Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon, Vol. II/4
Manto silver mine — Trade — Shores of Lake Titicaca — Rush balsas — Animals — Loftiest mountains — Aymara Indians — Mode of cultivation — Bottled fish — Frontier of Peru — Rio Desaguadaro — Rush bridge — Bolivia military and custom-house — Southeast trade winds — Tiahuanaco ruins — Evaporation and precipitation — Planting small potatoes — Difficulty among postillions — City of La Paz — Population — Cinchona bark — Beni river and Madeira Plata — Transit duty — Gold washings of Tipuani — Productions of Yungas — Dried mutton and copper mines — Articles of the last constitution — A Bolivian lady’s opinion of North Americans — Illimani snow peak — Church performances of the Aymaras — Benenguela silver mines — Growth of cedar bushes.
96 MANTO SILVER MINES.
The silver mines near Puna, with the exception of one, are standing idle. Manto, the principal mine, is situated two miles south of the town. It has been worked for twenty years; the vein ran nearly horizontally west-southwest, rising a little as it passed through the mountain. Water flowed out after the miner had gone in some distance, and a dam was built at the mouth of the mine, which backed it up. Iron canal boats navigated the stream, and brought out cargoes of rich silver ore; as the miner travelled on, he found the more use for his boat. The canal was locked, and the water dammed up by the gates; some distance farther back, when a second and third gate were built, the stream became smaller, and the vein rose much above the level of the entrance to the head of navigation. Pushing on into the bowels of the Andes, the miner built a railroad of iron from the canal to the head of the mine, continuing to lengthen it after him. When the train came down loaded with metal, it was embarked and floated out by boats with lights burning at the bow and stern, as the canal is winding and narrow, with just room for the boat to pass between the rocks.
A steam-engine turns a large stone wheel of twelve feet diameter, under which the ore was ground. It was washed by water from the canal, and separated from its quicksilver by the heat of fires made from the excrements of llamas, the only fuel known here. Meteorological observations at each lock in Manto canal, show at No.1—air, 70°; water, 60°. No.2—air, 68°; water, 60°. No.3—air, 64°; water, 59°. The distance to the head of navigation is about half a mile, though the workmen say more than a mile. An Englishman has been engaged here of late years, and after spending much time with little
MINES — TRADE. 97
gain, has left. Manto, with all its machinery, stands a ruin. The mine is falling in; the canal-boats leak; the engine is rusting, and the last boat-load of silver ore was scattered over the ground. I am told that the vein has been gradually decreasing in richness as the expensive works have been going on. The machinery was brought from England, and transported over the mountains from the coast on mules’ backs, at great expense.
The necessity of bringing proper workmen with the machinery is also costly. Provision is scarce in Puno, and people from other parts of the country complain of the market. Thick clothing is required in this climate, and tailoring appears to be the best business. Englishmen are generous in their expenditures on machinery and preparations for mining. There certainly has been a great deal of labor expended at the Manto mine. There are a number of other mines in this department, and some in this neighborhood; but, with the exception of the gold mines of Carabaya, there is very little profit gained under the present system of management.
The annual yield of silver in the departments of Huancavelica, Ayacucho, Cuzco, and Puno, has been decreasing for some time. The custom has been to abandon the mine as soon as the chisel struck below the water-line, and seek for a new vein; until now, when we want silver more than ever, it is all under water. There are few new discoveries made, and mining seems to have become, year after year, a less profitable business. Merchants are afraid to advance large sums of money, lest it may be lost by the vein running out, leaving expensive machinery on their hands. Yet there is undoubtedly immense riches in the different metals of these departments, which might be extracted after a scientific exploration of the country, and with a judicious system of mining.
From what we see, there is no reason to expect so large an amount of silver to flow from South Peru as heretofore. The Creole portion of the population shrink from all kinds of labor; they sit at the mouth of the mines to receive the silver, and live a life of ease upon it. To the poor Indian mining is an harassing labor. He seldom reveals to the Creole any new discovery; he never seeks work at the mine, but turns to the cultivation of the soil in the congenial climate of the valleys; tends his flocks on the mountain-side, where he is better fed and clothed, and where his wild and honest feelings are gratified. The wool of sheep and silver are the chief exports from these departments. Besides Peruvian bark, copper, alpaca wool, vicuña skins, matico, gold, hides, and chinchilla skins, there were exported last year over five hundred thousand quintals of nitrate of soda from the seaport of Arica.
98 SHORES OF TITICACA.
The mail from Puno to Callao goes by the English steamer from Yslay in eight days, leaving Puno every two weeks. The Creole portion of the population is not very great, except in the army. There is a college of science and art here, like that of Cuzco. We found the boys practicing the broad-sword exercise with single sticks.
In the larger towns the government has established public schools. In this department there are sixty-three for boys and three for girls. In these schools Indian children are admitted and taught as well as the Creoles. There are few African slaves in South Peru.
The country is over populated; I mean for the productive portions of the land. There are many square miles in these departments barren and unproductive, unpopulated, and utterly worthless, so far as cultivation goes, though they may contain great mineral wealth. The inhabitants are confined to the valleys among the mountains, which are generally narrow, and crops are principally raised by irrigation. The Puna country is higher, and better adapted to wool growing, but very thinly peopled. There are many places so high above the level of the sea that people cannot live there with any sort of comfort, nor can they gather from the earth a living. The ant will die an unnatural death, placed where the llama naturally lives and flourishes. The llama, again, will perish with heat where the ant builds its nest. In the deep valleys are the most children, the greatest amount of vegetable life, and more of the animals known in different parts of the world, such as the horse, horned cattle, domestic cats, dogs, bees, and humming birds.
People have said that the population of these departments do not increase in proportion to the increase in northern portions of the world, and ask, why it is. People upon the Andes do not multiply if they do not seek the rich lands. As we ride along the shores of Lake Titicaca, the Indians are seen sucking the juice from the lake rush ; they also make salad of it. The cattle and horses wade up to their backs in mud and water after it. The sheep who seem, here in their native soil, glad to get a bite of something green, run down from the parched hills, and feed along shore. The hog, too, comes in for his share. The whole animal kingdom run to the lake for a living. It is a written invitation to navigation and cultivation. The mountainous parts of Peru are very dry.
November 15, 1851. — At 1 p.m., half the heavens are covered with cumulus clouds. Air, 56°; lake water, 64°. Thunder to the northward, and rain falling there; the east wind blows fresh. The beach is of gray sand, and in places muddy swamp. The rush grows along shore. Here and there the lake is shoal to the nearest island, about a mile off.
ANIMALS AYMARA INDIANS. 99
The rush grows thick on these shoals, which gives them a meadow-like appearance.
