Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon, Vol. II/1
Tarma — Inca road — Juaja valley — Quechua Indians — Trade — Juaja river — Snow mountains — Stone bridge and stone coal — Temperature of springs — Llamas — Lieutenant of police — Quicksilver mines of Huancavelica —Wool growing — Molina Posta, or Country tavern —Silver mines of Castro — Virreyna — Population of Huancavelica — Its mineral productions — Sand-stone pyramids — Chicha and Chupe — A New-Englander among the Andes — Fruits and flowers of Huanta — Blacksmiths
Tarma, a small town in Peru, by alpha and beta, Centauri, in latitude 11° 25’ south, is situated in a rich, well-cultivated, narrow valley, between the Andes range of mountains on the east, and the lofty Cordillera chain on the west.
On the 9th of July 1851, the writer turned southeast, accompanied by Henry C. Richards, a native of Virginia, in the United States, and José Casas, of Spanish descent, native of Peru.
A volunteer mestizo, Arriero, with his little son, drove a train of mules which carried the baggage.
Our path was shaded by willow trees, and the way obstructed with droves of llamas, loaded with rock salt from mines in the neighborhood.
The leaves of the trees seemed calling for water, while the temperature of the air, at mid-day, in the shade, was 68° Fahrenheit. Peach and apple-tree leaves doubled up, showing both their edges to the sun; the fruit is small, oblong, and unthrifty-looking.
The ravine through which we ascend is thickly populated with Quechua Indians. Their houses are built of stone and mud, and thatched with coarse mountain grasses. The natives are busily employed gathering in the harvest of maize, which is small-grained and of four colors, red, white, yellow, and blue. It is of excellent quality, generally used as food, roasted or parched.
Potatoes, of which there are numerous varieties, are also now gathered; they grow in perfection, though much smaller than their descendants in the United States.
The little estates—chacrás—are owned by descendants of Spaniards, Indians, or Mestizos, the latter a cross between the two former.
In almost all cases the cultivation of the soil is performed by the aborigines, at wages from ten to twenty cents a day.
As we rise above the foliage, the mountain tops begin to look wild and barren, with rocks and red clay; below we have a beautiful view of the town of Tarma, amidst its green trees and pasture fields. My mule, Rose, pants for breath; she is so fat and plump that the climbing troubles her.
On the mountain-side is seated a fine looking Indian, blowing a semicircular shaped trumpet, made of a number of cow’s horns, stripped one into the other, with the joints sealed; he doesn’t seem to be so particular as to the tune, as he does to the distance he may be heard, and he makes the valley ring. José thinks he is trying to blow up a wedding with a fair one among the flowers below. The Indians celebrate harvest-time with merry-making. Their meals are cooked in the fields, where their kitchen utensils are carried. They have music and dancing in the barley stubble. It is amusing to see these happy people enjoying themselves in the open air. As we pass, the reapers are seated near the road, in a barley field, at dinner, upon the ground, in rows one behind another, laughing and talking among themselves. When we meet them they are very civil, modest, and unassuming in manners. The men carry enormous loads of barley or wheat on their backs, while the women drive the loaded ass, and sling the children over their own shoulders. Their horses, mules, sheep, horned cattle, pigs, and dogs, are all admitted, together with the family, into the harvest field; while the father reaps, and the mother gathers, the boys tend the flocks, and the older girls take care of the babies and do the cooking, while at the same time they spin woollen yarn by hand, for stockings. One of them offered a pair for sale at twenty-five cents, which were nearly long enough for trowsers. They are always employed, go to bed early, and rise before the sun, as their Incas taught them to do.
At the top of the mountain, not a house or tree was to be seen, and no sign of cultivation. On tufts of coarse mountain grass, a flock of sheep were grazing; some of them merinos, and of good size. Their wool is sent to Lima, where it is sold, to be exported around Cape Horn, to the manufacturers in the North.
To the east is a snow-peaked mountain, and as the moon rises, as if from the Atlantic ocean, we are followed by a cold north wind. The sky is clear and of a deep blue. On our left we see the remains of an ancient Peruvian road, used in the times of the Incas. It is said that good roads are marks of civilization; could my mule, Rose, give her
SILENCE OF THE ANDES. 3
opinion, she would certainly decide in favor of the Inca road, in preference to those found in Peru at the present time. These remains show a width of thirty feet of rock pavement, with well placed curbstones on each side. Where the road has considerable inclination, rows of stone are placed across, higher than the general level of the pavement, so that it appears like a stair-way on the side of a hill. That it was not a coach road is no argument against it; it was before the horse, the ass, or the cow were introduced into South America from Europe. It was constructed for the Indian and his llama, the surest of the sure-footed, and, therefore, the improvement speaks well for the civilization of those times of which we have but a traditionary record.
Passing over a plain on the mountain top, there was a cistern by the side of our path, where water is caught during the rainy season to supply the thirsty in the dry. The rainy season commences here about the middle of September—sometimes later—and lasts six months. The remainder of the year is dry.
Night had overtaken us where not a living thing was to be seen, except a black eagle, returning to its roosting-place under overhanging rocks, on the west side of a lofty peak. Our little tent was pitched; the baggage piled up and covered at the door; the mules let free for the night to feed upon the mountain grass around us. A fire was kindled, and water from a small spring heated, and tea was made. José produced bread and cheese from his saddle-wallets; placed them upon a clean cloth over a trunk; looking into the tent, he says, very slowly, “Señor, La hora de cenar,” (Sir, it is the supper hour.) Both men and beasts are tired; we have ascended all day.
The first day’s travel is always the most-harassing. Our arriero, Francisco, a mestizo, is a small, slim built man, with respectful manners; he and his little son Ignacio keep watch by turns over the mules. The little boy is out while his father gets supper. The night was clear and cold; the moon shining brightly. The world is not so silent in the middle of the ocean. I do not think I heard anything; I almost listened to hear the globe turn upon its axis. Long after the people were asleep, I heard little Ignacio singing to himself, wrapped up in his homespun poncho, as he follows the mules.
At daylight in the morning we found heavy frosts and ice about us, with thermometer 24°, and wet bulb 30°. The mules were loaded; breakfast over; observations made; and we off, soon after sunrise. This is the way to travel at an elevation where we find no inhabitants.
The mountains are becoming more rounding, and covered with a fine sort of grass. Shepherdesses are following thousands of sheep and lambs.
4 THRESHING BARLEY.
The girls spin wool and chat together, while the dogs follow lazily after. If we pass close to the flock, and the sheep run back, these dogs make a furious attack upon us, keeping between us and the flock. The temperature of a spring of excellent water near the path was 48°. To the southeast snow peaks stand up in full view. The day is warm and pleasant. Here comes a cheerful party of ladies and gentlemen on horseback. As we pass each other, the gentlemen take off their hats, and the ladies look prettily under their white straw ones. Their figures show to advantage in riding-dresses, and they manage and set their horses well. The cool mountain air gives them a fresh color, which contrasts well with gazelle-eyed beauty and long black hair. I thought their dresses rather short, but a sight of the foot of one of them, small as it was, reminds one there is proof positive against the propriety of a man’s travelling through this world alone.
