LETTERS and DIARIES of Dorothy Dix

 

 

Dorothy Dix (Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer)

 

Travel Journal – South America, 1933

 

Transcribed and edited by Elinor Howell Thurman, 2002.

 

 

 

[Transcribed on flyleaf:]

 

E. M. Gilmer

6334 Prytania st. New Orleans, La

 

1933

Trip to South America

 

[This and the previous record of her trip to the South Sea Islands, New Zealand and Australia are written in the same journal.]

 

 

1933

 

July 10 –

 

     Left N.O. at 10 p.m for N.Y.

 

 

July 15 – [1933]

 

     Sailed for South America on the Southern Prince (Furness Line) Capt Massam in command[.]  Pleasant but uneventful voyage.  Tablemates two very pleasant ladies[,] Mrs Elizabeth Saxany Holding, short story writer & Miss Jane Sheridan -  Ben Hecht the lion aboard[.]

 

 

July 28 – [1933]

 

     Arrived Rio de Janerio [sic] shortly after midnight.  Got up at 5 to see the sun rise.  Grand spectacle -  A still quiet night with the stars paling into dawn – the sun coming up like thunder over the mountains turning them into purple & crimson & gold thro which gleamed wanly a gigantic white figure of Christ standing on the top of the highest peak, while down at the foot of the mountains lay the sleeping city, its long string of gleaming electric lights following the curve of the harbor making you think of a drunken harlot who had gone to bed with her diamond necklace on.

 

     Donnaud & Eloise Bently met me & in the afternoon Eloise took me in her car on a long & fascinating ride thro wide avenues & little crooked streets & up & down mountain trails.  Rio is a hodgepodge of 3 cities – Naples for the beauty of its gleaming water & background of mountains – Barcelona for its jumble of bizarre architecture & Honolulu for flowers – hibiscus & roses & purple & crimson bougainvillea & its as beautiful as all three combined.

 

     Am staying at the Hotel Gloria[.]  Beautiful view & grand food[.]

 

 

July 29 – [1933]

 

     At 9.30 Mr Noa – the boy friend provided by the American Express arrived with a fine open car with the top down, and we drove along the series of beautiful bays, seven in number that make the water front of Rio.  Nothing could be lovelier than the blue bay dotted with little islands, with always the frowning heigths [sic] of Corcovado looking down upon them -  We went thro miles of quaint streets with houses whose architecture took on every fantastic shape that it is possible to give bricks & mortor [sic] – Moorish looking houses with tile borders – houses that were job lots of towers & cupolas, houses with all sorts of statues on the roof -  Evidently the Brazilian taste is very ornate for every public building is lavishly & sy[m]bolically adorned -  But they are grand for all that –

 

     We went out to see the old palace of Dom Pedro, now a museum[.]  It is a big brownish yellow structure in the midst of a lovely park.  In it is a small aquarium with a curious cannibal fish that eats people.  It is a small blue fish with a snub nose, & a dumb face, but let any flesh appear near it, & millions of it fall upon its victim & devour it in a few minutes.  They say a man attacked by it will bleed to death before he can reach the bank, even if it is only 10 ft away -  It is a fresh water fish & abounds in rivers, & stockmen test every stream before trying to ford it with animals[.]  The guide said that not long ago a murderer who was being hunted down tried to escape by jumping into a river, but he was attacked before any one could reach him by these fish & literally devoured alive & his screams of agony were frightful[.]

 

     In the afternoon went with the B’s to the top of Sugar Loaf Mt, which is accomplished by means of an ascent to a low lying hill, then being shunted in a cage – like the cash in a department store – to the top of Sugar Loaf – across a valley a mile wide & goodness knows how high -  We staid up on the mountain – or rather the second one – and had dinner on a terrace[,] a most scrumptious meal with a view that has no equal scarcely in the world – the whole city spread out like a scintilating [sic] jewel on the breast of nature, the water front outlined by strings of electric lights, and the wide expanses of blue water growing bluer and bluer as night fell until all was black except where the moon lay a silver band across it – no words can describe the beauty of Rio because it is the favorite child of nature, which has covered up all its man made defects with bougainvillea.  No other city has such monstrosities in the way of architecture yet even these become quaint & interesting in their exotic setting, so that you dont wonder that the new rich taste of a generation ago ran to cupolas & towers & statuary[.]

