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anxious to achieve many things, results which required more laborers
than could easily be obtained. We could readily believe there might
possibly be Indians at Conservidayoc who had escaped from the rubber
estate of San Miguel. Undoubtedly, Señor Pancorbo's own life would
have been at the mercy of their poisoned arrows. All over the Amazon
Basin the exigencies of rubber gatherers had caused tribes visited
with impunity by the explorers of the nineteenth century to become so
savage and revengeful as to lead them to kill all white men at sight.

Professor Foote and I considered the matter in all its aspects. We
finally came to the conclusion that in view of the specific reports
regarding the presence of Inca ruins at Conservidayoc we could not
afford to follow the advice of the friendly planter. We must at least
make an effort to reach them, meanwhile taking every precaution to
avoid arousing the enmity of the powerful Saavedra and his savage

- - -

Quispi Cusi Testifying about Inca Ruins
- - -

- - -

One of our Bearers Crossing the Pampaconas River
- - -

On the day following our arrival at the town of Vilcabamba, the
gobernador, Condoré, taking counsel with his chief assistant, had
summoned the wisest Indians living in the vicinity, including a
very picturesque old fellow whose name, Quispi Cusi, was strongly
reminiscent of the days of Titu Cusi. It was explained to him
that this was a very solemn occasion and that an official inquiry
was in progress. He took off his hat - but not his knitted cap - and
endeavored to the best of his ability to answer our questions about
the surrounding country. It was he who said that the Inca Tupac
Amaru once lived at Rosaspata. He had never heard of Uilcapampa
Viejo, but he admitted that there were ruins in the montaña near
Conservidayoc. Other Indians were questioned by Condoré. Several had
heard of the ruins of Conservidayoc, but, apparently, none of them,
nor any one in the village, had actually seen the ruins or visited
their immediate vicinity. They all agreed that Saavedra's place was
"at least four days' hard journey on foot in the montaña beyond
Pampaconas." No village of that name appeared on any map of Peru,
although it is frequently mentioned in the documents of the sixteenth
century. Rodriguez de Figueroa, who came to seek an audience with
Titu Cusi about 1565, says that he met Titu Cusi at a place called
Banbaconas. He says further that the Inca came there from somewhere
down in the dense forests of the montaña and presented him with a
macaw and two hampers of peanuts - products of a warm region.

We had brought with us the large sheets of Raimondi's invaluable map
which covered this locality. We also had the new map of South Peru and
North Bolivia which had just been published by the Royal Geographical
Society and gave a summary of all available information. The
Indians said that Conservidayoc lay in a westerly direction from
Vilcabamba, yet on Raimondi's map all of the rivers which rise in
the mountains west of the town are short affluents of the Apurimac
and flow southwest. We wondered whether the stories about ruins at
Conservidayoc would turn out to be as barren of foundation as those
we had heard from the trustworthy foreman at Huadquiña. One of our
informants said the Inca city was called Espiritu Pampa, or the "Pampa
of Ghosts." Would the ruins turn out to be "ghosts"? Would they vanish
on the arrival of white men with cameras and steel measuring tapes?

No one at Vilcabamba had seen the ruins, but they said that at
the village of Pampaconas, "about five leagues from here," there
were Indians who had actually been to Conservidayoc. Our supplies
were getting low. There were no shops nearer than Lucma; no food
was obtainable from the natives. Accordingly, notwithstanding the
protestations of the hospitable gobernador, we decided to start
immediately for Conservidayoc.

At the end of a long day's march up the Vilcabamba Valley, Professor
Foote, with his accustomed skill, was preparing the evening meal and we
were both looking forward with satisfaction to enjoying large cups of
our favorite beverage. Several years ago, when traveling on muleback
across the great plateau of southern Bolivia, I had learned the value
of sweet, hot tea as a stimulant and bracer in the high Andes. At
first astonished to see how much tea the Indian arrieros drank, I
learned from sad experience that it was far better than cold water,
which often brings on mountain-sickness. This particular evening,
one swallow of the hot tea caused consternation. It was the most
horrible stuff imaginable. Examination showed small, oily particles
floating on the surface. Further investigation led to the discovery
that one of our arrieros had that day placed our can of kerosene on
top of one of the loads. The tin became leaky and the kerosene had
dripped down into a food box. A cloth bag of granulated sugar had
eagerly absorbed all the oil it could. There was no remedy but to
throw away half of our supply. As I have said, the longer one works
in the Andes the more desirable does sugar become and the more one
seems to crave it. Yet we were unable to procure any here.