The road lies along the foot of the hills, very near to the water, There are a few potatoes planted in the sand ; the patches extend to the road, which is just at high-water mark in the wet season. The potato plant is the only water gauge available; wherever the ground allows, the Indian carries his row, far from the rocky base of the hills, towards the lake, and the height of the eastern edge of his potato patch, above the level of the lake, is one foot. The potatoes are just coming up, sometimes accompanied by beans. A pig’s tail was seen sticking out, as he had rooted down after the seed. The potatoes are small, but good.
The blue-winged teal, black diver, white and black gulls, feed in the water. Large and small snipe skim along the beach before us; while the tall white crane, with beautiful pink wings, legs and tail, with a black bridged bill, proudly strolls through the water. Green rushes and different colored feathers present a refreshing contrast to the dry rocks and dusty hills. In the small gullies may be seen a scrubby bush, some dry tufts of grass, and by very close search we did succeed in adding two specimens of flowers to our small botanical collection, which we hoped to have reported.
The Indians are going to town to celebrate the birth-day of the President of the Republic; old men are mounted on stunted little horses; young ones carry drums, fifes, and large feathered head-dresses, of pink and white, plucked from the crane; while the old women carry babies slung in cotton ponchos over their shoulders. The young girls bring provisions; and donkeys loaded with live chickens, to be sold in the plaza, jog along ahead of the families. On the lake a rush balsa, with a rush mat for a sail, loaded with fish and potatoes, presses on to meet the load of the donkey. An old woman is at the helm, which is a long pole; the wind seems a little too fresh for her; as she broaches to, her sail lifts, she loses command, and has to pole out of the rushes. The land party laugh at her, but she pushes and works with a will, though the heaving and setting of the craft makes it rather wet work, she finally smoothly sails into port.
From the small town of Chuiento we see the snow-capped mountains in Bolivia, on the other side of the lake — the loftiest mountains in the New World; with their silvery heads they cool the eastern winds; we are bewildered amidst these great works, while looking on with awe. José cannot understand the language of these Indians. We are among the Aymara tribe, who were subdued by Capac Tupanqui, the fifth Inca, but never adopted the Quechua language. José thinks there is
little use in going among people that we cannot talk to. He says that his countrymen have often told him these people are very savage, or they might speak Spanish or Quechua. Richards tried English, but it was of no avail; they only laughed! Their manners, customs, dress, and general appearance is nearly the same as those of the Quechua tribes. The women are a little more chunky and rather better featured; they are cheerful, and they look up more — the usual effect of beauty all the world over. The men chew less coca, are stronger for it, and have a much more healthy appearance than the men of Cuzco. As far as I can see, there is very little sickness about Lake Titicaca.
The governor of the town sent to the post-house for our passports; they seem to be very particular with persons going south; he read, signed, and returned it by the postman. Inquisitive people go to the governor’s house on an arrival, and after he reads the passport he passes it round. This is the way the arrivals are published here. On one occasion I unintentionally offended a roomful of men, by pocketing my papers as soon as the proper person had read them. It is the custom for travellers to present and read each other’s passports on the road; you thus tell your nation, occupation, whence you came, and your destination — a very good foundation for a travelling conversation. Through the United States chargé d’affaires in Lima, passports from the government of Peru to all prefects in the departments through which I passed in South Peru overtook me. Passports from the supreme government are rare in these inland towns, and are read with the more interest.
The post-houses are becoming more respectable; some of them, are papered, and near the bed and on the seats pieces of carpets are laid. The postmen are white Creoles, with pretty wives; and the arrieros are dignified as postillions. Passing through the towns of Ocora and Ylave, we put up at Juli, which is situated, like the other towns along the lake, on a knoll with a perpendicular bank, rough and rocky, standing out into the water. The lofty Nevada de Sorata is in full view, said to be 25,380 feet above the level of the sea.
November 17, 1851. — At mid-day, air 51°; lake water 65°; wind east, right off the snow ridge opposite; temperature of a spring 54°. After leaving Juli the road turned among the hills to the right. We passed the night at Tambilla post-house, which stands alone at the base of the hills between us and the lake, inhabited by the postman, his postillions, and some Indian women cooks, who made us mutton soup, with potatoes: The plain is alive with cattle, sheep, llamas, horses, mules, and jackasses. The pasture is somewhat fresher. The wind draws through the valley from the north and is uncomfortably cold.
RIO DESAGUEDARO. 101
An Indian spade was leaning against the door-post, and while Richards stood intently looking at it, with his hands in his pockets, the Indians were closely watching him and talking to each other, as though surprised a spade should attract so much attention. At the end of a crooked stick of wood a rude iron plate, narrow and long, was fastened by a strip of raw hide; near the lashing was fastened, also in the same way, a cow’s horn, on which the digger placed his foot. This spade is used for digging the soil on the side of the hill where the plough and oxen cannot go. In the wet lowlands long poles, shod with small iron plates, are used. One man pushes his pole into the earth, another puts in crosswise, and while they both pry up, a third, on his knees, turns the sod over with his hands. In this way they ridge the meadows and sow on the polled ground. The barley comes to head with very long beards, but bears no grain.
From the small town of Zepita the contrast between the snow-capped mountains to the east and the dark blue waters of the lake is remarkable. Here we succeeded in bottling two fish from the lake, without scales, about eight inches long, designed for Professor Agassiz.
The town of Desaguedero has a population of five hundred. At 11 a.m. we arrived, and found the governor busily employed at a fish breakfast. He was a cheerful, fat, polite, three-quarter-blooded Indian. In return for fish we gave him our passports; after reading them, he ordered the Indian servant to fetch a bottle of Ica wine. As he drew the cork he told me the Indians believed Lake Titicaca emptied its waters into the Pacific ocean by a subterraneous passage under the Cordillera range. They had found the Titicaca rush lying on the coast near Cobija, which differed essentially from weeds growing in salt water. A difference of opinion seemed to arouse him, and he said: “There are more than twenty different streams of water flowing from the mountain sides into this Titicaca basin, and not one has been seen flowing out; now, if I keep pouring wine into this cup, it will overflow and run down the sides, won’t it? Provided you do not drink it up as the sun does the waters, we answered.
After breakfast the governor walked to the river Desaguedaro with us. This river is the southeastern boundary line of Peru. We were detained a short time at the bridge to allow one hundred unloaded llamas to pass from Bolivia to Peru. Rush balsas are secured side by side, bridge fashion, and a quantity of rushes piled upon them. They are kept in place by large rope cables fastened on each side of the river to a stone foundation. The distance from the shore of Peru to the Bolivian side is fifty yards. The river three fathoms deep under the
102 LAKE TITICACA.
bridge, with a current three-quarters of a mile per hour running south. The color of the water is blue; it is fresh and cool — temperature of 60°; the Indians drink it here. This is the only stream flowing out of Lake Titicaca. After running southwardly some eighty leagues, the water spreads over a flat, forming what is called Lake Pampas Aullagas, from which there is no flow into either ocean.
