CALAMBA TO BARCELONA -- 1 MAY to 16 JUNE 1882

4th day [aboard the Djemnah] (14 May -- Sunday)

I had a sad dream. I imagined that I was traveling with my sister Neneng and that we had reached a port. We disembarked, but as there were no boats, we had to wade to the shore. They said that there were many crocodiles and sharks there. When we reached land, the ground was sandy, but planted in some parts, and was full of vipers, snakes, and serpents. And on the path leading to my house there were many hanging boas, some were tied but were alive and menacing and the others dead. My sister and I were walking, she ahead and I behind. We were following one another. Sometimes we came across the dead ones; the live ones tried to get us but could not. But, at the end of that line, a real serpent, tied but menacing and angry, obstructed the road, leaving only a very small space to walk on. My sister succeeded to pass through, but I, despite my carefulness, was caught on the shirt and pulled. Because of my weakness, I looked for some support to hold on and I found none. I felt I was coming close to it and its tail seemed about to coil me. In the midst of my futile efforts, when I was seeing death in the form of loathsome rings, Pedro, the town carpenter, arrived who, with one blow, separated it from me. I escaped the danger and we reached the house. I no longer recall whose it was.

The following day I had another dream less frightful, but saddening. Imagine upon reaching Point Galle, I don't know why it occurred to me to return to my town confident that I could overtake the boat at Colombo. I saw my parents and they did not mention to me at all my trip and after my visit with them, I thought of continuing my journey. How great was my disappointment when I remembered that I had to start all over again, that I would not overtake the French mail boat and that I lacked money! To have to cross again the sea until Colombo when I should have been in Europe! I borrowed another one hundred pesos, resigned to stay in the fourth class. I was very sad and disappointed when a traveling companion came to me. But I woke up and I was in my berth. What could these dreams mean?

I mention these because they were the most notable things that happened to me until Point Calle, except the aforesaid seasickness which prevented me from eating one day. Let no one call me faint-hearted and superstitious, because I'm only recording my trip.

My contact with the foreigners is increasing. At last Wednesday came and the first thing we saw early in the morning was Point Galle.

POINT GALLE

A tropical vegetation formed by the elegant palm in the midst of which rise some small buildings; a sea that strikes the steep rocks producing abundant white foam. Perhaps Ithaca looked like this to the traveler, and some crafts swaying gently. Sailor, is this Ceylon, is that Point Galle, now English colony, formerly Dutch?

The engine is slowing; the port pilot arrives, and a quarter of an hour afterwards, we anchor.
Narrow canoes cut through the waters of the sea, but they are so narrow that they can hold only one man. Wide boats manned by Indians, some of whom come aboard, now offering us money, now to launder our clothes, and other things of the kind.

Are you going ashore? Here is the question that they ask one another.

The three Dutchmen and I went down. A wide boat took us ashore. The round trip cost one rupee.

We stopped at a kind of wooden pier and I saw a fort built by the Dutch. Above the gate can be seen the coat of arms of the Order of the Garter. We entered and took a coach.

First we saw the Protestant church, then the post office, and we went around the citadel. Her appearance was gloomy, but very gloomy, small houses on narrow streets, very even streets but with few people; here and there several Indians and children seated or sheltered in the dark doors. An excessive sadness reigned over the city whose inhabitants used to be numerous. Several pretty English houses, but not so cheerful, attract the attention of the traveler. We went out to the suburbs. Our coach was going well. The cicerone was very talkative and by what I understood we saw the English cemetery, Catholic church, Muslim mosque, and several schools. Numerous elegant coconut trees are seen on both sides of the street, mixed with small banana trees, tall nanca1 trees, and breadfruit with broad leaves. The general appearance of Point Galle is picturesque but lonely and quiet and at the same time sad. At times the road is on the border of a precipice; other times it forms a small but long valley between the mountains. The Indian houses are made of clay and stone and inside them can be seen women who perhaps look too masculine, but handsome. They are dressed like the women of my country, though without the picturesgue neckerchief and the well-known cleanliness. I saw a belle with large eyes and beautiful features on top of a high hill which rose on the road. She reminded me of Samtala (?). She was under the elegant palm, watching us pass by. What beautiful idylls and what terrible plots must take place under that swaying dome of the coconut trees! The Indians wear their hair long and gathered. They don't shave before puberty, it is difficult to distinguish by the face alone the two sexes. Children follow our coach asking for money and greeting us. I have never seen such beautiful and expressive eyes! (The drive cost one rupee.)

Afterward we went to the Oriental Hotel where I found several fellow passengers. While I was writing to my family, the time for lunch came. After this was over, I resumed my letter-writing. But my companions invited me for a drive and I went with them. We went to see the cinnamon garden. On the way were very beautiful, lonely landscapes and again coconut plantations.

The garden had nothing special, excepting the meddlesome keeper and the river which, it was said, was full of crocodiles. A dried one of these was hanging in a kind of pavilion. The cinnamon trees are like ours in the Philippines. They offered us some little pieces of stone of different colors.

We visited the temple of Buddha. We found the Indians prostrate with the forehead touching the floor, responding to a kind of mournful prayer. We entered and saw first notable fresco paintings in Egyptian style and afterwards large idols, that of Buddha being the largest, which must be about eight varas long, reclining, but with open eyes which were made of emeralds, costing $50 gold. Different kinds of flowers and bonga2 were the offerings. We left alms.

From there we went around and on the way I was told that that was Paradise.

I finished my letters and took them to the post office where I was cheated. It should cost half a peseta hut I was charged one and a half peseta.

The Buddhist priests who visited the Siamese were received by these very respectfully. They were wearing ordinary dress.

Expenses:
Boat -- 6$
Inn -- 1 -- 7$
Postage -- 1 -- 1$
Coach -- 1 -- 1$
[Total] -- 3 -- 15$

1Tagalog name for Artocarpus heterophyllus.

2Areca catechu Linn.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home