Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon, Vol. II/6
Market place — Cinchona bark — Funeral ceremonies — Longevity — Kindness of British and Brazilian ministers —French schoolmistresses — Ancient habitations — Sucre, the capital — Departments of Chuquisaca and Tarija — River Bermejo — Distribution of vegetable life — Visit to Lake Uarauara — Snow line — Balls — Theatre — Department of Santa Cruz — Creole population — Daily life — Province of Chiquitos — Indians — Labors of the Jesuits — Paraguay river
146 Market Place
On the regular days the market place is crowded with Indians selling, while Creoles are the principal buyers. The market is conveniently arranged; on one side are the dry-goods huxters; on another, those with shoes and beads. Beef, mutton, and pork are kept by themselves, while fruits occupy a separate part. In the centre a number of women cook chupe for those who are from home. In the street stand droves of jackasses patiently waiting with forefeet hobbled. Children sleep while slung to their mothers’ backs. The gay laugh of the Indian girls often makes the country boys sputter their chupe.Small bundles of wood and charcoal are brought from the further side of the ridge. Indians leave town with the setting sun and return during the night, driving donkeys loaded with snow to be sold to the ice-cream facturers.
These various businesses are on a small scale, but all contribute their mite, and the market of Cochabamba is well supplied with everything the inhabitants need. The candle-makers do a good business. Oil costs so much after the transit across the mountains that it is seldom used. We were present when a merchant unpacked some boxes of French wines and sweet oil. Every fourth bottle was broken, and some bottles empty. This loss was deducted from the pay of the arriero. The poor man looked sad at the smallness of his receipts after fourteen days labor over the mountains from the coast. French articles excite the fancy of the people very much, such as work-boxes, cigar cases, fancy lace. The women sometimes buy, for the sake of getting the pretty paper boxes the French put their goods in. Very common glassware sells well, but costly articles are more or less injured by the journey, and find few purchasers here. The people are more fond of trade than any other employment; they seem to take pleasure in buying and selling again, and to possess an active industry seldom met with.
The great business house in Cochabamba is the bank for the deposit and purchase of cinchona bark, gathered along the northeast side of a
CINCHONA BANK. 147
ridge in the province of Yuracares. This bark was first gathered in quantities in 1849, though known for many years. The best quality is not quite equal to that of Yungas, but only second to it. There are four other classes of inferior bark, for some of which the bank pays fifteen dollars per quintal. The best, by law, is worth fifty-four dollars. The freight to Arica is seventeen dollars the mule load of three quintals. Six thousand quintals of bark have already been gathered from Yuracares. The bank was established in the year 1851. Mr. Haenke mentioned the existence of cinchona bark on his visit to Yuracares in 1796, but it was never closely examined until 1850, when it was found to be of such good quality that the people of Cochabamba endeavored to get a bank established upon an improved plan. This was not agreeable to those at La Paz, and when the Yuracares bark was sent to that bank to have its value determined, it was pronounced bad. The judges of Tacna, Lima, and Valparaiso gave a different opinion. A shrewd business man of Cochabamba requested his agent in La Paz to forward a quintal of Yungas bark that had already passed inspection as good bark through their bank. It was then made up in the Cochabamba fashion, and bearing a Yuracares mark, was sent back to the La Paz bank. In regular course it was pronounced bad. The case was then laid before the government; a new company was formed, and a bank was established here, but without the proposed improvements.
The eighth article of the last constitution declares, “All men may enter the territory of Bolivia, live in it, and are at liberty to take away with them their property, paying duties to the treasury, according to laws of police and the custom-house.”
The forests are open to all who choose to enter them; the business is more valuable than mining. Men sometimes remain after the rainy season has commenced. We have dreadful accounts of the loss of life among the woodsmen this month (December) by the sickness brought on by exposure to the climate. Many poor families are without husbands and fathers. They have died in the woods, while seeking fortunes.
