A Little Journey to Puerto Rico
Marian M. George
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_THE PLAN BOOK SERIES_
A LITTLE JOURNEY TO PUERTO RICO
for intermediate and upper grades
BY MARIAN M. GEORGE
A LITTLE JOURNEY TO PUERTO RICO
Do you know what people mean when they speak of "Our New Possessions"?
What are they? Where are they? Why are men, in the streets, in the
shops, everywhere, talking about them? Why are the newspapers full of
articles in regard to them? Why are our lawmakers at the capital
devoting so much time and attention to them? Can you tell?
Some of these things you can easily ascertain for yourselves. Others we
will speak of here.
The new territory which has lately come into the possession of the
United States, consists of the islands of Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the
Philippines. Cuba is not included in this list; it is soon to be an
Since Puerto Rico and these other islands have come to be parts of the
United States, everyone is anxious to learn something more of them.
The best way to learn the geography of a country and the customs of the
people is to visit the country and see with your own eyes.
That would be a difficult thing for most of us. The next best way is to
make the journey in imagination, and that all of us can do.
The island nearest us is Puerto Rico, the most eastern island of the
Greater Antilles. Let us visit that first and the other islands later
We must find out something of the climate, however, before we start on
this journey. This may not be the right season of the year to go. We
must know, too, what kind of clothing to take with us.
In order to plan our route wisely, we must know something of the
geography of the island. We should also know the past history of Puerto
Rico, in order to understand the customs of the people and the
conditions that exist there.
* * * * *
LOCATION, SIZE, SURFACE.
If you will find a map of the West Indies in your atlas or geography,
you will also find Puerto Rico. It is one of the four Greater Antilles
Islands, and lies east of Haiti and farthest out in the Atlantic Ocean.
It is over four hundred miles from the east coast of Cuba, one thousand
miles from Havana, and about one thousand four hundred and fifty miles
from New York.
In size it is the smallest of the group. Its area is about three
thousand five hundred and fifty square miles. Its average length is
about ninety-five miles; its average breadth about thirty-five miles.
In shape it resembles the State of Connecticut, though it is only
three-fourths the size of that State.
[Illustration: THE ISLAND OF PUERTO RICO.]
Puerto Rico, in English, means Rich Harbor. But Puerto Rico is not rich
in harbors. There are not more than six good harbors, but it has less
than three hundred and fifty miles of coast line.
The surface of Puerto Rico is mountainous. A range of hills traverses
the island from east to west. The hills are low and their sides are
covered with vegetation. The hills are not rocky and barren, but are
cultivated to their very tops.
[Illustration: AN AFTERNOON SIESTA.]
The lower valleys are rich pasture lands or cultivated plantations. The
knolls have orchards of cocoanuts and other trees. Coffee, protected by
the shade of other trees, grows to the summits of the green hills. The
ground is covered everywhere with a thick carpeting of grass.
The soil is remarkably fertile. This is due partly to the fine climate,
partly to abundant moisture. The island has many fast flowing rivers.
There are over twelve hundred of these. In the mountains are numerous
springs and water falls, but these are hidden by the overhanging giant
ferns and plants.
* * * * *
BRIEF HISTORY OF PUERTO RICO.
Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus November 17, 1493. He
made a landing at a bay, where he found springs of pure water, which was
much needed on his ships. This place he named Aguadilla, which means
"the watering place."
[Illustration: PONCE DE LEON.]
In 1508 Ponce de Leon, a Spanish navigator, visited the island, and was
much pleased with its beautiful scenery and with the hospitality of the
natives. A year or two later he returned, and founded the town of
Caparra. In 1509 he founded the city of San Juan on the island that
guards the entrance on the east.
When Ponce de Leon came to the island, he found it inhabited by a happy,
harmless people who received him with delight. They brought gifts to
him, and showed him and his soldiers gold, which was found in the river
The kindness of the natives was rewarded by cruelty on the part of the
Spaniards. They were ruthlessly murdered or reduced to slavery, and
compelled to work in the mines. A revolution followed in which the
greater number of the natives were killed.
The severe work required of those remaining so shortened their lives
that very soon all had disappeared. Not a descendant of this race is now
living, but many curious and interesting relics, left by them, may be
One of these is a stone collar, shaped like a horse collar, and
skillfully carved. This was placed upon the breast of the native after
his death, and was supposed to keep him from harm.
Ponce de Leon built for himself a castle on the point of land above the
mouth of the harbor of San Juan, and here he lived until he sailed on
the voyage which resulted in the discovery of Florida.
After his departure, Puerto Rico was left alone for a long time. After
some years, Spain sent peasants to colonize the island, and slaves were
introduced to cultivate the plantations.
In 1870 the island was made a province of Spain, instead of a colony. In
1873 slavery was abolished.
Puerto Rico came into the possession of the United States as the result
of the recent war with Spain. It was ceded to the United States Sept. 6,
Gen. George R. Davis is now Military Governor of the island. The form of
government for Puerto Rico has not yet been decided upon. It is one of
the problems that Congress is now working out.
* * * * *
Puerto Rico is a very beautiful island. Its climate and scenery attract
many visitors, and erelong it will be a popular winter resort for
people from many countries.
It has been called the land of perpetual June. Flowers bloom and plants
and trees yield fruit the year round. There is no winter; but during
the season which is our winter, their skies are beautifully clear and
The air is neither dry nor moist, but perfect. The nights are always
cool, and the trade winds keep the hottest days from being unpleasant.
The average temperature is only 80°. It is the coolest and the
healthiest place in the West Indies.
[Illustration: GATHERING COFFEE IN PUERTO RICO.]
There are two seasons, the rainy and the dry. The rainy season lasts
from July to December; the dry, from January to June. From November to
June the climate is more than usually delightful and healthful. In the
summer months it is somewhat warm, and the heat and dampness are
oppressive in August and September.
In September and October the rain comes in torrents, but it rains in the
mountains almost every day in the year. The daily showers of the rainy
season usually come late in the afternoon, but the sky clears up with
the setting sun.
The people pay little attention to drainage or to securing a supply of
good water. As a result, fevers are common during the summer months
among the people who live in crowded quarters in the city or in the
Hurricanes occasionally occur between the months of July and October.
These are sometimes accompanied by earthquake shocks. People may be
injured or killed and their homes destroyed during these violent storms.
Puerto Rico, however, is freer from them than other islands of the West
It is easy to tell when a hurricane is approaching. The wind dies away
and a deathly stillness falls over everything. Not a breath of air
moves. The leaves droop on the trees and the heat almost smothers one.
The sky becomes copper-colored, and tints everything with a ghastly hue.
The cattle and other animals seem to know that danger is near, and rush
about in a terrified way.
Far out in the ocean the water is calm and smooth; but near the shore
the waves rush furiously upon the beach with a mighty roar.
By and by the wind begins to rise, just a little; first from one
direction, and then from another. This is a sign that the storm is near
at hand. Very soon a fearful roar is heard, and all at once the
hurricane descends upon the island.
The work of destruction begins. Trees are uprooted, growing crops are
laid waste, and houses are torn down and scattered in every direction.
Sometimes whole villages are destroyed and many people killed or
When the barometer tells of the approach of a storm, the people prepare
for it. They hunt some hole, cave, or cellar into which to crawl. They
take with them, when there is time to do so, a supply of cane juice and
food, to last until the storm subsides.
"The people guard as much as possible from the hurricanes by building
their houses of stone with massive walls. They provide strong bars for
doors and windows. When the barometer gives notice of the approach of a
storm, these bars are brought out, and everything is at once made fast.
"Doors and window-shutters are closed, barred, and double locked, and
the town looks as if it were deserted by all human beings. The state of
suspense, while the hurricane lasts, is dreadful, for no one knows when
the house may fall and bury all beneath its ruins.
"Add to this the howling of the blasts, the crash of falling trees, the
piercing cries for help from the wounded and dying, and one may faintly
picture the terrible scene. To venture out is almost certain death, the
air is so filled with flying missiles, such as boards, bricks, tiles,
stones, and branches of trees."
It is indeed fortunate that the people of Puerto Rico are largely free
from these desolating storms. Some idea of their power for destruction
may be gathered from the pictures in our papers of Galveston, Texas,
after the recent hurricane there.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE TRIP.
The best time for us to visit Puerto Rico, then, is after the hurricane
season, in the winter. January, February, and March are the favorite
months of travelers.
But if we wish to celebrate the four hundred and seventh anniversary of
the discovery of the island, we must go in November. It was the 17th day
of this month that Columbus first visited Puerto Rico.
We will need to take our thinnest clothing for use on the island, but we
should have light wraps for the cool evenings.
We should also go well provided with umbrellas, rubber overshoes, and
rain coats, if we do not wish to spend many afternoons indoors.
Now the best way to reach Puerto Rico is not, as many people think, from
Cuba. San Juan, the capital, is nearly as far from Havana as from New
We will take the steamer from New York that goes directly to San Juan.
If the weather is good, we may expect to make the voyage in four days.
* * * * *
What a busy crowd it is through which we pass to the New York wharf!
Dozens of large ships and hundreds of small vessels and sailboats crowd
There is a large steamer just going out. It is loaded with hardware,
kerosene, pine lumber, and codfish, and is probably bound for South
Crowds of people are going on deck with departing friends. Many of the
friends have brought or sent flowers and steamer-letters, to be enjoyed
by the travelers, during the voyage.
[Illustration: OUR OCEAN STEAMER.]
Now the bell sounds a warning to our visitors to say good-by. They leave
the boat, and soon we are off. As we leave the harbor we listen to the
band playing "America" and the "Star Spangled Banner," and take the last
glimpse of our native land which we shall have for a month.
It is not far from the dinner hour, so we now visit the dining-room for
the purpose of securing our place at the table from the head steward.
We next secure a steamer chair, and have the deck steward place it in a
comfortable, sheltered place on deck. It is well, before long, to visit
our staterooms, and put our clothes and other belongings in order for
By the time this is done dinner is announced. Somehow we do not feel
very hungry. The vessel rolls about so that we begin to feel dizzy. We
think we would rather go to bed, and we try to do so, but find it rather
The stewardess comes in just then, and asks if she may help us. With her
assistance we climb into our berths. Rock, rock, rock! If the boat would
only be quiet one moment! We are very seasick by this time, and feel as
if we never wish to eat another meal. The motion of the boat lulls us to
sleep by and by, and the next thing we know it is morning.
The air in our stateroom seems close and "stuffy," so we gladly leave it
and go on deck, where we remain for the rest of the day. The steward
serves our meals to us here, and we spend the time in our steamer
chairs, watching the white-capped waves, the sea gulls over us, and the
porpoises following the boat for food.
After the first day out we sail into smoother seas and warmer weather.
We throw aside our wraps and put on lighter clothing. We also don broad
shade-hats to protect our eyes from the glare of the light upon the
A favorable wind bears us southward to the tropical sea, which many
people consider among the most beautiful things in the world.
The water of the Bahama sea is wonderful because of its clearness and
its deep purple color. A cloud shadow changes the purple into emerald.
Looking down into the clear depths, we see the dolphins as distinctly
as the birds overhead. Shoals of flying fish dart out of the water,
their fins serving as sails for an instant; then they drop back again.
Many other new and interesting objects and scenes add to the pleasure of
our voyage from the great northern metropolis to the capital of the
island in the southern seas. These we can not tell about now.
* * * * *
While we are learning of the plant and animal life about and beneath us,
the good ship bears us swiftly on, and all too soon we are at our
We seem hardly to have left the shadow of Liberty's towering torch in
New York harbor, before the gray walls of Morro Castle appear above the
horizon. Far out at sea, this massive stone fort with its beacon light
attracts our attention.
Across the harbor entrance the white-capped waves rush furiously over
each other in a mad race toward the shore. Passing through this narrow
channel, the ship glides into the harbor under the guns of the two
picturesque old forts which guard it, and we get our first glimpse of
[Illustration: STATUE OF LIBERTY--NEW YORK HARBOR.]
