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on the plain, and the other on the base of a mountain, rising six or seven thousand feet high. The sketch will give a better idea of it than any description. The distance of Tupongati is about forty leagues.
Captains King and Fitzroy have made the height of this peak several hundred feet above Chimborazo. The surrounding mountains, though from ten to twelve thousand feet high and much nearer, sink into insignificance when compared with it. Indeed all the objects are upon such a grand scale, that they fail to excite the notice that they would attract if situated elsewhere. On the top of this cuesta, Mr. Couthouy obtained, in a torpid state, a small quadruped of the size of a mouse, a very interesting specimen of the order Marsupia. A description of it, with a spirited drawing by Mr. Peale, will be found in the department of Mammalogy.
The road over the cuesta was narrow, steep, and broken. It descended into a plain, which was found well cultivated and watered by a branch of the Aconcagua.
The ridges on the northern side of the valley now became more lofty and precipitous, exhibiting the columnar structure more distinctly. The trap dikes were in some places four feet wide; and in one place, where the rock had been cut to form the road, fourteen dikes were counted within three hundred feet. On their way up the valley, the peon's horse gave out, and they were obliged to stop and hire another at a farmer's house, who was called Evangelisto Celidono. This rancho, twenty feet by ten, was rather better than others that were met with, but at the same time bore a strong resemblance to them. It was constructed of large adobes, or rather blocks of clay, and finished in the inside neatly with the same material. It consisted of but one apartment, the floor of which was clay. It had a thatched roof, which was open in several places. There was no window. The door and the holes in the roof supplied all the light. The furniture, if such. it could be called, consisted of a rude bedstead and an apology for a table, at one end; the other was divided into three bins, one to contain corn, another beans, and the third potatoes, with saddles and various kinds of horse-gear, and a bag or two of wheat. On one side was a clay seat, three feet broad by six long, and the height of an ordinary seat, whilst from the rafters hung in nets a good supply of bread, cheese, and numerous strings of onions, garlic, and red Chili peppers. There were besides two chairs and a bench. All the cooking is done in a small detached building; and a small clay oven in the yard is an accompaniment of every rancho. Bread and an abundance of grapes, of which they could not eat more than a third, were supplied them for a “medio.” The second cuesta was shortly afterwards mounted, of about five hundred feet elevation, and on the top they were gratified by witnessing the mode in which the Chilians capture the wild horses. A party of four or five horsemen, with about twenty dogs, were seen formed in an extended crescent, driving the wild horses towards the river with shouts. All were armed with the lasso, which was swinging over their heads, to be in readiness to entrap the first that attempted to break through the gradually contracting segment; the dogs serving with the riders to head the horses in. They continued to advance, when suddenly a horse with furious speed broke the line, passing near one of the horsemen, and for a moment it was thought he had escaped ; the next, he was jerked round with a force that seemed sufficient to have broken his neck, the horseman having, the moment the lasso was thrown, turned round and braced himself for the shock. The captured horse now began to rear and plunge furiously to effect his escape. After becoming somewhat worn out, he was suffered to run, and again suddenly checked. This was repeated several times, when another plan was adopted. The dogs were set on him, and off he went at full run, in the direction of another horseman, who threw his lasso to entangle his legs and precipitate him to the ground. The dogs again roused him, when he again started, and was in like manner brought to a stand; after several trials, he became completely exhausted and subdued, when he stood perfectly still, and allowed his captors to lay hands upon him. The shouts of the men, the barking of the dogs, and the scampering of the horses, made the whole scene quite exciting.
Shortly afterwards, it was suspected their peon was leading them astray; this was evident by their crossing and recrossing the river, and wandering at random on a road which was apparently but little travelled. After a toilsome route of three and a half hours, they found themselves surrounded by many branches of the river, whose banks were but a few inches above the water. The peon then acknowledged himself bewildered, and that he had missed his way. Crossing the streams was attended with some danger, for owing to their rapidity and depth they were near sweeping the horses off their legs. Returning a league or two, they fortunately met a muleteer, who put them in the road ; but their horses were now so exhausted that they were compelled to seek lodgings at a rancho. After applying at several, they succeeded in getting a place to lie in, after making many promises of liberal payment. A similar course, notwithstanding a positive refusal or denial of having any provisions, procured them a casuela, served in a large wooden bowl, with wooden spoons. This is a sort of Chilian chowder, with a plentiful supply of garlic, onions, Chili pepper, &c., and one of the favourite dishes of the country. In three days' ride they had passed over about sixty miles; the highest temperature experienced was 65.5°, the lowest 35.7°. At the rancho where they stopped for the night, the temperature fell 20:5° in three hours.