 

     The street scenes are very interesting[.]  I am particularly intrigued by the fruit & vegetable vendors who carry hughe [sic] flat baskets on their heads & on their arms a little folding stand – like [word crossed out: the] suit case racks – which they set up & on which they deposit their wares when making a sale.  Quaint too are the men who carry their poultry slung in hampers on either side of a mangy pony.

 

     It seems that when the street car system was inaugurated here that the money was obtained by the sale of bonds.  The Brazilians had no knowledge of what either a street car or a bond was so they got their terms mixed & called the cars bonds, which nomenclature goes to this day.  They say “take the bondie to so- & so” –

 

 

July 30 – [1933]

 

     Eloise drove me up to Petropolis, a mountain resort about 60 miles – where the rich & diplomats have their summer homes. Old Dom Pedro built the road to it & had his summer palace there -  It is now used as a school -  The drive is very beautiful with gorgeous mountain views everywhere, the mountains as azure as the blue ridge[.]

 

 

July 31 – [1933]

 

     Went to see Mr Thurstons garden & Brasillian house in the morning -  To tea at Eloise[‘s] lovely home in the afternoon.  Went for another drive along the beautiful Beira Mar which is one of the loveliest seaside avenues in the world.  It fronts the water on one side – has ornate residences on the other & part of the way is laid out in a formal garden with flowers & fountains –

 

 

Aug 1 – [1933]

 

     Long & lonely rainy day at hotel alone -  Late in afternoon went for a walk along the Beira Mar -  The hills start from the water front almost, and the cross streets are, many of them, just endless flights of steps from one street to another.  The houses are built into the mountain, with great retaining walls to keep them from sliding into the sea & this gives them fascinating entrances – always steps often of exquisitely wrought iron ascending in graceful curves.  Sometimes in towers that are tilled [tiled] & replicas of Moorish minarets even to the little bubble on top.  The houses are of every imaginable hue – some with landscape[s] painted on the outer walls – others a medley of purple & greens & blues, that make a street look like a wrecked rainbow -  Many have all sorts of statues, cupids & horns of plenty etc on the outside, & the facade ornamented with every variety of beast & mythological creature -  The top of the palace in which the real business of government is carried on has so many eagles atop it looks like a buzzards roost.

 

     The most interesting woman I have met so far is Madame Musquita, a middle aged Brazillian [sic] who is much interested in public works, & is president of the Girls [sic] Scouts -  She’s beautiful in her way -  Talking of the modern emancipation of girls she said she recognized that it had to come here as elsewhere, & that parents were too strict but she thought the change from the old Order to the new had come too quickly – the girls were not prepared for it.  And after all she sagely remarked “theres nature[.]  We cant abolish that.”

 

     In the old regime among the better classes when sons & daughters married they brought their families home – but now they are setting up their own homes & theres a great demand for small apartments[.]  Among the aristocrats marriages are still arranged by the parents, which leaves the man free to amuse himself, but ties the girl down to home & babies, or else gives rise to scandal if she takes on a boy friend.

 

 

Aug 2 – [1933]

 

     Fine ride up the mountain to Tijuca from which we looked down on Sugar Loaf which appeared a mere bump in the landscape, & upon the city -  Passed a beautiful waterfalls [sic], & the devils rocks -  Went to dinner at the Marshalls – nice time.

 

 

Aug 3. [1933]

 

     Went shopping with Eloise in the morning.  In the evening went to the opera.  The opera house is magnificent[,] cost 7 million & is paterned [sic] after the grand opera in Paris – magnificent sweep of staircase up wich [sic] the ladies can parade their finery.  Inside 3 rows of boxes – all fashionable Brazil there in its best diamonds.  Everybody very swanky – one colored lady in pink satin sat right in front of us – probably more Indian than Negro as her skin was like gold bronze[.]  Her sister, with her, white -  Had many notables pointed out[.]

 

 

Aug 4 – [1933]

 

    Went shopping.  Bought toothpick holder in the morning.  In afternoon went out to the cemetery where on the most gorgeous marble tombs are framed photos of deceased.  One very remarkable tomb of an assasinated [sic] president shows him shot in the back while trying to steer the ship of state.  Next to that is the tomb of Santos Dumont, the aviator – surmounted by the bronze statue of an angel with outspread wings -  In evening went to the Evills for dinner -  Queer name.  Another I saw in the paper was Weatherhog.

