"What do you want?" he said to me. "Do you not know that I sleep from twelve to six every afternoon? What do you mean by disturbing me? I am sure you would not disturb officers of your own Navy in this way!"
I very politely answered that the officers of my Navy were well known for being wide awake at all times, and not for sleeping the whole day as well as the entire night. When I explained to him, and presented the order from the Minister of Marine requesting any officer of the Brazilian Navy to give every possible assistance, he told me that none of his boats were in a condition to move out; furthermore they were needed, as great political trouble was expected in the city.
I was beginning to feel anxious, as in my weak state it would have been a serious matter for me to undertake the river journey in a small rowing-boat, which journey would have occupied several weeks, when I could have done the whole thing in two or three days at the most in a steam launch. Even a rowing-boat was not obtainable unless you purchased it outright, and if you obtained the boat you could not obtain the men to row it.
It is extraordinary how many things in the world depend on absolute chance. When I returned, sadly disappointed, to the hotel, I met a Swiss gentleman, Dr. Alberto Maso, who was in the employ of the Brazilian Government as delegate of the Minister of Agriculture for the Territory of the Acre. I had met him in Rio de Janeiro a year before. I told him what had happened that day with the Governor and the Commandante of the Flotilla. Dr. Maso immediately took the matter in hand.
That same evening there was a meeting of the Associacao Commercial do Amazonas, a most useful society in Manaos composed of the cleverest and soundest business men of that place. I was presented to the President, Mr. J. G. Araujo, and to Dr. Bertino Miranda, the honorary secretary—the latter a man of letters of great distinction, well known not only in his own country but in Latin countries all over Europe as well.
I was received by these gentlemen and the other members of the Association with the greatest consideration, and before I left that evening they assured me that they would procure a launch for me with which to go and rescue my men.
The next morning, in fact, I was taken to call on the Commandante of the Federal troops, who willingly and most courteously placed at my disposal his steam launch. A delay of several days took place, as unfortunately the steam launch had lost her propeller and it was necessary to make a new one. Also the engine had to be repaired, and a crew had to be engaged—a task which gave all those concerned a considerable amount of trouble.
I had, of course, to pay for the maintenance of the crew during the journey, and it cost me nearly a hundred pounds to fit her out with all the plates, knives, cooking utensils, and other paraphernalia necessary for her crew of sixteen men. In any other country three men would have been more than sufficient to run a launch of that size.
I also had to employ at my own expense a pilot—no steamboat was allowed to go without one—whom I had to pay at the rate of L7 15s. sterling a day. A cook had to be employed for the crew, as none of the sailors could be induced to condescend to be the chef. Two applicants were eventually found. One who was willing to do the cooking at a salary of L3 10s. a day, his chief ability, said he, consisting in boiling rice and fish. Another fellow eventually undertook the job at a salary of L1 10s. a day, he being willing to do the cooking at such a small salary as he said he had never in his life cooked before, and he did not know whether we should care for his cooking or not. It must not for one moment be believed that these men were trying to cheat me, and putting on prices, for indeed these are the current rates for everybody who wishes to travel in those regions. The cost of commodities of any kind in Manaos was excessive, and went beyond even the limits of robbery. I went into a chemist's shop to purchase a small bottle of quinine tablets, worth in England perhaps eightpence or a shilling. The price charged there was L2 10s.
Principally owing to the Booth Line Steamship Company and the allied companies, Manaos has become a good-sized place. The Harbour Works and the works made by the Manaos Improvements, Ltd., have been a great boon to that place, and have made it almost as civilized as a third-class European city. But obstacles have been placed in the way of honest foreign companies carrying on their work successfully, the unscrupulous behaviour of the Governor and the attitude of the mob having proved serious drawbacks to the development of the place.
Large sums of money have been wasted in building a strawberry-coloured theatre of immense size and of appalling architectural lines, on the top of which has been erected a tiled dome of gigantic proportions over an immense water-tank in order to protect the theatre against fire. The water-tank was calculated to let down a great cascade of water, a regular Niagara, on the flames—as well as on the spectators, I presume. After it had been built it was discovered that if water were let into the tank, its weight would be enough to bring down the entire upper part of the theatre; so that it could never be filled at all.
Except for one or two short avenues, which reminded one of the suburbs of new North American cities, there was nothing worth seeing in Manaos. The shops were almost entirely those of jewellers, gunsmiths, sweet-sellers, and chemists. It was in this place that the poor seringueiros, on their return from rubber collecting, were in a few hours robbed of all the money they had made during several months' hard work. There was only one redeeming feature in Manaos: the British and American business men in the place were most charming and hospitable in every possible way.
It was on December 3rd, 1911, that everything was ready. The hour of departure had been fixed for ten o'clock in the evening. I went on board at the appointed time, but the captain of the launch and the crew refused to put out of the anchorage, as they said they would not go unless some extra men were employed. One of the pipes of the engine had been wilfully damaged, so that delay was caused, and we could not possibly start until it had been repaired. The captain of the launch had worried me for several days. He was in a constant state of intoxication.
* * * * *
On December 4th, at 11 p.m., I was actually able to make my departure from Manaos on the launch Amazonas. I took in tow a rowing-boat which had been lent me by the representative of the Minister of Agriculture in Manaos.
By 8.30 in the morning of December 5th we entered the mouth of the Madeira River. I was surprised at the sudden change in the appearance of the two rivers. We saw in the Madeira high, gently sloping banks, covered with verdant grass and neat trees and palms along the top of them; whereas along the Amazon the trees stood almost in the water on the recently formed islands and banks. The left bank of the Madeira was of grey and reddish clay (grey below, red above), cut vertically, sometimes actually in steps. Blocks of a rectangular shape, in getting dried up, split and fell over, leaving the banks vertical. The right bank, on the contrary, was gently sloping, descending with a beautiful carpet of green grass into the stream. The islands were charming, with lovely lawns all round. Blackish and deep red rock, vertical and fluted, and with innumerable perforations, could be seen here and there, covered over with a padding of earth from ten to twenty feet deep.
The journey up the Madeira River had no great interest. By seven o'clock in the evening we arrived at the mouth of the Canuma River—or rather at a channel connecting the Madeira River with the river Canuma, which river actually has its proper mouth about half-way between Itaquatiara and Santarem, at a place called Parintins. By way of the connecting channel the two rivers were only a short distance apart, but that channel was not always navigable. The steam launch, which drew little water, would have difficulty in going through, even at that time, when the water was fairly high.
We therefore thought we would stay for the night at the mouth of the channel, and start on our journey by that difficult passage in broad daylight the next day. There was a house on the right-hand side of the mouth of the channel. While we made preparations to make ourselves comfortable for the night on the launch, the pilot went up to the house in order to get an expert at that place to take us through the dangerous channel.
I was just in the middle of my dinner when the pilot sent down a message for me to go up to the house at once, as my presence was required immediately. I struggled up the steep incline, not knowing what was up. Much to my amazement, on reaching the house, I saw before me my man Filippe the negro, who rushed at me and embraced me tenderly, and the other man I had left with him in charge of the baggage. The two men had been picked up by a boat two days up the river Canuma, where I had left them with my baggage, and they had come down expecting to meet me in Manaos. They had got stranded at that place, and although they had hailed one or two steamers which had gone down the river, no one had paid any attention to them, and there they had remained.
"Have you saved the photographs and the baggage, Filippe?" I immediately asked, when I had made certain that both men were in good condition.
"Yes," said Filippe. "I have everything with me. I have taken the greatest care of everything."
That was for me a happy moment, after all the vicissitudes we had had of late. The most important part of my baggage was saved. I had taken all my men back alive—if perhaps not very much alive—after so fateful an expedition. I felt happy beyond words.
The man who owned the house was the trader who had taken Filippe and the other man down the river in his boat, so I gave him a present of money and also a lot of provisions which I had on board and which we should not now need any more, as we should return at once to Manaos.