Now we meet the market Indian driving asses loaded with potatoes, corn, and saddles of mutton, to Tarma. I wanted some mutton for the party, but José was positively refused by an old woman, who got out of his way by twisting the tail of her donkey, who was disposed to come to a stand and be relieved of his load. I was told Indians scarcely ever sell except after they arrive in the plaza. I can account for it by the woman’s wanting to go to town, for José offered her more than the market price.
At the end of a thickly populated valley, which stretches off to the southeast, we halted at an Indian hut for dinner. The wife was at home with her children — fine, healthy-looking little ones. Boiled mutton, potatoes, and eggs, with good wheat bread, were placed upon the ground at the door. The children and dogs formed an outside circle around us. After dinner the woman gave me an orange, which she said came from the woods, pointing to the Andes, to the east of us. Some of these Indians cross the range of mountains, and garden on the eastern slopes for the markets, on these table lands—Puna—as the Spaniards call the elevated flats.The husband was threshing barley with his neighbors. The grain is separated from the straw by the tramping of oxen and horses. Over the surface of this level valley there are numbers of such threshing parties. The grain is cleared from the chaff by being poured from the top of a man’s head on a windy day. Many of them suffer with inflamed eyes, and even lose them sometimes by a shift of wind, which blows the barley beards into the eyes.
Black cattle are numerous here, and at the foot of the mountains; so are white churches, which stand in the midst of a thick population of
Indians. We met a number of tax-gatherers, going among the threshers, with silver-headed canes, receiving a measure of grain instead of contribution-money. They are old Indians, very well dressed, with a respectable, quaker-like air about them; broad-brimmed hats and standing collars. It is an active time also with the priests, who go abroad among the farmers for tithes. The valley is all activity, and merry are the people. Women are visiting about from place to place, astride of plump little jackasses. This is a plentiful season.
When the crops fail on these table lands, the suffering among the Indians is very great. Seeding time is in September, just before the rains commence. If there are hard rosts in February, the chances are that a famine follows.Crossing a small ridge on the east, we came in full view of the great valley of Juaja, stretching away south. The snowy peaks are represented in a sketch from our camp near the town.
José’s wife and children came to the tent, brought us supper, and lucerne for our mules. One of the sons, a fine-looking boy of eighteen, volunteered to go with me. José desired that I should let him go, and I had no objection; but when his mother came to ask me if I was not satisfied to take her husband without taking her son and only protector, I referred José and her son to her. She settled the case her own way, and gave me her blessing.
Juaja, Peru has a population of about 2,500 inhabitants. I say about, because there is no such thing as a census known at this elevation. The houses are built one story, of adobe walls, or of unburnt bricks, and tile roofs. The streets are well paved, and run at right angles with each other. A pretty little white-washed church stands upon the plaza, where the women sell their marketing and say their prayers. The Indians come to market and church at the same time; Sunday morning is the great market day. A drove of horses are most miserable-looking little rats; the horses of the lowlands and coasts are much their superiors.
Men live to a good old age in this climate; 70, 80, and 90 years are common; some have arrived at 120 and 130. I am under the impression that the Indians live longest. Mestizo and Spanish Creole girls have been known to bear children at 8 and 9 years of age.
The Spanish Creole population is small; they are generally shopkeepers, the only dealers in foreign goods, which are retailed to the Indians at enormous profits. They travel to Lima and purchase goods, which they use as an inducement to the Indians to work the silver mines, existing three leagues to the east of Juaja, in the Andes range,
6 DISPLACEMENT OF EARTH.
but which at present are little worked. The Indians prefer blue, in their dresses, to any other color, and consume considerable quantities of indigo.
The demand for wax in the churches is of some account. Eggs and wool are the principal exports to Lima, and are carried over the Cordilleras on the backs of jackasses. Travellers do not know why they meet with so many bad eggs at breakfast in Lima. It is customary to pass them round the country as current money or coin for some time before they are sent to the coast to be eaten. Mrs. José says, three eggs will buy her a glass of brandy, or sixpence worth of anything in market. The carrying trade is superintended by the Indians.
The mestizos are shoemakers, blacksmiths, and saddlers. They seem fond of music and dancing, and assume the pride of a superior, and lord it over the honest Indian.
Our road lies through a rich valley, often four miles wide, and level as a floor. The mountains on both sides are dry and unproductive, except in the ravines. The half-yearly displacement of earth is very great; during the rainy season the mountain torrents come down from the summit loaded with soil. The decrease in the size of the mountains from the time of their creation to the present day, and the filling up of this basin, naturally leads one to wonder, whether the present valley was not once a lake. The Juaja river, which takes its rise in Lake Chinchaycocha to the north of Tarma, flows sluggishly and serpent-like through the whole length of the valley, and creeping through the Andes, suddenly rushes off at a rapid rate, as though sensible of its long journey, by the Ucayali and Amazon, to the Atlantic ocean. The bed of the river is half a mile wide, and in the wet season is probably eighteen feet deep. There is very little water in it now. The banks break down perpendicularly. The growth of small trees and flowers gives a fresh appearance to the valley, but the sun is very warm as we pace along the dusty road. The apple trees are about the size of raspberry bushes.
There are few varieties of birds in the valley; some pigeons and doves keep the table pretty well supplied. Little Ignacio takes great interest in the sport, and his sharp eyes are constantly on the look-out for a shot. By the river snipe are found; among the flowers, the humming bird is seen and heard.
The road crosses a number of dry beds, streams of considerable size in the rainy season. There is only water enough, at present, for the washwomen, whose soap-suds spoil the water for our beasts. We pass through the village of San Lorenzo, and the small town of Concepcion. A death-like silence pervades these places; the people are in the fields, except some Creoles, seated among the flowers in their neat little court
AFFECTION OF ANIMALS. 7
yards. The streets are narrow and the houses small. All the towns of the Puna are built pretty much after the same fashion, and of the same material; the only difference in their outward appearance being produced by the cultivation of foliage and flowers, where the soil and climate permit. When this is not the case, the town presents a stupid, uninteresting aspect. Children, dogs, and pigs, earthen pots, and beds of straw, surround a smoking fire on the ground floor of a one-roomed house. The smoke escapes through the door-way; the only opening for light or a change of air. During storms, or at night, the door is closed. One peep inside satisfies the North American he can find no rest there. But here, in the valley, the cooking is done under the trees, and the inmates of the house wander out in the shade. We have often noticed expressions of friendship between children and dogs; the latter shows his pleasure by wagging its tail, while the smiling child pulls his ears. The pig is the most restless creature at this height. While by himself, he is seen tossing up the bottom of the valley; when he sees the child and dog together, he gives a corkscrew motion to his tail, jumps and swings his body about with an inviting grunt to play. Before long he is laying on his side, with the child on top of him, while the dog is pawing and snapping at that laughable twist of the tail. The affection the different species of animals have, in these associations, is remarkable. The dog in any other place will sometimes kill and eat the sheep; here, he protects it by night and by day. The pig forms an attachment to the jackass, who leaves it, at this season of the year, for the female of its own kind. The ram becomes intimate with a horse or a bull, and it is with difficulty they can be separated. The lamb follows the Indian girl in direct disobedience of its mother’s call. Domestic cats are few. They cannot live on high elevations.
