National Geographic : 1931 Jan
SKYPATHS THROUGH LATIN AMERICA Photograph by Jacob Gayer MORNING ACTIVITY IN PARAMARIBO, DUTCH GUIANA Nothing that can be balanced on the head is ever carried otherwise here, as in many other tropical lands. It is not uncommon to see a Paramaribo woman transporting a piece of furniture, or a coffin, in this manner. Even when wearing the old-time "cotta-missie" costume, a voluminous dress stiffened to boardlike quality and padded front and back with pillows, she moves with surprising ease and grace. century. This was an age of adventure, too, for the British. Hawkins, Drake, Oxen ham, Barker, and others passed this way, "singeing the Spaniards' beards." But it wasn't gold, nor adventure with arms, which in the end made money for England in Trinidad and other islands. It was trade, and agriculture based on slaves. Catching blacks in Africa and selling them here also piled up huge fortunes. Slave labor built up the cacao and sugar planta tions. When imperial statute banned slav ery, in 1834, shiploads of East Indian coolie workers were imported by the Gov ernment and indentured to planters. To day about one-third of the 400,000 people on Trinidad are Indian coolies or their descendants. One babu asked the public library for "Solajers Tree." "What he wants is 'Soldiers Three'," said the ex perienced librarian. These West Indies, measured by world trade at the time, were worth more to Eng land than her North American colonies, up to the Revolution. Then sugar was king; now, in Trinidad, oil and asphalt are above everything. THE ORINOCO DELTA IS A LONELY WASTE It was a lost world we flew over from Trinidad to British Guiana. We did not fly the usual over-water course, but turned inland from time to time. Up yellow and brown estuaries of the dismal Orinoco Delta we flew, crossed intervening green jungle wastes, and returned to the muddy coastal tide flats by some other wandering stream in this swampy labyrinth. Except for two or three widely separated grass huts of savages, we saw no signs at all of human life (see page 36). But birds-countless thousands! Flocks of bright-red parrots tumbled away into the brush with erratic motions, like rags blown in the wind. Herons, ducks, lit erally clouds of some long-legged, slow flying white bird; waders in armies-all fled from the plane's roar (see page 38).