Travels in Peru, on the Coast, in the Sierra, Across the Cordilleras and the Andes, into the Primeval Forests
by J. J. von Tschudi
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In former times the Indian sorcerers, when they pretended to transport themselves into the presence of their deities, drank the juice of the thorn-apple, in order to work themselves into a state of ecstasy. Though the establishment of Christianity has weaned the Indians from their idolatry, yet it has not banished their old superstitions. They still believe that they can hold communications with the spirits of their ancestors, and that they can obtain from them a clue to the treasures concealed in the huacas, or graves; hence the Indian name of the thorn-apple—huacacachu, or grave plant.

A few miles beyond Matucanas there is a lateral valley, larger and more pleasant than the principal valley. It is called the Quebrada de Viso, and is watered by a little stream. At the point where this Quebrada forms a junction with the principal valley is situated the Tambo de Viso. It is 9100 feet above the level of the sea.[61] At this tambo the traveller may find a tolerable night's lodging for himself, and fodder for his horse. Here the river is crossed by a bridge, and the road then proceeds along the left bank of the river, after having been on the right bank all the way from Lima. The bridges across these mountain streams are always constructed at points where the river is most contracted by the narrow confines of the ravine. They consist merely of a few poles made of the trunk of the Maguay-tree (Agave Americana), and connected together by transverse ropes; the ropes being overlaid with twisted branches and pieces of hoops. These bridges are not more than three feet broad, and have no balustrades. When the space between the banks of the river is too long for the Maguay stems, strong ropes made of twisted ox-hides are substituted. In crossing these bridges accidents frequently happen, owing to the hoofs of the horses and mules getting entangled in the plaited branches along the pathway. A little way beyond San Mateo I narrowly escaped being precipitated, with my mule, into the rocky chasm forming the bed of the river.

The road between Viso and San Mateo, a distance of about three leagues, is exceedingly difficult and dangerous. The ravine becomes narrowed to a mere cleft, between walls of mountain rising on either side to the height of more than a thousand feet; sometimes perpendicularly, and at other times inclining inwards, so as to form gigantic arches. The path runs along the base of these mountains, washed by the foaming waves of the stream; or it winds up the side of the precipice, over huge fragments of rock, which, being loosened by the rain, afford no secure footing for the heavily laden mules. Frequently these loosened blocks give way, and roll down into the valley. The journey from Viso to San Mateo is associated in my mind with the recollection of a most mortifying accident. A mass of rock, such as I have just described, gave way, and rolling down the precipice, hurled one of my mules into the foaming abyss. My most valuable instruments, a portion of my collections, my papers, and—to me an irreparable loss—a diary carefully and conscientiously kept for the space of fourteen months, were in a moment buried in the river. Two days afterward the current washed the dead mule ashore at Matucanas, but its load was irrecoverably lost.

Every year many beasts of burthen, and even travellers, perish on this road. In the Tambo de Viso I met an officer who, with two of his sons, was coming from the Sierra. He had placed the youngest before him, and the other, a boy of ten years of age, was seated on the mule's crupper. When they were within about half a league from Viso, a huge mass of rock, rolling down from the mountain, struck the elder boy, and hurled him into the river. The afflicted father was anxiously seeking to recover the body of his lost child.

San Mateo is on the right bank of the river, and is the largest village in this valley. It corresponds in situation with Culluay in the Quebrada of Canta; as Matucanas corresponds with the village of Obrajillo. San Mateo is 10,947 feet above the level of the sea.[62] The soil produces abundance of potatoes, Ocas (Oxalis tuberosa) and Ullucas (Tropaeolum tuberosum). Maize ripens here perfectly, but the heads are small. The lucerne is also small, but very abundant; it is very much exposed to injury from the frost, and is only good for use during the five rainy months of the year. Five hundred feet higher, that is to say, about 11,500 feet above the sea, is the boundary elevation for the growth of lucerne.

The spirit of hospitality, so generally prevalent among the Sierra Indians, does not seem to animate the Cholos of San Mateo. Their manners are rude and reserved, and they are very distrustful of strangers. As soon as a traveller enters the village, the Alcade and the Rejidores make their appearance, and demand his passport. If he cannot produce it, he may possibly be put upon a donkey, and conducted to the nearest Prefect, or may moreover run the risk of being ill-treated. But, fortunately, it is easy to escape such annoyances. Any scrap of printed or written paper will answer for a passport, as it rarely happens that either the Alcade or the Rejidores can read. On one occasion when my passport was demanded, I discovered I had lost it. Fortunately, I had in my pocket a bit of waste paper, which I had used instead of wadding in loading my gun. I ventured at all hazards to hand it to the Indian Rejidor, who having unfolded it stared very gravely at the words Lucia di Lammermoor, which he saw printed in large characters. It was the bill of the opera I had attended a few evenings before my departure from Lima. After examining the bill very attentively, and then scanning me very narrowly, the Rejidor returned the paper, with the observation that the passport was quite correct.

From San Mateo the road runs for half a league through a gloomy ravine; and then suddenly takes a steep ascent up the side of the mountain, over fragments of stones, lying one above another like flights of steps. The stream dashes from rock to rock, covering the narrow path with foam, and washing away the blocks of stone which, in some of the most dangerous parts, serve as barriers along the edge of the precipice. On this road long trains of mules are frequently met coming from the Sierra. The traveller, at their approach, seeks some little recess into which he may creep, and there stand closely jammed against the mountain until the train passes by. This is attended by great loss of time, owing to the slow and cautious pace at which the mules proceed. On such a rencounter in a narrow mountain path, I was once obliged to wait for several hours, whilst two hundred mules passed by; and at the spot where I and my horse stood, the laden animals had scarcely space sufficient to set down their feet at the very edge of the pathway. In some places it is perfectly impossible either to go on one side or to turn back; and when horses or mules meet at these difficult points, one of the animals is obliged to plunge into the stream, before the other can have room to pass. The numerous curvatures of the road, and the projecting masses of mountain, render it impossible to see advancing objects in sufficient time to avoid collision.

After having passed this difficult tract, which is called by the natives Cacray, we reach the summit of the acclivity down which the mountain stream descends. Here the valley presents quite the Sierra character. It is no longer confined within steep and rugged mountain walls, but runs in undulating contours along the bases of the hills, and gently ascends eastward towards the principal chain of the Cordillera. The road is sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left bank of the river. Two leagues beyond San Mateo lies Chicla, a miserable Indian village, which, according to Maclean's calculation, is 12,712 feet above sea level. In some of the more sheltered parts barley is planted; but it does not ripen, and is merely used as fodder (Alcazer). Chicla is the last place in this valley where the soil is in any degree capable of cultivation. Half a league further on, there are a few scattered Indian huts, called the village of Acchahuari. One of these huts is a tambo, which can never be forgotten by any unfortunate traveller who may have taken up his abode in it. Necessity several times compelled me to seek a night's lodging in this horrible tambo; but I never could remain in it till morning; and even amidst snow or rain I have been glad to get out, and take up my resting-place on the outside of the door. The hostess is a dirty old Indian woman, assisted by her daughter; and the hut is filthy beyond description. For supper, the old woman cooks a vile mess called Chupe, consisting of potatoes and water, mixed with Spanish pepper; but it is so dirtily prepared, that nothing but the most deadly hunger would induce any one to taste it. The beds consist of sheep-skins spread on the damp floor; and one bedchamber serves for the hostess, her daughter, her grandchildren, and the travellers; an immense woollen counterpane or blanket being spread over the whole party. But woe to the unwary traveller who trusts himself in this dormitory! He soon finds himself surrounded by enemies from whose attacks it is impossible to escape; for the hut is infested with vermin. Even should he withdraw into a corner, and make a pillow of his saddle, the annoyance pursues him. Add to all this a stifling smoke, and all sorts of mephitic exhalations, and troops of guinea-pigs who run about during the whole night, and gambol over the faces and bodies of the sleepers,—and it may readily be conceived how anxiously the traveller looks for the dawn of morning, when he may escape from the horrors of this miserable tambo. Acchahuari is 13,056 feet above the sea level. The climate is very ungenial. During the winter months, rain and snow fall without intermission; and even during the summer, heavy drifts of snow are not unfrequent. From April to July, the medium temperature during the night is 4 deg. R.

After passing Cacray the diminished atmospheric pressure begins to produce an effect on coast horses which have not been accustomed to travel in the Sierra. They are attacked with a malady called the veta, which shows itself by difficulty of breathing and trembling. The animals are frequently so overpowered that they are unable either to move or stand, and if they are not immediately unsaddled and allowed to rest they perish. The arrieros consider bleeding a cure for this malady. They sometimes slit the horse's nostrils, a remedy which is probably efficacious, as it enables the animal to inhale the air freely. Chopped garlic put into the nostrils is supposed to be a preventive of the veta. Mules are less liable to the malady probably because they ascend the acclivities more slowly than horses. The disease does not attack the native horses of the Sierra, for which reason they are better than the coast horses for mountain travelling. Mules, however, are preferable to either. It is wonderful with what tact and penetration the mule chooses his footing. When he doubts the firmness of the ground he passes his muzzle over it, or turns up the loose parts with his hoof before he ventures to step forward. When he finds himself getting into soft and marshy ground he stands stock still, and refuses to obey either stirrup or whip. If by accident he sinks into a morass, he makes a halt, and waits very contentedly until he receives assistance. But in spite of all this sagacity the traveller will not do well to resign himself wholly to the guidance of his mule. In ordinary cases these animals allow themselves to be guided, and sometimes they appear to think it more safe to trust to the bridle than to themselves. One of my mules frequently gave me curious proofs of this sort of calculation. When, in very difficult parts of the road, I dismounted, in order to walk and lead him by the bridle, I found it impossible to get the animal to move either by force or persuasion. He spread out his legs, fixed his hoofs firmly into the ground, and obstinately resisted all my endeavors to make him move. But as soon as I remounted he willingly obeyed every movement of the bridle. With this mule I could ride through marshes, which I could never do with any other. He appeared to reflect that, as I only dismounted when the road was unsafe, his life was in no less danger than mine.