There is no part of Peru which is more densely populated than the valley of Juaja. There, close under the mountains, on the east side stands the town of Ocopa, with its convents and schools. From that place, missionaries have branched off in different directions to the forests in the east, at great risk of life and loss of all its comforts, to teach the savage red man how to change his manners, customs, and belief. Some have succeeded, others have failed, and were murdered or driven back by the battle-axe; their settlements destroyed by fire, and years of labor lost; yet some never tire!
Ignacio carries our tent pole across the pummel of his saddle. His thirsty mule ran between two others, loaded with baggage. The boy was swept off and dropped over the creature’s heels in the middle of the stream. He regained his saddle in a short time. His father laughed at him, and took the pole himself.
8 ANCIENT CITY.
In the centre of the valley are the remains of an ancient city; the ruins of stone walls were 12 feet high, and from 1 to 1 ½ foot thick. Those of the present day are generally adobe, from 3 to 4 feet thick. Some of the buildings have been round; others oblong, but generally square, 12 by 18 feet. The round ones are largest and best situated. The streets very irregular and narrow; no appearance of plaza, or church. The ruins extend half a mile north and south, and 200 yards east and west, on a knoll, which may have been an island before the Inca road was built, now hedged in on both sides with cactus. As the land about this ancient city is now cultivated as a corn-field, no remains of curious things could be found. The mason-work is very rough, but remains of mortar are there. How the houses were roofed is doubtful, but by the slanting down on the inner sides of the stones of those houses which were round, the mason work may have been carried up till it met at a point, which would give the house a sugar-loaf shape. Besides doorways, there were window openings.
Droves of jackasses pass, loaded with small raw-hide bags filled with quicksilver [mercury; used to extract gold or silver from ore.–wmm] from the mines of Huancavelica, on their way to the silver mines of Cerro de Pasco.
Saturday evening, July 12, 1851, we encamped on the south side of the town of Huancayo, and remained till Monday morning, giving the party their usual day of rest. Upon entering this town we saw the first signs of improvement in the construction of a stone bridge; the mason work compares well with that of more flourishing places. The men and cows of this place are larger than any we have seen. The people are very polite. The Indians oblige us with all we require, and seem interested in our industry. José asks permission to go to church, and for money to buy shoes. The singing of frogs reminds us of home. Some of the trees are much larger than those hitherto passed.
Marks of small-pox are seen among the people; but there are no chills and fevers here. Some of the women have dreadful swellings in their necks, called by them “cota” or goitre, caused by drinking bad water, or snow-water deprived of salts. But why this disease is generally confined to the women I cannot say, unless the men never drink water. It was very certain, from the noise after church, that they find something stronger. I do not think the people are generally dissipated, except on Sunday afternoons, when both sexes seem disposed to frolic. During the week they are otherwise employed.
her shoulders; by the noise it made, I doubt its partiality to beans. The plough is drawn by oxen, yoked by the horns. It is made of two pieces of wood—the handle and coulter are of one piece, into which is jointed the beam; the coulter is shod with a square plate of iron, without a shear, so that the furrow is made by throwing the soil on both sides, like the North Carolina bull-tongue. On a hill some Indians are planting, while others are carrying up water in large jars from a stream for the purpose of irrigating the vegetables peeping out of the ground.
Some of the Indians on the road look very sad after their Sunday frolic. A man on horseback, with his wife astride behind him, and her baby slung to her back, looked quite as uncomfortable as his miserable little horse. The road is marked with stones at every league of three miles: some of the measures must have been made on a Monday morning after a frolic. The small towns of Guayocachi and Nahuinpacyo are inhabited solely by Indians, and have a ruinous appearance. The streets are pasture-grounds, and decayed old houses serve as roosting-places for buzzards. We had thunder, rain, and hail; the hail-stones as large as peas, and soft, like snow-balls. Lightning flashed all around us in the valley, while the black clouds brought up by the southeast winds were hurried back by a heavy northwest squall. Thermometer 45°.
The Indians gather the dung of animals for fuel. Wood is too scarce to burn here. The green waters of the Juaja rush down through deep ravines; its power is used for a flour mill. The grain is mashed. The branches of a few large cedar trees give shade to the door of the polite old mestizo miller. Descending the river, we came to a beautiful white-washed new stone bridge, with one arch, 30 feet above the stream. Paying a toll of one shilling per mule, we crossed the Juaja into the small town of Iscuchaca. Near the river there are patches of lucerne, and peach trees in blossom. A native of Copenhagen, in Denmark, came forward and invited us to his house. The people had told him his countrymen had arrived. He was silversmith and apothecary, but had been employed by the Peruvian government to construct this beautiful stone bridge, which he had finished, and married the first pretty girl on the street leading therefrom, the daughter of a retired officer of the Peruvian army. The bridge across this stream was formerly built of wood. During a revolution, one of the parties set it on fire to the stone foundation. The Copenhagen man gathered a quantity of this stone, made a fire of it in his forge, and heated a piece of iron red hot. He called it brown slate coal; rather hard; not good for blacksmith’s work; but the same is used for running an engine at the mines of Castro-Virreyna, in which he interested. There are thermal springs
near; and specimens of magnetic iron were collected from a mountain is 1 ½ league to the northeast of the town. The “Matico” bush is found here. Many stories are told of the effects of this medicinal plant, which has been in use as a tea among the Indians, and as a poultice for wounds.
Iscuchaca is pleasantly situated amidst wild mountains, which seem to lock it up. The Juaja winds its way towards the Atlantic, while we climb a steep towards the Pacific.
The water of a rapid stream is somewhat salt, and its temperature 50°, while the air was 65°. Many fine mules are dashing down the narrow road. The drover tells me he is from Ica, bound to the Cerro Pasco mines, where he trades mules for silver. Ica is situated inland from Pisco, on the coast.
Among the mountains, at the top of a dangerous and precipitate pass, there is a wooden cross, erected by the people in the neighborhood. Travellers universally take off their hats as they pass, praying for a safe passage, or feeling thankful for one. The women often decorate these emblems with wreaths of flowers, cross themselves devoutly, and pass on. José begged me to hang the mountain barometer to one arm of the cross. While I took the reading of it, he looked on in great admiration.
