Having long struggled to overcome the desire we felt to descend the Guarapiche to the Golfo Triste, we took the direct road to the mountains. The valleys of Guanaguana and Caripe are separated by a kind of dyke, or calcareous ridge, well known by the name of the Cuchilla* de Guanaguana.
At that period, the Punta Delgado, on the southern coast of the gulf of Cariaco, became perceptibly enlarged; and in the Rio Guarapiche, near the village of Maturin, a shoal was formed, no doubt by the action of the elastic fluids, which displaced and raised up the bed of the river.
The beautiful valley of Guanaguana stretches towards the east, opening into the plains of Punzera and Terecen. We wished to visit those plains, and examine the springs of petroleum, lying between the river Guarapiche and the Rio Areo; but the rainy season had already arrived, and we were in daily perplexity how to dry and preserve the plants we had collected.
It was founded in 1717 by Domingo Arias, on the return of an expedition to the mouth of the Guarapiche, undertaken with the view of destroying an establishment which some French freebooters had attempted to found.
He sowed the first seeds of civilization among these mountains. Their territory occupies a space along the elevated mountains of the Cocollar and the Guacharo, the banks of the Guarapiche, of the Rio Colorado, of the Areo, and of the Cano de Caripe.
Small tufts of scattered trees rise in the ravines; and notwithstanding the apparent uniformity of vegetation, great numbers of curious plants* are found here. The pejoa is found round the lake of Cocollar, which gives birth to the great river Guarapiche. We met with the same shrub at the Cuchilla de Guanaguana.
The rains are much less frequent and less violent in this place than in the interior of New Andalusia, at Cumanacoa, and on the banks of the Guarapiche.
Geographers, who suppose the existence of a chain of mountains wherever there is a line of division, have not failed to mark one in the maps, at the sources of the Rio Neveri, the Unare, the Guarapiche, and the Pao. Thus the priests of Mongol race, according to ancient and superstitious custom, erect oboes, or little mounds of stone, on every point where the rivers flow in an opposite direction.
Its height is so inconsiderable that it would scarcely be an obstacle to the establishment of inland navigation in this part of the Llanos. No bifurcation of this kind exists in the Llano. A great number of Carib Indians, who now inhabit the missions of Piritu, were formerly on the north and east of the table-land of Amana, between Maturin, the mouth of the Rio Arco, and the Guarapiche.
Other tembladores, real gymnoti or electric eels, inhabit the Rio Colorado, the Guarapiche, and several little streams which traverse the Missions of the Chayma Indians. They abound also in the large rivers of America, the Orinoco, the Amazon, and the Meta; but the force of the currents and the depth of the water, prevent them from being caught by the Indians.