National Geographic : 1910 May
410 THE NATIONAL GEC darken the ponds as far as the eye can reach. " After leaving Villa Mercedes we',are on "The Argentine and Great Western" until we reach Mendoza, where we change to the narrow gauge of "The Argentine Transandine." If we have anticipated any discomfort, thus far we are agreeably disappointed. We have journeyed in a comfortable "sleeper" and have voted the "diner" excellent. Mendoza is a hustling little town in the heart of the wine industry. Many Italians come here annually from the mother country to work in the vineyards, returning to Europe when the season is over. In the past much Chilian wine has found its way across the border, but this export is decreasing with the remarkable development of the wine industry in the Argentine province of Mendoza. The export from Argentina into Chile is mainly that of cattle. Many of the staple commercial products, of the two republics are now identical, and it is feared that the producers on either fron tier will clamor for protection against one another, now that there is an easier method of transportation. Argentina's important exports of grains, hides, and beef, and Chile's nitrates and copper will Tbe sent abroad by sea as heretofore, but the manufactured goods imported into these countries from Europe and Amer ica will probably cross the continent by rail. THE CHRIST OF THE ANDES Leaving Mendoza, we begin to climb, and the temperature falls as the altitude increases. At Puente-del-Inca there is a natural bridge spanning the mountain torrent. Here are situated the famous medicinal baths (more accessible to Chil ian invalids since the opening of the Summit tunnel). Arriving at Las Cue vas, we leave the train, an army of be ponchoed guides and sturdy mules await ing us. We and our heterogeneous belongings are to be borne by the patient little beasts up over the Cumbre, 12,605 feet above sea-level. Great trunks and hat-boxes bearing flaring Eurcpean )GRAPHIC MAGAZINE labels, golf clubs, tennis rackets, bags, and boxes of all sorts and descriptions are loaded on pan'er-wise, and off we all jog on a trot for Chile. A good-natured crowd of passengers tisually, these who cross the Andes, mak ing light of cold and of unaccustomed mounts. It is a different story in the Andean passes farther north, where the occasional wayfarer endures extreme hardships. The Pass of Uspallata has been a highway for so many years that its rugged walls no longer look formid able to the summer traveler. Less than an hour after leaving Las Cuevas we reach the summit and pause to marvel at the panorama. The guides, meanwhile, arrange saddles and tighten girths for our slide down the Chilian wall. Snow-crowned mountains rise on every side, salient rocky peaks here and there piercing the blue. Dominating the heights, yet ruling through the power of love rather than of might, "The Christ of the Andes" stands on the summit, on the borderland of the two republics. Cast from the cannon of the two na tions, this symbol of peace and fraternity was erected at the time of the border dispute, when the King of England acted as arbitrator. On a gigantic column, sur mounted by a globe on which the con figuration of the earth is outlined, this colossal figure, 26 feet in height, stands holding a cross in one hand, extending a blessing with the other. The conception of such a monument came from the hearts of two natives of Argentina, Bishop Benavente and Sefiora de Costa. It was the splendid woman, Seiora de Costa, who, as president of the Christian Mothers' Association of Buenos Aires, undertook the work of securing funds for the creation of the statue. The Argentine and Chilian au thorities were later interested in the work and, in March, 1904, three thousand Argentinos and Chiliars assembled to witness the unveiling of the monument. The venerable Bishop Benavente himself offered up a solemn mass and blessed the peace flag, which embodies the colors of all the flags of the Americas.