ePub 版

the table and went down to the river-side to have a talk. The Indian, after salutations, made signs for a looking-glass, which was thrown over to him; then, for a knife, with which he was also gratified. He then asked for a tinder-box. There being none at hand, Noel went up to his quarters for some. On his return, he met an officer coming up the bank, with an arrow through his arm; and shortly after, another, with one planted deep in his back, between the shoulders. It appears that, as soon as the Indian had received his presents, he drew his bow at the General. The party turned to fly; but a flight of arrows from the forest wounded the two officers; and the one who was shot in the back died of the wound eight days afterwards. These arrow-shots are of frequent occurrence; and several of the soldiers of the fort have been severely wounded. A number of arrows were discharged at some soldiers, who were washing their clothes near the banks of the river, whilst we were here. We picked them up, and the commandant made us a present of them.

These arrows, as are the arrows of all the Indians I have met with, are so heavy that, at a greater distance than twenty or thirty yards, it is necessary to discharge them at an elevation, so that they shall describe à curve in the air; and it is wonderful to see with what precision the Indians will calculate the arc, and regulate the force so that the arrow shall fall upon the object. On the Amazon many fish and turtle are taken with bows and arrows. An Indian in a canoe discharges his arrow in the air. It describes a parabola, and lights upon the back of a fish, which the unpractised eye has not been able to see. The barb, with which the arrow is armed, ships on the end of it, and is held in its place by a cord which wraps around the shaft of the arrow, and is tied to its middle. The plunge of the fish shakes the arrow clear of the barb; the cord unwinds, and the arrow floats upon the water-an impediment to the fish, and a guide to the fisherman, who follows his arrow till the fish or turtle is dead. The motion of the arrow is so slow, and it is so readily seen in its course, that I imagine there would be no danger in the reception of single arrow-shots in front; for an abundance of time is allowed to step aside and avoid them. I have seen boys shooting at buzzards on the beach; and the arrow would alight upon the very spot where the bird had been sitting some seconds after he had left it.

Whilst here, we visited the haciendas of the Brothers Santa Maria, Padre Suarez, and Lapatero—all, I believe, inhabitants of Tarma. That of the last seemed the largest, and in the best order of any that I had yet seen. A description of the method of cultivating the staples of the


country practised on his farm, will give an idea of the general system of farming in the Montaña.

Zapatero has about one hundred acres cleared, and most of it planted in cane, coca, yucca, pine-apples, plantains, coffee, and cotton. The farm employs a mayordomo, or steward, and four resident laborers. These are serfs, and cost the employer their support and seven dollars a year each for their contribution to the government, or poll-tax. When more land is to be cleared, or the coca crop gathered, laborers are hired from the neighboring villages of Tarma, Ocsabamba, or Palca, at nominal wages of half a dollar a day; but their support is charged to them, at such prices as to swallow up nearly all the wages. A sheep, for example, is charged to them at three dollars : its price in Tarma is one; yucca at thirty-seven and a half cents the arroba, of twenty-five pounds; potatoes at fifty cents; maize at sixty-two and a half cents. This is the maize of the hacienda; if it is supplied from the Sierra it is one dollar and fifty cents. The laborers who live on the estate seem contented with their lot; they dwell in small, filthy cane houses, with their wives and children; do very little work, and eat chalona, (or dried mutton,) charqui, (or jerked beef,) yucca, cancha, sweet potatoes, and beans; and drink "huarapo," (the fermented juice of the cane,) and sometimes a glass of bad rum made from it. They occasionally desert; but if they do this, they must get some distance off, or custom, if not law, would return them as debtors to their masters.

Sugar-cane is propagated, not from seed, but from the top joints of the old plant, and is planted at the commencement of the rainy season in September. It is ready for cutting in a year; it yields again every ten months, improving in quality and size every crop for a number of years, according to the quality of the land and the care bestowed upon it. It will continue to spring up from the roots for fifty or sixty years, with one or two light workings with hoes in the year. The field is set fire to after every cutting, to burn up the rubbage, weeds, &c. The average height of the cane is about ten feet, though I have seen a stalk of sixteen feet.

Two men to cut and two to carry, will supply a mill called “ Trapiche," which consists of three upright wooden rollers, in a rude wooden frame. These rollers are cogged and placed close to each other. The head of the middle one extends above the frame, and is squared, so as to allow the shipping on it of a long beam, to the end of which an ox is harnessed, which, walking in a circle, gives motion to the rollers. The end of the cane is placed between the rollers, and is drawn in and crushed by them; a wooden trough is placed below, to catch the juice.

[ocr errors]


Such a mill will yield fifteen hundred pounds of caldo or juice in a day. These fifteen hundred pounds will give from two hundred and fifty to three hundred pounds of sugar, which is worth in Tarma twelve and a half cents the pound.

Sugar-cane is the most valuable and useful product of the Montaña. The leaves of the cane, when green, serve for food for the cattle; when dry, to make wrappings for the chancaca and sugar. The crushed stalk is used as fuel for the oven. The bogs fatten on the foam at the top of the boiling. From the first boiling is made the chancaca or brown sugar cake, which is eaten after dinner by almost all classes, and in great quantities by the lower class; it is worth six and a quarter cents the pound in Tarma. From one thousand pounds of the caldo boiled ten hours, is made four hundred pounds of chancaca. Very little sugar is yet made in the Montaña of Chanchamayo; indeed, I did not see a nearer approach to it than chancaca in all the route.

