National Geographic : 1927 Oct
HOW LATIN AMERICA LOOKS FROM THE AIR Photograph by M. Mancilla MISTI VOLCANO, PERU, AS SEEN FROM AREQUIPA finally got into the air and sped southeast along the coast. Minatitlan, on the Coatzacoalcos River, 20 miles from Puerto Mexico, where the British have developed an extensive oil enterprise, was our direct objective. Here we landed on the river and tied to an oil company's wharf. The New Year's holiday spent there with our English friends-a regular, rousing hands-across the-sea sort of party-remains one of the happiest memories of our eventful voyage. A bumpy New Year's Day ride in the skies carried us across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec from Minatitlan to Salina Cruz, on the Pacific coast. Borne by a howling gale, we made that 150-mile hop in 75 minutes flat, including the climb south of Mount Zempoaltepec, more than II,ooo feet high ! With the wind twisting our tails, we raced over swamps, jungles, and moun tains. As we approached the heights, the velocity of the wind became terrific. As it swept around mountain peaks, we had to fight our controls every second. One moment an air wave would strike one wing and almost capsize the plane; the next moment another would strike the en- tire machine and it would skyrocket for several hundred feet; then a descending current would grab us and hurl us earth ward. With these angry wind gods we strug gled all the way to Salina Cruz. Here, with rare luck, we managed to land be hind a breakwater and get upon the wind swept beach, where we made anchors for our tugging planes by burying railroad ties in the sand. Salina Cruz itself, western terminus of the Transisthmian Railway, lies among bare brown hills that tumble down to sea. Long ago much of the land in this vicinity was granted to Cortez by the King of Spain, and it is said his descendants held it until within very recent years. I heard that the cross of Santiago, used as a cat tle brand in the early days of Spanish rule, is still employed as a branding iron on the big haciendas of this Tehuantepec country. For years American and European en gineers talked of Salina Cruz as the pos sible western terminus of a ship railway across Tehuantepec. The Panama Canal, of course, marked the end of any such plan.