About a league beyond Acchahuari the valley is bounded by the principal chain of the Cordillera. The ascent may be gained by two different roads. One, the steeper of the two, runs southward, across the Piedra Parada; the other, on which the ascent is somewhat easier, takes an easterly direction, over Antarangra. We will first trace the latter course, which is the most frequented. At the extremity of the valley, and twenty-eight leagues from the capital, is situated the last village, Cashapalca, 13,236 feet above the sea. Its inhabitants are chiefly employed in mining. Formerly, vast quantities of silver were obtained here. But most of the mines are now either under water or exhausted, and the village, with its mine works, has dwindled into insignificance. Beyond Cashapalca there is a tract of marshy ground, which being passed, a narrow winding road of about two leagues leads up the acclivity. The soil is clayey, and thinly bestrewed with alpine grass, intermingled with syngenesious and cruciferous plants. Two plants which are called by the natives mala yerba and garban zillos, and are a deadly poison to mules and horses, grow in great abundance here. The numerous skeletons of beasts of burthen seen along the road bear evidence of the fatal effects of those plants. Higher up the ascent the vegetation becomes more and more scanty, until at length it entirely disappears, and nothing is visible but the barren rock of the Sierra highlands.

The last division of acclivity is called by the natives the Antarangra (copper rock). On it there is a small heap of stones, which I shall describe by and by, and a cross made of the stems of the Baccharis. From this point the traveller catches a distant glimpse of the heaven-towering summit of the Cordillera.

I speedily mounted the ascent, and reached the goal of my journey. Here I found myself disappointed in the expectation I had formed of commanding an uninterrupted view over boundless space and distance. The prospect is greatly circumscribed by numerous rocky elevations, which spring up in every direction. The mountain passes running across the ridge of the Cordillera are bounded on all sides by rocks, sometimes not very high, but at other times rising to the elevation of 1000 feet. The pass of Antarangra (also called Portachuelo del Tingo, or Pachachaca) is 15,600 above the sea.[63] Nevertheless it is, during a great part of the year, free from snow. Scarcely a quarter of a league further northward are the eternal glaciers, and they are several hundred feet lower than the Pass. That the Pass itself is not permanently covered with snow is a circumstance which may probably be accounted for by the direction of the atmospheric currents. The east winds penetrate into the deep recesses of the valleys, which are sheltered against the cold south wind by the adjacent mountain ridge. The passes have a gloomy character, and the rugged grandeur of the surrounding country presents an aspect of chaotic wildness and disorder. The ground is covered with huge masses of rock; and the ungenial fruitless soil is shunned alike by plants and animals. The thin tendrils of a lichen, here and there twining on a damp mass of stone, are the only traces of life. Yet the remains of human industry and activity are everywhere observable. On all sides are seen the deep cavities which formed the entrances to the now exhausted mines. These cavities are sometimes situated at elevated points of the almost inaccessible walls of rock, and are occasionally found in the level part of the valley, and close on the roadway. Instances have occurred of travellers being killed by falling into these holes, when they have been covered by thick falls of snow.

It is curious to observe, on the Pass of Antarangra, the partition of the waters flowing into the two great oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific. Scarcely thirty paces distant from each other there are two small lagunas. That situated most to the west is one of the sources of the Rio de San Mateo, which, under the name of the Rimac, falls into the Pacific. The other laguna, that to the eastward, sends its waters through a succession of small mountain lakes into the Rio de Pachachaca, a small tributary to the mighty Amazon river. It is amusing to take a cup of water from the one laguna and pour it into the other. I could not resist indulging this whim; and in so doing I thought I might possibly have sent into the Pacific some drops of the water destined for the Atlantic. But the whim, puerile as it may be, nevertheless suggests serious reflections on the mighty power of nature, which has thrown up these stupendous mountains from the bosom of the earth; and also on the testaceous animals found on these heights, memorials of the time when the ocean flowed over their lofty summits.

From the ridge the road runs eastward along a branch of the principal mountain chain. This branch forms the southern boundary of a gently-sloping valley. The declivity is terrace-formed, and on each terrace there is a small clear lake. This series of lakes is called Huascacocha (the chain of lakes). In their waters, as in most of the mountain rivers, there is found in great numbers a small species of shad-fish (Pygidium dispar, Tsch.). They are caught during the night in nets, or by lines, to which the bait is fastened by small cactus-thorns.

The third in the series of the lagunas is called Morococha (the colored lake). On its banks some buildings have been constructed, for the smelting of copper ore. The mines which yield this metal are on the southern declivity, close to the road leading down from the Cordillera. Formerly these mines were worked for silver, but were not found very productive of that metal. Now they are again actively worked, and copper is obtained from them. The working of the Peruvian copper mines has hitherto been much neglected, though copper ore is exceedingly abundant.

The road from Morococha to Pachachaca is very uniform. The latter village, which is situated 12,240 feet above the level of the sea, was formerly a place of much greater importance than it now is. In its neighborhood there are a number of spacious buildings constructed at the time of the unfortunate English mining speculation. Most of them are only half finished. At the entrance of the village there is a large hacienda. In some of the apartments the flooring is of wood; a thing seldom seen in these parts, where the wood for such purposes must be brought from the eastern declivity of the Andes: the difficulty and expense attending this transport are so considerable, that a wooden floor is a great rarity in the habitations of the Cordillera. A mine belonging to the hacienda is situated five leagues north-west of Pachachaca, and yields rich silver ore; but a great part of it is at present under water, and its drainage would be a very difficult undertaking.

Returning to the point where the two roads across the Cordillera separate at Cashapalca, we will now trace the route by way of Piedra Parada. This way is shorter than that by Antarangra, but the ascents are much steeper. The first objects met with by the traveller on this road are some Indian huts, called yauliyacu, and the ruined hacienda of San Rafael. These being passed, the ascent continues over broken masses of rock. About 15,200 feet above the sea there is a huge block of mountain, called the Piedra Parada, close against which a chapel was formerly erected; the mountain forming the back wall of the structure. Now there is merely an iron cross, fixed on the upper part of the block of mountain. On this spot the Archbishop used formerly to celebrate mass, when he was on his rounds through the diocese. The chapel was destroyed by lightning, and has not been rebuilt. The pass of the Piedra Parada is 16,008 feet above the sea, and is always covered with snow. Travellers frequently lose their way in this pass, an accident which befel me in March, 1842, when I was proceeding alone by that route. Being overtaken by a violent fall of snow, I could scarcely see a few paces before me. After wandering about for several hours, my horse became weary, and I began to despair of extricating myself from the dreary plains of snow. Late in the evening I reached a little valley, where, sheltered by some rocks, I passed the night. On the following morning I renewed my journey, and after considerable exertion I arrived at an Indian hut, where I obtained such directions as enabled me to recover the right course.

The eastern declivity of the Pass of Piedra Parada is steeper than that of Huascacocha. After a difficult ride of about two leagues, we reach first the valley, and then the village of Yauli. The village lies at the height of 13,100 feet above the sea, and consists of about one hundred and fifty miserable huts, affording habitations for between twelve and fourteen thousand Indians, most of whom are employed in mining.

The Cordillera, in the neighborhood of Yauli, is exceedingly rich in lead ore, containing silver. Within the circuit of a few miles, above eight hundred shafts have been made, but they have not been found sufficiently productive to encourage extensive mining works. The difficulties which impede mine-working in these parts are caused chiefly by the dearness of labor and the scarcity of fuel. There being a total want of wood, the only fuel that can be obtained consists of the dried dung of sheep, llamas, and huanacus. This fuel is called taquia. It produces a very brisk and intense flame, and most of the mine-owners prefer it to coal. The process of smelting, as practised by the Indians, though extremely rude and imperfect, is nevertheless adapted to local circumstances. All European attempts to improve the system of smelting in these districts have either totally failed, or in their results have proved less effective than the simple Indian method. Complicated furnaces made after European models are exceedingly expensive, whilst the natives can construct theirs at the cost of fifty or sixty dollars each. These Indian furnaces can, moreover, be easily erected in the vicinity of the mines, and when the metal is not very abundant the furnaces may be abandoned without any great sacrifice. For the price of one European furnace the Indians may build more than a dozen, in each of which, notwithstanding the paucity of fuel, a considerably greater quantity of metal may be smelted than in one of European construction.

About half a league beyond Yauli there are upwards of twenty mineral springs, all situated within a circuit of a quarter of a mile. Several of them contain saline properties. One is called the Hervidero (the whirlpool). It is in the form of a funnel, and at its upper part is between ten and twelve feet diameter. Its surface is covered with foam. The temperature of the water is only 7 deg. C. higher than the atmosphere. Some of these springs are tepid and sulphuric; and the temperature of one of them is as high as 89 deg. C. Near some of the springs quadrangular basins have been constructed for baths, which are said to be very efficacious in cutaneous and rheumatic complaints. The climate of Yauli is exceedingly rigorous. In summer the medium temperature of the night is 8 deg. C., but the days are mild. In winter, on the other hand, the night is +1 deg. C., and the day scarcely +3 deg. C., as the sky is continually overhung with thick clouds, which disperse themselves in continual falls of snow. I passed several weeks in Yauli and in the wild country around it, and during that time I made many valuable additions to my natural history collection.