We were told that in the year 1846 there were heavy rains to the south of Desaguedero; the river flowed for thirty days north into Lake Titicaca; with that exception it is reported to flow as we saw it.
In the rainy season the river rises about nine feet, the rapid current often sweeps away the bridge; at the same time the flats on both sides of the river are overflowed. The width of the Desaguedero valley, at the outlet from the lake, is three-quarters of a mile, nearly all overflowed in the rainy season by the waters seeking an escape between the small hills on both sides.
At the southern end of Lake Titicaca the water is clearer, sweeter, and cooler, than it is on the north side. There is no offensive odor from the lake here. There are nine kinds of fish caught near the outlet, and as many of water fowl. Fish are found on the tables, while in Puno they are seldom used. We know on the ocean that currents of warm water pass through cold water like oil, refusing to mingle. The streams of cold water are quite as exclusive.
When Lake Titicaca is at its lowest it receives more water from the snow peaks on its eastern shore, than from any other source during the dry season. As the snow streams are generally clear, we concluded the cold water runs through the lake in streams towards the outlet. In the wet season, as the muddy streams fill up the lake, they deposit their loads of earthy matter on the western and northern side, which disturb animal life. The fish seek a quiet retreat and are, therefore, found more plentifully on the southern and eastern sides of the lake.
All the dead rushes, driven by the east winds to the west side, lodge on the flats and beach, manure the dry places, and deposit their seed; more rushes grow there to catch the sediment as the water filters through. Year after year the growth dies off, breaks down, and helps the upward leveling law. The rush grows from six to eight feet long. It is called totora by the Indians. The stalk is of the size and shaped like the blade of a bayonet, with a head and flower resembling clusters of ripe buckwheat. It supplies the place of wood, iron, canvass, and greens. The Indians were taught by the Incas to make bridges of it, over which they passed their armies; besides their boats and sails, houses and beds are sometimes made of it. An old Indian was seen refreshing
REPUBLIC OF BOLIVIA. 103
himself with the juice at one end of a stalk, while his little child tickled another one’s nose, and made it laugh with the flower. Such is the value and uses of this wild vegetable production.
We cannot understand why the population of those mountains have not cleared more lands at the base of the Andes, where their children would find beautiful flowers, and the men the real sugar-stalk; where they might tickle their noses with the fragrance from rich pine-apples and oranges, and where their tables might be loaded with the choicest vegetable productions. At the headwaters of the Madre-de-Dios Peru has a garden, but the lands in all directions seem almost a desert.
When Pizarro came with his followers, they found the mountains filled with silver; they helped themselves, and the Indians assisted them in doing so. Little or no attention was paid by the Spaniards to the cultivation of the soil, to the manufacture of wool, or the commercial resources of the eastern country.
As we step across the totora floating-bridge, we feel grateful for the many hospitable favors the kind people of Peru have extended to us as strangers. We shook hands with the old Indian governor, who was polite enough to introduce us to the custom-house officers and military commander in Bolivia. He laughed when told he was not a good Inca, because he did not believe that the evaporation was great enough to carry off all the surplus water from Titicaca, and that his ancient deity drank the water from this uplifted basin, and kept it from overflowing. He lit his paper cigar, and wanted to know when we were coming back.
There are only three or four government houses in sight on the Bolivian side of the river. The military commandant was very civil; he requested the custom-house officer to let us off easy, saying “they came to serve our country.” The baggage was all taken off the backs of the mules; one or two trunks examined. The commander took great interest in our instruments; a woman in her riding dress begged permission to examine a needle and thread case which struck her fancy; she seemed to think it hard that a man had to do his own sewing.
Our road, dusty, rocky, and rough, lay along the southern shore of the lake. On the right were dry, barren hills; on the left, deep blue waters; and ahead, the heavy snow-capped range of the Andes, looked as though their weight was too much for the world to bear. The noonday sun is hot, but the east wind blows in our faces from among the snow peaks, which may be called the South American fan.
The winds from the Atlantic ocean rapidly run through the ravines and gorges of the great mountain range. The eternal glaciers cool the tropical atmosphere. Our animals travel with ease; as they breathe the
refreshing breezes, they seem full of life and ready for a long journey, even after the day’s work is over. These easterly winds on the table lands of Bolivia meet currents of air from the hills and mountain valleys. The different streams form whirlwinds, which draw the dust under our mules’ noses, and run it up to the cumulus clouds above, where the dust seems to float about in the air. Some of these dust columns are of immense height, standing for many minutes, like waterspouts of the ocean. Infusoria, found in the blood, rains, and sea dust of the Cape de Verde islands, resemble that found on the Andes, in Venezuela. A scientific examination of this dusty road may possibly compare with a similar one in the southern parts of Africa. There is a battle-ground not far south of us, where there were left a number of dead, whose dust is carried heavenward by these winds.
Persons have seen hundreds of waterspouts standing on the water of the lake at one time, as though the columns were supporting the weight of the clouds. The Indians’ balsas are built with so much beam, and being a bundle of rushes, shaped like a canoe before it is dug out, that the falling of one of the waterspouts only washes the dust off the Indians as they pass through this wonderful phenomenon. We are nearly suffocated at times with the whirling up of the dust all around us.
As we entered the small town of Huaqui, a man in uniform came out into the street, and requested to see my passport. He said he was not the governor, but the military commander. He was informed that we had none; we had not met with his government. As he assured us Peruvian papers were sufficient, they were handed over. Upon being- returned, we received a pressing invitation to remain in his house and take coffee; but as José had prepared tea for us in advance, the commander joined us. He was a young man in a soldier’s coat, which seemed to have seen service before he was born. It is amusing to see how much uncomfortable time a man can spend in a tight-fitting uniform, on the arrival of strangers. Outward show seems to be the sole object with the Creole portion of the population. This man’s employment is to read all passports of persons passing through this town, and he seems to be the only active business man in the place. He may be seen, long before the traveller arrives, standing in the street ready to demand, with a bold front, the license to walk or ride about over ground not crowded with population or vegetation. We change mules at Tiahuanaco.