 

 

Aug 5 [1933] 

 

     Went to lunch at Mrs Fred Sopers, wife of the head of the Rockefeller Institute here who have done so much to stamp out yellow fever -  Later went to cocktail party at Mrs Rhils[.]

 

 

Aug 6 [1933]

 

     Long drive up Corvocardo & around about in morning with Mr Noa -  At 3 went to Jockey Club to see big sweepstake race run -  Immense crowd of Brazilian fashionables[.]

 

 

Aug 7 – [1933]

 

     Went to Nichteroy, capital of the State of Rio with Mr Noa – lunch at Mrs Danforths.  Spoke at Womans Club[.]

 

 

Aug 8 [1933]

 

     Left at 9 for all day trip to Lages, the hydroelectric plant that supplies Rio with light & power[.]  Wonderful drive up mountains -  Guest of Mr & Mrs Bevan – went up to see the dam that makes the reservoir where 2 rivers are drained into basin.  Fine ride in powerboat over the lake[.]  Interesting story of their coming 35 yrs ago - & of their entertaining Kipling[.]  Dinner at Wallensteins -  On the trip was Miss Williams[,] teacher of Central Am history whom we met in the Dixie -  Jolly old maid now writing biography of Dom Pedro – has been in Portugal getting up data[.]

 

 

Aug 9 – [1933]

 

     All day trip over the bay & to a large & beautiful island with the Bentlys & Sopers -  Island almost a duplicate for Bermuda – bougainvillea & flowers everywhere – Had lunch at the Texico plant – grand feed –

 

 

Aug 10 [1933]

 

     Lunch with B’s at Jockey Club -  Went to Madame Mousquitas to see her girl guides – afterwards to her house to see it -  Typical Brazilian of the aristocratic class – such furniture as I’ve never seen – hughe [sic] rooms full of carved rosewood that they call jacaranda.  Showed us pictures of their coffee plantation -  Bright aquamarines -  Fool that I am!

 

 

Aug 11 – [1933]

 

      Went riding with the B’s.  Went boat at 5 – flowers from the B’s, Soper, Marshalls etc –

 

     Recollections of Brazil – people [word crossed out: very] mixed race – 90% mixed blood -  In many families all children fair except one who will be a throwback – no reflection on anybody.  Very proud of country – say God was a Brazillian [sic] -  Very loose morals but girls must keep pure until wedding night, if not can be returned.  After wedding -- !  Men generally kind & affectionate husbands & fathers[,] delight in indulging their families[.]  Even if they do sidestep – hang wives with jewels -  Women spend much time in beauty shops especially on their hair which is combed & curled & waved with absolute precision – they dress smartly, but are very imperfect ablutioners.  Among men the coat seems to be the hall mark of caste – wear one if it is your only garment – no man can enter a street car unless he has on coat & necktie -  Children can not enter scool [sic] unless they have on one shoe[.]  So a pair outfits 2 youngsters[.]  Servants very temperamental – have to correct one like you were handling the league of nations – but the trained ones run the house so the mistress doesn’t even know what is to be served for a meal -  When a man corrects one of his employees he not infrequently kills himself – says he has been disgraced before his fellows -  Educated people nearly all speak several languages[.]  Beef cattle are hardly bigger than calves & meat tough & stringy -  The surface of Brazil has not been scratched -  There are vast stretches of it into which no white man has ever penetrated –

 

Aug 12 – [1933]

 

