網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

next to Sarayacu, and had a population of two hundred, has now entirely disappeared; and Sta. Maria, of which he makes no mention, has probably been settled since he was here, and has at present one hundred and fifty souls. I thought it singular (but of course a casualty) that, in summing up my estimates of the number of the people on the river, between its mouth and Sarayacu, I find it to amount to six hundred and thirty-four, and that Smyth's estimate makes it six hundred and forty. As it regards the length and direction of the reaches of the river, I find that officer remarkably correct. He descended about the 1st of March, and of course had the river wider and deeper, and the current stronger than I found it; for this reason our accounts differ somewhat.

The difference between high and low-water mark is about thirty-five feet. I planted a pole at a settlement called Guanache as I went up, on the 9th of October; when I passed it going down, on the 1st of November, I found the river had risen nine feet seven inches. It did not, however, commence its regular and steady rise till the 15th of October. A mile inside of the mouth, in the middle of the river, I found seventy-two . feet of depth, and two and three-quarter miles current per hour. The bottom of the river is full of sunken trees. I lost two sounding-leads and three axe-heads in the descent. My sounding-line, however, had become very rotten from the dampness of the atmosphere, and did not even stand the strain of the current upon the log-chip, which I also lost.

I had intended to stay at Nauta some days, for I found that so much canoe life was beginning to affect my health, and that I was getting weaker day by day; but Nauta seemed a different place than when I left it. Arebalo, the priest, and Antonio, the Paraguá, were gone, and Senhor Cauper seemed out of humor, and not glad to see us. I expect the old gentleman was troubled in his mind about his fish. He had three thousand pieces on a beach of the Ucayali, with the river rising fast and threatening its safety; while his boats had just got off to fetch them away, and were travelling very slowly up.

I wished to get a few more peons; but there were no authorities, and the Indians were engaged in drinking and dancing. Two of my men, whom I had picked up at a settlement called Santos Guagua, on the Ucayali, deserted, though paid as far as Pebas. I feared to lose more; and, collecting the few birds and animals I had left here, I started at half-past 5 p. m. on the 5th of November, having slept in my boat on

5 the night of the 4th for the want of a house, and been nearly devoured by the musquitoes.

I left Lopez, the servant, who had only engaged for the Ucayali trip, and two of my Sarayacu people, who were reported to have gone into the woods to gather chambira, but who I suspected were drinking with the Cocamas, and did not wish to be found.

We drifted with the current all night. The soundings at the mouth of the Ucayali were forty-two feet. The Amazon looked grand in the moonlight, below the island of Omaguas, where I judged it to be a mile and a half wide.

November 6.-We arrived at Omaguas at 5 a. m. The two Sarayacu men that I had left at Nauta joined us in the montaria which I had left there for them, carrying off their bedding.

Omaguas is situated on a height on the left bank, and is screened from the river, at this season, by a small island, which is covered in the full. The entrance now is by a narrow creek, to the southward of the town. The number of inhabitants is two hundred and thirty-two, of the tribes of Omaguas and Panos. They are peons and fishermen; cultivate chacras; and live in the usual filthy and wretched condition of all these people. I gave some calomel, salts, and spermaceti-ointment to the governor's wife, who was a pitiable object-a mere skeleton, and covered with inveterate-looking sores. I was reminded of Lazarus, or old Job in his misery. I doubt if my remedies were of the proper sort; but her husband and she were anxious to have them; and she will, probably, die soon at any rate, and cannot well be worsted.

Left Omaguas at a quarter past nine; at eleven, anchored near midstream'in eighty-four feet water, and found two and one-third miles current; river three-fourths of a mile wide; shores low, and wooded with apparently small trees, though they may have appeared small on account of the width of the river; sand beaches few and small.

At noon, moderate breeze from the northward and eastward. Thermometer 86°. Most of the men and animals fast asleep. Even the monkeys, except a restless friar, (who seems as sleepless as I am,)

I are dozing. The friar gapes and closes his eyes now and then; but at the next instant appears to have discovered something strange or new, and is as wide awake and alert as if he never slept.

There was a great disturbance among the animals this morning. The Pumagarza, or tiger crane, (from being speckled and colored like the tiger of the country,) with a bill as long and sharp as an Infidel's spear, has picked to pieces the head of a delicate sort of turkey-hen, called Pava del Monte. The Diputado (as we call a white monkey, because Ijurra says he is the image of the worthy deputy in Congress from Chachapoyas) has eaten off the ear of the Maquisapa, (a stupid

66

looking black monkey, called Coatá in Brazil,) and the tail of another, called Yanacmachin. Some savage unknown, though I strongly suspect my beautiful chiriclis, has bitten off the bill of the prettiest paroquet. There was a desperate battle between the friar and the chiriclis, in which one lost fur and the other feathers; and symptoms of warfare between a wild pig, called Huangana, and a Coati, or Mexican mongoose. The latter, however, fierce as he generally is, could not stand the gnash of the wild boar's teeth, and prudently "fled the fight." The life of the fowls is a state of continued strife; and nothing has kept the peace except an affectionate and delicate Pinshi monkey, (Humboldt's Midas Leonina,) that sleeps upon my beard, and hunts game in my moustaches.