The Indians comparatively pay little attention to the business. They make use of cinchona, as well as of other barks, but seldom trade with it. There is a bark from the province of Matto Grosso, in Brazil, which the Indians prefer in cases of fever and ague. It is from a large tree with very small leaves, violet blossoms, and the bark very hard. They boil it in water till the decoction becomes deep red, and then drink it, It is said by them to be a certain cure, although this bark is not yet known in the trade. The bank is obliged to keep watchmen along the roads to the entrances of the forests during the time the government
148 FUNERAL CEREMONIES.
prohibits the gathering of bark, to see there is no smuggling. This plan is both difficult and expensive. From Yungas the woodsmen sometimes find their way into Peru by secret paths through the tangled forests, and exchange bark under the shade of trees in the Amazon basin for the gold of Carabaya. It is astonishing to see the toil and labor these poor men go through under tropical sun and rains for this article of trade; yet neither they nor those having the monopoly appear to be accumulating money. The expenses of labor, the distance from market, and the want of system in the business appear to be obstructions. The law requires the woodsman to sell his bark to the bank; the company again are required by the same law to pay fixed prices per quintal. The market prices in the northern countries are so low that the bank is occasionally obliged to stop. The woodsmen crowd in and require money for their bark; the business becomes choked, and the people engaged are dissatisfied. Then the government is called upon for temporary relief for money to pay the woodsmen, or a decree to prohibit the gathering of bark until the market prices rise.
While in Cochabamba we witnessed ceremonials for the funeral of a little child. A number of ladies came to prepare the infant for the grave. They dressed it in a white silk frock, fastened on by diamond rings, and trimmed with gold and silver threads; the little feet and head bare. In its right hand was placed a golden cross, and in the left a small silver lamb. The coffin was lined with deep-blue silk, inside of which was placed a little bed; the whole hung by three bands of blue and white ribbon. While the ladies were engaged upon this preparation, they laughed and talked as though making very different preparations. The mother and family were brought in to see the arrangements, Six little boys, dressed in black, held the ribbons, and carried the child towards the church. The ladies, headed by the commadre (godmother)of the dead infant, followed, and after them friends on foot. The eldest sister was the only one of the family who followed to the church. As the boys moved along through the streets, Indian women crowded round to look at and admire the finery. The boys were cautioned to see that none of the jewellery were stolen. These are taken off after the body leaves the church for the graveyard, where the coffin is placed on a shelf in a brick wall above ground. Great care is taken that the coffin is not stolen, particularly.when it is an expensive one, The same coffin is sold several times for eight dollars. Among the mestizos we are told are found many bad people. Twenty priests, with lighted candles, knelt in prayer by the music of “misa de las Angelas” — angels’ mass. The ladies returned to the house of the mother, and spent the
evening sociably, as though nothing had happened. The regular custom of the country is to have music and dancing in the house before the corpse is taken to the church, and even to bring in chicha; but as the father of this child was a foreigner, no such practice was permitted. The doctrine taught by the church seems to be, that as the child is in Heaven, it is cause for rejoicing and merry-making. This appears to be a bounty for negligence and inattention to life.
I saw a funeral passing through the streets of Cochabamba, preceded by a man with a five-gallon jar of chicha on his head. At the corners of the streets, when those who carried the corpse were tired, they all drank and sang, until the whole party became intoxicated, so that they did not reach the graveyard at all, and the funeral was postponed until the next day, when the same forms were practiced we saw the day before.
This is the case only among the mestizos; the Indians are more orderly; show a more quiet respect, natural, and proper feeling. They often sit silently in rows by a corpse all night mourning for the loss of a fellow Indian. There is among them a deep, heartfelt expression, that carries with it outwardly an unmistakable and truthful inward grief.
The funeral of a wealthy Creole is attended by gentlemen dressed in black, invited by printed cards, who carry long tallow candles through the streets, accompanied by music. A train of Franciscan friars and portable altars put up at the corners between the houses and some church. Masses are said agreeably to order, and a charge is made in the funeral bills for chicha, cigars, coca, wine, cooking apparatus, with other church expenses, amounting to nearly three hundred dollars. We witnessed such a bill paid for a friend, and could not avoid making a comparison between the articles and the list of mess stores drawn up by an old sailor on the eve of his departure for a cruise round Cape Horn.