     Arrived at Santos at 7.  Mrs Kelly met me & drove me around Santos, the biggest coffee exporting port in the world -  Quaint narrow [word crossed out: old] streets, in the old part, big wide Avenidas in the new -  Used to have much yellow fever, but a few years ago six wide canals were cut across the city thro which the tides from the [word crossed out: city] ocean flow & wash it out, & that has killed the musquitoes [sic] -  Started out across the marshes for the big commercial city of San Paulos [sic] – passed the dump where hundreds of thousands of pounds of coffee are being burned, a costly offering to the god of commerce[.]  Then climbing the mountains to Sao Paulo 3000 ft above sea level – our asthmatic Ford panting & blowing & occasionally stopping to draw its breath -  The city very handsome[,] grand monuments – a lovely old palace in which Dom Pedro first proclaimed that Brazil had seceeded [sic] from Spain & was setting up as an independent kingdom – Sao Paulo looks like any up & hustling American city, with a Portuguese slant if such a thing can be -  Went out to Butantan, the famous snake farm, where death is corralled in little cement igloos enclosed in a cement wall, within which is a little moat -  In every hut coiled one or more of the venimus [sic] reptiles, some were lying with their heads in the grass – others sunning themselves[.]  One of the attendants showed how they pinned a snake down with a stick with a heavy looped wire at the end while they grasped the beast firmly just back of the head & forced his mouth over a small glass saucer[.]  Instantly the enraged snake spat forth a thick yellowish drop of poison from each fang into the saucer.  I could see the long forked tooth from which it came - & hear it click on the glass -  The snake thus “milked” was a fer de lance whose bite is practically instantaneous death[.]  They take the venom from these snakes every 2 days, & it exhausts them so they rarely live longer than 7 mo -  This institute sends its serum all over the world, but in Brazil alone it saves thousands of people & live stock every year[.]

 

     In the museum is a hideous collection of plaster casts & amputated limbs showing the horrors of snake bite[.]

 

 

Aug 15 [1933]

 

     Arrived Montevideo at 7.  Ride thro city – saw new state house[,] gorgeous – with 62 kinds of marble all found within 50 miles of the city – saw the beaches – but missed the pretty residential section.  Reached Buenos Aires at 10 p m[.]

 

 

Aug 16 – [1933]

 

     Six newspaper representatives called, took my pictures & made hideous snap shots of me -  Mrs Hallett invited me to dinner – Mrs Barrett to the womans club – Mrs White, wife Am [American] charge d’affaires to dinner, also Bore, so I shall not starve[.]  In the afternoon went with Miss O’Grady all over the town in a taxi.  Everything very lovely & resplendent – flat like N.O. – same growth – looks as N.O. might if somebody would dress her up[.]

 

 

Aug 17 [1933]

 

     Am Express man came -  Went to the fine & gorgeous old cathedral, built in 17 something – In one of the crypts is the tomb of San Martin, the national hero who liberated Argentina, a magnificent mausoleum in bronze & marble – 2 soldiers stand guard over it every morning until noon when it is locked up.  Today was the 83 anniversary of the heros death & there was a beautiful ceremony of soldiers saluting his lasting [sic] resting place & placing flowers on his tomb[.]  In all the parks & especially at the Plaza San Martin were similar ceremonies & much fervid oratory[.]

 

     Went thro the magnificent Jockey club which has a stair way of green & gold onyx - & another of carved wood -  Magnificent tapestry covered walls, famous painting etc.  No building in the U.S is in a mile of it.  In the cellar are 250 000 bottles of wine – The Jockey club runs the races & until recently has been most prosperous, but now is feeling the depression.  To join the gorgeousness only requires an initiation fee of $1000 & $4 a month dues.  This also gives your entree free to the races.  A certain % of all their earnings goes to charity.  After that we rode down the Calle Florida where fashionable women shop from 11 to 1 -  After 4 the street is closed to trafic [sic] & it becomes a curious parade of the sexes – the girls diked out to show their best points & the men frankly appraising them & making audible remarks about her shape, her complexion, her clothes.  A man will circle all around a girl viewing her from every angle & then follow her if the result pleases him.  Far from resenting this the girls court it, & go home & weep if they have not been insulted.

 

     My guide says Argentina is the mens paradise, but not so good for women.  A man thinks he has a perfect right to have as many affairs as he pleases on the side.  In fact practically every man has a mistress but woe betide the woman who gets in a scandal.  Theres no divorce - & if a wife leaves her husband for any cause she is ostracized[.]  There are big families, who live together – sometimes as many as 50 sit down to the table every day.  Girls have a little more liberty -  It used to be when a man asked a girl to the opera he had to buy 15 to 20 tickets – now only Mother & Auntie & perhaps Grandma go along[.]  The women spend hours on their toilettes & are perfectly groomed when thro.  They buy French finery & generally hope to go to Paris when they die –

 

     Drove by the homes – palaces as big as hotels – of the Beef Barons & Sheep Kings -  One enormous place belongs to a widow who owns 250 square miles of land in Cordova.  Others are equally rich –

 

[Note at top of page:] Father Fahey – priest who settled Irish in Argentina[.]