To the northwest of us, and a little south of the centre of Lake Titicaca, is situated the Island of Titicaca, from which Manco Cápac and his wife travelled to Cuzco. He was a navigator. The Island of Titicaca is surrounded by the Aymara tribe of Indians, whose language
TIAHUANACO RUINS. 105
was not understood by José, who spoke Quechua as well as his own. The valley of Cuzco is the first inviting spot to the northwest, of this lake, and the road from it to Cuzco is level enough for a railroad. Manco Cápac and his wife were carried by east winds, which blow every day across the lake, to the western shore, and travelled on foot the road we took between Cuzco and Puno, according to Indian tradition. Among the scattered stone remains of the ancient edifices of Tiahuanaco, we observed no resemblance to the stone-work of Cuzco, and were surprised to find that, although the ruins were in such a dilapidated state as not to enable us to make out the character of the structure, we could perceive, and were convinced of the higher order of mechanical art over that displayed in Cuzco. The stones, immense in size, were hewn square; one of them had an arched way cut in it large enough to drive a mule through.
The cura of the town told us there were no stone to be found in the neighborhood of the same sort, and that he did not know whence they had been brought. We have reason to believe Manco Cápac had nothing to do with the ancient works of Tiahuanaco. Both the hewing of the stone and structure of the language of the people are different from his, though his first appearance was among these people.
We have faith in the peculiarities of the winds to aid the great work of populating distant portions of the earth. The northeast trade-winds of the North Atlantic ocean are fair winds for the emigrants of Europe to North and South America; and the southeast trade-winds in the south Atlantic ocean hasten the passage of the African to Brazil, the West India islands, and the shores of North America. Ships sailing around Cape Horn are headed off sometimes a month by the westerly gales. We are disposed to chart Manco Cápac and his wife’s track by the instrumentality of winds in the South Pacific ocean, from the far West to the Bay of Arica. At the gateway, near a Catholic church, was standing two heavy stone idols, with their hands crossed on their navels, as though there had been — as is now — a scarcity of food.
Tiahuanaco is a small town, situated upon a rise, in a wide valley, with a long view to the east. “The ruins are close to the town, and from the level low ground towards the lake, no doubt the palace was originally built upon the shore, now out of sight. By a rough calculation, Lake Titicaca contains three thousand square miles. While we look upon the parched hills and table-lands on the one hand, and eternal ice on the other, it would seem this basin of ice-water was uplifted more than twelve thousand feet above the ocean, for the daily use of the sun
106 LA PAZ.
as he passes. The evaporation is great, from the numerous streams which flow into the lake; and was the wet season withheld awhile, the basin would be emptied; but the precipitation and evaporation are now equipoised. As the lake is at its lowest, the rains will soon commence and fill it up again.
As the sun passes on south, he draws the rain-belt after him. He is now nearly vertical. When he completes his tour to the north of the equator, he returns next year to find Titicaca brimful, which is evaporated before the rains commence again. Were it not for the flooding of the lake every year, we might find the water salt instead of fresh.
We leave Lake Titicaca for the dry table-lands of Bolivia. On the road-side, at the base of the Sorata range, we halted to look at the Indians plough in their potatoes. The women were the planters. They plant the small potatoes of last year whole, instead of cutting the larger ones for seed. We attempted to explain to one of the women why she always raised such small potatoes; but she evidently misunderstood us. Running off to the end of the row, where there was a large earthen jar, she returned with a cup of chicha.
At Tambillo post-house, after passing the night, the postman was disposed to charge us double. His mules, like himself, look very poor. Half a dozen old houses stood out on the plain, with nothing about them to admire but the lofty snow-peaks. I hired mules to take us all the way to La Paz, but at Lapa they gave out. The postillions had them changed in the post-house, and wanted to continue with the fresh mules; but the Lapa postillions objected; and as ours refused to pay them that part of the fare which had been advanced, the subject was debated in the middle of the patio. A very respectable-looking old Indian walked in, and after speaking some time to the parties, our men paid, and we pushed on over the plain, in company with Indians and loaded jackasses on their way to market, and droves of unloaded mules on their return towards the coast, after having brought in loads of foreign manufactures.
Suddenly arriving at the edge of a deep ravine, we saw the tile-roofs of the city of La Paz, near the base of the great snow-capped mountain, Illimani. Descending by a steep, narrow road, and passing the cemetery, the air was found loaded with the perfume of sweet flowers. Springs of fresh water gushed out by the road-side, into which our mules sunk their noses before we could get a drink. As we entered the town, some one called out from a shaded piazza for our passports. We kept on, answering we had none for Bolivia; but on looking back, a man was seen stopping our baggage, which was a pretty effectual way of bringing us to.
LA PAZ. 107
After showing our Peruvian papers, an Indian was sent with us to the custom-house, and the police officer directed the man to show me the house of the gentleman to whom I had letters of introduction.
The most tiresome and troublesome part of the journey is the day of arrival in a large town, where we generally remain long enough to rest and pick up information. There are no hotels to which a traveller may go and make himself independently comfortable. Walking into a man’s private house, bag and baggage, and handing him a letter of introduction, which plainly expresses that the bearer has come to make his house his home, is the custom of the country. We entered the most elegant house I saw in South America.
The gentleman of the house was not at home; he was engaged superintending the Indians at the gold mines and washings of Tipuani, situated north of La Paz, on a tributary of the river Beni, and to the east of the Sorata mountains. His daughter received the letter, smoking a large cigar, and invited us to join. Her husband was prefect of the province of Yungas, where is gathered the best cinchona bark. As it was Saturday, and 4 o’clock, the officers had left the custom-house, and the baggage could not be examined before Monday morning. Notwithstanding the lady of the house sent our letters to the prefect, and asked that we might have our clothing. We were in a house with four young ladies and no gentleman, so there was a poor chance of borrowing.
The party was a good deal sun-burnt, dusted, and harassed over the hot plains since leaving Cuzco, and all well tired out. Richards suffered, though he stood the travel better than was expected. José’s beard had grown, and he had pulled an old white hat about so much to get it on the sunny side of his head, that he at once applied for part of his wages to purchase a new one. When we arrive, José always goes at once to pay his respects to the lady of the house, and through him a general sketch of our duties and characters are obtained. He is so polite, and of such an obliging disposition, that he seems to attract attention wherever he goes. He is fond of travelling, and, for so old a person, bears his part well, sleeps sound, and enjoys good health.
La Paz, the commercial metropolis of Bolivia, has a population of 42,849. It is the capital of the department, which has a population of 90,662 Creoles, and 295,442 Aymara Indians. The small stream of water flowing through the city at the bottom of the ravine may be stepped across without wetting one’s feet. As it dashes down through the Andes to the eastward, other streams join it, and after swelling out and gaining the base of the mountains, it is called the river Beni, which flows, in a northeast direction, through the territory of Bolivia
108 RIO BENI — RIO MADEIRA.
Some parts of the Beni are navigated by wooden balsas; but there are many falls, and the river-bed is rocky and rough, with a rapid current. The Beni is not navigable for steamboats. It flows through the wild forests, inhabited by uncivilized Indian tribes. On the tributaries of the Beni, gold is found, and the best quality of cinchona bark. By referring to- the map, it will be observed that the tributaries of the Madre-de-Dios, in Peru, and those of the Beni, take their rise very near each other, in a line between the gold-washings of Tipuani and Carabaya. The waters of the former flow into the Amazon, while those of the latter go to the Maderia river. There is a ridge of mountains and hills between them.
