Globetrotting Writer Describes Miserable Night in an Indian Hut

Jan 8, 2014

 Try to imagine a 57-year-old Viennese woman, drenched from the rain, seeking shelter in 1853 in a remote Smith River Indian Village northeast of newly founded Crescent City, Calif.

 The woman, travel adventurer Ida Pfeiffer, crouches into a hut built over a hole in the ground, its roof covered with leaves and branches.  She joins a dozen naked Indians lying around a blazing fire. Pfeifer, overcome by the heat and vapors as more curious Indians crowd into the hut, seeks fresh air outside. The rain drives her back inside, the men leave, and she beds down with the women. She later writes, “One of them placed herself so close on one side of me that I could hardly turn around, and on the other side … stood a large basket containing smoked fish; (and) overhead hung another basket of fish to be smoked; and we lay on the bare, cold ground, without a pillow or covering, so it may be imagined what a luxurious night I passed.” Pfeiffer wrote about her miserable night in a book titled A Lady’s Second Journey Round the World, a sequel to an earlier travel book that made her famous.  

 Source: Pfeiffer, Ida. A Lady's Second Journey Round the World. Vol. 2. London: Longman, Brown, Green , and Longmans, 1855. 88-91. Google Books. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.