National Geographic : 1907 Dec
VOL. XVIII, No. 12 WASHINGTON DECEMBER, 1907 MADEIRA, ON THE WAY TO ITALY BY DAVID FAIRCHILD THERE is something about an isl and in mid-ocean which is at tractive, and if it is one of those mere specks on the blue field of a school boy's geography, so small that one's boy ish wonder is that it was worth naming at all, it is almost irresistible. There is one such spot of land, little more than twice the size of the District of Columbia, which has on it mountains 6,000 feet high, and which, although dis covered before America and so thickly populated that there are 625 inhabitants to the square mile, has deep valleys that have scarcely been explored and inhabit ants who have grown to old age without ever owning a looking-glass. On this spot of land the tropical banana and tree fern and the temperate-region oak and sycamore grow in sight of each other, and over every high wall great masses of flowering creepers are in bloom, and in the gardens masses of camellias and all sorts of flowering shrubs are perpetu ally in flower, frowned down upon by the snow-banks which cover the mountain peaks. This is Madeira, one of the most unique, one of the most beautiful, of all the volcanic mountain peaks that raise their summits above the surface of the ocean. It is one of the quiet spots of the world and one to which tired souls from our great cities are turning for rest when the gray skies and the piles of sooty snow in the streets make the nervous life of a metropolis unbearable. No wonder it is one of the quietest places in the world, for, although the roads are paved with round beach pebbles, there are no horses shod with iron nor jolting wheels to re mind you of the fact. This seems so small a thing to describe that one cannot conceive what a difference the absence of horses and carriages makes to one fresh from the streets of an American city teeming with them. All vehicles in Madeira are on run ners. If you go calling, it is in a bullock sledge, with canopy top and comfortable seats. If you move a bank safe or a steam-boiler, it is carried on a "stone boat" or sledge of poles, and you may have to get forty oxen to pull it. If you are in a villa on the hillside and want to get downtown, you take a running car and slide down over the cobblestones. A ride in a running car is an experi ence to be ranked with the initial ride in an auto. You sit down in a comfortably cushioned seat in a low basket on wooden runners and brace yourself for the slide. Two strong men, each holding a guide rope, pull your car over a bag of grease to grease the runners, and then give you a running shove, and jump each on a LATIO'AL GECTDAPAI( MA_ A Dc~ r ~----?