網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

inhabitants, belonging to the “Doctrina" of Acobamba. A justice of the peace, a good-looking Indian, whom we encountered sitting at the door of a grog-shop in the plaza, conducted us to the house of the alcalde. We found this worthy drunk, and asleep on the floor, and were much annoyed with the attentions of another individual, who had a very dirty poultice on his jaws; this was his worship's secretary, who was in little better condition than his patron. Two drunken “regidorescame in to see us; and it seemed that all the magistracy of Palcamayo had been "on a spree." They required the money of us before they would get us or our cattle anything to eat.

It would be difficult to find a clearer sky and a purer atmosphere than we had here. The sky, at twilight, looked white or gray, rather than blue; and I thought it was cloudy until my eye fell upon the young moon, with edges as distinct and clear if it re cut out of silver, and near at hand. The elevation of Palcamayo is ten thousand five hundred and thirty-nine feet above the level of the sea.

July 2.Thermometer, at 6 a. m., 37; clear and calm. Three miles above Palcamayo we left the maize and alfalfa, and encountered potatoes and barley. The road a league above this point turns sharp to the westward, and ascends a steep and rugged "cuesta.” This brought us out upon a small plain, bounded by low hills, and dotted with small detached houses, build of stone and covered with conical roofs of straw. They were circular, and looked like bee-hives. The plain was covered with a short grass, and many tolerable-looking cattle and sheep were feeding on it. A small stream, coming from the westward, ran through its midst. The water had been carried by a canal half-way up the sides of the hills that bounded the plain to the northward, so as to enable the people to irrigate the whole plain. Where the water had broken through the canal and spread itself over the side of the hill, it had frozen, and the boys were amusing themselves sliding down it.

At the western edge of the plain is the village of “ Cacas," of two hundred and fifty or three hundred inhabitants. The people were celebrating the festival of St. Peter, for they are not particular about days. The church was lighted and decorated with all the frippery that could be mustered; and preparations were making for a great procession. There were two Indians, or Meztizos, dressed in some old-fashioned infantry uniform, with epaulets; flaming red sashes, tied in monstrous bows behind, and white gloves. (The cocked hats, for size and variegated plumage, beggar description. These were evidently the military part of the procession; one was mounted on a little shaggy nag, with his sword hanging on the right-hand side; and the other was strutting about nearly buried in his cocked hat, while just fourteen men were employed in caparisoning his horse. The drinking had already commenced; most of the population were getting drunk fast, and I have no doubt there was a grand row that night.

Drinking seems a very general vice amongst the inhabitants of these wet, cold, and highly-elevated plains. The liquor is invariably the Pisco or Ica brandy, made in that province. It is pleasant to the taste and of good quality. In the Montaña we had often occasion to regret the exchange of this for new-made cane rum.

The hills that bound the plain on the west have two salt springs, from which the inhabitants of the village get their salt by evaporation. The hill over which we rode is called the “Cuesta de la Veta,” because travellers suffer from this sickness in passing it. As I had felt nothing of it, even at the Pass of Antarangra, I watched very closely for any symptoms of it here; but perceived none, though I sucked a eigar all the way to the top. The road to the top of the Cuesta is about three miles in length, and its ascent brought us to the historical plain of Junin, where Bolivar, on the 6th of August, 1824, gave the Spaniards a heavy and very nearly conclusive overthrow. Half an hour's ride over the plain brought into view the Western Cordillera, the Lake Chinchaycocha, and the pyramid erected by Mariano Rivero (then prefect of the province) to commemorate the battle. It stands off to the left of the road about a league, and is at the foot of a little hill, where the liberator stood to direct the fight; it is white, and seemed seventy or eighty feet high. Our day's ride of eighteen miles brought us to the town of Junin, where we took lodgings in the house of the governor; more drunken people there.

July 3.--Junin is a village of one thousand inhabitants, situated about a mile and a half from the southern extremity of the Lake Chinchaycocha, and twelve thousand nine hundred and forty-seven feet above the level of the sea. This lake is twenty miles long, in a N. W. and S. E. direction, and has an average breadth of about six miles. It is said to discharge its waters into the Amazon by the river of Jauxa, which we crossed at Oroya, and which is a tributary of the Ucayali.

The inhabitants of Junin, and the other towns of this plain, are herdsmen. They raise cattle for the supply of Cerro Pasco and Tarma, and mules for beasts of burden. Their houses are built of mud and straw; and they eat mutton and macas, (a root of the potato kind, but looking, and when boiled tasting, more like a turnip.) The people of these regions find it very difficult to procure vegetables, as quinua and barley

98

PRESERVATION OF THE POTATO.

a

a

will not grain, nor potatoes grow, in the wet soil and cold atmosphere of the plain. They therefore have to resort to means for preserving the potato and its varieties, which are got from the valleys of the Andes. These means are, generally, drying and freezing; and they make a variety of preparations from the potato in this way. The macas are simply exposed to the frost and sun for a number of days, and then put away in a dry room.

The inhabitants make a sort of soup or sirup of them, the smell of which, Rivero says, “is a little disagreeable to people unaccustomed to it,” (it is really very offensive;) and it is the general opinion that it is a stimulant to reproduction.

" Caya” is made from the oca and the mashua, (a variety of the oca,) by putting them in water till they rot, and then exposing them to the sun and cold. This, when cooked, smells worse than the macas, and no stomach but that of an Indian or a beast could possibly tolerate it.

There are two kinds of " chuno." One (the black) is made from the common potato by soaking it some days in water, then pressing it to express all the moisture, and freezing it. The white (called moray) is made from a large, bitter potato, which abounds in the departments of Junin, Cuzco, and Puno. The potatoes are put in water, in a bag, at the setting of the sun, and taken out before sunrise. This operation is carried on for fifteen or twenty days. It is an especial condition of this chuno's turning out well that it shall be put in water after sunset, and taken out before sunrise; for, if it is touched by the sun, it immediately turns black. It is then pressed and exposed to the sun for a few days.