 

 

Aug 18 [1933]

 

     Went to Riccoleta cemetery where the tombs are the most ornate I have ever seen & jammed together[.]  Millions sunk in marble & bronze[.]  Many of the tombs have cripts [sic] leading down, with carpeted stair ways.  The cemetery was full of men with pales [sic] & scrubbing brushes & dusters cleaning the tombs & putting fresh flowers on them -  At the gateway was a handsome carved stand with calling cards & a box to receive them where all who came to the funeral left their names[.]

 

 

[Note at top of page:] Pronounce Calle Cazje – Cuolje[.]

 

     Went into zoo to see the llamas & alpacas & guanacos which [word crossed out: resemble] have a head like a deer, a neck like a camel & a body like a greyhound & can spit 40 ft – a vile smelling poisonous liquor.  The llama is also an accomplished expectorant & can spend [send] a shower several ft up in the air – the llamas are the beast of burden for much of the mountainous region[.]

 

 

Aug 19 – [1933]

 

     Went out to a famous estancia[.]  The family who own it consists of 11 brothers & one sister & their holdings here & elsewhere cover 30 leagues of ground.  The place I visited is the home farm of only 35,000 acres – a place where they bring the fine horses & cows from the other ranches – they have just taken the prize for Hereford cattle -  The house, very old, is big as a hotel & is situated in a vast park, & is built in the Spanish fashion – yellow stucco & blue tiles & many patios -  There was a big stable yard where they were grooming polo ponies & a field where they were being exercised for they specialize in them - & great fields full of fat cattle -  The sister[’s] house, just being finished was a copy of a Frech [French] chateaux [sic] – very ornate.

 

 

Aug 20 – [1933]

 

     Went to see Argentina dance in the famous opera house – next in grandeur to the one in Rio -  There are six galleries & all were packed -  [word crossed out: In] The lower gallery, on a level with the pit, the boxes are called the “mourners” boxes because they are grilled & have curtains & here people who are wearing mourning & not supposed to be interested in worldly amusements can come & see the show & be hidden from the public.  Here also the famous demi mondaine are brought by their gentlemen friends & discreetly hidden from wives who are occupying the family box –

 

     The house was packed & so I got to see Argentine society.  The show began at 6 o’clock P.M & was in effect, a mattinee [sic].  The women are not pretty according to my taste, & they still show their peasant ancestry -  They intermarry & that intensifies they [sic] Irish-German-or Italian racial features.  They are hard looking, with long necks & big noses, of which they are said to be proud, but the salient feature – the thing you notice most about every woman is her hair, quantities of it, & looking as if she had just walked out of the beauty shop -  All wore precisely the same bob – neck length, hair parted in middle, & waved to a mathematical undulation –  Nearly every frock was some combination of black & white & nearly every woman had on a silver fox draped across her shoulders -  Some had authentic Paris frocks, but more were the local dressmakers copy of some extreme thing in Vogue – for French importations have to pay a terrible duty -  Speaking as a casual observer I should say B.A women are awful copy cats.  I never saw so many women & so little individuality in clothes, & I have a hunch that a snappy N.Y dress shop could make a killing[.]

 

     One of the things I can’t understand about So Am is why they turn day into night & vice versus [sic].  Nobody dines before 9 - & if you invite guests they rarely show up before 10 -  Six o’clock is the cocktail hour – after that you go to the early movies – or to the club if you are a man – then home to dinner -  The children are up all hours -  At 2 A.M you’ll see tots coming home from the cinema with their parents – or playing on the streets, & people will be strolling around as if it was midday[.]  A very intelligent Englishman who has lived for many years in the country says that in judging a persons age here always take off 10 years -  If a man or woman looks 40 they are probably barely 30 -  At 60 they are old people.  He attributes this to the hours they keep[.]