A knot or hump seems to be raised in this part of the back-bone of South America, from which the water flows in different directions. The loftiest peaks of mountains are near, and the large lakes are found here. We see a cluster of wonders, from the hot springs of Agua Caliente post-house to the frozen peaks of the Sorata; extremes of heat and cold, large mountains, and small streams, dry winds, and lakes of water, in the richest gold region of South America.
The Beni creeps along the ridge of mountains as though seeking an outlet to the north. A passage letting the water through into the Amazon basin at the base of the Andes would probably make the Beni a tributary of the Madre-de-Dios, as it is erroneously laid down on some maps. It finds no outlet until it reaches the Madeira, to which it is obliged to pay tribute. Though the waters of the Beni do eventually find their way to the Amazon through the Madeira, yet the Beni, properly speaking, does not flow through the Amazonian basin, but through what we consider is correctly called the Madeira Plata.
The map will show that all the water flowing north, from the edge of La Plata river-basin, passes through this range of hills at one place — the head of the Madeira river. The countries drained by the tributaries of the Madeira comprise an area of 475,200 square miles — nearly as large as the basin of the Nile, and more extensive than either the Danube or the Ganges. The Madeira Plata is a step between the Titicaca and Amazon basins. It is separated from the Titicaca basin by the Andes, and from the Amazon basin by the range of mountains and hills at the foot of which the Beni flows. Its bottom is above the bottom of the Amazon basin, and should be treated of independent of that watershed. With the exception of a small portion, which lies in the territory of Brazil, it belongs exclusively to Bolivia.
La Paz is a most busy inland city. The blacksmith’s hammer is heard. The large mercantile houses are well supplied with goods.
TRANSIT DUTIES. 109
The plaza is free from market people, for there is a regular market-house. The dwellings are well built, of stone and adobe. The home and foreign trade appears to be possessed with a life seldom met with in an inland town, without shipping or railroads. The people appear to be active. There is less lounging against the door-posts. The place has a healthy appearance.
There is a theatre, museum, library, book and cigar stores, handsome stone fountains, well-paved streets, hospitable people, and a number of foreigners, a beautiful alameda, where there are lovely women, stunted apple trees, and sweet flowers. The Illimani snow-peak standing before us, is a cooler of the tropical winds which pass over the Madeira Plata. Strawberries, beans, onions, barley, and lucerne are produced in the ravines, but in very small quantities, as the space is very narrow. What attracted our attention among the people were new French bonnets the ladies were learning to wear, and the new French uniform caps the army had just received from Paris; both fitted like a new mountain saddle, rather uneasily.
In mid-day, when there is little or no wind, the inhabitants wear thin clothing; but as soon as the cold wind comes from the Illimani, bringing with it a shower of drizzling rain, the whole population change to thick cloth clothes. The climate is very changeable, and a consumption of thick woollen and cotton cloths are required, as much as thin cotton goods.
There is a police on the lookout for passports in the day, but I doubt if they are as strict in the performance of duty at night. Wines and spirits are the only articles Bolivia pays a transit duty to Peru upon. Bolivia receives most foreign manufactures through the port of Arica, in Peru, and as Peru is interested in the sale of her home-manufactured wine, she charges a transit duty upon all foreign wine introduced into Bolivia through her territory. Yet, while the duty and cost of transportation on the backs of mules from Arica triples its value, there seems to be more of this article used in La Paz than anywhere else, to judge from the noises made in the streets at night by parties of men and women, who roam about dancing and singing to the music of guitars; some of them play very well. Just opposite my window there was a wine store. In the door-way was chained a young tiger, and I noticed that nearly all the people who stopped to play with the tiger entered and paid transit duty to Peru.
The tailors are found seated along the pavements here in great numbers, but there are fewer churches than generally in a city of this size. The man who gets the
contract to supply the standing army of Bolivia
110 PRODUCTIONS OF YUNGAS.
with clothing, accumulates a large sum of money. This is the business of importance in La Paz next to that of the trade in cinchona bark.
The largest portion of the department of La Paz is situated on the table-lands, which, like the hills and lofty mountains within its border, produce a scanty supply of vegetable growth — ocas, potatoes, maize, barley, beans, and quinua. Horned cattle, horses, and sheep are small and few. The llama is less used on the level roads of the Puna than on the rough roads of the mountains; mules are more valuable. The Indian nearly always walks to town in company with a jackass. Except a little dove dusting itself by the road-side, there are few birds to be found; no snakes nor ants; neither flowers nor trees. But that part of the department situated on the eastern side of the Andes — the province of Yungas — surpasses other spots in South America for natural wealth.
Standing up to his waist in the snows of the Illimani, amidst heavy storms of hail, with thunder and lightning, and a wind that dyes his nose and ears scarlet and blue with cold, the traveller descends to the east, plunging and tumbling among the drift banks. He passes sheets of ice formed by the melting of the snow at its lower edge, and after slipping and sliding down these glistening slabs, he reaches a green sod of grass, while the snow melts from his clothes as he thaws in the tropical sun. Behind him, above rages the winter storm; below a land of flowers in everlasting summer; and far off to the east, the whole earth looks blue and broken like the ocean. The drops of snow-water from his own coat join the trickling stream from the melting ice, and with him they move on down the rugged mountain. This stream, increasing as it advances, is finally lost in the waters of the Beni. He pulls off his overcoat, seats himself under the shade of a bush surrounded by sweet flowers; humming-birds attract his attention, and as he fans himself with his hat, a swarm of bees interferes somewhat with his comfort.
He soon reaches the shade of lofty trees; an old ring-tailed monkey walks slowly along a limb; a cunning little one jumps on her back, twists its tail round her hind legs, lays down its head on her back, sticks its fingernails into her skin, and rides its mother off at a full run, jumping from limb to limb and from tree to tree; while the father follows after, chattering in a loud voice the alarm for a stranger.
A long train of ants, disturbed in their march from one side of the path to the other, occasionally afford the intruder a bite through the stocking. He stops to change his clothes from winter to summer. Birds of most brilliant plumage sing all around him; some of them scream with joy as they fly across the mountain torrent; others are seated quietly in pairs on the branches, among the thick green foliage, as though
CINCHONA BARK. 111
admiring or making love to each other. The forest stretches down the side of the Madeira Plata. The woods are ornamental and dye; the cacao tree, from which the best chocolate is made, grows wild. Coffee, tobacco, cotton, with all the tropical fruits, and the coca plant, are cultivated.
