National Geographic : 1940 Apr
CARACAS, CRADLE OF THE LIBERATOR upon stretches of cobblestone pav ing laid down more than two cen turies ago by the Spaniards and still in excellent condition. Near one such place are the fields where the lilies are grown. Rising tier after tier in shallow terraces, the flowering hillside reminded me of the stepped rice fields of the Philippines. The trail crosses the backbone of the cordillera at an altitude in ex cess of 5,000 feet. The path, where it runs for a short distance along the ridge, is in places less than a yard wide. Even our nonchalant mules stepped carefully here. As I looked back at my com panions, indicating the sheer drops on both sides with raised eyebrows, one of them laughed and said, com fortingly, "If you fall off here you will land on the one side in the Plaza Bolivar of Caracas or on the other in the Caribbean Sea." RUINS REVEAL MILITARY GENIUS Where the trail crosses the ridge are, as might be expected, the re mains of a Spanish fort. What ever else may be said about the Spanish conquerors of the southern Americas, they most certainly were canny soldiers. Every strategic place had its fort. This one, called Castillito de la Cumbre (Little Castle of the Summit) today, is very definitely in a strategic place (page 513). Standing on the flat parapet of the ruined fort, one can see on the right hand the Valley of Caracas with its tile-roofed city two thousand feet below, and then on the left look down nearly a mile to where the white breakers of the Caribbean shatter themselves against the brown sands of La Guaira. From their high-perched eyrie the garrison of the lonely fort must have seen majestic galleons, squat hulled slavers, and the rakish craft of freebooters and buccaneers dwarfed to the size of children's toy boats. Great days those must have been, but now the ruined fort straddles the ridge in solitary de cay. Photograph by Luis Marden SCHOOL IS OVER-HENCE THE SMILE A Venezuelan Tom Sawyer carries his books in a European-style leather satchel, but heads for the nearest sand lot to play North American baseball-phonetically spelled beisbol in Latin America (page 498). He lives in a new Caracas suburb of detached homes.