Our first view of this beautiful old city fills us with anticipations
of pleasure. We find that the ground upon which the city lies slopes
upward from the calm, broad harbor to the forts that guard its heights.
Here and there a tall palm-tree rears its graceful head above the tops
of the gayly colored buildings that glisten in the sunlight.
Our guide tells us that San Juan is one of the most perfectly fortified
cities in the world. It is easy to believe this when, from the ocean and
from the bay, we see the massive walls and battlements of the forts that
guard the north and east.
We learn that they are cut from the solid rock which crowns the crest of
the narrow peninsula. The steep walls of the vast castle of San
Cristobal overshadow the whole city.
The city is built on an island, connected with the mainland by a bridge.
It is surrounded by a high, thick stone wall: that is, it was once upon
a time; but the city is now extended far beyond the walls. Inside is the
city proper, or old San Juan. Outside are the more modern buildings and
San Juan is not only the seat of government, but it is considered the
first city of Puerto Rico in interest and in importance. Ponce, however,
disputes this claim. It has the best harbor, and the best public
buildings, churches and schools on the island.
The palace of the governor-general and the headquarters of the American
administration we find located in San Juan.
Over thirty thousand people make their homes in this city, and a goodly
number of them we find at the shore to meet our vessel. They do not wait
for us to land. They come out to meet us.
Dusky natives in landing boats are soon alongside, and we learn to our
surprise that our ship does not go to the dock. We are to go ashore in
these small awning-covered boats. This is a new experience for us, but
it is an old Spanish custom.
[Illustration: LANDING FROM OUR STEAMER AT SAN JUAN.]
The steward of the ship tells us that we may retain our rooms and use
the ship as a hotel during the stay in port, going ashore for
sight-seeing when we like.
We have heard that the hotels in San Juan are very poor; but of course
we wish to see for ourselves what they are like, and so we decide to
give them a trial.
We are in no hurry to seek the hotels, however. The streets of San Juan
present so many novel sights to our wandering eyes that we wish to look
We have been told that we could walk all over the town in an hour, and
we resolve to try it.
[Illustration: A STREET IN SAN JUAN.]
The streets are narrow and dark, but well paved and clean. They ought to
be clean, for they are swept by hand every day. The sidewalks are so
narrow that only two of us can walk abreast, so we take to the road.
This is used as a highway for people as well as vehicles.
Naked little children of all ages and colors play about the streets and
on the sidewalks. Colored men and women, smoking black cigars, saunter
idly about. Street venders carrying their stores upon their heads or
backs, or in large panniers upon tiny ponies, fill the air with cries
announcing their wares.
Judging from the number of the venders of drinks we see on the streets,
every one in San Juan is thirsty. We are, at any rate, and very
delicious we find their ices and sherbets, their iced orange, lemon and
strawberry waters, iced cherries, milk, coffee and chocolate.
[Illustration: DULCE (SWEETMEAT) SELLERS IN PUERTO RICO.]
Fruit sellers under the arcades and in stalls tempt us with their
attractive wares; but the fruits are new and strange to us, and we
hesitate about buying.
The hack drivers are asleep on closed carriages at the hack stand. Long
lines of clumsy carts, with high wheels, rumble over the cobblestone
pavements with a dreadful clatter.
In the open doorways of shops we see men and women manufacturing
articles for sale. Some are making chairs, some shoes, some jewelry,
some boxes, and, in one place, we see a number of workmen making
We are interested in observing that flags of different colors are used
as signs, and that the walls are painted with brilliant pictures. In the
quarter near the sea, the brandy stores, built of reeds, have round them
swarms of beggars of every degree.
The laundry shop we find just outside the city, beside a large creek. A
laundry not built by hands! Here women stand knee-deep in the stream,
with the hot sun beating down upon their heads. They are doing their
laundry work. The clothes are cleaned by soaking them in water and
pounding them with stones. We wonder if there are any buttons left on
the clothes after this treatment, and resolve not to trust our clothes
to this laundry.
We note outside the city wall a broad concrete walk; along this walk
seats, trees, and rude statues; and between the walk and the wall an
Having now taken a general stroll, we will rest up preparatory to our
visit to the points of special interest.
POINTS OF INTEREST IN SAN JUAN.
We are now ready to visit the places of unusual interest about the
capital city. The most noted buildings are the governor's palace, the
cathedral, the city hall, the arsenal, the buildings used as quarters
for the troops, the forts, the castles of Morro and San Cristobal, the
house which Ponce de Leon built, the palace of the bishop, the theater,
the hospital, the orphan asylum, the poorhouse, the jail, the library,
and the colleges.
In the heart of the town, facing the City Hall, the guide shows us a
public plaza; and under the frowning walls of San Cristobal, on the
outskirts of the city, he points out another. These plazas are flat,
open spaces, paved with cement and surrounded by rows of shade trees.
In the plaza of Columbus, on the outskirts of the city, is a handsome
statue of Columbus. Facing this plaza is the grand theater.
In the cool of the evening, the people gather in these plazas, and
listen to the music of the band.
One of the most interesting buildings in the, city to us is the "White
House of Ponce de Leon." It is still standing where it looked northward
over the sea so long ago.
On the side toward the bay is an old wall, and beyond this is a
beautiful garden and rows of palm trees. From the windows we get a fine
view of the bay.
The people of San Juan have honored its founder with a statue, which
stands in the center of one of its plazas.
His remains are preserved in a leaden box in the church of Santo
We find the famous Morro Castle to be a small military town in itself,
with houses, chapel, barracks, dungeons, water tanks, warehouses, and
also a light tower, a signal station, and a light-saving station.
This ancient fort is the beginning of the wall which surrounds the city.
THE MARKET PLACE.
Look at these people coming in from the country! Our guide says they are
going to the market place. Let us follow them and see what a Puerto
Rican market place is.
Here it is, situated near the ocean. The court is formed with stones,
and it contains booths for fruits, vegetables, and produce of all kinds.
[Illustration: GOING TO MARKET.]
Dear me! what a busy, noisy place! People from every race and nation
seem to be gathered here. Big people, little people, babies, roosters,
dogs, donkeys, horses! What talking, shouting, laughing, crying,
crowing, barking, and braying!
Men are smoking, lounging about, and bragging about their game-cocks;
women are making small purchases and gossiping with neighbors; babies
are tumbling about on the ground, devouring bits of fruit that come in
their way: but all are good-natured.
Each market man or woman has a place assigned, and within this space or
in a booth are piled high heaps of fruits and vegetables. And such
fruits and vegetables we never in our lives beheld or even dreamed of!
Heaps and heaps of golden, luscious oranges are offered us by the
thousand, or two for a penny. Bananas are sold five for a cent, or a
bunch of a hundred bananas for twenty-five cents. Think of it! In New
York it would cost us three to five dollars.
There are ever and ever so many kinds of fruits of which we do not even
know the name. But we make a list of those whose names we do know, and
here they are: oranges, bananas, plantains, limes, lemons, cocoanuts,
bread-fruit, bread nuts, pomegranates, dates, figs, pawpaws, the
tamarind, sugar apple, grosella, mammee, guava, granadilla, naseberry,
alligator pears, shaddocks, and Indian plums.
Could you find so many in a New York, New Orleans, Chicago, or San
Francisco market, do you think?
Then here are the vegetables. They would make even a longer list, but we
note a few of those with whose names and forms we are acquainted: yams,
sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, carrots, turnips, celery, beets, egg
plant, radishes, peas, beans, tomatoes, cabbage, pumpkins, cantaloupes,
watermelons, squashes, peppers, cassava, yantias, and okra.
[Illustration: A POULTRY DEALER.]
The people in the market, seeing that we are Americans, try to charge
us many times what each article is worth. If we travel very far, we will
find that this is a custom of the people in many countries. They think
all Americans are rich.
[Illustration: THE MARKET PLACE AT PONCE, PUERTO RICO.]
Now this is a great mistake, and so we decline very firmly to buy
anything at all. This offends the market people. They wish us to make
them an offer.
They offer us their fruits for half the first price. Again we refuse. A
fourth of the original price. We shake our heads.
Our guide now offers to make our purchases for us, and does so for a
very small sum. And the market people and venders are quite satisfied.
It is all they expected.
* * * * *
HOMES AND HOME LIFE.
A narrow, shaded street tempts us to leave the noisy, business part of
the town and the throng that crowds these streets and plazas, and stray
into the suburbs.
No matter which way we turn, some new picture meets our eyes.
Wandering along, we peep into doorways, courtyards and pleasant patios.
Some of the houses have crosses upon their summits, to show the devotion
of the inmates to their religion.
Others have a palm branch twined among the iron bars of their balconies,
or placed aloft, to protect the house from evil. This branch was one of
those blessed at the cathedral the last Palm Sunday.
A piece of white paper floating from the iron railing of a balcony tells
us that the house is to let. Here buildings can be rented by the day or
week, as well as by the month or year.
The dwellings and other buildings are of gray stone or brick, stuccoed
over and tinted blue, yellow, drab or any other color but pink.
About half the houses are two stories in height, the others one story;
but all are flat-roofed and without chimneys. The main or upper story
has iron balconies which project over the narrow streets and darken
them. The houses have no windows of glass, but the window openings are
provided with heavy shutters. We enter these houses through interior
courts or patios.
Many of the rich Puerto Ricans have fountains, trees, and flowers in
these open central courts; a few have roof gardens. Here the family sits
in the evening to catch the cool sea breezes. Others sit on their
balconies along the outside of the house, or along the inner court or
The patio is the coolest place about the house during the heated hours
of the day. Here the women bring their sewing or embroidery, and chat.
It is also the favorite playground of the children, and in its shade the
men of the household take their afternoon nap.
There are no yards or gardens attached to these houses. The only green
spots to be found are the inner courts, the public squares or plazas,
and the garden of the Governor-General's palace.
There is no portion of the city set aside for the rich or the poor.
People of means, of education, and of refinement live in the upper
stories. The poor live in crowded rooms and patios, and in basements or
in dirty alleys.
Many of the wealthy, fashionable people live in the pretty suburban
towns. Others, who are engaged in business in the cities, live over
their stores, on the second floor.
The lower floors are occupied by servants, or poor people. To reach the
upper stories of these buildings, we must pass through a crowd of
children, dogs, and poultry in the courtyard below.
Upstairs the rooms are large and the ceilings lofty. The windows reach
to the floor, and the shutters are kept open to admit the air.
The homes of even the wealthy seem to us plainly furnished. There is no
upholstered furniture. It is too warm for this, they tell us. But wood
furniture, wickerwork, and willow ware are used.
The floors in the best houses are tiled or are made of hard wood.
Carpets are never used, but rugs are seen occasionally in the center of
The bedrooms are small and not well ventilated. The beds are canopied
and trimmed with fine handmade lace.
The walls are usually bare; but here and there a fine painting may be
seen. Giant ferns and broad-spreading palm leaves are used to festoon
the walls and arched doorways. These are cut fresh and renewed from day
to day, and they make the dark, cool rooms attractive and inviting.
Within and without the house, potted tropical plants are found.
Peeping into the bath room of one of these homes we see, not a bath
tub, but a swimming pool large enough to accommodate a young whale.
We think this an improvement on our bath tubs at home, and of the joy it
would give the average United States boy to add such a feature to his
FOOD AND DRINK.
For water the people have, until quite recently, been dependent upon
cisterns, in which the rain that falls upon the flat roofs is collected.
These cisterns are in the patio, or courtyard, and an open drain runs
through the same place.
[Illustration: THE BREAD SELLER.]
Much of the cooking is done here by the poorer people.
It seems to us that cooking in houses without chimneys would be rather
difficult, but then these people do not use stoves or coal. They cook
over a small pot, or brazier, or furnace of charcoal.
They cook less food, too, than people who live in the North. They live
largely on fruits and vegetables and have little meat.
