Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon, Vol. II/7
Diamonds — Animals of Chiquitos — Decree of 1837, and act of Congress — Señor Oliden’s voyage on the Paraguay river — Salt — Fall of trees — Descending the mountains — Monkey meat — Coca plant — Espiritu Santo — Creole workmen — A night in the wild woods — Yuracares hunting — River San Mateo — Province of Yuracares.
It is a singular fact that no diamonds have been found on the Bolivian side of the Madeira Plate or La Plata basin, while among those streams, in Brazil, which flow into these rivers diamonds abound. The general opinion is that these precious stones do not exist in Bolivia. The streams which pay tribute to the Madeira and Paraguay, from the east in Brazil, are clear water rivers. In these transparent waters the diamond is easily discovered. The washing away of the earth on that side is not very great, even in the rainy season of the year.
All the streams on the western or Bolivian side bear muddy water; the wearing away on that side is very great. The filling up of the Madeira Plate is done from that side, just as the Titicaca lake is filling up the fastest on its western shore, so that the diamonds of Bolivia, if they exist, are lost in the mud. We were told by diamond hunters that in rivers where the divers descend some distance, they find the water coldest on the bottom where they pick up the precious stone, and the men are so chilled when they returned to the surface, that they require to be warmed by the side of a large fire, even under the heat of a tropical sun.
In the woods, and on the pampas of Chiquitos, roams the Tapir or Brazil elk, the meat of which resembles that of the ox, and is considered a delicacy by the Indians. In the forests, the fields, and about the rivers, birds abound. The wild boar pushes his way through the grass, and the American lion or jaguar leaps to fight the spotted tiger for the fatted calf. The bear and wild-cat prowl through the tangled creepers, while monkeys and parrots chatter their own peculiar idioms. The fox and armadillo inhabit the hill sides; near the river banks the turtle deposits its eggs. Large and small snakes require no search.
From the Pacific coast to the Paraguay river, on the parallel of 18° south latitude, there are three different climates; that of Oruro, cold, with an unproductive soil, thinly populated, and the inhabitants generally poor; the towns becoming every year more and more depopulated, and the resources of the country less valuable than in former years.
170 BOLIVIAN DECREE BY PRESIDENT SANTA CRUZ.
The ruins of the ancient Peruvians there stand as truthful memorials of “the Past.” Descending the steppe of Cochabamba, the climate is temperate, the soil more productive, the inhabitants increasing in numbers, and the Spanish race in their strength. Here are found the most intelligence and the greatest improvements. In the heart of the nation are living examples of “the Present.”
Proceeding to the bottom of the Madeira Plate into Chiquitos, we find the means of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures on the very top of steamboat navigation, presenting to us elements of the blessings of a peaceful “future.”
The nation of Bolivia now stands facing the Pacific coast. The appearance of one little steamboat on the Paraguay river, anchored on the coast of Chiquitos, would turn the whole “right about.”
On the 27th of December, 1837, Andres Santa Cruz, President of the republic of Bolivia, issued a decree by which foreign merchandise should enter the province of Chiquitos and Mojos free from all duty or tax whatever, and that all the productions of these provinces should be exported upon the principle of free trade.
On the 5th November, 1832, the Bolivian congress, as compensation for revolutionary services, had granted to an enterprising citizen, Don Manuel Luis de Oliden, a tract of land, twenty-five leagues “in all directions from a point on the river Otuguis.”
Señor Oliden sent me a short account of an exploration made by his relative, Señor Don José Leon de Oliden, in the year 1836. Mr. Oliden launched a canoe in the river Cuyaba, from the town of the same name, in the province of Matto Grosso, in Brazil. It was during the dry season, in the month of October, when the river was shallow. Descending he found the banks low, and the country as level as a floor in some places, while here and there the land swelled up like a smooth heave of the ocean in a calm. During the wet season of the year, a portion of the journey from Cuyaba to the frontier of Paraguay can be made in canoes over the same road, travelled in dry weather on horseback — the whole country being overflowed, except on the higher grounds. On the seventh day after leaving the town, the canoe touched the waters of the Paraguay river, the banks of which are inhabited by a nation of Indians called “Guatos,” who came off in a friendly way to offer fish for sale, and were delighted to receive payment in a glass of rum. On the Bolivian shore, opposite the mouth of the Cuyaba, the land is hilly, the elevations range with the stream, and also stretch back into the Bolivian territory. Among these hills is a large lake, called Gaiba. Descending the stream of the Paraguay river for two days, brought the canoe opposite
OLIDEN’S EXPEDITION. 171
the ancient town of “Alburquerque,” which was abandoned, the people having moved off to another part of the country. Two days farther down was the mission of the “Guanas,” inhabited by about fifty families, who formed the new settlement of Alburquerque. Near the frontiers of Brazil and Paraguay, he passed the fortress of Coimbra erected in 1775.
Mr. Oliden then entered the territory of Paraguay, searching on the western shore of the river for the mouth of the Otuguis, which he desired to ascend to the town of Oliden. He suddenly came in sight of the Forte de Borbon, with twelve pieces of iron cannon, from which several shots were fired at his canoe. He pushed on and landed at the port, where a soldier met and conducted him up the bank. He sent his compliments to the commanding officer, and requested permission to enter; the soldier returned with permission. His passport was demanded; in handing it to the commander, he told him he had a letter of recommendation to his Excellency the Supreme Dictator of the State from the Governor of the Brazilian province of Matto Grosso. The commander replied, that he could not allow him to descend the Paraguay without special permission to do so from the one man who ruled the country. Mr. Oliden requested that he might continue down to Assumption, the capital of Paraguay, and present his letter in person to the “Dictator.” The commander replied, that he could do “ni uno ni otro” — neither one nor the other.
Mr. Oliden, finding his requests fruitless; that the gates of Paraguay were shut in his face, and that the great highway cut through the earth was closed up by this one man’s power; that the trade of Chiquitos and all of Bolivia was blocked by this passage, and that the people of his country were cut off from the path of peace and commerce, took leave, and returned to his canoe to await a passport giving him permission to retrace his steps. The logs of wood that floated by on the stream of the river excited envy in the heart of the enterprising Oliden; they were free and he was chained; for he was forced to go where they would not go — up the stream again. Had he dared to push his canoe off and let her float quietly down by the sides of the logs with the current, there were one hundred soldiers ready to take arms against him, and insultingly turn him back. He remarked that the soldiers had very expressive faces, were tall, well-made, handsome-looking fellows, stout and white. They spoke the “Guarani” and Spanish languages. They brought him “mate” and tobacco, for which he exchanged a little gunpowder and a cotton handkerchief.