Chochoca” is the common potato, first cooked and peeled, and then frozen. This and the chuno are healthy and nutritive articles of diet.

I quote these means of preserving the potato and its varieties from Rivero, who thinks that these articles of food will, in time, become of great importance, particularly in the supply of the army and navy, and for long journeys or voyages; and that if the European nations knew of these productions, and the means of preserving them, they would draw great advantages from the knowledge.

The plain, about forty-five miles long, and from six to twelve broad, is generally wet, and in some places marshy. The soil is gravelly, with a light covering of mould, producing a short grass scarcely adequate for the support of the flocks, which are indeed of small size, but sometimes fat and good. A great number of large beautiful waterfowl, including the scarlet flamingo and several varieties of snipe, frequent the banks of the lake and marshy places. The people cut their supply of fuel from the turf of the bogs, in the dry, and stack it up for use in the rainy

There is said to be much thunder and lightning here' at the

a

season,

commencement of the rainy season, (about the first of October,) and the lightning frequently falls on a hill about four miles to the eastward of the town, where the inhabitants say there is much loadstone. The plain is about thirteen thousand feet above the level of the sea. It has a gentle slope downwards from west to east. I found the difference in elevation (by temperature of boiling water) between the villages of Junin and Ninaccaca (the latter about twenty miles to the west of the former) to be four hundred and forty-five feet.

The road onward from Junin runs not far from the banks of the lake. On the left we had the grand snow-covered domes and pinnacles of the Western Cordillera sleeping in the sunlight, while clouds and storm enveloped the Eastern. About 2 p. m., a breeze from the northward brought some of the storm down upon us. It snowed fast; the flakes

small and round, like hail, but soft and white. The thermometer, which was 54 at the commencement of the storm, fell, during its continuance of ten minutes, to 46. We found an overcoat very comfortable.

About fifteen miles from Junin we passed the village of Carhuamayo. Here I saw the only really pretty face I have met with in the Sierra, and bought a glass of pisco from it. The road between Junin and Carhuamayo is a broad and elevated one, built of stones and earth by the Spaniards. Without this the plain would be impassable in the rainy season. Six miles further we stopped at the tambo of Ninaccaca.

July 4.—The village of Ninaccaca, of two or three hundred inhabitants, lies off to the right of the road, on which the tambo is situated, about half a mile. I would have gone there, but I was desirous of sleeping in a tambo, for the purpose of testing the accounts of other travellers who complain so bitterly of them. We were fortunate enough to have the tambo to ourselves, there being no other travellers; and I had quite as comfortable a time as in the alcalde's house at Palcamayo, or in that of the governor of Junin. My bed is generally made on the baggage in the middle of the floor; while Ijurra takes to the mud standing bed-places which are to be found in every house. Last night I woke up, and, finding him very uneasy, I asked “if he had fleas up there." He replied, with the utmost sang-froid, and as if he were discussing some abstract philosophical question with which he had no personal concern whatever, that this country was too cold for fleas, but that his bed-place was full of lice.” It made my blood run cold; but long before I got out of the mouth of the Amazon I was effectually cured of fastidiousness upon this or any similar subject.

We were somewhat annoyed by the attentions of the master of the

a

[ocr errors]

manam

66

house, who was very drunk. His wife told us next morning that he came near killing her with his knife, and would infallibly have beaten her but that she told him “those strangers were soldiers, and would shoot him if he did.” Her naïve way of telling how she managed the man, and got off from the beating, was quite amusing. The accent of these people is a sort of sliding drawl that makes every voice alike. They use an imperfect Quichna or Inca language, which I am told is only spoken erfectly in the neighborhood of Cuzco.

Our route now approached the Western Cordillera fast. About three miles from the tambo the plain began to be broken into rolling hills. The direction of the road, which had been W. N. W., changed to N. W. by N., and crossed them. After crossing a range we stopped to breakfast at a collection of a few huts, where I was amused at an instance of the apathy of the people. A very common reply to the inquiry of the traveller if he can have such and such things, is “ cancha,(there is none; we haven't it.) We rode up to the door of a hut, the mistress of which was sitting “knitting in the sun" at the back of it. She heard our horses' tread, and, too lazy to change her position, without seeing us or ascertaining if we wanted anything, she screamed out “manam cancha." Ijurra abused her terribly; and we had our water boiled (which was all we wanted) at another hut. The Viuda pass of the Cordillera, which is generally crossed by travellers between Lima and Cerro Pasco, was in view from this place, bearing S. 30° W. Immediately after starting we began passing haciendas for the grinding of ores and getting out silver. They are situated on small streams that come from either the Eastern or Western Cordillera, and that find their way into Lake Chinchaycocha. They all seem dry at this season ; and none of the haciendas are at work. Passed the old village of Pasco. This was once the great mining station, but, since the discovery of the mines at the Cerro, it is falling into decay. Three miles from this, the country becomes more hilly and rocky, losing the character of Pampa. The passage of a low, but abrupt chain of bills, brings the traveller in view of Cerro Pasco. The view from this point is a most extraordinary one. I can compare it to nothing so fitly as the looking from the broken and rugged edges of a volcano into the crater beneath. The traveller sees small houses, built, without regard to regularity, on small hills, with mounds of earth and deep cavities in their very midst; the mud chimneys of ancient furnaces, contrasting strikingly with the more graceful funnel of the modern steam engine; the huge cross erected on the hill of Sta. Catalina, near the middle of the city, which his fancy may suppose placed there to guard, with its holy presence,

« 上一頁繼續 »