The Andes and the Amazon - Across the Continent of South America
by James Orton
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[Transcriber's note: The accentuation and spelling of the original has been retained. This may at times seem variable: e.g., manati and manati. Greek transliterations appear between + signs. This symbol: ō, which appears once to represent the letter o with a line above it. Italics are indicated by under-scores, as in this example: NEW YORK:. The illustrations are viewable in the XHTML version.]









Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by HARPER & BROTHERS, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

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"Among the scenes which are deeply impressed on my mind, none exceed in sublimity the primeval forests undefaced by the hand of man; whether those of Brazil, where the powers of Life are predominant, or those of Terra del Fuego, where Death and Decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of Nature: no one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body."—DARWIN'S Journal, p. 503.


This volume is one result of a scientific expedition to the equatorial Andes and the river Amazon. The expedition was made under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, and consisted of the following gentlemen besides the writer: Colonel Staunton, of Ingham University, Leroy, N.Y.; F.S. Williams, Esq., of Albany, N.Y.; and Messrs. P.V. Myers and A. Bushnell, of Williams College. We sailed from New York July 1, 1867; and, after crossing the Isthmus of Panama and touching at Paita, Peru, our general route was from Guayaquil to Quito, over the Eastern Cordillera; thence over the Western Cordillera, and through the forest on foot to Napo; down the Rio Napo by canoe to Pebas, on the Maranon; and thence by steamer to Para.[1]

[Footnote 1: Another division, consisting of Messrs. H.M. Myers, R.H. Forbes, and W. Gilbert, of Williams College, proceeded to Venezuela, and after exploring the vicinity of Lake Valencia, the two former traversed the Ilanos to Pao, descended the Apure and ascended the Orinoco to Yavita, crossed the portage of Pimichin (a low, level tract, nine miles wide, separating the waters of the Orinoco from those of the Amazon), and descended the Negro to Manaos, making a voyage by canoe of over 2000 miles through a little-known but deeply-interesting region. A narrative of this expedition will soon be given to the public.]

Nearly the entire region traversed by the expedition is strangely misrepresented by the most recent geographical works. On the Andes of Ecuador we have little besides the travels of Humboldt; on the Napo, nothing; while the Maranon is less known to North Americans than the Nile.

Many of the following pages first appeared in the New York Evening Post. The author has also published "Physical Observations on the Andes and the Amazon" and "Geological Notes on the Ecuadorian Andes" in the American Journal of Science, an article on the great earthquake of 1868 in the Rochester Democrat, and a paper On the Valley of the Amazon read before the American Association at Salem. These papers have been revised and extended, though the popular form has been retained. It has been the effort of the writer to present a condensed but faithful picture of the physical aspect, the resources, and the inhabitants of this vast country, which is destined to become an important field for commercial enterprise. For detailed descriptions of the collections in natural history, the scientific reader is referred to the various reports of the following gentlemen, to whom the specimens were committed by the Smithsonian Institution:

Volcanic Rocks Dr. T. Sterry Hunt, F.R.S., Montreal.

Plants Dr. Asa Gray, Cambridge.

Land and Fresh-water Shells. M. Crosse, Paris, and Thomas Bland, Esq., New York.

Marine Shells Rev. Dr. E.R. Beadle, Philadelphia.

Fossil Shells W.M. Gabb, Esq., Philadelphia.

Hemiptera Prof. P.R. Uhler, Baltimore.

Orthoptera S.H. Scudder, Esq., Boston.

Hymenoptera and Nocturnal Lepidoptera Dr. A.S. Packard, Jr., Salem.

Diurnal Lepidoptera Tryon Reakirt, Esq., Philadelphia.

Coleoptera George D. Smith, Esq., Boston.

Phalangia and Pedipalpi Dr. H.C. Wood, Jr., Philadelphia.

Fishes Dr. Theodore Gill, Washington.

Reptiles Prof. E.D. Cope, Philadelphia.

Birds John Cassin, Esq.,[2] Philadelphia.

Bats Dr. H. Allen, Philadelphia.

Mammalian Fossils Dr. Joseph Leidy, Philadelphia.

[Footnote 2: This eminent ornithologist died in the midst of his examination. Mr. George N. Lawrence, of New York, has identified the remainder, including all the hummers.]

Many of the type specimens are deposited in the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science, the Boston Society of Natural History, the Peabody Academy of Science, and Vassar College; but the bulk of the collection was purchased by Ingham University, Leroy, New York.

The Map of Equatorial America was drawn with great care after original observations and the surveys of Humboldt and Wisse on the Andes, and of Azevedo, Castlenau, and Bates on the Amazon.[3] The names of Indian tribes are in small capitals. Most of the illustrations are after photographs or drawings made on the ground, and can be relied upon. The portrait of Humboldt, which is for the first time presented to the public, was photographed from the original painting in the possession of Sr. Aguirre, Quito. Unlike the usual portrait—an old man, in Berlin—this presents him as a young man in Prussian uniform, traveling on the Andes.

[Footnote 3: We have retained the common orthography of this word, though Amazons, used by Bates, is doubtless more correct, as more akin to the Brazilian name Amazonas.]

We desire to express our grateful acknowledgments to the Smithsonian Institution, Hon. William H. Seward, and Hon. James A. Garfield, of Washington; to Cyrus W. Field, Esq., and William Pitt Palmer, Esq., of New York; to C.P. Williams, Esq., of Albany; to Rev. J.C. Fletcher, now United States Consul at Oporto; to Chaplain Jones, of Philadelphia; to Dr. William Jameson, of the University of Quito; to J.F. Reeve, Esq., and Captain Lee, of Guayaquil; to the Pacific Mail Steamship, Panama Railroad, and South Pacific Steam Navigation companies; to the officers of the Peruvian and Brazilian steamers on the Amazon; and to the eminent naturalists who have examined the results of the expedition.

NOTE.—Osculati has alone preceded us, so far as we can learn, in obtaining a vocabulary of Zaparo words; but, as his work is not to be found in this country, we have not had the pleasure of making a comparison.





In this day of many voyages, in the Old World and the New, it is refreshing to find an untrodden path. Central Africa has been more fully explored than that region of Equatorial America which lies in the midst of the Western Andes and upon the slopes of these mountain monarchs which look toward the Atlantic. In this century one can almost count upon his hand the travelers who have written of their journeys in this unknown region. Our own Herndon and Gibbon descended—the one the Peruvian and the other the Bolivian waters—the affluents of the Amazon, beginning their voyage where the streams were mere channels for canoes, and finishing it where the great river appears a fresh-water ocean. Mr. Church, the artist, made the sketches for his famous "Heart of the Andes" where the headwaters of the Amazon are rivulets. But no one whose language is the English has journeyed down and described the voyage from the plateaux of Ecuador to the Atlantic Ocean until Professor Orton and his party accomplished this feat in 1868. Yet it was over this very route that the King of Waters (as the Amazon is called by the aborigines) was originally discovered. The auri sacra fames, which in 1541 urged the adventurous Gonzalo Pizarro to hunt for the fabled city of El Dorado in the depths of the South American forests, led to the descent of the great river by Orellana, a knight of Truxillo. The fabled women-warriors were said to have been seen in this notable voyage, and hence the name of the river Amazon, a name which in Spanish and Portuguese is in the plural. It was not until nearly one hundred years after Orellana was in his grave that a voyage of discovery ascended the river. In 1637 Pedro Teixeira started from Para with an expedition of nearly two thousand (all but seventy of whom were natives), and with varied experiences, by water and by land, the explorer in eight months reached the city of Quito, where he was received with distinguished honor. Two hundred years ago the result of this expedition was published.

The Amazon was from that time, at rare intervals, the highway of Spanish and Portuguese priests and friars, who thus went to their distant charges among the Indians. In 1745 the French academician De la Condamine descended from Quito to Para, and gave the most accurate idea of the great valley which we had until the first quarter of this century.

The narrow policy of Spain and Portugal was most unfruitful in its results to South America. A jealous eye guarded that great region, of which it can be so well said there are

"Realms unknown and blooming wilds, And fruitful deserts, worlds of solitude, Where the sun smiles and seasons teem in vain."

Now, the making known to the world of any portion of these "fruitful deserts" is performing a service for the world. This Professor Orton has done. His interesting and valuable volume hardly needs any introduction or commendation, for its intrinsic merit will exact the approbation of every reader. Scientific men, and tourists who seek for new routes of travel, will appreciate it at once; and I trust that the time is near at hand when our mercantile men, by the perusal of such a work, will see how wide a field lies before them for future commercial enterprise. This portion of the tropics abounds in natural resources which only need the stimulus of capital to draw them forth to the light; to create among the natives a desire for articles of civilization in exchange for the crude productions of the forest; and to stimulate emigration to a healthy region of perpetual summer.