Men do not live to a very old age in Cochabamba, eighty years being the oldest known at present. Girls sometimes bear children at the age of thirteen; twelve years is the marriageable age, both for Creoles and Indians. The proportion of marriages in this country is small for the amount of population. I regret to be obliged to say the most moral portion is found among the aboriginal race. The Indian, with his wife and children around him, cultivates the soil, while the Creoles and mestizos are idle and generally unmarried people. Since the establishment of the government, in the year 1826 to the year 1851, during twenty-five years, the population has increased from about one million to one million and a half. Few people leave the country, and few emigrate to it.
150 KINDNESS OF FOREIGN MINISTERS.
In the streets of Cochabamba there are many beggars, blind and crazy. It was the practice of one friend to open his door and let into the patio on Saturday about fifty miserable-looking creatures — men, women, and children — not one of them Indians; each was served with two loaves of bread by the hands of his little daughters.
Through the polite interposition of her Britannic Majesty’s minister in Sucre, the Brazilian envoy kindly sent me passports to the authorities on my route, and also wrote to the governor of the province of Matto Grosso in my behalf.
The Extraordinary Minister Plenipotentiary from Brazil had made a short speech to the President and his cabinet, at a dinner in Sucre, on the navigation of the Amazon river and its tributaries, by which it was understood he had been sent to desire the exclusive right to navigate the branches of the Madeira flowing through the territory of Bolivia. An enterprising and intelligent gentleman, engaged in the trade of cinchona bark in Cochabamba, and a friend of President Belzu, answered the Brazilian minister. He said it would be more advantageous to Bolivia to grant that privilege to a company belonging to a nation who would introduce the mechanic arts, machinery, and agricultural implements, into the lowlands and proper tools for mining operations. He was in favor of the navigation being opened to the commercial people of North America. To this the Brazilian minister replied, that the North Americans had already annexed a large territory from Mexico and he considered such a proposition an invitation for them to come to South America. As he had not been received in an official character by the government of Bolivia, he demanded his passport, and retired from the contest.
In the opinion of some, it was thought a wise plan to induce the President of Bolivia to declare towns on the branches of the Madeira free ports of entry to the commerce of the world. By others it was considered an impolitic movement, as there might be proved a necessity to land cargoes in the territory of Brazil at certain points of obstruction between the Atlantic and Bolivia, and no affront should be offered the Brazilian government, with whom it was necessary to be upon good terms for the accomplishment of a great commercial enterprise. The merchants of Cochabamba used their influence with the cabinet ministers to discourage any act which might stand in the way of a right to pass down to the ocean through the territory of Brazil, or, in case of natural obstructions — such as falls and rapids — to prevent an amicable arrangement for portages on land between these two nations.
SCHOOLS — JOURNALS. 151
The President has appointed two French ladies school mistresses for the public schools supported by the government for the education ofthe poor children in Cochabamba. These ladies come from the other side of the world to teach, and by our particular request one of them promised to lead the ideas of the children along the current of the small stream flowing by the school-house through all its turnings, until she got them to understand how easy it would be to go that way to the land of her forefathers.
A large congregation of the intelligent people of Cochabamba were present at the opening of this institution. The prefect of the department and bishop appeared in their official robes. The gentlemen present were of many colors.
The ladies of Cochabamba very seldom smoke or use tobacco, except as snuff, and then it seems to be for the pleasure of sneezing; a practice frequently resorted to by the bishop, who wore a handsome diamond ring. The prefect addressed the audience, and gave his authority for opening the institution. One of the French ladies rose and read, in a clear and intelligible voice, thanks to the government for her appointment, promising to exert herself to the best of her ability, setting forth the wide difference between the well-educated lady and the savage woman.
There are three schools in the city for boys, and two other small ones for girls. The great difficulty seems to be in the selection of teachers. While the government was here the boys had holiday, the troops being quartered in the school-houses. There was no public journal published in Cochabamba on our arrival; but a Ramage press was soon set in motion upon the subject of the navigable rivers and commerce of Bolivia. A pamphlet was published, called “Revista”; we received the first number, and found that the young merchants of the city had contributed poetry.
The “Revista” is the fourth public journal in the country. Besides two small papers in La Paz, there is one published in Sucre — “El Eco de la Opinion,” which with the rest are all careful to be of the same opinion as the government upon public as well as private matters. Indeed, we perceive no freedom of expression, as we would consider it in the United States.