The distance between Yauli and Pachachaca is two leagues. The road descends gently along the right bank of the Rio de Yauli, which forms the principal source of the Rio de Oroya. In this direction, as well as in other parts adjacent to Yauli, there are numerous remains of mining works, formerly the property of Portuguese. These works were destroyed at the time of the persecution of the Portuguese in Peru, when the consul, Juan Bautista, was hanged by the Inquisition, in Lima. Over those events there hangs a veil of mystery, which will probably never be removed. The Portuguese were the most powerful and intelligent mine-owners in Peru, and their prosperity excited the envy of the Spanish viceroy. A number of Portuguese emigrants, who came from Brazil, to settle in the Peruvian province of Maynas, furnished the viceroy with a ground of complaint, real or pretended. He set forth that the Portuguese of the eastern parts of South America intended to make themselves masters of Peru, and conjointly with the Inquisition he commenced coercive measures against them. Their consul was accused of heresy, condemned and hanged, and the emigrants were pursued and put to death. Some of them escaped into the forests, where they were massacred by the Indians, and only a very few succeeded in getting back to Brazil. Many of the wealthy Portuguese mine-owners, seeing the danger that threatened them, sank their vast treasures in lakes, or buried them in retired places in the plains. These treasures consisted chiefly of smelted ore and silver coin, and only a very small portion was afterwards discovered. Thus were these active and intelligent mine-owners sacrificed, either to a chimerical and unfounded suspicion, or to a feeling of avarice, which, after all, failed in attaining its object. The consequences were disastrous to the country. Peruvian mining has never recovered the prosperity which it enjoyed under the management of the Portuguese.

Between Yauli and Pachachaca the way is difficult, and without an accurate knowledge of the route, the traveller is likely to lose his way, and may even incur the danger of sinking in the marshes which spread along the bank of the river. From Pachachaca a broad and gentle sloping valley conducts to La Oroya, a distance of about three leagues. In the range of mountains forming the southern boundary of this valley, the river winds its way through deep ravines. About half a league from Pachachaca there is a ford where the road divides; one division passing over the steep mountains of Yanaclara to Jauja, and the other running into the wild valleys of Huayhuay. Midway between Pachachaca and La Oroya there is a small, miserable Indian village called Saco, which is seldom visited by travellers, as it is difficult to procure in it the commonest necessaries of food. In this place there is a natural bridge across the river, which has worked out a bed for itself beneath the rocks. At several points along the course of this river I observed similar bridges of rock, but this one only is passable for horses.

La Oroya lies on the left bank of the river of that name, and communicates with the right bank by means of a large hanging bridge (Puente de Soga). These bridges are composed of four ropes (sogas) made of twisted cow-hide, and about the thickness of a man's arm. The four ropes are connected together by thinner ones of the same material, fastened over them transversely. The whole is covered with branches, straw, and roots of the Agave tree. On either side, a rope rather more than two feet above the bridge serves as a balustrade. The sogas are fastened on each bank of the river by piles, or riveted into the rock. During the long continuous rains these bridges become loose and require to be tightened; but they are always lower in the middle than at the ends, and when passengers are crossing them they swing like hammocks. It requires some practice, and a very steady head, to go over the soga bridges unaccompanied by a Puentero.[64] However strongly made, they are not durable; for the changeableness of the weather quickly rots the ropes, which are made of untanned leather. They frequently require repairing, and travellers have sometimes no alternative but to wait for several days until a bridge is passable, or to make a circuit of 20 or 30 leagues. The Puente de Soga of Oroya is fifty yards long, and one and a half broad. It is one of the largest in Peru; but the bridge across the Apurimac, in the province of Ayacucho, is nearly twice as long, and it is carried over a much deeper gulf.

Another curious kind of bridge is that called the Huaro. It consists of a thick rope extending over a river or across a rocky chasm. To this rope are affixed a roller, and a strong piece of wood formed like a yoke, and by means of two smaller ropes, this yoke is drawn along the thick rope which forms the bridge. The passenger who has to cross the Huaro is tied to the yoke, and grasps it firmly with both hands. His feet, which are crossed one over the other, rest on the thick rope, and the head is held as erectly as possible. All these preliminaries being completed, an Indian, stationed on the opposite side of the river or chasm, draws the passenger across the Huaro. This is altogether the most disagreeable and dangerous mode of conveyance that can possibly be conceived. If the rope breaks, an accident of no unfrequent occurrence, the hapless traveller has no chance of escaping with life, for being fastened, he can make no effort to save himself. Horses and mules are driven by the Indians into the river, and are made to swim across it, in doing which they frequently perish, especially when being exhausted by a long journey, they have not strength to contend against the force of the current.

The village of Oroya, about a quarter of a mile from the bridge, is built on a declivity, and according to Maclean's calculation is 12,010 feet above the level of the sea. It contains fifty-one miserable huts, which are the habitations of about two hundred Indians. From Oroya several roads branch off into the different mountain districts. The most frequented is that over the level height of Cachi-Cachi to Jauja. Along this road there are extensive tracts of ground covered with calcareous petrifactions. Another road leading to Tarma passes by the ancient Inca fortress Huichay. A third, and much frequented road is that by way of Huaypacha, and from thence to Junin and Cerro de Pasco.


[Footnote 52: All these calculations are by English feet.]

[Footnote 53: Jardine and Selby's Annals of Natural History.]

[Footnote 54: Nivelacion barometrica desde el Callao hasta Pasco, por el camino de Obrajillo, y desde el mismo lugar hasta la capital por via de Tarma, hecha y calculada por Mariano Eduardo Rivero y Usturitz in Memorial de Ciencias naturales, &c.]

[Footnote 55: Darwin's Journal, p. 350]

[Footnote 56: The Spaniards term this plant Una de gato (Cat's-claw), the stalk being furnished with hooked thorns resembling claws.]

[Footnote 57: For further information relative to this disease, see my communication to Wunderlich and Roser's "Archiv fuer Physiologische Heilkunde."]

[Footnote 58: See page 153.]

[Footnote 59: By a nail is lost a shoe, by a shoe a horse, and by a horse a rider.]

[Footnote 60: According to Maclean, the elevation of Matucanas is 8026 feet above the level of the sea. I presume that this calculation refers to the village itself, which is situated about the eighth of a league from the tambo, and lies much lower.]

[Footnote 61: According to Maclean's calculation, the Tambo de Viso is 9072 feet above the sea.]

[Footnote 62: Maclean states the elevation to be 10,984 feet above the sea. Rivero makes it 9570, and Gay 10,408 feet. Gay's is the only measurement which in any manner corresponds with mine and Maclean's. In general Gay's calculations are between 600 and 800 feet higher than ours.]

[Footnote 63: Maclean makes it 15,543 feet; Gay, 15,924 feet; and Rivero, only 14,608 feet above the level of the sea.]

[Footnote 64: The Puenteros (Bridge Guides) are Indians who assist travellers in crossing these dangerous bridges.]


The Cordillera and the Andes—Signification of the terms—Altitude of the Mountains and Passes—Lakes—Metals—Aspect of the Cordillera—Shattered Rocks—Maladies caused by the diminished Atmospheric Pressure—The Veta and the Surumpe—Mountain Storms—The Condor—Its habits—Indian mode of Catching the Bird—The Puna or Despoblado—Climate—Currents of Warm Air—Vegetation—Tuberous Plant called the Maca—Animals of the Puna—The Llama, the Alpaco, the Huanacu and the Vicuna—The Chacu and the Bolas—Household Utensils of the Ancient Peruvians—The Viscacha and the Chinchilla—Puna Birds and Amphibia—Cattle and Pasture—Indian Farms—Shepherds' Huts—Ancient Peruvian Roads and Buildings—Treasure concealed by the Indians in the Puna.

Two great mountain chains, running parallel with each other, intersect Peru in the direction from S.S.W. to N.N.E. The chain nearest the coast of the Pacific is at the average distance of from sixty to seventy English miles from the sea. The other chain takes a parallel direction but describes throughout its whole course a slight curve eastward. These two ranges of mountain are called the Cordilleras, or the Andes: both terms being used indiscriminately. Even the creoles of Peru confound these two terms, sometimes calling the western chain by one name, and sometimes by the other. Nevertheless, a strict distinction ought to be observed:—the western chain should properly be called the Cordillera, and the eastern chain the Andes. The latter name is derived from the Quichua word Antasuyu; Anta signifying metal generally, but especially copper, and Suyu a district; the meaning of Antasuyu, therefore, is the metal district. In common parlance, the word Suyu was dropped, and the termination a in Anta was converted into is. Hence the word Antis, which is employed by all old writers and geographers; and even now is in common use among the Indian population of Southern Peru. The Spaniards, according to their practice of corrupting the words of the Quichua language, have transformed Antis into Andes, and they apply the name without distinction to the western and the eastern chain of mountains.[65]

The old inhabitants of Peru dwelt chiefly along the base of the eastern mountain chain, where they drew from the mines the metal which afforded material for their tasteful and ingenious workmanship: those mountains consequently retained the name of Antis or Andes. In the time of the Incas, both chains were called Ritisuyu (Snow-Districts). The Spaniards, on the invasion of the country, advancing from the sea-coast, first arrived at the western mountains, and to them they gave the name of Cordillera, the term commonly employed in the Spanish language, to designate any mountain chain. Most of the earlier travellers and topographists named the western chain the Cordillera de los Andes, and regarded it as the principal chain, of which they considered the eastern mountains to be merely a branch. To the eastern range of mountains they gave the name of Cordillera Oriental. I will here strictly observe the correct denominations, calling the western chain the Cordillera, or the coast mountains; and the eastern chain the Andes, or the inner Cordillera.