It seems as if Providence were opening the way for a great change in the Valley of the Amazon. That immense region drained by the great river is as large as all the United States east of the States of California and Oregon and the Territory of Washington, and yet it has been so secluded, mainly by the old monopolistic policy of Portugal, that that vast space has not a population equal to the single city of Rio de Janeiro or of Brooklyn. Two million five hundred thousand square miles are drained by the Amazon. Three fourths of Brazil, one half of Bolivia, two thirds of Peru, three fourths of Ecuador, and a portion of Venezuela are watered by this river. Riches, mineral and vegetable, of inexhaustible supply have been here locked up for centuries. Brazil held the key, but it was not until under the rule of their present constitutional monarch, Don Pedro II., that the Brazilians awoke to the necessity of opening this glorious region. Steamers were introduced in 1853, subsidized by the government. But it is to a young Brazilian statesman, Sr. A.C. Tavares Bastos, that belongs the credit of having agitated, in the press and in the national parliament, the opening of the Amazon, until public opinion, thus acted upon, produced the desired result. On another occasion, in May, 1868, I gave several indices of a more enlightened policy in Brazil, and stated that the opening of the Amazon, which occurred on the 7th of September, 1867, and by which the great river is free to the flags of all nations, from the Atlantic to Peru, and the abrogation of the monopoly of the coast-trade from the Amazon to the Rio Grande do Sul, whereby 4000 miles of Brazilian sea-coast are open to the vessels of every country, can not fail not only to develop the resources of Brazil, but will prove of great benefit to the bordering Hispano-American republics and to the maritime nations of the earth. The opening of the Amazon is the most significant indication that the leaven of the narrow monopolistic Portuguese conservatism has at last worked out. Portugal would not allow Humboldt to enter the Amazon Valley in Brazil. The result of the new policy is beyond the most sanguine expectation. The exports and imports for Para for October and November, 1867, were double those of 1866. This is but the beginning. Soon it will be found that it is cheaper for Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and New Granada, east of the Andes, to receive their goods from, and to export their India-rubber, cinchona, etc., to the United States and Europe, via the great water highway which discharges into the Atlantic, than by the long, circuitous route of Cape Horn or the trans-Isthmian route of Panama.



Guayaquil.—First and Last Impressions.—Climate.—Commerce.—The Malecon.—Glimpse of the Andes.—Scenes on the Guayas.—Bodegas.—Mounted for Quito.—La Mena.—A Tropical Forest......Page 25


Our Tambo.—Ascending the Andes.—Camino Real.—Magnificent Views. —Guaranda.—Cinchona.—The Summit.—Chimborazo.—Over the Andes.—Chuquipoyo the Wretched.—Ambato.—A Stupid City.—Cotopaxi.—The Vale of Machachi.—Arrival at Quito......40


Early History of Quito.—Its Splendor under the Incas.—Crushed by Spain. —Dying now.—Situation.—Altitude.—Streets.—Buildings......56


Population of Quito.—Dress.—Manners.—Character.—Commerce.—Agriculture. —Manufactures.—Arts.—Education.—Amusements.—Quito Ladies......68


Ecuador.—Extent.—Government.—Religion.—A Protestant Cemetery in Quito.—Climate.—Regularity of Tropical Nature. —Diseases on the Highlands......85


Astronomic Virtues of Quito.—Flora and Fauna of the Valley of Quito. —Primeval Inhabitants of the Andes.—Quichua Indians......97


Geological History of South America.—Rise of the Andes.—Creation of the Amazon.—Characteristic Features of the Continent.—Andean Chain.—The Equatorial Volcanoes......114


The Volcanoes of Ecuador.—Western Cordillera.—Chimborazo.—Iliniza. —Corazon.—Pichincha.—Descent into its Crater. Page 127


The Volcanoes of Ecuador.—Eastern Cordillera.—Imbabura.—Cayambi.—Antisana. —Cotopaxi.—Llanganati.—Tunguragua.—Altar.—Saugai......143


The Valley of Quito.—Riobamba.—A Bed of "Fossil Giants."—Chillo Hacienda. —Otovalo and Ibarra.—The Great Earthquake of 1868......152


"The Province of the Orient," or the Wild Napo Country.—The Napos, Zaparos, and Jivaros Indians.—Preparations to cross the Continent......164


Departure from Quito.—Itulcachi.—A Night in a Bread-tray.—Crossing the Cordillera.—Guamani.—Papallacta.—Domiciled at the Governor's.—An Indian Aristides.—Our Peon Train.—In the Wilderness......177


Baeza.—The Forest.—Crossing the Cosanga.—Curi-urcu.—Archidona.—Appearance, Customs, and Belief of the Natives.—Napo and Napo River......187


Afloat on the Napo.—Down the Rapids.—Santa Rosa and its mulish Alcalde. —Pratt on Discipline.—Forest Music.—Coca.—Our Craft and Crew.—Storm on the Napo......200


Sea-Cows and Turtles' Eggs.—The Forest.—Peccaries.—Indian Tribes on the Lower Napo.—Anacondas and Howling Monkeys.—Insect Pests.—Battle with Ants.—Barometric Anomaly.—First View of the Amazon.—Pebas......215


Down the Amazon.—Steam on the Great River.—Loreto.—San Antonio.—Tabatinga. —Brazilian Steamers.—Scenery on the Amazon.—Tocantins.—Fonte Boa.—Ega.—Rio Negro.—Manaos......230


Down the Amazon.—Serpa.—Villa Nova.—Obidos.—Santarem.—A Colony of Southerners.—Monte Alegre.—Porto do Moz.—Leaving the Amazon. —Breves.—Para River.—The City of Para.—Legislation and Currency. —Religion and Education.—Nonpareil Climate. Page 247


The River Amazon.—Its Source and Magnitude.—Tributaries and Tints.—Volume and Current.—Rise and Fall.—Navigation.—Expeditions on the Great River......264


The Valley of the Amazon.—Its Physical Geography.—Geology.—Climate. —Vegetation......280


Life within the Great River.—Fishes.—Alligators.—Turtles.—Porpoises and Manatis......295


Life around the Great River.—Insects.—Reptiles.—Birds.—Mammals......300


Life around the Great River.—Origin of the Red Man.—General Characteristics of the Amazonian Indians.—Their Languages, Costumes, and Habitations. —Principal Tribes.—Mixed Breeds.—Brazilians and Brazil......315


How to Travel in South America.—Routes.—Expenses.—Outfit.—Precautions. —Dangers......325


In Memoriam......334



Barometrical Measurements across South America Page 338


Vocabularies from the Quichua, Zaparo, Yagua, and Campas Languages 340


Commerce of the Amazon 344




Palms on the Middle Amazon Frontispiece Cathedral of Guayaquil Page 27 Equipped for the Andes 37 Ascending the Andes 42 Quito from the North 61 Water-carriers 62 Street in Quito 63 Capitol at Quito 66 Indian Dwellings 78 Washerwomen 83 Ecclesiastics 88 Profiles of Ecuadorian Volcanoes 123 Crater of Pichincha 135 Humboldt in 1802 156 Ibarra 158 Napo Peon 184 Autograph of an Indian 185 Papaya-tree 202 Trapiche, or Sugar-mill 208 Our Craft on the Napo 211 Hunting Turtle-eggs 217 A Howler 223 Kitchen on the Amazon 238 Natives on the Middle Amazon 241 A Siesta 244 Santarem 250 Para 255 Fruit-peddlers 259 Igarape, or Canoe-path 265 Coca-plant 293 Iguana 305 Toucans 307 Brazilian Hummers Page 309 Capybara 310 Jaguar 311 Native Comb 317 Colonel Staunton To face page 334 Map of Equatorial America End.



Guayaquil.—First and Last Impressions.—Climate.—Commerce.—The Malecon.—Glimpse of the Andes.—Scenes on the Guayas.—Bodegas.—Mounted for Quito.—La Mona.—A Tropical Forest.

Late in the evening of the 19th of July, 1867, the steamer "Favorita" dropped anchor in front of the city of Guayaquil. The first view awakened visions of Oriental splendor. Before us was the Malecon, stretching along the river, two miles in length—at once the most beautiful and the most busy street in the emporium of Ecuador. In the centre rose the Government House, with its quaint old tower, bearing aloft the city clock. On either hand were long rows of massive, apparently marble, three-storied buildings, each occupying an entire square, and as elegant as they were massive. Each story was blessed with a balcony, the upper one hung with canvas curtains now rolled up, the other protruding over the sidewalk to form a lengthened arcade like that of the Rue de Rivoli in imperial Paris. In this lower story were the gay shops of Guayaquil, filled with the prints, and silks, and fancy articles of England and France. As this is the promenade street as well as the Broadway of commerce, crowds of Ecuadorians, who never do business in the evening, leisurely paced the magnificent arcade; hatless ladies sparkling with fire-flies[4] instead of diamonds, and far more brilliant than koh-i-noors, swept the pavement with their long trains; martial music floated on the gentle breeze from the barracks or some festive hall, and a thousand gas-lights along the levee and in the city, doubling their number by reflection from the river, betokened wealth and civilization.