The Indians’ houses are small and generally have but one room. In the centre is a high adobe stand, built up to obstruct a view from the street. In one corner is an adobe bedstead, which is used for a seat. Around the earthy wall is hung a strip of cotton cloth to protect visiters’ clothes from being soiled. In a small wooden box all the valuables are kept, such as clothes, money, and ornaments. On the wall are hung a few pictures of saints and angels, purchased from the clergy, with here
152 ANCIENT HOUSES.
and there a wooden cross, decorated with flowers. In one corner are earthen and copper pots or kettles, with a few large stones, between which the fire is made. In another corner is usually found a squadron of white, black, or yellow Guinea pigs, grunting and burrowing in the ground floor to the great amusement of the aboriginal children, who are very partial to them when converted into chupe.
The ancient habitations of the Indians of this valley are rotund, built entirely of moistened clay and stone, with but one entrance. These houses are going out of fashion, though many of them are used at the present clay. There are a number of ruins about the valley, supposed to be of the style of ancient times. The art of building archways was an accomplishment of the Aymara tribe, of which we found no signs near the Inca capital.
The Indian ploughs a straight furrow with a team of oxen, although he knew nothing of such animals until the Spaniard came. He rides a young, unbroken horse bare-backed, sticking so close to the hide that his legs chafe the hair off; yet his forefathers had not a donkey to practice upon. The Indian is desirous that his children shall be taught. A fine-looking old man wanted to know if I would have his son to bring up, informing me of his good qualities, and saying that José had told him I was the sort of man to whom he should give his child. He evidently was not pleased at my declining his offer, notwithstanding José explained to him that my home was far off to the north; to which he replied, ‘‘No importa;” that was no objection.
A number of lakes are in the valley and on the mountains in the neighborhood of this city. During a dry time, no frogs are heard; but the moment the thunder roars, or the lightning flashes, they sing songs of thankfulness; the valley is made gay with their voices after rains. The wild ducks bathe in the calm waters, near the willow trees which shade the Indian’s hut, and is also adorned with sweet orange blossoms, while the dry barren hills are baked into crust, and the sheared sheep look half starved for want of pasture.
The clover or lucerne that fattens horses, mules, horned cattle, and jackasses, is not relished by the sheep and llama. The latter animal is seldom found here, and unless forced down, never seeks the climate or grasses of this valley. The horse as well as black cattle thrive, and the hog is at his ease. There are few bees; we observe ants on clear days providing against wet weather; they are very exclusive. Humming birds are numerous; blackbirds, and three or four kinds resembling the cedar bird and sparrow, are seen. An ugly and very ill-natured hawk resides on the sides of the hills among the cactus and the doves.
We mounted our mules, which were saddled and fastened under a lemon tree, early in the morning. After passing through the rich gardens of Calacala, we wound our way through small bushes and cactus to the hacienda Miraflores, where the people go in the month of January every year to eat strawberries and cream. As we rode up to the house an old Indian’s head appeared on the one side of a pea-patch in full flower, as the sun peeped through a gorge in the mountains on “the other. We were admiring the rich growth of vegetation at the base of the great mountain range, where green fields of barley appear at the mouth of a deep ravine, when we suddenly heard a crash, and looking round, saw Richards with mule, saddle, and gear falling over the rocky ground, for there was no road, and we had to take it rough and tumble; fortunately there was nothing broken except the saddle girth and the stock of a gun, which the old Indian kindly enough assisted us in repairing, and sent his little boy to show us a path leading up the mountain side, dry and unproductive for some distance. Our mules were in fine condition, but suffered in the steep ascent, being rather fat for such work. We met jackasses descending with loads of potatoes, beans, peas, barley, and oca, a species of potato, of a purple color, which is boiled and eaten as a vegetable, or put in chupe. The Indians pay great attention to the cultivation of the oca; its vine resembles the bean plant. Proceeding still further, we met with good pasture for cattle. The oxen were in fine condition, equal to those in the valley below. Here the Indians and their families live the year round, cultivating their little gardens for the markets of Cochabamba. Our mules are wet with perspiration, and we gain an uncultivated and uninhabited region, clothed in a thick sod of mountain grasses. The whistle of the vicuña is heard, and we dismounted to get a shot at three large partridges, the size of hens, the “Perdiz Grande,” which are found on the pampas of Buenos Ayres. Our mules suddenly turn gray by frost formed on the ends of their hair. The clouds are forming, and we seat ourselves under their cool shade to breakfast, with a snow-capped mountain above, and far below the valley and city in full view. The farther side of the valley appears tilted up out of its level; beyond are the everlasting mountains.