The soldiers were nearly in a state of starvation. The government had neglected to send them provisions from Villa Real, a town some distance down the river.
There was not a solitary article of food to be gathered about the fort. No man dare go more than one hundred paces from the walls, for fear of being murdered by the savage tribe of “Guaicurus,” who inhabit the country around.
The “Capitan Commandante” was rather ancient, having arrived near his hundredth year, and very seldom left his bed. Oliden said he had great confidence in his soldiers, as there was only one musket outside of the storeroom, in the hands of the sentinel at the entrance of the fortification. The soldiers were almost naked, and not a woman among them. Several of the sergeants came to the canoe to converse with Oliden. He observed two old men sent by the commander to hear what was said, news being rather scarce in those regions. Mr. Oliden invited them to speak of the state of their country, which they declined; and when Oliden spoke of the Supreme Dictator, they immediately took off their hats, but refused to talk politics or express their opinions with regard to the Paraguay government. The term for which the soldiers enlisted on this station was twenty years.
A soldier returned with the passport granting Mr. Oliden permission to retire — to return to his own country. His Cuyaba crew pulled the little canoe up stream towards the north, and slowly paddled against the current. Oliden’s patriotic spirit saddened when he found the expedition a failure. He was the son of a man who had fought for the liberty of Bolivia.
Mr. Oliden reports the Paraguay navigable for all classes of vessels from Borbon to Alburquerque, and mentions no falls either in the Cuyaba or in the Paraguay up to the Villa Maria, which place he reached in twenty-four days from Alburquerque.
The road from Villa Maria to Cuyaba is travelled by mules and horses. For heavy articles, the route is down the Paraguay river to the mouth of the Cuyaba, and up that stream to the town of the same name, in large canoes made of a single log, and manned by the Indians of the country. I am induced to believe that this trip can be made in canoes in the dry season; that these rivers may be navigable for small steam-boats at least six months in the year, and below the junction of these rivers for the whole year.
Cuyaba is between 15° and 16° south latitude. The river from that town flows south, winding through a rich country, more than one thousand miles, to the south Atlantic ocean. Any road, constructed of wood, iron, or water, which passes through that latitude, must exhibit great varieties of vegetable growth. At Cuyaba, the coffee and chocolate
tree flourish. There is nothing to do but plant and gather. At the mouth of the river La Plata neither of these plants will grow. The planter must study his heights above the sea-level, or reckon his distances from the equator, as the sailors do, and plant those crops which are congenial to the climate he lives in; watching also carefully on which side of the hills he sows barley or plants sugar-cane; for if he gets them both on the same side, one will fail.
The country at the mouth of these great rivers — Paraguay and La Plata — is a grazing country; their trade is in hides, tallow, and glue. The drover has no time to plant, sow, or gather grain; he would rather exchange hides for flour manufactured where wheat is produced. He will give beef for coffee and sugar, which he cannot grow. He wants copper boilers to prepare tallow, and the bark of the up-country to tan hides. The climate at the mouth of the river for half the year is cold; the “pampero” winds blow across the pampas of Buenos Ayres from the frosty regions of Patagonia, where the hills are covered with snow, and icebergs float along the coast. The drover, therefore, requires the wool of the table-lands, vicuña hats, and cotton; he can make his own shoes and boots, but his wife has no time to spin wool and knit his stockings, even if she knew how. The merchants at the mouth of the river do business with ships that come from all parts of the world.
The cattle on the pampas of Buenos Ayres and Brazil suffer for want of salt. They who prepare the beef of the southern provinces for the markets of the northern parts of South America, require both salt and saltpetre.
The train of mules behind which we travel are partly loaded with cakes of salt from the plains of Potosi, which the Indian arriero says was produced from a lake of water formed by a mountain stream. When he is questioned closely, as though it was doubtful about the salt being produced from a fresh-water stream, he very knowingly looks up and says: “If I take my hoe and lead the upper waters between the rows of my potatoes the lake will produce no salt.”
The people inhabiting the rainy regions are much troubled with a swelling in the neck and throat, called goitre, which they attribute to the absence of salt in the water.
The Indians of the desert of Atacama, where the rains are not hard enough to wash away the earth from off the rock salt, lead small streams directly over a vein of salt with their hoes, so that their cattle may fatten the quicker on a poor pasture-ground.
The mule, Rose, has carried me nearly two thousand miles, and is in better order now than after she had travelled in a drove from Tucuman
174 ROAD FROM RIO de JANEIRO.
in the Argentine republic, in latitude 27° south, through the mountainous regions to Lima. She is the admiration of all good judges, from the arriero down. The reason she has kept in good order, while the mules throughout our route, from Lima to Oruro, look so miserable, is because José constantly gives her salt, and I observe it is not the general custom of the country to do so. The good old padre we met in the montaña of Cuzco was an exception. He called his cattle from the woods to offer salt. The moment they heard his voice the bulls came rushing out as though they were angry with him. It was a beautiful sight to see the fierce-looking animals halt in front of the old gentleman, robed in his clerical garments, and gratefully lick salt from his hands; afterwards rubbing their horns against his legs by way of thanking him. He did not seem to like this much. It may be mentioned in confidence, padres in these countries sometimes go about without trousers.
I met an intelligent gentleman, Mr. Mauricio Bach, who had spent some years in the province of Chiquitos, and to him I am indebted for much information.
Mr. Bach travelled by land from Rio Janeiro to Bolivia; he was fresh from his own country, and was so much impressed with the value of the lands, productions, and climate of Chiquitos, that he remained there some years, during which time he had a fair chance of judging it. He told me that the route through Brazil is inhabited by some savage Indians; on the plains herds of cattle are raised, and there was much wood. He passed over with a large party, who were prepared to protect themselves from the unfriendly Indians; but at the present day the mail from Rio Janeiro reaches Cuyaba every month.
The town of Santiago, in the southern part of Chiquitos, is situated on a hill of the same name, and has a population of 1,380. The climate is delightfully fresh, healthy, and compares well with Chiquisaca, with the difference that the air is not so dry in Santiago; it is free from all troublesome insects also. The country is well watered. The streams which flow into the river Oluquis contain gold, silver, signs of cinnabar, and a suspicion of precious stones. In the forests are ornamental woods and medicinal plants. To the south of Santiago the country is thickly wooded with a great variety of palm-trees. In the plains the pasture affords a plentiful supply of cattle and horses already there. The soil is so fertile that the products of both the torrid and temperate zones may be produced, from chocolate to the wheat and sugar crops. On the river Agua Caliente Mr. Oliden, in the year 1836, established a town, and called it Florida, over the ruins of the old settlement of Santiago, where the Jesuits first established themselves in this wilderness,
BOUNDARY LINES 175
The Indians built large wooden houses, cleared the land, and raised an abundant crop of rice, superior to that of Bengal.