Ice is used only by the families of the wealthy, and it is impossible to
keep milk or fresh meat for any length of time. In place of ice-water
the people store water in porous jars, and in this way it is kept cool.
They prepare many refreshing drinks to be used in place of water by
using oranges, lemons, limes, cocoanuts, and the milk of almonds.
They also indulge very often in little ices, which the venders bring to
the doors many times a day.
The poorer people, who can not afford to indulge in such expensive
drinks and ices, use barley water, or water with toasted corn and sugar
The people have coffee or chocolate and biscuits for the first or early
breakfast. The second breakfast is eaten between eleven and twelve
o'clock, and corresponds to our lunch. Dinner is eaten at six or seven
o'clock in the evening.
Many of the business men take the morning meal with their clerks at a
long table on a veranda, or in a room of the establishment. From three
to four o'clock in the afternoon everyone indulges in a siesta or nap.
Along the wharves and in the outskirts of the city, the houses are but
one story high, and many of them are built of wood. These houses have
but one window and are dark and poorly ventilated; yet they are crowded
with poor people.
Some of them have patches of garden separated by rows or hedges of
cactus. Here we see brown mothers sitting in the sun mending fish nets.
Their naked little children are at play near them.
* * * * *
THE PEOPLE OF PUERTO RICO.
The people of Puerto Rico, on a casual glance, appear to us to come from
every nation on earth. The first person you meet will be black, the next
brown, the third yellow, and the fourth white.
After a time we are able to divide them into five classes: the upper
class of white Puerto Ricans; the lower class of whites, or peasants;
the negroes; the mixed people of negro and Indian or other blood; and
Among these last are Germans, Swedes, Danes, Russians, Frenchmen,
descendants of Moorish Jews and of natives of the Canary Islands.
All of these people speak Spanish, however, and have the Spanish
customs, manners, and religion.
Of the 850,000 people, less than one half are colored or of mixed blood.
The upper class of white Puerto Ricans is descended from Spanish stock,
and in this class are found the wealthy planters and stock raisers, the
merchants, and the professional men.
They are a happy, good-looking, hospitable, polite, and prosperous
people. Many of them are fairly well educated.
In appearance these people resemble the Cubans, having regular features
and dark hair and eyes.
The men are not large, but are well built, erect and graceful.
The women have clear complexions, delicate features, and small hands and
Heavy clothing is not worn. The men dress in white (light linen or
cotton), and the women in cotton or other thin material.
The ladies of the family are secluded very closely. They spend much of
their time in the patios or on the balconies of their homes,
embroidering, making lace, and gossiping. They care little for reading
or for study.
The Puerto Rican is generous and hospitable. He tells you, as does the
Cuban, that his house and all it contains, his servants, his horses, his
possessions, are yours to use and to have.
But of course he does not mean that you shall accept these gifts. He
means that he expects you to use them freely so long as you are a guest
in his house.
By these well-to-do people, any sort of labor is regarded as degrading
and altogether out of the question; so they keep many servants. Some are
paid and some receive only their board and clothes. But all are content.
The working people are of one color, a light brown, with black eyes and
straight hair. They are rather small and thin; and many of those living
in the cities are ill-fed and diseased.
They are ignorant and somewhat indolent, but are gentle, quick of wit,
and teachable. Though cruel to their animals, they are kind to their
There are many beautiful girls in the lower classes as well as in the
upper, and these we see on the streets and in the market places.
Many of them use long scarlet shawls and wear black satin slippers on
their bare, pretty little feet. They are as proud of their little feet
as of their hands. Some of the girls in the market have hair
three-quarters the length of their body; but while it is so black and
abundant, it is extremely coarse. The laboring men cut their hair short
in the neck, and wear a thick bang on the forehead.
[Illustration: A BEGGAR OF PUERTO RICO.]
In many parts of the island beggars appeal to us with outstretched hand.
Even the little children are taught to add their mite to the family
income by begging.
In Ponce these beggars secure a special license to pursue this
profession and have a regular system. In certain houses, on certain
days, a little table is placed in the doorway and a row of copper cents
or coins upon it.
The beggars who are privileged to come to these homes, come at the right
time, take their pennies, and with a "Thank you!" shamble off.
Formerly lessons never bothered the small Puerto Rican, or indeed any
other Puerto Rican child. He played "hookey" all day long, and no truant
officer disturbed him, or dragged him off to school.
He never saw a schoolhouse or the inside of a schoolroom. He never saw a
book. But, for that matter, neither did his father or mother. They can
neither read nor write; nor can many of their neighbors.
The Puerto Rican city child often lives in a crowded basement, with many
brothers and sisters. The child of poor parents in the cities is not
usually very clean; but then he has very few opportunities for bathing,
and his only playground is the courtyard and the streets.
His little country cousins, who live where pools and streams are found,
spend much of their time in the water. They find it pleasanter to paddle
in cool streams, beneath overhanging tree ferns and banana trees, than
to roll in the dirt.
They object, however, to wearing clothes, and are allowed to go without
any until they are ten or twelve years of age. Even at this age they
shed briny tears when compelled to put on one cotton garment.
These little country children learn to be helpful at a very early age.
They fish and catch crabs; weed the garden; dig potatoes; gather fruit,
vegetables and coffee; and do errands.
But they have one bugaboo, and that is the wild dog. This animal is very
fierce. It sometimes leaves its hiding place in the forest, with a pack
of companions, and carries off sheep, pigs, and calves.
If very hungry, it may attack a child; and so the children keep a sharp
lookout for it.
Children in Puerto Rico sleep on the floor or in a hammock, and they eat
whenever or wherever they can find fruit or vegetables within their
reach. Sometimes they smoke, too.
They have no toys, no books, no pictures, no fine clothes or homes; yet,
for all that, they are cheerful and contented. They have little, but
they seem to want little.
The children of the wealthy and well-to-do dress and look very much like
the children in our Southern States; though the babies and very young
children sometimes wear no clothes.
These children are sent to school, or are taught by a governess or tutor
at home, until they are old enough to be sent away to school.
Then they are sent to Spain, France, or the United States, to complete
The girls study and read very little. It is not considered necessary
for them to be well educated. They are not allowed to walk about the
streets alone, but must have a servant, nurse, or attendant from the
time they leave their cradles until they are married.
EDUCATION IN PUERTO RICO.
Not more than one seventh of the 850,000 people in Puerto Rico can read
or write. Only one child in twelve, between the ages of six and sixteen,
attends school. (In 1897, of 125,000 children of school age, only about
28,000 attended school--about 19,000 boys and 9,000 girls.)
The buildings used for school purposes are seldom anything more than
thatched huts. Sometimes two or three rooms are given to the school in
the house where the teacher lives.
Many of the country districts are without schools, and no school
privileges are provided for three fourths of the people.
The schools are of the old-fashioned, ungraded, district-school type,
and are for pupils from seven to thirteen years of age.
Pupils are supposed to study arithmetic, geography, grammar, the history
of Spain, and religion. There are few schoolbooks used. The pupils write
down what the teacher dictates, or copy what the teacher has written.
The one book they use is the one from which they learn to read.
Arithmetic problems are often worked out on the floor with bits of clay.
There are from fifty to one hundred and twenty-five pupils in each room,
and two or three teachers. The pupils sit on long benches or on the
floor. The boys and girls have separate schools; but the white and the
colored pupils attend the same school.
The pupils are bright and quick to learn, but there is no discipline in
the schoolroom. They come and go as they please. They stay at home if
they wish, and no truant officer disturbs them.
Many remain away from school because of a lack of clothing. Others
remain away because they prefer to play in the streets. Their parents
are careless and indifferent to the advantages of an education, and make
no effort to induce their children to attend school, or to study.
This unfavorable state of things is soon to disappear. The United States
is now rapidly introducing schools and capable teachers into every part
of the island. The people seem very glad to take advantage of the better
order of things.
The established church of the country is the Roman Catholic; but other
religions are tolerated, and a few Protestant churches are to be found
scattered over the island.
The people seem to be little interested in religion or in their
churches, and Sunday with them is only a fête day or a holiday.
HOW THE PEOPLE AMUSE THEMSELVES.
The people of Puerto Rico have two hundred holidays or feast days in
their calendar. They are always ready to welcome new ones, however, and
have within the past year added Washington's birthday and the Fourth of
July to the list.
Last year they celebrated the Fourth for the first time. In all the
cities there were speeches in the daytime and fireworks at night. In the
country there were races and processions in honor of the new "feast
day," or holiday.
The people show their patriotism and loyalty to the flag of the United
States in many ways. They are eager and quick to adopt American manners
Just before sunset, the band comes into the Plaza at Ponce and plays the
"Star Spangled Banner" in front of headquarters as the American flag is
drawn down for the night.
The Puerto Ricans noticed that the American men took off their hats and
stood with uncovered heads while the flag made its descent; and now
they, too, show their loyalty by doffing their hats when the flag comes
The people of Puerto Rico are extremely fond of music. Strolling bands
of guitar and mandolin players are numerous; and at evening time the air
is filled with music.
Each peasant makes his own guitar. It is a very curious instrument. This
guitar music is usually accompanied by music from another instrument
called a guida. This is made from the great curve-necked gourd. The
music or sound is made by passing a piece of umbrella wire up and down a
series of notches cut from end to end on the outside curve of the gourd.
The sound produced is much like that made by rubbing together two pieces
of sandpaper. We would not call it music at all, but the natives seem to
like it. No orchestra is complete without it, and one can hear the
scratching of this instrument almost any time, at any home in Puerto
Sunday is a day not of rest, but of merry making. During the early
morning hours the Puerto Ricans go to church. After church, they hurry
away to the cockpit or to the bull ring in the suburbs of the town.
Very early in the morning we see numbers of roosters staked out by short
strings to pegs driven in the sidewalks. These are the game-cocks which
furnish to the Puerto Rican his favorite amusement and opportunity for
They seem to realize their importance and keep up a great crowing,
sending challenges of defiance back and forth to each other. Their
owners take good care of them and endeavor to keep them in good
condition for fighting.
In the market places we see these fowls in wicker coops. Many venders of
food and other articles have game-cocks tied by strings to their stools
When their owners have nothing else to do, they devote themselves to
training these birds; or they try to find some one willing to match them
in a contest.
The buildings where these fights take place are to be found in every
town and village. They are considered next in importance to the
cathedral and the town hall, and more important than the schools.
The cock fights are usually held on Sundays and holidays, and last the
greater part of the day. On the day set for these fights, the birds are
taken to the arena, descriptions given and amounts wagered. One fight
follows another, and large sums of money are lost and won.
If a country is without good roads, it must employ human
burden-carriers; and many of these we see in Puerto Rico. Men and women
walk long distances through the country bearing heavy burdens upon their
heads, shoulders or backs.
The banana and plantain men carry their fruit fastened to poles. They
move along quite easily with two hundred pounds or more of fruit. On the
street and in the market place we hear the singsong notes of the
vegetable man telling us of the excellence of his wares. These he
carries on his head on an immense board, sometimes five feet long.
The dulce seller, too, carries his tray of cocoanut dulces, guava jelly
and other sweets on his woolly pate; as do also the sellers of fruits,
bread, cakes, bottled cocoanut milk and trinkets.
The hat weaver and the broom maker carry their wares on a shoulder pole,
with a load fastened to each end so as to balance it.
The milkman carries an open-mouthed ten-gallon milk can on his head.
From this dangle the ladles and measures he uses.
But he does not always deliver milk in this way. Sometimes he rides up
in front of the door astride his horse, and shouts "milk" at the top of
On each side of his horse are fastened milk cans, and from these cans he
ladles without dismounting.
Sometimes he drives his cows before him and milks them at his customer's
door. This is the favorite method, because the milk is then sure to be
[Illustration: A PUERTO RICAN HAT WEAVER.]
This is not always the case if the milk is carried some distance in the
hot sun, in uncovered tin cans.
