+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

sombre clouds. I looked above and around,
and showers of thin rain enveloped the whole
range of the mountains.

The first sight of the Sierra is startling.
Fatigued with long journeys through Pampas,
which discourage the heart by their seeming
interminability, while even the eye, which,
loves to rove wherever new objects of interest
may be discovered, becomes satiated,—the
sudden appearance and peculiar aspect of the
Sierra, starting into existence by magic, and
stepping forth, as it were, from the surrounding
Pampas to meet your approach, strike the
traveller with a sensation of awe and astonishment.
The gigantic eminence, The Sierra, already
rises forth immediately from the surrounding
side. There can be no doubt that this Sierra
is a single detachment from the Cordilleras,
which, in various forms, traverse the whole
Southern Continent of South America.
Generally speaking, it is much more remarkable
for its curious formation, than its height;
for the highest point is not more than
between eleven thousand and twelve thousand

There are, contiguous to Tandil on the
eastern side, several conical mountains of
sandstone, which are surrounded by
enormous blocks of the same stone. Every one
of them shows evident signs of the most
violent demolition in, probably, a former age,
and, doubtless, by volcanic action. Immense
heaps of immense stones are there in various
and curious formations. Amongst this chaos,
of what I regarded as the disjointed components
of mighty mountains in their throes of
agony, there is one which, although in its
general structure and nature it may be justly
viewed as a specimen, in one particular
presents a phenomenon scarcely again to be found.
It is this: on the very summit of a perfectly
conical mountain about eight hundred feet in
height, thus surrounded by these multiform
accumulations, there lies at the very edge of
the top of the cone, and inclining from the
south side of it over a precipice of nearly
six hundred feet, an enormous stone,
remarkable for its position upon a mountain
eight hundred feet high. It measures forty
feet in height by one hundred and twenty
feet, and reposes on a small base, a kind
of pediment or pedestal, of only four feet
in circumference. There it has been rocking
and balancing itself for ages in defiance
of tempests and hurricanes, spite of all the
efforts made to disturb its equilibrium by
every person who climbs up to see it. Unlike
a similar stone in Cornwall, which was thrown
down by a naval officer, who at a great cost
was made to replace it, nearly every strong
wind moves it on its small base, always
shifting it towards the precipice and back
again. The north wind particularly, which
blows under the longest side of it, inclines it
so much, that when I viewed it under the
action of that wind, every one of our party
expected to see the gigantic mass, at every
moment, hurled down the precipice.

The whole range of the Sierra is, what is
there called, populated; that is to say, it
belongs to various persons, and forms many
Estancias, which are generally situated in
valleys, on the banks of the numerous small
rivers. A long and very hard grass covers
the whole district of the Sierra. The grass is
found there only, and although it is the abode
of the great and small game, which abounds
there, no animal touches it as food. Deer are
not numerous there; but there are, in
abundance, partridges of various sizes,
woodcocks of several classes, ducks and geese in
great variety, ostriches, lions, foxes, snakes.
The mulita is an armadillo which lives in
small holes, and appears to require many such
habitations. The number of such holes is so
great that the greatest caution is necessary
in riding quickly through the valleys. The
peludo is another species of the same class,
differing from the former (the mulita) in
respect of it being larger, flatter, of lighter
colour, and covered with shaggy hair under
the belly. The peludo is found also in the
Pampas, and throughout the South American
provinces; but the mulita lives only in the
Sierra. It is much esteemed throughout
South America on account of the delicacy of
its flesh. It may be easily taken if attacked
in front, while facing you; but otherwise its
capture alive is extremely difficult and improbable.
The lion or puma is only ferocious when
protecting its young; a ferocity springing
solely from its natural affection for the young.
This is strongly exemplified in its behaviour
while hunted under circumstances which do
not excite the protective energies of its
natural affection. Pursued by the dexterous
Guachos, mounted on horseback, it is a
singular spectacle to behold an animal so
powerful, when hotly pressed, after a swift
and perhaps long pursuit, suddenly lie down,
turn his head in the direction opposite to
that of its pursuer, like a dog expecting to
receive the whip of his master, or, as if having
resolved upon an unconditional surrender,
thus places itself in the best possible position
to be enmeshed in the toils of the lasso. Of
course the Guacho throws the never-erring
lasso over the willing neck of the lion, thus
crouchinga single turn of his horse and the
wretched beast dies. Indeed, few wild animals
in this country can be designed "game," in
the sporting sense. Partridges are almost as
easily to be captured. In the districts of the
Sierra scarcely a fowling-piece is to be found.
Mounted on old horsesthe older the better,
because it is desirable that when you
dismount, for the purpose of your " sport," your
horses should remain standingyou proceed,
in company, armed with only a long stick.
You will soon find yourself amongst
innumerable coveys. You get off your horses;
this movement may cause some of them to
rise a little; but it is rather probable that