splits, wattled between clumsy posts set in the ground. The floors were the bare earth, and the roofs were of leaves or straw. Sometimes the walls were plastered inside and out, and neatly whitewashed: more frequently they were neither plastered nor whitewashed. The cooking was usually done in an adjoining shed or in the back yard, or sometimes on the sidewalk in front; and in either case never in anything but crude earthen vessels heated by little improvised charcoal fires.
The water used for domestic purposes had to be brought from the muddy caño, and was usually portaged on the backs of donkeys and peones. Sometimes it was filtered through a porous sandstone into an earthen vessel, and sometimes used in its crude state. Not a pound of ice could be found in the city; indeed nobody seemed to want it. A luxury unknown is a luxury never missed. When the well-to-do classes got tired of drinking tepid water, they would take beer or brandy by way of change; and their less opulent neighbors would resort to the native chichi and aguardiente. Everybody smoked, men and women, boys and girls; all could afford it where native cigars sold for a cent apiece, and a few cents would buy enough of cheap paper and tobacco to keep a whole family in cigarettes for a week. The public market was an open plaza, the bare sight of which would spoil the most ravenous appetite for a whole day. There were two little posadas or hotels, at may be had.
1 Adobe or adoube, seems to be a word of Egyptian origin. It describes a composition of gravel, sand and cement, which makes a very solid and substantial wall, and very durable in tropical climates.
2 Chichi is a decoction of maize and molasses ; Aguardiente is a cheap and villainous species of native brandy.
neither of which it was possible to secure a clean room, a decent bed, or a palatable meal of victuals.
Such was the Barranquilla of 1873, but not the Barranquilla of to-day; for during the past 27 years the place has undergone complete transformation.
The population has more than trebled — it being now about 35,000 — and quite contrary to the general experience, the ratio of increase has been greatest among the whites. This is generally accounted for by the influx of white settlers; and yet even the natural increase has been greatest among the whites. New and costly buildings have taken the place of former shanties. Where once stood only booths and sheds, are now respectable-looking business houses; and there is more than one hotel where a decent room and a clean bed
An excellent and well appointed market house has taken the place of the dirty old plaza. An admirable system of modern waterworks has been substituted for portages by donkey and peon. There are several excellent public schools in the place, besides private schools of a high grade. The streets are cleaner, people dress better, the general tone of society is better, the standard of public morality higher.
In short, there are a great many worse places for residence, not only in tropical America but in the United States.
Twenty-seven years ago the average annual exports hardly exceeded $3,000,000 in value; they now exceed $20,000,000. About two-thirds of these exports are to England, Germany and France, and in the order of precedence named. A small portion goes to Holland and Italy. Hitherto, we of the United States have been content with a few raw hides and a few bags of second and third class coffee; in exchange for which we have sent a few gallons of petroleum, a few sacks of flour, a little lard and a few cases of shoes. And yet whilst the ports of Barranquilla and Carthagena are fully three weeks' sail from most of the European markets, they are less than five days' sail from some of our Atlantic and Gulf coast cities. But there is no direct line of steamers between these Colombian ports and our own; the only available communication being by
tramp” steamers or by small chartered schooners. A cargo is usually reshipped two or three times before reaching its destination, and at a total cost of nearly double the freight rates to the European markets. And the strangest feature of all is, the apparent indifference of our national Congress to the obviously necessary means for increasing this trade; for hitherto every time a proposition has been made to put our ocean carrying trade in a condition to successfully compete with that of England and other European countries, it has been either quietly pigeon-holed in the Committee room or else thoughtlessly voted down in the Committee of the Whole.
The other Caribbean ports on the coast of Colombia are Rio Hache, Santa Marta, and San José de Cúcuta. The two first named are now, and have been for some time, practically “dead towns,” in so far at least as
” exterior commerce is concerned. In the early colonial days, Santa Marta was a place of considerable importance; and some years ago an effort was made to revive it by connecting it by railroad with the Magdalena river, in the hope of diverting a portion of the interior trade from Barranquilla and Carthagena. But the enterprise failed for want of capital, and was never revived. Rio Hache has a fine harbor, but little or no exterior trade. Cúcuta has a fertile and productive region at the back of it, accessible for some distance by water navigation. But in 1876, the city was nearly destroyed by an earthquake, from the effects of which it has never entirely recovered. It is, however, a place of considerable business importance, and seems likely to become, some day in the future, one of the principal commercial marts of the Republic.
THE VALLEY OF THE MAGDALENA
\HE river Magdalena and its numerous tribu
taries drain an immense area of some 15,000 square miles.
The river valley proper extends from the coast, where it is over 100 miles wide, due southward to an apex in the heart of the central range of the Andes.
The drainage basin branches off at various points, after the first 150 miles from the coast, into a number of smaller valleys and coves, the largest of which is the Cauca, between the western and central cordilleras.
The coast region of the valley is subject to periodical overflows, and no serious attempt has ever been made to reclaim it for agricultural purposes. This, however, might be easily accomplished, and doubtless will be some day when agricultural lands become more valuable, by a system of dykes similar to those on the lower Mississippi. It is certainly a more promising region for such an enterprise than was the lower Schelde, in the Netherlands, before the Dutch successfully reclaimed it from the floods many centuries ago; or than were the Demerara and Essequibo deltas in Guayana, which the same pertinacious people brought under successful cultivation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As it is, the lower portion of the Magdalena valley is alternated by half-submerged swamp and low grassy plain, and is seldom utilized for anything more