After the usual delays, caused in part by the difficulty of catching
our mules, which had taken advantage of our historical investigations
to stray far up the mountain pastures, we finally set out from the
boundaries of known topography, headed for "Conservidayoc," a vague
place surrounded with mystery; a land of hostile savages, albeit said
to possess the ruins of an Inca town.

Our first day's journey was to Pampaconas. Here and in its vicinity the
gobernador told us he could procure guides and the half-dozen carriers
whose services we should require for the jungle trail where mules could
not be used. As the Indians hereabouts were averse to penetrating
the wilds of Conservidayoc and were also likely to be extremely
alarmed at the sight of men in uniform, the two gendarmes who were
now accompanying us were instructed to delay their departure for a few
hours and not to reach Pampaconas with our pack train until dusk. The
gobernador said that if the Indians of Pampaconas caught sight of any
brass buttons coming over the hills they would hide so effectively
that it would be impossible to secure any carriers. Apparently this
was due in part to that love of freedom which had led them to abandon
the more comfortable towns for a frontier village where landlords
could not call on them for forced labor. Consequently, before the
arrival of any such striking manifestations of official authority as
our gendarmes, the gobernador and his friend Mogrovejo proposed to
put in the day craftily commandeering the services of a half-dozen
sturdy Indians. Their methods will be described presently.

Leaving modern Vilcabamba, we crossed the flat, marshy bottom of an
old glaciated valley, in which one of our mules got thoroughly mired
while searching for the succulent grasses which cover the treacherous
bog. Fording the Vilcabamba River, which here is only a tiny brook,
we climbed out of the valley and turned westward. On the mountains
above us were vestiges of several abandoned mines. It was their
discovery in 1572 or thereabouts which brought Ocampo and the first
Spanish settlers to this valley. Raimondi says that he found here
cobalt, nickel, silver-bearing copper ore, and lead sulphide. He
does not mention any gold-bearing quartz. It may have been exhausted
long before his day. As to the other minerals, the difficulties of
transportation are so great that it is not likely that mining will
be renewed here for many years to come.

At the top of the pass we turned to look back and saw a long chain
of snow-capped mountains towering above and behind the town of
Vilcabamba. We searched in vain for them on our maps. Raimondi,
followed by the Royal Geographical Society, did not leave room
enough for such a range to exist between the rivers Apurimac and
Urubamba. Mr. Hendriksen determined our longitude to be 73° west,
and our latitude to be 13° 8' south. Yet according to the latest map
of this region, published in the preceding year, this was the very
position of the river Apurimac itself, near its junction with the river
Pampas. We ought to have been swimming "the Great Speaker." Actually
we were on top of a lofty mountain pass surrounded by high peaks and
glaciers. The mystery was finally solved by Mr. Bumstead in 1912, when
he determined the Apurimac and the Urubamba to be thirty miles farther
apart than any one had supposed. His surveys opened an unexplored
region, 1500 square miles in extent, whose very existence had not been
guessed before 1911. It proved to be one of the largest undescribed
glaciated areas in South America. Yet it is less than a hundred miles
from Cuzco, the chief city in the Peruvian Andes, and the site of a
university for more than three centuries. That Uilcapampa could so
long defy investigation and exploration shows better than anything
else how wisely Manco had selected his refuge. It is indeed a veritable
labyrinth of snow-clad peaks, unknown glaciers, and trackless canyons.

Looking west, we saw in front of us a great wilderness of deep green
valleys and forest-clad slopes. We supposed from our maps that we were
now looking down into the basin of the Apurimac. As a matter of fact,
we were on the rim of the valley of the hitherto uncharted Pampaconas,
a branch of the Cosireni, one of the affluents of the Urubamba. Instead
of being the Apurimac Basin, what we saw was another unexplored region
which drained into the Urubamba!