These two great mountain chains stand in respect to height in an inverse relation one to the other; that is to say, the greater the elevation of the Cordillera, the more considerable is the depression of the Andes. In South Peru the ridge of the Cordillera is considerably lower than that portion of the Andes which stretches through Bolivia. The medium height of the Cordillera in South Peru is 15,000 feet above the sea; but here and there particular points rise to a much more considerable elevation. The medium height of the Andes is 17,000 feet above the sea. In central Peru the Cordillera is higher than the Andes. There the altitude of the latter along the body of the chain is 13,000 feet above the sea: on the ridge there are a few points some hundred feet higher. Between Pasco and Loxas the average height of the Cordillera is between 11,000 and 12,000 feet above the sea; and the average elevation of the Andes at the corresponding point is about 2000 feet lower.

The passes do not run through valleys, but always over the ridges of the mountains. The highest mountain passes are the Rinconada (16,452 feet above the sea); the Piedra Parada (16,008 feet); the Tingo (15,600 feet); the Huatillas (14,850 feet); the Portachuelo de la Viuda (14,544 feet); the Altos de Toledo (15,530 feet); and the Altos de los Huesos (14,300 feet). In both chains there are innumerable small lakes; these are met with in all the mountain passes, and most of them are the sources of small rivers.

Both the mountain chains, as well as their lateral branches, are rich in metallic produce; but in the principal mountains gold is rare. Some rich mines on the coast, and in the province of Arequipa, are now nearly exhausted. Wash gold is plentiful in the rivers of North Peru, but it is not carefully collected. Silver, which constitutes the principal wealth of Peru, is found in greatest abundance in the principal chains, viz., in Northern and Central Peru, in the Cordillera; and in Southern Peru in the Andes. It presents itself in all forms and combinations, from the pure metal to the lead-ore mixed with silver. Even in the highest elevations, in parts scarcely trodden by human footsteps, rich veins of silver are discovered. It is scarcely possible to pass half a day in these regions without encountering new streaks. Quicksilver is likewise found, but in such small quantities, that the gain does not pay the labor of the miners. The only quicksilver vein of any magnitude is at Huancavelica. Both mountain chains are very rich in copper-ore; but it is extracted only from the Cordillera, for the distance of the Andes from the coast renders the transport too expensive. The lead and iron mines, though amazingly prolific, are not worked; the price of the metal being too low to pay the labor.

The Cordillera presents an aspect totally different from that of the Andes. It is more wild and rugged, its ridge is broader, and its summits less pyramidical. The summits of the Andes terminate in slender sharp points like needles. The Cordillera descends in terraces to the level heights, whilst the slope of the Andes is uniform and unbroken. The summits of the calcareous hills which stretch eastward from the great chain of the Cordillera are broken and rugged. Large cubical blocks of stone become detached from them, and roll down into the valleys. In the Quebrada of Huari near Yanaclara, which is 13,000 feet above the sea, I collected among other fragments of rock some of a species which is found at Neufchatel in Switzerland. This disintegration, which is the effect of protracted rain and cold, imparts to the mountain ridges the most singular and beautiful forms; their fantastic outlines appearing like the work of human hands. Imagination may easily picture them to be monuments of the time of the Incas; for viewed from a distance, they look like groups of giants or colossal animals. In former times the Indians viewed these masses of rock with devout reverence, for they believed them to be the early inhabitants of the earth whom Pacchacamac in his anger transformed to stone. I may here notice some very curious forms of rock which have long been a subject of controversy among Peruvian travellers. On the road leading from Ayacucho to Huancavelica, on the level height of Paucara, about a league beyond the village of Parcos, there is a considerable number of sand-stone pyramids from eight to twenty-two feet high. They are of a reddish-white color; but in many places the inclemency of the weather has overspread them with a blackish crust. They are detached one from another. Ulloa, in his Noticias Americanas, after fully describing these pyramids, declares himself doubtful whether they are the work of man or of nature. He inclines to regard them as human creations, and suggests that they may possibly have been the tombs of distinguished curacas and caciques; but he admits that he is not acquainted with any similar monuments in Peru. As each pyramid consists of only one block of stone, and all are very regularly shaped, Ulloa is not indisposed to believe that the Indians possessed the secret art of melting stone. These blocks are, however, of sand-stone, and their fractures are the result of the inclemency of the weather. They are all pyramidal-shaped, and tolerably equal in size. In several of them the points are as sharp and regular as though they had been wrought by the chisel of the sculptor. These curious pyramids cover the plateau along a distance of more than two miles: sometimes standing closely together, and sometimes at considerable distances apart. The whole line of chalk and slate mountains extending from Ayacucho to Huancavelica is shattered, and presents similar, though less regular detritus.

I have, in my last chapter, observed that the Cordillera is the point of partition between the waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. All the waters of the eastern declivity of the Cordillera—all those which have their source on the level heights and on the western declivity of the Andes,—flow from thence in the direction of the east, and work their way through the eastern mountain chain. Throughout the whole extent of South America there is not a single instance of the Cordillera being intersected by a river; a fact the more remarkable because in Southern Peru and Bolivia, the coast chain is lower than the Andes. This interesting phenomenon, though it has deeply engaged the attention of geologists, has not yet been satisfactorily explained. I concur in the view taken by Mr. Darwin, who observes that it would be too rash to assign to the eastern chain of Bolivia and Central Chile, a later origin than the western chain (the nearest the Pacific), but that the circumstance of the rivers of a lower mountain chain having forced their way through a higher chain seems, without this supposition, to be enigmatical. Mr. Darwin is of opinion that the phenomenon is assignable to a periodical and gradual elevation of the second mountain line (the Andes); for a chain of islets would at first appear, and as these were lifted up, the tides would be always wearing deeper and broader channels between them.

In the heights of the Cordillera the effect of the diminished atmospheric pressure on the human frame shows itself in intolerable symptoms of weariness and an extreme difficulty of breathing. The natives call this malady the Puna or the Soroche; and the Spanish Creoles give it the names of Mareo or Veta. Ignorant of its real causes they ascribe it to the exhalations of metals, especially antimony, which is extensively used in the mining operations. The first symptoms of the veta are usually felt at the elevation of 12,600 feet above the sea. These symptoms are vertigo, dimness of sight and hearing, pains in the head and nausea. Blood flows from the eyes, nose, and lips. Fainting fits, spitting of blood, and other dangerous symptoms, usually attend severe attacks of veta. The sensations which accompany this malady somewhat resemble those of sea-sickness, and hence its Spanish name mareo. But sea-sickness is unaccompanied by the distressing difficulty of breathing experienced in the veta. This disorder sometimes proves fatal, and I once witnessed a case in which death was the result. Inhabitants of the coast and Europeans, who for the first time visit the lofty regions of the Cordillera, are usually attacked with this disorder. Persons in good health and of a spare habit speedily recover from it, but on plethoric and stout individuals its effects are frequently very severe. After an abode of some time in the mountainous regions, the constitution becomes inured to the rarefied atmosphere. I suffered only two attacks of the veta; but they were very severe. The first was on one of the level heights; and the second on the mountain of Antaichahua. The first time I ascended the Cordillera I did not experience the slightest illness, and I congratulated myself on having escaped the veta; but a year afterwards I had an attack of it, though only of a few hours' duration. The veta is felt with great severity in some districts of the Cordillera, whilst in others, where the altitude is greater, the disorder is scarcely perceptible. Thus it would seem that the malady is not caused by diminished atmospheric pressure, but is dependent on some unknown climatic circumstances. The districts in which the veta prevails with greatest intensity are, for the most part, rich in the production of metals, a circumstance which has given rise to the idea that it is caused by metallic exhalations.

I have already described the effect of the Puna climate on beasts of burthen. Its influence on some of the domestic animals is no less severe than on the human race. To cats, it is very fatal, and at the elevation of 13,000 feet above the sea those animals cannot live. Numerous trials have been made to rear them in the villages of the upper mountains, but without effect; for after a few days' abode in those regions, the animals die in frightful convulsions; but when in this state they do not attempt to bite. I had two good opportunities of observing the disease at Yauli. Cats attacked in this way are called, by the natives, azorochados, and antimony is alleged to be the cause of the distemper. Dogs are also liable to it, but it visits them less severely than cats, and with care they may be recovered.

Another scourge of the traveller in the Cordillera, is the disease called the Surumpe. It is a violent inflammation of the eyes, caused by the sudden reflection of the bright rays of the sun on the snow. By the rarefied air and the cutting wind, the eyes, being kept in a constant state of irritation, are thereby rendered very susceptible to the effects of the glaring light. In these regions the sky is often for a time completely overshadowed by snow clouds, and the greenish yellow of the plain is soon covered by a sheet of snow: then suddenly the sun's rays burst through the breaking clouds, and the eyes, unprepared for the dazzling glare, are almost blinded. A sharp burning pain is immediately felt, and it speedily increases to an intolerable degree. The eyes become violently inflamed, and the lids swell and bleed. The pain of the surumpe is the most intense that can be imagined, and frequently brings on delirium. The sensation resembles that which it may be imagined would be felt if cayenne pepper or gunpowder were rubbed into the eyes. Chronic inflammation, swelling of the eyelids, dimness of sight, and even total blindness are the frequent consequences of the surumpe. In the Cordillera, Indians are often seen sitting by the road-side shrieking in agony, and unable to proceed on their way. They are more liable to the disease than the Creoles, who, when travelling in the mountains, protect their eyes by green spectacles and veils.