Next morning, all as happy as possible, we steamed down full speed on our way back to Manaos. We came in for dirty weather all the time, which obliged us to halt for several hours and put into Itaquatiara for shelter. A few hours later we were once more in the capital of the Amazonas, in the city of jewellers' shops and filthy food. On landing I found Maxim guns and artillery on one side of the principal square, with police troops in charge of them ready to fire; while on the other side were the Federal troops, also with their artillery ready for battle. It was with some concern that I found myself obliged to pass between those warlike bodies in order to enter the hotel. I was not so anxious for myself as I was for my photographic negatives and note-books, after I had taken all that trouble to save them.
However, the Governor at the last moment became scared, and went personally to call on the Commandante of the Federal troops in order to assure him of his friendship and affection, so that after all no battle took place that day.
Only a short time previously the flotilla had bombarded the town. The people of Manaos had got so accustomed to those little excitements that they thought nothing of them. There were occasionally a few people killed, but that was all.
It will be remembered that the idee fixe of Filippe the negro was to buy himself a mallettinha (a little trunk). The first thing he had asked me after I had rescued him was if I had seen any good mallettinhas in Manaos. So after landing we at once proceeded to buy a tin mallettinha with a strong lock. Then I paid him off and gave him an ample reward, as he had been the pluckiest and most faithful of all my men. He was certainly the man who had given me the least trouble of the entire lot.
Filippe had tears in his eyes when he received his pay and present. He embraced me and thanked me a million times for having made him a rich man.
"After all," said he, "we have suffered a great deal, but now I shall be happy for ever. I shall marry the girl who is waiting for me at home."
"If ever I come out on another journey, Filippe, will you go with me again?" I asked him.
Filippe pondered for a moment. "Yes," he said with determination. "I have proved to you that I am afraid of nothing. You only have to order me, and I will go with you. Even if we are to suffer again as we have suffered on this journey!"
Filippe was a good fellow.
The other man when paid off received his money and his reward silently. He went out into the street, and returned four hours later without one single penny. He had purchased an expensive suit of clothes, a number of silk neckties, a gold chain, watch, etc.
The next morning there was a steamer sailing for Rio de Janeiro, so I packed off the jubilant Filippe, paying a second-class passage for him on the steamer and a first-class on the railway, as I had done for the other men, with wages up to the day of his arrival in Araguary, his native town.
Thus I saw the last of that plucky man—the only one who had remained of the six who had originally started with me.
On December 16th I left Manaos for good on my way to Peru, escorted to the good Booth Line steamer Atahualpa by the Commandante of the Federal troops, the representatives of the Associacao Commercial, Dr. Maso, and some of my English and American friends.
It was with the greatest delight that I saw Manaos vanish away from sight as we descended the Rio Negro. Rounding the point at its mouth, steaming towards the west, we entered the Solemoes River. This river is navigable by fairly good-sized boats as far as Iquitos, in the province of Loreto in Peru.
I was badly in need of rest, and expected to get it on those few days of navigation up the river, having dreamt of how I could lie on deck and do nothing, as that part was well known and there was no work for me to do. But, indeed, on that journey none of my dreams were realized, for, worse luck, the steamer, which had only accommodation for ten, carried not less than seventy or eighty passengers, fifty of them forming part of a Spanish theatrical company which was on its way to Iquitos. The deck of the ship had been turned into a kind of theatre, where rehearsals went on day and night. When the rehearsals were not going on, the men and women, following the usual habits of theatrical people, sang and practised flights of notes—which was a little trying after the dead silence of the forest.
However, thanks to the great civility of the managers of the Booth Line at Manaos, and to the extreme thoughtfulness of the captain of the Atahualpa, I was made quite comfortable in the chart-room of the ship, which was as far away as possible from the noise. We were most of the time in mid-stream. The river was so wide that we could not see anything on either side. We steamed up day after day, occasionally passing islands of some beauty rising above the muddy waters of the Solimoes. Navigation of that river was difficult, as the navigable channels were constantly changing, islands disappearing and new islands forming all the time. Elich Island, in the Timbuctuba group, was fast disappearing, while another island was forming just below it.
We passed the mouth of the Putumayo River at sunset one day, a most wonderful effect of clouds being produced over a brilliant cadmium yellow and vermilion sky, shining with great brightness above the dark green trees upon a high reddish cliff.
In a drenching morning at five o'clock we reached Esperanca, the Brazilian frontier post, which consisted of half a dozen one-storied houses with red-tiled roofs, situated on a grassy expanse. Grassy hills of no great height rose at the mouth of the Javari River, a southern tributary of the Solimoes River, forming there the boundary between Brazil and Peru. Dark green foliage perched high up on asparagus-like stems of trees formed a background to that wretchedly miserable place.
Tabatinga, on the left side of the stream, was the Brazilian military post on the frontier. A neatly-built, loopholed, square blockhouse, painted white, was situated some fifty feet above the level of the river on the summit of the bank. It was reached by a long flight of white cement steps. The Brazilian flag flew gaily upon a flagstaff at this most westerly point of the great Brazilian Republic on the Amazon (Solimoes) River.
A few soldiers dressed in khaki stood, with their legs wide apart, watching the arrival of the steamer, while their officers in speckless white clothes hastily descended the long flight of steps and came on board, bringing bouquets of flowers to the captain.
There was a pretty garden near the blockhouse. Three mountain guns pointed viciously at the river from the most exposed position in Tabatinga at the top of the staircase. According to the account of a non-commissioned officer, there was a force there of 240 soldiers "escondido no matto"—that is to say, kept hidden in the forest!
After we had passed the frontier on the north side of the river, a tiny tributary brook, almost hidden by the vegetation and only identified by a white-barked tree on the left bank and huts on either side, the scenery made a change for the better.
Leticia was the name of the Peruvian frontier post, which consisted of two or three brick sheds with corrugated iron roofs.
We arrived at Iquitos on December 23rd, at 8.30 a.m., having employed seven days and twenty hours on our run from Manaos.
From Iquitos to the Foot of the Andes up the Rivers Ucayalli, Pachitea and Pichis—The Cashibos or "Vampire Indians"
THE change in the characteristics of the people the moment you were in Peru was considerable, and striking was the neatness of the buildings. Iquitos was a pleasant little city, the streets of which needed paving badly, but were otherwise well aligned and tidy. There were numbers of foreigners there, including a small English colony made up of employes of the Booth Line and the representatives of a few commercial houses. It is difficult to realize how pleasant Englishmen can be when they live in those out-of-the-way places.
After the Putumayo atrocities a proper English Consulate, in charge of Mr. Mitchell, formerly our vice-consul in Paris, had been established there. Yellow fever was rampant at that time in Iquitos, and reaped many victims daily.
Although Iquitos was 2,300 kil. farther up the river than Manaos, the price of all commodities in that country was less than half those in Manaos, and the quality of the articles twice as good. That is what comes of having free trade instead of a high tariff.
I spent a pleasant Christmas in Iquitos, all the English residents there showing me the greatest kindness. From Iquitos the river was no longer navigable for ocean-going steamers, and it was necessary to travel by small launches. There was no regular service, but there were a number of trading launches which went a certain distance up the river in order to trade with the different houses on the banks of the stream. The travelling was not particularly rapid, as one stopped ten or twenty times a day, and wasted endless time while the people came on board to buy beer or rum, or cotton goods, looking-glasses, etc., etc. Rubber and aigrettes, as well as money, were given in exchange for the goods received.
I left Iquitos on December 29th, on the launch Rimac, belonging to the Swiss firm of Messikommer. I was told that she would be ready to start at 9 a.m. sharp on December 28th, and at that time I got on board. The actual time of our departure was at 6.30 in the afternoon of December 29th. That was, of course, Iquitos punctuality.
The Prefect of the Province of Loreto had shown me much civility, and had telegraphed, by the wireless installation which had been established between Iquitos and Lima, making every possible arrangement for me to travel quickly. Thus, although in a terrible condition of health, I was able to make a record journey between Iquitos and Lima, the capital of Peru.
Once started in the launch Rimac, we went through interesting channels, outlets of the main stream being often noticeable on either bank, cutting wide passages through the forest and forming one or more shallow lakelets, with innumerable aquatic plants on the surface of the water. As we went farther it became easy to understand how islands were constantly forming in the river. Quantities of large and small logs of wood were continually floating down the stream; the banks were gradually being eaten away by the current. Whole trees fell down with their immense branches and polypi-like roots, and formed a barrier arresting the progress of the floating wood. Particles of earth deposited by wind and by water saturated with impurities settled there. Soon grass would begin to grow on those deposits, which quickly collected more deposits of flying and floating particles. The soft bottom of the river, disturbed by the deviated current, piled up mud against the submerged branches resting on the river-bed. Quickly an island was then formed; more wood accumulated, more grass, more mud; the base of the islands would increase rapidly, and in the space of a few years islands several kilometres in length rose above the water.