From the size of the streams which empty into the river Otuguis, their slow, steady current and deep water, Mr. Bach considers that a steamboat could come up from the ocean to these rice lands, but neither he nor Mr. Oliden could descend to examine, partly from the fear their Indians had of the savages, and want of knowledge in the management of canoes, which they did not use like the Brazilian Indians. Mr. Oliden gave up his residence, returned to Sucre, and finally to Buenos Ayres, through the Argentine confederation, leaving his valuable lands and their productions to the Indians, who live an easy life, in plenty and in an hospitable climate.
There is dispute at the present day, 1852, between the Brazilians and Bolivians with, regard to the boundary lines between their two countries. Bolivia claims to the middle of the Paraguay river; but one of the Brazilian commanders observed to a Bolivian that the Brazilian government claimed as far west as the cattle of Brazil roamed, so that it is rather a difficult question to determine exactly where the initial point shall be, and then whereabouts a line could be drawn.
By treaty between the Spaniards and Portuguese, made more than a century ago, the southern initial point was marked, at the mouth of the Jaurú river where it empties into the Paraguay; thence in a straight line to the nearest point on the Guapore or Itenez, should be the eastern boundary of the territory of Bolivia, which certainly makes the middle both of the Paraguay and Guapore, or Itenez, the division line between the two countries. The question was not, however, of much importance formerly either to Brazil or Spain, but now, as the South Americans are beginning to awaken to the importance of commerce and steamboat navigation, the Bolivians raise the question how far they are entitled to these natural communications and necessary outlets. This is a matter of interest to Bolivia; for if she gives up a right to the Paraguay river, she has nothing on her southern border to fall back upon, except the river Otuguis, which may not be navigable. After the Paraguay leaves Bolivia and Brazil, it then flows over the soil of Paraguay and the Argentine confederation. Each claims the ownership of the navigable waters at the head of the La Plata, which God made for all.
We began to descend the great ridge of mountains to the northeast, with a hope that we may not be obliged to retrace our steps. The moment we touched the brow of the mountain, a thick fog-bank stood before us, thrown up like a great fortification. The wall was distinctly marked along the ridge, while on the southwest side the sun shone
176 DESCENDING THE MOUNTAINS.
brightly. The mules, one by one, entered the thick mass of steam vapor with great hesitation. It was with difficulty the arrieros could push them in, so much did they dislike to descend. As they had travelled the road before, they turned and ran back into the light, but the men finally succeeded in getting them all in.
In the sunlight behind us, there was a short growth of short grass, with a portion of the soil burnt into a hard and scaly crust, like the outside of a steam-boiler. As soon as we had passed under the fog, the earth was found covered with a green sod; flowers bloomed by our path, and the foliage of the bushes covered the sides of the ravines, while the forest trees lined the bottom. The green surface looked like the waters of the sea as they flow up on the land, pushing towards the top of the mountain ravine in some places, while in others, where a bluff stood out, the foliage was forced back, as if the elevation was too high for the green wave to cover it.
Under this thick cloud the Indian finds fire-wood; here he burns charcoal, which is used by the silversmiths, the blacksmiths, and the city cooks. In the valley he gathers ornamental woods for the cabinet-maker. After he has cut down trees and sold them, he finds that his corn crop will yield him a plentiful supply without the trouble of leading water through the fields with his hoe, for the rains come down on the land so plentifully that he has nothing to do but to admire what they do for him; while his neighbor, on the other side of the mountain, eats only by the sweat of his brow.
For his comfort, the Indian must build himself a house for protection against the rains. He cuts four forked poles, and stands them up as supports to a thatched roof, slings his cotton hamac [hammock] from post to post, and there enjoys his rest, swinging in a cool, pleasant climate, while he looks out upon the growing maize, and listens to the dashing waters of the mountain streams.
We halted and asked permission to encamp on the third night from Cochabamba, and to pitch our tent among an orchard of peach trees. We cooked supper by the Indian’s fire, roasted a wild goose, shot during the day in a small lake, while José made tea and traded with the Indian for fodder.
May 14, 1852 — At 5 p.m., thermometer, 58°; wet bulb, 57°; cloudy and calm. This observation is made in the peach orchard, not far below the gorge through which we passed. After spending an uncomfortable night in our tent, which we find rather close in this dense atmosphere, we loaded up and pushed down through the forest-trees over a most dangerous road.
DESCENDING THE MOUNTAINS. 177
In some places the mules jump down frightful steps, where trees stand so close together that the baggage catches on both sides. I have constant fear that the instruments will be ruined, or that some of the animals will break their necks or our own. The water in the mountain streams being very low, we cross some of them by wading. The rapid ones we pass on miserable bridges made of long poles thrown over, and then covered with the branches of trees. Their wide dry beds indicate great floods in the rainy season, The arriero mentioned having lost half his train, with all the baggage, in an attempt to cross during the wet season.
Our route from Tarma to Oruro was south. We travelled ahead of the sun. In December, when we arrived in Cochabamba, the sun had just passed us. As soon as he did so, the rains descended heavily on this side of “the ridge; it was impossible to proceed. The roads were flooded, the ravines impassable, and the arrieros put off their journey until the dry season had commenced. After the sun passed the zenith of Cochabamba, and had fairly moved the rain-belt after him towards the north, then we came out from under shelter, and are now walking behind the rain-belt in dry weather, while the inhabitants are actively employed in tending their crops.
After travelling all day through the woods, we encamped near a house owned by a white man, with a wife and large family of children. The place was called Llactahuasi. On the road we shot a wild turkey, which was fortunate, for the woman declined selling us the only old hen she had, as her brood of little chickens were too young to do without parental attention. The only other living things about the house, besides the children, were two dogs. The question first asked, by our people on arriving at a house is for provisions, so as to forestall the same question from the poor settlers, who are found along the road at uncertain distances. The country may be said otherwise to be uninhabited even by wild Indians.
