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To the PREFECT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AMAZONAS.
SIR: Wm. Lewis Herndon, lieutenant of the navy of the United States, and Lardner Gibbon, passed midshipman of the same, commissioned by the government of that nation to make a scientific expedition in the eastern parts of Peru, accompanied by Henry Richards, Mauricio N., and Manuel Ijurra, as adjuncts to the expedition, direct themselves towards the department under your command in the discharge of their commission. As the expedition deserves, on account of its important object, the particular protection of the government, his Excellency the President commands me to advise you to afford them whatever resources and facilities they may need for the better discharge of their commission, taking care, likewise, that there shall be preserved to them the considerations that are their due.
The which I communicate to you for its punctual fulfilment.
J. C'MO. TORRICO.
This passport was made out at a time when I expected to procure two servants. Mauricio, the Chamicuros Indian, was the only servant who accompanied us.
We were accompanied for a mile or two on the road by our kind friends and countrymen, Messrs. Prevost, Foster, and McCall, who drew up at the Cemetery to bid us good-bye; Mr. Prevost advising us to halt at the first place we could find pasturage for the mules. The road we were to travel had reputation for robbers, and Mr. McCall desired to know how we were to defend ourselves in case of attack, as we carried our guns in leather cases, strapped to the crupper, and entirely out of reach for a sudden emergency. Gibbon replied by showing his six-barrelled Colt, and observed that Ijurra, Richards, and myself had each a pair of pistols at hand. As for Mauricio, he kept his pistols in his saddle-bags; and I was satisfied, from some attempts that I had made to teach Luis to shoot, (though he was very ambitious and desirous to learn,) that it was dangerous to trust him with a pair, as he might as readily fire into his friends as his enemies. With the comfortable observation from Mr. McCall that he never expected to see us again, we shook hands and parted.
Our course lay about E. N. E. over an apparently level and very
stony road. To the right were the green cane and alfalfa* fields, about Miraflores and Chorillos; and on the left and behind, the vegetation afforded by the valley of the Rimac; but ahead all was barren, grim, and forbidding.
Just before sunset we stopped at the hacienda (estate, or farm, or settlement) of Santa Clara, and applied for pasturage. We were told by an old negro woman sitting on the ground at the door of the house, that there was none; which was confirmed by two men who just then rode up, and who expressed their regret at not being able to accommodate us. It was remarkable to see such poverty and squalid wretchedness at nine miles from the great city of Lima; it was like passing in a moment from the most luxurious civilization into savage barbarity— from the garden to the desert. We rode on, about three miles further, to the hacienda of Pacayar, where we arrived at half-past six o'clock, p. m.
Before the mules could be unloaded it became very dark; so that the arriero and Mauricio had considerable trouble in driving them to the pasturage. Indeed, some of them got away; I could hear them galloping furiously up and down the road, and I went to bed, on a table, in the only room in the house, with the comfortable reflection that I had balked at starting, and should have to return or send back to Lima to buy more mules.
Tormented with these reflections, and oppressed with the excitement and fatigue of the day, I could not sleep; but tossed "in restless ecstasy" for many a long hour, until just before daylight, when, as I was dropping to sleep, a couple of game cocks, tied by the leg in the room, commenced "their salutation to the morn," and screamed out their clarion notes within a yard of my ear. This was too much for me. I rushed out to meet a heavenly morning and old Luis, with the intelligence that the mules were "all right." I took off my upper clothes, and plunged head, neck, and shoulders, into the water of a little mountain stream that rushed clear and cold as ice by the roadside in front of the house. Thus refreshed and invigorated, the appearance of affairs took a new aspect, and light-heartedness and hope came back as strong and fresh as in the days of boyhood.
The mayordomo, or steward of the estate, was a Chino, (descendant of Indian and negro,) and seemed an amiable and intelligent fellow.
*A very green and pretty kind of lucern, universally used in this country for pasturage.
He gave us a supper of a thin soup (caldo) and chupe;* and whilst we were eating it, he was engaged in teaching the children of a neighbor the multiplication table and the catechism.
From the appearance of things, I judge this estate paid little enough to its owner; for I saw small signs of cultivation about it, though I should think that the valley of the Rimac, which is a full mile in width in front of the house, would produce good and (considering the short distance to Lima) valuable crops of grass and vegetables. The land is ploughed with a rude, heavy, wooden plough of one handle, which is shod with iron. It is generally worked by a yoke of oxen.
The house was built of adobe, or sun-dried bricks, and roofed with tiles. It had but one room, which was the general receptacle for all comers. A mud projection, of two feet high and three wide, stood out from the walls of the room all round, and served as a standing bed place for numbers. Others laid their blankets and pouchos, and stretched themselves, upon the floor; so that, with whites, Indians, negroes, trunks, packages, horse furniture, game cocks, and Guinea pigs, we had quite a caravansera appearance. The supper and bed that the steward had given us were gratuitous; he would accept no remuneration; and we got our breakfast of chupe and eggs at a tambo or roadside inn nearly opposite.
Though we commenced loading up soon after daylight, we did not get off until half-past nine. Such delays were invariable; and this was owing to the want of a peon and another servant.
The height of Pacayar above the level of the sea is one thousand three hundred and forty-six feet.
