Here, you were confined to a quagmire by impervious underwood of prickly pear, penguin, and speargrass; and when we rode under the drooping branches of the trees, that the leaves might brush away the halo of musquittoes, flying ants, and other winged plagues that buzzed about our temples, we found, to our dismay, that we had made bad worse by the introduction of a whole colony of garapatos, or wood ticks, into our eyebrows and hair.
I proceeded up the river, which is here about a hundred yards across, and very deep; it rolls sluggishly along through a low swampy country, covered to the water's edge with thick sedges and underwood, below which the water stagnates, and generates myriads of musquittoes, and other troublesome insects, and sends up whole clouds of noxious vapours, redolent of yellow fever, and ague, and cramps, and all manner of comfortable things.
Under this I slung my grass hammock transversely from corner to corner, tricing it well up to the rafters, so that it hung about five feet from the ground; while beneath Mangrove lit a fire, for the twofold purpose, as it struck me, of driving off the musquittoes, and converting his Majesty's officer into ham or hung beef; and after having made mulo fast to one of the posts, with a bundle of malojo, or the green stems of Indian corn or maize, under his nose, he borrowed a plank from a neighbouring hut, and laid himself down on it at full length, covered up with a blanket, as if he had been a corpse, and soon fell fast asleep.
I instinctively stretched forth my hands and closed them, clutching by the action hundreds of enormous musquittoes, whose droning, singing noise how almost deafened me. The air was literally filled by a dense swarm of these insects; and the agony caused by their repeated and venomous stings was indescribable. It was a perfect plague of Egypt.
The horrible night passed in the ravine, the foul and suffocating vapours, the furious attack of the musquittoes the bites of which, and the consequent fever and inflammation, had thus disfigured us all recurred to our memory. But the women, the fight with the monsters beasts Indians whatever they were, that was still incomprehensible.
I then slung my hammock under the toldo, and lighting a slow match, at the end of it forwards, to smoke away the musquittoes, having previously covered the aftermost end with a mat, I wrapped myself in my cloak, and turned in to take my snooze. We weighed again about two in the morning.
Shortly after we had fallen asleep, a party of Mexican travellers had arrived, and established themselves within a few hundred yards of us, but on a rising ground, where they avoided the mephitic vapours and the musquittoes which had so tortured Rowley and myself.
Those Mexican half-breeds, half Indian half Spaniard, with sometimes a dash of the Negro, are themselves so little pervious to the dangers and evils of their soil and climate, that they never seem to remember that Yankee flesh and blood may be rather more susceptible; that niguas and musquittoes, and vomito prieto, as they call their infernal fever, are no trifles to encounter; without mentioning the snakes, and scorpions, and alligators, and other creatures of the kind, which infest their strange, wild, unnatural, and yet beautiful country.