May 15. — At 4 p.m., thermometer, 73°; wet bulb, 71°; clear and calm. An increase of 15° of heat since this time yesterday. Temperature of a stream, 56° Fahrenheit. As the mountains dwindle into hills, the trees increase in size and the undergrowth thickens. Thousands of creepers are tangled in the most confused manner. The branches of the woods are loaded with a thick growth of moss, and immense masses are heaped up on the tops of the trees. The creepers run up the trunk, coated with moss on the south side, crawl out on the branches, and thence grow down to the ground from the end, on which another creeper ascends, until the branch becomes so loaded that it breaks down with the weight. The tops of the trees grow up, and then are pulled
178 FALL OF TREES.
down by these huge vines, which hang like hempen cables. While the climate and soil encourage the forest trees, the creeping parasites seem determined to drag them downward. There is a constant cracking-noise of snapping branches, accompanied by a thundering roar, when large trunks are brought down. Great logs cross our track, and we dare not look aloft, for fear of seeing increased danger. A creeper runs up the trunk of a large tree, and out on a limb, descends to another large tree, and turns itself round the butt as if done by hand; then it wound its way up to perform the same effort again, while the branches or roots were all pulling like so many braces, until the limb was broken from the tree. As it drops to the ground, there is a thick moss ready to grasp it, and the log is soon covered out of sight and rots.
Some of the larger trees have been torn up by the roots, and have fallen to the eastward, as if done by a sudden gust of wind rebounding from the side of the mountain. All the easterly winds that strike the broad side of the Andes do not glide upwards, but the current is sometimes divided. The lower half turns under, sweeping down over the forests with such force back towards the east as to break down the trees and place them in the position referred to. The winds cannot rebound horizontally, for they would meet each other and produce a calm. Their only means of escape is either close down on the surface of the warm earth, or up into the more rarified regions. When the heavy gales, which sometimes blow in the rainy season from the eastward, strike these lofty Andes with a force that uproots the forest trees, destroys the crops, and sets the ocean in a rage, they accumulate here, and must burst their way out. They would split the mariner’s heavy canvass sails and blow through; but here the gigantic strength of the mountains resists them with a composure that makes the forest the sufferer. These heights of the eastern side of the Andes are among the most terrific portions of the earth. They seem to correspond to the rocky shores of the ocean, where the waves beat heavily against their banks. The trees, bushes, vines, creepers, and mosses are heaped up just here, like we find sea-weed hanging on the rocks of the sea-coast. The fisherman paddles his canoe into the calm ocean beyond the troubled breakers that strike against the land. Here we find no inhabitants. There never were any. We discover no ruins or marks of bygone ages. These primitive forests are not inhabited by the savage of the present day. Here are no birds among the trees, except the wild turkey; he walks through the bushes and feeds on berries. There are very few of this family, much to our regret. Few wild animals roam about.
CORNELIO CESPEDES. 179
While descending the mountains to the east of Cuzco, we found what we see here, numbers of land shells. This, then, may be called the snail district. They are certainly in the majority, and the only thing with animal life, which seems to flourish in these inhospitable places. If our poor mules were not so very sure-footed, we would never be able to descend by this road, which is so precipitous in some places that horses could not travel and carry a man. The short-legged donkey would be lost in the deep mud holes, which the mules jump into and then leap out. At night they are turned on the path to devour leaves from the bushes, or seek some palatable herb among the trees; there is no shelter nor pasture for them. Our party encamped in the wilderness as much exhausted as the animals. The climate is damp and sultry, and when we lie down to rest the season is so gloomy, it seems like a long and tedious trance. Our old arriero proves to be a polite and amusing character. He is a Creole; makes a living by travelling down this road with salt and returns with chocolate. Every now and then, after we have passed a difficult part, he turns with most downcast expression and says, “Ah! Patron! your boxes are very heavy for my mules.” We tell him the roads are bad in his country. “They are much better than they used to be.” He said when he travelled on the table lands, we became very tired of riding all day, but here we went so slow that he did not feel fatigued, particularly on his way up, when his mules were poor and could scarcely climb back. He told us that it required at least six weeks rest for the mules in Cochabamba, keeping them well fed on lucerne all the time, before they were fleshy enough to load again for another trip down. His full name is Cornelio Cespedes; he had been engaged travelling up and down the Andes for a number of years, and appears to be an honest, worthy man. Cornelio begs me to sell him Rose. I object, because she would have to travel this dreadful road.
Descending some distance, the first sign of active animal life was a perfect swarm of ring-tail monkeys. They travel along among the tops of the trees at a rapid rate, first swinging to a limb by the feet, and then by their long tails. A little one, who looks in the face like a young negro, sometimes gets frightened and calls for his mother, who promptly runs to his assistance, when the cunning rascal jumps on her back, holds on to her hind leg with his tail, and gallops her off to the next tree. The noise they make deafens us, particularly after a shot is fired. They are not easy to kill. The men are very fond of the meat, probably because there is not much other to be had on the road.
180 MONKEY MEAT.
Our bedseds became wet by the rains during the night; this encourages the fleas in our blankets to annoy us, and although we were tired enough to sleep, we were not able to do so. We mount very much exhausted, while our animals stagger with the weight.
The arrieros pile the baggage up in a heap at night, and cover it with the pack-saddles. Our boxes were well covered with tarpaulins before we left Cochabamba, and I had them lined and soldered inside with tin, to be water-tight. We find this a good plan. No doubt we should have been wanting in provisions had our boxes leaked, for the rain ran off the sides of the hill, flowing round the baggage. Travellers supply themselves with biscuits baked hard, without salt, as it melts in this moist climate and the bread spoils. We carried cheese, tea, sugar, rice, cakes of chocolate, and sardines, with two biscuits a day, and what we could gather with our gun in geese, turkeys, and monkeys. We worked along much better than our poor animals. The article we found most valuable was rice. A wild turkey, cut up and well boiled with rice, seasoned with a small quantity of ajé, a lump of Potosi salt scraped with it, was most refreshing after a hard day’s travel. The greatest favor to a traveller met on the road in the forest, is to present him with a biscuit. The patron who shares his bread with the men will always get through. The arrieros generally carry a bag of roasted or parched corn. It is amusing to see them luxuriating on the hind leg of a ring-tailed monkey, taken alternately with a grain of parched corn. They say the tail of the monkey is the most delicate part when the hair is properly singed. If our game gave out, and it became cold monkey or nothing, we opened our box of cheese. Monkey meat keeps longer than any other in this climate; carried on the side of the baggage, it becomes tender during the day by beating against the trees as the train passes along. Of the skins the arrieros make pouches, in which they carry coca beans and parched corn, suspended by the tail to a strap round the waist, with the legs tied one to another, hair side out. This is thought ornamental, and a greater protection from wet weather than the best tanned leather. The arrieros are generally cheerful fellows, and are always anxious to point out game, generally looking for turkeys, knowing that the four-leg kind will fall to them alone.