The milkman always comes very early in the morning, and so does the
baker. If the baker is not on time, we must wait for our breakfast; for
bread is not baked in the house. It is always bought.
We can hear him long before he reaches our door, for he keeps up a
plaintive cry in order to attract our attention.
Sometimes our human bread wagon carries a great board or basket on his
head, and in this are as many as fifty loaves. (See illustration, page
The butcher, on horseback, brings meat hanging from hooks in frames.
Much of the poultry is brought to town in great odd wicker coops strung
across the backs of ponies. Here is a poultry vender at the street
corner, with his inverted and excited merchandise suspended by strings
from his shoulder. (See page 22).
HOW THE PEOPLE TRAVEL.
Puerto Rico is a very delightful place to visit, but we do not care to
go there to live until there are better roads.
There is but one good road on the island, the one leading from San Juan
to Ponce. There is only one line of street cars (in the city of
Mayaguez); and there are only one hundred and forty-seven miles of
railroad in the whole island.
The best roads run along the coast from town to town. There is one
exception. This is the wonderful military road which connects Ponce, on
the south shore, with San Juan on the north shore. (See map, page 4).
Parts of the country away from the coasts are reached by bridle paths;
but the roads outside the cities and towns are impassable during the
rainy season. Sometimes there is only a bridle path or trail overgrown
with tangled vegetation, and crossed by streams without bridges.
The means of transportation employed by the people are the pony carriage
or surrey, the saddle horse, the ox-cart and the foot. The beast of
burden is either the donkey or the pony. These animals are employed to
carry goods in packs over the trails, in place of using the wagon.
The ponies are usually small, half-starved, badly treated animals. They
carry great burdens, that look heavy enough to crush them to the ground.
Their food consists of green corn and grass. One of the commonest sights
on the road, street, or marketplace is the pony with his load of green
This is usually so large that it covers the animal entirely, but the
master is always in plain view, sitting astride the moving corn-stack.
[Illustration: A PUERTO RICAN PONY LOADED.]
The planters and farmers have an odd-looking saddle, which they use on
these ponies. It is a leather pad to which are attached wicker baskets.
The well-to-do farmers who own ponies carry fruit and vegetables in
these baskets. Sometimes two hogs are brought to market in the baskets,
with all four feet tied together.
When the farmer takes his family to market, he and his wife ride the
pony, and the children ride in the baskets.
The ponies also carry bales of grass, trunks, and all kinds of household
goods, and furniture.
The principal draught animals are oxen. The heavy two-wheeled ox cart
is used to convey great loads of sugar, coffee, and tobacco or fruit,
over the good roads.
Great, strong, patient beasts they are. They are yoked by a bar of heavy
wood fastened to their horns.
They are driven, not with words or whip, but with a goad. The driver or
teamster walks in front of his team and waves his arms and goad the way
he wishes them to go.
If they do not follow fast enough to please him, he urges them along by
prodding them. The end of the goad is shod with a sharp spike of steel,
three inches or more long. Often we see these oxen dripping with blood,
and seamed and scarred with wounds.
Besides the pain of this constant goading, they suffer from flies upon
their face, nose and eyes. Since their heads are bound, they can not
shake the flies off.
All day they stand or travel in the hot sun without water or food.
Even when they stop or rest, no one thinks of putting them in the shade.
Almost all the people are cruel to their animals, yet they seem not to
realize that they are doing wrong. It is a custom, that is all.
It makes us wish we might organize a society for the prevention of
cruelty. It is, perhaps, the only thing that could change this custom.
* * * * *
THE FARMER AND HIS HOME.
Puerto Rico is a country of farmers. Nearly five-sixths of the people
live in the country. Their homes are scattered along the valleys, on the
hills, and even on the mountain tops; for the land is fertile
[Illustration: THE PUERTO RICAN FARMER IN TOWN.]
We have seen the homes and home life of the people in the city. Now let
us take a jaunt out into the country to see how the farmers and the
plantation laborers live.
Here is a farmer now, coming down the street. He is on his way to the
market. His horse is a thin, mean-looking little beast. His produce is
carried in baskets, and his machete is sticking out of one of these.
This machete he always carries with him. He could not get along without
it. It is a large, long, clumsy knife, something like a corn-cutter.
Sometimes he uses it to cut a way for himself and pony through the
forest, or on the bridle paths overgrown with plants and vines after the
When he has sold his load of vegetables and fruit, we will ride out with
him to his home and visit some of the plantations.
We saw many peasant farmers and laborers in the market place, and found
them polite, shrewd, bright in conversation, but very ignorant and
They are quite content with their way of living, and take no thought for
the future. A Puerto Rican farmer thinks himself rich and fortunate if
he owns a horse, a cow, some game-cocks, a gun and an acre of land.
He is simple in his tastes and buys little in the market. His rice
flour, corn meal and coffee he has prepared at home, by pounding in
wooden mortars or grinding between stones.
His patch of land he plants with corn, sweet potatoes and other
vegetables. Bananas, plantains and other fruits grow wild and may be had
for the picking.
His vegetables, fruit and poultry he takes to the market and sells, but
only when compelled to do so by necessity.
This money is spent for clothing or other articles, or perhaps lost in
Only the lightest kind of clothing is necessary; for the coldest days
are not so cold as our mild autumn days.
The dress of the farmer consists of a cotton jacket, white shirt and
check pantaloons. His head is protected from the hot rays of the sun by
a large broad-brimmed hat. This is made from the grass which grows
around his doorway. No shoes are needed.
The dress of his wife is a simple white cotton gown, and his children
wear no clothes at all.
[Illustration: HOME OF A PEASANT FARMER OF THE BETTER CLASS.]
The houses or homes of the peasant farmers are nearly all alike. They
are built in a few days, from poles and royal palm bark. They are
thatched with leaves of the palm or with grass. These huts are usually
divided into two rooms.
There are no chimneys, often no windows, and but one door. A very poor
house, you think; but then it is only intended for a shelter. It shields
them from the damp and cool winds of night and the daily rains of the
rainy season. At other times they live outside.
There is no stove, and of cooking utensils there are few. The cooking is
done for the most part outside the house, when the weather is dry, on a
sheet of iron or in an iron kettle. The food is served in gourd dishes
and eaten with gourd spoons.
During the rainy season the people live in great discomfort. The
cooking must be done inside the hut at this time. As there is no
chimney, the room is soon filled with smoke, which can only escape
through the openings under the eaves.
Would you like to see the furniture of one of these poor cabins? It
consists of a few calabash shells used for eating vessels; some rude
earthen pots; a tin cup, perhaps; two or three hammocks made of the bark
of the palm tree, and a machete.
Bunches of dried herbs and gourds dangle on the walls, but there are no
pictures, curtains, or ornaments of any kind.
At night the people sleep on the floor, or in hammocks. They spend much
of the day also in swinging to and fro in their hammocks, smoking, and
playing on their guitars and other native musical instruments.
By the door the family dog and the naked babies tumble in the dirt.
Perhaps there is a pig and some poultry; but there is sure to be a
game-cock or two.
Near the house is the garden. In this are raised sweet potatoes, beans,
squashes, muskmelons, peppers, gourds, calabashes, bananas and
The farmers we see at work have their oxen harnessed to rude plows by
the horns. The ground is so rich it is not necessary to plow it very
An acre of good land here will produce more vegetables and fruit than in
most other countries.
Riding through the country we see plantations of coffee, sugar cane or
tobacco, and also stock farms. Puerto Rico is fertile from the mountain
tops to the sea. It is rich in pasture lands, shaded with groves of palm
trees, and watered by hundreds of streams.
Here and there herds of horses and cattle and flocks of sheep graze on
the plains. When we approach the flocks of sheep, we discover a very
curious thing. The wool on these sheep is not at all like the wool on
the sheep raised in our own country. It is more like the hair of the
Cattle are highly valued by the people, not only for dairy and food
purposes, but as beasts of burden and draft.
Outside of the large plantations, crops are raised on a small scale; and
modern implements and machinery are almost unknown.
[Illustration: A MOUNTAIN VILLAGE IN PUERTO RICO.]
Most of the land is divided up into very small farms or garden patches,
or is taken up by groves.
In the interior of the country are many little villages, shut out from
the rest of the world. We reach them by the narrow horse-trails that
wind in and out among the mountains.
THE LABORER'S HILLSIDE HOME.
Perched on the hilltops and sides, shaded by banana trees, are the
picturesque little huts of the laborers. Most of them pay no rent. Land
owners give them small patches of ground on the hillsides, which they
themselves do not care to till, in order to have the laborers near or on
the plantations to assist in cultivating or harvesting the sugar cane,
tobacco and coffee crops.
Here the peasant laborers build their cabins; and, when there is no work
for them on the plantations, they tend their gardens in a haphazard way.
By working a little each day they manage to make a scant living.
Five months of the year they labor for their landlords, receiving about
fifty cents a day.
The laborer is often paid in plantains. Fifty plantains are a day's pay.
On this he feeds his family, for the plantain is the Puerto Rican
The plantains left are taken to market and sold. One day a week is lost
in this way, for the market is often twenty miles away.
Near a stream on the mountain side we see a group of women. Some of them
are sitting on stones by the bank; others are standing in the hot sun in
midstream, and all are washing.
It is wash day, and they have brought their clothes here to wash them.
They have no tubs, wash-boards, clothes-pins, or clothes-lines.
Sometimes they have no soap. In place of this, they use the seed or
roots of the soapberry tree.
The soap-seed tree bears several months in the year. The seed is
inclosed in a yellow skin, and is black, and about the size of a marble.
The leaf of a vine, called the soap vine is also used for the purpose of
The clothes are first soaked in the stream or pond, and then spread
upon a broad, smooth stone; after which they are pounded with clubs or
stones. When they are clean, they are spread out upon the bushes to dry
[Illustration: COOKING THE EVENING MEAL.]
Then the tired women rest under the trees, and chat, and perhaps smoke
until evening. When the hot sun has gone down in the west, they make
their damp and dry clothes up into huge bundles, lift them to their
heads, and plod homeward.
Let us follow them to their homes up on the mountain side. Some of the
huts are built closely together. Others are scattered about on lonely
ledges. Shall we go inside one of these huts? The woman who has just
returned has thrown her burden into a corner.
The fire has been carefully smoldered, and this she now blows into a
flame and then proceeds to prepare the evening meal.
About the other cottages are women squatting on their heels, gossiping
with one another. In the ditch near by little children paddle about.
Their voices are soft and pleasant, and their play merry and
good-natured. We hear no quarreling.
Now their mother calls them to bring in some sticks for the fire. When
these are added to the flame, the firelight shines out in the darkness
and guides the father on his homeward way.
He has been working on the coffee plantation near, and is now climbing
the narrow, winding path up the hill with his load of plantains. Perhaps
the wife will cook some for supper.
The children satisfy their hunger, and then creep into their corner or
hammock and are soon fast asleep.
Out in the darkness we hear the tinkle of a homemade guitar. Now
another, and then another, takes up the Spanish or Indian air. Perhaps
the beater of a drum is added to the little band of musicians which has
gathered in an open space near the small village.
The natives compose much of their own music, and wild, strange melody it
is. It seems to inspire one with a wish to dance. The Puerto Ricans are
very fond of this amusement, and when they hear the music of the band,
they gather around for a frolic.
Once a week, at least, they gather for a dance; and this, with their
cock-fighting and gambling, is almost their only form of amusement.
Few of these people can write or read. They have no books and can not
afford to buy even a newspaper.
The life of the peasant in Puerto Rico, you see, is not an easy or
pleasant one; but he does not suffer from cold or hunger, as do the poor
in northern countries.
* * * * *
GLIMPSES OF OTHER CITIES.
We have now a very good idea of San Juan and of rural life in districts
So let us travel about the island a bit, for glimpses of other parts of
the country, and of the other important cities.