At the time, however, we did not know where we were, but understood
from Condoré that somewhere far down in the montaña below us was
Conservidayoc, the sequestered domain of Saavedra and his savage
Indians. It seemed less likely than ever that the Incas could have
built a town so far away from the climate and food to which they were
accustomed. The "road" was now so bad that only with the greatest
difficulty could we coax our sure-footed mules to follow it. Once we
had to dismount, as the path led down a long, steep, rocky stairway
of ancient origin. At last, rounding a hill, we came in sight of a
lonesome little hut perched on a shoulder of the mountain. In front of
it, seated in the sun on mats, were two women shelling corn. As soon as
they saw the gobernador approaching, they stopped their work and began
to prepare lunch. It was about eleven o'clock and they did not need to
be told that Señor Condoré and his friends had not had anything but a
cup of coffee since the night before. In order to meet the emergency
of unexpected guests they killed four or five squealing cuys (guinea
pigs), usually to be found scurrying about the mud floor of the huts
of mountain Indians. Before long the savory odor of roast cuy, well
basted, and cooked-to-a-turn on primitive spits, whetted our appetites.

In the eastern United States one sees guinea pigs only as pets or
laboratory victims; never as an article of food. In spite of the
celebrated dogma that "Pigs is Pigs," this form of "pork" has never
found its way to our kitchens, even though these "pigs" live on a
very clean, vegetable diet. Incidentally guinea pigs do not come
from Guinea and are in no way related to pigs - Mr. Ellis Parker
Butler to the contrary notwithstanding! They belong rather to the
same family as rabbits and Belgian hares and have long been a highly
prized article of food in the Andes of Peru. The wild species are
of a grayish brown color, which enables them to escape observation
in their natural habitat. The domestic varieties, which one sees
in the huts of the Indians, are piebald, black, white, and tawny,
varying from one another in color as much as do the llamas, which
were also domesticated by the same race of people thousands of years
ago. Although Anglo-Saxon "folkways," as Professor Sumner would say,
permit us to eat and enjoy long-eared rabbits, we draw the line at
short-eared rabbits, yet they were bred to be eaten.

I am willing to admit that this was the first time that I had ever
knowingly tasted their delicate flesh, although once in the capital
of Bolivia I thought the hotel kitchen had a diminishing supply! Had
I not been very hungry, I might never have known how delicious a roast
guinea pig can be. The meat is not unlike squab. To the Indians whose
supply of animal food is small, whose fowls are treasured for their
eggs, and whose thin sheep are more valuable as wool bearers than as
mutton, the succulent guinea pig, "most prolific of mammals," as was
discovered by Mr. Butler's hero, is a highly valued article of food,
reserved for special occasions. The North American housewife keeps a
few tins of sardines and cans of preserves on hand for emergencies. Her
sister in the Andes similarly relies on fat little cuys.

After lunch, Condoré and Mogrovejo divided the extensive rolling
countryside between them and each rode quietly from one lonesome farm
to another, looking for men to engage as bearers. When they were
so fortunate as to find the man of the house at home or working in
his little chacra they greeted him pleasantly. When he came forward
to shake hands, in the usual Indian manner, a silver dollar was
un-suspectingly slipped into the palm of his right hand and he was
informed that he had accepted pay for services which must now be
performed. It seemed hard, but this was the only way in which it was
possible to secure carriers.

During Inca times the Indians never received pay for their labor. A
paternal government saw to it that they were properly fed and clothed
and either given abundant opportunity to provide for their own
necessities or else permitted to draw on official stores. In colonial
days a more greedy and less paternal government took advantage of
the ancient system and enforced it without taking pains to see that
it should not cause suffering. Then, for generations, thoughtless
landlords, backed by local authority, forced the Indians to work
without suitably recompensing them at the end of their labors or
even pretending to carry out promises and wage agreements. The peons
learned that it was unwise to perform any labor without first having
received a considerable portion of their pay. When once they accepted
money, however, their own custom and the law of the land provided
that they must carry out their obligations. Failure to do so meant
legal punishment.

Consequently, when an unfortunate Pampaconas Indian found he had a
dollar in his hand, he bemoaned his fate, but realized that service
was inevitable. In vain did he plead that he was "busy," that his
"crops needed attention," that his "family could not spare him," that
"he lacked food for a journey." Condoré and Mogrovejo were accustomed
to all varieties of excuses. They succeeded in "engaging" half a dozen
carriers. Before dark we reached the village of Pampaconas, a few small
huts scattered over grassy hillsides, at an elevation of 10,000 feet.