There is great trouble in getting a fire; the dead wood is so much soaked by rains that José has to inflate his cheeks till the tears run out of his eyes. Every man carries a flint and steel with him. Arrieros sleep soundly with their heads in the rain and feet in the ashes.
On the evening of the 7th May, we reached the Espiritu Santo; following it for some distance we came to a lonely house, situated in a beautiful and romantic spot. Standing at the door, looking up the ravine, through which a stream dashes, the great Andes appear in might, wrapped in their misty robes.
ESPIRITU SANTO. 181
The freshness of the foliage and thickness of the leaves present different shaped clusters, so heavy and massive that there seemed to be a difficulty on the soil for the crowds of trees and little saplings to find room to grow. At the foot of the steep hill on which the Indian’s hut stood, a small piece of flat land, by the side of the stream, was thickly planted with sugar canes. We gathered some tobacco seed which was ripening on stalks nine feet high. The Indian was a Quechua; his only comfort appeared to be in chewing coca, and his only companions three tamed turkey hens. His house was well built, the sides being open. Work, and roof well thatched with wild palm leaf. A stick of wood with notches leaned in one corner towards the loft. This was his stairway. As we sling our hammocks in the lower story, the old man went up to bed. I told José to inquire why he slept up there, and we found he was in the habit of doing so not to be at home to the tigers, who troubled him by repeated and unwelcome visits during the night. He had no objection to their calling in the day time, as then he was ready to trade salt-petre and lead for a tiger’s skin, which became valuable at the Pacific coast.
Looking down the ravine we saw the Espiritu Santo descending with the land, thickly coated in green. The forest trees are not so large as we expected them; none of them are equal to the oaks of North America. The old Indian pointed out the cinchona leaf on the opposite side of the ravine, but said there were few trees in his neighborhood, that the bark gatherers entered the woods farther towards the northwest of us.
The descent here is not near so precipitous as to the east of Cuzco, though the difference in height between it and the last ridges we crossed was very small. The road near the Espiritu Santo is over ridges of hills which run parallel with the range of mountains, decreasing as we descend. We rise up a short distance, and then descend on the long side, like a boat forcing its way seaward through the rollers of the coast, which, as they approach the land, become mere breakers. We passed a comfortable night in the hut, which protected us from heavy rains accompanied with lightning.
Farther down, at a settlement called Espiritu Santo, about one hundred Creoles were cultivating land on both sides of a ravine, which widens as we descend. They were clearing coca patches of weeds; looked ghastly, thin, sallow, and distressed. The climate did not agree with them. I never saw so miserably weak, broken down a caste of men. The women looked more healthy, but there were few of them.
The coca plants were small and unthrifty; the moss gathered about their trunks gave them the appearance of trees placed in uncongenial
182 COCA PLANT.
climate and soil. The patches looked beautiful on the distant sides of the hills; rows were planted on steps formed by little stone walls one foot high, one above the other, with a platform to plant the trees upon of a foot and a half in width. The place was too wet and cool, and the soil not sandy enough. The Indians say the Yungas coca is better than this of Yuracares, and that of Cuzco a superior quality to either. The coca tree of Cuzco is larger; these grow on an average four feet in height and produce fewer leaves. Near Cuzco the trees are planted in a flat country, where the climate is warmer, more regular and not so damp. There the mats on which the leaves are dried are spread on dry ground flats. Here a pavement built of stone is walled in with an opening on two sides, so that when it rains the water may pass through, and wash off the pavements placed below the surface of the ground for the purpose of protecting them from sudden gusts of wind that come down and sweep away the whole crop, the more easily after the leaves are dried. In the lowlands of Cuzco the winds are not so violent, and the coca grower may tell when a storm is approaching and carry his leaves under shelter. The air is dry enough there even when it rains not to injure the leaf, while here the atmosphere is so damp that the coca curer must carefully secure his leaves against it, or they lose their flavor, diminishing their market value. The Yuracares coca planter is too high up on the side of the Andes. If he would condescend a little, he probably could find as congenial a climate and soil as those in the lowlands of Cuzco. In Espiritu Santo there are several patches which have run out; they are constantly planting new crops, which show that the tree is short lived.
The coca is a great favorite of the Quechua Indian; he prizes it as the Chinaman does his opium. While the one puts to sleep, the other keeps awake. The Indian brain being excited by coca, he travels a long distance without feeling fatigue, while he has plenty of coca, he cares little for food. Therefore, after a journey he is worn out. In the city of Cuzco, where the Indians masticate the best quality of coca, they use it to excess. Their physical condition, compared with those who live far off from the coca market, in a climate equally inhospitable, is thin, weak, and sickly; less cheerful, and not so good looking. The chewers also use more brandy and less tamborine and fiddle; seldom dance or sing. Their expression of face is doleful, made hideous by green streaks of juice streaming from each corner of the mouth.
The coca leaf has a very bitter taste to those unaccustomed to it. The Indians chew it with a little slacked lime, which they think eases its way down, and makes it sweeter.
CREOLE WORKMEN. 183
The Incas employed the coca leaf, and it is said introduced it into their church worship. Great attention was paid to its cultivation. They were careful in the choice of land, descending to the eastward of Cuzco, until they found the proper soil and climate.
The Indians have a curious custom with regard to the coca. After the ball in the mouth has lost all its flavor, they throw it against a rock. Along the narrow roads on the Andes, where the rocks stand out in the way, we have noticed their faces besmeared with the coca leaf after k had undergone a thorough mastication.
The men tell me they gather a crop of coca leaves every three months; sometimes the season fluctuates. As soon as the trees are stripped of their leaves, fresh ones sprout out again during the lifetime of the bush, which in the montaña of Cuzco outlives a man.
Among the workmen was a negro, and I never beheld a more cheerful face in any of his race. When he saw us, he grinned till it attracted our attention particularly to him. He was fat and hearty; his black skin had a clear, ebony color, while his teeth were so white and lips so red, it was plain to see he had no partiality for coca. He was excessively polite in getting us seeds from the plant, fetching us water and oranges. We are among fruits and flowers now — a congenial climate for the black man. His wool was curled in most glossy locks and his heels projecting. He was dressed in a white jacket and trousers, straw hat, but without a shirt. The Creoles chewed coca and smoked tobacco. The negro luxuriated upon oranges and bananas, which he guards from the ring-tailed monkeys, who fancy the same food. This was his only annoyance, for he naturally sides with the white man.