Heavy falls of snow in the Cordillera are usually accompanied by thunder and lightning. During five months of the year, from November to March, storms are of daily occurrence. They begin, with singular regularity, about three o'clock in the afternoon, and continue until five or half-past five in the evening. After that time storms of thunder and lightning never occur; but the falls of snow sometimes continue till midnight. As evening approaches, cold mists are drifted from the mountain-tops down upon the plains; but they are dispersed by the rays of the morning sun, which in a few hours melt the snow. The furious tempests in these regions exceed any idea that can be formed of them, and can only be conceived by those who have witnessed them. Some of these mountain districts have acquired an ominous character for storms; Antaichahua is one of the places to which this sort of fearful celebrity belongs. For hours together flash follows flash, painting blood-red cataracts on the naked precipices. The forked lightning darts its zig-zag flashes on the mountain-tops, or, running along the ground, imprints deep furrows in its course; whilst the atmosphere quivers amidst uninterrupted peals of thunder, repeated a thousandfold by the mountain echoes. The traveller, overtaken by these terrific storms, dismounts from his trembling horse, and takes refuge beneath the shelter of some overhanging rock.

In these sterile heights, Nature withholds her fostering influence alike from vegetable and animal life. The scantiest vegetation can scarcely draw nutriment from the ungenial soil, and animals shun the dreary and shelterless wilds. The condor alone finds itself in its native element amidst these mountain deserts. On the inaccessible summits of the Cordillera that bird builds its nest, and hatches its young in the months of April and May. Few animals have attained so universal a celebrity as the condor. That bird was known in Europe, at a period when his native land was numbered among those fabulous regions which are regarded as the scenes of imaginary wonders. The most extravagant accounts of the condor were written and read, and general credence was granted to every story which travellers brought from the fairy land of gold and silver. It was only at the commencement of the present century that Humboldt overthrew the extravagant notions that previously prevailed respecting the size, strength, and habits of that extraordinary bird.

The full-grown condor measures, from the point of the beak to the end of the tail, from four feet ten inches to five feet; and from the tip of one wing to the other, from twelve to thirteen feet. This bird feeds chiefly on carrion: it is only when impelled by hunger that he seizes living animals, and even then only the small and defenceless, such as the young of sheep, vicunas, and llamas. He cannot raise great weights with his feet, which, however, he uses to aid the power of his beak. The principal strength of the condor lies in his neck and in his feet; yet he cannot, when flying, carry a weight exceeding eight or ten pounds. All accounts of sheep and calves being carried off by condors are mere exaggerations. This bird passes a great part of the day in sleep, and hovers in quest of prey chiefly in the morning and evening. Whilst soaring at a height beyond the reach of human eyes, the sharp-sighted condor discerns his prey on the level heights beneath him, and darts down upon it with the swiftness of lightning. When a bait is laid, it is curious to observe the numbers of condors which assemble in a quarter of an hour, in a spot near which not one had been previously visible. These birds possess the senses of sight and smell in a singularly powerful degree.

Some old travellers, Ulloa among others, have affirmed that the plumage of the condor is invulnerable to a musket-ball. This absurdity is scarcely worthy of contradiction; but it is nevertheless true that the bird has a singular tenacity of life, and that it is seldom killed by fire-arms, unless when shot in some vital part. Its plumage, particularly on the wings, is very strong and thick. The natives, therefore, seldom attempt to shoot the condor: they usually catch him by traps or by the laso, or kill him by stones flung from slings, or by the Bolas. A curious method of capturing the condor alive is practised in the province of Abancay. A fresh cow-hide, with some fragments of flesh adhering to it, is spread out on one of the level heights, and an Indian provided with ropes creeps beneath it, whilst some others station themselves in ambush near the spot, ready to assist him. Presently a condor, attracted by the smell of flesh, darts down upon the cow-hide, and then the Indian, who is concealed under it, seizes the bird by the legs, and binds them fast in the skin, as if in a bag. The captured condor flaps his wings, and makes ineffectual attempts to fly; but he is speedily secured, and carried in triumph to the nearest village.

The Indians quote numerous instances of young children having been attacked by condors. That those birds are sometimes extremely fierce is very certain. The following occurrence came within my own knowledge, whilst I was in Lima. I had a condor, which, when he first came into my possession, was very young. To prevent his escape, as soon as he was able to fly, he was fastened by the leg to a chain, to which was attached a piece of iron of about six pounds weight. He had a large court to range in, and he dragged the piece of iron about after him all day. When he was a year and a half old he flew away, with the chain and iron attached to his leg, and perched on the spire of the church of Santo Tomas, whence he was scared away by the carrion hawks. On alighting in the street, a Negro attempted to catch him for the purpose of bringing him home; upon which he seized the poor creature by the ear, and tore it completely off. He then attacked a child in the street (a negro boy of three years old), threw him on the ground, and knocked him on the head so severely with his beak, that the child died in consequence of the injuries. I hoped to have brought this bird alive to Europe; but, after being at sea two months on our homeward voyage, he died on board the ship in the latitude of Monte Video.

Between the Cordillera and the Andes, at the height of 12,000 feet above the sea, there are vast tracts of uninhabited table-lands. These are called in the Quichua language the Puna; and the Spaniards give them the name of the Despoblado (the uninhabited). These table-lands form the upper mountain regions of the South American Highlands. They spread over the whole extent of Peru, from north-west to south-east, a distance of 350 Spanish miles, continuing through Bolivia, and gradually running eastward into the Argentine Republic. With reference to geography and natural history, these table-lands present a curious contrast to the Llanos (plains) of South America, situated on the other side of the Andes to the north-east. Those boundless deserts, full of organic life, are, like the Puna, among the most interesting characteristics of the New World.

The climate of these regions is not less rigorous than that of the high mountain ridges. Cold winds from the west and south-west, blow nearly all the year round from the ice-topped Cordillera; and for the space of four months these winds are daily accompanied by thunder, lightning, and snow-storms. The average state of the thermometer during the cold season (which is called summer, because it then seldom snows) is, during the night, -5 deg. R.; and at midday, +9 deg. 7' R. In winter the mercury seldom falls during the night below freezing point, and it continues between +1 deg. and 0 deg. R.; but at noon it ascends only to 7 deg. R. It is, however, quite impossible to determine with precision the medium temperature of these regions. For the space of a few hours the heat will frequently vary between 18 deg. and 20 deg. R. The transition is the more sensibly felt on the fall of the temperature, as it is usually accompanied by sharp-biting winds, so keen, that they cut the skin on the face and hands. A remarkable effect of the Puna wind is its power of speedily drying animal bodies, and thereby preventing putridity. A dead mule is, in the course of a few days, converted into a mummy; not even the entrails presenting the least trace of decomposition.

It frequently happens that, after being long exposed to these cold winds, the traveller enters warm atmospheric currents. These warm streams are sometimes only two or three paces, and at other times, several hundred feet broad. They run in a parallel direction with each other, and one may pass through five or six of them in the course of a few hours. On the level heights between Chacapalpa and Huancavelica, I remarked that they were especially frequent during the months of August and September. According to my repeated observations, I found that these warm streams chiefly follow the direction of the Cordillera; namely, from S.S.W. to N.N.E. I once travelled the distance of several leagues through a succession of these currents of warm air, none of which exceeded seven-and-twenty paces in breadth. Their temperature was 11 deg. R. higher than that of the adjacent atmosphere. It would appear they are not merely temporary, for the mule-drivers can often foretel with tolerable accuracy where they will be encountered. The causes of these phenomena well merit the investigation of meteorologists.

The aspect of the Puna is singularly monotonous and dreary. The expansive levels are scantily covered with grasses of a yellowish-brown hue, and are never enlivened by fresh-looking verdure. Here and there, at distant intervals, may be seen a few stunted Quenua trees (Polylepis racemosa, R. P.), or large patches of ground covered with the Ratanhia shrub[66] (Krameria triandria, R. P.). Both are used by the Indians as fuel, and for roofing their huts.

The cold climate and sterile soil of the Puna are formidable impediments to agriculture. Only one plant is cultivated in these regions with any degree of success. It is the maca, a tuberous root grown like the potatoe, and like it used as an article of food. In many of the Puna districts the maca constitutes the principal sustenance of the inhabitants. It has an agreeable, and somewhat sweetish flavor, and when boiled in milk it tastes like the chestnut. As far as I am aware this plant has not been mentioned by any traveller, nor has its botanical character yet been precisely determined. Possibly it is a species of Tropaeolum, but of this I am uncertain. The root is about the size of a large chestnut. Macas may be kept for more than a year, if, after being taken from the earth, they are left a few days to dry in the sun, and then exposed to the cold. By this means they become shrivelled and very hard. From these dried macas, the Indians prepare a sort of soup or rather syrup, which diffuses a sweet, sickly sort of odor, but which, when eaten with roasted maize, is not altogether unpalatable. The maca thrives best at the height of between 12,000 and 13,000 feet above the sea. In the lower districts it is not planted, for the Indians declare it to be flavorless when grown there. Besides the maca barley is reared in the Puna. I saw there fields of barley 13,200 feet above the sea. It does not, however, attain full maturity, seldom even shoots into ears, and is cut whilst green as fodder for horses.

