Balboa ascends slowly. His musket is heavy and he would have gladly left it down below, but he doesn’t trust his countrymen any more than he trusts the sullen Indians. So he bears the weight. But the musket is nothing. He is dragging the mantle of civilization up the pristine slopes, over the mud, over the leaves that cast as much shade as a parasol but with none of the charm.
Balboa is that divining line between the modern and the primitive. As he moves the shadow of Spain moves with him.