 

 

Aug 21 – [1933]

 

     Went to 2 of the famous night clubs which don’t deserve their high reputation as far as I could see[.]  One was “Africa” in which the atmosphere of an African Kraal is supposed to be obtained by covering the walls with ordinary straw matting & having a Negro band play jazz.  Then to the “Novelty” the swanky place where the decorations are in the new art mode to see them dance the tango which isn’t nearly so aluring [sic] on its native heath as on the stage.  We regard the tango as a dance of seduction, but its an almost solemn movement – all the tango music is about broken hearts, & death & sorrow –

 

 

Aug 22 – [1933]

 

     Just bummed around doing nothing[.]

 

 

Aug 23 [1933]

 

     Arose at 5 a.m – at 6.30 went out to the aviation field to start, and waited around until noon for the sun to come out – it continuing to remain cloudy returned to hotel –

 

 

Aug 24 – [1933]

 

     Fine day, so at 9.30 or thereabouts we got off to fine start[.]  It was very interesting flying over the pampas which just now is being plowed for spring planting & is cut up into little brown & green squares.  Here & there were trees around some estancia – or a lone herdsman hut[.]  Thousands of horse[s] & cattle milled around like bugs crawling over a rug.  Now & then we flew over great flocks of ostriches & once over a herd of deer, and then about 1 o’clock we reached Mendoza, & were told that we would have to stay the night as a big snow storm was raging in the mountains.  A chubby & portly & gallant gentleman took Miss Vail & me in charge & escorted us to the hotel – Don Carlos by name, a very wealthy man, educated in England, who acts as official host to the Panagra people.  He has a battered old Ford that runs like a race horse & in it he took us thro’ the parks, & up on the mountain where they have erected the most dramatic monument I have ever seen.  On the very edge of a cliff overlooking the town they have placed on a monstrous boulder a great epic bronze of San Martin the liberator of Argentina who lived at Mendoza & whose camp was just about where the airport is now -  The bas relief shows on one side the old monk teaching the people how to mould bullets, on another the women of Mendoza giving San Martin their jewels to raise funds to carry on the war – on the other the stress & strain of trying to cross the Andes, & the horror of battle -  On the very top of the monument stands the angel of freedom with the broken fetters of slavery in her hand – under this is a crowded huddle of people, soldiers in uniform, gauchos with their horses, weary mules with heads hanging down & parts of  [word crossed out: cannon] gun carriages on their backs, ox teams - & out in front a lone figure – a tired, worn, gaunt man on a gaunt horse – San Martin -  There’s fire in that monument – theres fury in it. 

 

     Don Carlos also took us to a big wine making establishment, for Mendoza is the heart of the wine making industry, & far up the mountains to a great thermal establishment -  One night there was a great banquet & much speach [sic] making – 1500 men -  They say an Argentine is born with the gift of gab & that no matter whether he has any education or not, or anything to say he just has to open his mouth & lovely words & rounded periods roll out -  He never stop[s] to think, never pauses or hesitates, he just talks[.]  So universal is this talent that every speaker has to be limited to time, & when his time is up, they whistle & he sits down with perfect suavity, merely remarking he had a great deal more to say on the subject –

 

     Staid in Mendoza 4 days – [words crossed out: then on]  The Panagra has weather stations all along the route, especially by the pass [word crossed out: thro] over the mountains thro which they must sail -  On this highest peak live 2 young men who go up in the fall & never come out again until Spring.  Day after day these radioed that a heavy snow was falling, or a wind like a huricane [sic] blowing, so we waited for the break that didnt come until Monday.  Then on the 28 we were hastily summoned[,] rushed out to the airport & were off.  The mountains come right down to Mendoza & rise abruptly out of the plain, so we began climbing for altitude from the moment we left the ground.  Up & up we went, fighting a heavy wind that almost stopped us, until by & by we reached the top of the foot hills & were out in the open with Mendoza just a huddle of toy houses in the distance & all about us snow clad peaks -  No imagination can picture the grandeur of that scene[.]  Miles & miles of a mountain range that was carved out of alabaster on which you looked down as if you were a god from [word crossed out: heaven] on high -  Here a frozen lake that was a sheet of jade, there a snow clad cliff caught the sun & turned into a cascade of jewels, rubies & emeralds & saphires [sic] & diamonds.  A gigantic condor, which the [word crossed out: natives] Indians believe to be a lost soul wandering between heaven & hell & finding sanctuary in neither, swooped down from its eyrie on some far rock, & circled above our plane.  For a moment the two winged things, one created by God, the other made by man, flew almost side by side, then the bird plunged downward into the abyss below, following forever its hopeless quest –