The small Indian town of Guando is the first we have seen built of stone. It is situated high up on the mountains, and presents a most dilapidated appearance. On one side of a narrow street, little school boys were seated, saying their lessons to the teachers, who were on the opposite side. As we passed between them, the boys all rose and bowed politely. Among the inhabitants were an unusual number of elderly women. The temptation was great to ask their ages; but as some dislike questions of that sort, I might make an enemy without getting a fact. An Indian hut in the valley sketches the inhabitants. José appears between the man and his wife, telling them, in the Quechua language, that I live far off to the north, and want to show the people there what kind of people are here. The old Indian chews an extra quantity of coca leaf. The woman looks astonished, and the child is disgusted, though all stand still as they are told. The man was employed threshing barley with a long pole. The woman was cooking, and the child playing with the dog, when we arrived. The nights are very cold, the days warm and pleasant. To a church and few houses near the road has been given the name of Acobambilla. The Indians around answer the bells to prayers.
NEW WORLD CAMELS. 11
We ascend the top of the mountain and see perpetual snow in all directions, overhung with heavy, black, cumulus clouds, above which the cirrus shoot upwards; in the zenith the sky is clear and of the deepest blue. Spring water 44°; air 45°.
Richards shot at four wild geese with his carbine and single ball; two of the geese flew off, leaving the others very much frightened. The geese flew across a small snow-water lake. These birds are white, the ends of wing and tail being black, with red bills and legs, as large as the domestic goose, though not so tender. Tadpoles, but no fish, were to be seen. Wild ducks kept at a distance. The llama is pasturing and giving birth to its young close under the perpetual snow line. The alpaca and huanacos — species of the llama — are in numbers also. Llamas occupy the useful position among the aboriginal race of South America, that the camel does to the wandering man in Arabia. These animals carry loads of one hundred pounds, over roads too dangerous for the mule or the ass, and climb mountains difficult for man.
They are principally used for conveying silver from the mines. The Indians are very fond of them; though they drive them with a whip, it is seldom used; when one lags behind or lies down on the road, the Indian talks to it, and persuades it to forget its fatigues and get up again. They hang little bells about their graceful necks, and decorate the tips of their ears with bits of colored ribbon. Their disposition, like those of their masters, are gentle and inoffensive, except when too much hurried; then they cast saliva at the Indians, or at each other; this is their only offence; it is thought to be poisonous.
They require very little food, which they pick up on the mountains, and are much more temperate than their drivers; they require very little water. Their loads are taken off at mid-day, so that they may feed. I am told that they never eat at night. They seek the cold regions of the Andes; nature has provided them with a warm fleece of wool, and they need no shelter. Though they are feeble animals, their usual daily travel is about 15 miles; but after three or four days journey, they must have rest or they perish on the road. The motion of the head and neck as they cross the mountain crags may be likened to that of the swan, as it floats over smooth water. The wool makes good coarse cloth, of various colors, seldom all of one color. The Huanaco is known by its being rather larger than the llama; it is said to be difficult to train, even if taken young. It never gives up its ideas of liberty, and will regain its companions whenever an opportunity admits.
The alpaca is the smallest, with the finest long wool; its body resembles the sheep, with the head and neck of the llama. José tells me they are
good to eat, but like the others the meat is not very palatable. The alpaca wool is well known in the markets; the Indians make clothing of it, and trade it off on the coast. In this department, and further south, great numbers of these new world camels are raised. It has been remarked that they seek the south side of the mountains; probably there is less evaporation than on the north side, and the pasture is more fresh and inviting. Barley is generally raised on the north side of the mountain.
After a long and tiresome descent we halted in the main plaza of the town of Huancavelica, in front of a small shop on the corner. Drawing out a letter of introduction to the owner of the house, given to me by his friend, my Copenhagen “countryman,” I handed it to a very pretty young woman, seated in the doorway, sewing. She invited me in, and I followed to the bed-room of her husband, who was napping. There were so many female dresses hanging around I was obliged to be seated on the bed. The husband shook hands, rubbed his eyes, gaped, and then laughed. He said he was very glad to see me, that everything in the house was mine. Our baggage was put into a room, and preparations at once made for dinner. While I was resting, an officer, with a gold-laced cap, gray trousers, and a half-buttoned military jacket, came in, and inquired from whence I came, and as he was a lieutenant of police, he would thank me to show him my passport. In return I inquired, whether, in his opinion, the world was not sufficiently civilized to permit people to pass without such documents. It is very certain the lieutenant never had such a question put to him before. I told him to call when my baggage was unpacked, but I never saw him again, though I heard that Don-------- had said, “North Americans required different treatment from those of some other parts of the world; they did not know what passports meant, notwithstanding they were a very intelligent people!”
Don ___ keeps a gambling house, where hot coffee and ice cream may be had by applying at the shop, attended by his pretty little wife. All the ladies in town visit in the evening to refresh themselves after promenade, while the Spanish Creoles spend their time at a game called “Monte,” until day-light in the morning. This is a hotel, so far as eating and drinking goes, and the only house of the kind in the town kept by a Spaniard. The house was established after the marriage of the young couple, and is thought a good business, though the bride may be disgusted with her laborious life, even amidst so much ice cream, during the honey-moon.
QUICKSILVER MINES. 13
The town of Huancavelica has a population of about 8,000, and is situated in a deep ravine, amidst a cluster of lofty peaks. It is the capital of the department, and was named by the Incas. The ravine runs east and west, with an average width of one mile. A small stream flows through it to the east. Thermal springs, of 82° Fahrenheit, found in the vicinity. The town is divided into two parishes; counts six churches, a hospital, and college for young men, in which physics, chemistry, and mineralogy are taught. The plaza is adorned with a fountain of stone. A cathedral stands by the side of the mountain of Cinnabar, which contains the celebrated quicksilver mine of Santa Barbara. Climbing up this mountain, we came to a door-way 15 feet high and 12 wide, carved in the sand-stone. The entrance on the southwest side of the peak was like a railroad tunnel. The eternal glaciers are at this door-way. Icicles hung overhead, and sheets of ice spread under our feet. Sooty-faced, rough-looking Indians trundled wheelbarrows loaded with quicksilver ore. As the administrador, a tall, smallpox-marked mestizo, said to me — “We are all ready, sir, to escort you through the mines of Huancavelica” — I felt as though he was going to say, to be buried alive. We entered this dark hole, about 600 feet below the top of the mountain. As we left daylight, I thought of home; then I heard a dreadful crash, which the mestizo informed me was the upper part of the mine falling in. A hollow sound was followed by a splash in the deep waters somewhere below; then came suddenly a strong smell of sulphuret of arsenic. A little further on I saw a pair of eyes through the darkness. I called to Richards to hold his torchlight; we were travelling east-northeast by my compass; the eyes belonged to a little Indian boy standing on the side of the mine, with a load of ore on his back, while we passed; he had come through a narrow passage called “ Take off your horns,” on his hands and knees, and had raised a choiring dust. After refreshing ourselves at a spring of water of 50° temperature, we passed into a plaza, where the market women sell to those men who seldom leave the mines. On one side of this plaza, by holding the torches over our heads, we see a beautiful bridge, and beyond it a stairway leading into utter darkness; on the other side a lake—the opposite shore not in sight, though the sound of a hammer floats over its smooth water. As we move along among red brick-colored columns, which support the immense weight overhead, we see a dim torch by the side of the workman, seated with his hammer and chisel, cutting away and honey-combing the Andes. The administrador tells me we are half way through; if I wish to climb up stairs, we can get near the peak. Turn which way we will, we find a road to travel. I told him to be pleased to keep as near a level as possible.