The most comfortable way to do this would be to make the voyage around
the island on board the ship, going ashore for sight-seeing when the
ship makes port for freight.
But this would give us no opportunity to see the interior of the island;
so we make up our minds to endure poor roads in order to enjoy the mild
adventures that fall to our lot (as all good travelers should do).
We decide to celebrate the seventeenth of November, the anniversary of
the discovery of the island, at the place where the ship of Columbus
first touched land over four hundred years ago.
We find no Pullman cars on the railroad which leaves San Juan for
Aguadilla; but the novelty of the ride takes the place of the luxuries
to which we are accustomed at home.
[Illustration: SENDING SUGAR ABROAD.]
The train goes leisurely along at the rate of sixteen miles an hour. We
are glad that it goes no faster, for it gives us an opportunity to see
the beautiful country through which we are passing.
The line follows the coast most of the way. Upon one side are frequent
views of the ocean, and upon the other a constant panorama of wonderful
A ride of four or five hours brings us to Arecibo, a town of 7,000
people, on the north coast. It is the headquarters of the sugar
industry, and the chief town of one of the most fruitful regions on the
The harbor is very poor, being little more than an open roadstead. Into
this harbor empties a small stream called the Arecibo. Goods are
transported on this river, to and from the town, in flat-bottomed boats,
with the aid of long poles and by much patient pushing.
Along the river are valuable plantations of sugar and coffee, as also
Arecibo boasts one of the most handsome and artistic plazas on the
island. These plazas are usually paved with stone and devoid of
vegetation; but this one has a small park in its center, surrounding a
The cathedral, which faces the plaza, is larger than usual, and more
modern than most of the church buildings in the West Indies.
[Illustration: CATHEDRAL AT ARECIBO.]
After a night spent in Arecibo we wish to hasten on to Aguadilla, but
the railroad, we find, will not carry us so far. It ends at Camuy, a few
miles west of Arecibo. Here we take a carriage for the remainder of the
[Illustration: DRYING AND HULLING COFFEE.]
The old-fashioned coaches are drawn by small ponies, and these brave
little animals carry us up hill and down hill, through deep mud holes,
over rocks, into and out of ruts, at a terrific pace.
We wonder that the carriage does not break and spill us out. The driver
lashes the poor beasts until it seems as if his arms must be lame, but
our protests have no effect on him.
Aguadilla, a quiet, peaceful little city of 5,000, lies on the western
coast. Here Columbus landed in search of water when he made his second
He found a clear, rippling spring, with the water filled his casks, and
continued on his way. On the shore stands a cross marking the spot where
his boat's keel touched the sand.
The town has beautiful trees, and is surrounded by choice grazing-lands.
It is noted for its fish, sugar-cane, sweet oranges, and lemons.
The cultivation of sugar-cane, coffee, tobacco and cocoanuts furnishes
the industries of the neighborhood. We find the three establishments for
the preparation of coffee for market very interesting places to visit.
Leaving Aguadilla for Mayaguez, we take the tramway which connects the
two towns. It is the only one on the island, and the people are very
proud of it. But oh, what a ridiculous little road!
It is a narrow gauge, not more than forty-seven inches wide. The cars
are quite diminutive, and do not carry more than ten or twelve people.
We can ride the length of the road, about two miles, for five cents.
We see long lines of patient oxen plodding their way to the city,
pulling clumsy carts piled high with oranges. Mayaguez is the market to
which the best oranges in Puerto Rico come.
Large, sweet, and luscious we find this fruit, the principal food of
many of the people.
It grows wild by the roadside, in the valleys, everywhere except on the
hillsides. Such quantities of oranges! It seems as if enough of the
fruit is grown in Puerto Rico to supply the whole of the United States.
Yet very few oranges are sent away from the island. They can not be
shipped profitably until good roads are built.
The city of Mayaguez claims a population of 20,000 people. It has,
probably, 12,000 to 15,000. It is the great western shipping port, is
the third largest city, and the prettiest and most attractive city in
Mayaguez is very different in appearance and customs from the other
cities. We can scarcely realize that we are on the same island.
The streets are macadamized, wide, shaded by trees, and lined with
handsome shops and residences. The sidewalks are narrow,--only two can
walk abreast on them.
The town is well provided with public buildings. It has also three
hospitals, a home for the destitute, a public library, good waterworks,
is lighted by electricity, and possesses the only street-car line on the
island. The principal plaza is a park of grand old shade trees. It
contains a majestic statue of Columbus.
The citizens are, many of them, coffee planters who have estates near
the city. Each family of the better class dwells in a home of its own,
instead of living in second stories.
The poor people of the town are not so poor, or unclean, or shiftless,
as the poorer classes at the capital.
[Illustration: A VIEW IN PONCE, PUERTO RICO.]
To reach Ponce, the next city we wish to visit, we must use carriages as
well as railways. It is on the southern side of the island.
Ponce is the largest city in Puerto Rico, having a population of over
thirty-seven thousand people. The main part is built on a plain about
three miles from the seashore.
A fine road connects it with Playa, the port, where are found a good
harbor, large wharves and the more important government offices.
Ponce has wide, clean streets, handsome buildings, and attractive homes.
Many quaint and picturesque old buildings line its avenues; but in the
newer parts of the town and in the suburbs the buildings are modern.
It has a military hospital and barracks, two other hospitals, a home for
the old and poor, gas works, and an ice machine. There are also
establishments for hulling coffee, drying coffee, distilling rum,
manufacturing carriages, and grinding sugar. (See illustrations on pages
54 and 69).
The large central plaza has pretty gardens and a cathedral.
There are three manufactories of chocolate for the use of the people in
the surrounding country. Sugar, coffee, oranges, pineapples and
cocoanuts are brought here to be shipped to the United States and other
Near the city are white-gypsum quarries; also medicinal baths, to which
many invalids and travelers go.
The only Protestant church in the West Indies is the Episcopal church
On the outskirts of Ponce is an old cemetery, in which many famous
Puerto Ricans of an early day were buried. It is quite different from
our idea of a cemetery. It is one solid mass of masonry built into the
side of a hill. In this are narrow vaults, one above the other.
[Illustration: A FUNERAL PROCESSION.]
The openings of these vaults look much like bakers' ovens. The bottom
vaults are used first, and when a body is laid in one of them it is
sealed up and the name of the deceased graven on the outside. The next
member of the family who dies is placed in the vault above; and so on,
each family having a tier of vaults.
As carriages and hearses are rare objects in Ponce, the coffin is
sometimes carried on the shoulders of men. The procession is often
composed of those attracted by curiosity, rather than the friends and
relatives of the deceased.
The people of Ponce are wide-awake, progressive and anxious to better
their condition. They are also more hospitable and friendly than in
It was here that the American army under General Miles proceeded in
1898, after landing at Guanica. The troops received a hearty welcome
from the inhabitants.
The people were glad to be relieved from Spanish rule, and wished to
have their land annexed to the United States.
A proclamation of welcome was issued to the soldiers, feasts were
spread, and the stars and stripes floated from many house tops.
THE MILITARY ROAD.
Now we are ready to return to San Juan, going northward over the great
military road, one of the finest highways in the world.
It is macadamized, is fifty feet wide, ninety-seven miles in length, and
smooth and even as a boulevard. It crosses mountains which reach a
height of almost four thousand feet. It winds in and out among the
coffee-covered hills, giving us a fine view of the green mountains and
the deep valleys below.
Looking down we see patches of sugar cane and tobacco; groves of
bananas, cocoanut, and palm trees; hedges of strange growth; unknown
plants and vines, and fern-covered rocks.
Here and there is a rude cabin surrounded by bread-fruit and banana
trees. We pass picturesque little towns with blue and yellow houses and
quaint churches, their spires towering upward. In fifteen hours we would
reach San Juan, but we delay our journey in order to obtain a closer
view of the scenery and of the homes of the people.
Many happy hours we spend on the plantations in the country.
During these country rides and visits we get our knowledge of the animal
and plant life of the island.
Let us stop, then, for a few days, at a country home by the seashore.
A COUNTRY HOME.
The residence of this home we find to be of good size and divided into
rooms by partitions that reach only half way up to the roof. This is to
give a free circulation of air. The house is thatched with palm leaves,
and has a wide veranda running around it.
Mosquito curtains are used to keep out the swarms of sand flies and
mosquitoes that make the night uncomfortable.
All doors and windows are closed before sunset and not opened until the
moon is well up. Then large fires are lighted around the house to drive
the mosquitoes away. This is for our benefit, for the natives do not
mind these insects as much as we do. But we have other midnight
Large fireflies fly in at the open windows and light up the room with
their fairy lamps. And such wonderful fireflies, over an inch long!
The people, the children especially, are very fond of these fireflies
and frequently keep little cages of them for pets. They feed them on
sugar-cane juice and bathe them as if they were birds.
[Illustration: COUNTRY HOME OF THE BETTER CLASS.]
Little crabs rattle gaily over the floor and sometimes crawl into our
shoes, where we find them in the morning; friendly but ugly lizards
croak from the walls and roof, where they pass the night hours in
These lizards are found in and about most of the houses and are
harmless, useful little fellows. They are six or seven inches long, of a
pale, yellowish color, mottled with brown.
Instead of taking a morning bath in our rooms, we take a dip in the warm
sea water. We find it hot, even very early in the morning; and as we
walk to the shore in our bathing suits, we make a large palm leaf do
duty as a sunshade.
When we dress for breakfast we examine our clothes very closely, for the
centipedes have a disagreeable way of taking strolls over one's clothing
and the bedding.
Our breakfast consists of turtle eggs, bread fruit, plantain and
cocoanut milk. Our meals are served on the veranda, and there we spend
the most of the day. Hammocks are swung from the beams, and, lying in
them, we drink in the cool sea air and feast our eyes upon the beautiful
In the shallow water near the shore we find great pink conch shells. The
fish in them we have made into soup for our dinner, and very good soup
we find it.
Sometimes we go out in the mountains with our host hunting for game, or
for mountain cabbage for our dinner. Perhaps others would like to know
what this mountain cabbage is, and we will tell them. It is the bud of a
palm tree, a part of the trunk of which, when young, is edible. When
cooked, it looks like very white cabbage; but the flavor is finer and
more delicate. It is sometimes eaten raw, as a salad.
The meat for our dinner consists of fish, and the flesh of the
armadillo, the agouti and the iguana.
These animals are queer looking creatures. As we wish to see them in
their haunts in the woods and fields, we will accompany our host on some
long walks and drives, in order to find out more about them.
* * * * *
When Columbus visited the West Indies, he was delighted by the beauty in
and about them. "I know not," he said, "where first to go; nor are my
eyes ever weary with gazing on the wonderful verdure. The singing of the
birds is such as to make one wish never to depart."
The wonderful beauty of the country of which he spoke is unchanged; but
we listen and look in vain for the singing birds. The hunter's gun has
caused the disappearance of large numbers of the birds. Those remaining
are found only in the forests.
Columbus spoke also of the flocks of parrots "whose bright wings
obscured the sun"; but we seldom see the brilliant plumage of these
birds on our excursions.
There are said to be about one hundred and fifty kinds of birds on the
island of Puerto Rico. Among these are the mocking bird, the wild
canary, the sugar bird, the thrush, the humming bird, the owl, the hawk,
the dove, the cuckoo, the oriole, the nightingale, and the Guinea bird.
During the migrating season, many other birds fly over from other
Flamingoes and other water birds are numerous on the coast.
There is a parrot market in every port, however, and this is a popular
place of resort. Here are cool trees and drinking stands, or booths,
where cocoanut milk and cool drinks are sold.
The birds are not usually confined to cages, but are left to climb
about the booths. The natives love these birds and make great pets of
them. The birds are tame and quite accomplished in the art of begging.
When the passer-by extends his hand, they walk into it for the sake of
the gifts which they know will come.
But the bird which is oftenest seen is the fighting or game-cock. The
streets and market places are full of these. They are the pets and often
the most valued possessions of their owners.