The road through those hills leads south to the capital Sucre, with a population of 19,235. Sucre was founded by the title of “La Plata,” silver, in a district known in the early days of the Spaniards as “Charcas.” It was afterwards changed to “Chuqui Chaca,” the Indian name for “gold place.” It seems to have been a doubtful question among the Spaniards which was most appropriate, a golden or a silver title, both metals being found there. The republicans called the country after “their Washington,” as Bolivar is often spoken of.
154 CHUQUISACA — TARIJA.
The department of Chuquisaca, of which Sucre is the capital, has a population of 117,503 Creoles, and 34,287 Quechua Indians. Half of that department is situated in the Madeira Plate, and the other in La Plata basin. Sucre stands on the edge of each; the water flowing from the south side of the city runs into the South Atlantic ocean; that towards us pays tribute to the North Atlantic. The Mamoré waters this side of the department, and the Pilcomayo the other side. We left the latter stream, when first noticed, where it broke through the Andes in the department of Potosi.
The climates of Potosi and Oruro are cold; those of Cochabamba and Chuquisaca temperate. The sky in the night on this steppe is generally clear. The productions of Chuquisaca are the same as in Cochabamba, with the addition of pasture for cattle, and timber in the ravines. In La Plata basin the traveller finds the Indian cultivating the sugar cane on the banks of the Pilcomayo, and distilling brandy and rum. From grapes he makes wine of good quality. The sugar mills are constructed of timber at hand. The tropical fruits, as the orange, lemon, chirimoyas, granadillas, and limes, grow in the valleys, while the productions of the table lands of the cold regions are found among the hills. Near the Andes, in the Pilcomayo, gold has been washed, and among the mountains there are abandoned silver mines. Five silver mines are reported to be worked at present. Stone coal, tin, copper, lead, and iron are natives. Rice is raised there, and the chick pea or brown bean, so much esteemed by the Spaniards. Particles of gold, rolled down from the foot of the Andes, have been washed from the alluvial soil near the river. It appears strange that gold should be found on the west side of the Cordilleras, and at the eastern base of the Andes, while on top silver predominates. We trace a connected outpouring of gold on the tributaries of the Pilcomayo, Mamoré, Beni, and Madre-de-Dios. Our map will show the links of this golden chain as wonderful as the golden legends told of the wealth of the Incas.
There are some very curious and ancient remains of magnificent edifices in the department of Chuquisaca which excite admiration, but to whom they originally belonged still remains a mystery.
Looking far south we see on our map the department of Tarija, with a population of 53,668 Creoles, and 9,108 friendly Indians; but the eastern portion of this department is inhabited by tribes of very savage Indians, of whom there is little known. They roam among the forests and grassy plains, or among those great mountains which separate Bolivia from the Argentines.
The town of Tarija, capital of the department, contains a population
DISTRIBUTION OF VEGETABLE LIFE. 155
of 5,129, and is situated on one of the tributaries of the river Bermejo, which flows through the Argentine confederation into the Paraguay. My impressions, from information, are that the Bermejo is a deeper and a slower-motioned stream than the Pilcomayo, and that small sail-vessels may reach the town of Oran, a short distance south of the southern boundary of Bolivia. We are not, however, as certain of this as we are that the Pilcomayo has been reported not navigable in Bolivia. There is a wide field for exploration on La Plata. Grape-vines produce luxuriously in Tarija, and there the Paraguay tea — yerba del Paraguay, is found. Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, and Tarija, are the corn-growing departments of this country; Potosi and La Paz are the potato districts.