In the beds of the streams grains of gold are found. Among the hills there are two species of the cinchona bark, the best in the world. The forest is common to all persons who choose to employ themselves in gathering bark, and the impression is that the value of the forest in this article of trade is annually decreasing. The bark taken from the trunk of the tree “tabla” is the best; that from the larger branches, “charque,” second in quality; and that from the smaller or upper branches, “canulo,” the least valuable. A man may cut two quintals per day, which makes one quintal (one hundred pounds) when dried ready for market. The woodman will sell it at the stump of the tree at from eight to ten dollars the quintal.
By law of Congress, all bark gathered in Bolivia must be sold to a company having the monopoly of this trade, who pay, according to law, the following prices to the Yungas woodsman for his cinchona bark, carried over the lofty Andes and delivered at the bank in La Paz: “tabla,” sixty dollars per quintal; “charque,” thirty-five dollars, and “canulo,” thirty dollars. The company pays twenty-five dollars per quintal on “tabla,” and eighteen dollars upon “charque” and “canulo,” duty to the government.
The bark is put up in cotton bales, each weighing one hundred and fifty pounds, covered with raw hide. Two bales, or three hundred pounds, being a mule load over the Cordilleras to the sea-port of Arica, where it arrives in ten days from La Paz, paying a freight of twelve dollars per mule load, so that a quintal of “tabla” has cost the company eighty-nine dollars.
The price in Arica varies from fifty to one hundred and fifty dollars per quintal, according to the demand for quinine in fever and ague countries. In 1851 it was worth one hundred and ten dollars the quintal; in May, 1852, it was as low as eighty dollars. At Arica it is shipped, and carried around Cape Horn, to the chemists in the United States and Europe, where it is manufactured, bottled, and some of it reshipped and sold in the apothecary stores of La Paz to those who enter the province of Yungas, where the disease for which it is intended as a specific frequently prevails. The woodsman pays for one ounce of quinine the same price he sold one quintal of bark for at the tree. Those who swallow quinine throughout the world are supposed to
112 GOLD WASHINGS.
consume ten thousand quintals of cinchona bark per annum. We consider this to be a very low estimate.
The bank at La Paz has for some years past received as much as fourteen thousand quintals per annum, and the government of Bolivia issued a decree or proscription, forbidding the gathering of this bark from the 1st January, 1852, until the 1st January, 1854.
Gold was found in Yungas more than two centuries ago. The gold mines and washings of Tipuani are worked with some profit in the present day, but the wealth of the people engaged in gold hunting does not compare with that of former times. Hundreds of Indians were employed, turning the Tipuani stream from one side of its bed to the other in the dry season, and large quantities of gold were collected. Seven gold mines are at present worked in Yungas, and five hundred have been abandoned.
The roads to Tipuani are narrow, precipitous, and in an unimproved state, like most of the roads into Yungas. They require an annual expenditure of money, after the rainy season, to put them in order.
Merchants pay wages in advance to the Indians who consent to enter the mines, and provide them with provisions, which are carried in on mules. The expenses are very great in comparison to the yield of gold. The Indian is often sick, when his wages and the expense of feeding him are lost to the miner; many of them leave before their time, so that the work of the season is lost, the miner giving up poorer than he commenced.
Besides gold, there are silver mines in Yungas abandoned, filled with water. They are situated higher up than the gold mines along the eastern sides of the Andes. This side of the Madeira Plata is made of silver, washed with gold, filled with oranges, pineapples, granadillos, bananas, beautiful flowers, and rich green leaves, refreshed and kept in perfection by the sheets of ice and clusters of white snow resting on its edge. Streams of clear water, habited by fish, flow through the lofty forest trees, turning and winding among the hills, while the fish-hawk perches himself on the overhanging branch to watch them. The parrot, with his green leaf-like plumage, winks an eye as he digs his curved beak into the banana. The monkey helps himself to oranges; the humming bird feeds upon the product of the flowers. All are employed, joyful, and happy. Their songs echo through the hills, and die away among the dashing streams; but the ferocious tiger shows his teeth as he turns aside, snarling at the sight of the forked tongue of a dangerous serpent.
At the rising of the moon, swarms of bats fill the air, and insects float
TRADE OF LA PAZ. 113
about in the heavy atmosphere, seek their rest and all is still. The white wild goose sits by the side of the snow-water pool on the top of the Andes, and the dove sleeps on the puna by the side oi the cactus thorn.
The most inveterate chewers among the Indians say, that the coca raised on the tributaries of Madre-de-Dios is superior to that produced in Yungas, on the waters of the Beni — the Yungas plant being at a greater elevation above the sea. In Peru, the planter goes well down into the flat lands, where the coca plant seems to flourish better than on the side of the Andes, in the ravines. Yet, seven thousand baskets of Yungas coca have been sold to Peru in one year; the usual price is five dollars the basket. Fruits, coffee, chocolate, tobacco, cigars, and about five hundred thousand dollars in gold and silver, are also exported to Peru; in exchange for which the department of La Paz imports from Peru rum, wine, sugar, sweetmeats, peppers of different kinds, meats, potatoes, and cheese.
The value of the imports of foreign manufactures into this department, in “silks, coarse cotton and woollen cloths, calicoes and fine cotton goods, iron, earthen, and glass-ware, amounts to about five hundred thousand dollars. The value of the Cinchona bark and copper exported is three hundred thousand dollars, with two hundred thousand dollars in gold and silver. The difference is exported to keep up the balance of trade, which, makes the foreign trade of this department worth about one million per annum, exclusive of the internal traffic with Peru.
The city of La Paz is the largest in Bolivia, and has the most trade, owing to its position between the provinces of Yungas and Arica. But the foreign manufactures imported by this country, do not all pass through La Paz. The roads from Arica and Cobija lead direct to the southern department, and the trains of mules and jackasses cross floating totora bridges on the Desaguedero, such as we saw the llamas pass near the Lake of Titicaca. The distance from La Paz to Cobija is two hundred and thirty-two leagues.
In the first part of December, when the flowers begin to bloom in the ravine, it is the custom of the inhabitants of La Paz to repair to the alameda before breakfast. Some go on foot, dressed in silks and satins, broad cloth and white kid gloves. The ladies without bonnets, their hair parted in the South American style, appear to much more advantage than those in French fashions. The gentlemen are also more natural in their vacuna -made hats than in those of Paris. Indian servants walk behind the family with rugs, which are spread for the ladies to sit upon. Gentlemen make a grand show with spirited horses, but
114 AYMARA STONE-WORK.
are completely outdone by ladies in the management of their animals, and in graceful riding. Some of the country-women ride on men’s saddles.
The girls ride off at full speed through the alameda, like a frigate’s complement of midshipmen on a day s leave of absence. More of the men’s stockings are exposed to view than those of the ladies.