[Footnote 4: The Pyrophorus noctilucus, or "cucujo," found also in Mexico and the West Indies. It resembles our large spring-beetle. The light proceeds from two eye-like spots on the thorax and from the segments underneath. It feeds on the sugar-cane. On the Upper Amazon we found the P. clarus, P. pellucens, and P. tuberculatus. At Bahia, on the opposite coast, Darwin found P. luminosus, the most common luminous insect.]

We landed in the morning to find our vision a dissolving view in the light of the rising sun. The princely mansions turned out to be hollow squares of wood-work, plastered within and without, and roofed with red tiles. Even the "squares" were only distant approximations; not a right angle could we find in our hotel. All the edifices are built (very properly in this climate) to admit air instead of excluding it, and the architects have wonderfully succeeded; but with the air is wafted many an odor not so pleasing as the spicy breezes from Ceylon's isle. The cathedral is of elegant design. Its photograph is more imposing than Notre Dame, and a Latin inscription tells us that it is the Gate of Heaven. But a near approach reveals a shabby structure, and the pewless interior is made hideous by paintings and images which certainly must be caricatures. A few genuine works of art imported from Italy alone relieve the mind of the visitor. Excepting a few houses on the Malecon, and not excepting the cathedral, the majority of the buildings have a tumble-down appearance, which is not altogether due to the frequent earthquakes which have troubled this city; while the habitations in the outskirts are exceedingly primitive, floored and walled with split cane and thatched with leaves, the first story occupied by domestic animals and the second by their owners. The city is quite regularly laid out, the main streets running parallel to the river. A few streets are rudely paved, many are shockingly filthy, and all of them yield grass to the delight of stray donkeys and goats. A number of mule-carts, half a dozen carriages, one omnibus, and a hand-car on the Malecon, sum up the wheeled vehicles of Guayaquil. The population is twenty-two thousand, the same for thirty years past. Of these, about twenty are from the United States, and perhaps twenty-five can command $100,000. No foreigner has had reason to complain that Guayaquilians lacked the virtues of politeness and hospitality. The ladies dress in excellent taste, and are proverbial for their beauty. Spanish, Indian, and Negro blood mingle in the lower classes. The city supports two small papers, Los Andes and La Patria, but they are usually issued about ten days behind date. The hourly cry of the night-watchman is quite as musical as that of the muezzin in Constantinople. At eleven o'clock, for example, they sing "Ave Maria purissima! los once han dedo, noche clara y serena. Viva la Patria!"

The full name of the city is Santiago de Guayaquil.[5] It is so called, first, because the conquest of the province was finished on the 25th of July (the day of St. James), 1533; and, secondly, after Guayas, a feudatory cacique of Atahuallpa. It was created a city by Charles V., October 6, 1535. It has suffered much in its subsequent history by fires and earthquakes, pirates and pestilence. It is situated on the right bank of the River Guayas, sixty miles from the ocean, and but a few feet above its level. Though the most western city in South America, it is only two degrees west of the longitude of Washington, and it is the same distance below the equator—Orion sailing directly overhead, and the Southern Cross taking the place of the Great Dipper. The mean annual temperature, according to our observations, is 83 deg.. There are two seasons, the wet, or invierno, and the dry, or verano. The verano is called the summer, although astronomically it is winter; it begins in June and terminates in November.[6] The heavy rains come on about Christmas. March is the rainiest month in the year, and July the coldest. It is at the close of the invierno (May) that fevers most abound. The climate of Guayaquil during the dry season is nearly perfect. At daybreak there is a cool easterly breeze; at sunrise a brief lull, and then a gentle variable wind; at 3 P.M. a southwest wind, at first in gusts, then in a sustained current; at sunset the same softened down to a gentle breeze, increasing about 7 P.M., and dying away about 3 A.M. Notwithstanding heaps of filth and green-mantled pools, sufficient to start a pestilence if transported to New York, the city is usually healthy, due in great part, no doubt, to countless flocks of buzzards which greedily wait upon decay. These carrion-hawks enjoy the protection of law, a heavy fine being imposed for wantonly killing one.[7] It is during the rainy season that this port earns the reputation of being one of the most pestiferous spots on the globe. The air is then hot and oppressive, reminding the geologist of the steaming atmosphere in the carboniferous period; the surrounding plains are flooded with water, and the roads, even some of the streets of the city, become impassable; intolerable musquitoes, huge cockroaches, disgusting centipedes, venomous scorpions, and still more deadly serpents, keep the human species circumspect, and fevers and dysenteries do the work of death.

[Footnote 5: The ancient name was Culenta.]

[Footnote 6: The continuity of the dry season is broken by a rainy fit commencing a few days after the autumnal equinox, and called el Cordonazo de San Francisco. "Throughout South America (observes Mr. Spruce) the periodical alternations of dry and rainy weather are laid to the account of those saints whose 'days' coincide nearly with the epochs of change. But if the weather be rainy when it ought to be fair, or if the rains of winter be heavier than ordinary, the blame is invariably laid on the moon."]

[Footnote 7: The turkey-buzzard, the "John Crow" of the West Indies, is not a social bird, though a score are often seen together: each comes and goes by himself.]

The Guayas is the largest river on the Pacific coast; and Guayaquil monopolizes the commerce of Ecuador, for it is the only port. Esmeraldas and Peylon are not to be mentioned. Through its custom-house passes nearly every import and export. The green banks of the Guayas, covered with an exuberant growth, are in strong contrast with the sterile coast of Peru, and the possession of Guayaquil has been a coveted prize since the days of Pizarro. Few spots between the tropics can vie with this lowland in richness and vigor of vegetation. Immense quantities of cacao—second only to that of Caracas—are produced, though but a fraction is gathered, owing to the scarcity of laborers, so many Ecuadorians have been exiled or killed in senseless revolutions. Twenty million pounds are annually exported, chiefly to Spain; and two million pounds of excellent coffee, which often finds its way into New York under the name of "pure Java." There are three or four kinds of indigenous cacao on this coast, all richly deserving the generic title Theobroma, or "food for the gods." The best grows in Esmeraldas, as it contains the largest amount of oil and has the most pleasant flavor. But very little of it is exported, because it rots in about six months. The cacao de arriba, from up the River Guayas, is the best to export, as it keeps two years without damage. Next in order is the cacao de abajo, from down the river, as Machala, Santa Rosa, Balao, and Manabi, below Guayaquil. A still richer nut is the mountain cacao, but it is never cultivated. It is small and white, and almost pure oil. This oil, called cacao-butter, is used by the natives for burns, sores, and many cutaneous diseases. Cacao contributes more to the commerce of the republic than any other production of its soil. The flowers and fruit grow directly out of the trunk and branches. "A more striking example (says Humboldt) of the expansive powers of life could hardly be met with in organic nature." The fruit is yellowish-red, and of oblong shape, and the seeds (from which chocolate is prepared) are enveloped in a mass of white pulp. The tree resembles our lilac in size and shape, and yields three crops a year—in March, June, and September. Spain is the largest consumer of cacao. The Mexican chocolalt is the origin of our word chocolate. Tucker gives the following comparative analysis of unshelled beans from Guayaquil and Caracas:

Guayaquil. Caracas.

Theobromine 0.63 0.55 Cacao-red 4.56 6.18 Cacao-butter 36.38 35.08 Gluten 2.96 3.21 Starch 0.53 0.62 Gum 1.58 1.19 Extractive matter 3.44 6.22 Humic acid 8.57 9.28 Cellulose 30.50 28.66 Ash 3.03 2.91 Water 6.20 5.58 ——- ——- 98.38 99.48

The coffee-tree is about eight feet high, and has dark green leaves, white blossoms, and green, red, and purple berries at the same time. Each tree yields on an average two pounds annually.

The other chief articles of exportation are hides, cotton, "Panama hats," manufactured at Indian villages on the coast, cinchona bark, caucho, tobacco, orchilla weed, sarsaparilla, and tamarinds.[8] The hats are usually made of the "Toquilla" (Carludovica palmata), an arborescent plant about five feet high, resembling the palm. The leaf, which is a yard long, is plaited like a fan, and is borne on a three-cornered stalk. It is cut while young, the stiff parallel veins removed, then slit into shreds by whipping it, and immersed in boiling water, and finally bleached in the sun. The same "straw" is used in the interior. The "Mocora," which grows like a cocoa-nut tree, with a very smooth, hard, thorny bark, is rarely used, as it is difficult to work. The leaves are from eight to twelve feet in length, so that the "straws" will finish a hat without splicing. Such hats require two or three months, and bring sometimes $150; but they will last a lifetime. They can be packed away in a vest pocket, and they can be turned inside out and worn, the inside surface being as smooth and well finished as the outside. "Toquilla" hats are whiter than the "mocora."

[Footnote 8: In 1867 there were exported to Europe of cacao, 197,260 quintals; cotton, 10,247 do.; caucho, 8911 do.; sarsaparilla, 149 do.; orchilla, 10,247 packages; quinine, 5000 do.; tobacco, 2000 do.; coffee, 1611 do.; tamarinds, 65 bbls.; sides of leather, 22,514; hats, 8397.]