14 QUICKSILVER MINES.
He halted, and after some words to the Indian guide, he said he had taken the wrong road, and must go back some distance. After bumping our heads, and walking doubled up in a most tiresome position, with great want of fresh air, we finally stood up in the San Rosario church, which is rotunda-shaped, with a height of 100 feet to the ceiling. Over the altar was carved, in solid Cinnabar, the Virgin Mary, with the Infant in her arms. As the Indians pass, with hat in hand, they turn, and, kneeling under their heavy loads of ore, say a short prayer, cross themselves, and pass on by the light always burning at the altar. The laboring Indian, who seldom leaves these dark regions, attends when the church bell calls, and offers up prayer for protection from the dangers of the mine. On a Sunday evening, in this rotunda, he meets his countrymen, who work on the opposite side of the lake; they tell of seeing daylight at the point of the chisel overhead, instead of driving it farther towards the bowels of the earth.
After a walk of two hours we came into the fresh air on the north side of the mountain. The Cinnabar is so narrowly separated by layers of sandstone, that the peak may almost be called a solid mass of quicksilver ore. At present there are 120 Indian men, women, and boys employed in extracting the metal. Those who cut out the ore work very much as they please—that is, they cut without compass; this makes it dangerous to those inside, the proper supports being cut away by the ignorant Indian. The ore is carried out at both sides of the peak, in bags of raw hide, slung over the backs of the boys, and then wheeled to the furnaces near by, where men break it up into bits, and women make small cakes of the dust. These cakes are laid in the bottom of a large iron grate, sufficiently open to allow heat to pass, and over them the ore is filled in to the depth of three feet. A fire is made underneath of coarse mountain grass; a strong draught carries the vapor from the heated Cinnabar, through a retort of earthern pipes, slipped one into the other, to a distance of five or six feet, where it condenses, and the quicksilver lodges in the floor. After the ore becomes well heated, which generally takes eight or ten hours, the doors of the furnace are closed, and, for three or four hours, the distillation continues. After this the quicksilver is swept into pots, washed in water, and dried, when it is ready for the market, and is sold here at one dollar per pound. It is sent off in all directions to the silver mines of Peru.
By the rude method of mining and smelting, the loss of mercury is great. The joints of the earthern pipes are luted with clay, through which the vapor escapes before it has time to condense. It is difficult to regulate the heat by the dry mountain grass, which blazes up and passes away in a moment, so that the doors must be kept open, and a man constantly feeding the fire.
QUICKSILVER MINES. 15
The mine is owned by the government, and leased to a company, who keep secret its annual yield. The laborers’ wages are never more than fifty cents a day. They are supplied by the company with all they require from the shop—a sort of purser’s store-room—altogether a profitable business for the company. It often happens that when the day of reckoning comes, the laborer is in debt on the books of his employer; he is then obliged to return to the mine and work.
Cinnabar is said to be found the distance often leagues, in all directions, from Santa Barbara, and that the Incas knew of and made use of it. Remains of small ovens, in the shape of retorts, have been discovered. The Indians used it to paint their faces.
The only account found of the annual yield of this celebrated mine was from 1570 to 1790; during this 220 years, Santa Barbara produced 1,040,469 quintals (100 pounds) of quicksilver, or an average of 47,294 pounds per annum. The price during this period varied from fifty to one hundred dollars per quintal, according to the tariff of prices fixed by the Spanish crown.
Huancavelica is on the inland route between Lima and Cuzco, distant from the former 73 leagues. This, although not the shortest distance to the coast, is yet the best road at the present day, leading to the best seaport. Of this immense mass of Cinnabar, not a pound is exported. England finds a market for other quicksilver in the silver mines of Peru; carried in iron jars around Cape Horn at great expense, it is transported on the backs of mules, almost by the very mouth of Santa Barbara. The roads are very narrow and rough; it would be impossible to draw a piece of artillery over them in their present condition; a piano was brought from Lima to Huancavelica, and remains cracked to this time, though the house containing it is the centre of gayety and attraction; the owner expects the music of “The Last Rose of Summer” by the next train of mules. Cargoes arrive from Lima in ten days; mail-boxes, on a mule, travel the distance in six days. To Iça, 50 leagues; cargoes take eight days.
There are no foreigners in Huancavelica. Creole families are few, and the Indian population very poor. Its vegetable productions are raised in this cold ravine; the inhabitants, generally, keep in doors; almost all the Spanish Creoles have been to Lima on visits, or educated there, and possess a gay, agreeable manner, and make the cold dreary evenings pass off pleasantly. They have no fires in their houses; as a substitute, they play romping games, and under the exercise keep comfortable until
16 ROMPING GAMES.
bed time. This was decidedly a merry way of bringing families together, and pleasing to see old folk’s romping, like children, with the young people. On one such occasion, a corpulent gentleman had his thumb put out of joint; a pretty girl held the end of it, while others pulled it in place again—by his coat-tails. One of the games is somewhat like “hunt the slipper.” All the players stand up in the middle of the room, and carry on to the music of a guitar, violin, or flute. The houses are tolerably well furnished and carpeted. The Indians act the part of servants. They are taken when young, grow up with the children, and frequently remain all their lives in the family; others run away when they become of age, or whenever they are dissatisfied. The Indian girls are often very much attached to their employers, and make cooks and house servants; remarkably neat in their dress, which is not unlike the bloomer style. People wear thick cloth here, even in the house; it is unusual to see ladies without shawls, or gentlemen without cloaks or overcoats. The only fuel known is mountain grass, and dried droppings of llama, like what our hunters call “Buffalo chips.”
The Prefect of the department was very kind and attentive. He gave me passports for all the lieutenants of police in South Peru, and called upon them as good citizens to assist me; besides, he offered me private letters of introduction to his friends on my route. He expressed the opinion that Mr. Gibbon was probably going to Carabaya, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the gold there was not “the other end of the California vein.” I paid off Francisco and his little son Ignacio, when they returned home. Here we take regular post mules and new arrieros, or mule drivers. José’s saddle wallets were replenished with bread and cheese. An Indian girl came up in time for Don___ ’s pretty little wife to purchase part of a lamb for us, and we marched on, feeling quite an attachment to the town, for though the climate and soil be inhospitable, the kind-hearted people are not.