We had reached a point where the two great rivers Maranon and Ucayalli—both descending from the Andes—joined and formed the river Solimoes, which we had so far navigated. We followed the Ucayalli.
On December 31st we entered a small arm on the left side of the river and we reached no less a place than New York—very dissimilar, I can assure you, from its namesake of the United States of North America. Far from seeing skyscrapers, brilliantly illuminated streets, and ferry-boats and steamers galore, there were only half a dozen thatched huts with bona-palm walls and floors. In the water floated two or three small canoes; that was all. The place was chiefly remarkable for the number and the fierceness of its mosquitoes—regular clouds of them. Only one thing New York of Ucayalli seemed to have in common with New York of the United States—the people seemed to be able to stand a lot of drink. They purchased from the Rimac a number of boxes of beer.
We proceeded. In a way it was amusing to travel on a trading boat. Every time we approached a hut the steamer blew her whistle; the people got up, at any time of the night, to come on board and see what there was for sale. I slept on deck, and from my bed could see what was going on all the time.
St. Helena came next, with its depot and farmhouse. A few cows could be seen grazing on the poorest kind of grass. We could often get good fruit at those farmhouses, principally bananas, pineapples, and mamao. Then we stopped at Requena, on the left bank of the river, where a wireless telegraphic station of the Telefunken system was established. It was quite a nice little place, with a few houses, built of unbaked clay and roofed with zinc.
It was entertaining to watch the pride of the local gentlemen when they showed me their houses—mere sheds of the humblest description, but in their eyes far superior to any palace of Europe. An imported chair or an antiquated desk would supply them with conversation to last hours. The wives of those settlers were generally eccentric persons who looked suspiciously at us. One of them at Requena made me feel most uncomfortable by the annoying way in which she looked at my only shoe—as I was unable to put a shoe on the other much swollen foot. She never took her eyes off that shoe, and stooped down many times to examine it closer.
A short distance from Requena, still on the left side of the river, was the mouth of the Tapiche River, a tributary of the Ucayalli. On the right bank of this river was California, and then Avispa—a pretty spot. Two new red-roofed houses with large verandas stood prominent on a green grassy hill about 120 ft. high, while on the ridge in continuation of the hill itself could be seen a number of small houses, some with zinc roofs, others with bona roofs and walls.
The Ucayalli was a rich stream. It was interesting to notice how many trading launches were to be seen on that river, and the amazing part of it was that they could all exist. Hardly a day went by that we did not meet two or three launches. We were also constantly meeting canoes, generally hollowed out of tree-trunks, and larger boats of a more solid construction.
The population was entirely composed of a mixture of Spanish and Indian types and of pure Indians. Some of the latter had Mongolian characteristics; others were more of the Malay and Papuan types.
After the first day or two the voyage on the launch was tedious. One got tired of the endless conversation and of listening to the bargaining. The perpetual drinking which had to be witnessed was of little interest to a teetotaller. One seldom saw money change hands, all being done by barter, the merchandise we had on board being exchanged chiefly for rubber. Even so far up the river civilization had well set in, and great caution was needed in buying balls of rubber. It was advisable to split them in two before purchase, as they generally contained all kinds of rubbish instead of pure coagulated latex.
After Brazil, however, the villages and houses of Peru looked clean and neat.
The prices of food were somewhat high, chickens fetching 4s. each, whereas in Iquitos they fetched from 8s. to 10s.; eggs sold for 6d. each, and were generally bad, the good ones being eaten by the people themselves.
We went up the Tapiche River, a tributary on the right bank, and visited the estate newly bought by an American company. In fact, we were there at midnight of December 31st, and drank in the New Year with Mr. Anzelius, the director, and his Polish and Italian assistants.
On January 2nd, 1912, we saw a great many Indians along the banks of the river, who ran away when they saw the camera pointed at them.
The people on that river were fond of giving high-sounding names to their houses. We passed a place called Philadelphia, where a large farm with lean cattle, ducks and fowls, could be seen, looking as miserable as possible; also plenty of banana palms and sugar-cane.
Some way off, after passing the large saw-mills of Cumaseba and Tamanco, where an interesting collection of animals and Indian weapons had been made by the proprietor, we came in the evening to the farm of Buenos Aires.
Early on January 3rd we passed San Roque, and then Condorcanqui, a fine plantation of bananas along the river bank, and also a plantation of yuta (jute) and some bread trees. Clouds of aigrette storks could be seen in the evening circling about, thousands and thousands of them. They produced a most curious effect in the distance against the heavy black clouds of the sky.
We entered the Yanna Yakka stream, the water of which was almost absolutely stagnant and as black as ink, full of snakes, fish, and crocodiles. Yanna Yakka in the local Indian language means "black water." We steamed for two hours up that river as far as Porto Central, the river being quite narrow—only 150 m. wide. We eventually arrived at the prettiest spot I had so far seen on the river, called Porto Principal. On an elongated island not more than 80 m. wide were to be seen four large buildings of bona palm, with spacious verandas and corrugated iron roofs. The buildings were connected by high bridges. All those structures were built on piles 12 ft. high. Many chapaha palms of great height were to be seen there.
I heard at that place an extraordinary account of how a dirigible balloon, with nobody on board, had some few years before passed over the house. The balloon—which my informant, in his ignorant language, called a "huge square globe"—flew, according to him, a flag, the stars and stripes, and had an anchor dangling down. The balloon was travelling in a westerly direction. It flew a little higher than the trees, and caused a great scare among the natives. My informant told me that there was no one in the car at all, but they waved their hands at him (sic) when they passed over his house! He then told me that the air-ship had passed in the daytime and had quickly disappeared, but that it was beautifully lighted with coloured lights at night. So that it would be difficult from that truthful account to place much reliance on what the man said or on what he had seen at all. It is quite possible—after discarding all the indisputable embroidery from the story—that a balloon actually went over that place, and it may probably have been Wellman's abandoned balloon with which he had tried to go across the Atlantic.
On January 3rd and 4th we had no great excitement. We stopped at numberless places. Nearly all the houses in that district were made in three sections, the two end rooms enclosed in bona-palm walls, while the central and larger room had two open sides. All the houses were perched up on piles, owing to the frequent inundations. Sewing-machines and gramophones were to be found in nearly every house. All the women wore, rather becomingly over such ugly countenances, the valuable hats which generally go under the name of "Panamas." The river was getting beautiful as we went farther up, immense grassy stretches being visible where the country was not inundated, and low shrubs emerging from the water in the many channels that were formed everywhere.
On January 5th we arrived at Terra Blanca, where a lakelet had been formed by an outlet of the river on the left bank. A place called Pernambuco was situated at the entrance of this lake. The water of the lake was beautifully clear and of a wonderful greenish colour. Beautiful white and yellow sand deposits were to be found around it. Five hundred people lived at Pernambuco. The Rimac did a brisk trade, over a hundred pounds sterling worth of goods being sold in an hour at that place.
On January 6th I saw the first hills of importance we had seen since leaving the lower Amazon. Those were the hills of Petronilla, where a mass of volcanic rocks and some interesting hot springs were to be found. A ridge ran from south-east to north-west in symmetrical undulations up to 1,000 ft. from Petronilla to Cancha Huayo. It rose quite abruptly from the flat alluvial land. Where a land-slide had occurred it showed an upper stratum of grey alluvial deposit 10 ft. thick, with soft yellow volcanic rock underneath, in a stratum of 30 ft. thick. It seemed as if that hill had been lifted up by volcanic pressure from underneath, as a lot of white and yellow sand had been brought to the surface, which evidently formed a substratum in the Ucayalli region.
We found strong whirlpools where the channel of the river formed an elbow at the foot of the mountain. The steam launch made poor progress against the strong current.