They passed the night with the usual annoyance in most houses in Chili, for fleas were found in great abundance. In the morning the temperature was 35.5°, and the ground covered with hoar frost. The rancho was supposed to be about one hundred feet above the level of the sea. The mountains in the immediate neighbourhood were from six to seven thousand feet high, exhibiting a gorgeous appearance as the sunbeams lighted them up, and at times the brilliancy was so great as to dazzle the eye. They left the rancho at seven o'clock, and although it was only ten miles distant, they did not reach San Felipe before eleven. The road passed over a third cuesta, which exhibited a regular columnar structure. The hills inclining to the northward open and present to view the broad plain of Aconcagua. San Felipe de Aconcagua stands about fifteen miles from the foot of the Andes, and the mountains are seen from thence in all their grandeur. The peak of Tupongati is, however, lost sight of as the town is approached, disappearing behind the nearer snowy peaks. This mountain is situated on the dividing or eastern ridge of the Cordilleras, and within the United Provinces of La Plata.
On arriving at San Felipe, they proceeded at once to the house of Mr. Henry Newman, an English gentleman resident there, and engaged in mining operations, to whom they had letters. Mr. Newman was not at home, but they were hospitably received by his lady, a native of Chili, who treated them with great kindness and attention. In the absence of her husband, she made them acquainted with an American gentleman, a Mr. Chase, who happened to be on a visit there, from Santiago. He had been in Chili since the failure of the expedition of Carrera, when he, with several of his companions, settled in Chili, and afterwards engaged in mining operations. He had several times amassed a large property, and as often lost it, by the revolutions that had taken place in the country. He is now engaged in working a silver mine, in the vicinity of Santiago, and attempting the German process of smelting, as there are vast quantities of ore, containing a large per centage of silver, which have hitherto been neglected, from the impracticability of separating the silver by the usual method. There is now only one survivor from among the thirty persons who settled in Chili with Mr. Chase. From his operations he expects in a few years to realize a large fortune. The town of San Felipe is laid out with great regularity, in the form of a square, surrounded by extensive alamedas, which are planted with Lombardy poplars. Mr. Newman gave the population at from twelve to thirteen thousand. In the centre of the town is a large open square, one side of which is occupied by the town hall, and offices connected with the municipality. Opposite are the church and barracks, and the remaining sides are occupied with shops and private dwellings. The houses are all of one story, and are in a good style of building. The better class of houses stand some distance back from the street, and are decorated tastefully with paintings in fresco on the walls. Roses and jessamines were seen in every court-yard, and the gardens are well filled with various fruits, apples, peaches, pears, grapes, pomegranates, oranges, lemons, and quinces; the latter are remarkably fine, and in great plenty. The houses, as in other parts of Chili, have no fire-places, in lieu of which they use brazeros, or pans of live coal when heat is required. Mr. Chase took them to a friend of his, to see the process of manufacturing the acida and aguardiente of the country. The whole process is carried on in a large court behind the house. The grapes are brought in large baskets, or on hand-barrows, made with poles and raw hide, and are emptied in heaps, under an open shed. Here several small boards are placed, on which the grapes are laid by the men, who separate them from the stalks, by rolling them rapidly in their hands, the grapes falling along the boards, which are inclined into a large vat, where they are trodden out by men. The juice, which runs off through a rude strainer at one end, is received into large earthen jars; the pumice, or residuum, is from time to time taken out of the vat, and placed on a platform, when more juice is expressed, by laying boards and heavy stones upon it. That part which is intended for wine proper, or the “must,” is received like the first into earthen jars, where it undergoes the requisite fermentation, and receives a small quantity of brandy, or the aguardiente of the country, to give it body. The chicha is made by boiling down the clear grape-juice after fermentation, for several hours, over a slow fire. After this process, it was put in enormous earthen jars, containning sixty to one hundred and twenty gallons, which are covered over, and tightly luted. The portion not required for consumption, is afterwards distilled with the pumice into aguardiente of the country. The stills were of the simplest construction, being nothing more than a number of large earthen pots, holding from eighty to one hundred gallons, placed in the ground over a long narrow oven. Instead of a worm, a straight pipe of copper is used, about twenty feet long; one of these was inserted into each pot or jar, and to effect the condensation, a stream of water from the river was led so as to pass over them. All the agricultural implements are equally rude and primitive. The ploughs are nothing more than a crooked stick, with the share-end pointed, and hardened by charring. Notwithstanding these disadvantages, they are enabled to raise large crops, and bring their farms into tolerable condition. In the evening they had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Newman, who returned ; and his reception of his guests was, if possible, even more kind than that of his good lady. Learning that our gentlemen wished to visit some of the mines in the neighbourhood, he immediately made arrangement to send his agent to his own establishment, five leagues beyond San Felipe, and provided them horses and mules, in order that their own might recruit for their return journey. The temperature at San Felipe varied, between noon and 10 p.m., from 63° to 49°. The might was remarkably clear and fine. The next morning they started, with Mr. George Alderson, for the mines, which are near the summit of the first Cordillera, on the Mendoza road, and about three thousand feet above the level of the sea. They were here informed, that in consequence of the late heavy falls of snow, the roads were all covered and congealed, and that it extended several thousand feet below the limit of perpetual snow. They had no use for the neglected barometer, and had some satisfaction in feeling they had not been troubled with it. About a league from San Felipe they passed a large porphyritic mass, some specimens broken from which contained grains of quartz. They then passed up a singular gully, about twenty feet deep and as many wide, for about VOL. I. R 25