Friday 24th August 2012 (Letter 1st May 1882)

GCC finds a huge moth, and loses a horse


1st May 1882

My dear Mother,

Back again in Bugabita once more. At the beginning of April, I was in David for a few days packing up a 4th collection from Chiriquí to send off; soon after I went up again to Potrero Volcano, previously in December last and spent about a fortnight there, returning a few days ago. Coming down from these cold places (4000’) you seem as if entering a furnace; hunger drove us down, the provisions all being exhausted, and we were unsuccessful this time with the wild boar; a monkey (the meat is awfully tough) but hunger is a good sauce, a few turkeys and partridges the only things shot.

Lakes near Volcan

Everything is burned up by the sun, no rain beyond a few showers for 4 months. The horses and cattle suffer very much; one of my sick horses died; the other recently bought cannot yet be mounted, so I had to hire for this journey; have to feed them chiefly upon sugar cane, there is nothing else to be got. But it is already threatening rain now in the afternoons, thundering a good deal, so I suppose the rains will soon begin.

I made rather a good, though small, collection this trip, there is an enormous moth 9.5 -10.5 inches in expanse of wings up in these high places, more like a bat when flying.

A huge Noctuid moth, Letis sp., similar to the one GCC mentions. This one was photographed in Guatemala

Went to David last month, chiefly in hopes of finding letters from you and Mr. Godman but without result, though there were English and Guatemalan letters awaiting me. In David they have been rather gay owing to the President of the State having recently paid a visit to the place. I left, however, two days before he arrived. Tobacco nearly all gathered in now, they are sowing rice, maize etc. There has been a change in the Consulate in Panama, I however send my letters as before; I suppose the new Consul will forward them.

There are enormous uninhabited forests between the Potrero Volcan and the first town in Costa Rica, Terrava; from the foot of the precipitous ascent of the Volcano you see a great deal of this forestland, the line of the view to the west is bounded by a range of mountains, a spur of the Cordilleras, terminating seawards in Point Burico – would have liked to have ascended the Cordillera but it is too steep. From the top the two oceans are to be seen; in going up from Bugabita to the Potrero you travel for 7 or 8 hours through dense forest.

We had a fresh arrival in Chiriquí recently, a Frenchman, who came by land from Panama; he has a great pile of letters of introduction to all sorts of people in Central America, including myself! He says he has come to study the languages, customs, antiquities etc, of the Indians, but to me he is rather a mystery.

One of the Germans settled here sends large collections of insects every year to Germany; indeed he almost makes his living by it. He lives about 2 miles from me, and we see a good deal of one another, he does not speak English so we have to talk Spanish.

In Bugabita, we are quite shut in by second growth, the roads are only narrow paths through the forest, about half a mile of us to the west the forest proper commences and continues for a great distance and far beyond the River Chiriquí Viejo, a clearing in these woods, the natives plant their rice, fencing in a piece here and a piece there, fence usually of a horribly spiny plant like a large pineapple, the cattle are turned loose to feed in these woods, the people catching them generally with the bribe of a little salt, these cattle are so hungry now they even eat the thatch of the houses and break in wherever they can to get at the sugar cane and bananas.

With regards to all old friends, and best love to all,

A rainbow near Volcan

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