The exports from Guayaquil bear no proportion to the capabilities of the country; Ecuador has no excuse for being bankrupt. Most of the imports are of English origin; lard comes from the United States, and flour from Chile.

The Malecon and river present a lively scene all the year round; the rest of the city appears deserted in comparison. The British steamers from Panama and Payta arrive weekly; Yankee steam-boats make regular trips up and down the Guayas and its tributaries; half a dozen sailing vessels, principally French, are usually lying in the stream, which is here six fathoms deep; and hundreds of canoes are gliding to and fro. But the balsas are the most original, and, therefore, the most attractive sight. These are rafts made of light balsa wood, so buoyant as to be used in coasting voyages. They were invented by the old Peruvians, and are the homes of a literally floating population. By these and the smaller craft are brought to the mole of the Malecon, besides articles for exportation, a boundless variety of fruits—pine-apples (whose quality has made Guayaquil famous), oranges, lemons, limes, plantains, bananas, cocoa-nuts, alligator pears, papayas, mangos, guavas, melons, etc.; many an undescribed species of fish known only to the epicure, and barrels or jars of water from a distant point up the river, out of the reach of the tide and the city sewers. Ice is frequently brought from Chimborazo, and sold for $1 per pound. A flag hoisted at a favorite cafe announces that snow has arrived from the mountains, and that ice-cream can be had. The market, held every morning by the river side, is an animated scene. The strife of the half-naked fishmongers, the cry of the swarthy fruit-dealers—"Pinas!" "Naranjas!" etc., and the song of the itinerant dulce-peddler—"Tamales!" mingled with the bray of the water-bearing donkeys as they trot through the town, never fail to arrest the attention of every traveler.

But there is another sight more attractive still—one worth a long voyage, for Nature nowhere else repeats the picture. From the balconies of Guayaquil can be seen on a clear day the long, towering range of the Andes. We may forget all the incidents in our subsequent journey, but the impression produced by that glorious view is unfading. The sun had nearly touched the Pacific when the clouds, which for days had wrapped the Cordilleras[9] in misty robes, suddenly rose like a curtain. There stood, in inconceivable grandeur, one of the stupendous products of the last great revolution of the earth's crust, as a geologist would say, but, in the language of history, the lofty home of the Incas, made illustrious by the sword of Pizarro and the pen of Prescott. On the right a sea of hills rose higher and higher, till they culminated in the purple mountains of Assuay. Far to the left, one hundred miles northeasterly, the peerless Chimborazo lifted its untrodden and unapproachable summit above its fellows—an imposing background to lesser mountains and stately forests. The great dome reflected dazzlingly the last blushes of the west, its crown of snow fringed with black lines, which were the steep and sharp edges of precipitous rocks. It was interesting to watch the mellowing tints on the summit as the shadows crept upward: gold, vermilion, violet, purple, were followed by a momentary "glory;" then darkness covered the earth, and a host of stars, "trembling with excess of light," burst suddenly into view over the peaks of the Andes.

[Footnote 9: Cordillera (pronounced Cor-de-yer-ra), literally a long ridge, is usually applied to a longitudinal subdivision of the Andes, as the east and west cordilleras inclosing the valley of Quito; Sierra (from the Spanish for saw or Arabic sehrah, an uncultivated tract) is a jagged spur of the Andes; Cerro, "a hog-backed hill." Paramo (a desert) is the treeless, uninhabited, uncultivated rolling steppes just below the snow-limit.]

Bidding "adios" to our Guayaquilian friends, we took passage in one of Captain Lee's little steamers to Bodegas, seventy miles up the river. The Ecuadorian government, strange to say, does not patronize these steamers, but carries the Quito mail in a canoe. The Guayas is a sluggish stream, its turbid waters starting from the slope of the Andes, and flowing through a low, level tract, covered with varied forms of vegetable life. Forests of the broad-leaved plantain and banana line the banks. The fruit is the most common article of food in equatorial America, and is eaten raw, roasted, baked, boiled, and fried. It grows on a succulent stem formed of sheath-like leaf-stalks rolled over one another, and terminating in enormous light green, glossy blades nearly ten feet long by two feet wide, so delicate that the slightest wind will tear them transversely. Each tree (vulgarly called "the tree of paradise") produces fruit but once, and then dies. A single bunch often weighs 60 or 70 pounds; and Humboldt calculated that 33 pounds of wheat and 99 pounds of potatoes require the same space of ground as will produce 4000 pounds of bananas. They really save more labor than steam, giving the greatest amount of food from a given piece of ground with the least labor. They are always found where the palm is; but their original home is the foot of the Himalayas. The banana (by some botanists considered a different species from the plantain) is about four inches long, and cylindrical, and is eaten raw. The plantain is twice as large and prismatic, and uncooked is unhealthy. There is another variety, platanos de Otaheite, which resembles the banana in size and quality, but is prismatic.

A belt of jungle and impenetrable brushwood intervenes, and then cacao and coffee plantations, vast in extent, arrest the eye. Passing these, the steamer brings you alongside of broad fields covered with the low, prickly pine-apple plant; the air is fragrant with a rich perfume wafted from a neighboring grove of oranges and lemons; the mango spreads its dense, splendid foliage, and bears a golden fruit, which, though praised by many, tastes to us like a mixture of tow and turpentine; the exotic bread-tree waves its fig-like leaves and pendent fruit; while high over all the beautiful cocoa-palm lifts its crown of glory.[10] Animal life does not compare with this luxuriant growth. The steamer-bound traveler may see a few monkeys, a group of gallinazos, and many brilliant, though songless birds; but the chief representative is the lazy, ugly alligator. Large numbers of these monsters may be seen on the mud-bank basking in the hot sun, or asleep with their mouths wide open.

[Footnote 10: The mango of Asia is superior in size and flavor to that of America. It is eaten largely in Brazil by negroes and cattle. The cocoa-palm is also of Asiatic origin, and is most abundant in Ceylon. It has a swollen stem when young, but becomes straight and tall when mature. The flowers burst into a long plume of soft, cream-colored blossoms. It is worthy of remembrance that the most beautiful forms of vegetation in the tropics are at the same time most useful to man.]

Eight hours after leaving the Malecon we arrived at Bodegas, a little village of two thousand souls, rejoicing in the synonym of Babahoyo. This has been a place of deposit for the interior from the earliest times. In the rainy season the whole site is flooded, and only the upper stories are habitable. Cock-fighting seems to be the chief amusement. We breakfasted with the governor, a portly gentleman who kept a little dry-goods store. His excellency, without waiting for a formal introduction, and with a cordiality and courtesy almost confined to the Latin nations, received us into his own house, and honored us with a seat at his private table, spread with the choicest viands of his kingdom, serving them himself with a grace to which we can not do justice. Much as we find to condemn in tropical society, we can not forget the kindness of these simple-hearted people. Though we may portray, in the coming pages, many faults and failings according to a New York standard, we wish it to be understood that there is another side to the picture; that there are virtues on the Andes to which the North is well-nigh a stranger. "How many times (says an American resident of ten years) I have arrived at a miserable hut in the heart of the mountains, tired and hungry, after traveling all day without any other companion than the arriero, to receive a warm-hearted welcome, the best, perhaps the only chair or hammock offered to me, the fattest chicken in the yard killed on my account, and more than once they have compelled me by force to take the only good bed, because I must be tired, and should have a good night's rest. A man may travel from one end of the Andes to the other, depending altogether on the good people he meets."

At Bodegas travelers take to mules or horses for the mountains, hiring one set for Guaranda and another at that village for Quito; muleteers seldom allow their animals to pass from one altitude to the other. These arrieros, or muleteers, form a very important class in Ecuador. Their little caravans are the only baggage and express trains in the republic; there is not a single regularly established public conveyance in the land. The arrieros and their servants (peons) are Indians or half-breeds. They wear a straw or felt hat, a poncho striped like an Arab's blanket, and cotton breeches ending at the knees. For food they carry a bag of parched corn, another bag of roasted barley-meal (mashka), and a few red peppers. The beasts are thin, decrepit jades, which threaten to give out the first day; yet they must carry you halfway up the Andes. The distance to the capital is nearly two hundred miles. The time required is usually eight or nine days; but officials often travel it in four.