The men of Bolivia are better developed and more spirited than they are found near the equator, Their horses are generally small; some of them are full of life and spirit, and prance about more like little goats than a well-trained blooded animal.
Milk is drank at the end of the exercise, and the meeting of the families is very agreeable. The degree of politeness and pleasantness of manner is remarkable, while the milk: of cow kindness is passed around in large glasses. The fresh complexioned Spanish beauty rides up, tosses off a bumper, calls to her indolent escort in her sweet language, and off she goes again, followed by the eye of a fat John Bull, luxuriating over his glass, with a broad brimmed hat on one side of his head, and a walking stick under his arm.
The foreigners of La Paz purchase the dried mutton of Peru, and supply the Indians, who work near the town of Corocoro, where copper is found in great quantities in its native state, and is worked with great difficulty for want of proper tools. The export duty, paid by the merchants to the government, is six cents per quintal on ground ore, and twelve cents on bars of pure copper.The Indian men are not muscularly strong, though they accomplish a gread deal in their own way of working. They are slow and sure men, when well treated. The stone-work of the fountain in the plaza, carved by the Aymara Indians, compares well with the best we have met. It is admired by the Italians, Germans, French, and English residents of the city, and however much we respect the Quechua tribe, we must give the Aymaras the preference in this mechanical art, They are more musical, and seem to possess a more independent character than the Quechuas; yet they cannot compare with the North American negro slaves in health, strength, happiness, comforts of life, or liberty. African slavery existed in Bolivia before the meeting of the National Convention in September, 1851, when the fifth Bolivian constitution was sanctioned; the first article of which declared that "All men are born free in Bolivia. All men receive their liberty upon placing their feet upon her soil; slavery does not and cannot exist in it."
In this convention, a member of intelligence and experience — a man as popular as any, and respected by most of his countrymen; well
FREEDOM IN BOLIVIA.115
acquainted with the history of Bolivia, and who had been a public man from her birth as a nation — offered an amendment to that constitution, proposing to establish religious liberty in Bolivia. The whole convention at once opposed him, as did the two little public journals in La Paz; and when the bishops, priests, and church of Bolivia came out against him, it became a question, whether a patriotic, aged, and tried senator was a freeman !
The fifth article of that constitution declared, “The Apostolic Roman Catholic religion was that of Bolivia. The law protects and guaranties the exclusive worship of it, and prohibits the exercise of whatever other,” recognizing notwithstanding the principle, that “there is no human power over the conscience.”
With political affairs the Indian has little or nothing to do. When the Creoles side off on the level plains of Bolivia and fight the battles of their country, the Indians seat themselves on the brows of the hills around, and quietly witness changes or continuance of administration. They seem to be the philosophers of the country, and to take the world very easy. After the struggle is over, they come down and pursue their daily occupations under the new constitution, laws, and powers that be. The beautiful house in which we are was, on one occasion, turned into a barracks for the soldiers of the victorious party, and the ladies driven out, because they agreed in their political opinions with their father and brothers. The officers were thought kind because they had the most expensive furniture put into their own rooms, that it might; not be entirely ruined before the family had been sufficiently punished. At the dinner table a young family of fourteen are seated, full of life and gayety. Our place was next the lady of the house, who presided. She was very intelligent, and had greater advantages of education than most of her countrywomen. She seemed particularly fond of the United States — asking many questions — expressing her admiration of the people, but disapproving of some of their actions. She thought the country too warlike; and although we had conceived our answers satisfied her, with regard to Texas and California — of which she had very incorrect. Ideas — she asked me to explain to her the meaning of all the articles she saw published in the newspapers of La Paz, upon the subject of Cuba. Turning suddenly, she looked up and said, “What are you doing here, Señor Gibbon; do you want Bolivia, also? After setting forth the advantages of trade through the rivers of Bolivia, and the difficulties the people of her country now labored under to avail them selves of foreign commerce, she approved of the enterprise, and expressed
116 MARKETS OF LA PAZ.
herself friendly to it; but concluded by saying — “I believe the North Americans will some day govern the whole of South America!”
Our conversation was disturbed by the entrance of an Indian servant girl, with her mistress’s youngest child, which was seated between us„ The Indians teach the children their own language. The habit of using the most easily pronounced words in Aymara and Spanish had produced a very curious mixture. The Aymara for baby is “wawa.” A gentleman seated opposite inquired if I was fond of them. Never having heard the word “wawa” before, and believing he said “guava” — a fruit upon the table — he was answered in the affirmative, with the addition that they “were much better when preserved than when eaten raw.” This brought forth a shout of laughter.
The daughter of the lady, with tears in her eyes from merriment inquired whether I had ever eaten one? Being told that I had devoured hundreds, and would take one now if she would be so kind as to give it to me, the Indiau girl seized the wawa, amidst continued roars of laughter, when Havana cigars and Yungas coffee were introduced.
The markets of La Paz are well supplied with fruits and vegetables from Yungas. Near five hundred thousand baskets of coca are produced there annually — a basket contains twenty pounds. Some twelve hundred baskets are exported to the Argentine republic ; the remainder, after the sale to Peru, being consumed at home. The organized national guard, or militia of this department, amounts to about fifteen hundred Creoles, regulated by special laws, independent of the standing army of the country.
The prefect of La Paz was friendly to the expedition, and assured us his government would be so. His duties correspond with those of the prefects in Peru. His department is divided into provinces, which are ruled by governors; there are no sub-prefects in Bolivia. The most intelligent men in the country are found among the prefects. The impression is that preference is given to this office over that of a ministership in the supreme government.
With a fresh supply of passports and letters, we mounted our fattened mules, and bidding farewell to our kind friends, we ascended the steep side of the Quebada to the table lands, which slope down from the Illimani to the westward, towards a low range of mountains. The wind was fresh from the southeast; thunder in the north, and a cold drizzling rain falling. The plain is covered with round stones, such as are found on the shores or in the beds of rivers.
December 2, 1851. — At 4 p.m., we halted at Ventilla post-house. Thermometer, 52° ; wet bulb, 42°. The fat post-woman was picking
seeds from a bag of raw cotton. She gave us a specimen, but said she did not know whence it came. From her external appearance, we judged she had not travelled much about the country.
The house stands on a barren plain; not a living thing to be seen growing, except a short tuft of grass here and there. The post-dogs are miserably poor. The baggage-mules look as if they ate round stones and drank bad water. As the dogs and children came to us for supper, we are at a loss to know how it is the old woman keeps so enormously fat. Possibly upon happiness, for she seems perfectly contented.
It has been a matter of surprise how the globe is so well balanced, while the greatest proportion of land appears on the north side of the equator. After a view of the lofty mountains, corpulent bishops, and portly postwomen, it seems more comprehensible.
