24th March 1835

Santiago to Mendoza (Day 7) – Estancia del Chaquaio
Early in the morning climbed up one side of the valley: & had a most extensive view of the Pampas. This was a spectacle to which I had always looked forward to with interest, but I was disappointed; it was no ways superior to that from crest of the Sierra Ventana. At the first glance there was a strong resemblance to the ocean; but to the North many irregularities were distinguishable. The rivers were the most striking part of the scene, these facing the rising sun glittered like silver threads till lost in the immense distance. We descended until reaching a hovel, where an Officer & three soldiers were posted to examine passports. One of these men was a thorough bred Pampas Indian. He was kept much for the same purpose as a blood-hound, to track out any person who might pass by secretly either on foot or horseback. Some years ago, a passenger had endeavoured to escape detection by making a long circuit over a neighbouring mountain; the Indian happening to cross his track followed it for the whole day over dry & very stony parts, till at last he discovered his prey hidden in a gully. We heard that the silvery clouds which we had admired from the bright region above had poured down torrents of rain. The valley from this point gradually opened, & the hills became mere water-worn hillocks as compared to the giants behind; it soon expanded into a gently sloping plain of shingle, covered with low trees and bushes. This talus, although it looks of no breadth, must be nearly ten miles wide before it blends into the apparently dead level Pampas. We had already passed the only house in this neighbourhead, the Estancia of Chaquaio, & at sunset we pulled up in the first snug corner & there bivouacked.

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