On January 7th we arrived at the large settlement of Condamano, a sub-Prefecture in the big province of Loreto. There were two parallel streets, clean and well kept, with others intersecting at right angles. On the main street along the water front were many large commercial houses, handsome buildings of cana walls and zinc roofs. The place had been built on a flat high land about 30 ft. above the river, and had some 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants. One of the peculiarities of Condamano was that during the rubber-collecting season the population consisted almost entirely of women, as the men were in the forest collecting the latex.
We arrived there on a feast day—they have more feast days than working days in the week in that country—and the streets were alive with monks and soldiers, the only men who do not go collecting rubber. Women and girls, in flesh-coloured stockings and lace mantillas, flocked out of the church, each carrying a small carpet which they used to prevent spoiling their finery when kneeling down.
On leaving Condamano we came to the north-westerly end of the range we had seen the day before. It ended abruptly in almost vertical walls of yellow sandstone of various shades. The range was thickly wooded on its summit. The opposite bank of the river was absolutely flat.
That evening we came in for a heavy storm, which compelled us to halt from 6 o'clock until 2.10 a.m. Black clouds had accumulated overhead to the west. A boisterous gust of wind suddenly caught us, which swept off our chicken-coop, buckets, and other loose things which were on the roof of the launch. We were tossed about in a most alarming way, and were just able to tie up under shelter and make fast to some trees. The wind increased in fury, and the launch tore up her moorings, bringing down a big tree on the top of us with a tremendous crash.
There was a stampede on board, as everybody thought we had been struck by lightning. Some of the people were just able to jump on shore, while other Peruvians, men and women, scared to death by the diabolic clashing of thunder and the vivid lightning, knelt on the decks and prayed fervently that we might escape unhurt.
I had a narrow escape, a lighted petroleum lamp which swung above getting off its hook and falling on my head, upsetting all the petroleum over me. Fortunately it went out as it fell on me. In the middle of the night we had a great deal of trouble to make the boat fast once more, the waves in the river being of great height. The rattle of all the merchandise and broken crockery on board, the moans of the scared Peruvians, with the howling of the wind, made a regular pandemonium.
When we proceeded up the river next morning we came upon more interesting islands in course of formation. We saw quantities of cana baraba, wild cane, with its fan-disposed, elongated leaves. The natives used the reeds for walling their houses. Being absolutely straight, they are well adapted for that purpose.
On January 9th we passed several villages. Along the banks we saw many Indians, all dressed up in bright costumes, principally red shawls. We entered a tiny channel on the right bank and went as far as a place called San Jeronimo, a fairly large settlement. This small channel was, as late as 1895, the main stream, which has since been diverted by the formation of a low island. At sunset we perceived to the west what appeared at first a mass of low clouds revolving in a circle at a great speed. On closer inspection we found it to be millions of garcas or aigrette storks flying in a circle.
I arrived in the evening of January 10th at Masisea, where another wireless telegraph station had been established by the Peruvian Government. At this place I left the launch Rimac, and found the Government launch Esploradora, which had been detained there by the Prefect of Loreto for two days, awaiting my arrival. Having transhipped at once, I was able to proceed on January 11th on the latter. She was to take me as far as possible toward the foot of the Andes.
As we proceeded up the river we saw extensive farms surrounded by clearings of good land, with lots of cattle and horses, especially on the left bank of the river. We purchased an ox, so as to have fresh meat on board.
The small launch was, unfortunately, packed with a great many Peruvian travellers. There were no cabins, and one had to sleep on the roof of the launch. Everybody was most civil, and with the new camp-bed I had purchased in Manaos I was able to make myself as comfortable as was possible under the circumstances.
Beautiful specimens of cataua trees of great height were constantly to be seen in the forest along the banks. The resin from these trees is extremely poisonous, and is much used by the local Indians for killing fish. We halted for five hours that day in order to take on board sufficient wood for the engines to last us the entire journey. At 6.30 that afternoon we left the Ucayalli river and entered the tributary Pachitea, on the left side, the Ucayalli describing a big curve where the Pachitea enters it. Just before reaching the mouth of the Pachitea, the Ucayalli had first a big arm deviating from the main stream on the left bank, then soon after another great arm also on the left side. The navigation of those rivers was now getting difficult, and we had to halt at night.
On January 12th we started up the Pachitea River, a stream much smaller than the Ucayalli, but more interesting. Soon after departing we could perceive in the distance before us a high hill range. Crocodiles and white storks were innumerable, while fallen trees impeded navigation constantly. Once or twice we banged with such force against immense floating logs of wood that it made the launch quiver in a most alarming way. In the dirty water of the stream it was not always possible to detect the floating logs, which sometimes were just under the surface of the water. Immense quantities of cana baraba were to be seen on the banks, and great numbers of delicately-tinted violet flowers which enlivened the landscape. The cana had light violet-coloured panaches, which were much used by the Indians in the manufacture of their arrows. The banks were of alluvial formation. Islets of grey sand mixed with volcanic ashes could be seen. The current was strong.
We saw large families of ciancias—beautiful birds with velvety black bodies speckled with white, and fan tails of rich brown colour, feathers of the same colour being also on the outer half of the wings. They possessed slender, most elegant necks, small brown-crested heads, and light yellow chests. Seen at a distance they were not, in shape, unlike pheasants. Twenty or thirty together at a time could be seen playing among the lower branches of the trees along the edge of the river. Then there were small birds of a beautiful metallic blue-black, with very long tails; these latter were innumerable near the water.
The rainy season was in full swing. In the morning we generally had white mist rising among the trees, while during the day rain was usually plentiful and rendered travelling somewhat monotonous, as we could not see much. We saw many specimens of the tagua or yarina, a small palm, the leaves of which were used in that region for roofing houses. At last we came to the first rocks I had seen in the river since leaving the Tapajoz River. They were at the double whirlpool of Naittavo. At the island of Errera was a narrow channel only 30 to 40 m. wide, where the current was extremely strong, and just deep enough for our launch, which drew 5 ft. of water. The upstream end of the island was strewn with logs of wood, forming a kind of barrage, the water of the dividing stream being thrown with great force against it. It was here that we got the first sight of high mountains—a great change after the immense stretches of flat land we had encountered all along the Amazon, Solimoes and Ucayalli. I saw some beautiful specimens of the idle or sleepy monkey, the preguya, a nocturnal animal with wonderful fur. The small launch was swung about with great force from one side to the other by the strong current and whirlpools. We saw a number of Cashibos (Carapaches and Callisecas) on the right bank of the river. They are said to be cannibals, but personally I rather doubt it. If they have occasionally eaten a missionary or two, I believe that it must have been rather as a religious superstition than because of the actual craving for human flesh. Also it is possible that, as is the case with many African tribes, the Cashibos may believe that eating an enemy gives strength and courage, and may have indulged in this practice purely on that account. So that I do not think that it is fair to call those Indians cannibals in the true sense of the word, any more than it would be fair to call a teetotaller a drunkard because he took a drink or two of brandy for medicinal purposes.
The word "Cashibo" in the Pana language means vampire. Those Indians are great fighters, and are in a constant state of hostility with all their neighbours. They are good hunters and fishermen. Their weapons are well made, and consist of bow and arrows, spears and war-clubs. The Callisecas and Carapaches are very light in colour, with a yellowish skin, not darker than that of the average Spaniard. They are fine-looking people, fairly hairy on the face and body. The men grow long beards. Men and women generally go about naked, but some of the Indians near the river have adopted long shawls in which they wrap themselves. After marriage the women wear a loin-cloth, but nothing at all before marriage. The girls when young are attractive, with luminous, expressive, dark brown eyes. These Cashibos are supposed to be the "white race" of the Amazon. They are nevertheless not white at all, but belong to a yellow race, although they are, as I have said, of a light yellow colour. Many yellow races have come under my observation in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, who were just as light as the Cashibos, such as the Bilans and Manobos, and some who were even whiter than they are, such as the Mansakas of the Mindanao Island. The Cashibos are wild people, and the settlers in the neighbourhood are much afraid of them.
On January 13th, when we were three days out from Masisea, we were travelling between high rocky hills with almost vertical sides. Their section showed in the lower portion narrow bands of violet-coloured rock and white light stone in a horizontal stratum. Above that had accumulated a deep layer from 30 to 100 ft. thick of red earth.