We left Bodegas at noon. It was impossible to start the muleteer a moment earlier, though he had promised to be ready at seven. Patience is a necessary qualification in a South American traveler. In our company were a Jesuit priest, with three attendants, going to Riobamba, and a young Quito merchant, with his mother—the mother of only twenty-five children. This merchant had traveled in the United States, and could not help contrasting the thrift and enterprise of our country with the beggary and laziness of his own, adding, with a show of sincerity, "I am sorry I have Spanish blood in my veins." The suburbs of Bodegas reminded us of the outskirts of Cairo; but the road soon entered a broad savannah instead of a sandy desert. At 3 P.M. we passed through La Mona, a village of twenty-five bamboo huts, all on stilts, for in the rainy season the whole town is under water. Signs of indolence and neglect were every where visible. Idle men, with an uncertain mixture of European, Negro, and Indian blood; sad-looking Quichua women, carrying a naked infant or a red water-jar on the back; black hogs and lean poultry wandering at will into the houses—such is the picture of the motley life in the inland villages. Strange was the contrast between human poverty and natural wealth. We were on the borders of a virgin forest, and the overpowering beauty of the vegetation soon erased all memory of the squalor and lifelessness of La Mona. Our road—a mere path, suddenly entered this seemingly impenetrable forest, where the branches crossed overhead, producing a delightful shade. The curious forms of tropical life were all attractive to one who had recently rambled over the comparatively bleak hills of New England. Delight is a weak term to express the feelings of a naturalist who for the first time wanders in a South American forest. The superb banana, the great charm of equatorial vegetation, tossed out luxuriantly its glossy green leaves, eight feet in length; the slender but graceful bamboo shot heavenward, straight as an arrow; and many species of palm bore aloft their feathery heads, inexpressibly light and elegant. On the branches of the independent trees sat tufts of parasites, many of them orchids, which are here epiphytal; and countless creeping plants, whose long flexible stems entwined snake-like around the trunks, or formed gigantic loops and coils among the limbs. Beneath this world of foliage above, thick beds of mimosae covered the ground, and a boundless variety of ferns attracted the eye by their beautiful patterns.[11] It is easy to specify the individual objects of admiration in these grand scenes, but it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, astonishment, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind. This road to the Andes is a paradise to the contemplative man. "There is something in a tropical forest (says Bates) akin to the ocean in its effects on the mind. Man feels so completely his insignificance, and the vastness of nature." The German traveler Burmeister observes that "the contemplation of a Brazilian forest produced on him a painful impression, on account of the vegetation displaying a spirit of restless selfishness, eager emulation, and craftiness." He thought the softness, earnestness, and repose of European woodland scenery were far more pleasing, and that these formed one of the causes of the superior moral character of European nations. Live and let live is certainly not the maxim taught in these tropical forests, and it is equally clear that selfishness is not wanting among the people. Here, in view of so much competition among organized beings, is the spot to study Darwin's "Origin of Species." We have thought that the vegetation under the equator was a fitter emblem of the human world than the forests of our temperate zone. There is here no set time for decay and death, but we stand amid the living and the dead; flowers and leaves are falling, while fresh ones are budding into life. Then, too, the numerous parasitic plants, making use of their neighbors as instruments for their own advancement, not inaptly represent a certain human class.

[Footnote 11: Ferns constitute one sixth of the flora of South America; Spruce counted 140 species within the space of three square miles. Their limits of growth are 500 and 7000 feet above the sea.]


Our Tambo.—Ascending the Andes.—Camino Real.—Magnificent Views.—Guaranda.—Cinchona.—The Summit.—Chimborazo.—Over the Andes.—Chuquipoyo the Wretched.—Ambato.—A Stupid City.—Cotopaxi.—The Vale of Machachi.—Arrival at Quito.

We reached Savaneta at 5 P.M. This little village of hardly twenty houses becomes the Bodegas, or place of deposit for the mountains six months in the year, for in the invierno the roads are flooded, and canoes take the place of mules from Savaneta to Babahoyo. Even in the dry season the dampness of this wilderness is so great that the traveler's sugar and chocolate are melted into one, and envelopes seal themselves. We put up at a tambo, or wayside inn, a simple two-storied bamboo hovel, thatched with plantain leaves without and plastered with cobwebs within, yet a palace compared with what sheltered us afterward. The only habitable part was the second story, which was reached by a couple of notched bamboo sticks. A hammock, two earthen kettles, two plates, and a few calabashes constituted the household furniture. The dormitory was well ventilated, for two sides were open. Our lodging, however, cost us nothing; travelers only pay for yerba for their beasts. Though this has been the royal road to Quito for three centuries, there is but one posada between Guayaquil and Ambato, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles; travelers must carry their own bedding and provisions.

Leaving Savaneta at dawn, and breakfasting at a wayside hut owned by an old negro, we struck about noon the Rio Charriguajaco, dashing down the mountains in hot haste for the Guayas. It was refreshing to look upon living waters for the first time since leaving the hills of our native country. Fording this stream we know not how many times, and winding through the dense forest in narrow paths often blockaded by laden donkeys that doggedly disputed the passage, we soon found ourselves slowly creeping up the Andes. We frequently met mountaineers on their way to Bodegas with loads of potatoes, peas, barley, fowls, eggs, etc. They are generally accompanied by their wives or daughters, who ride like the men, but with the knees tucked up higher. On the slippery tracks which traverse this western slope, bulls are often used as beasts of burden, the cloven hoofs enabling them to descend with great security. But mules are better than horses or asses. "That a hybrid (muses Darwin) should possess more reason, memory, obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance, and length of life than either of its parents, seems to indicate that art has here outdone nature."

Toward evening the ascent became rapid and the road horrible beyond conception, growing narrower and rougher as we advanced. Indeed, our way had long since ceased to be a road. In the dense forest, where sunshine never comes, rocks, mud, and fallen trees in rapid alternation macadamize the path, save where it turns up the bed of a babbling brook. In the comparatively level tracts, the equable step of the beasts has worn the soil into deep transverse ridges, called camellones, from their resemblance to the humps on a camel's back. In the precipitous parts the road is only a gully worn by the transit of men and beasts for ages, aided by torrents of water in the rainy season. As we ascend, this changes to a rocky staircase, so strait that one must throw up his legs to save them from being crushed, and so steep that horse and rider run the risk of turning a somersault. It is fearful to meet in a narrow defile, or where the road winds around the edge of a precipice, a drove of reckless donkeys and mules descending the mountain, urged on by the cries and lashes of the muleteers behind. Yet this has been the highway of Ecuadorian commerce for three hundred years. In vain we tried to reach the little village of Camino Real on the crest of the ridge; but the night was advancing rapidly, and crawling up such a road by starlight was not a little dangerous. So we put up at a miserable tambo, Pogyos by name. It was a mud hut of the rudest kind, windowless and unfloored; very clean, if it had been left to nature, but man and beast had rendered it intolerably filthy. Our hostess, a Quichua woman, with tattered garments, and hair disheveled and standing up as if electrified, set a kettle on three stones, and, making a fire under it, prepared for us a calabash of chicken and locro. Locro, the national dish in the mountains, is in plain English simply potato soup. Sitting on the ground, we partook of this refreshment by the aid of fingers and wooden spoons, enticing our appetites by the reflection that potato soup would support life. The unkempt Indian by our side, grinning in conscious pride over her successful cookery, did not aid us in this matter. Fire is used in Ecuador solely for culinary purposes, not for warmth. It is made at no particular spot on the mud floor, and there is no particular orifice for the exit of the smoke save the chinks in the wall. There is not a chimney in the whole republic. As the spare room in the establishment belonged to the women, we gentlemen slept on the ground outside, or on beds made of round poles. The night was piercingly cold. The wished-for morning came at last, and long before the sun looked over the mountains we were on our march. It was the same terrible road, running zigzag, or "quingo" fashion, up to Camino Real, where it was suddenly converted into a royal highway.

We were now fairly out of the swamps of the lowlands, and, though under the equator, out of the tropics too. The fresh mountain breeze and the chilly mists announced a change of climate.[12] Fevers and dysenteries, snakes and musquitoes, the plantain and the palm, we had left behind. Camino Real is a huddle of eight or ten dwellings perched on the summit of a sierra a thousand feet higher than the top of Mount Washington. The views from this stand-point compensate for all past troubles. The wild chaos of mountains on every side, broken by profound ravines, the heaps of ruins piled up during the lapse of geologic ages, the intense azure of the sky, and the kingly condor majestically wheeling around the still higher pinnacles, make up a picture rarely to be seen. Westward, the mountains tumble down into hills and spread out into plains, which, in the far distant horizon, dip into the great Pacific. The setting sun turns the ocean into a sheet of liquid fire. Long columns of purple light shoot up to the zenith, and as the last point of the sun sinks beneath the horizon, the stars rush out in full splendor; for at the equator day gives place to night with only an hour and twenty minutes of twilight. The mountains are Alpine, yet grander than the Alps; not so ragged as the granite peaks of Switzerland, but with rounder heads. The prospect down this occidental slope is diversified by deep valleys, lands-lides, and flowering trees. Magnificent are the views eastward,

"Where Andes, giant of the western star, Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world."

[Footnote 12: The altitude of 7000 feet is the usual limit of the rain-line on the west slope of the Andes. The condensation which produces rain takes place at the equator two or three times higher than in our latitude.]

The majestic dome of Chimborazo was entirely uncovered of clouds, and presented a most splendid spectacle. There it stood, its snow-white summit, unsullied by the foot of man, towering up twice as high as Etna. For many years it received the homage of the world as the highest point in America; but now the Aconcagua of Chile claims the palm. Still, what a panorama from the top of Chimborazo, could one reach it, for the eye would command ten thousand square miles!