The distribution of vegetable life, as presented to us in their elevated regions, places the potato the highest; the other plants run down in order — quinua, barley, wheat, coffee, and sugar-cane. Therefore the inhabitants on this side of the mountains have a self-sustaining supply without looking to other countries for sugar, wine, flower, potatoes, or tea; and the varieties of animal life offer them mutton and wool from the highlands, with beef and tallow candles from the steppe, on which exists the most dense population.
Our mules rested, and our breakfast over, we mount and slowly struggle upwards again; the bright sun shines clear upon the city below, while we have a cloudy day. It is interesting to see from under this cloudy curtain the beautiful natural-colored scene on this stage of wonderful creation. The panorama brilliantly lighted by the sun, which sparkles on the waters of the river as they dash along among the deep green foliage. The lakes are like mirrors, only rippled by the green breast of the wild duck. A long train of mules winds along the road from the Pacific; we just hear the great bell of the cathedral toll, when the clouds unroll and fall, shutting out light and view, as a mountain eagle shrieks. The scene soon changes as we climb higher up among the bare-headed rocky peaks; on our left is one gray with the snows of perpetual winter; on the right a great avalanche of earth has fallen from the crown of a mountain into the ravine, as though blown off by the prevailing winds from the opposite side. The jackasses we meet are loaded with fire-wood and charcoal, from an extensive growth on the eastern face. The Indians wear long hair on the back of the head, and never cultivate a growth on their faces.
The water draining from the snow forms the Lake Uarauara, which is dammed up at its outlet during the rainy season, and let out gradually in the dry, for the supply of Cochabamba. The chart will show its height above the city. We were disappointed in not finding game;
156 UARAUARA — SNOW HILLS.
neither water-fowl nor fish were seen. The waters are transparent and silent; nothing was moving except the clouds and the small veins of cold snow-water. Thin sheets of ice lie near the lake, and patches of snow on the brew of the mountains resemble white cloths spread out on the ground to dry. Some of the rocks were broken in such perfect forms that we were almost induced to take them for houses, and hunt up a washwoman. The temperature of the water, was 59°; air, 54°. In the valley of Cochabamba the temperature of a spring was 62° Fahrenheit.
A small quantity of the snow on a peak near this lake remains through the dry season; in the wet season the snow-line is constantly sliding up and down the sides of the mountains. When very damp the snow appears lowest, and sometimes reaches half-way down to Cochabamba; in the morning, as the sun rises, and his effects are felt, the lower edge of the snow-line is melted off, and to the eye it seems travelling up hill. The clouds are regulated by the precipitation. When there is much rain cloudy days follow, and the curtain round the valley arises from the moisture on the mountains. The lower edge of the curtain is lowered down in the morning exactly to the lower edge of the snow, and as it is evaporated the curtain rises in the evening, in time for those in the valley to behold the sun set behind clearly defined snow-peaks.
The climate, therefore, is very variable in the valley between the months of December and May. I have noted the thermometer in Cochabamba, 12th January, at 69°; in five minutes after, it was as low as 52° in the same place, in the shade. A man planting tube roses in his garden, without a coat, and in sheeting trousers, would run suddenly into the house for thick cloth clothing; in the mean time the hard hail-stones destroy his flowers and drive cattle from their pastures.
Heavy storms frequently arise in the wet season, and blow violently through the valley, from southeast. The hail beats so hard upon the pear trees that the delicate leaves are broken from the upper branches, and the blossoms are destroyed. The hot sun withers the ends of the limbs, and they die, so that all the pear trees are stunted; and instead of large, clear limbs, the under branches are sapped by numbers of suckers that shoot out and rob the fruit of its life. Hence it is that not only pears but apples are very indifferent, but might be improved by trimming the trees, which the Indian does not seem to understand, and the Creole cares less for the tree than for the fruit. The willow grows up like a poplar; its narrow leaves present such a small surface to the hail or sun that they may be said to grow between the
INDIAN KINDNESS. 157
drops. It is the tallest tree in the valley. The willow naturally grows by the side of streams, where the roots creep out into water or swampy ground. The apple produces best on higher and drier earth. Almost every plant in this valley has to be raised by irrigation.
