Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

from deserting altogether, and caused our gentlemen some fear lest they might be compelled to return ; but after much dispute, the guides consented to proceed, although it must be allowed that the bargain was far from being advantageous to them. Along the road to Baños they passed some high ridges, with snow and ice coming at times down to the path; also lakes in deep ravines, somewhat resembling small craters, which, like all the rest they had seen, were tenanted by numerous water-fowl. The crest of the Andes did not appear here quite so broad as it had been found to be four leagues to the southward, but its elevation was thought to be greater. The contiguous ranges of snowy peaks, in the direction of Pasco, were very striking. The Indians have names for all the most remarkable ones, but the Spaniards embrace the whole, together with the principal one, under the name of La Vinda. From the direction of the descent to the northward and westward, they began to suspect they were descending upon the western slope of the Cordilleras instead of the eastern; this proved to be the case, which was no small disappointment, as it was their original intention to reach the wooded district on the eastern slope, termed “montanas.” In this they were therefore disappointed. As they proceeded, the country improved, the climate became milder, and the soil richer; on their way they crossed a small stream, which was said to be the source of the river Chancai. At dark they reached Baños, which is computed to be upwards of five leagues from Casa Cancha. Baños is considered to be at about the same elevation as Culnai, but the descent is more rapid to the former. According to the custom of the country, they applied to the alcalde for accommodations, who is obliged, according to law, to furnish travellers with a house, if the town should possess none for the use of strangers, free of expense, and to provide them with a cook; the travellers buy their own provisions, and pay for the cooking, one real for each dish. Baños is celebrated for its mineral hot springs, from which it derives its name; they flow from the base of a high mountain. The town consists of about thirty houses, and a church, of which the inhabitants are very proud. It is a neat village, situated in a deep ravine, by the side of a tumbling stream, bounded on both sides by mountains three thousand feet high. The mountain sides appear so precipitous, that the remark was made by one of the party, “that he could not conceive why the cattle that were seeding on their sides did not fall off.” Along the margin of the stream, carnations, pinks, stock gillyflowers, and French marigolds are naturalized; the pinks grow in immense numbers in every crack and crevice. The cabbages here are woody and arborescent, like the cow or treecabbage, the trunk and branches being quite hard and covered with bark; they have at a distance some resemblance to the Brugmansia suaveolens. •. The thermometer stood at 50°, and the weather, in comparison with the day before, was quite mild. The hot spring is close to the village; owing to their thermometel being for low temperatures, not graduated above 140°, they did not get its exact temperature; but eggs put in were cooked in about three minutes, and their tea was prepared by a vessel being placed in it, so that it could not be far from the boiling point, at ten thousand feet elevation. No steam was seen to issue from the orifice, but vapour rises afterwards to mark the spot; there is also a strong smell of sulphur, and at night a thick cloud hangs over the spring. The water was tasteless, and there was a coating of the red oxide of iron on the substances over which the water had passed ; and in some places a white powder was observable. A few yards distant from the hot spring was a cold one, which, mingled with the hot, is found to have a very agreeable temperature for a bath, in which the people bathe and women wash clothes; the hot spring was estimated to discharge several gallons in a second. The soil in this valley is good, and cultivated in some places with care: no fruit was observed. The largest trees were a species of Elder, and a Buddlea; Calceolaria, Salvia, and Heliotropium, abounded. On the 22d they determined to remain at Baños. At an early houl in the morning they found the village deserted, and it appeared on inquiry that all the inhabitants had gone abroad to tend their herds. For the purpose of taking as wide a range as possible in search of plants, our gentlemen separated, some going up while others descended. they all met with great success in their botanical researches. Dr. Pickering attempted the ascent of one of the summits; by noon he had reached a high elevation, and looking up, he espied a huge condor soaring down the valley. He stopped to observe the majestic bird, as it sailed slowly along. To his surprise, it took a turn around him, then a second and a third, the last time drawing so near that he began to apprehend it meditated an attack. He describes himself as being in the worst possible condition for a fight, his strength being exhausted by climbing, and his right hand having been lamed for some days from a hurt. The nature of the ground, too, was any thing but favourable for defence; but there was nothing left but to prepare for a fight, and with this intent he took a seat and drew his knife. At the instant, as if intimidated by the sight of the weapon, the bird whirled off in a different direction. Dr. Pickering confessed, however humiliating the acknowledgment, that he was at the time very well satisfied with the condor's determination to let him alone. Condors are numerous here, and many stories are related of their attacks upon animals; but this was a more decided manifestation of a disposition to assail the human race than any we heard of. Dr. Pickering was enabled to reach the ridge that bounded the valley, but there were many higher beyond. The view thence was magnificent, overlooking to the west eight distinct ridges between him and the sea, which was scarcely defined enough to be made out with any certainty. He descended by the same route again to the village. The alcalde discovering that one of the party (Mr. Agate) was an artist, became extremely anxious that he should make a sketch of his father-in-law, an old revolutionary soldier, who resided there. As the * son-in-law had been so attentive, and offered them so many civilities, among others the loan of a silver dish, spoon, and fork, he could do no less than gratify these wishes. For this purpose the old man dressed himself in his uniform. The task of sitting was almost too much for him, and he was nearly overcome with the excitement and, exertion. The old man was greatly delighted with the picture, as were all those about him, except the son-in-law, who expressed great dissatisfaction that it should be without legs, it being only a half. length, and offered a large price to have them put on ; but time did not admit of it. The sketch was given to him, which has placed it out of my power to present it to the eye of the reader in a wood-cut. Mr. Agate's first effort was deemed so successful that his reputation was at once established at Baños, and shortly afterwards he was called upon by the sacristan to engage him to paint the four Evangelists for the church. Price was no object, provided he could do it, and they would besides consider it as a great favour. Some of the bystanders proposed to have the constable painted, and pointed to a strapping big negro. The houses literally contained no furniture, and the silver lent to our party was believed to constitute the only valuables in the place. The only articles besides that were seen, were some roughly-made wooden spoons, earthen dishes, and water-jugs, a few boards made into a rough table, with a stool or two, and a bedstead made of canes and plastered with clay. In no part of the United States, whether in the cabins of the Far West, or in the poorest suburbs of our eastern cities, are persons to be seen living in such a miserable manner. The countryWOL. I. X 34

