To await an answer, however, would have involved too great a loss of time. Luckily I found three dare-devil fellows, but recently come into the valley for a living, who were willing to go with me. These, together with the man already mentioned and one Cora Indian, enabled me to make a start. Thus I parted from pretty San Francisco, and the nice Indians there, who had believed in me in spite of the wickedness the Mexicans had attributed to me. The Coras are the only primitive race I have met who seem to have acquired the good qualities of the white man and none of his bad ones.
On an oppressively hot June morning, when I finally got away, the alcalde rode along with me for a couple of miles. We soon began to ascend the slope of the mountains that form the western barrier of the Huichol country, which, among the Mexicans, is reputed to be accessible only at four points. Next morning, while packing the mules, the father of one of my Mexicans ran up to us with a message that seemed quite alarming. Immediately after I left San Francisco yesterday, the Mexican authority at Jesus Maria had come over to tell me that the Huichols were on the warpath and determined not to allow me to enter their pueblos. The messenger impressed upon my men the necessity of turning back and implored them not to run any risk by accompanying me. The chief packer came hastily to me with this news, which I at once declared to be false. But the men, nevertheless, stopped packing, and proposed to go back. They declared that the Huichols were bad, that they were assassins, that there were many of them, and that they would kill us all.
Now, what was I to do? To turn back from the tribe the study of which had been from the outset my principal aim was not to be thought of; even to delay the trip would be impossible, as the wet season was fast approaching, in which one cannot travel for months. I tried to reason with them and to ease their minds by pointing out the great experience I had had with Indians in general. I also appealed to their manly pride and courage. “Have we not five rifles?” I said. “Cannot each one of you fight fifty Indians?” Still they wavered, and it looked as if they were going to desert me, when the cook courageously exclaimed: "Vamos, vamos!" ("Let us go on!”) They again began to pack, and I managed to keep my troupe together.
The real danger for me lay in the evil rumours the Mexicans had spread, and in. the fact that the whites were afraid of me. The Indians do not follow the “neighbours” in their reasoning; they only think that a white man of whom even the Mexicans are afraid must certainly be terrible. The reason why I had chosen this route was that a friend of mine in far-away Guadalajara had given me a letter of recommendation to an acquaintance of his, a half-caste, who acted as escribano (secretary) to the pueblo of San Andres, or, to give its name in full, San Andres Coamiata. I had been told that this man was temporarily absent, in which case I should be at the mercy of the strange Indians.