We returned, after a harassing ride to Miraflores, “see the flowers,” where we found the old Indian’s wife had provided chupe for us, and lucerne for our animals. She had stirred in so much “ajé” — the red dwarf pepper — that we preferred her boiled corn. This seemed so strange she dropped several stitches in the woollen stockings she was knitting, and looked as much as to say, “Where do you come from, that you don’t like ajé?” When she was paid for her kindness, she laughed, gave us apples, and sent her son to show the way through the peach trees and strawberry patches. The attention of the Indians is much attracted to hear us talking in English. They listen, look at each other, listen again, and say “don’t understand that.” Then they close up and stand in deep thought as they reflect. When they see we want anything they offer assistance or kindness, which shows a frank, honest hospitality to strangers. They seldom ask for anything; when they receive a gift it is with a quiet modesty, which speaks their thanks more plainly than words.
On our return to Buena Vista, in town, near the alameda, we found José with a fine young dog, which had been sent by a friend, and which we named Mamoré. The dogs in this country are often a miserable breed of curs. Mamoré appears to be a cross between a Spanish terrier and the mastiff; while very brave he is very affectionate, and being young enough to be spoiled by too much company, we train him as sentinel at night, and keep him very exclusive; his services may be very much needed on the journey; his color is yellowish brown, and he is of large size. The Indians are so partial to dogs that they raise more than they can conveniently support. The young aborigines seem to have greater fondness for animals than for each other. We have seen two of them pelting one another with mud balls, while a third seated on a sow, looking with delight at nine squealers helping themselves to milk. When she rose on her fore-feet, the child rolled off among the pigs, laughingly grasping the first tail in his way, to the great annoyance of his hungry companions.
We have news of the mail being stopped between Sucre and Oruro by a heavy fall of snow on the Andes, which was deep enough to break in the roofs of houses in Oruro, while here peaches are sold in the market.
158 BALLS — FROLIC.
The peach tree flourishes better than the apple, but both fruit and tree are small. The quince grows to an unusual size in the valley, and the trees are loaded with fruit of golden yellow.
The merchants are keeping back their remittances to the Pacific on account of numerous robberies reported in the snowy regions.
The young gentlemen give a ball every month in the palace, and performances at the theatre, which was once a church. On both occasions the families of the city are brought sociably together. The balls are believed to produce political concord, and are very gay. A Sucre lady inquired if “Cochabamba girls dressed in good taste?” The Creoles seem anxious to know the opinion strangers have of them. The North American midshipmen used to say, the height of their enjoyment was to dance with the South American girls. The beauty, manners, and grace of the ladies here cannot be disputed ; they are naturally gifted with a pleasing flow of conversation, keen-sighted, and witty. Their bright black eyes flash beneath an irresistible and modest smile; their long, black hair is neatly arranged abroad, but at home it usually hangs plaited over the shoulders and breast. They appear more proud of small feet than of lovely eyes and snow-white necks. In walking they carry themselves straight, and show their graceful figures to advantage; their motions are slow and steady. A bloom on the cheek gives them a fresh, healthy appearance as they ride spirited horses by the side of their lovers, through the gardens of Calacala, before sunrise in the morning.
At midday, on the 12th of May, 1852, we mounted and followed a train of nineteen loaded mules towards the east. Our baggage was reduced one half upon each animal. By law, the arriero may charge full price in descending the eastern side of the Andes for half the load carried on the roads of the table lands. The train followed a white mare with a bell hung to her neck. Four arrieros were accompanied by a number of women, carrying jars of chicha. The party seemed to have been drinking over night, and bent upon a frolic. They succeeded in seducing José, who rode along with our tent pole on his shoulder, and hat pulled over his eyes, ordering about men and women, until I was called upon to settle a difficulty between him and the chief arriero’s wife. Richards was carefully guarding Mamoré for fear we would lose him. After some trouble in keeping the baggage mules from escaping up the cross streets, we bid farewell to Cochabamba. On the river bank the women seated themselves in a row to take the last dram with the men who were going with us. They shouted, sang, and danced; then shaking hands all round, the arrieros called to their mules, and we. all moved along single file on our way home through the river bed, which was now dry again, the wet season being just over.