We are now travelling on the edge of the Titicaca basin. The water on the west side of us flows into the Desaguedero river, and that on the east side into the Beni. The rich copper district lies to the west of us, near the Desaguedero. There is snow on the mountains in all directions, the Illimani appearing high up in the east. Three vicuñas were pasturing with some sheep near our path. At the small town of Calamarca, at 4 p.m., thermometer, 48°; wet bulb, 40°. A rain-storm from southeast, accompanied with thunder and lightning, hauled round by south to the west, when the small drops of rain became frozen, and fell in hailstones, the size of very small peas; after which the whole country in sight was covered with snow.
The scene is a cold and dreary one, made more so by the strange noise of wind instruments and drums in the plaza, as the Indians march through the church after the storm, dancing with war-clubs at the doors, while a cracked bell chimes a deafening summons to prayers. The wind instruments are made of a succession of reeds of
different sizes and lengths, upon which they blow a noise, little resembling music to our ear, keeping time with the drummers, the slow-motioned dancers respecting them both. The Indians are dressed in large feathered hats, white cotton shirts, short trousers, decorated about the knees with red, blue, and white ribbons, while one in deep black walks before the procession in the character of drum major. Except a priest, not a Creole face was to be seen.
In the morning the procession marched into the patio of the post-house. After they had played and danced some time, the Indian women came out, and being joined by the postillions, formed a ring inside the musicians, and the dance was continued. We seated ourselves, with our tin pots of tea, in the doorway, looking on. After the dance, the women
118 AYMARA INDIANS.
retired, and the postman, a fine-looking old Aymara Indian, hat in hand, made a speech, in a grave and earnest manner, to which they all listened with silent attention. The speech was responded to by a long blast from the wind instruments and a few heavy taps on the drums. Then the postillions, one by one, made short speeches, and were answered in the same way. The women again appeared, each bringing with her a jar of chicha, which they served out in cups, giving to each individual as much as he could drink, which was no small quantity, for the morning was cold. The music again struck up, and the women again joined in the dance. One of them came out with her sleeping “wawa” slung to her back, which was soon blown up, and commenced a laughable discord; but not a smile could be discovered in any of their faces; neither did the woman stop till the dance was ended, when she swung the child round in front of her, where it found cause to be quiet.
As we could not understand the language or the meaning of the speech, nor the propriety of chicha being introduced into the religious service, we supposed the intention “was to serenade the women, but were left in doubt; for they seemed to be so serious, formal, and earnest that ft could scarcely be a frolic. At first we were disposed to appropriate it to ourselves, but gave in on the appearance of the chicha.
These Indians are very polite and attentive to us. We find no difficulty in getting what we want, notwithstanding José is as perfectly ignorant of Aymara as ourselves. When we were ready to leave, the old Indian took out of his own pocket, and laid upon the palm of his hand, the amount of our bill for the night. Being paid, he nodded his head, smiled, and uttered something that seemed to us satisfactory.
The town is small and wretched, both in its external and internal appearance. Not a foot of the country in sight around it is cultivated. The principal production seems to be chicha; but the maize it is made of is brought from the Quebradas to the eastward. To the west of Calamarca, between the Desaguedero river and the Cordilleras, near the town of Benenguala, in former days, were worked a number of silver mines. Seven hundred mouths are open and filled with water, having all been abandoned in the present day, though they are reported to be rich. To the east of Calamarca, in the province of Inquisivi, five silver mines are worked, and one hundred and sixty stand idle. Near the town of Araca four gold mines are worked, and many more exist.
Crossing a dry, rocky country, we came to where the plain was covered with green cedar bushes, about two feet high; the dry, dusty road was made more cheerful by cattle, sheep, and llamas crossing our
SOUTHEAST WINDS 119
path. They were feeding upon the fresher grass that springs up under the shade of the cedars. The change from the barren, unproductive places on the Puna to that of a vegetable growth is so sudden, that the traveller is, at first sight, struck with wonder and surprise, because evidently no human power has been brought to work here. It is all the result of original, natural laws.
Man seems the most unnatural creature we meet with. He builds his house in a desert, settles himself in a country he cannot cultivate; while other animals are seen in numbers the moment we come in sight of vegetation, nor do they leave it for the barren places unless forced to go by the more intelligent creature.
The southeast winds that we meet here come across the South Atlantic ocean; passing over the lowlands, they strike against these mountains. Rising from the vapors of the sea, they are wet; but after travelling over dry lands, their dampness is distributed on the soil, and there springs up a growth of forest trees and wild flowers, which otherwise would be burnt down by the fiery rays of the sun.
By the time the winds reach these lofty mountains they are comparatively dry. The little dampness remaining in them, meeting with the cold atmosphere of the mountain peaks, freezes and falls in the shape of snow or hail.
Being relieved of their load, they come down on the table lands now, where we meet them after having performed their work, as on the west of the Illimani; there the plain is barren; not a living bush is to be seen. As the winds have no moisture to give to the soil, the soil has no vegetation to give to animal life; therefore, man appears to be struggling against this law, by living all his life to the west of the Illimani, where the winds are on a frolic, dancing over the plain, forming whirlwinds, and shooting up to return from whence they came.
These winds go back to the South Atlantic by an upper current. But, to return to the cedar bushes. We can only account for them by supposing an opening in the Andes range to the southeast of us, through which the winds come, before meeting with mountains high enough to push them above the perpetual snow line. We cannot see far enough to tell, but have to feel our way. Yesterday we had the Illimani to the east of us, and by the reflection of a barren soil, the rays of the sun scorched the skin off our faces. To-day, although the sky is equally as clear, we do not feel it, the atmosphere is more moist, which protects the skin from the influences of the sun.
But there stands a more convincing proof of this natural law, and of our supposition of an opening in the Andes to the southeast of us.
120 COMPLEXION OF INDIANS.
The mountain peaks to the west are covered with snow. The remaining moisture in these winds has not yet been turned into hail and snow, but is still doing its summer work. The moment it strikes those mountains to the west, however, then it will all be grasped by the cold hand of winter.
We have heard the people of this country complain that there is less law in Bolivia than in any other part of the world. We doubt if there ever was a law more plainly written than is here seen on the face of the soil, directing attention to the countries east of the snow.
We observe an alteration in the color of the people on the Puna, who differ again from those of the forests. The Indian who lives on the west side of a snowy-peaked mountain is burnt black; those among the cedar bushes, to the east of the snow, are lighter in complexion. The women are better looking. The sun-burnt man falls in love as soon as he gets to the east side of the snow peaks, although the people of the forests in the Madeira Plata are whiter still. We have seen no curling of hair produced on the Puna by the excessive heat of the sun.