Of the three colors of men, the cold country suits the red, the hot the black, and the temperate the white. On the steppes of Cochabamba the white man flourishes best. In the snowy regions the Indians seem to be less sensitive to cold; while in the heat of the tropical sun the black shows his teeth to most advantage.
Crossing the Espiritu Santo, we encamped on the chocolate plantation, Minas Mayo, near the bank of a stream of the same name. We had to wade; the current was not very rapid, but with some danger of losing our baggage, for the bottom was filled with round slippery stones, which made it difficult for the mules to keep their feet.
The family on this plantation were gathering coffee in bags slung by a strap round the neck, like the Brazilians gather it. The coffee-trees here are about the same size as those, of Rio Janeiro, and loaded down with grains. There were only a few trees; the amount raised is sufficient
184 YURACARES INDIAN.
for the consumption of the people in the neighborhood. The chocolate-trees are larger than those of Northern Brazil, and seem to be well supplied with a plentiful crop of green nuts. Plantain and papaya trees stand thick about a wooden house thatched with palm leaves, While I was sketching, Don Cornelio looked on, with a sugar-cane stalk in one hand and a long knife in the other. He cut off large mouthfuls which swelled out his cheek. A Yuracares Indian stood by who had overtaken us on his return from Cochabamba. The frock he wore was the uniform established among the Indians by the Jesuits. It is of white cotton cloth, after the fashion of a dress made by the savages from the bark of certain trees. When this Indian and his companion first arrived on the top of the mountains, they suffered much from cold, They doubled their “camisas,” but the winds whistled about their legs so freshly they say they were taken sick. When they had delivered their despatches to the Bishop of Cochabamba, from a padre in their country, they hid away in the warmest ravine they could find, and remained there several days waiting clerical orders. As soon as they received permission to return, they scampered back to warm weather as fast as they could. They left Cochabamba after us. We have not delayed a day, so that they have travelled faster than our mules. On these terrible roads the Indian moves up or down at a steady pace, while the mule stops to blow and to rest.
The poor Indians had brought nothing to eat on the road, and the first thing they seized here was the sugar-cane. We gave them some provisions. They cannot bear the coca, and laugh when they see the Quechuas poking green leaves into their mouths. They were examining their bows and arrows to be ready for game and for fish, which they said were plenty farther down the country. We gave them fish-hooks which they were delighted to get, and promised if we overtook them in the morning, they would shoot us a turkey or some fish. After they slept for a few hours, Cornelio says they rose up and travelled at midnight, single file, by the path we afterwards followed by the light of day.
Their forms are straight and well made, but they were not strong men. The expression of face was feminine. They looked bleached by the side of a Quechua Indian, who was much stouter built. Their hair is worn long, like the Quechua and Aymaras, wearing it in a long trail behind. The Yuracares had rather a pleasant face, but not a very bright eye. Besides his knife, he carried a cane fife, showing a taste for music; and from the variety in a bark camisa, he certainly is fond of fancy colors, which he procures from the dye-woods of the province. His bows and arrows were the same as the Indians use in California;
CULTIVATION OF COCA. 185
both long. Those designed to shoot fish were beautifully made and fitted; the points or heads of hard black wood; the arrow a reed, with colored feathers.
José is again at a loss to understand the Indian language, so we make use of Cornelio, who is an old friend among these people, and seems to be popular. They see him often on the road which passes through their hunting grounds. The cap the Indian wears upon his head, Cornelio says, was purchased in Cochabamba, Indian like, instead of buying corn for the road.
Maize and yucca serve the men here as bread. Coffee, chocolate, and sugar are their groceries; beans and pepper their vegetables; oranges, papayas, plantains, and bananas, their fruits. The Creole is constantly pulling at the tobacco-leaf to roll up in a corn-husk as a cigar. He imports rice, and flour when he can get it; gunpowder, shot, fish-hooks and lines.
This coca business is superintended by a person who employs men from the valley of Cochabamba, willing to seek their fortunes in the wilderness at the rate of twenty-five cents a day. One of the workmen was kind enough to swing my hammock under a shed; he and a companion slept in a bed close by. The contents of a pot were puffing up; the man ran through the dark to its relief; taking the pot from off two stones, he politely invited me to join them at supper. Our light was from the burning chunks of wood, and I hungry dog kept watch around us, and barked when he heard a noise in the woods. The employer of this hospitable man paid him fifteen dollars per annum; clothed him in coarse cotton, lodged him under a shed, and we found his supper of rice very good. Our host was a mestizo, from the town of Sacaba, in the valley of Cochabamba. He expressed great desire to return home. “The climate is more agreeable,” he said; “there is less sickness, and there we have nothing to do. The life is a gay one; we play upon the guitar, dance, and sing with the girls, and live an easy life. The girls won’t come down here for fear of los animales (wild beasts). We get no mutton for our chupe. Ah, Señor! above all, we never see a cup of chicha; but with hoe in hand, we go to the coca patch at sunrise in the morning, and there remain during the day, only leaving it in case of a heavy rain.”
We tried to convince this honest laborer he was doing a better work for his children and his country by cultivating coffee, chocolate, and sugar, than by dancing, music, and drinking chicha. He laughingly shook his head, and said, “the children must take care of themselves as I have done; and as to the country, we are yet without law in Espiritu
186 RIO PARACTI.
Santo, except the law of our Catholic church, which exacts of us an annual contribution, which has to be deducted from fifteen dollars a year.”
The Espiritu Santo is joined by a smaller stream, Minas Mayo. The two form the river Paracti, which being the main branch of several tributaries on the opposite side, presents quite a formidable stream of seventy yards wide. Its greenish waters flow more sedately, less rapidly, and through a country with less declination than some others. At the head of Paracti the thermometer stood at 73° Fahrenheit, and the temperature of the river water, 70°. The small lakes on the ridge have a temperature of 59°, and as we are now at the base of the ridge, we note the difference, 11° Fahrenheit. The waters which flow down the sides of the Andes in the dry seasons are partly from the melted snow, having undergone the process of freezing into glaciers, which melt again, and the waters form small lakes near by. As these lakes fill up, the water overflows either on the one side or the other, sometimes on both; if the latter, and the lake be upon the highest ridge of the great range of Cordilleras, that which flows over the west side of the lake is a tributary to the Pacific ocean, and that which comes to the eastward goes to the Atlantic. The main branch to the Mamoré river does not become, navigable for canoes until it turns towards the north, and has come fairly under the rain belt, which pours down heavily to latitude 17° south. The navigation of that stream is marked by this edge of the rainy region so plainly, that the river Piray, which is a tributary of the Mamoré and close by it, may be descended in a canoe from Puerto de Jeres, while the main stream throughout its length, south of latitude 17°, is passed on bridges or forded.