 

     That was the only living thing we saw, but far, far below were tiny threads that marked the old immemorial [word crossed out: parks] trails across the mts that the Indians had followed for God only knows how many centuries before the coming of the white man; that the conquistadores toiled over in their mad search for the fabled gold of the Incas, that priests trod bearing a new religion that they preached with torture & blood, that San Martins & Bolivars stained & ragged armies [word crossed out: dyed] toiled over with agony & death marking their every mile in their fight to drive the Spaniards out of the new world – [sentence crossed out: No roads in the world have known more suffering than these - & now here were we]  Weeks – months – years of toil & sweat & agony to cross these iron, rock bound mountains in the past, & here were we, sealed in a heated plane, 20000 ft in the air, gliding above them at the rate of 200 miles an hour, with 2 beardless American boys guiding the magic carpet on which we were riding.

 

     On & on we went – over the Christ of the Andes, a stark, bleak, black figure outlined against the snow, made of the melted cannon of Argentina & Chile when they signed peace, as a pledge they would never go to war again -  Past Aconcagua the highest mountain in the Western hemisphere, & then the tossing & the beating of the winds in the dangerous Passover, we glided safety [safely] down into the green air field of Santiago and the most glorious, the most thrilling ride in the world was over[.]

 

 

Aug 29 – [1933]

 

     Went for ride around Santiago -  Attractive small city with gorgeous background of snow clad mountains -  Just now the flowering peach is in bloom & the city is like a pink bouquet -  Very fine Jockey clubs – lovely old dim churches[,] pretty little parks, one is especially pointed out as the one where the revolutions all start.  When the Spaniard first took possession of what is now Santiago they located their citadel on a high rock & this has now been turned into a park[.]

 

 

Aug 30 – [1933]

 

     Went shopping but bought nothing -  Ride up mountain to shrine of the Virgin & out into the country.  Mrs. Owens came to see me & informed me that the women had planned a series of entertainments for me – which makes me feel kindly towards Mendoza -  Had my 4th interview -  Heavens!

 

 

Aug 31 – [1933]

 

     Went by train to Valpariso [Valparaiso,] sea port of Santiago -  City built into the side of the mountain, & streets so steep it makes you dizzy as you skid down them in a car -  Drove down to Vina del Mar, one of the handsomest sea side places I ever saw -  Gorgeous home[s] & a grand casino -  Many of the wealthy Santiagans have their summer homes here –

 

 

Sep 1 – [1933]

 

     Sailed at 8 on the Santa Barbara – Capt Anderson in command[.]

 

 

Sep 2-3-4-5-6- [1933]

 

     Placid voyage along the Chilean coast -  Very bleak & bare, but the alkali hills that front the water take on a beautiful whitish-yellowish-pinkish hue whenever there is a glimpse of sun which is not often -  We are in the Humbolt current which makes the air cold & damp & the skies gray -  Stopped at Mollendo, which like all the other places is a forlorn looking huddle along the shore with never a speck of green -  The boat anchors out in the sea & small boats bring out the passengers & freight who are loaded on with difficulty -  We have not been able to go ashore at a single place, not even Antofagasta –

 

 

Sep 7 – [1933]

 

     Spent the day at Lima, the ancient City of the Kings -  Debarked at Callao – drove up to Lima, about 8 miles distance along a fine auto road.  Saw the street that tradition says was paved with silver, the beautiful old cathedral whose corner stone Pizarro laid & Pizzarro [sic] himself lying in a glass casket & getting rather moth eaten.  Beside him is a brass tube containing documents that show that these bones are authentic -  Blazoned on the walls of the crypt are the names of his captains who assisted in murdering & cheating the poor Incas -  Across the plaza is government building, & the palace built on the site of the ones Pizzarro [sic] erected & in a court you can see the spot where Pizzarro [sic] was murdered -  The Cathedral contains some fine Murillos & other paintings & a solid silver altar -  The hughe [sic] candlesticks were once of gold but they have long since been melted down & now gold plaited [sic] ones take their place –

 

     Went also to the Torre-Tagle – a superb mansion built by one of the colonial Treasurers who must have been a grand financier -  The house is a Spanish palace – built around many patios – the tiles brought from Spain, the fine woods from Central America, the pictures – Rembrandts etc from Europe.  In the central court is a huge lions head from which once hung the scales on which was weighed the gold & silver the Incas were forced to produce as tribute.