But poor and scanty as is the vegetation of the Puna, the animal kingdom is there richly and beautifully represented. Those regions are the native home of the great Mammalia, which Peru possessed before horses and black cattle were introduced by the Spaniards. I allude to the llama and his co-genera the alpaco, the huanacu, and the vicuna. On these interesting animals I will subjoin a few observations.[67] The two first are kept as domestic animals; the llama perfectly, and the alpaco partially tame.

The llama measures from the sole of the hoof to the top of the head, 4 feet 6 to 8 inches; from the sole of the hoof to the shoulders, from 2 feet 11 inches to 3 feet. The female is usually smaller and less strong than the male, but her wool is finer and better. The color is very various; generally brown, with shades of yellow or black; frequently speckled, but very rarely quite white or black. The speckled brown llama is in some districts called the moromoro.

The young llamas are left with the dam for about the space of a year, after which time they are removed and placed with flocks. When about four years old, the males and females are separated; the former are trained to carry burthens, and the latter are kept in the pastures of the level heights. Most of the flocks of llamas are reared in the southern Puna provinces, viz.:—Cuzco and Ayacucho, and from thence they are sent to the silver mines of North Peru. The price of a strong full-grown llama is from three to four dollars; but if purchased in flocks in the provinces above named, they may be had for one and a half or two dollars each. Shortly after the conquest the price of one of these animals was between eighteen and twenty ducats; but the increase of horses, mules, and sheep, lowered their value. The burthen carried by the llama should not exceed one hundred and twenty-five pounds, and the animal is seldom laden with more than a hundred-weight. When the llama finds his burthen too heavy he lies down, and cannot be made to rise until some portion of the weight is removed from his back. In the silver mines the llamas are of the most important utility, as they frequently carry the metal from the mines in places where the declivities are so steep that neither asses nor mules can keep their footing.

The Indians frequently proceed with large flocks of llamas to the coast, to procure salt. Their daily journeys are short, never exceeding three or four leagues; for the animals will not feed during the night, and therefore they are allowed to graze as they go, or to halt for a few hours at feeding-time. When resting they make a peculiar humming noise, which, when proceeding from a numerous flock at a distance, is like a number of AEolian harps sounding in concert.

A flock of laden llamas journeying over the table-lands is a beautiful sight. They proceed at a slow and measured pace, gazing eagerly around on every side. When any strange object scares them, the flock separates, and disperses in various directions, and the arrieros have no little difficulty in reassembling them. The Indians are very fond of these animals. They adorn them by tying bows of ribbon to their ears, and hanging bells round their necks; and before loading, they always fondle and caress them affectionately. If, during a journey, one of the llamas is fatigued and lies down, the arriero kneels beside the animal, and addresses to it the most coaxing and endearing expressions. But notwithstanding all the care and attention bestowed on them, many llamas perish on every journey to the coast, as they are not able to bear the warm climate.

Some old travellers have stated that the Indians employ the llama for riding and for draught; but these accounts are quite erroneous. It sometimes happens that when crossing a river an Indian lad, to avoid getting wet, may mount on the back of one of the llamas; but in such a case, he immediately dismounts on reaching the opposite bank. The flesh of the llama is spongy, and not agreeable in flavor. Its wool is used for making coarse cloths.

The alpaco, or paco, is smaller than the llama. It measures from the lower part of the hoof to the top of the head only three feet three inches, and to the shoulders two feet and a half. In form it resembles the sheep, but it has a longer neck and a more elegant head. The fleece of this animal is beautifully soft and very long; in some parts it is four or five inches in length. Its color is usually either white or black; but in some few instances it is speckled. The Indians make blankets and ponchos of the alpaco wool. It is also frequently exported to Europe, and it sells at a good price in England. The alpacos are kept in large flocks, and throughout the whole of the year they graze on the level heights. At shearing time only they are driven to the huts. They are in consequence very shy, and they run away at the approach of a stranger. The obstinacy of the alpaco is remarkable. When one of these animals is separated from the flock, he throws himself on the ground, and neither force nor persuasion will induce him to rise;—sometimes suffering the severest punishment rather than go the way the driver wishes. Few animals seem to require so imperatively the companionship of its own species, and it is only when brought to the Indian huts very young, that the alpacos can be separated from their flocks.

The largest animal of this family is the huanacu. It measures five feet from the bottom of the hoof to the top of the head, and three feet three inches to the shoulders. In form it so nearly resembles the llama, that until a very recent period, zoologists were of opinion that the llama was an improved species of the huanacu, and that the latter was the llama in its wild state. In the "Fauna Peruana" I have explained the erroneousness of this opinion, and described the specific differences existing between the two animals. On the neck, back, and thighs the huanacu is of a uniform reddish-brown color. The under part of the body, the middle line of the breast, and the inner side of the limbs are of a dingy white. The face is dark grey, and the lips of a clear white. Of the huanacus there are not those varieties which are found among the llamas and the alpacos. The wool is shorter and coarser than that of the llama, and it is of nearly uniform length on all parts of the body.

The huanacus live in small herds of five or seven, seldom exceeding the latter number. In some districts they are very shy, and retreat when any one approaches. If taken very young they may be tamed; but they are always ready to fall back into their wild state. It is with great difficulty they can be trained as beasts of burthen. In the menageries of Europe, huanacu brought from Chile are frequently represented to be llamas.

The vicuna is a more beautiful animal than any of those just described. Its size is between that of the llama and the alpaco. It measures from the sole of the foot to the top of the head four feet one inch, and two and a half feet to the shoulders. The neck is longer and more slender than in either of the other relative species; and from them the vicuna is also distinguished by the superior fineness of its short, curly wool. The crown of the head, the upper part of the neck, the back, and thighs, are of a peculiar reddish-yellow hue, called by the people of the country color de vicuna. The lower part of the neck, and the inner parts of the limbs, are of a bright ochre color, and the breast and lower part of the body are white.

During the rainy season the vicuna inhabits the ridges of the Cordillera, where some scanty vegetation is to be found. It never ventures up to the naked rocky summits, for its hoofs being accustomed only to turfy ground, are very soft and tender. It lives in herds, consisting of from six to fifteen females, and one male, who is the protector and leader of the herd. Whilst the females are quietly grazing, the male stands at the distance of some paces apart, and carefully keeps guard over them. At the approach of danger he gives a signal, consisting of a sort of whistling sound, and a quick movement of the foot. Immediately the herd draws closely together, each animal anxiously stretching out its head in the direction of the threatening danger. They then take to flight; first moving leisurely and cautiously, and then quickening their pace to the utmost degree of speed; whilst the male vicuna who covers the retreat frequently halts, to observe the movements of the enemy. The females, with singular fidelity and affection, reward the watchful care of their protector. If he is wounded or killed, they gather round him in a circle, uttering their shrill tones of lamentation, and they will suffer themselves to be captured or killed, rather than desert him by pursuing their flight. The neigh of the vicuna, like that of the other animals of its class, resembles a short, sharp whistle. But when the shrill sound vibrates through the pure Puna air, the practised ear can readily distinguish the cry of the vicuna from that of the other animals of the same family.

The Indians seldom employ fire-arms in hunting the vicunas. They catch them by what they term the chacu. In this curious hunt, one man at least belonging to each family in the Puna villages takes a part, and women accompany the train, to officiate as cooks to the hunters. The whole company, frequently amounting to seventy or eighty individuals, proceeds to the Altos (the most secluded parts of the Puna), which are the haunts of the vicunas. They take with them stakes, and a great quantity of rope and cord. A spacious open plain is selected, and the stakes are driven into the ground in a circle, at intervals of from twelve to fifteen feet apart, and are connected together by ropes fastened to them at the height of two or two and a half feet from the ground. The circular space within the stakes is about half a league in circumference, and an opening of about two hundred paces in width is left for entrance. On the ropes by which the stakes are fastened together the women hang pieces of colored rags, which flutter about in the wind. The chacu being fully prepared, the men, some of whom are mounted on horseback, range about within a circuit of several miles, driving before them all the herds of vicunas they meet with, and forcing them into the chacu. When a sufficient number of vicunas is collected, the entrance is closed. The timid animals do not attempt to leap over the ropes, being frightened by the fluttering rags suspended from them, and, when thus secured, the Indians easily kill them by the bolas. These bolas consist of three balls, composed either of lead or stone; two of them heavy, and the third rather lighter. They are fastened to long, elastic strings, made of twisted sinews of the vicuna, and the opposite ends of the strings are all tied together. The Indian holds the lightest of the three balls in his hand, and swings the two others in a wide circle above his head; then, taking his aim at the distance of about fifteen or twenty paces, he lets go the hand-ball, upon which all the three balls whirl in a circle, and twine round the object aimed at. The aim is usually taken at the hind legs of the animals, and the cords twisting round them, they become firmly bound. It requires great skill and long practice to throw the bolas dexterously, especially when on horseback: a novice in the art incurs the risk of dangerously hurting either himself or his horse, by not giving the balls the proper swing, or by letting go the hand-ball too soon.

The vicunas, after being secured by the bolas, are killed, and the flesh is distributed in equal portions among the hunters. The skins belong to the Church. The price of a vicuna skin is four reals. When all the animals are killed, the stakes, ropes, &c., are packed up carefully, and conveyed to another spot, some miles distant, where the chacu is again fixed up. The hunting is continued in this manner for the space of a week. The number of animals killed during that interval varies according to circumstances, being sometimes fifty or sixty, and at other times several hundred. During five days I took part in a chacu hunt in the Altos of Huayhuay, and in that space of time 122 vicunas were caught. With the money obtained by the sale of the skins a new altar was erected in the church of the district. The flesh of the vicuna is more tender and better flavored than that of the llama. Fine cloth and hats are made of the wool. When taken young, the vicunas are easily tamed, and become very docile; but when old, they are intractable and malicious. At Tarma I possessed a large and very fine vicuna. It used to follow me like a dog whenever I went out, whether on foot or on horseback.