On the side of the Paracti the hills are small, and our road during the day’s travel is often over flats or slopes, for we are still descending over what may be termed the great breast of the Andes, which swells out magnificently towards the morning sun to the delightful tropical breezes that blow over its productive soil. Our train of mules are much harassed climbing over the hills, on the east side, one of them, exhausted, lost his footing and rolled over, baggage and all.
We encamped by the side of the Paracti in the wilderness; not a house near us. We passed our acquaintances, the Yuracares Indians, on the road. They marched slowly along, with bows and arrows in hand, dressed in their bark shirts, bare-headed and footed; true wild men of the woods. They had no fish or game. Cornelio said they were treated so well by us they would not exert themselves to hunt,
A NIGHT IN THE WILD WOOD. 187
but as soon as they felt hungry, would get fish from the river or turkeys from the woods.
We slung our hammocks between two trees, a fire was made, our mules were turned out in the woods to roam, picking up whatever they might find, under charge of the old white mare, “the mother,” as she is called, of the train. Rice is boiling without turkey. The moist climate has affected the gun-caps. Cornelio begins to look thin and haggard. The mule’s have fallen away so much, it is very doubtful if they will be in fit condition to return.
After supper we lay down to sleep in the rain. The noise of the neighboring stream was musical. We felt we should make headway when once launched upon the river. Though roughly used, our health keeps good, and every day we gain a little. The farther we go the slower the animals move; they are too weak to bear pushing. The men help them up steep places by the after-part of the baggage, changing cargoes every day. The mule that carried a heavy load to-day takes a lighter one to-morrow. Our saddle-mules do better, as they carry a living man with more ease than dead boxes. One of the baggage-mules ran under a tree fallen across the road, struck the end of the box of instruments and knocked it off, and away it rolled down the bank.
The musquitoes bothered us during the night, and the vampire bats bit the mules. One struck Mamoré on the tail, and another Pinto — an arriero — on the big toe.
At the head of the Paracti, we find birds of beautiful plumage. As soon as we come where fish are found in the streams, there the woods are filled with birds; the air with musquitoes and flies. Ants and bees are more numerous, as well as wild animals. The wild Indians do not permanently reside here; they only come on hunting occasions for fish and game in the woods. The wild duck is seldom found above where the fish reach. The different species of animals seem to be joyously feeding on each other. One bird robs another of its eggs, while a third carries off the young of the second. One bird feeds upon the berries of the trees, and prepares himself as food for another of greater strength. Some fowls feed upon the fish of the river, while the snake is busy entrapping their mates. Bees make honey, and the bears eat it. While the arriero preys upon the ring-tailed monkey, the vampire bat sucks the blood from his toe or his dog’s tail. The ants are disturbed by our fire; the whole race seems to be in a rage; and while the Indian can travel all day without shoes, these insects crawl into our boots and sting us most unmercifully.
188 YURACARES HUNTING.
May 20, 1852. — At 5 p.m., thermometer, 78°; wet bulb, 74°; cloudy and calm. As we reached the foot of a hill, we met a train of mules ascending with a cargo of cacao. The animals were miserably poor. They had carried down salt and foreign dry-goods. One of the arrieros unloaded a mule to get at a bundle of straw-hats, one of which he wanted to sell to Richards. When they called to the train to go on, it was with difficulty the animals were assisted to rise, who had laid down under their loads.
As we quietly wind our way through a flat country, the lofty treetops are thickly habited by the monkey tribe. One of our baggage- mules became entangled in a creeper. The animal was wound up in it. It struggled with all its might, became frightened, stripped itself of the baggage, and applying all its strength, down came the whole tree over our heads. The branches switched the poor mule severely. It looked almost distracted, and so much wound up that no one could understand the ropes. The only way by which the arriero could extricate it was by cutting the creepers on both sides of the mule, who looked as if within the turns of a serpent hanging from a limb, and winding himself round the body of the animal. The tree by which we were standing protected us. The falling one was caught in its descent, so that we escaped a severe whipping, if nothing worse.
Cornelio was ahead, and halted while the baggage-mules passed by. When we came up, we found him shaking hands with five most wild and savage-looking men. Their faces were painted in stripes of red, green, and blue, which gave them the appearance of being tattooed. Their hair was short; dirty bark cloths were suspended round their waists. The feet, legs, breasts, arms, and heads were bare. In their left hands they carried bows and arrows; in a belt a long knife of English manufacture. Their teeth were much worn and dirty. They had holes in their ears and noses, but no ornaments in them. They were middle-sized men, stoutly built, but lazy looking. Their natural color was concealed by dirt and paint. We were unable to tell, upon so short acquaintance, what it was. Their eyes were blood-shot, and their general appearance showed to most advantage when viewed from amongst friends. Each one came up and shook hands in an awkward manner that plainly showed the habit was not natural. They smiled, however, and quickly asked for bread, fish-hooks, and knives. Cornelio told them to bring us game and fish to the next stopping-place, and when we unloaded our mules he would have something for them. They at present received bread and ate it up greedily. Rose started at a noise in the woods, and on looking round, we beheld three more younger Indians
YURACARES HUNTING. 189
and one woman. She carried an earthen pot slung to her back, and was dressed like the men. Her head was large, nose flat, and altogether such a hideous being, I shall not pretend fully to describe her. She was small, and appeared like a child by the young men, who were better looking, and with more pleasing expression of face than either of the others; they were less painted, and carried smaller sized weapons. This party of Indians were of the Yuracares tribe on a hunting excursion. They roam through the woods and along the streams seeking food. The woman accompanies them as cook and help; she carries their game, and acts as the servant of these savage men, following them in the hunt with the old smoked earthen pot hanging to her back. When a turkey falls, or a fish is drawn from the river, or the tiger-skin is taken, they are tossed to the woman, who lugs them along with her pot until they encamp for the night, when she builds a fire, cooks the game, and all seat themselves in a ring and feast, after starving a day and a half. Should it rain, a few large green leaves are spread upon some branches of bushes, sloped on the weather side of a ridge-pole, supported by two forked stakes. The ground underneath is bedded with more green leaves from the forest; the seven men and one woman retire for the night, with their feet towards the fire, which is a protection against musquitoes and bats. When rain falls at night the air is cold, and these wild men are kept warm sleeping close to one another. In the morning, before the break of day, they are all on their feet; not a word is spoken; a deathlike silence pervades before the waking up of other animals. The moment the ring-tailed monkey opens his eyes and gapes after his night’s rest, the watchful Indian draws his bow; the screaming monkey falls to the ground pierced by an arrow; he twists, turns, and calls for help from his fellows; the Indians stand perfectly still, knowing that the curious family will rush to the rescue, and, as they one by one crawl down to see what the matter is, the arrows fly silently through the trees, when the screaming is terrible. The wild turkey, however, is not disturbed, for the racket made by the monkey family is only a little louder than usual at that hour of the morning, and as he shakes the dew from his wings before he flies from his roosting-place, the well-aimed arrow brings him to the ground. Tigers that roam about for their breakfast, scent the Indian’s resting-place by the gentle breezes that blow from it; they growlingly approach the rude habitation, but the arrow meets him, strikes inside his fore-shoulder, penetrates his heart; his claws tear the earth, and his teeth clench the slender arrow in his dying agony.