OTHER ANIMAL LIFE.
[Illustration: THE ARMADILLO]
The scorpions, centipedes, wasps, sand flies, fleas and mosquitoes
manage to make things lively for us much of the time.
One enterprising and annoying insect, the chigoe, or "jigger," is able
to bore a hole through the sole of a shoe and attack the foot.
There are no poisonous serpents or dangerous wild animals in the
country; so we travel about through field and forest without fear.
The boa, which is occasionally seen, is huge and alarming in
appearance; but it is looked upon as a friend rather than an enemy. It
is of great service to the farmer in clearing his place of rats.
The largest native animals we find to be the armadillo, the agouti, and
The agouti is a little animal resembling a rabbit. It lives on vegetable
food, and finds a home in the rocky hillsides and on the borders of the
woods. As game is not plentiful, it is sometimes used for food.
The armadillo and iguana are preferred for food, however. It is not an
easy matter to catch an armadillo. It has a shell on its back, and into
this it promptly retreats at the first sign of danger. It has a long,
pointed snout and strong, sharp claws. It can dig a hole in the ground
almost as fast as a man can dig with a pick and spade; so, when an enemy
appears, it digs a hole and buries itself from sight. It is not a
troublesome animal. It lives chiefly upon beetles, grubs and worms,
which it hunts by night.
The iguana is a lizard which feeds on fruits and vegetables. It grows to
three or four feet in length, and is an ugly looking creature. It will
not fight unless you compel it to do so. It does not live in the water,
but in trees, bushes, and in the cracks and fissures of rocks. Sometimes
hunters build fires at the entrance of their hiding places and smoke
them out. The flesh, when cooked, resembles chicken or veal, and is a
popular dish with the natives.
But the most delicious meat of all comes from the land crabs and the
crayfish. These are caught in great numbers when the crabs migrate from
the mountains to the coast. Once a year they make this journey, for the
purpose of depositing their eggs in the sand.
The sea fisheries are important to the people of Puerto Rico. The coast
waters and fresh water streams swarm with fishes of strange shapes and
Among these are the shad, sardines, Spanish mackerel, dolphins, flying
fish, sting rays and sharks. The sponge, the manatee and the whale are
also found near the island.
Suppose some one were to ask you to what kingdom the sponge belonged.
Could you tell? Many years ago people believed that it belonged to the
vegetable kingdom; but it is now known to belong to the animal kingdom.
The animals attach themselves to rocks, shells and other hard substances
Mussels, clams and sponges are cultivated to some extent. Mollusks are
useful in many other ways than as food. Their shells are used for making
buttons, parasol handles and shirt studs. Sometimes they are used for
making roads. Many shiploads of these shells are brought to New York
from Puerto Rico and other parts of the West Indies every year.
* * * * *
Puerto Rico seems to us to be one big flower garden. All kinds of fruit
grow wild and most wild plants blossom and bear fruit several times a
Cultivated fruits, flowers and vegetables are planted several times a
year in order that a fresh supply may always be at hand. Flowers bloom
every month of the year, but are most plentiful in June. Ferns, in some
instances, grow to spreading trees, with graceful drooping fronds. Many
plants have colored leaves which are as brilliant as the flowers
[Illustration: BRANCH AND FRUIT OF THE CACAO TREE.]
Everywhere grow trees and shrubs valuable for their fruit or for their
The leading crops are sugar cane, coffee and tobacco. Over one-half of
the exports consists of coffee, and a little less than one-fourth, of
sugar. Cacao and fruits make a large part of the remainder.
[Illustration: A PUERTO RICAN SUGAR MILL.]
Rice forms the chief food of the laboring classes, and this grows, not
on the wet lowlands, as in our country, but on the mountain sides.
Bananas and plantains are two of the important food products. Next to
these, the yam and the sweet potato form the diet of the natives.
Among the fruit trees we find cocoanut palms, tamarinds, prickly pears,
guavas, mangoes, bananas, oranges, limes, cacao (or cocao) trees and
Among the spices found here are the pimento, or allspice, nutmeg, clove,
pepper, mace, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla.
The hills are covered with forests, which, yield valuable timber and dye
woods. Among these are mahogany, cedar, ebony, and lignum-vitae trees.
Logwood and other dye materials are common.
Many varieties of the palm flourish here,--the cocoanut palm producing
fruit in greater abundance than in any other country of the West Indies.
THE COCOA PALM.
The most abundant cocoanut groves in the world are said to be found on
Puerto Rico and the other islands of the Antilles. This tree usually
grows near the coast, for it loves the salt water; but it is sometimes
found on the hill slopes a short distance inland.
"The tree grows to a height of from sixty to eighty feet, lives a
hundred years, bears a hundred nuts each year, and is said to have a
hundred uses for man."
The trees bear such heavy burdens of fruit that it seems impossible that
so slender a trunk could hold such a weight of fruit in the air. The
fruit is expensive when it comes to us, because of the difficulty in
climbing the trees, gathering the nuts, and removing from them the heavy
[Illustration: GATHERING COCOANUTS.]
Here is a negro gathering cocoanuts. Let us watch him. He climbs the
tall tree, dragging a rope after him. About his waist is a belt in which
is thrust a machete.
He hacks off a bunch of the nuts and attaches it to the end of the rope.
It is then lowered to another negro or to the ground. The nuts are in
bunches of a dozen or two, and are covered with a green, smooth, shining
After the bunches of nuts are all removed from the tree, the climber
throws down the rope and comes down hand over hand.
These nuts are so large that a single one often yields two glasses of
We found that the natives made boats and furniture, as well as houses,
from the trunk of this palm tree. They extract from its roots a remedy
for fever. The foot stalks of the leaves are made into combs. The leaves
are used for thatching huts and in making baskets, mats and hats.
The fibrous material at the base of the foot stalks is used for sieves,
and woven into clothing. A medicine is made from the flowers, and from
the flower-stalks palm wine is made. From the juice is made sugar and
vinegar. From the fruit or nut, water, jelly and meat are obtained. Oil
is extracted from the kernel; and the refuse is used for food for fowls
and cattle, as well as for manure.
From the husks ropes, brooms, brushes, and bedding are made. The shells
are used as lamps, cups, spoons, and scoops.
It has been called the poor man's tree because it gives him food, drink,
medicine and material with which to build his home.
The tropics could not do without the palm. It is more to that region
than the pine is to the north.
THE CALABASH TREE.
Another very useful tree to the natives is the calabash, or gourd tree.
It provides him with many household utensils. In height and size it
resembles an apple tree. Its leaves are wedge-shaped and its flowers are
large, whitish and fleshy.
The fruit is something like a gourd and often a foot in diameter. The
shell of the fruit is so hard that it is not easily broken by rough
usage or burnt by exposure to fire. It is used instead of bottles, cups,
basins, dishes, pots and kettles, and to make musical instruments.
Sometimes the calabashes are polished, carved, dyed or otherwise
ornamented. The pulp of the fruit is used as a medicine.
THE TRAVELER'S TREE.
One of the most curious and beautiful trees on the island is the
traveler's tree. It is so named because it contains in its leaves and at
their bases a large quantity of pure water.
By piercing the leaves with a spear or pike the water is drawn out, and
found cool and refreshing. It often relieves the thirst of the traveler
in this warm country.
Among the fruit products used in large quantities are the bread-fruit
and bread-nuts. These trees grow very large and have wide-spreading
branches about fifty feet from the ground.
The leaves are, very broad, and the fruit looks something like an ovoid
osage orange as large as one's head.
The fruit is best when picked green, and baked in an oven or in the
ashes, after paring away the outer skin or rind. When done it resembles
a browned loaf of bread. It is very good and, wholesome, too; but it
tastes more like baked plantain than bread.
The bread-nuts look on the outside like the bread-fruit, but the inside
contains a great mass of closely packed nuts like large chestnuts. These
are not good raw, but are fine when baked or boiled.
We have often heard people speak of butter and cheese being colored, but
did not know that the dairyman was obliged to send to the West Indies
for his dye. The bush which provides it is called the annotto or
annatto. It grows to the size of the quince tree. The leaves are
heart-shaped; and the rosy flowers are followed by fuzzy red-and-yellow
pods, something like chestnut burs.
These small burs are filled with a crimson pulp containing many seeds.
This pulp is immersed in water a few weeks, strained and boiled to a
paste. The paste is made into cakes and dried in the sun. Then it comes
to our country and appears upon our tables in butter or cheese.
Can you tell me where bay rum comes from? We have often wondered, and
find here an answer to the question. It is furnished by the bay tree,
which grows here. The leaves are distilled and the oil extracted from
them to furnish this perfume for the bath.
Spices, in some form, are served every day upon our table; yet few of us
know where they come from, or where, how, or upon what they grow.
We have heard of the Spice Islands, perhaps, and we just take it for
granted that they all grow there. We are very much surprised, then, to
find many of the spices in Puerto Rico.
ALLSPICE, OR PIMENTO.
The pimento spice is native to this soil. The groves of these trees are
beautiful. The trees grow to a height of thirty feet, their stems are
smooth and clean, and their leaves glossy.
[Illustration: BRANCH AND BUD OF PIMENTO (ALL-SPICE).]
The trees bear fruit when about seven years old. The berries are
gathered green and dried in the sun. The branches to which the berries
are attached are broken off by boys and thrown to girls and women, who
pick off the berries, and take them to the drying places. One tree
sometimes bears a hundred pounds.
The tree likes the hills and mountains along the sea, a hot climate and
a dry atmosphere.
THE NUTMEG TREE.
The nutmeg tree grows to a height of thirty to fifty feet. The ripe
fruit looks somewhat like the apricot on the outside. It bursts in two
and shows the dark nut covered with mace, a bright scarlet. This is
stripped off and pressed flat. The shells are broken open when perfectly
dry, and the nuts powdered with lime to prevent the attacks of worms.
The tree bears the sixth or seventh year,--the nuts becoming ripe six
months after the flower appears. Twenty thousand nuts are sometimes
gathered from one tree.
Other important growths we find to be pepper, which begins to bear when
five years old and may bear for thirty years; the vanilla bean, which
proves to be very profitable when properly cared for; and cacao, which
requires eight years to come to full fruitage, but is an invaluable
Puerto Rico has no mines or minerals of any consequence, except a little
iron. Foundries for magnetic iron have been established at Ponce, San
Juan and Mayaguez.
Gold, silver, copper and coal are known to exist in small quantities
beneath the surface, but not in sufficient amount to be mined.
The island is well supplied with limestone, which makes an excellent
building material. Marble, also, is easily obtained. Along the coast are
occasional marshes where salt is prepared for market.
OUR JOURNEY'S END.
Our month in Puerto Rico is drawing to a close, and the good ship which
is to bear us homeward is waiting in the harbor.
We make a last farewell tour of the shops in San Juan, and buy a few
gifts for the friends at home: a green parrot to please sister; a
tortoise-shell comb for mother; a cane for father, a native hat for
brother, and a calabash drinking bowl for the school museum.
It is with reluctant steps that we make our way to the ship. The clear
sky, the perfect climate, the constant verdure, the wonderful plants and
trees, and the beautiful mountain scenery make Puerto Rico one of the
most attractive lands to be found anywhere.
Although the roads are in a deplorable condition, a new system has been
planned, and will probably be soon completed.
Though the country may lack school buildings, the cities and towns are
better provided with other public buildings than most places of the same
size in the United States. And the eagerness with which the people seize
upon the statements that their children are to be given the same
opportunity for an education as children in the United States have,
indicates that the schoolhouses will soon dot the island.
The streets of the smallest villages are paved, and all contain some
place of recreation and attempts at ornamentation. Each village has one
or more public squares laid out with trees, walks, flowers, seats, and
usually with a band stand in the center.