people of Peru, notwithstanding they are surrounded with every thing to make them comfortable, want the knowledge and industry to use the advantages nature has given them. On the 23d they left Baños on their return. Notwithstanding their horses had had some rest, their backs were in a shocking state, but the sores did not seem to be regarded much by the guides, who applied soap to them; they scolded and blamed the English saddles, which they called “Gallapagos turtles.” The party had determined to make another visit to Alpamarca, but the guides would not listen to it, giving as a reason that they should have their horses stolen if they went. While this discussion was going on, they met a person who informed them that the only persons now there were Indians. As their only inducement to return was the agreeable company they had left, they acceded to their guides' views, and taking another direction, arrived at Casa Cancha in the afternoon. * At night some Chilian cavalry arrived,which caused great alarm among the occupants of the huts and the guides, for fear of losing their horses, a disaster which they said often occurred when such visiters came. The commander proved to be a gentlemanly person, and rendered our party much assistance. This party had left Pasco, the chief mining - place of Lower Peru, in the morning, and represented it as a place of considerable trade, containing many foreign residents, including English, American, French, and German. He stated that the Quichua language was spoken there, and that the Spanish was not commonly understood. The town of Pasco is at an elevation of thirteen thousand feet, and situated in the plain of San Juan, at the head of two ravines or gullies, one called Rumiallana, leading to the northward, and the other Huanuco, to the eastward, where the two great veins of Colquijirca and Pariajirca unite. These are supposed to extend some seventy miles in length, and the town of Pasco is situated at their junction, a plot of which, taken from the survey of Mr. Trevithick, is given on the next page. The part of the ground that has been broken up, and in which ores have been found, is about half a mile in length in a north and south direction, and about one-fourth of a mile east and west. Within the whole of this extent, ores have been mined of greater or less value, and the mines formerly worked and now deserted are said to amount to upwards of a thousand : some of these are represented on the plan by round marks. The town of Pasco is surrounded on three sides—northeast and south by hills of blue limestone; on the west the hills are of sandstone. and on the southwest of a blue slate. Through the latter rock the adit which comes up from the lake of Quilacocha has been driven, until it reached the metalliferous ground in the district of Santa Rosa. All

« PředchozíPokračovat »