As the sun shines brightly upon the happy waters of the river, the fish begin to jump and play. The Indian takes his stand on the rocks
190 YURACARES HUNTING.
in the stream, and with an eye that seems to penetrate the depths, shoots; his arrow is drawn up with a breakfast for one, sometimes a foot in length.
As the Indians do not inhabit this region, the game is undisturbed, except on rare occasions. The animals increase and multiply without being frightened by the sound of a rifle or the noise of a shot-gun, except when the white man appears.
The Yuracares Indians are half-civilized, or, more properly speaking, are half friendly to the white man. We may pass among them without danger. The Creoles are careful to treat them kindly, well knowing they would silently draw their bow-strings if they did otherwise. Cornelio was exceedingly polite; gave them part of what they asked for, and promised more when they brought us game, which appeared reasonable to them, so they came anxiously after us. We were equally as polite. I was obliged to be unusually particular, as one of them inquired after the health of the “Patron.” After they had looked at its, it was plain they distinguished a difference between us and the Spanish race. One turned to the other and quickly disclosed his discovery. They then drew near to examine the North Americans. When Richards remarked “We were among the savages at last,” they all laughed and talked among themselves in quick succession. They examined our boots and gloves; pointed to my stirrups, which were English, and differed from those used in the country, which are formed of painted blocks of wood, with a hole cut in one side to slip the foot into and protect the toes against rocks. The Creoles prefer this stirrup because it provides against rain and mud; but they are clumsy, particularly in the woods, where they are constantly catching in the trees and bushes, that I do not think them an improvement. The mountain saddles with high backs and pommels are indispensably necessary on the eastern slope of the Andes; but on the table-lands and along the roads, among the Cordillera, the plain saddle is more comfortable, though probably it is not so safe. Cornelio uses nothing but his bedding, over which he slings his saddlebags attached to a strap, with two great wooden blocks slung to each end, and a crupper to which he often turns and holds on as the mule jumps down a steep place in the road to the risk of the animal’s tail.
On the evening of the 21st of May, we sat straight in the saddle, the mules walked leisurely along over a level road to the bank of the beautiful river San Mateo, flowing swiftly to the northward to join its sister, the Paracti, which runs east. The stream was from sixty to seventy yards wide, with an extended rocky bed, which shows that during the rainy season it is a large one, though less rapid than the Paracti.
RIO SAN MATEO. 191
The Indian lives by the side of the San Mateo. Brighter days and clearer nights are found here. The soil is rich, the country undulating. The Indian has an uninterrupted view of the valley of the San Mateo, until his eye strikes the Andes.
We halted at a place called San Antonio, composed of a single shed, very neatly built and thatched. Our hammocks were slung up and baggage put under cover. We bathed in the waters of the stream, and were refreshed by our suppers.
We felt grateful we had crossed all the mountains in safety, as we look up at their heads among the clouds.
The evening is like that of spring. As we found everlasting winter on top, so perpetual summer is here. The flats are covered with a growth of forest trees, besides which there are cane-brakes, bamboo, and coarse grasses, sappy bushes, and plants that prove the soil to be of the richest kind. This is the place for the axe, the plough, and the hoe. The axe has never touched one of the trees, except when the Indian wanted its coat. The face of the country is a true picture of nature. The hand of civilization has not yet touched it, though probably it contains a soil and a climate that would produce as well as the richest spot known, and would astonish the planter, not only by an enormous yield, but encourage him in planting a variety yet unexampled. A log canoe lay fastened to a stone near the bank of the San Mateo. This is the first wooden vessel we have seen since we left the steamship “Bolivia” at Callao, begging pardon of the wooden spoons, plates, stirrups, and other ware along the route. Cornelio has unpacked a small bale of cotton goods, and is measuring off several yards of white cotton cloth for four Yuracares Indians’ pay in advance for their services in the morning in helping us cross the river. The trade is interesting; the Indians have thrown down their bows and arrows in confusion, and stand watching with eager eyes the unrolling of colored cotton handkerchiefs, knives, needles, &c. When they see the fish-hooks there is a shout of joy. They crowd so close round old Cornelio that he has great difficulty to keep the savages from trying on all the colored cotton caps he has brought. These Indians have no gold ornaments to trade for what strikes their fancy; they are nearly distracted with desire to get what they see. They own nothing but bows and arrows, a little yucca, and a few ears of corn to offer in exchange. Animal food is so plentiful here that they are not obliged to cultivate the soil, however productive it may be. The province of Yuracares belongs to the department of Beni. It comprises the sides of the ridge from head to foot, and therefore within its borders the climates are cold, temperate, warm, and hot.
192 PROVINCE OF YURACARES.
Gold is reported to have been found in its streams, though we were unsuccessful, after washing all the way down from the top. We did not see the people gathering cinchona bark, prohibited by a decree of the government. Few of these trees are on our way down, yet we saw trains of mules loaded with bark crossing the Andes on their way to the Pacific, and workmen packing it up in bales in the bank at Cochabamba. Unless a different system is followed in the gathering, this valuable article of trade will be lost. The lands wooded with cinchona trees belong to the government. Private individuals have no control over the preservation of these parts of the forest. All who desire to gather may do so; this is a destructive plan. Every man in the country has an interest in the trade; yet, those who reap the greatest benefit by it, destroy every tree they meet, chopping it down, and stripping every inch of bark from its trunk and limbs.