Dog-killers were rushing through the streets with short clubs, and as a wounded dog came running for protection among our baggage mules, the arriero’s fat wife clung to her own pet dog until the killers were out of sight. The women generally accompany the arrieros some distance on the road, carrying provisions, which are eaten and drank on the road side just before parting. Ascending a rough, rocky road, over deeply washed ravines, we gain the smooth grass capped mountains. Between peaks of perpendicular strata, flocks of llama are pasturing. Yonder is a lake of clear snow-water, and there stands five beautiful vicuña, looking intently at us. What pretty animals, and how wild they look. They come here to pasture with their kinsfolk,
the llamas. “Richards ride round the mountain; José go with the baggage steadily along the road, while I take up this ravine, and try a shot.” We all start. The male gives a whistle, which sounds among the hills like the cry of a wild turkey; the four females are off. He stands still; as I near him, he calls louder, and long before I get within ball range, he is away over the mountain brow. The sailor-boy Richards will never give up the chase; he has run his mule out of breath, and now he takes after them on foot.
The vicuña is smaller and a much more neatly-formed animal than the llama, with a coat of fine curly wool; its color resembles that of the smaller deer. In the distribution of animals, as well as I can judge, the vicuña naturally seeks an atmosphere just below the llama. It is very swift and difficult to capture. The Indians take them by driving them into pens. Now and then a young one may be found tamed, and kept as a pet among the children; they are never used as beasts of burden. Fine cloths and valuable hats are manufactured from the vicuña. A skin sells in the market for fifty cents, and the meat is better than that of the llama, though José expresses rather a disgust at the idea of eating llama meat.
Our course is to the eastward. The snow-capped mountains are in sight to the west. Temperature of a spring 48°; air, 44°. Lightning flashes all around us; as the wind whirls from northeast to southwest, rain and snow-flakes become hail, half the size of peas. Thunder roars and echoes through the mountains; the mules hang then heads, and travel slowly; the thinly-clad aboriginal waits shivering as he drives the train ahead; the dark, cumulus cloud seems to wrap itself around us.
The first house we met was Molina post; the men passed the night with their mules in a storm, which beat against our tent all night. The postman, a Spanish Creole, invited us into his house; I saw his wife, two children, one Indian servant, and five dogs, seated around a fire made of dung, over which the woman was cooking mutton. Their bed was of barley straw, and a miserable old donkey was peeping in the door at it; so I had the tent pitched. At 7 in the morning the thermometer was 37° Fahrenheit. This is a barren country, and seems to be inhabited by the wilder animals. We chased a fox among the rocks, and shot two viscachas, which resemble the rabbit in size, color, and head, but the feet and tail are like those of the opossum. The people are very fond of them. The arriero smiled when he saw his supper. Richards cut one of them open to bottle its young, but we had misjudged its appearance. An Indian boy said if the mules ate any of the hair of this animal it would cause instant death. We had no extra mules to
18 SILVER MINES OF CASTRO VIRREYNA.
prove the assertion. The fur is very fine and valuable; they are running in and out of holes in the ground or the clefts of rocks, to nibble the mountain grass. The mountains are more rolling, and covered with a thick coat of pasture; flocks of sheep speckle .the mountains—black and white—cleanly washed by the rains. They seek the atmosphere next below the vicuña , while the good-natured shepherdess follows with a womanly regard for the wishes of those she loves.
Another storm is coming; we hurry on, and arrive at the next post in the small Indian town of Pancara. The postman told José that the Alcalde had come to pay us a visit. A respectable old Indian, with a silver-headed cane, who could not speak Spanish, appeared, so José was my interpreter in Quechua.
“How many people live in this town, Señor Alcalde?”
Alcalde, (eating parched corn from his waistcoat pocket,) “Don’t know.”
“Have you plenty to live upon in this part of the country?”
Alcalde, (with the most laughably contented air,) “Roast corn and few potatoes. The people are going away; I will soon be left by myself.”
Alcalde—“Going to Cuzco?”
José— “Yes; and as we have a long travel, we have to feed our mules well. Will you order us barley?”
Alcalde — “I will go now and fetch it.”
The town is falling to decay; many houses deserted, and their roofs have tumbled in. Climate cold, and unpleasant. Except our kind friend, the Alcalde, the people look wretched.
The vegetable productions of this department are few, and can only be raised in the deep valleys, where the dense atmosphere interrupts the parching rays of the sun, and they are protected from the cold mountain blasts of the night. No department in Peru is more broken and barren than this, with a greater variety of climate. In our sight are peaks of eternal snow, which run up to sharp points of pure white, standing in rows; the humble Indian, cultivating his patch of green lucerne in the valley, far below.
The animals are mostly those native to the country, and few of them tame. The horse, ass, and horned cattle, are much smaller than those on the coast, and are little used. Birds are very few, and seldom found domesticated; even the common poultry find the climate uncongenial.
Fishes are rare and small; only taken, I believe, in the Juaja river. Of minerals and metals already known, there are silver, quicksilver, copper, lead, iron, stone coal, and lime.
The silver mines of Castro-Virreyna have been worked for many years. They are situated south of the town of Huancavelica, in the Cordillera range. They count thirty mines, of which, at the present day, but seven are worked. Stone coal is found near by sufficiently good for
SANDSTONE PYRAMIDS. 19
engine purposes. One steam-engine made a voyage round Cape Horn, and arrived safely at these mines, where it is said to be doing a good business. In all cases, the pieces must not exceed one hundred and fifty pounds weight, or they come to a stand-still at the landing on the coast. Two pieces are balanced on the back of a mule, which carries the heavy loads, never exceeding three hundred pounds. This is the only way a steam-engine can possibly travel through the department of Huancavelica. The unoccupied mines are said to contain water, and air so offensive, that it is dangerous for the workmen to enter them.
This department has a population, by the government estimate, of 76,111 people. Two of the aboriginal race to one Creole will not be far from the average proportion. As the old Alcalde honestly confesses, he doesn’t know how many people live in his small town, it will be understood how difficult it is to get anything like a correct list. The people are scattered over a great space of country. We travel a day over the wild heights without meeting with a man, or find a valley too thickly peopled for the productions raised therein.
The department is divided into four provinces, each governed by a sub-prefect. These are again divided into districts, under governors, all of whom are responsible to the prefect at the capital—Huancavelica— who is allowed a secretary, three assistants, and a porter. The civil list amounts annually to six thousand four hundred and ninety-five dollars. The prefect is appointed by the government at Lima, and holds his office during the pleasure of the President of the republic. The sub-prefects and governors are also appointed by the supreme government, though generally through the recommendation of the prefect of the department.
Early in the morning we left Pancara; our good old friend, the Alcalde, still eating roasted maize, while he cheerfully expressed a desire to see us when we returned again. The Indians show great surprise when they are told that we will not return that way, and seem to be buried in deep thought, as though it troubled them to make out the white man’s motions.
Near this small town the road leads through a number of standing rocks, which have been washed by the rains into sugar-loaf forms; and so uniform are they, that it seemed like passing through tents in an encampment. The rock is a soft sandstone, which wears away very fast at the sides, and not on the top, where seems to be the end of the grain. Their heights are from 12 to 18 feet, and so well shaped, that one might be erroneously led to believe they were the work of a pyramidal- minded
20 CHICHA AND CHUPE.
race of men; but, upon closer examination, we found the work going on in the side of a bank, which was being regularly divided off into sugar-loaves. Had we entered this apparent encampment at midnight, I should have called out, for those rocks which stand off on the plateau a little distance look like sentry boxes around the main body of an army.
