ePub 版

We had a visit from the governor of Pachiza, which town is situated on the right bank of the river, three miles above Lupuna. I asked him why he had carried away prisoners nearly all the population of Challuayacu. He merely said that they had been rebellious, and resisted his authority, and therefore he had taken them to Juan Juy, where they could be secured and punished. I thought it a pity that a thriving settlement should be broken up, very probably on account of some personal quarrel.

The district comprises the pueblos of Pachiza, of eighty matrimonios; Valle, eighty; Huicunga. thirty; Sion, thirty; Archiras, sixteen; Lupuna, fifteen; Shepti, twelve; Bijao, four; and Challuayacu, three. The number of souls in a village, proportionate to the number of matrimonios, or married couples, is generally estimated at five for one. This would give the population of the district thirteen hundred and fifty. The people are indolent and careless; and although there could not well be a finer or more productive country than all this district, yet they barely exist.

After we had retired to our mats beneath the shed for the night, I asked the governor if he knew a bird called El alma perdida. He did not know it by that name, and requested a description. whistled an imitation of its notes; whereupon, an old crone, stretched on a mat near us, commenced, with animated tones and gestures, a story in the Inca language, which, translated, ran somehow thus:

An Indian and his wife went out from the village to work their chacra, carrying their infant with them. The woman went to the spring to get water, leaving the man in charge of the child, with many cautions to take good care of it. When she arrived at the spring she found it dried up, and went further to look for another. The husband, alarmed at her long absence, left the child and went in search. When they returned the child was gone; and to their repeated cries as they wandered through the woods in search, they could get no response save the wailing cry of this little bird, heard for the first time, whose notes their anxious and excited imagination "syllabled" into pa-pa, ma-ma, (the present Quichua name of the bird.) I suppose the Spaniards heard this story, and, with that religious poetic turn of thought which seems peculiar to this people, called the bird "The lost soul."

The circumstances under which the story was told-the beautiful, still, starlight night-the deep, dark forest around-the faint-red glimmering of the fire, flickering upon the old woman's gray hair and earnest face as she poured forth the guttural tones of the language of a people now passed away-gave it a sufficiently romantic interest to an imagi

native man. The old woman was a small romance in herself. I had looked at her with interest as she cooked our supper. She wore a costume that is sometimes, though not often, seen in this country. The body, or upper part of the dress, which was black, consisted of two parts-one coming up from the waist behind and covering the back, the other in front, covering the breast; the two tied together over each shoulder with strings, leaving her lank sides and long skinny arms perfectly bare.

August 17.-We procured a canoe sufficiently large to carry all our baggage, (we had hitherto had two,) with eight peons. We found hills now on both sides of the river, which a little below Lupuna has one hundred and twenty yards of breadth and thirty feet of depth. We passed a small raft, with a house built of cane and palm upon it, containing an image of the Virgin, which was bound up the river seeking contributions. The people buy a step towards Heaven in this way with their little balls of cotton.

We passed abreast of Juan Juy; but, a long island intervening, we did not see it. It is a large village of five hundred inhabitants; it is situated in a plain, a great part of which is overflowed by the river at the full; and much rice is cultivated there. I have met with the rice of Juan Juy everywhere on the river. Soon after we passed the mouth of the river Sapo, which is fifty yards broad, and muddy; navigable for large canoes for twenty miles to the town of Saposoa, which contains one thousand inhabitants, and is the capital of the comparatively populous district of that name.

The Huallaga, which for some miles above this has but six feet of water, at this place has eighteen; but it soon diminishes to six again. We stopped at a collection of three or four huts called Oge, where there was a trapiche to grind sugar-cane; but the people only made bad rum of it. We tried to purchase yuccas and plantains; but though they had them, they did not care to sell. They only plant enough for their own necessities. Great quantities of yuccas are used to make their masato. Below this we passed a rancho on the right-hand side, where there was a fine field of maize. This is the first settlement we have seen on that bank; fear of the savages, (or Infidels,) as they are called, who dwell on that side, preventing it.

We stopped for the night at Juan Comas, a small village situated on a bluff of light sandy soil, on the left bank. The hills on the other side are much more bare than is common, having only a few small trees and scattering bushes on them. We were quite objects of curiosity, and most of the people of the village came in to see us; one man, a

strapping fellow, came in, and after a brief but courteous salutation to me, turned to one of the women, and drove her out of the house with kicks and curses. He followed her, and I soon after heard the sound of blows and the cries of a woman; I suppose the fellow was either jealous, or the lady had neglected some household duty to gratify her curiosity.

