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chupe. The productions of the country are maize, alfalfa, and potatoes— the maize very indifferent; but the potatoes, though generally small, are very fine, particularly the yellow ones. We saw here, for the first time, a vegetable of the potato kind called Oca. It resembles in appearance the Jerusalem artichoke, though longer and slimmer; and boiled or roasted it is very agreeable to the taste. Richards compared its flavor to that of green corn; I suggested pumpkin, and he allowed that it was between the two. We also saw another vegetable of the same species, called Ulluca. This was more glutinous, and not so pleasant to the taste. Gibbon shot a pair of beautiful small wild ducks that were gambolling in the stream and shooting the rapids with the speed of an arrow.
May 26.-Started at eleven, and passed the village of Matucana, a mile from Moyoc. This appears about the size of Surco, and is the capital of the province, (still Huarochiri.) The Guia de Forasteros states the number of its inhabitants at one thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; but this is manifestly too great, and I believe that the statements of this book concerning populations are made with regard to the district in which a village is situated, or the doctrina or ecclesiastical division of which the Cura has charge. Service was going on in the church, and Gibbon and Richards, who were far ahead, had time to go in and say their prayers.
The river is now reduced to a mountain torrent, raging in foam over the debris of the porphyritic cliffs, which overhang its bed for hundreds of feet in height. The valley still occasionally widens out and gives room for a little cultivation. Where this is the case it is generally bounded on one side or the other by cliffs of sandstone, in which innumerable parrots have perforated holes for nests; and the road at these places lies broad and level at their base. We crossed the river frequently on such bridges as I have described at San Pedro Mama, and arrived at San Mateo at half-past 5 p. m., having travelled only twelve miles. The barometer shows a much greater ascent than we have yet made in one day's travel. We pitched in an old and abandoned alfalfa field above the town, and got supper from the postmaster. May 27.-San Mateo, a village about the size of Surco and Matucana, is situated on both sides of the Rimac, and at an elevation of ten thousand two hundred feet above the level of the sea. The men work the chacras of maize, potatoes, and beans; and the women do all the household work, besides carrying their meals to the workmen on the farms, over hills that would make a lazy man shudder even to look
at. They live in poverty and filth, but seem happy enough. We saw the women winnowing the beans (which were gathered dry from the plant) by collecting them in pans made of large gourds, and flinging them into the air; and also sifting flour, which comes from the other side of the Cordillera, about Jauxa. The costume of the Serrana women is different from that of the women of the coast. It consists of a very narrow skirt, and a body of coarse woollen cloth, generally blue, which comes from Lima, and is belted around the waist with a broad-figured woollen belt, woven by themselves. A woollen apron, with a figured border, is worn on the left side, hanging from the right shoulder by a strap; and in the cold of the morning and evening the shoulders are covered with a thick, colored blanket, reaching to the hips. A high, broad-brimmed straw-hat, with shoes of raw-hide, drawn with a string around the ankle, and no stockings, complete the costume. These people seem contented with what they have, and don't want money. It was with great difficulty we could persuade them to sell us anything, always denying that they had it. On our return from the mines at Párac, (where Mr. Gibbon had been sick with chills and fever,) he could not eat the chupe, which had, at first, been made with charqui, or jerked beef, but which had now dwindled down to cheese and potatoes. I made a speech to some curious loafers about the tent, in which I appealed to their pride and patriotism, telling them that I thought it strange that so large a town as San Mateo, belonging to so famous a country as Peru, could not furnish a sick stranger, who could eat nothing else, with a few eggs. Whereupon, a fellow went off and brought us a dozen, though he had just sworn by the Pope that there were no such things in the village.
May 28.-Mr. Gibbon and I, guided by a boy, rode over to the hacienda of San Jose de Párac, leaving Richards and Ijurra in charge of the camp. The ride occupied about three hours, over the worst roads, bordered by the highest cliffs and deepest ravines we had yet seen. The earth here shows her giant skeleton bare: mountains, rather than rocks, of granite, rear their gray heads to the skies; and our proximity made these things more striking and sublime. We found, on the sides of the hills, short grass and small clover, with some fine cattle feeding; and, wherever the mountain afforded a level shelf, abundance of fine potatoes, which the people were then gathering.
I brought letters from Mr. Prevost to Don Torribio Malarin, the superintendent of the mines, who received us kindly, and entertained us with much hospitality. His house was comfortably heated with a stove, and the chamber furnished with a large four-post bedstead, and
the biggest and heaviest bureau I had ever seen. I was somewhat surprised at the sight of these
"Not that the things were very rich or rare,
I wonder'd how the devil they got there."
They must have come up in pieces, for nothing so large could have been fastened on a mule's back, or passed entire in the narrow parts of the road.
The hacienda is situated near the head of a small valley, which debouches upon the road just below San Mateo; the stream which drains it emptying into the Rimac there. It is a square, enclosed with onestory buildings, consisting of the mill for grinding the ore, the ovens for toasting it when ground, the workshops, store-houses, and dwellinghouses. It is managed by a superintendent and three mayordomos, and employs about forty working hands. These are Indians of the Sierra, strong, hardy-looking fellows, though generally low in stature, and stupid in expression. They are silent and patient, and, having coca enough to chew, will do an extraordinary quantity of work. They have their breakfast of caldo and cancha, (toasted maize,) and get to work by eight o'clock. At eleven they have a recess of half an hour, when they sit down near their place of work, chat lazily with each other, and chew coca, mixed with a little lime, which each one carries in a small gourd, putting it on the mass of coca leaves in his mouth with a wire pin attached to the stopper of the gourd that carries the lime. Some dexterity is necessary to do this properly without cauterizing the lips or tongue. They then go to work again until five, when they finish for the day, and dine off chupe. It has made me, with my tropical habit of life, shiver to see these fellows puddling with their naked legs a mass of mud and quicksilver in water at the temperature of thirty-eight Fahrenheit.
