22nd June 1835

Copiapò
The lower part of the valley is broarder & near to the town it is a fine plain resembling that of Aconcagua or Quillota. — I staid three days here with Mr Bingley. — Copiapò covers a considerable space of ground, each house possessing more or less Garden.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Before the dawn of day we were looking for the watermen; and, as the sun rose, succeeded in getting their boat, or rather flat-bottomed barge, into motion. We rode into the river, about two hundred yards, until we reached the barge, then lying close to an overflowed bank. By some persuasion of voice, whip, and spur, the horses were made to leap out of the water, over the gunwale and into the boat. They certainly showed more sense than horses usually have, in understanding so readily how to behave; but whether their owners showed more than asses, in having so clumsy a ferry-boat, may be doubted. In leaping in the horses nearly knocked down, or trod upon, those who were dismounted; and when leaping out again, they made such a splashing of the water in the leaky ferry-barge as effectually washed our faces. The river is wide, deep, and rapid; and there are many sand-banks. The boatmen use oars as well as long poles; but are slow and awkward to a degree I could scarcely have believed, had I not witnessed their progress. The breadth at the ferry is about a quarter of a mile, when the river is low, but upwards of half a mile when flooded, as at this time. The south bank is steep; and from San Pedro, a little village at the ferry, the land rises in a southeast direction, towards a lofty range of hills; but towards the south-west, it is low, level, and firm. Across this excellent galloping ground we tried our horses, and made the miles seem short, till we reached a low range of hills over Point Coronel. There, dismounting, we used our own legs until the hills were passed, and before us lay two long sandy beaches, called 'Playa Negra,' and 'Playa Blanca.' In our gallop we passed the house of Don Juan de Dios Rivera, whose estate on the south side of the Bio Bio is mentioned by Captain Hall as an instance of the progressive tran-quillization of the Indians. Several large barn-like buildings spread over about two acres of ground, enclosed by a high fence of rough posts and rails, showed an eye accustomed to the country, that the proprietor held in his own hands a large estate: but that collection of thatched irregular roofs, and the utter absence of any thing like outward neatness or regularity, brought to my mind a very neglected rick-yard, near which not even a cottage appears.

[The next few entries in Fitzroy's Journal are not dated, but I will endeavour to post in some sort of logical order...]

2 comments:

Ann Flowers said...

First time commenter here. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog.

Roger R. said...

Thank you Ann... a labour of love I can assure you.