We went across a dangerous whirlpool. The launch hardly had enough strength to pull through at full speed. The water all around us formed great circles with deep central hollows, and, as we went through, rose before us like a wall. It had quite an impressive effect. That particular whirlpool was called Sheboya. Soon afterwards we obtained a beautiful view of the high range—the Sira mountains.
On January 14th we went over the whirlpool of Marques, a most picturesque sight. On the banks of the river was plenty of rubber, hevea, but not of quite such good quality as that found in Brazil. Some of the trees exuded white and some yellow latex, the coloration being probably due to the quality of the soil. There were few habitations along the banks of the Pachitea River. There were tribes of the Campas (or Antis) and Cashibos Indians, the members of both races having marked Malay characteristics. Occasionally one met extraordinary people in those out-of-the-way regions. When we halted for wood, which we used instead of coal for our engine, a man some six feet four inches in height came on board—quite an extraordinary-looking person. To my amazement, when I spoke to him, he turned out to be a man of refined taste and quite highly educated. He was a Hungarian count and an officer in the Austrian army, who, having got into trouble in his own country, had gone to settle there.
From a place called Cahaubanas, at the confluence of the river Pichis with the Pachitea, it was possible to cross over on foot to the Mayro, a stream which flowed into the Palcazu, and in two more days' walking (about 75 kil.), the German colony of Potzuzu could be reached at the meeting-place of the Potzuzu River with the Uancabamba. From the German colony 158 kil. more would bring you to Uanuco, and 138 kil. farther on was Serra de Pasco, whence the railway went to Lima.
Another trail from Cahaubanas proceeded to Chuchura, about 50 kil. higher up the Mayro river. From there it was possible to cross the Yanachag Mountains and reach the settlement of Uancabamba. The distance from Cahaubanas to Chuchura was one and a half day's walking—some 40 kil. of heavy climbing, that from Chuchura to Uancabamba two days' marching. From Uancabamba one was able to get mules in order to go over the high pass of Culebra Marca and reach Serra de Pasco.
It was possible by that trail to reach Lima in a few days on foot. It was out of the question for me to attempt such a journey, the attack of beri-beri in my right leg making it almost impossible for me to stand up. I decided to go as far up the stream as I could on the launch and by canoe.
At Cahaubanas were a monastery and a great many Indians. After halting for the night at that place we continued our journey up the Pachitea with a strange medley of passengers on board. We had the Hungarian count, an Italian farmer, who was a remarkable musician and played the accordion beautifully; we had some Peruvians, a Spanish emigrant, a small Indian boy aged ten who acted as steward, and a young fellow of German origin.
The cook on the launch was a lunatic, who was under the impression that he was the Saviour. It was too pathetic, and occasionally quite alarming, to see the poor man leaving the cooking stove whenever we passed any Indians on the banks, when he raised his arms up in the air and, stretching them forward, gave his benediction to the people he saw, instead of looking after the boiling rice. His benedictions cost him frequent kicks and shakings by the neck on the part of the captain of the launch. He was absorbed in fervent praying during the night. He seldom condescended to speak to any of us on board, as he said that he was not living on this earth, but would come back some day to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. Words of that kind were uttered whilst he was holding a saucepan in one hand and a ladle in the other. It was pathetic.
In pouring rain we left again on January 16th between the high rocky banks of the river, well padded with earth and with dense vegetation. Extensive beaches of grey sand and coarse gravel were passed, until we arrived at Port Bermudez, situated at the confluence of the Pichis with the Chibbis, a tributary on the left bank. Here we found the last of the chain of wireless stations which had three iron towers. From that place a telephone and telegraph wire have been installed right over the Andes and down to Lima.
The passage on the Government launch from Masisea to Bermudez cost L7 10s. I heard there that, thanks to the arrangements which had been made by the Prefect of the Loreto Province, the number of mules I required in order to cross the Andes was duly waiting for me at the foot of that great chain of mountains.
I therefore lost no time, and on January 17th, having left the launch Esploradora, proceeded in a canoe with all my baggage intending to navigate as far as possible the river Pichis, a tributary of the Pachitea, formed by the united Nazaratec and Asupizu rivers.
The landscape was getting very beautiful, the Sungaro Paro Mountains rising to a great height on the south-west. Immense lubuna trees, not unlike pines in shape, were the largest trees in that region—from 5 to 6 ft. in diameter. The current was so strong that we were unable to reach the spot where the mules were awaiting me, and I had to spend the night on a gravel beach.
The next morning, however, January 18th, after passing two small rapids, where my men had to go into the water in order to pull the canoe through, I arrived at Yessup, where my mules were awaiting me, and where there was a tambo or rest-house, kept beautifully clean.
The distance by water from Iquitos to Masisea was 980 kil.; from Masisea to Puerto Bermudez 520 kil.; from Puerto Bermudez to Yessup 40 kil.
Across the Andes—The End of the Trans-continental Journey
I WAS fortunate in obtaining some excellent Peruvian muleteers to accompany me on the expedition over the Andes. The trip might have been a rough one for the ordinary traveller, but for me it was a real holiday excursion, after the horrible time I had experienced in Brazil. This notwithstanding the disagreeable weather I encountered during the fourteen days' rough riding which I employed in reaching the Pacific Ocean.
I started at once with my pack animals on the trail which has been cut by the Peruvian Government over the mountains. Rain came down in torrents. Most of the country was swampy, the mules sinking chest-deep in mud. The travelling was not exactly what you would call pleasant. Your legs dangled all the time in water and slush. As that trail was used by caravans, the mules had cut regular transverse grooves in the ground all along, in which successively they all placed their hoofs. Each groove was filled with slushy water, and was separated from the next by a mud wall from one to three feet high. The mules were constantly stumbling and falling. After you had travelled a short distance you were in a filthy condition, the torrential rain washing down the splashes of mud and spreading them all over you.
After leaving Yessup we crossed first the Sinchhuaqui river, then the Aguachini. We began to ascend two kilometres after we had left Yessup, and marched steadily the entire day among gigantic aguaso trees and wonderful ferns of great height, until we reached the Miriatiriami tambo, 27 kil. from Yessup.
On January 19th we followed the River Azupizu along a narrow trail from 300 to 400 ft. above the level of the river, with an almost vertical drop by the side of us. Huge palms and ferns of indescribable beauty were to be seen all along, while waterfalls and streamlets constantly crossed the trail.
We encountered that day deep mud all the way, the mules sinking up to their bellies in the slush. The trail along the mountain side was cut in the soft earth, and actually formed a deep groove only about two feet wide, the mud and slush being held by the solid transverse barriers which succeeded one another at short intervals.
At Piriatingalini and Puchalini we found light cable suspension bridges, very shaky, which swung to and fro as you rode over them. Most of them were not more than four feet wide and had no parapet at all. I cannot say that I felt particularly happy when my mule—sure-footed, I grant—took me across, the bridge swinging, quivering, and squeaking with our weight on it, especially when we were in the middle. The rivers were extremely picturesque, with high mountains on either side, among which they wound their way in a snake-like fashion over a rocky bed, forming a series of cascades. We went that day 25 kil., and arrived at the tambo of Azupizu, which was in charge of a deserter from the French navy. He was an extraordinary character. He had forgotten French, and had neither learnt Spanish nor the local language of the Campas Indians.
A tribe of those Indians was to be found near there—very handsome people, the men solidly built and muscular, with intelligent but brutal faces, with the yellowish-brown skin and slanting eyes of the Malay races. The eyes showed a great discoloration in the upper part of the iris. They possessed straight hair, slightly inclined to curl at the end. The nose was flattened at the root. They wore a few ornaments of feathers on the head. Their clothing consisted of a loose gown not unlike a Roman toga. The women were good-looking when very young.
The Campas claimed to be the direct descendants of the Incas. There is no doubt that the Campas were practically the same tribe as the Antis, once a most powerful tribe which inhabited an extensive territory to the north and east of Cuzco. In fact, the eastern portion of the Inca country was once called Anti-Suya. The Campas, or Antis, were formerly ferocious. They are now quite tame, but still retain their cruel countenances, resembling closely those of Polynesians and Malays.