In the notes of one of the military advisers of Viceroy Francisco de
Toledo is a reference to Pampaconas as a "high, cold place." This
is correct. Nevertheless, I doubt if the present village is the
Pampaconas mentioned in the documents of Garcia's day as being "an
important town of the Incas." There are no ruins hereabouts. The huts
of Pampaconas were newly built of stone and mud, and thatched with
grass. They were occupied by a group of sturdy mountain Indians,
who enjoyed unusual freedom from official or other interference
and a good place in which to raise sheep and cultivate potatoes,
on the very edge of the dense forest. We found that there was some
excitement in the village because on the previous night a jaguar,
or possibly a cougar, had come out of the forest, attacked, killed,
and dragged off one of the village ponies.

We were conducted to the dwelling of a stocky, well-built Indian named
Guzman, the most reliable man in the village, who had been selected
to be the head of the party of carriers that was to accompany us to
Conservidayoc. Guzman had some Spanish blood in his veins, although
he did not boast of it. With his wife and six children he occupied
one of the best huts. A fire in one corner frequently filled it with
acrid smoke. It was very small and had no windows. At one end was a
loft where family treasures could be kept dry and reasonably safe from
molestation. Piles of sheep skins were arranged for visitors to sit
upon. Three or four rude niches in the walls served in lieu of shelves
and tables. The floor of well-trodden clay was damp. Three mongrel
dogs and a flea-bitten cat were welcome to share the narrow space
with the family and their visitors. A dozen hogs entered stealthily
and tried to avoid attention by putting a muffler on involuntary
grunts. They did not succeed and were violently ejected by a boy with
a whip; only to return again and again, each time to be driven out
as before, squealing loudly. Notwithstanding these interruptions,
we carried on a most interesting conversation with Guzman. He had
been to Conservidayoc and had himself actually seen ruins at Espiritu
Pampa. At last the mythical "Pampa of Ghosts" began to take on in
our minds an aspect of reality, even though we were careful to remind
ourselves that another very trustworthy man had said he had seen ruins
"finer than Ollantaytambo" near Huadquiña. Guzman did not seem to dread
Conservidayoc as much as the other Indians, only one of whom had ever
been there. To cheer them up we purchased a fat sheep, for which we
paid fifty cents. Guzman immediately butchered it in preparation for
the journey. Although it was August and the middle of the dry season,
rain began to fall early in the afternoon. Sergeant Carrasco arrived
after dark with our pack animals, but, missing the trail as he neared
Guzman's place, one of the mules stepped into a bog and was extracted
only with considerable difficulty.

We decided to pitch our small pyramidal tent on a fairly well-drained
bit of turf not far from Guzman's little hut. In the evening, after
we had had a long talk with the Indians, we came back through the
rain to our comfortable little tent, only to hear various and sundry
grunts emerging therefrom. We found that during our absence a large
sow and six fat young pigs, unable to settle down comfortably at the
Guzman hearth, had decided that our tent was much the driest available
place on the mountain side and that our blankets made a particularly
attractive bed. They had considerable difficulty in getting out of
the small door as fast as they wished. Nevertheless, the pouring rain
and the memory of comfortable blankets caused the pigs to return
at intervals. As we were starting to enjoy our first nap, Guzman,
with hospitable intent, sent us two bowls of steaming soup, which at
first glance seemed to contain various sizes of white macaroni - a dish
of which one of us was particularly fond. The white hollow cylinders
proved to be extraordinarily tough, not the usual kind of macaroni. As
a matter of fact, we learned that the evening meal which Guzman's
wife had prepared for her guests was made chiefly of sheep's entrails!

Rain continued without intermission during the whole of a very
cold and dreary night. Our tent, which had never been wet before,
leaked badly; the only part which seemed to be thoroughly waterproof
was the floor. As day dawned we found ourselves to be lying in
puddles of water. Everything was soaked. Furthermore, rain was still
failing. While we were discussing the situation and wondering what
we should cook for breakfast, the faithful Guzman heard our voices
and immediately sent us two more bowls of hot soup, which were this
time more welcome, even though among the bountiful corn, beans, and
potatoes we came unexpectedly upon fragments of the teeth and jaws
of the sheep. Evidently in Pampaconas nothing is wasted.