The constant wearing away of these elevated portions of the earth is beautifully demonstrated here, where the uplands seem to be dissolving and settling down towards a level—examples of the natural working of weather upon stones, so nearly resembling that of human hands with hammer and chisel. We found these pyramids for some distance along the road. Some of them were inhabited by families of Indians, large square holes or rooms being cut in the north side. Some rooms required steps to ascend; others were even with the ground. I found the family at home in one of them. Near the doorway was a horse-trough cut in the stone, and above it a place like the handle of a pot, where the end of the halter was tied. Cooking utensils, dogs, and children were seen in the lower story, while the Indian woman was spinning wool in the upper, or bed-room. A few regularly-built stone houses near by are not so interesting.
On this part of our journey, Indian girls, with chicha and chupe for sale, are seated at the tops of the steep ascents. Chicha is the favorite drink of the Indians. A party—generally old women—seat themselves around a wooden trough containing maize. Each one takes a mouthful, and mashes the grain between her teeth—if she has any—and casts it back into the trough in the most sickening manner. As the mill-stones are often pretty well worn, the operation requires time and perseverance. The mass, with water added, is then boiled in large coppers, after which it is left to ferment in huge earthen jars, when it is sold by the brewers without a license. It is an intoxicating drink, but very healthful, the Indians say. Chupe is the Peruvian national, dish, and maybe made of any and everything, so long as it holds its relationship to soup. It is made generally of mutton, potatoes, eggs, rice, all highly seasoned with pepper, &c.
As the weary traveller arrives almost breathless at the top of the hill, the girl tempts him. I halted by one of them, and addressed her in Spanish, but she answered in Quechua, and pointed to her chupe, which I believe she had kept warm by sitting over it during the morning. I thanked her kindly, and pushed on. Here and there an Indian hut is to be seen at a distance. In the valley to our right are flocks of sheep; and the merry laugh of the shepherdesses echoes through the mountains.
A NEW ENGLANDER AMONG THE ANDES. 21
Two girls walking after their flocks, have their arms around each other’s necks, joking and laughing as they leave home for a day among the hills. The sheep have just been let out of their pen, and run, one before the other, nipping the frost-tipped pasture. The dogs follow sulkily, with heads and tails hanging, as though they would rather stay at home if there was any company.
Here, as we rise to the top of a mountain, we behold all around one broken mass, ridge beyond ridge, as far as the eye can reach, like waves of the tempest-tossed ocean. Our mules are harassed, and the chronometer positively refuses to go any further. As we descend the Indians are harvesting barley. Horned cattle seem to fancy the atmospheric pressure just below the sheep.
The arrieros keep the higher road which brings us to the left of a valley. From the ridge we see the small town of Acobamba, and a turn in the Juaja river, dashing over its rocky bed, as the wild duck flies quickly against the current. The country has a fresher appearance. In the ravines, clusters of green bushes and flowers bloom; 5 p.m., air, 43° ; wet bulb, 39°, at Parcas- post.
I succeeded in securing a duck supper from a small lake, with a thick growth of rushes in the centre. The common mallard duck, and a black species, are found with red and green bills, and red legs. When these take fright, they hide themselves in the rushes and seldom fly. There are a number of beds of lakes which are filled in the rainy season; at present they are dry; on this route it is usual for travellers to carry bottles of water with them. A man in poncho and mountain travelling dress rode up behind us, with an Indian girl seated behind his saddle. He refreshed us with the compliment’s of the morning in plain English. He came out of the valley from Acobamba, though born in New Haven, Connecticut. His spirited horse was fretting itself over the rugged road. This man was proprietor of a circus company; had been many years in South America, and as we slowly wound our way up the mountain, told us his past history; what he had seen, and how often he thought of returning to New England. “But nobody knows me now. Years ago I heard of the changes there, and don’t believe I should know my native place. I have adopted the manners and customs of these people, and if I should return to the United States again, I fear my earnings would not be sufficient. I have worked in this country for years, and am worth nothing at last.” His stories of travels were interesting. He had encountered travellers of all nations, and amused me with the-way in which some of them worked their way through the rough country, among the people of Mexico and South America. Speaking of the mountain roads between
22 SAINT'S DAY OF SAN JAGO.
Popoyan and Bogota, in New Granada, over which travellers are borne in light bamboo chairs upon the backs of Indians, I discovered that he had encountered two of my own near relations on that route, nearly twenty years before.
He had sent a branch of his circus to Cerro de Pasco, and ordered the horses, on a raft at Huallaga river, to descend that stream, and the main trunk of the Amazon, to Pará. He had navigated the Mississippi in a canoe, and assured me at first he would try to sell his horses and go with me down the Purus. Every now and then his English ran off into Spanish. Then he would beg my pardon for not speaking his mother tongue as well as when a boy.
The Indians of the surrounding country were gathered at Marcas post, to celebrate the saint’s day of San Jago, an old church in the valley. The obliging master of the post had just returned from church, a little intoxicated, like most other folks about him. The Indians were dressed in queer costumes, marching in procession, with drums and fifes, through crowds of women; some wore cows-horns and black masks, others cocked hats and gold laced coats; while the women were dressed in all colors. Young Creoles dashed about on horse-back; girls were singing and hanging most affectionately on the shoulders of their lovers. The whole crowd was high on a chicha diet. The morning had been spent in prayers, after which a grand procession, headed by the priest. We came in at the evening ceremony. The scenery was as beautiful as strange; the church below us, and the people lining the road from it to the post house, while drums mingled with the shouts and singing of the women. Down the sides of the mountain, Sage’s circus company slowly advance. A queer-looking Mexican is the clown. A little dark complexioned Guayaquil girl, a neat rider, accompanies a fine looking Peruvian, whose fat wife, with sun-burnt face, follows. Then a pony and his playmate, the dog, with a beautiful Peruvian girl, servants, and a long train of baggage mules, all mixed in with the congregation. As the sun sets over the western mountains, a storm rises in the southwest, with thunder and lightning.
A long steep descent brought us into the valley of Huanta, where we entered the department of Ayacucho. The horse stands at ease; the swine repose coolly under the shade of a fig-tree; humming birds buzz among the flowers, and the fresh-water streams ripple through the highly cultivated lucerne fields. The gay, laughing faces of the people speak for the happiness of the valley, as do the beautiful flowers for its richness. Potatoes, beans, apples, chirimoyas, and granadillas are for sale by the road-side. Indian girls often invite us to take chicha. The
FRUITS AND FLOWERS OF HUANTA. 23
climate is pleasant. At 9 a.m., thermometer 60°. The fig-tree is very large, and bending with fruit, while peach blossoms overhang the road; large clusters of green cactus shade the quiet little ring-dove; the partridge calls from beneath the barley beards; the people are seated by the shady brook in midsummer costume.