We left that place on January 20th in drenching rain. The river was much swollen, and formed a whirlpool of great magnitude just over some bad rapids. We crossed from mountain-side to mountain-side, some 400 ft. above the stream, in a sling car running along a wire rope. The car consisted of two planks suspended on four pieces of telegraph wire. As the sling had been badly constructed it did not run smoothly along the cable. I had an unpleasant experience—everybody had who used that conveyance—as I was going across from one side to the other of the stream, a distance of some 200 metres or more. The ropes which were used for pulling the car along got badly entangled when I had reached the middle of the passage. The Indians and the Frenchman pulled with violent jerks in order to disentangle them, and caused the car to swing and bump to such an extent that it was all I could do to hold on and not be flung out of it. Having been swung to and fro for the best part of an hour on that primitive arrangement, I was able to proceed on the other side of the stream. Fortunately we had taken the precaution of making the animals cross over the river the previous evening, before it was in flood, or else we should have been held up there for several days. Leaving the Azupizu river, we followed the river Kintoliani, which joined the Azupizu and formed with it a most formidable stream.
The trail was at a great height, some 600 ft. above the water. In two or three places where it had been cut into the rock it was most dangerous, as the rocks were slippery with the wet, so that the mules had great difficulty in keeping their feet. The vegetation was wonderful, with trees of enormous height and beautiful giant palms. Waterfalls over rocky walls were plentiful, while the effects of clouds were marvellous among those mountains—although my enthusiasm was damped a good deal that day by the torrential rain, which came down in bucketfuls upon us, and filtered through even my heavy waterproof coat.
The zigzag ascent was extremely heavy, the first part being over rocky ground, while the rest of that day's journey was along a swampy trail on which the mules stumbled and fell many times. One of my men had a narrow escape from being precipitated down the chasm. So bad, indeed, was the trail that we only went 15 kil., halting at the tambo of Pampas S. Nicolas.
On January 21st we made a long and tedious march, rising all the time among slippery rocks along precipices, or sinking in swampy mud on the narrow trail. Picturesque waterfalls of great height were visible in volcanic vents, some square, others crescent-shaped, on the face of the mountain. The torrents, swollen by the heavy rains, were difficult to cross, my mules on several occasions being nearly swept away by the foaming current. We sank in deep red slush and in deep holes filled with water, but continued all the time to ascend a gentle but continuous incline. We travelled that day from six o'clock in the morning until six o'clock in the evening, rain pouring down upon us all the time. We were simply smothered in mud from head to foot.
We found a large tambo at Camp 93, with a telephone and telegraph station. At those tambos it was always possible to obtain rice, chickens and eggs at reasonable prices, fixed by the Government. In many of the tambos were also rough wooden bedsteads, with a more or less comfortable mattress. I generally preferred to use my own camp-bed. As there were never more than one or two rooms in the tambo, you had to sleep in the same room with other people, unless you preferred to sleep outside, as I did.
For the privilege of sleeping at any tambo, in or out of doors, one paid the small sum of one shilling. A dinner or lunch seldom cost more than two shillings, and breakfast eightpence to one shilling. The food for the animals could be reckoned at one shilling for each mule, the price being higher at the Yessup end of the journey and getting gradually lower as one got nearer the capital.
Of course one could not call travelling over the Andes in any way luxurious. The tablecloths at the tambos showed all round the table the marks of the dirty lips of previous travellers, and plentiful stains of soup, coffee and tea. The illumination consisted usually of a candle placed in the mouth of a bottle, which was used as a candlestick.
I saw more Campas Indians there. They were singing songs strongly resembling Malay melodies, to the accompaniment of Spanish guitars. Other songs influenced by Spanish airs, but still delivered in a typically Malay fashion, were also given that evening. They interested me greatly.
On January 22nd we left Camp 93. I was struck everywhere at those tambos by the great honesty of the Peruvians. I was often touched by the extreme kindness of the people and their considerate manner—although perhaps it was more particularly striking to me after my experience of the brutal behaviour of the lower-class Brazilians. The gentle way of speaking, the more harmonious language—Spanish instead of Portuguese—and the charming civility of the people, made travelling, even under those unpleasant circumstances, quite agreeable.
It was cold, especially at night. Nearly all my instruments had been badly damaged in our many accidents in Brazil, and I was unable to replace them either in Para or Manaos. Owing, therefore, to the lack of self-registering thermometers, I could not keep an accurate daily record of the maximum and minimum temperatures. After leaving Camp 93, we went over a really fearful trail, my mules being all the time chest-deep in mud. It was extremely hard work for the animals to get along. As is well known to any traveller, all animals of a caravan when on a narrow path step in the footprints of their predecessors, so that on that trail they had sunk a long series of deep holes in the soft clay, which were constantly being filled by water sliding from the mountain-side. In that particular part the mud had highly caustic qualities, which burnt the skin and caused irritation each time you were splashed. The muleteers who were walking had their feet badly burnt by it, one man suffering agony from his blistered feet.
Magnificent mountain scenery covered with luxuriant forest surrounded us as the trail wound its way along the high point on the top of the mountain range. We went only 21 kil. that day from Pampas, having occupied seven hours to cover the distance, owing to the difficulties of the march.
In the afternoon we were enveloped in dense fog which lasted the whole night, the cold being quite severe, and the more perceptible because of the humidity in the air. The trail here described a wide detour, which could have easily been avoided had another trail that went direct to New Bermudez been followed at the bottom of the valley. The journey by that lower trail could be accomplished in one day and a half. The elevation by hypsometrical apparatus of this camp (N.71) was 5,663 ft.
On January 23rd we descended rapidly through beautiful forest from Camp 71, where we had halted for the night, to a large tambo called Enenas, in charge of an Italian. The place was situated in a beautiful valley intersected by a streamlet saturated with lime. It looked exactly like milk, and hurt your gums considerably when you drank it. The excellent mule I was riding had unfortunately hurt one of its legs while we were crossing a swollen torrent, where the mule and myself were nearly swept away in the foaming current. Riding on the lame animal, which was all the time stumbling and falling down on its knees, was unpleasant. In the narrow trail it was not possible to unload another animal and change the saddle, and it was out of the question for me to walk.
I arrived at the tambo with a ravenous appetite, but unfortunately nobody had telephoned from the previous tambo that I was coming, so that it was impossible to get lunch, and I had to wait two or three hours before I could get anything to eat at all. The men in charge of the various tambos were rather negligent in telephoning and making arrangements with the next tambo, as the kind of travellers they had on that trail was not of the highest type and could not always be relied upon for payment. The people in charge of the tambos were poor devils, half abrutis, to use a most appropriate French expression, by the life they had to lead in that forlorn country.
On January 24th we continued our journey over horrible deep mud-holes, which made the trail extremely dangerous. On that particular day we were travelling over sticky soil, so that when the mules trod in the deep holes they stuck with their hoofs and fell over, immediately struggling wildly to free themselves. One of my men was nearly thrown down a precipice that day, and all of us, as well as all the pack animals, had many unpleasant falls during that march. Swampy places like that were encountered for hundreds of metres at a time. In one place that day we had two kilometres of continuous swampy mud. In the afternoon I had a nasty fall, the mule rolling right on the top of me and nearly breaking my right leg. The animal in falling had sunk its head in the sticky mud, and was struggling madly to release itself. The animals were then marching chest-deep in mud. In my helpless condition I tried to get off when the animal fell, but sank up to my waist and stuck fast with my legs in the mud. When the mule rolled over, it knocked me down on the edge of the precipice, my leg remaining caught under the animal. Had not one of my muleteers been by my side at the moment and rushed to my rescue, I should have fared badly indeed.
We had a slippery descent after Tambo 33, where we had a lunch composed of putrid tinned salmon and "invisible" eggs—the latter dish being a speciality of that place. The tambo man insisted that I had eaten six eggs, whereas I had not even seen them except on the bill. He told me that I was wrong, showing me a napkin on which two yellow streaks were to be seen—though not left there by me, but by the lips of some traveller who had passed perhaps a month before.
We made a long march that day, having left at seven o'clock in the morning, and arriving at our halting-place at four o'clock in the afternoon.