The frequent hunting seems not to have the effect of diminishing the numbers of these animals. If in the vicinity of the villages where chacus are frequently established, they are less numerous than in other parts, it is because, to elude the pursuit of the hunters, they seek refuge in the Altos, where they are found in vast numbers. Several modern travellers have lamented the diminution of the vicunas, but without reason. In former times those animals were hunted more actively than at present.

Under the dynasty of the Incas, when every useful plant and animal was an object of veneration, the Peruvians rendered almost divine worship to the llama and his relatives, which exclusively furnished them with wool for clothing, and with flesh for food. The temples were adorned with large figures of these animals made of gold and silver, and their forms were represented in domestic utensils made of stone and clay. In the valuable collection of Baron Clemens von Huegel at Vienna, there are four of these vessels, composed of porphyry, basalt, and granite, representing the four species, viz., the llama, the alpaco, the huanacu, and the vicuna. These antiquities are exceedingly scarce, and when I was in Peru I was unable to obtain any of them. How the ancient Peruvians, without the aid of iron tools, were able to carve stone so beautifully, is inconceivable.

Besides the animals above mentioned, several others peculiar to the Puna are deserving of remark. Among these are the Tarush (Cervus antisiensis, Orb.); the timid roe, which inhabits the high forests skirting the Andes; the Viscacha (Lagidium peruanum, May, and L. pallipes, Benn.), and the Chinchilla (Eriomys Chinchilla, Licht.), whose skin supplies the beautiful fur so much prized by the ladies of Europe. The viscachas and chinchillas resemble the rabbit in form and color, but they have shorter ears and long rough tails. They live on the steep rocky mountains, and in the morning and evening they creep out from their holes and crevices to nibble the alpine grasses. At night the Indians set before their holes traps made of horse-hair, in which the animals are easily caught. The most remarkable of the beasts of prey in these high regions is the Atoc (Canis Azarae, Pr. Max.). It is a species of fox, which is found throughout the whole of South America. The warmer Puna valleys are inhabited by the Cuguar (Felis concolor, L.), or, as the Indians call it, the Poma. When driven by hunger, this animal ventures into the loftiest Puna regions, even to the boundary of the eternal snow. The wild Hucumari (Ursus ornatus, Fr. Cuv.) but seldom wanders into the cold Puna. The hucumari is a large black bear, with a white muzzle and light-colored stripes on the breast.

Of the numerous Puna birds, the majority of which may be classed as water-fowl, I will notice only a few of the most characteristic. Next to the condor, the most remarkable bird of prey is the Huarahuau, or the Aloi (Polylorus megalopterus, Cob.),[68] one of the gyr-falcon species. This bird, which is a constant inhabitant of the level heights, preys on the carcases of dead horses, mules, &c., but never attempts to meddle with living animals. It is very harmless, and has so little timidity, that it suffers itself to be approached near enough to be knocked down with a stick. The Acacli, or Pito (Colaptes rupicola, Orb.), flutters about the mountains; it is a woodpecker, brown-speckled, with a yellow belly. This bird is seen in very great numbers, and it is difficult to imagine how it procures food in the Puna, where there are no insects. All the other woodpecker species exclusively confine themselves to woody regions.

The thickets of rushy grass are inhabited by the Pishacas, or Yutu, a species of partridge (Tinamotis Pentlandii, Vig.) which the Indians catch by dogs. These dogs of the Puna Indians are a peculiar race (Canis Ingae, Tsch.). They are distinguished by a small head, a pointed muzzle, small erect ears, a tail curling upwards, and a thick shaggy skin. They are in a half-wild state, and very surly and snappish. They furiously attack strangers, and even after having received a deadly wound they will crawl along the ground, and make an effort to bite. To white people they appear to have a particular antipathy; and sometimes it becomes rather a venturous undertaking for a European traveller to approach an Indian hut, for these mountain dogs spring up to the sides of the horse, and try to bite the rider's legs. They are snarlish and intractable even to their masters, who are often obliged to enforce obedience by the help of a stick. Yet these dogs are very useful animals for guarding flocks, and they have a keen scent for the pishacas, which they catch and kill with a single bite.

There is a very curious little bird in the Puna, about the size of a starling. Its plumage is exceedingly pretty, being on the back brown, striped with black; on the throat grey, with two dark stripes, and on the breast white. This bird has the remarkable peculiarity of making a monotonous sound at the close of every hour, during the night. The Indians call it the Ingahuallpa, or Cock of the Inga (Thinocorus Ingae, Tsch.), and they associate many superstitious notions with its regular hourly cry. The Puna morasses and lagunas are animated by numerous feathered inhabitants. Among them is the huachua (Chloephaga melanoptera, Eyt.), a species of goose. The plumage of the body is dazzlingly white, the wings green, shading into brilliant violet, and the feet and beak of a bright red. The Licli (Charadrius resplendens, Tsch.) is a plover, whose plumage in color is like that of the huachua, but with a sort of metallic brightness. There are two species of ibis which belong to the Puna, though they are occasionally seen in some of the lower valleys. One is the Bandurria (Theristocus melanopis, Wagl.), and the other is the Yanahuico (Ibis Ordi, Bonap.). On the lagunas swim large flocks of Quiullas (Larus serranus, Tsch.), white mews, with black heads and red beaks, and the gigantic water-hen (Fulica gigantea, Soul.). The plumage of the latter is dark-grey, and at the root of the red beak there is a large yellow botch, in the form of a bean, whence the Indians give this bird the name of Anash sinqui, or bean nose. Among the few amphibia found in these regions one is particularly remarkable. It is a small kind of toad (Leiuperus viridis, Tsch.), and inhabits the boundaries of the perpetual snow.

The grasses of the Puna are used as fodder, and in many of the sheltered valleys there are farms (Haciendas de Ganado), where large herds of cattle are reared. The owners of some of these farms possess several thousand sheep, and from four to five hundred cows. During the rainy season the cattle are driven into the Altos. They graze in those high regions, often at the altitude of 15,000 feet above the sea. When the frost sets in they are brought down to the marshy valleys, and they suffer much from insufficiency of pasture. From the wool of the sheep a coarse kind of cloth, called Bayeta, is made in the Sierra. Some of this wool is exported, and is much prized in Europe. The old black cattle and sheep are slaughtered, and their flesh, when dried, is the principal food of the inhabitants of the Puna, particularly of the mining population. The dried beef is called Charqui, and the mutton is called Chalona. The bulls graze in the remote Altos, and most of them are reserved for the bull fights in the Sierra villages. As they seldom see a human being they become exceedingly wild; so much so that the herdsmen are often afraid to approach them. In the daytime they roam about marshy places, and at nightfall they retire for shelter beneath some overhanging rock. These animals render travelling in many parts of the Puna extremely dangerous, for they often attack people so suddenly as to afford no time for defence. It is true they usually announce their approach by a deep bellow; but the open plain seldom presents any opportunity for escape. On several occasions a well-aimed shot alone saved me from the attack of one of these ferocious bulls.

The walls of the haciendas are of rough unhewn stone. They are divided into large square rooms, always damp, cold, and uninhabitable. Beneath the straw roofs there usually hang long rows of the stuffed skins of foxes; for every Indian who kills an old fox receives, by way of reward, a sheep, and for a young one a lamb. The Cholos are therefore zealous fox-hunters, and they may possibly succeed in altogether extirpating that animal which in some districts is so numerous as to be a perfect scourge.

As the sheep, even in the dry season, find pasture more easily than the horned cattle, they are left during the whole year in the higher parts of the Puna, under the care of Indian shepherds. At night they are driven into cerales, large square roofless buildings, and are guarded by dogs. The shepherds make a practice of every year burning the dry grass of the Puna, in order to improve the growth of the fodder. A Puna fire does not, however, present the imposing spectacle of the prairie fires, as described by travellers in North America, possibly because the Puna straw is shorter, and is always somewhat damp.

The dwellings of the shepherds are built in the same rude style which characterizes all the huts in the Puna, and they impress the European traveller with a very unfavorable notion of the intelligence of the people. The architecture of these huts consists in laying down some large stones, in a circle of about eight or ten feet in diameter, by way of a foundation. These stones are covered with earth or turf, and then with successive layers of stones and earth, until the wall attains the height of about four feet: at the point most sheltered from the wind, an opening of a foot and a half or two feet high serves as a door. On this low circular wall rests the roof, which is formed in the following manner. Six or eight magay[69] poles are fastened together, so as to form a point at the top. Over these poles thin laths are laid horizontally, and fastened with straw-bands, and the whole conical-formed frame-work is overlaid with a covering of Puna straw. As a security against the wind, two thick straw-bands are crossed over the point of the roof, and at their ends, which hang down to the ground, heavy stones are fastened. The whole fabric is then completed. The hut at its central point is about eight feet high; but at the sides, no more than three and a half or four feet. The entrance is so low, that one is obliged to creep in almost bent double; and before the aperture hangs a cow-hide, by way of a door.

Internally these huts present miserable pictures of poverty and uncleanliness. Two stones serve as a stove, containing a scanty fire fed by dry dung (bunegas), and turf (champo). An earthen pot for cooking soup, another for roasting maize, two or three gourd-shells for plates, and a porongo for containing water, make up the catalogue of the goods and chattels in a Puna hut. On dirty sheep-skins spread on the ground, sit the Indian and his wife, listlessly munching their coca; whilst the naked children roll about paddling in pools of water formed by continual drippings from the roof. The other inhabitants of the hut are usually three or four hungry dogs, some lambs, and swarms of guinea-pigs.