May 22.-Roads still good; valley gradually narrowing, and hills becoming higher and more barren and rocky. We passed several squads of asses and llamas carrying potatoes and eggs, some of them as far as from Jauja to Lima. Six miles from Pacayar is the village (pueblo) of Chaclacayo, consisting of four or five houses, constructed of cane and mud. A mile further is the Juzgado of Sta. Ines, quite a large, good-looking house, with a small chapel near it. This was the residence, in the Spanish times, of a justice of the peace, who administered law and judgment to his neighbors; hence called Juzgado. Soon after leaving this the stream approached the hills so close that there was no longer room between them for the road; and this had to be cut out of
Chupe is a universal article of diet in the Sierra. It is a broth, or soup, made generally of potatoes, cheese, and lard; sometimes meat is boiled in it. It is the last dish served at dinner at a gentleman's table before the dessert.
the side of the hill. It was very narrow, and seemed, in some places, to overhang the stream fifty feet below it. Just as we were turning an angle of the road we met a man driving two horses before him, which immediately mingled in with our burden mules, and endangered their going over the precipice. Our arriero shouted to the man, and, spurring his horse through the mules, commenced driving back the horses of the other, who flourished his whip, and insisted upon passing. I expected to see a fight, and mischief happen, which would probably have fallen upon us, as the other had nothing to lose, when Ijurra called out to him, and represented that our cargoes were very valuable, and that if one were lost he should be held responsible; whereupon he desisted, drove his horses back, and suffered us to pass. This caused us to be more careful in our march; and I sent Gibbon, with Richards, ahead, to warn persons, or give us warning in time to prevent a collision. The burden-mules were driven by the arriero and the servant in the middle; while Ijurra and I brought up the rear. At 2 p. m., we stopped at the Tambo of Yanacoto. I determined to stay here a day or two to get things shaken into their places, and obtain a new error and rate for the chronometer, which had stopped the day before, a few hours out of Lima, though we had not discovered it till this morning. I cared, however, very little for this, as I was satisfied that it would either stop again or so vary in its rate as to be worthless. No chronometer will stand the jar of mule-travel over these roads, especially if carried in the pocket, where the momentum of the jar is parallel to the movement of the balance-wheel of the watch. Were I to carry a chronometer on such a journey again, I would have it placed in its box on a cushion on the saddle-bow, and when I travelled in a canoe, where the motion is the other way, I would hang it up. We pitched the tent in the valley before the road, and proceeded to make ourselves as comfortable as possible; got an observation for time, and found the latitude of Yanacoto, by Mer. alt. of 7 Crucis, to be 11° 57' 20".
May 23.-Bathing before breakfast is, on this part of the route, both healthful and pleasant. There seemed to be no cultivation in this valley, which here is about half a mile wide. It is covered with bushes, except close to the water's edge, where grow reeds and flags. The bushes are dwarf willow, and a kind of locust called Sangre de Christo, which bears a broad bean, containing four or five seed, and a pretty red flower, something like our crape myrtle. There is also a bush, of some ten or twelve feet in height, called Molle. This is the most common shrub of the country, and has a wider climatic range than any other of this slope of the Andes. It has long, delicate leaves like the acacia, and
produces an immense quantity of small red berries in large bunches. The leaves, when crushed, have a strong aromatic smell; and many persons believe that it is certain death to sleep under its shade. Dr. Smith, in his book, called "Peru as it is," says that "this tree is much prized for fuel. The sugar refiners of the interior use the ashes from it in preference to those from any other wood, on account of their higher alkaline properties, and consequent efficiency in purifying the cane-juice when being boiled down to a proper consistence to be cast into moulds.
"The Inca tribe, as we learn from Garcilasso de la Vega, made a highly valuable and medicinal beer, which some of the Indians of the interior still occasionally prepare from the clusters of small-grained fruit that hang gracefully and abundantly from this pretty tree."
We saw several cases of tertiana, or chills and fever, at Yanacoto. The people seem to have no remedy except drinking spirits just before the chill comes on, and using as a drink, during the fever, the juice of the bitter orange, with sugar and water. When the case is bad, those who can afford it—such as the mayordomos and tamberos (the keepers of the road-side inns called tambos)-send to Lima and get medical advice and physic. Our tambero killed a mutton for us, and (leaving out the lard, which is always abominable) made a good chupe. The roast was a failure; but we got poultry and eggs, and had a very good time.
The elevation of Yanacoto is two thousand three hundred and thirtyseven feet, a little more than one thousand feet above Pacayar. The distance between them is about ten miles, showing a rise to the mile of about one hundred feet, which is very little greater than that between Callao and Lima.
May 24.-Had observation for time; breakfasted, and started at ten. Valley still narrowing; the hills becoming mountains, mostly of granite; rock piled upon rock for hundreds of feet, and in every variety of shape; no vegetation except where the hardy cactus finds aliment in the crev
ices of the rock.
About four and a half miles above Yanacoto, we passed the hacienda of Lachosita, and soon after the little village of San Pedro Mama, where the first bridge is thrown over the Rimac. Heavy, rough stonework is built on each side of the river, into which are inserted massive pieces of timber, standing out a few feet from the face of the masonry, and hewn flat on top. On their ends are laid trunks of trees, crossing the river, and securely lashed. Athwart these are laid sticks of wood, of some two or three inches diameter, lashed down, and covered over with bundles of reeds, mud, and stones.