Yesterday we were shivering under a midwinter snow-storm, high up on the mountains.
At the town of Huanta, my letters were handed to the governor, who kindly gave me possession of the house of the sub-prefect, who had gone, with his family, visiting about the country. Huanta has a population of two thousand people. From the balcony we have a full view of the plaza and the market people, with the hills in the back ground, among which there are some rich silver mines. Many have been abandoned on account of water. People are anxious to receive silver bars, but not over anxious about paying the necessary expenses for getting them. The Indian finds great hardship and little profit, while he goes with hammer and chisel mining out the rich metal. The creole seats himself at the mouth of the mine, wrapped in his broadcloth cloak, and receives the treasure. The poor Indian prefers cultivating the soil, from which it is difficult to persuade him; force, at times, is indirectly applied through the influence and power of the authorities. The more intelligent race take advantage of his ignorance. Some, who are very intemperate, of course are generally very poor; such are enticed to the mines by a regular supply of chicha; others, again, are taught to believe that to labor in this world for the benefit of others is to lay up treasures for them in a better place; they have a dreadful fear of temporal powers, and dare not disobey. There are different sorts of slavery existing among different kinds of free people. If obliged to choose, many would rather be negro slaves in North America, than free Indians in the South.
The governor had our mules cared for, and invited me to his table under the shade of the eastern balcony. He was a cheerful, agreeable man; if he knew how, no doubt would better the condition of those around him. His fine, healthy boys are growing up in idleness, and a pretty little daughter stands most of the day in the balcony watching the Indians in the plaza, under their umbrella shades, selling fruit. She pointed out an old Spanish Creole, said to be one hundred and five years old. There are beggars and marks of the smallpox. In the ravines, along the sides of the valley, ague and fever sometimes prevail, but, generally, the valley is very healthy. The nights are cold and days warm. During our few days’ stay here, the twilight was followed by flashes of
lightning, which lit up the whole valley. The nights are cloudy, which baffles our watch for the stars. The day’s travel before our arrival here was harassing.
The roof of the government house in Huanta is well tiled, and the walls well plastered, with paintings of full figures of saints, fairly executed, on them; the rooms are large, furnished, and carpeted. This is the exception to the rule.
The Huancavelica mules and arrieros returned, and we engaged others. The postman examined the baggage; pairs off the loads; and receives half the passage-money in advance the day before starting. He inquires, with an enterprising air, what time we would like to leave in the morning? I have found it best to tell them to come before the time appointed. The frequent excuses are various—a mule will be missing, or, the arriero may want a wife—he is never at a loss for a reason to keep you waiting until he is ready. The best way, after fretting a little at first, is to take things a little easier than they do. It is amusing to see how they dislike to be outdone, and hurry to break down opposition. Whenever these people meet with difficulties, the rule is to take a seat, and from the pocket take a small piece of paper or corn husk; a tin box supplies tobacco, to be rolled up in the shape of a cigar, and placed behind the ear; a match box and strike-a-light are produced, and the difficulty is considered in so cool a manner, while the smoke curls upwards, that unless you saw a mule, baggage and all, had broken through a miserable bridge, or fallen down a precipice, you would not believe anything had happened. The tobacco imported from Havana into Peru is highly prized, and a quantity consumed. Massachusetts cotton goods are sold by the Indians, in the plazas of these inland towns, at three times their value in the United States.
Passing through the small town of Macachara, I made José ask an Indian woman, seated on the side of the street, how old she was? She answered, “one hundred years, God bless you, and “very poor.” At a well built stone bridge, dated 1770, a flock of parrots flew by. Our course is south, over a rocky, dusty road; the day clear and calm. At noon, thermometer, 71°, with snow-capped mountains to the northeast. There is very little growth on the mountains—here and there some cactus. We arrived at the side of a stream through which a number of women were wading. No wonder they carry such loads on their backs, they are so stout built. An old woman, with four handsome daughters, kept her dress much dryer than any of the girls, though they were more careful after they found how-deep it was. They are not nervous, and don’t mind men much. A plateau is cultivated with
DEPARTMENT OF AYACUCHO. 25
barley, and we felt somewhat interested in the ground over which we travel. It is the battle-field of Ayacucho, where the royalists of Spain, under command of Viceroy José de la Serna e Hinojosa, 1st Count of los Andes, met the independent South Americans, under the brave Venezuelan Antonio José de Sucre. This battle took place on the 9th day of December, 1824, when the whole of the Peruvian territory was surrendered by the Spanish royalists, with the exception of Callao. The country around is wild and deeply washed with gullies and ravines in the wet season. The Spaniards flocked to this country for silver and gold; they built a large city, and called it Huamanga; the republicans changed its name to Ayacucho, in honor of the victory. It is the capital of the department, which is divided into five provinces, [now in 2009 it is seven provinces-wmm] and contains a population of 129,921.
The complexion of the people becomes lighter as we get south, and fewer Indians speak Spanish. They all say “buenos tardes” (good evening) when we meet them, even if it be at sunrise. Many of their expressions in Quechua sound like the language of the natives of the South Pacific islands, as I recollect it ten years ago, while cruising as a midshipman in the ship-of-war St. Louis. 
The city of Ayacucho has a population of ten thousand people; the houses have two stories, with large rooms and court-yards; the streets run at right angles, and are paved. On the grand plaza stands an immense cathedral, of stone, with heavy bells and iron-fastened doors. There are twenty-two other churches. The whole city was built on a grand and expensive scale. The present population indicate a falling off in numbers and wealth. The streets are strewed with ragged children and beggar men. Under large corridors are seen lounging sleepy old soldiers, with muskets and fixed bayonets; officers parade the streets, buttoned up to the throat, with dangling swords, and some of the most unclean looking priests we have ever beheld.
In the two schools there are only, thirty pupils. A professor of belles lettres and poetry, informed me that geography was only provided for in the college of Lima; and a teacher of latin grammar said the reason they had so few scholars was, the parents were too poor to pay for schooling. Among the aboriginals it is very unusual to find one who can write his name, and not unusual to find Creoles who cannot write. As to reading, I have never seen a person in the country so occupied, and have not seen a public journal.
In the plaza the Indians sell barley, wheat, maize, potatoes, onions, lucerne, and fruits, brought from the other side of the eastern ridge. In a blacksmith’s shop I found the mestizos burning charcoal, and upon asking whether they used stone coal, they all stopped work, and,
with an air of astonishment, said they had never seen coal dug out of the ground, nor iron neither. One of them showed me a piece of charcoal, and inquired whether I had seen any before. As they were about shoeing a mule, I remained. The smith came into the street with a short-handled whip, long lash, and box of tools, accompanied by four workmen. One of them doubled a hair rope and slung the mule’s hind foot to its tail; in doing so there was some kicking. The tools were at once set aside, and the sprightly mule most cruelly whipped; after which the shoe was nailed on and the hoof cut to fit it. The horseshoes are imported.