Our road gently winds down the sierra, giving us at every turn sublime ideas of what nature can do in tossing up the thin crust of our globe. But sublimity is at a discount here—there is too much of it. Suddenly we are looking down into the enchanting valley of Chimbo. This romantic and secluded spot is one of those forgotten corners of the earth which, barricaded against the march of civilization by almost impassable mountains, and inhabited by a thriftless race, has been left far behind in the progress of mankind. Distance lends enchantment to the view. We are reminded of the pastoral vales of New England. Wheat takes the place of the sugar-cane, barley of cacao, potatoes of plantains, and turnips of oranges. Bamboo sheds have given way to neatly whitewashed villages, and the fields are fenced with rows of aloe. But, drawing nearer, we find the habitations are in reality miserable mud hovels, without windows, and tenanted by vermin and ragged poverty. There are herds of cattle and fields of grain; yet we shall not find a quart of milk or a loaf of bread for sale. The descent into the valley is very precipitous, and, after a rain, alarmingly slippery. Mules, drawing their legs together, slide down with startling velocity, and follow the windings with marvelous dexterity.

We arrived at Guaranda at 5 P.M. on the third day after leaving Bodegas. This is a desolate town of two thousand souls, dwelling in low dilapidated huts made of the most common building material in the Andes—adobe, or sun-dried blocks of mud mingled with straw.[13]

[Footnote 13: From adoub, an Egyptian word still used by the Copts; carried by the Moors to Spain, thence to America; and from America the word has gone to the Sandwich Islands.]

The streets are rudely paved, and pitch to the centre, to form an aqueduct, like the streets of old Sychar. The inhabitants are in happy ignorance of the outside world. They pass the day without a thought of work, standing on the Plaza, or in front of some public office, staring vacantly into space, or gossiping. A cockfight will soonest rouse them from their lethargy. They seem to have no purpose in life but to keep warm under their ponchos and to eat when they are hungry. Guaranda is a healthy locality, lying in a deep valley on the west bank of the Chimbo, at an elevation, according to our barometer, of 8840 feet, and having a mean temperature slightly less than that of Quito. It is a place of importance, inasmuch as it is the resting-place before ascending or after descending the still loftier ranges, and much more because it is the capital of the region which yields the invaluable cinchona, or Peruvian bark.[14] This tree is indigenous to the Andes, where it is found on the western slope between the altitudes of two thousand and nine thousand feet, the species richest in alkaloids occupying the higher elevations, where the air is moist. Dr. Weddell enumerates twenty-one species, seven of which are now found in Ecuador, but the only one of value is the the C. succirubra (the calisaya has run out), and this is now nearly extinct, as the trees have been destroyed to obtain the bark. This species is a beautiful tree, having large, broadly oval, deep green, shining leaves, white, fragrant flowers, and red bark, and sometimes, though rarely, attains the height of sixty feet. A tree five feet in circumference will yield fifteen hundred pounds of green bark, or eight hundred of the dry. The roots contain the most alkaloid, though the branches are usually barked for commerce. The true cinchona barks, containing quinine, quinidine, and cinchonine, are distinguished from the false by their splintery-fibrous texture, the latter being pre-eminently corky. The cascarilleros begin to hunt for bark in August. Dr. Taylor, of Riobamba, found one tree which gave $3600 worth of quinine. The general yield is from three to five pounds to a quintal of bark. The tree has been successfully transplanted to the United States, and particularly to India, where there are now over a million of plants. It was introduced into India by Markham in 1861. The bark is said to be stronger than that from Ecuador, yielding twice as much alkaloid, or eleven per cent. The quinine of commerce will doubtless come hereafter from the slopes of the Himalayas instead of the Andes. In 1867 only five thousand pounds of bark were exported from Guayaquil. The Indians use the bark of another tree, the Maravilla, which is said to yield a much stronger alkaloid than cinchona. It grows near Pallatanga.

[Footnote 14: This celebrated febrifuge was first taken to Europe about the middle of the seventeenth century, and was named after the Countess of Chinchon, who had been cured of intermittent fever at Lima. Afterward, when Cardinal de Lugo spread the knowledge of the remedy through France, and recommended it to Cardinal Mazarin, it received the name of Jesuits' Bark. The French chemists, Pelletier and Caverton, discovered quinine in 1820.]

We left Guaranda at 5 A.M. by the light of Venus and Orion, having exchanged our horses for the sure-footed mule. It was a romantic ride. From a neighboring stand-point Church took one of his celebrated views of "The Heart of the Andes." But the road, as aforetime, was a mere furrow, made and kept by the tread of beasts. For a long distance the track runs over the projecting and jagged edges of steeply-inclined strata of slate, which nobody has had the energy to smooth down. At many places on the road side were human skulls, set in niches in the bank, telling tales of suffering in their ghastly silence; while here and there a narrow passage was blocked up by the skeleton or carcass of a beast that had borne its last burden. At nine o'clock we came out on a narrow, grassy ridge called the Ensillada, or Saddleback, where there were three straw huts, with roofs resting on the ground, and there we breakfasted on locro. During our stay the Indians killed a pig, and before the creature was fairly dead dry grass was heaped upon it and set on fire. This is the ordinary method of removing the bristles.

Still ascending, we lose sight of the valley of the Chimbo, and find ourselves in a wilderness of crags and treeless mountains clothed with the long, dreary-looking paramo grass called paja. But we are face to face with "the monarch of the Andes," and we shall have its company the rest of the day. The snowy dome is flooded with the golden light of heaven; delicate clouds of softest hues float around its breast; while, far below, its feet are wrapped in the baser mists of earth. We attained the summit of the pass at 11 A.M. All travelers strive to reach it early in the morning, for in the afternoon it is swept by violent winds which render it uncomfortable, if not dangerous. This part of the road is called the "Arenal," from the sand and gravel which cover it. It is about a league in length, and crosses the side of Chimborazo at an elevation of more than fourteen thousand feet. Chimborazo stands on the left of the traveler. How tantalizing its summit! It appears so easy of access; and yet many a valiant philosopher, from Humboldt down, has panted for the glory and failed. The depth of the snow and numerous precipices are the chief obstacles; but the excessively rarefied air is another hinderance. Even in crossing the Arenal, a native of the lowlands complains of violent headache, a propensity to vomit, and a difficulty of breathing. The Arenal is often swept by snow-storms; and history has it that some of the Spanish conquerors were here frozen to death. The pale yellow gravel is considered by some geologists as the moraine of a glacier. It is spread out like a broad gravel walk, so that, without exaggeration, one of the best roads in Ecuador has been made by Nature's hand on the crest of the Andes.

It was interesting to trace the different hypsometrical zones by the change of vegetation from Bodegas to this lofty spot. The laws of the decrease of heat are plainly written on the rapid slopes of the Cordilleras. On the hot, steaming lowlands of the coast reign bananas and palms. As these thin out, tree-ferns take their place. Losing these, we found the cinchona bedewed by the cool clouds of Guaranda; and last of all, among the trees, the polylepis. The twisted, gnarled trunk of this tree, as well as its size and silvery foliage, reminded us of the olive, but the bark resembles that of the birch. It reaches the greatest elevation of any tree on the globe. Then followed shrubby fuchsia, calceolaria, eupatoria, and red and purple gentians; around and on the Arenal, a uniform mantle of monocotyledonous plants, with scattered tufts of valeriana, viola, and geranium, all with rigid leaves in the characteristic rosettes of super-alpine vegetation; and on the porphyritic and trachytic sides of Chimborazo, lichens alone. Snow then covers the last effort of vegetable life.[15] The change in the architecture of the houses indicated, likewise, a change of altitude. The open bamboo huts, shingled with banana leaves, were followed by warmer adobe houses, and these, in turn, by the straw hovels of the mountain-top, made entirely of the long, wiry grass of the paramos.

[Footnote 15: According to Sir J. Hooker, among the flowers which adorn the slopes of the Himalayas, rhododendrons occupy the most prominent place, and primroses next. There are no orchids, neither red gentians, but blue. Organic life ceases 3000 feet lower than on the Andes; yet it is affirmed that flowering plants occur at the height of 18,460 feet, which is equivalent to the summit of Chimborazo in point of temperature! The polylepis (P. racemosa) is one of the Sanguisorbaceae; in Quichua it is Sachaquinoa.]

Leaving the Arenal, we rapidly descended by the usual style of road—stone stairs. But down we went, as all the goods for Quito, "the grand capital," have done since the Spanish Conquest. The old road from Beirut to Damascus is royal in comparison. The general aspect of the eastern slope is that of a gray, barren waste, overgrown with paja; but now and then we crossed deep gulleys, whose sides were lined with mosses and sprinkled with calceolarias, lupines, etc. In our descent we had before us the magnificent Valley of Quito, and beyond it the eastern Cordillera. Below us was Riobamba, and far away to the right the deep gorge of the Pastassa. Nevertheless, this is one of the loneliest rides earth can furnish. Not a tree nor human habitation is in sight. Icy rivulets and mule-trains are the only moving objects on this melancholy heath. Even "Drake's Plantation Bitters," painted on the volcanic cliffs of Chimborazo, would be a relief.

