VII. AROUND THE ISLAND: Continued
The next city, eastward, is Camaguey, in many ways doubtless the best worth a visit, next to Havana, of any city on the island. It is a place of interesting history and, for me personally, a place of somewhat mixed recollections. The history may wait until I have told my story. I think it must have been on my third visit to the island, early in 1902. On my arrival in Havana, I met my friend Charles M. Pepper, a fellow laborer in the newspaper field. He at once informed me that he and I were to start the next morning for a three or four weeks' journey around the island. It was news to me, and the fact that my baggage, excepting the suitcase that I carried, had failed to come on the boat that brought me, led me to demur. My objections were overruled on the ground that we could carry little baggage anyway, and all that was needed could be bought before starting, or along the way. The next morning saw us on the early train for Matanzas. We spent a week or ten days in that city, in Cardenas, Sagua, Santa Clara, and Cienfuegos, renewing former acquaintance and noting the changes effected by the restoration from the war period. That was before the completion of the Cuba Railway. To get to Camaguey, then known as Puerto Principe, we took the steamer at Cienfuegos and journeyed along the coast to Jucaro. There, because of shallow water, we were dropped into a shore boat some four or five miles from the coast, and there our troubles began. Fortunately, it was early morning. We got something to eat and some coffee, which is almost invariably good in Cuba, but when we meet nowadays we have a laugh over that breakfast at Jucaro. I don't know, and really don't care, what the place is now. After some hours of waiting, we secured passage in an antiquated little car attached to a freight train carrying supplies and structural material to Ciego de Avila, for use by the railway then being built in both directions, eastward and westward from that point. The line that there crosses the island from north to south was built in the time of the Ten Years' War (1868-1878) as a barrier against the revolutionists operating in eastern Cuba. It was restored for use in the revolution of 1895, but its blockhouses at every kilometre, and its barbed wire tangles, were entirely ineffective against Gomez and Maceo and other leaders, all of whom crossed it at their own sweet will, although not without an occasional vicious little contest. We reached Ciego de Avila soon after noon, and had to wait there over night for a further advance. The place is now a thriving little city, but it was then a somewhat sprawling village with a building that was called a hotel. But we got food and drink and beds, all that is really necessary for experienced campaigners. For the next two days, Old Man Trouble made himself our personal companion and did not lose sight of us for a single minute.