We were anxious to make an early start for Conservidayoc, but it was
first necessary for our Indians to prepare food for the ten days'
journey ahead of them. Guzman's wife, and I suppose the wives of our
other carriers, spent the morning grinding chuño (frozen potatoes)
with a rocking stone pestle on a flat stone mortar, and parching or
toasting large quantities of sweet corn in a terra-cotta olla. With
chuño and tostado, the body of the sheep, and a small quantity of coca
leaves, the Indians professed themselves to be perfectly contented. Of
our own provisions we had so small a quantity that we were unable
to spare any. However, it is doubtful whether the Indians would have
liked them as much as the food to which they had long been accustomed.

Toward noon, all the Indian carriers but one having arrived, and the
rain having partly subsided, we started for Conservidayoc. We were told
that it would be possible to use the mules for this day's journey. San
Fernando, our first stop, was "seven leagues" away, far down in the
densely wooded Pampaconas Valley. Leaving the village we climbed up the
mountain back of Guzman's hut and followed a faint trail by a dangerous
and precarious route along the crest of the ridge. The rains had not
improved the path. Our saddle mules were of little use. We had to
go nearly all the way on foot. Owing to cold rain and mist we could
see but little of the deep canyon which opened below us, and into
which we now began to descend through the clouds by a very steep,
zigzag path, four thousand feet to a hot tropical valley. Below the
clouds we found ourselves near a small abandoned clearing. Passing
this and fording little streams, we went along a very narrow path,
across steep slopes, on which maize had been planted. Finally we
came to another little clearing and two extremely primitive little
shanties, mere shelters not deserving to be called huts; and this
was San Fernando, the end of the mule trail. There was scarcely room
enough in them for our six carriers. It was with great difficulty we
found and cleared a place for our tent, although its floor was only
seven feet square. There was no really flat land at all.

At 8:30 P.M. August 13, 1911, while lying on the ground in our tent,
I noticed an earthquake. It was felt also by the Indians in the
near-by shelter, who from force of habit rushed out of their frail
structure and made a great disturbance, crying out that there was a
temblor. Even had their little thatched roof fallen upon them, as it
might have done during the stormy night which followed, they were in
no danger; but, being accustomed to the stone walls and red tiled roofs
of mountain villages where earthquakes sometimes do very serious harm,
they were greatly excited. The motion seemed to me to be like a slight
shuffle from west to east, lasting three or four seconds, a gentle
rocking back and forth, with eight or ten vibrations. Several weeks
later, near Huadquiña, we happened to stop at the Colpani telegraph
office. The operator said he had felt two shocks on August 13th - one
at five o'clock, which had shaken the books off his table and knocked
over a box of insulators standing along a wall which ran north and
south. He said the shock which I had felt was the lighter of the two.

During the night it rained hard, but our tent was now adjusting itself
to the "dry season" and we were more comfortable. Furthermore, camping
out at 10,000 feet above sea level is very different from camping
at 6000 feet. This elevation, similar to that of the bridge of San
Miguel, below Machu Picchu, is on the lower edge of the temperate
zone and the beginning of the torrid tropics. Sugar cane, peppers,
bananas, and grenadillas grow here as well as maize, squashes, and
sweet potatoes. None of these things will grow at Pampaconas. The
Indians who raise sheep and white potatoes in that cold region come
to San Fernando to make chacras or small clearings. The three or
four natives whom we found here were so alarmed by the sight of
brass buttons that they disappeared during the night rather than
take the chance of having a silver dollar pressed into their hands
in the morning! From San Fernando, we sent one of our gendarmes back
to Pampaconas with the mules. Our carriers were good for about fifty
pounds apiece.

Half an hour's walk brought us to Vista Alegre, another little clearing
on an alluvial fan in the bend of the river. The soil here seemed to be
very rich. In the chacra we saw corn stalks eighteen feet in height,
near a gigantic tree almost completely enveloped in the embrace of
a mato-palo, or parasitic fig tree. This clearing certainly deserves
its name, for it commands a "charming view" of the green Pampaconas

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Online LibraryHiram BinghamInca Land Explorations in the Highlands of Peru → online text (page 18 of 23)