We do not find these improvements in all our own small towns. But the
people need better schools, more nourishing food, and improved methods
of farming. Sanitary measures need to be introduced into the homes and
communities. Harbors need to be dredged, that ships may come closer to
land. The water power of many rushing streams needs to be chained and
made to generate electricity, to grind corn, to hull coffee, to cook
food, to pull cars, and to light cities.
There should also be fountains, baths, and sewers; the land in certain
sections should be irrigated, and the streams should be bridged, that
means for travel and transportation may be afforded.
Perhaps all this will be done, ere we visit this island again. At any
rate, we sincerely hope that this may be the beginning of a new and
better day for Puerto Rico.
[Illustration: PRONOUNCING VOCABULARY.]
* * * * *
"Our New Possessions," by Trumbull White. Cloth, 676 pp........$2.00
"Puerto Rico and Its Resources," by Frederick A. Ober.......... 1.50
"The West Indies," by A. K. Fisk. 414 pp....................... 1.50
"Porto Rico," Hall............................................. 1.00
"Porto Rico," Rector........................................... 1.25
"Porto Rico," Dinwiddie........................................ 2.50
"Porto Rico," Robinson......................................... 1.50
"The West Indies and the Main"................................. 1.75
"At Last" and "A Christmas in the West Indies," Kingsley.......
"Three Cruises of the Blake," Alexander Agassiz. 2 vol......... 8.00
"Down the Islands," Palon...................................... 2.50
"The West Indies," Fiske....................................... 1.50
"In the Wake of Columbus," Ober................................ 2.00
"Due South," Ballou............................................ 1.50
"The Foreign Commerce of Our Possessions," etc., Treasury
"Porto Rico," National Geographic Magazine, '99, 25 cts.
a number; per year......................................... 2.00
These books may be obtained from A. FLANAGAN Co., Chicago, Ill., at
price given. Considerable reductions may be secured, if several volumes
are purchased at one time.
* * * * *
A LITTLE JOURNEY TO PUERTO RICO
* * * * *
Children love to read or hear of the people of other lands, and the
tactful teacher will wrap her information about the natural features of
a country in the "sugared pill of stories."
Books of travel are helpful and interesting in linking together fact and
story. From them the child comes to feel a sympathetic interest in the
ways of people unlike those he knows.
By emphasizing the idea of continuity of beliefs and customs, we impress
the child with the most important lesson history and geography hold for
him,--that all countries and peoples are closely related and have mutual
"The acquisition of this feeling of the inter-relationship of the
nations of the world, while starting the child out with a broad view of
life, will in no wise lessen his love for his own country."
Too often the lonely little stranger in our midst--the foreigner--is
viewed with heartless curiosity, or contempt, and subjected to ridicule.
Patriotism to many a child means nothing more than a belief that our own
country is the best, our own people the smartest, and that we can whip
any and every other nation on the globe.
Do the children know that the "blood that boils so hotly against other
countries is drawn from the very same sources that feed the veins of our
seemingly alien neighbors"?
If any teacher imagines that her pupils have a definite idea of the
meaning of patriotism because they are able to sing "America" and the
"Star-Spangled Banner," let her read Marion Hill's story, entitled "The
Star-Spangled Banner," in McClure's Magazine for July (1900).
THE TRAVEL CLASS.
Nothing in the study of geography is more interesting or helpful to
pupils than the taking of imaginary journeys. It makes geography a
Suggest that your pupils organize a Travel Club, and that some of the
trips be personally conducted.
Maps and a globe should be in constant use. The home should be the
starting point. Railroad circulars, maps, and time-cards for free
distribution will be found valuable. Pupils should be taught _how to
use_ these maps and time cards.
Give pupils a choice as to routes or roads over which they are to
travel. Each pupil, however, should be able to give a reason for his
preference for any particular road, and must know the number of miles
and the time required for the journey. The road or route voted upon by
the majority may then be decided upon, and preparations made for the
Find out the best time to go to each particular country, and the reason.
What clothes it will be best to wear and to take with one. About how
much money it will be necessary to spend on such a trip, and when and
where this money should be changed into the coin or currency used in the
country we expect to visit.
A _Guide_ may be appointed to obtain time-tables, maps, railroad guides,
the little books of travel, or other descriptions of routes and of the
parts of the country that are to be visited. (Further suggestions in
regard to these "helps" will be found elsewhere in this book.)
The principal features of the country passed through may be described,
if time permits; also the more important cities. Note the population,
occupations, productions, together with anything of special interest or
historical importance associated with the city or locality.
The _Guide_ takes charge of the class in the same way that a tourist
guide would do. He escorts us from the home depot to the city, state, or
country, pointing out the route on a map suspended before the class.
Arriving at the city or country, he takes us to the various points of
interest, telling as much about each as he is able, and answering
questions pupils may wish to ask. If the guide can not answer all
questions, the teacher or some other member of the party may.
When the guide has finished with a topic or section, other members of
the party may give items of interest concerning it.
A different pupil may act as guide to each city or part of the country
visited, and each pupil should come to the class with a list of
questions about the places.
Every pupil in the class may take some part, either as guide, or as the
class artist, musician, librarian, historian, geographer, geologist,
botanist, zoologist, or man of letters.
A _Historian_ may tell us of the history of the country, and answer all
questions of historical interest.
A _Geographer_ may tell of the location on the globe, of the natural
land formations of mountains, canons, prairies, rivers, etc., and of the
climate resulting from these. He should illustrate his remarks.
A _Geologist_ may assist, and show specimens of minerals and fossils, or
pictures of these.
A _Botanist_ may tell us of native plants, useful or ornamental, and
show pictures of these if possible. A _Zoologist_ tells of the native
animals, their habits and uses.
The geographer, geologist, botanist, and zoologist direct the work at
the sand table, and assist in reproducing the country in miniature.
The _Merchants_ and _Tradesmen_ tell us of the products for which their
country is noted, and show samples of as many as it is possible to
secure. They also tell what they import, and why.
A _Librarian_ or Correspondent may visit the library for information
sought by the club. He must be able to give a list of books of travel,
and be ready to read or quote extracts referring to the places visited
on the tour.
He or his assistant may also clip all articles of interest from papers,
magazines, and other sources, and arrange these, as well as the
articles secured by other pupils, in a scrapbook, devoted to each
The _Artist_ and his assistant may tell us about the famous artists and
their works, if any. He may illustrate his remarks with pictures, if he
can obtain or make them.
The _Club Artist_ may also place upon the board in colored crayons the
flag, the coat of arms, and the national flower of the country.
A _Photographer_ may be appointed to provide or care for the photographs
and pictures used in the class talks. The photographs may often be
borrowed from tourists or others. Pictures may be obtained from
magazines, railroad pamphlets, the illustrated papers, or from the Perry
Pictures, and mounted on cardboard or arranged by the artist in a
scrapbook with the name of the country on the cover.
If the members of the travel or geography class are not provided with
the "LITTLE JOURNEYS," the teacher should have at least two copies. The
pictures from one of these books should be removed and mounted for class
use. They may be mounted on a screen, or on cardboard, and placed about
the room or grouped in a corner. They should be allowed to remain there
during the month, that all the pupils may have an opportunity to examine
Another pupil may collect curiosities. Many families in each
neighborhood will be able to contribute some curio. Pupils in other
rooms in the building will be interested in collecting and loaning
material for this little museum and picture gallery.
Coins and stamps may be placed with this collection. Begin a stamp
album, and collect the stamps of all the countries studied. The stamps
of many countries show the heads of the rulers. One of the most
attractive of these is the United States postage stamp showing "Columbus
in Sight of Land."
The album should be kept on the reading table with the scrapbooks, in
order that pupils may have access to it during their periods of leisure.
Dolls may be dressed in the national costume or to represent historical
This form of construction work may be done outside of school hours by
pupils under the direction of the historian and artist. The dolls, when
dressed, may be made the centers of court, home, field or forest scenes
arranged on the sand table.
A _Musician_ or musicians may tell us of the characteristic music of the
country, and of famous singers or composers. She may also sing or play
the national song or air of the country, if there be one.
The singer should be dressed in national costume, if it is possible to
secure it, or to make it out of calico, paper, or some other cheap
A _Man of Letters_ may tell of the famous men and women of the country
through which we are traveling, and may visit their homes with us. He
may call attention to the literature of the people and give selections
from noted writers, from or about the places visited.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE TRIP.
With maps, guide-books, time-tables and notebooks before us, we look up
the steamer lines and routes and decide when, where, and how to go.
(Good maps will be found in the railroad guide-books).
City newspapers publish once a week the lines of steamboats and their
times of sailing. The steamboat agents also furnish advertising matter
giving other necessary and interesting information.
When we have decided upon our route, we telegraph ahead for our
staterooms. Now let us plan for our baggage. What kind of a trunk must
we take? Why a steamer trunk? How large must this be? What will we do
with this trunk when we leave the boat? (We are advised to leave it and
part of its contents at the ship company's office. They will store it
until we are ready to take the return trip). How many pounds of baggage
are we allowed on the steamer?
What other baggage shall we take (hand bags)? Why not small trunks?
(Because every pound of baggage must be paid for in some countries.)
Many countries have not our convenient system of checking baggage. What
else will we need? (Traveling rugs.)
What clothes must we take? First, we must take warm clothes for steamer
wear, which may be packed away when we arrive. Then we must take
traveling suits for train wear, and thin clothing to use after arriving
at our destination.
We have promised friends at home that we will inform them of our safe
arrival immediately. How can we do this? By mail? Is there not a quicker
way? How many know of the cable? How many have ever sent a cablegram?
Can we cable from Puerto Rico? How much will it cost? Our guide-books
give us all this information.
We must have guide-books, phrase books, toilet articles and writing
materials. These should be packed in linen or canvas bags, because more
easily carried about than heavy leather satchels.
Our guide must be able to speak Spanish, for that is the language of the
Puerto Rican people.
If one of our party acts as guide, we must be careful to select a
polite, tactful, and, above all, a patient and good-natured person.
Why?--Because his patience will be severely taxed many times during this
Arriving at the city from which we are to sail, we visit points of
interest, the docks especially, and compare our steamer with others,
learning what we can about all the ships in the harbor.
If our lesson is well planned, we can accomplish a great deal the day we
After two or three conversational lessons, let pupils begin their
diaries (composition books). In these may be written descriptions of
what they see, hear, or read about the place being studied or visited.
In most schools will be found one or more pupils who have been upon or
crossed the ocean. Let them give both oral and written descriptions of
In giving accounts of these journeys, have pupils describe the incidents
and details of everyday life on ship-board. They may tell of the ship,
its furnishings, rigging, engines, officers and crew.
Let them also describe the dining room, the meals, and the manner of
They may further describe a stateroom or berth, and picture their fellow
passengers in words or drawings.
It will greatly cultivate their power of expression to tell how the time
on board the vessel was passed, and to narrate any interesting
occurrences of the voyage. They may describe the ocean by day and by
night; also its appearance in a storm.
Many will be interested in descriptions of the birds that were met and
of the fishes that swarmed about the ship.
If time will not permit each pupil to give oral descriptions or to write
compositions on each topic, assign a different topic to each pupil. Bind
all papers together, when finished, to keep with scrap-books devoted to
the country visited.
These diaries or reproduction stories may be illustrated with pictures
clipped from illustrated papers and other sources or by original
Try to secure specimens of seaweed to be exhibited to pupils during the
lesson on the sea voyage. Ask pupils to secure ocean shells, sponges,
pictures of sea birds, and specimens or pictures of other animal and
plant life in the ocean.
At the conclusion of the study of a country, a topic may be assigned to
each pupil, or selected by him. With this topic he is to become
In place of the old-time review, invitations may be issued by the
pupils, and the results of the month's work be summed up in the form of
an entertainment, called--
AFTERNOONS OR EVENINGS ABROAD.
When a class, club, or school has been studying a country, the work may
be brought to a close in a way that pupils and their parents and friends
will enjoy and remember, by giving _An Afternoon or Evening Abroad_.