The next day, January 25th, we had a trying march. Several land-slides had taken place, bringing down great patches of forest. Numberless trees had fallen over, making it difficult for the animals to be taken across. In one place all of them had to be unloaded, and they sank so deeply in the slush and soft earth that we had three or four hours' extremely hard work to cover a distance of about 50 m. The animals became so scared that they would not go on at all. The men who pushed and led them along that dangerous passage with a deep precipice on one side were in constant danger.
The rain, which had been torrential during the night, continued during the entire day, swelling the streams and making them most difficult to cross. In one stream my mule and I were swept away altogether. I had water right up to my waist while riding, and the mule showed only its head above the water. We were thrown with great force against some rocks, where, fortunately, my muleteers came to our help and got us out again.
The trail—about half a metre wide—wound its way up to a great height above the foaming river. There were beautiful ferns of immense height, some of which had finely ribbed, gigantic leaves. Graceful yellow flowers, or sometimes beautiful red ones, were to be seen on tall trees with white, clean stems. We passed a coffee plantation, owned by English people, near a charming settlement of whitewashed houses on the opposite side of the river. When we came to cross the Rio Las Palmas—heavily swollen—we were once more nearly swept away in riding across with water up to our chests. The baggage naturally suffered a good deal in those constant immersions. This was, unfortunately, the wrong season for crossing the Andes; but I could not help that, as I was anxious to get through, and could not wait for the fine weather to come.
Farther on we crossed the river Paucartambo near the Pueblo Pardo. We next followed the Rio Chanchamayo, which afterwards became the Rio Perene, along which extensive English farms had been established. We were now getting near to civilization. I felt that my work was entirely finished, as the country hereabouts was well known.
We came to the Colorado river, a tributary of the Chanchamayo, and passed S. Luiz de Shuaro, a charming little village of whitewashed houses. The scenery was beautiful on nearing La Merced. The river basin showed luxuriant grassy slopes and immense sugar plantations.
La Merced was situated on the left bank of the Rio Chanchamayo, formed by the meeting of the Rio Tulumayo and the Rio Tarma, which joined near the village of S. Ramon. It had two modest hotels and various commercial houses. In a way I was sorry to get to a town again, because in those places you had all the trumpery illusion of civilization without any of its real advantages. One met, however, with the greatest civility from everybody, and, indeed, with the greatest honesty. So that travelling in those regions was quite a pleasure.
To my amazement that evening a burly Italian came into the hotel. Who was he?—Garibaldi's grandson, the son of General Canzio and Garibaldi's daughter. He was interested in some mines in the district, and had lived there for some years trying to make a fortune.
What impressed one most in the settlements on the Andes were the great neatness and cleanliness of all the buildings, and the charming manners of all the people one met. Everybody, without exception, saluted you politely as you approached; everybody was anxious to be of assistance or offer you hospitality. There was, nevertheless, nothing of great interest in those high-placed villages.
On January 26th I went on in a drenching rain, having changed my animals at that place for another lot of excellent mules. The hire of animals was somewhat high, but after the prices one had to pay in Brazil, everything seemed, by comparison, dirt-cheap in Peru. I also said good-bye to the Peruvians who had accompanied me so far, and employed Indians to take charge of my animals.
From La Merced there was a trail from one to three metres wide, cut out in the solid rock and skirting all along the foaming river, which flowed in the opposite direction from that in which we were travelling. In several places narrow tunnels had been excavated in the rock, through which the trail proceeded. These tunnels were dangerous when you encountered caravans of pack animals coming through from the opposite direction. The animals often got jammed in the middle of the tunnel, tearing their loads to pieces in their attempts to disentangle themselves. Once I got jammed myself, and came out minus a patch of skin several inches long from my left shin and knee.
Between La Merced and S. Ramon, a distance of some 10 kil., one had to cross the shaky suspension bridges of La Herreria and S. Ramon. The oscillations of those bridges were so great that it was always a marvel to me that the animals and riders were not precipitated into the river below. The planks of the bridges were in many places so rotten that it was not uncommon for the animals to put their legs right through them. Only one animal at a time could go across, as the bridges were not strong enough to support more.
Farther on we arrived at two more bridges—the Puntayacu and the Rio Seco, one a suspension bridge, the other built of masonry. One met hundreds of Indians upon the trail, in costumes resembling those of the Calabrese of Italy. The men wore heavy woollen hand-knitted stockings up to their knees, or else over their trousers, white leggings left open behind as far down as the knee. Round felt hats were worn by the women, who were garbed in bright blue or red petticoats, very full and much pleated, but quite short. Red was the favourite colour for the shawl which they threw round the body and over the shoulders.
When we proceeded the next morning the heat in the low valley was stifling. The scenery continued to be beautiful, with magnificent waterfalls and torrents flowing down at a steep angle among rocks.
I stopped for the night at the charming little hotel of Huacapistana, situated at a lower level than the road in a most picturesque narrow valley, on the right bank of the Tarma River. The distance between La Merced and Huacapistana was about 35 kil.
Between Huacapistana and Tarma the track was excellent. We went through the Carpapata tunnel, 184 m. long—very dark and narrow, and extremely dangerous if you happened to meet pack animals in the middle. The scenery was enchanting and the vegetation wonderful until, 20 kil. farther, I entered, by a magnificent avenue of eucalyptus trees, the most picturesque town of the higher Andes, Tarma. The narrow, neat streets were paved with cobble-stones. All the houses were painted white, and had red-tiled roofs. The streets swarmed with quaintly attired Indians and tidily dressed Peruvians. There were many Italians and Spaniards in Tarma. Two or three hotels existed here—a capital one, actually lighted by electric light, being kept by a most honest Italian. The elevation of Tarma, taken by the hypsometrical apparatus, was 10,034 ft.
I left Tarma on January 29th, following a well-cultivated valley, fairly thickly inhabited. We were travelling over a good mule-track, swarming with Indians, donkeys, mules, and horses. The mud houses and land on either side were enclosed by hedges of cacti, or by walls. We were between barren mountains of a brownish colour, against which the quaint, brightly-coloured costumes of the many people on the road were thrown out in vivid contrast. Most of the houses were constructed of large mud bricks, sun-dried. The crops seemed to consist chiefly of Indian corn. As we went farther, among dark brown rocks and limestone, we came to grottoes and rock habitations. At some remote period there must have been a great upheaval in that country—at least, judging by the sedimentary foliated rock, the strata of which were from one to three feet thick, and which had originally been deposited horizontally by water. These accumulations or sediments now stood up at an angle of 45 deg.. We were now in a region where llamas were plentiful—most delightful animals, with their pointed ears pricked up, their luxuriant coats, and stumpy curled tails.
We came to a steep ascent over a high pass, where the cold wind was fierce. On reaching the pass I found myself on a grassy plateau in which were to be seen two circles of stones by the side of each other.
The partition of the waters flowing into the River Mantaro and the River Tarma took place at the point called Ricran, not far from the high pass we had crossed. It was always advisable when taking the journey between Tarma and Oroya to start early in the morning, so as to be on that pass before noon. In the afternoon the wind was intensely cold and frequently accompanied by violent storms of hail and rain.
I arrived in the evening at Oroya, the distance from Tarma being 30 kil. 236 m. The journey between the two places could be accomplished on a good mule in five or six hours. Oroya was an important point for me, as it was there that I saw the first railway since leaving Araguary in Brazil nearly a year before.
Oroya is perhaps one of the highest railway stations in the world, its accurate elevation by boiling-point thermometers being 12,156 ft.
The town, like all termini of railway lines, was not an attractive place. There were two or three hotels, all extremely bad. One began to feel the effects of civilization in the dishonesty of the people.
Early the next morning, thanks to arrangements made by Mr. D. T. Lee, I was allowed to take the journey to Lima in a "gravity car," in the company of the engineer, Mr. Beverley R. Mayer, instead of by the usual train, which ran twice a week. Of course it was only possible to go by "gravity car" from the highest point of the railway, which is not at Oroya, but at the tunnel of Galera, 5,356 m. (17,572 ft.) above the sea-level as measured by the railway surveyors.