We spoke two canoes that had come from near Quito by the Napo, and were bound to Tarapoto. This party embarked upon the Napo on the 3d of October. They told me that I could reach the mouth of the river Coca, which empties into the Napo, in two and a half months from the mouth; but could go no further in my boat for want of water. There are very few christianized towns upon the Napo, and the rowers of these boats were a more savage-looking set than I had seen. I have met with a good many inhabitants of Quito in the Missions of the Huallaga; and very many of the inhabitants are descendants of Quiteños. In fact, these Missions were formerly under the charge and direction of the Bishopric of Quito, and most of the Jesuits who first attempted the conversion of these Indians came from that quarter. There is a report now current in these parts that thirty Jesuits recently banished from New Grenada have gone to Ecuador; have been well received at Quito, and have asked for the ancient Missions of the company, which has been conceded to them as far as Ecuador has jurisdiction. This party from the Napo also reported that the governor (Gefe Politico) of the Ecuador territory of the Napo had left his place of residence and gone up the river for the purpose of supplying with laborers a French mining company, that had recently arrived and was about to commence operations. It is generally thought that much gold is mixed with the sands of the Napo; but I think that the Moyobambinos would have it if it were there. They get a quill-full of gold dust, now and then, from the Indians; but no regularly organized expedition for collecting it has been successful. It is said that the Indians of the Napo formerly paid their contributions to the government in gold dust, but now that they are relieved (as are all the Missions by express exception) from the burden of the contribution, there is no more gold collected.

a

The inhabitants of the Missions of Mainas are exempted, by special legislation, from the payment of the contribution of seven dollars per head, paid towards the support of the government by all the other Indians of Peru. This exception was made on the ground that these people had the forest to subdue, and were only able to wring a hardearned support from the cultivation of the land. Many persons belonging to the province think that this was an unwise law, and that the character of the Indian has deteriorated since its passage. They think that some law compelling them to work would be beneficial to both country and inhabitants.

Fearful of going to the right of Iquitos island, and thus passing the town, I passed to the left of some islands, which Smyth lays down on his chart as small, but which are at this season large; and in running between the one just above Iquitos island and the left bank of the river, the boat grounded near the middle of the passage, which was one hundred and fifty yards broad, and came near rolling over from the velocity of the current. We hauled over to the left bank and passed close along it in forty-two feet water. At half-past 9 p. m. we arrived at Iquitos.

November 7.— Iquitos is a fishing village of two hundred and twentyseven inhabitants; a considerable part of them, to the number of ninetyeight, being whites and Mestizos of San Borja, and other settlements of the upper Mission, who were driven from their homes a few years ago by the Huambisas of the Pastaza and Santiago. This occurred in 1841. In 1843, these same Indians murdered all the inhabitants of a village called Sta. Teresa, situated on the upper Marañon, between the mouthis of the rivers Santiago and Morona. My companion Ijurra was there soon after the occurrence. He gave the dead bodies burial, and published in his Travels in Mainas a detailed account of the affair.

In October, 1813, Ijurra, with seventeen other young men of Moyobamba, formed a company for the purpose of washing for gold the sands of the Santiago; they were furnished with arms by the prefecture, and recruited sixty-six Cocamillas of Laguna, armed with bows and arrows, as a light protecting force. They also engaged eighty-five of the Indians of Jeveros as laborers at the washings; and, after they started, were joined by four hundred and fifty of the people who had been expelled in 1841 from Santiago and Borja, desirous of recovering their homes and taking vengeance of the savages.

The party went by land from Moyobamba to Balza Puerto; thence north to Jeveros; and thence to the port of Barranca, at the mouth of the river Cahuapanas, when they embarked to ascend the Amazon to the mouth of the Santiago. At Barranca they received intelligence of the massacre at Sta. Teresa, with the details.

а

a

A Moyobambino, Canuto Acosta, fearing that the company would get all the gold, and that he should not be able to collect a little that was due him by the people about Sta. Teresa, hastened on before. He met at Sta. Teresa with a large party of Huambisas, who had come down the Santiago for the ostensible purpose of trade. Conversing with the curaca of the tribe, named Ambuscha, Acosta told him that a multitude of Christians were coming with arms in their hands to conquer and enslave his people. The curaca, turning the conversation, asked Acosta what he had in his packages. The reply was more foolish and wicked than the other speech; for, desirous to play upon the credulity of the Indian, or to overawe him, he said that he had in his packages a great many epidemic diseases, with which he could kill the whole tribe of the Huambisas. It was his death-warrant. The curaca plunged his spear into his body, and giving a shrill whistle, his people, who were scattered about among the houses, commenced the massacre. They killed fortyseven men, and carried off sixty women; some few persons escaped into the woods. The Indians spared two boys—one of seven and one of nine years—and set them adrift upon the Amazon on a raft, with a message to the gold-hunting company that they knew of their approach, and were ready, with the assistance of their friends, the Paturos and Chinganos, to meet and dispute with them the possession of the country. The raft was seen floating past Barranca and brought in.

The gold-seekers found no gold upon the borders of the Marañon; quarrelled; became afraid of the

savages;

broke

up

and abandoned their purpose before they reached the mouth of the Santiago.

Ijurra and a few others then turned their attention to the collection of Peruvian bark. They spent two or three years in the woods, about the mouth of the Huallaga; gathered an enormous quantity, and floated it down to Pará on immense rafts, that Ijurra describes as floatinghouses, with all the comforts and conveniences of the house on shore.

When they arrived at Pará the cargo was examined by chymists; said by them to be good; and a mercantile house offered eighty thousand dollars for it. They refused the offer; chartered a vessel, and took the cargo to Liverpool, where the chymist pronounced the fruit of years of labor to be utterly worthless.

The village of Iquitos is situated on an elevated plain, which is said to extend far back from the shores of the river. This is different from the situation of many towns upon the Amazon, most of which are built upon a hill, with a low, swampy country behind them. There are cotton and coffee-trees growing in the streets of the village, but no attention is paid to the cultivation of either. A small stream, said to be one of the

« 上一頁繼續 »