Coca is a bush of about four feet high, producing a small light-green leaf, which is the part used. The blossom is white, and the fruit a small red berry. The seed is sown in beds at the end of the rainy season-about the first of March. The earth should be well broken up and cleaned. Arbors of palm leaves are frequently built over the young shoots to protect them from the sun, and they are watered, if it continues clear, for five or six days. It is transplanted in September, a year and a half after planting, and gives its first crop in a year, and every four months thereafter. The bush, if not destroyed by ants, will continue to give leaves for many years. Sometimes, but rarely, the leaves wither and the crop fails. It is necessary to gather the leaves and dry them as quickly as possible, and, if a shower comes on, to gather them up at once, as they are injured by getting wet. Every hundred plants will give an arroba of leaves, which is worth, in Tarma, from six to seven dollars. Some persons do not transplant, but sow several of the seed together, and, when they come up, pull up all but the one most flourishing, and leave that in its original place.

The leaf of this plant is to the Indian of Peru what tobacco is to our laboring classes in the South-a luxury, which has become a necessity. Supplied with an abundance of it, he sometimes performs prodigies of labor, and can go without food for several days. Without it, he is miserable and will not work. It is said to be a powerful stimulant to the nervous system, and, like strong coffee or tea, to take away sleep; but, unlike tobacco and other stimulants, no one has known it to be injurious to the health. Von Tschudi thinks that an immoderate use of it is injurious, but that, taken in moderation, it is in no way detriinental to health; and that without it the Peruvian Indian, with his spare diet, would be incapable of going through the labor which he now performs. The coca plant he therefore considers as a great blessing to Peru.

He relates that an Indian, employed by him in digging, worked hard for five nights and days without intermission, except for two hours each night-and this without food. Immediately after the work the Indian accompanied him on a two-days journey of twenty-three leagues on foot, and then declared that he was ready to engage in the same amount of work, and go through it without food, if he were allowed an abundance of coca. This man was sixty-two years of age, and had never been sick in his life.

Coffee is propagated from suckers or slips, and it is necessary to protect the plants from the sun by cultivating the broad-leaved plantain among them till they have grown up to about four feet in height. No care, except an occasional cleaning about the roots, is taken of them here, and yet the finest coffee I have ever drunk was from this district. The bush grows to seven or eight feet in height, and is very beautiful in appearance. It has a small and very dark green leaf, pure white blossoms, and green, red, and dark purple fruit on it at the same time. It gives its first crop in two years; but this is small in quantity, and indifferent in quality. The bush is not in perfection until four or five years after planting, and will then last for an indefinite period. The fruit has the size and appearance of a small cherry. Two seeds are contained in each berry. Each seed is wrapped in a thin paper-like envelope, and both together are covered with another, and then surrounded by a sweet, pleasant-tasting pulp, which is covered with a thin skin. Having no machines for getting rid of this pulp, the cultivators gather the fruit, dry it in the sun, and then soak it in water till all the envelopes come off, except the paper-like skin surrounding each seed. The sceds are again dried in the sun, and sent to market with this skin on. It is worth eight dollars the hundred pounds in Tarma. In Lima it generally commands twenty, and sometimes twenty-five and twenty-seven dollars, on account of its great superiority to the coffee of Guayaquil and Central America, which is generally used there. “ Cotton"

may be planted at any time. It does not grow on a bush or plant, as with us, but on a tree some eight or ten feet high. It gives its first

in a
year, and will continue to give for three years;

after which the tree dries up, and it is necessary to replant. It bears cotton all the time; but this is not good nor gathered during the rainy season.


I could not ascertain how much cotton a tree will give in its lifetime; but from the quantity of blossoms and bolls I saw on them, I should think its yield was great. The quality, particularly that of Chanchamayo, is very superior. It is the black-seed cotton, and when picked off leaves the seed perfectly bare and clean.

There is also nankeen-colored cotton here, (the tree seeming in every respect like that of the white;) and afterwards, in Brazil, I saw greenseed cotton, in which the seed (generally seven in number for each boll, or rather for each division of it, for the boll seemed to hold the cotton in four distinct parts) were aggregated in a single knot, and enveloped by the cotton. An active man will pick one hundred pounds of cotton a day.

Yucca,” (cassava root,) which is grown from the stalk of the plant, is planted at any time. It yields in nine months. The plant runs up to fifteen or twenty feet in height, with about the thickness of a man's wrist. It is difficult to distinguish this plant, or its fruit, from the mandioc. The mandioc is called in Peru "yucca brava," or wild yucca; and this yucca dulce, or sweet yucca. This may be eaten raw; the juice of the other is a deadly poison. The yucca answers the same purpose in Peru that the mandioc does in Brazil. It is the general substitute for bread, and roasted or boiled is very pleasant to the taste. The most common drink of the Indians, called “masato,'

9* is also made from it. Each plant will give from twenty to twenty-five pounds of the edible root,


grows in clusters like the potato, and some of which are as long and thick as a man's arm. Three crops

of " Indian corn" are made in the year. It is of good quality, but much care is necessary to preserve it from weevil and other insects after it is gathered and put away. It is generally placed in an upper story of a house, and a fire is kindled underneath from time to time to smoke it, or it will all be destroyed.

Platanos”—which is the general name for all kinds of plantains, or bananas, of which last there are several species, called respectively "guineas,de la isla, &c.—are the most common fruit of the country. The people eat them raw, roasted, boiled, baked, and fried. There can be no dinner without them; and a vile rum is also made of them. By

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Masato is made from the yucca by rasping the root to a white pulp, and then boiling it. During the boiling the Indian women who are making it take portions into their mouths, chew it, and spit into the pot. After it is sufficiently heated it is put into large earthen jars, covered and suffered to ferment. When used it is taken out of the jar by the handful, mixed with water in a gourd, stirred with the fingers, and drunk. It is a disgusting beverage, and powerfully intoxicating.

« 上一頁繼續 »