Darwin's hanging out in Argentina, waiting for the Beagle to pick him up and take him back to civilization, and it gives him a chance to write a bunch of what I believe they call three-dot items, had three dots been invented in 1839. He's interested in everything! Indians, for example:
One glance at the rastro tells these people a whole history. Supposing they examine the track of a thousand horses, they will soon guess the number of mounted ones by seeing how many have cantered; by the depth of the other impressions, whether any horses were loaded with cargoes; by the irregularity of the footsteps, how far tired; by the manner in which the food has been cooked, whether the pursued travelled in haste; by the general appearance, how long it has been since they passed. ...With the sun for their guide, mare’s flesh for food, their saddle-cloths for beds,—as long as there is a little water, these men would penetrate to the end of the world.Also, imperialist atrocities against Indians are also interesting:
My informer said, when he was pursuing an Indian, the man cried out for mercy, at the same time that he was covertly loosing the bolas from his waist, meaning to whirl it round his head and so strike his pursuer. “I however struck him with my sabre to the ground, and then got off my horse, and cut his throat with my knife.” This is a dark picture; but how much more shocking is the unquestionable fact, that all the women who appear above twenty years old are massacred in cold blood! When I exclaimed that this appeared rather inhuman, he answered, “Why, what can be done? they breed so!”Also? Somebody found an arrowhead!
...The escape of the Indians to the south of the Rio Negro, where in such a vast unknown country they would be safe, is prevented by a treaty with the Tehuelches to this effect;—that Rosas pays them so much to slaughter every Indian who passes to the south of the river, but if they fail in so doing, they themselves are to be exterminated.
He told me it was found near the island of Cholechel, and that they are frequently picked up there. It was between two and three inches long, and therefore twice as large as those now used in Tierra del Fuego: it was made of opaque cream-coloured flint, but the point and barbs had been intentionally broken off. It is well known that no Pampas Indians now use bows and arrows.It's like a letter from a summer camp where you can go watch a real live genocide. I suppose when you've spent a sea voyage watching the nature red in tooth and claw, the brutalities of man v. man start to seem inevitable/natural.