From all this it will readily be imagined that a Puna hut is no very agreeable or inviting retreat. Yet, when worn out by the dangers and fatigues of a long day's journey, and exposed to the fury of a mountain storm, the weary traveller, heedless of suffocating clouds of smoke and mephitic odors, gladly creeps into the rude dwelling. Taking up his resting-place on the damp floor, with his saddle-cloth for a pillow, he is thankful to find himself once again in a human habitation, even though its occupants be not many degrees elevated above the brute creation.

In the Puna there are many remains of the great high road of the Incas, which led from Cuzco to Quito, stretching through the whole extent of Peru. It was the grandest work that America possessed before European civilisation found its way to that quarter of the world. Even those who are unacquainted with the wise dominion of the ancient Peruvian sovereigns, their comprehensive laws, and the high civilisation they diffused over the whole country, must by this gigantic work be impressed with the highest idea of the cultivation of the age; for well-constructed roads may always be regarded as proofs of a nation's advancement. There is not in Peru at the present time any modern road in the most remote degree comparable to the Incas' highway. The best preserved fragments which came under my observation were in the Altos, between Jauja and Tarma. Judging from these portions, it would appear that the road must have been from twenty-five to thirty feet broad, and that it was paved with large flat stones. At intervals of about twelve paces distant one from another there is a row of smaller stones, laid horizontally and a little elevated, so that the road ascended, as it were, by a succession of terraces. It was edged on each side by a low wall of small stones.

Other remains of ancient Peru, frequently met with in these parts, are small buildings, formerly used as stations for the messengers who promulgated the commands of the Incas through all parts of the country. Some of these buildings are still in a tolerably good state of preservation. They were always erected on little hillocks, and at such distances apart, that from each station the nearest one on either side was discernible. When a messenger was despatched from a station a signal was hoisted, and a messenger from the next successive station met him halfway, and received from him the despatch, which was in this manner forwarded from one station to another till it reached its destination. A constant communication was thus kept up between the capital and the most distant parts of the country. A proof of the extraordinary rapidity with which these communications were carried on is the fact, recorded on unquestionable authority, that the royal table in Cuzco was served with fresh fish, caught in the sea near the Temple of the Sun in Lurin, a distance of more than 200 leagues from Cuzco.

The messenger stations have by some travellers been confounded with the forts, of which remains are met with along the great Inca road. The forts were buildings destined for totally different purposes. They were magazines for grain, and were built by the Incas to secure to their armies in these barren regions the requisite supplies of food. Vestiges of these forts are frequently seen in the Altos of Southern and Central Peru. They are broad round towers, usually built against a rocky declivity, and with numerous long apertures for the admission of air.

Even the broad level heights in which no trace of human habitations is discoverable, have been excavated by the mercenary Peruvian mestizos and creoles in search of hidden treasures. Their faith in the existence of concealed riches is founded on the following tradition. When the last reigning Inca, Atabiliba or Atahuallpa, was made prisoner by Don Francisco Pizarro, in Caxamarca, he proposed to ransom himself from the Spanish commander. The price he offered for his liberty was to fill with gold the cell in which he was confined, to the height of a certain line on the wall, which Pizarro marked with his sword. The cell, it may be mentioned, was twenty-two feet long and seventeen broad. A quantity of gold which the Inca ordered to be collected in Caxamarca and its vicinity, when piled up on the floor of the cell, did not reach above halfway to the given mark. The Inca then despatched messengers to Cuzco to obtain from the royal treasury the gold required to make up the deficiency; and accordingly eleven thousand llamas were despatched from Cuzco to Caxamarca, each laden with one hundred pounds of gold. But ere the treasure reached its destination, Atahuallpa was hanged by the advice of Don Diego de Almangra and the Dominican monk Vicente de Valverde. The terror-stirring news flew like wild-fire through the land, and speedily reached the convoy of Indians, who were driving their richly-laden llamas over the level heights into Central Peru. On the spot where the intelligence of Atahuallpa's death was communicated to them, the dismayed Indians concealed the treasure, and then dispersed.

Whether the number of the llamas was really so considerable as it is stated to have been, may fairly be doubted; but that a vast quantity of gold was on its way to Caxamarca, and was concealed, is a well-authenticated fact. That the Indians should never have made any attempt to recover this treasure is quite consistent with their character. It is not improbable that even now some particular individuals among them may know the place of concealment; but a certain feeling of awe transmitted through several centuries from father to son, has, in their minds, associated the hidden treasure with the blood of their last king, and this feeling doubtless prompts them to keep the secret inviolate.

From traditionary accounts, which bear the appearance of probability, it would appear that the gold was buried somewhere in the Altos of Mito, near the valley of Jauja. Searches have frequently been made in that vicinity, but no clue to the hiding-place has yet been discovered.


[Footnote 65: Some derive the word Andes from the people called Antis, who dwelt at the foot of these chains of mountains. A province in the department of Cuzco, which was probably the chief settlement of that nation, still bears the name of Antas.]

[Footnote 66: From the most remote times the Ratanhia has been employed by the Indians as a medicine. It is one of their favorite remedies against spitting of blood and dysentery. Most of the Ratanhia exported to Europe is obtained in the southern provinces of Peru, particularly in Arica and Islay. The extract which is prepared in Peru, and which was formerly sent in large quantities to Europe, is now scarcely an object of traffic. For several years past no Ratanhia has been shipped from Callao, and but very little from Truxillo.]

[Footnote 67: More lengthened information respecting them may be found in the "Fauna Peruana." I have there noted all their specific varieties, and have corrected the erroneous accounts given of them by some previous travellers.]

[Footnote 68: Phalcoboenus montanus, Orb.]

[Footnote 69: The Magay is the stem of the American Agave. It has a sort of spungy sap; but it is covered externally with a strong tough bast. The Magay supplies the inhabitants of Upper Peru with an excellent kind of light and strong building wood.]


Cerro de Pasco—First discovery of the Mines—Careless mode of working them—Mine Owners and Mine Laborers—Amalgamating and Refining—Produce of the Mines—Life in Cerro de Pasco—Different Classes of the Population—Gaming and Drunkenness—Extravagance and Improvidence of the Indian Mine Laborers—The Cerro de San Fernando—Other Important Mining Districts in Peru—The Salcedo Mine—Castrovireyna—Vast Productiveness of the Silver Mines of Peru—Rich Mines secretly known to the Indians—Roads leading from Cerro de Pasco—The Laguna of Chinchaycocha—Battle of Junin—Indian Robbers—A Day and a Night in the Puna Wilds.

Having traversed the long and difficult route from the capital of Peru, by way of the wild Cordillera to the level heights of Bombon, and from thence having ascended the steep winding acclivities of the mountain chain of Olachin, the traveller suddenly beholds in the distance a large and populous city. This is the celebrated Cerro de Pasco, famed throughout the world for its rich silver mines. It is situated in 10 deg. 48' S. latitude and 76 deg. 23' W. longitude, and at the height of 13,673 feet above the sea level. It is built in a basin-shaped hollow, encircled by barren and precipitous rocks. Between these rocks difficult winding roads or paths lead down to the city, which spreads out in irregular divisions, surrounded on all sides by little lagunes, or swamps. The pleasing impression created by the first view of Cerro de Pasco from the heights is very greatly modified on entering the town. Crooked, narrow, and dirty streets are bordered by rows of irregularly-built houses; and miserable Indian huts abut close against well-built dwellings, whose size and structure give a certain European character to the city when viewed from a distance. Without bestowing a glance on the busy throng which circulates through the streets and squares, the varied styles of the buildings sufficiently indicate to the observer how many different classes of people have united together to found, in the tropics, and on the very confines of the perpetual snow, a city of such magnitude, and of so motley an aspect. The wild barrenness of the surrounding scenery, and the extreme cold of the rigorous climate—the remote and solitary position of the city—all denote that one common bond of union must have drawn together the diversified elements which compose the population of Cerro de Pasco. And so it really is. In this inhospitable region, where the surface of the soil produces nothing, nature has buried boundless stores of wealth in the bowels of the earth, and the silver mines of Cerro de Pasco have drawn people from all parts of the world to one point, and for one object.

History relates that about two hundred and fifteen years ago an Indian shepherd, named Huari Capcha, tended his flocks on a small pampa to the south-east of the Lake of Llauricocha, the mother of the great river Amazon. One day, when the shepherd had wandered farther than usual from his hut, he sought a resting-place on a declivity of the Cerro de Santiestevan, and when evening drew in he kindled a fire to protect himself against the cold; he then lay down to sleep. When he awoke on the following morning, he was amazed to find the stone beneath the ashes of his fire melted and turned to silver. He joyfully communicated the discovery to his master, Don Jose Ugarte, a Spaniard, who owned a hacienda in the Quebrada de Huariaca. Ugarte forthwith repaired to the spot, where he found indications of a very rich vein of silver ore, which he immediately made active preparations for working. In this mine, which is distinguished by the name of La Descubridora (the discoverer), silver is still obtained. From the village of Pasco, about two leagues distant, where already productive mines were worked, several rich mine owners removed to Llauricocha; here they sought and discovered new veins, and established new mining works. The vast abundance of the ore drew new speculators to the spot; some to work the mines, and others to supply the necessary wants of the increasing population. In this manner was rapidly founded a city, which, at times when the produce of metal is very considerable, counts 18,000 inhabitants.

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