This form of geography review would be appreciated more particularly in
villages, or in country districts, where entertainments, books,
pictures, and opportunities for study and social intercourse are rarer
than in cities.
At the conclusion of an afternoon talk or entertainment, any pictures
used may be placed on the chalk tray along the blackboard, that visitors
may examine them more closely.
If the entertainment is given in the evening, the teacher may be able to
use stereopticon views.
These will prove a very great attraction to both pupils and parents, and
should be secured if possible. The lantern with oil lamp may be easily
operated by the teacher while the pupils give the descriptions of the
pictures or give talks about the country.
The lanterns and slides may be rented for the evening or afternoon at
reasonable rates, and the cost covered by an admission fee of from ten
to twenty-five cents. In sending for catalogue and terms, ask for the
paper used to darken windows if the lantern is to be used in the
Two of the largest dealers in stereopticon views and lanterns are T. H.
McAllister, 49 Nassau St., New York, and the McIntosh Stereopticon Co.,
35 Randolph St. Chicago.
For the afternoons abroad, given as geography reviews, or as a part of
the Friday afternoon exercises, invitations may be written out by the
pupils, or mimeographed, or hectographed, and carried to friends and
If given as an evening entertainment and illustrated by stereopticon
views, handbills may be printed and circulated, at least a week
beforehand. The following form may be used:--
* * * * *
A TRIP TO PUERTO RICO FOR TEN CENTS.
You are invited by the pupils of the _____________ school [or the
members of the Travel Class or Club] to spend _an evening_ [_or
afternoon_] _in Puerto Rico_.
The party starts promptly at 1.30 P.M. [or 8 P.M.], November 1st. Those
desiring to take this trip should secure tickets before the day of
sailing, as the party is limited. Guides are furnished free.
The proceeds of this entertainment are to be used in the purchase of a
library, and of pictures and stereopticon views for the school.
* * * * *
A PUERTO RICAN MARKET PLACE.
Decorate the room with ferns, potted palms and other tropical plants, or
pictures of them. (Exact reproductions in paper or other material can
now be procured at small cost.) On one side of the room have one table
devoted to Puerto Rican curios; another to fruits and vegetables; and a
third to other products from the island. (Or fit up one end or corner as
a market place in San Juan or Ponce.)
Explain your plan for the entertainment to your groceryman and other
merchants most convenient to your school, and enlist their aid. They
will usually be willing to lend products imported from or native to the
For a list of the fruits and vegetables to be exhibited in the market
place, see the list given when on a visit to the market place at San
Juan. (See p. 22).
On the product-tables arrange pieces of sugar cane, samples of raw,
loaf, granulated, and powdered sugar, and of molasses. If possible to
secure the stalks of sugar cane, have short lengths to be sold for
consumption--as in Puerto Rico. Near the table, tack up pictures of
sugar plantations and mills. Have the coffee-berry and beans, ground
coffee, cups of coffee prepared as a drink, and pictures of the tree,
fruit, and coffee plantations; also secure specimens of the fruit of the
cacao tree, a cake of solid chocolate, chocolate candy, and a cake
containing chocolate layers. Cups of cacao or chocolate may be prepared
as a drink. Have near pictures of the cacao tree and fruit.
Secure, if possible, samples of rice, allspice, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon,
pepper, cloves, ginger and vanilla; bottles of clove oil and bay rum;
packages of the annatto and logwood dyes; sponges, tortoise-shell combs,
and articles made of cedar, ebony, or mahogany, or pieces of these
The tables and booths in the market places should be presided over by
pupils dressed as Puerto Ricans, and venders should go about the room,
after the entertainment is over, with native wares to sell.
Among these venders will be the bread man, the milk man, the fruit and
vegetable man, the dulce seller, and the vender of ices.
These venders should, if possible, carry their wares as the Puerto
The girls may be costumed in very simply made white dresses.
Handkerchiefs may be tied about the head, for head coverings.
The boys may be dressed in loose white trousers, girdled at the waist by
a belt of leather, a white shirt, and a silk or cotton handkerchief
around the neck.
A broad brimmed hat may be worn.
The dulce seller carries guava, pieces of pineapple, preserved fruits,
chocolate candy, fresh cocoanut meat, grated cocoanut, etc.
The bread vender carries small rolls on his tray. The milk man carries
his can upon his head, ready to serve milk from tin cups which are tied
to the sides of the can.
These may be served during an intermission or at the close of the
entertainment, and may consist of the national drinks, orangeade,
lemonade, chocolate, coffee, cocoanut milk, and of rolls, cheese, native
fruits and confectionery.
The pupils who serve these refreshments should be prepared to tell
something of the way in which these refreshments are prepared and served
in Puerto Rico.
One of the favorite drinks of the people of Puerto Rico is orangeade.
This is made as we make lemonade, except that the juice of the orange is
used in place of that of the lemon. In making lemonade they use limes
more frequently than lemons.
Coffee and chocolate are drinks also very much in use. The chocolate is
made about the consistency of thick gruel and served with a light, thin
The coffee is made very strong and only a small amount placed in the
cup. The cup is then filled with boiling milk.
Among the favorite sweetmeats are the guava jelly and marmalade. The
jelly looks much like our currant jelly; the marmalade resembles quince
marmalade. It is usually served with cheese.
Secure some of these sweetmeats for the booth or shop, and serve bits to
those who wish to buy. The small, flat boxes are the best for this
Fresh cocoanut meat should be removed from the shell and divided into
penny squares, that the pupils may be able to buy a bit for a penny.
AN AFTERNOON IN PUERTO RICO.
1. Introductory remarks by the guide, who explains our plan of
celebrating the anniversary of the discovery of Puerto Rico by Columbus,
Nov. 17, 1493, by a journey to that island, Nov. 17, 1900, to be spent
at Aguadilla, the first landing place of Columbus on Puerto Rico.
2. Another pupil gives a short talk on the location, size and surface of
Puerto Rico, using a large map.
3. History of Puerto Rico by the class historian.
4. Climate of Puerto Rico, with description of a West Indies hurricane.
5. Preparation for the trip.
6. Recitation--"Southern Seas" (given on the following pages).
7. Song,--"Life on the Ocean Wave."
8. Description of our voyage, by a pupil who has made an ocean voyage.
9. Harbor and city of San Juan.
10. Points of interest in the city.
11. Homes and home life of the people of the island.
12. Characteristics of the people of Puerto Rico.
13. Child life and education.
17. The farmer.
18. The laborer.
19. Glimpses of cities in Puerto Rico.
20. A country home.
21. Animal life.
22. Plant life.
23. Recitation, "Puerto Rico," poem.
Before the concluding song, announcement may be made of the plan for a
series of afternoons or evenings abroad. Speak of the purpose of these
entertainments and express a hope that all those present will attend the
next entertainment--"An Afternoon [or Evening] in Hawaii."
Yes! let us mount this gallant ship,
Spread canvas to the wind;--
Up! we will seek the glowing South,--
Leave care and cold behind.
Let the shark pursue, through the waters blue,
Our flying vessel's track;
Let the strong winds blow, and rocks below
Threaten,--we turn not back.
See, where those shoals of dolphins go!
A glad and glorious band,
Sporting amongst the roseate woods
Of a coral fairy land.
See on the violet sands beneath
How the gorgeous shells do glide!
O sea! old sea! who yet knows half
Of thy wonders and thy pride?
Look how the sea-plants trembling float,
As it were like a mermaid's locks,
Waving in thread of ruby red
Over those nether rocks,--
Heaving and sinking, soft and fair,
Here hyacinth, there green,
With many a stem of golden growth,
And starry flowers between.
But oh, the South! the balmy South!
How warm the breezes float!
How warm the amber waters stream
From off our basking boat!
And what is that?
"'Tis land! 'Tis land!
'Tis land!" the sailors cry.
Nay! 'tis a long and narrow cloud
Betwixt the sea and sky.
And now I mark the rising shores!
The purple hills! the trees!
O what a glorious land is here,
What happy scenes are these!
See how the tall palms lift their locks
From mountain clefts,--what vales,
Basking beneath the noontide sun,
That high and hotly sails.
Yet all about the breezy shore,
Unheedful of the glow,
Look how the children of the South
Are passing to and fro!
What noble forms! what fairy place!
Cast anchor in this cove,
Push out the boat, for in this land
A little we must rove!
We'll wander on through wood and field,
We'll sit beneath the vine;
We'll drink the limpid cocoa-milk,
And pluck the native pine.
The bread-fruit and cassava-root
And many a glowing berry,
Shall be our feast; for here, at least,
Why should we not be merry?
* * * * *
NOTE.--The following poem may be given as a recitation by changing the
title to "Puerto Rico." The words apply to this island as well as to the
island which is described.
Betwixt old Cancer and the midway line,
In happiest climate lies this envied isle:
Trees bloom throughout the year, soft breezes blow,
And fragrant Flora wears a lasting smile.
Cool, woodland streams from shaded cliffs descend,
The dripping rock no want of moisture knows,
Supplied by springs that on the skies depend,
That fountain feeding as the current flows.
Sweet, verdant isle! through thy dark woods I rove
And learn the nature of each native tree,
The fustic hard; the poisonous manchineel,
Which for its fragrant apple pleaseth thee;
The lowly mangrove, fond of watery soil;
The white-barked palm tree, rising high in air;
The mastic in the woods you may descry;
Tamarind and lofty bay-trees flourish there;
Sweet orange groves in lonely valleys rise,
And drop their fruits unnoticed and unknown;
The cooling acid limes in hedges grow,
The juicy lemons swell in shades their own.
Soft, spongy plums on trees wide-spreading hang;
Bell apples here, suspended, shade the ground;
Plump granadillas and guavas gray,
With melons, in each plain and vale abound.
* * * * *
But chief the glory of these Indian isles
Springs from the sweet, uncloying sugar-cane;
Hence comes the planter's wealth, hence commerce sends
Such floating piles, to traverse half the main.
Whoe'er thou art that leaves thy native shore,
And shall to fair West India climates come;
Taste not the enchanting plant,--to taste forbear,
If ever thou wouldst reach thy much-loved home.
* * * * *
SONGS IN SEASON
Special songs for each season, and special songs for each noted day in
each season. There are twenty Songs of Springtime, eight Flower Songs,
thirteen Bird Songs, twenty-six Songs of Autumn, thirty Winter Songs,
and twenty Miscellaneous Songs. The general arrangement is by Miss
George. Words by Lydia Avery Coonley and others. Music by Mary E.
Conrade, Jessie L. Gaynor, Frank Atkinson, and others. It is a charming
song book, and will be used in all seasons. Contains 160 pages. Paper,
50c.; cloth, 75c.
STORIES IN SEASON.
Contains stories suitable for reading by the teachers: eighteen about
Autumn, sixteen on Winter, twenty-one on Spring. Several poems on each
season of the year, etc. They have been selected from a variety of
sources and put in usable form by Miss George, and will be welcomed by
all teachers. Suitable for Primary and Intermediate Grades. 160 pages.
Paper; price, 50c.
CHRISTMAS IN OTHER LANDS.
First-class entertainments for Primary and Intermediate Grades. Contains
full-page pictures, Boyhood of Christ, Christ Blessing the Little
Children, Three Madonnas, thirteen full-page pictures showing costumes
of the children of as many different nations, such as Russia, Italy,
Germany, etc. Sixteen pages of music, besides a large amount of original
recitations, suggestions, accounts, and descriptions of how Christmas is
observed in other countries. Price, 25c.
WASHINGTON AND LINCOLN.
By Miss George and Mrs. Avery Coonley. Wholly original. Mrs. Coonley has
written in rhyme descriptions of the early homes of these patriots,
their mothers, their school days, the particular work of each, their
particularly good qualities, etc., etc. These are excellent for readings
and recitations. Miss George has given, in several pages of particularly
good matter, plans for observing the birthdays of each. Songs and
pictures complete the book. Price, 25c.
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