At last we reached our rude accommodations for the night. It was a solitary mud tambo, glorying in the euphonious name of Chuquipoyo. The court-yard was a sea of mud and manure, for this is the halting-place for all the caravans between Quito and the coast. Our room was a horrid hole, dark, dirty, damp, and cold, without a window or a fire. There was one old rickety bedstead, but as that belonged to the lady in our party, the rest betook themselves to benches, table, and floor. We filled our stomachs with an unpalatable potato soup containing cheese and eggs, and laid down—to wait for the morning. Grass is the only fuel here; but this is not the chief reason why it is so difficult to make good tea or cook potatoes at this wretched tambo. Water boils at 190 deg., or before it is fairly hot: it is well the potatoes are small. The muleteers slept with their beasts outside, though the night was fearfully cold, for Chuquipoyo lies on the frigid side of Chimborazo, at an elevation of over twelve thousand feet above the sea. As Johnson said to Boswell, "This is a dolorous place."

Gladly we left this cheerless tambo, though a cold, heavy mist was falling as we rode northward, over the seemingly endless paramo of Sanancajas. Here, as throughout the highlands of Ecuador, ditches are used for fences; so that, should the traveler wander from the path, he finds himself stopped by an impassable gulf. In two hours and a half we reached Mocha, a lifeless pueblo under the shadow of Carguairazo. Slowly descending from our high altitude, we gradually entered a more congenial climate—the zone of wheat and barley, till, finally, signs of an eternal spring were all around us—ripening corn on one side, and blossoming peas on the other.

Late in the afternoon the road led us through a sandy, sterile tract, till suddenly we came in sight of Ambato, beautifully situated in a deep ravine, eight thousand five hundred and fifty feet above the Pacific. The city ranks next to Quito in beauty. It is certainly an oasis, the green foliage of its numerous shade-trees and orchards contrasting with the barren hills around. It is two degrees warmer than Quito, and is famous for its fruit and fine climate. It is the Lynn of Ecuador, the chief articles of manufacture being boots and shoes—cheap, but of poor quality. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1698. The houses are built of sun-dried brick, and whitewashed. The streets, with gutters in the centre, are at right angles, and paved, and adorned with numerous cypress-looking trees, called sauce, a species of willow. The Plaza, which contains a useful if not ornamental fountain, presents a lively scene on Sunday, the great market-day. The inn is a fair specimen of a public house in Spanish America. Around the court-yard, where the beasts are fed, are three or four rooms to let. They are ventilated only when opened for travelers. The floor is of brick, but alive with fleas; the walls are plastered, but veiled with cobwebs. The furniture, of primitive make and covered with dust, consists of a chair or two, a table, and a bed of boards covered with a thin straw mat. There is not a hotel in Ecuador where sheets and towels are furnished. The landlords are seldom seen; the entire management of the concern is left to a slovenly Indian boy, who is both cook and hostler. No amount of bribery will secure a meal in less than two hours. Ten years ago there was not a posada in the country; now there is entertainment for man and beast at Guayaquil, Guaranda, Mocha, Ambato, Tacunga, Machachi, and Quito. Riobamba has a billiard saloon, but no inn.

Leaving Ambato, we breakfasted at Cunchebamba, an Indian village of half a dozen straw huts. Thence the road for a long distance winds through vast deposits of volcanic debris, the only sign of vegetation being hedges of aloe and cactus. Arid hills and dreary plains, covered with plutonic rocks and pumice dust, tell us we are approaching the most terrible volcano on the earth. Crossing the sources of the Pastassa, we entered Latacunga,[16] situated on a beautiful plain at the foot of Cotopaxi, seven hundred feet higher than Ambato. Its average temperature is 59 deg.. The population, chiefly Indians, numbers about fifteen thousand. It is the dullest city in Ecuador, without the show of enterprise or business. Not even grass grows in the streets—the usual sign of life in the Spanish towns. It is also one of the filthiest; and though it has been many times thoroughly shaken by earthquakes, and buried under showers of volcanic dust, it is still the paradise of fleas, which have survived every revolution. Ida Pfeiffer says that, after a night's rest in Latacunga, she awoke with her skin marked all over with red spots, as if from an eruptive disease. We can certify that we have been tattoed without the night's rest. The town has a most stupid and forlorn aspect. Half of it is in ruins. It was four times destroyed between 1698 and 1797. In 1756 the Jesuit church was thrown down, though its walls were five feet thick. The houses are of one story, and built of pumice, widely different from the palaces and temples which are said to have stood here in the palmy days of the Incas. Cotopaxi stands threateningly near, and its rumbling thunder is the source of constant alarm.

[Footnote 16: This is shortened in parlance to Tacunga. The full name, according to La Condamine, is Llacta-cunga, llacta meaning country, and cunga, neck.]

From Latacunga to Quito there is a very fine carriage road, the result of one man's administration—Senor G. Garcia Moreno. For many miles it passes over an uncultivated plateau, strewn with volcanic fragments. The farms are confined to the slopes of the Cordilleras, and, as every where else, the tumbling haciendas indicate the increasing poverty of the owner. Superstition and indolence go hand in hand. On a great rock rising out of the sandy plain they show a print of the foot of St. Bartholomew, who alighted here on a visit—surely to the volcanoes, as it was long before the red man had found this valley. Abreast of Cotopaxi the road cuts through high hills of fine pumice inter-stratified with black earth, and rapidly ascends till it reaches Tiupullo, eleven thousand five hundred feet above the sea. This high ridge,[17] stretching across the valley from Cotopaxi to Iliniza, is a part of the great water-shed of the continent—the waters on the southern slope flowing through the Pastassa and Amazon to the Atlantic, those on the north finding their way to the Pacific by the Rio Esmeraldas. At this bleak place we breakfasted on punch and guinea-pig.

[Footnote 17: Sometimes called Chisinche.]

As soon as we began to descend, the glittering cone of Cotopaxi, and the gloomy plain it has so often devastated, passed out of view, and before us was a green valley exceedingly rich and well cultivated, girt by a wall of mountains, the towers of which were the peaks of Corazon and Ruminagui. Loathsome lepers by the wayside alone disturbed the pleasing impression. Three hours more of travel brought us to the straggling village of Machachi, standing in the centre of the beautiful plain, at an altitude of nine thousand nine hundred feet. Nature designed this spot for a home of plenty and comfort, but the habitations of the wretched proprietors are windowless adobe hovels, thatched with dried grass, and notorious for their filth.

We must needs make one more ascent, for the ridge of Tambillo hides the goal of our journey. The moment we reached the summit, views unparalleled in the Andes or any where else met our astonished vision whithersoever we looked. Far away to the south stretched the two Cordilleras, till they were lost in the mist which enshrouded Chimborazo and Tunguragua. Turning to the north, we beheld the city of Quito at our feet, and Pichincha and Antisana standing like gallant sentinels on either side of the proud capital. Beautiful were the towering mountains, and almost as delightful now are the memories of that hour. A broad, well-traveled road, gentlemen on horseback clad in rich ponchos, droves of Indians bowed under their heavy burdens, and long lines of laden donkeys hurrying to and fro, indicate our approach to a great city. Winding with the road through green pastures and fields of ripening grain, and crossing the Machangara by an elegant bridge, we enter the city of the Incas.


Early History of Quito.—Its Splendor under the Incas.—Crushed by Spain.—Dying now.—Situation.—Altitude.—Streets.—Buildings.

Quito is better known than Ecuador. Its primeval history, however, is lost in obscurity. In the language of Prescott, "the mists of fable have settled as darkly round its history as round that of any nation, ancient or modern, in the Old World." Founded, nobody knows when, by the kings of the Quitus, it was conquered about the year 1000 by a more civilized race, the Cara nation, who added to it by conquest and alliance. The fame of the region excited the cupidity of the Incas of Peru, and during the reign of Cacha (1475), Huayna-Capac the Great moved his army from Cuzco, and by the celebrated battle of Hatuntaqui, in which Cacha was killed, Quito was added to the realm of the Incas. Huayna-Capac made Quito his residence, and reigned there thirty-eight years—the most brilliant epoch in the annals of the city. At his death his kingdom was divided, one son, Atahuallpa,[18] reigning in Quito, and Huascar at Cuzco. Civil war ensued, in which the latter was defeated, and Atahuallpa was chosen Inca of the whole empire, 1532. During this war Pizarro arrived at Tumbez. Every body knows what followed. Strangled at Caxamarca, the body of Atahuallpa was carried to Quito, the city of his birth, in compliance with his dying wish, and buried there with imposing obsequies. Refounded by Benalcazar in 1534, Quito was created an imperial city by Charles V. seven years later. It formed part of Peru till 1710; then of Santa Fe till 1722; and again of Peru till its independence. The power of Spain in South America was destroyed at the battle of Ayacucho, Dec. 9, 1824. In 1830 Venezuela separated from Colombia, and Ecuador followed the same year. The first Congress was held in Riobamba; but Quito has ever since been the political focus. The first president was General Flores.

