Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children. 1919.

On the Way to Porto Rico

U. S. S. Louisiana,
At Sea, November 20, 1906.

This is the third day out from Panama. We have been steaming steadily in the teeth of the trade wind. It has blown pretty hard, and the ship has pitched a little, but not enough to make either Mother or me uncomfortable.

Panama was a great sight. In the first place it was strange and beautiful with its mass of luxuriant tropic jungle, with the treacherous tropic rivers trailing here and there through it; and it was lovely to see the orchids and brilliant butterflies and the strange birds and snakes and lizards, and finally the strange old Spanish towns and the queer thatch and bamboo huts of the ordinary natives. In the next place it is a tremendous sight to see the work on the canal going on. From the chief engineer and the chief sanitary officer down to the last arrived machinist or time-keeper, the five thousand Americans at work on the Isthmus seemed to me an exceptionally able, energetic lot, some of them grumbling, of course, but on the whole a mighty good lot of men. The West Indian negroes offer a greater problem, but they are doing pretty well also. I was astonished at the progress made. We spent the three days in working from dawn until long after darkness—dear Dr. Rixey being, of course, my faithful companion. Mother would see all she liked and then would go off on a little spree by herself, and she enjoyed it to the full.