 

     In another palace now occupied as the Senate chamber is a room with a marvelous carved ceiling & window & door frames – all of cedar – in which the Inquisition once sat to decide on the fate of the poor devils who were even suspected of harboring a heretical thought, & who were confined in a dungeon underneath.  No free thought in those days.  The Inca museum was very interesting.  They had reached such skill in weaving that they used twice as many threads to a square inch as we have ever been able to do.  Their pottery was beautifully made -  There were many mumys [mummies] of dead & gone gentlemen, all burried [sic] in a squatting position, with their tools & implements beside them, in a big round basket -  Many skulls showed nice round holes where they had evidently been trepanned –

 

     Drove out to Mira flores (see the flowers) a beautiful suburb – where the foreigners mostly live -  Had lunch with Mr & Mrs Jesse M. Van Law, a nice young couple of the Panagra -  The architecture of Lima is beautiful[,] many of the old houses having the Moorish closed balconies that are so picturesque –

 

 

Sep 8-9- [1933]

 

     Still pursuing the coast.  Stopped the morning at our first Equadorian [sic] port, just off Guyaquill [Guayaquil] but couldnt go ashore -  Left the Humbolt current sometime during night, for which praise be –

 

 

Sep 12 – [1933]

 

     Arrived at Balboa at 8 p.m.  Went ashore with Mr & Mrs Quackenbos who drove me all over the city -  Went to the famous Tivoli hotel for a mean drink.  Then to Kellys night club, supposed to be very gay, where we met many of our shipmates.

 

     Next morning at 5 – I got up, & left the ship as it started thro’ the locks at 6 -  Waited an hour & a half for the train & then went across to Christobal.  Took my bags down to the dock to the Standard Fruit boat Contessa, went shopping, drove all over the city, & sailed at noon –

 

 

Sep 14 [1933]

 

     Stopped at Puerto Cabanas & loaded banannas [sic].  Nicaragua.  Near here was where Sandino, the bandit killed 8 young Americans in the most brutal fashion.  Hacking them to pieces with machetes, when they were not even resisting.

 

 

Sep 15 – [1933]

 

     Stopped at Ceiba, Honduras, for banannas [sic], but could not load until midnight as it was their local independence day.  Had dinner with some charming people, the Felix Lloveras –

 

 

Sep 18 [1933]

 

     Reached home at 3. p.m. – and so ended a most delightful summer vacation.

 

 

 

[The following newspaper article is pasted just below the final entry in the journal:]

 

“Dorothy Dix Returns”

 

     “She walks among us so demure of mien that we have come to accept the local residence of Dorothy Dix as just another of the special dispensations of Providence in our behalf.  She counts her personal friends by thousands, yet she must pass on the street other thousands, unheeding and unaware that she is the most widely known and widely beloved woman in the world.  Then, at intervals, she goes far afield, to other continents and to odd corners of the earth, sometimes to places almost but not quite as far as her writing is read and pondered with greater faith than was ever bestowed upon the voice of an oracle.

 

     “This time Mrs. Gilmer has just returned from South America, from a trip that well might exhaust the hardiest youth, but that has left her untired and unchanged except in the sense that a person who is ever open to new impressions is ever changing.  However, as guide and counselor to so many millions of her own sex, and to an untold number of men as well, she perhaps never knows one joy of other travelers – she can never go any place where her identity is entirely submerged.  Fame at home and abroad comes to many persons, but she among a rare and chosen few can find herself in utterly strange surroundings and among an utterly alien people and yet know that all about are friends she has helped in almost unguessed troubles.  When our most distinguished townswoman goes ajourneying, her trips take on an almost epic quality which she, with twinkling eyes, would be the first to deny.” [Probably taken from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, date unknown.]

 

 


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