These Indians generally live in huts near the hacienda, and are supplied from its store-houses. They are kept in debt by the supplies; and by custom, though not by law, no one will employ an Indian who is in debt to his patron; so that he is compelled to work on with no hope of getting free of the debt, except by running away to a distant part of the country where he is not known, which some do.
The diseases incident to this occupation are indigestion, called empacho, pleurisy, and sometimes the lungs seem affected with the fumes and dust of the ore; but on the whole, it does not seem an unhealthy occupation.
The principal articles furnished from the store-house are maize, coca, mutton, charqui, rum, sugar, coffee, tea, chocolate, chancaca, (cakes of
brown sugar,) soap, baize, cotton, and coarse linen cloths, woollen cloths, silk handkerchiefs, foreign ponchos, ribbons, silk, sashes, &c., &c., which are supplied to the Indians at about one hundred per cent. advance on their cost at Lima, and charged against his wages, which amount to half a dollar a day, with half a dollar more if he work at night.
The manner of getting the silver from the ore, or beneficiating it, as it is called in Peru, is this: The ore, after it is dug from the mine and brought to the surface, is broken into pieces about the size of a Madeira nut or English walnut, and sent to the hacienda, in hide-bags, on the backs of llamas or mules. (The hacienda is always situated on the nearest stream to the mine, for the advantages of the water-power in turning the mill.) There it is reduced, by several grindings and siftings, to an impalpable powder. The mill consists of a horizontal waterwheel, carrying a vertical axis, which comes up through the floor of the mill, the wheel being below. To the top of this axis is bolted a large cross-beam, and to the ends of the beam are slung, by chains, heavy, rough stones, each about a ton weight. These stones, by the turning of the axis, are carried around nearly in contact with a concave bed of smoother and harder rock, built upon the floor of the mill, and through which the axis comes up. The ore is poured by the basket-full upon the bed, and the large hanging rocks grind it to powder, which pours out of holes made in the periphery of the bed. This is sifted through fine wire sieves, and the coarser parts are put in the mill again for re-grinding. The ground ore, or harina, is then mixed with salt (at the rate of fifty pounds of salt to every six hundred pounds of harina) and taken to the ovens (which are of earth) and toasted. I could not learn the quantity of heat necessary to be applied; it is judged of by experiment.
The fuel used in these ovens is the dung of cattle, called taquia; it costs three cents for twenty-five pounds. The ovens here burn one million five hundred thousand pounds yearly. After the harina is toasted, it is carried in hide-bags to the square enclosed in the buildings of the hacienda, and laid in piles of about six hundred pounds each upon the floor. This floor is of flat stones, but should be of flags cemented together; because the stones have often to be taken up to collect the quicksilver, many pounds of which run down between the interstices. Ten of these piles are laid in a row, making a caxon of six thousand two hundred and fifty pounds. The piles are then moistened with water, and quicksilver is sprinkled on them through a woollen cloth. (The quantity of mercury, which depends upon the
quantity of silver in the ore, is judged of beforehand by experiments on a small scale.) The mass is well mixed by treading with the feet and working with hoes. A little calcined iron pyrites, called magistral, is also added-about four pounds to the caxon. The pile is often examined to see that the amalgamation is going on well. In some conditions the mass is called hot; in others, cold. The state of heat is cured by adding a little lime and rotten dung; that of cold, by a little magistral or oxide of iron. Practice and experience alone will enable one to judge of these states. It is then left to stand for eight or nine days, (occasionally re-trodden and re-worked,) until the amalgamation is complete, which is also judged of by experiment. It is then carried to an elevated platform of stone, and thrown, in small quantities at a time, into a well sunk in the middle of the platform; a stream of water is turned on, and four or five men trample and wash it with their feet. The amalgam sinks to the bottom, and the mud and water are let off, by an aperture in the lower part of the well, into a smaller well below, lined with a raw-hide, where one man carries on the washing with his feet. More amalgam sinks to the bottom of this well, and the mud and water again flow off through a long wooden trough, lined with green baize, into a pit prepared for it, where the water percolates through the soil, leaving the mud to be again re-washed. When the washing is finished for the day, the green baize lining of the trough, with many particles of the amalgam clinging to it, is washed in the larger well. The water, which by this time is clear, is let off, and all the amalgam, called "pella," is collected, put in hide-bags, and weighed. Two caxons are washed in a day. The pella is then put into conical bags of coarse linen, which are hung up, and the weight of the mass presses out a quantity of the quicksilver, which oozes through the interstices of the linen, and is caught in vessels below. The mass, now dry, and somewhat harder than putty, is carried to the ovens, where the remainder of the quicksilver is driven off by heat, and the residue is the plata piña, or pure silver. This is melted, run into bars, stamped according to the ley or quality of the silver, and sent to Lima, either for the mint or for exportation.
In the refining process the fumes of the mercury are condensed, and it is used again. Two pounds, however, are lost to every pound of silver. The proportion of pure silver in the pella seca, or amalgam, after the draining off of the mercury through the bag, is about twentytwo per cent. A careful experiment made by Mr. Galt, a jeweller of this city, on a bit of the pella which I brought home from Cerro Pasco, gave but eighteen and thirty-three per cent. of pure silver.