August 18.-Just below Juan Comas the river has one hundred yards of width and forty-two feet of depth. This part of the river is called the "well" of Juan Comas; it is half a mile in length, and the current runs but one and a quarter mile the hour. The hills terminate just below this, and we have the country flat on both sides. We passed some rocky hills on the right-hand side, in one of which is a cave called "Puma-huasi," or Tiger-house. It is said to be very extensive. Soon after we passed the mouth of the river Hunanza, a small stream coming in on the Infidel side of the river. Our popero says that the Infidels dwell near here, and the people of Tarapoto go a short distance up this river to capture the young Indians and take them home as slaves. I believe this story; for I found servants of this class in Tarapoto, who were bought and sold as slaves. Slavery is prohibited by the laws of Peru; but this system is tolerated on the plea that the Infidel is Chistianized and his condition bettered by it.

It is very easy for only a few white men, armed with guns, to rob the savages of their children; for these rarely live in villages, but in families of at most three or four huts, and widely separated from each other. They never assemble except for the purpose of war; and then the sound of a horn, from settlement to settlement, brings them together. They are also a timid people, and will not face the white man's gun.

It is possible that the story of the popero is not true, and that the whites may buy the children of the Indians; but if so, I imagine that the advantages of the bargain are all on one side.

Below the mouth of the Hunanza we have the same comparatively bare hills that I noticed opposite Juan Comas. They present ridges of red earth and dark stone, which curve from the south towards the northeast, and are elevated in that direction to about 20°. I suspect that they have veins of salt, particularly as the salt hills of Pilluana are of the same range, and present at a distance nearly the same appearance.

The hills of Pilluana, which we now soon passed, have their base immediately upon the river, on the right-hand side. They are about three hundred feet in height, and stretch along the banks of the river for a quarter of a mile. The salt shows like frost upon the red earth at

a distance; but seen nearer, the heavy rains seem to have washed away the loose earth and left the nearly pure salt standing in innumerable, cone-shaped pinnacles, so that the broken sides of the hills look like what drawings represent of the crater of a volcano, or the bottom of a geyser. Where the hills have been excavated, beautiful stalactites of perfectly pure salt hang from the roof in many varieties of shapes. There are much higher hills back of these, that appear also to contain salt; so that there seems a supply here for all people and for all time.

We passed the mouth of the river Mayo, that comes in on the left between moderately high hills, and five minutes after arrived at Shapaja, one of the ports of Tarapoto. The river just above the junction of the Mayo narrows to forty yards, has thirty and thirty-six feet of depth, and increases much in velocity. This is preparatory to its rush over the "Pongo," a strait of forty-five miles in length, where the river is confined betwen high hills, is much broken with malos pasos, and has its last considerable declivity.

Shapaja has twenty houses, mostly concealed in the high groves of plantains which surround them. Nearly all the men were away fishing, but the women (as always) received us kindly, and cooked our supper for us.


Tarapoto-Pongo of Chasuta-Chasuta-Yurimaguas-Sta. Cruz-Antonio, the Paragua Laguna-Mouth of the Huallaga.

August 19.-We started in company with a man who, with his peons, was carrying fish that he had taken and salted below Chasuta to Tarapoto. A smart walk of five hours (the latter part of it very quick, to avoid the rain that threatened us) brought us to the town. The road crossed a range of hills in the forest for about half the distance. The ascent and descent of these hills were tedious, because light showers of rain had moistened the surface of the hard-baked earth and made it as slippery as soap. For the other half of the distance the road ran over a plain covered with high, reedy grass, and some bushes; there was a short clump-grass underneath that would afford capital pasturage. The distance between Shapaja and Tarapoto, I judge to be fifteen miles, and the direction westerly, although I could not tell exactly, on account of the winding of the road.

Tarapoto--which is situated upon a moderate eminence near the western edge of the plain before spoken of, and surrounded by hills, which are mountains in the west-is by far the largest town I have seen since leaving Huanuco. The district-comprising the towns of Tarapoto, (which has three thousand five hundred inhabitants,) Chasuta, (which has twelve hundred,) Cumbasa, Morales, Shapaja, Juan Guerra, and Juan Comas-numbers six thousand inhabitants.

The principal productions are rice, cotton, and tobacco, all of which are articles of export, particularly the cloth called tocuyo, woven by the women from cotton. Nearly all the course of the river as far as Egas is supplied from Tarapoto with this article. As much as thirty-five thousand varas is said to be made in this place annually. It is valued here at twelve and a half cents the vara,* and increases in price as it floats down the river, until at Egas it is exchanged for the value of fifty cents in foreign articles from Pará. It also goes inland as far as Moyobamba, where it is exchanged for straw hats and English prints.

*This is its value in barter. It may be bought for six and a quarter cents money. The same is the case with the wax and the balls of thread, which are held at double the price for what they may be bought with coin.

« 上一頁繼續 »