[Footnote 18: The son of his Quito love. The name was first written Atauhuallpa, meaning fortunate in war; after the fratricide, he was called Atahuallpa, or game-cock. He was the Boabdil of this occidental Granada. He is called traitor by Peruvian writers, and is not admitted by them into the list of their Incas.]

Under the diadem of the Incas, Quito assumed a magnificence which it never saw before and has not displayed since. It was the worthy metropolis of a vast empire stretching from the equator to the desert of Atacama, and walled in by the grandest group of mountains in the world. On this lofty site, which amid the Alps would be buried in an avalanche of snow, but within the tropics enjoys an eternal spring, palaces more beautiful than the Alhambra were erected, glittering with the gold and emerald of the Andes. But all this splendor passed away with the sceptre of Atahuallpa. Where the pavilion of the Inca stood is now a gloomy convent, and a wheat-field takes the place of the Temple of the Sun.

The colonial history of this favored spot is as lifeless as the history of Sahara. Not a single event occurred of which even Spain can be proud; not a monument was raised which reflects any credit upon the mother country. Every thing was prescribed by law, and all law emanated from a tribunal five thousand miles distant. There was no relation of private life with which the government did not interfere: what the colonist should plant and what trade he should follow; where he should buy and where he should sell; how much he should import and export; and where and when he should marry, were regulated by the "Council of the Indies" and the Inquisition. In the words of a native writer, "The great majority of the people knew nothing of sciences, events, or men. Their religion consisted of outward observances, and an imperfect knowledge of the papal bulls; their morality, in asceticism and devotion to their king; their philosophy, in the subtleties of Aristotle; their history, in the history of the mother country; their geography, in the maps of Spanish America and of Spain; their press, in what sufficed to print bill-heads and blank forms; their commerce, in an insignificant coasting trade; their ambition and highest aspirations, in titles of nobility; their amusements, in bull-fights. The arrival of a mail was an event of great moment, and with ringing of bells was received the cajon de Espana which announced the health of the sovereigns. Thus, while Europe was passing through the stormy times of Louis XIV.; while the philosophical writings of the illustrious men of those times found their way into the remotest corners of the globe; while the English colonies of North America conquered their independence; while the Old World was drenched in blood to propagate the ideas which the French Revolution had proclaimed, the Presidency of Quito, walled in by its immense cordilleras and the ocean, and ruled by monkish ignorance and bigotry, knew as little of men and events as we now know of men and events in the moon."[19]

[Footnote 19: Geografia de la Republica del Ecuador, por Dr. Villavicencio. This work abounds with erroneous and exaggerated statements, but it is nevertheless a valuable contribution to Ecuadorian literature.]

From an iron despotism which existed for three centuries, Quito passed to a state of unbridled licentiousness. Without any political experience whatever, the people attempted to lay the foundation of a new system of government and society. With head and hearts perverted by monkish superstition and Spanish tyranny, yet set on fire by the French Revolution, what did they know of liberty! Endless civil wars have followed independence. "Political ambition," says a late United States minister, "personal jealousies, impracticable theories, official venality, reckless disregard of individual rights and legal obligations, foolish meddling and empirical legislation, and an absolute want of political morality, form the principal features of their republican history."[20] To-day they tread on the dust of an ancient race whose government was in every respect a most complete contrast to their own.

[Footnote 20: Four Years among Spanish Americans, by Hon. F. Hassaurek: a truthful work, to which we refer the reader for details, especially concerning Ecuadorian life and manners.]

At the foot of volcanic Pichincha, only five hours' travel from its smoking crater, lies "the city above the clouds," "the navel of the world," "magnificent Quito." On the north is the plain of Rumibamba, the battle-field where Gonzalo Pizarro routed the first viceroy of Peru, and the scene, two centuries later, of the nobler achievements of La Condamine, which made it the classic ground of astronomy. On the southern edge of the city rises Panecillo, reminding one of Mount Tabor by its symmetrical form, and over-looking the beautiful and well-watered plain of Turubamba. On the east flows the Rio Machangara, and just beyond it stand the Puengasi hills hiding the Chillo valley, while the weary sun goes early to rest behind the towering peaks of Pichincha. So encircled is this sequestered spot, the traveler, approaching by the Guayaquil road, sees only a part of it, and is disappointed; and even when standing on Panecillo, with the entire city spread out before him, he is not wholly satisfied. Buried between treeless, sombre sierras, and isolated from the rest of the world by impassable roads and gigantic Cordilleras, Quito appears to us of the commercial nineteenth century as useless as the old feudal towns perched on the mountains of Middle Europe. Not a chimney rises above the red-tiled roofs, telling of homely hearths beneath. No busy hum greets the ear; there are bugles instead of spindles, and jingling church bells in place of rattling carriages. The wandering eye does not look for a railroad or a telegraph, for even the highways, such as they are, seem deserted, and, save the music made for soldiers and saints, all is silent. The very mountains, too, with their snow-mantled heads, and their sides scarred by volcanic eruptions and ruptured by earthquake shocks, have a melancholy look. In the words of a great artist, "They look like a world from which not only the human, but the spiritual presences had perished, and the last of the archangels, building the great Andes for their monuments, had laid themselves down to eternal rest, each in his snow-white shroud."

But let us enter. Passing the ruined chapel "Del Senor del buen pasaje," and crossing by a substantial stone bridge the little Machangara hastening to pay tribute to the Pacific, we leave behind us the dirty, dilapidated suburbs of the capital. Soon we cross another bridge—the Bridge of Buzzards—spanning a deep ravine, and gallop through the Plaza de Santo Domingo. Very different are the sights and sounds from the stir and style of Central Park. The scene has a semi-oriental cast—half Indian, half Egyptian, as if this were the confluence of the Maranon and Nile. Groups of men—not crowds, for there is plenty of elbow-room in Ecuador—in gay ponchos stand chatting in front of little shops, or lean against the wall to enjoy the sunshine; beggars in rags or sackcloth stretch forth their leprous hands for charity; monks in white, and canons in black, walk in the shade of immense hats; shoeless soldiers saunter to and fro; Indians from the mountains in every variety of costume cluster around heaps of vegetables for sale; women in red, brown, and blue frocks are peddling oranges and alligator pears, or bearing huge burdens on their heads; children, guiltless of clothing, and obtuse donkeys, wander whithersoever they will; and water-carriers, filling their jars at the fountain, start off on a dog-trot.

We cross the Plaza diagonally, pass down the Calle de San Fernando, up the Calle del Algodon, and through the busy Calle del Correo, till we reach the Casa Frances, opposite the mansion of the late General Flores. This is our hotel—owned by a Frenchman, but kept by an Indian. We ride under the low archway, bowing with ill grace, like all republicans unaccustomed to royalty, tie our beasts in the court-yard, ascend to our spacious quarters on the second floor, and, ordering coffee, seat ourselves in the beautiful balcony to talk of Quito and Quitonians.

Quito, though not the highest city on the globe, is two thousand feet higher than the Hospice of Great St. Bernard on the Alps, which is the only permanent place of abode in Europe above six thousand five hundred feet. When Mr. Hassaurek was appointed United States Minister to Ecuador, he thanked Mr. Lincoln for conferring upon him the highest gift in his power. The mean result of our numerous observations with Green's standard barometer places the Grand Plaza nine thousand five hundred and twenty feet above the sea, or fifty feet lower than the calculation of Humboldt. Water boils at 194 deg..5. Cuzco and Potosi may surpass it in altitude, but there is not a city in the world which can show at once such a genial climate, such magnificent views, and such a checkered history. It is unique likewise in its latitude, lying only fifteen miles below the equator; no other capital comes within three hundred miles of the equinoctial line.

Whatever may have been the plan of Quito in the days of Huayna-Capac, it is evident that the Spanish founders were guided more by the spurs of Pichincha than by astronomy. The streets make an angle of forty-five degrees with the meridian, so that not a single public building faces any one of the four cardinal points of the compass. Two deep ravines come down the mountain, and traverse the city from west to east. They are mostly covered by arches, on which the houses rest; but where they are open, they disclose as fit representatives of the place of torment as the Valley of Hinnom. The outline of the city is as irregular as its surface. It incloses one square mile. Twenty streets, all of them straiter than the apostolic one in Damascus, cross one another very nearly at right angles. None of them are too wide, and the walks are painfully narrow; but, thanks to Garcia Moreno, they are well paved. The inequality of the site, and its elevation above the Machangara, render the drainage perfect.[21] The streets are dimly lighted by tallow candles, every householder being obliged to hang out a lantern at 7 P.M., unless there is moonshine. The candles, however, usually expire about ten o'clock. There are three "squares"—Plaza Mayor, Plaza de San Francisco, and Plaza de Santo Domingo. The first is three hundred feet square, and adorned with trees and flowers; the others are dusty and unpaved, being used as market-places, where Indians and donkeys most do congregate. All the plazas have fountains fed with pure water from Pichincha.

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