When the weather was very hot at Santa Cruz, the better sort of the inhabitants chose cooler residences higher up in the mountains, and these they could establish in whatever degree of temperature they chose; for in proportion as they ascended the air became cooler, the famous Peak being (though a volcano) clad in perpetual snow at its summit. We understood that the rain fell very heavy at certain seasons; and, on the sides of the hills which surrounded the town, ridges or low walls of stone were constructed at short distances, with intervals in them, to break the force of the water, which otherwise, descending in torrents, would sweep away every thing before it. Around Santa Cruz, indeed, there appeared but little vegetation for which to be apprehensive, nor did the prospect brighten till we came within view of the town named Laguna, an inland settlement, and once the capital of the island.
For this place a party of us set forward on the 8th, mounted, according to the custom of the country, upon mules or asses. Our route lay over hills and mountains of rock continually ascending, until within a short distance of the town, at which we arrived in between two and three hours from our leaving Santa Cruz. The road over which we passed was wide, but for the greatest part of it we travelled over loose stones that bore all the appearance of cinders; in some places resembling a regular pavement, and in others our beasts were compelled to scramble as well as they could over the hard solid rock. We found that Laguna, which was somewhat better than three English miles distant from Santa Cruz, had formerly been a populous city; the streets were spacious, and laid out at right angles with each other.
Here were two monasteries and as many convents. The monastery of St Augustine we visited; and the good fathers of it with great civility conducted us to their chapel, though it was preparing for the celebration of some religious ceremony. We found the altar-piece, on which was commonly displayed all their finery and taste, neat, light, and elegant. Few paintings were to be seen; the best were half-lengths of some of the saints disposed round the pulpit. The form of this building was a quadrangle, the centre of which was laid out in garden-ground, elegantly divided into walks, bordered with roses, myrtle, and a variety of other shrubs and flowers. Hence we proceeded to the retreat of religious females, but had not chosen the proper time for paying our respects, which ceremony we therefore deferred until our return in the evening from an excursion into the adjacent country.