The scenery was magnificent on that railway. Having gone through the Galera tunnel, Mr. Mayer and I got on the small "gravity car," keeping all the time just in front of the train. It was quite an exciting journey, the incline being so great that we soon acquired a vertiginous speed—in fact, too much, because our brakes would not act any more. With the snow and rain the rails had become so slippery that we went sliding down at the most alarming pace. Nor did I feel particularly happy at having the train only a few hundred metres behind us. Whenever we got to a station, we had to get off quickly and get our car off the rails to give room to the incoming train. The cold was intense.
The geological formation of the Andes in that particular region was remarkable, and more remarkable still was the British engineering triumph of constructing a railway from the sea to so high an elevation. In one or two places there were iron bridges of great height and ingenious construction. You felt a curious sensation as you flew over those bridges on the tiny car, and you saw between the rails the chasm underneath you; nor did you feel extraordinarily comfortable when, hundreds of feet down, down below, at the bottom of one chasm, you saw a railway engine which had leapt the rails and lay upside down in the middle of a foaming torrent.
Naturally, in building a mountain railway of that type, a great many curves and zigzags were necessary, many of those curves taking place inside tunnels. Along the railway rivers have been switched off through tunnels within the mountain, and produced picturesque cascades where they came out again.
The geological surprises were continual. Next to mountains with perfectly horizontal strata you saw other mountains with strata in a vertical position, especially in the limestone formation. Farther down immense superposed terraces were to be noticed upon the mountain side, evidently made by the ancient dwellers of that country for the cultivation of their inhospitable land.
This interested me greatly. I had seen among the Igorrotes or head-hunters of the island of Luzon, in the Philippine Archipelago, that same method of irrigation, by collecting the water from a high point on the mountain side in order to irrigate consecutively the series of terraces. Not only was I struck by the fact of finding so unusual a method of cultivation at two points of the globe so far apart, but I was even more impressed by the wonderful resemblance in type between the local natives and the inhabitants of the northern island of the Philippines. Undoubtedly these people came from the same stock.
Where we stopped at the different stations there was always something interesting to observe—now the hundreds of llamas which had conveyed goods to the railway; at one place the numberless sacks of ore waiting to be taken to the coast; at another the tall active chimneys of the smelters, which suggested industry on a large scale. I took a number of photographs under difficulties on that journey down the Andes.
At 7.30 p.m. on January 30th, 1912, I arrived safely at Lima, a distance of 222 kil. from Oroya. The total distance from Iquitos to Lima over the Andes was 2,079 kil., which distance I had performed in the record time of one month, the time generally occupied by the usual travellers being from fifty to seventy days.
From Lima I proceeded early the next morning to Callao, the port for Lima, a few kilometres farther, where at La Punta I touched the Pacific Ocean, thus ending my trans-continental journey from Rio de Janeiro, with its zigzags and deviations, 22,000 kil. in length, or 13,750 miles.
I was already in better health when I reached Lima. The violent changes of climate from the hot valley of the Amazon to the snows of the Andes, and from there to the sea-coast, had had a beneficial effect upon me. The attack of beri-beri from which I had been suffering was gradually passing away, my right foot, by the time I reached Lima, having slowly got back almost to its normal size, although my toes were still atrophied. It is well known that there is no better cure for beri-beri than sea air.
The Peruvian Corporation Railway—The Land of the Incas—Lake Titicaca—Bolivia—Chile—The Argentine—A Last Narrow Escape—Back in England
LIMA is a beautiful city, as everybody knows. Its wonderful churches, its clean streets, its commerce, the great charm of the people—indeed, the Peruvians are the most cultivated and polished people in South America, and the women the most beautiful—make it one of the most attractive cities I visited on that continent.
I was, nevertheless, anxious to return quickly to Europe. I had no strength left. The mental strain on that long journey had been so great that I had lost my memory altogether.
Owing to the great kindness of the British Minister, Mr. C. des Graz, and of Mr. Mockill, the chief of the Peruvian Corporation at Lima, arrangements were made for me to travel in luxurious comfort through the country of the Incas—so that, although terribly exhausted, I decided to take a further journey in the interior of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
I left Lima five days after my arrival, on February 5th, going by steamer to the port of Mollendo, where I arrived on February 7th. There I met the railway line of the Peruvian Corporation from the sea coast to Arequipa and Cuzco. A magnificent private car had been placed at my disposal by the Peruvian Corporation, in which I was able to make myself comfortable for the several days which the journey lasted. Not only so, but the Peruvian Corporation kindly looked after my welfare in a most thoughtful way during the whole time I travelled on their line, for which I am indeed extremely grateful, as the travelling in that country would have otherwise been less pleasant.
The railroad from Mollendo went along the coast among curious eroded rocks of great interest; then gradually left the sea among sand-dunes and mounds upon the wide beach.
As the railway began to get higher and higher upon the steep gradient the scenery became more and more beautiful. Presently we found ourselves overlooking a wonderful flat valley between two high hill ranges in lovely green patches, cut with geometrical precision, and well cultivated. Giant cacti of the candelabrum type were plentiful. Farther on we got upon an elevated plateau with a white surface of pumice-stone, followed by red volcanic sand—an immense stretch of country surrounded by low hills of grey tufa and red volcanic rock.
Beyond that we came to a most interesting region of sand-dunes of extraordinary shapes, where the under soil was of a brilliant red, while the sand accumulations were of a grey colour. Some of the dunes were crescent-shaped. They stood usually in sets or rows extending from north-west to south-east. Then there were high mounds, also of sand, and dunes of all kinds, some with a double crescent, or with the inside of the crescent much indented, others with multiple concave curves. The concavity of all those dunes was on the north-east side.
I had seen a similar formation of dunes in the Salt Desert of Persia; also in the south-western desert of Afghanistan and in the northern desert of Beluchistan; but I do not remember ever having seen such a perfect formation of dunes as that to be seen in this part of Peru.
Beyond that sandy zone we had before us a red plateau with fluted sides. Great mounds of blackened volcanic sand were quite frequent, the railway winding its way around immense basins formed by depressions in the land. Then we entered a beautiful green narrow valley along a streamlet intersecting the plateau.
From Mollendo the railway gradually rose to an elevation of 2,301 m. (7,549 ft.) at Arequipa, where I remained for the night.
Arequipa was an interesting city with its picturesque arcades, its magnificent church of Spanish architecture with marvellous ancient wood carvings, and its prettily-laid-out gardens. I visited the astronomical observatory of Harvard College, a few miles from the town, where excellent work is being done in star photography from that eminently suitable spot for the study of the sky. The observatory was situated at an elevation of 8,060 ft. It worked in conjunction with the Harvard observatory in North America. By having thus one station north and another south of the equator, the observations made by that institution included the stars in all parts of the sky from the North to the South Pole. A 24-inch Bruce photographic telescope, a 13-inch Boyden telescope, an 8-inch Bache telescope, and a 4-inch meridian photometer were the principal instruments used at the Arequipa station.
I left Arequipa on the morning of February 9th, going through country of volcanic tufa and red sand, with immense furrows quite devoid of vegetation. Occasionally we came upon great masses of boulders cast by some volcanic force upon the surface of tufa and sand. Then the railway gracefully climbed in great curves over a plateau nearly 14,000 ft. high, where tufts of grass could be seen, giving a greenish appearance to the landscape.
We travelled along that great table-land, occasionally seeing a herd of llamas stampede away at the approach of the train, now and then observing circular stone walls erected by shepherds as shelters. A gable-roofed hut was occasionally seen. Picturesque natives in their ponchos and red or yellow scarves gazed, astonished, at the train throbbing along slowly upon the steep gradient of that elevated barren country. The cold seemed intense after the tropical heat of Lima. It was snowing hard. In the daytime I generally travelled seated in front of the engine, in order to have a better view of the landscape. In the train everybody suffered from soroche or mountain-sickness, which attacked most people when brought up quickly by the railway from the sea to such high elevations. I was driven away from the front of the engine by the cold rain and sleet beating with great force into my face, and obscuring the landscape to such an extent that I could see nothing at all.
When it cleared up we were travelling in a region of marshes and pools in the lowest point of depressions, then along a magnificent lake with green and brown fantastically-shaped mountains and hills in the foreground, and a high snowy range in the background. The effects of light when the storm was raging over the lake, with its conical and semi-spherical islands dotting the water, were intensely picturesque.