National Geographic : 1948 Nov
Great Falls of the Uruguay River Block Navigation 200 Miles Upstream From shore to shore the roaring cataract drops down a ladder of black basaltic rocks. Shadowy patches in the distance mark eucalyptus groves planted in a sea of grass to shelter livestock. Separating Uruguay (right) from Argentina, the river joins the Parana above Buenos Aires and becomes the Rio de la Plata. down would come the iron gate to hold him prisoner until the authorities arrived. W. H. Hudson, Argentine by birth but of New England parents, made the gauchos live again in his book about Uruguay, The Purple Land. All Uruguayans love the colorful gaucho of their country's past, and the highest compli ment they can pay you is to say you are muv gaucho. Just beyond Santa Teresa, the border town of Chuy straddles the international line. One side of the main street is Uruguay; the other Brazil. Oxcart a National Symbol Near here, a small fort, San Miguel, part of the colonial border defenses, forms another national monument. Here the Government keeps an exact duplicate of the old ox wagon of the plains. Corresponding to the covered wagon of the American West, the high-wheeled wagon with rounded top was, with the passenger diligence, the only vehicle that crossed the expanses of "shoreless plain." In Montevideo stands a bronze monument to this piece of the Banda Oriental's past. By the noted Uruguayan sculptor Jose Belloni, it is one of the most beautiful public monu ments I have ever seen (page 644). Many wars have raged about the frontier area. The Uruguayans have always been known as good, tough soldiers. They tell a story about a General Medina, who fought early in the 19th century against the Portu guese. Leading a cavalry charge against the enemy, he shouted an order. "Take off your ponchos, boys; it won't be cold in the next world!" A line drawn from Montevideo to Rivera in the north divides Uruguay almost exactly in half. I flew to Rivera one morning, crossing at Durazno the River Yi, beloved of the hero of The Purple Land.