Johann Jakob von Tschudi.

Travels in Peru, on the Coast, in the Sierra, Across the Cordilleras and the Andes, into the Primeval Forests online

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The Work from which the present Volume is translated consists of
extracts from the Author's Journal, accompanied by his recollections
and observations. The absence of chronological arrangement will be
sufficiently accounted for, when it is explained that the zoological
investigations for which the journey was undertaken frequently
required the Author to make repeated visits to one particular place or
district, or to remain for a considerable time within the narrow
circuit of a few miles; and sometimes to travel rapidly over vast
tracts of country. Disclaiming any intention of making one of those
travelling romances, with which the tourist literature of the day is
overstocked, the Author has confined himself to a plain description of
facts and things as they came within the sphere of his own observation.
But though Dr. Tschudi lays claim to no merit beyond the truthfulness
of his narrative, yet the reader will no doubt readily concede to him
the merit of extensive information, and happy descriptive talent. His
pictures of Nature, especially those relating to the animal world, are
frequently imbued with much of the charm of thought and style which
characterizes the writings of Buffon.

Lima, the oldest and most interesting of the cities founded by the
Spaniards on the western coast of South America, has been frequently
described; but no previous writer has painted so animated a picture of
the city and its inhabitants, as that contained in the following volume.
After quitting the capital of Peru, Dr. Tschudi went over ground
previously untrodden by any European traveller. He visited the Western
Sierra, the mighty chain of the Cordilleras, the boundless level
heights, the deep mountain valleys on the eastern declivity of the
Andes, and the vast primeval forests. Whilst recounting his wanderings
in these distant regions, he describes not only the country and the
people, but every object of novelty and interest in the animal,
vegetable, and mineral creations.

Those lovers of Natural History who are familiar with the German
language, and who may wish to make themselves extensively acquainted
with the animal world, in those parts of Peru visited by Dr. Tschudi,
will find abundant information on the subject in his work, with plates,
entitled "Untersuchungen über die Fauna Peruana." The present
Publication, though containing a vast deal to interest the naturalist,
is addressed to the general reader, and will, it is presumed, gratify
curiosity respecting the highly interesting and little known regions to
which it relates. It may fairly be said that no previous writer has
given so comprehensive a picture of Peru; combining, with animated
sketches of life and manners, a fund of valuable information on Natural
History and Commerce.

T. R.



Embarkation at Havre - The Voyage - Arrival at the Island of
Chiloe - Landing - The Gyr-Falcon - Punta Arena - The Island of
Chiloe described - Climate and Cultivation - Cattle - The Bay - San
Carlos - The Governor's House - Poverty and Wretchedness of the
Inhabitants of the Town - Strange method of Ploughing - Coasting
Vessels - Smuggling - Zoology - Departure from Chiloe 1


Valparaiso and the adjacent country - The Bay - Aspect of the
Town - Lighthouses - Forts - Custom House - Exchange - Hotels and
Taverns - War with the Peru-Bolivian Confederation - First
Expedition - Preparations for the Second Expedition - Embarkation
of the Troops - Close of the Port - July Festival in honor of
the French Revolution - The _Muele_, or Mole - Police - _Serenos_,
or Watchmen - Movable Prisons - Clubs - Trade of
Valparaiso - Santiago - Zoology 15


Juan Fernandez - Robinson Crusoe - Passage to Callao - San
Lorenzo - Rise and fall of the coast - Mr. Darwin's opinions
on this subject - Callao - The Fortress - Siege by the
Spaniards - General Rodil - Siege by the Chilians - The
Colocolo - Pirates - Zoology - Road to Lima 26


Lima - Situation and extent of the City - Streets,
Houses, Churches and Convents - San Pedro - The
Jesuits - Nunneries - Beatarios - Hospitals - San Andres - The
Foundling House - The Pantheon - The Palace - The Plaza
Mayor - Pizarro - The Cabildo - Fountains - Palace of the
Inquisition - The University - National Library - Museum of
Natural History and Antiquities - Academy of Design - The
Mint - The Theatre - Circus for Cock-fighting - The Bridge - The
City Wall - Santa Catalina - Barracks 42


Population of Lima - Its diminution - Different races of the
Inhabitants - Their characteristics - Amusements - Education - The Women
of Lima - Their Costume - the _Saya y Manto_ - Female domestic
life - Love of dress - Beatas - Indians - Slaves - Bosales - Free
Creoles - Negroes - Negresses - Black Creoles - Their
varieties - Mestizos - Mulattoes - Pelanganas - Zambos - Chinos - Foreigners
in Lima - Corruption of the Spanish language 63


Primary Schools - Colleges - The University - Monks - Saints - Santo
Toribio and Santa Rosa - Religious Processions - Raising the Host - The
Noche Buena - The Carnival - Paseos, or Public Promenades - Ice - Riding
and Driving - Horses - Their Equipments and Training - Mules - Lottery
in Lima - Cookery - Breakfasts, Dinners, &c. - Coffee-houses and
Restaurants - Markets - The _Plazo Firme del Acho_ - Bull Fights 89


Geographical Situation of Lima - Height above Sea
level - Temperature - Diseases - Statistical Tables of Births and
Deaths - Earthquakes - The Valley of Lima - The River Rimac - Aqueducts,
Trenches, &c. - Irrigation - Plantations - Cotton - Sugar - Various
kinds of Grain - Maize - Potatoes, and other tuberous
roots - Pulse - Cabbage - Plants used for Seasoning - Clover - The Olive
and other Oil Trees - Fruits - Figs and Grapes - The Chirimoya - The
Palta - The Banana and other Fruits 111


Robbers on the coast of Peru - The Bandit Leaders Leon and Rayo - The
Corps of Montoneros - Watering Places near Lima - Surco, Atte and
Lurin - Pacchacamac - Ruins of the Temple of the Sun - Difficulties of
Travelling on the Coast of Peru - Sea Passage to Huacho - Indian
Canoes - Ichthyological Collections - An old Spaniard's recollections
of Alexander Von Humboldt - The Padre Requena - Huacho - Plundering of
Burial Places - Huaura - Malaria - The Sugar Plantation at
Luhmayo - Quipico - Ancient Peruvian Ruins - The Salinas, or Salt
Pits - Gritalobos - Chancay - The Piques - Mode of extracting
them - Valley of the Pasamayo - Extraordinary Atmospheric
Mirrors - Piedras Gordas - Palo Seco 137


The Coast southward of Lima - Chilca - Curious Cigar cases made
there - Yauyos - Pisco - Journey to Yea - A night on the Sand
Plains - Fatal Catastrophe in the year 1823 - Vine Plantations at
Yea - Brandy and Wine - Don Domingo Elias - Vessels for transporting
Brandy (Botijas and Odres) - Cruel mode of skinning Goats - Negro
Carnival - Peculiar species of Guinea Pig - The Salamanqueja - Cotton
Plantations - Quebrada of Huaitara - Sangallan - Guano - Retrospect of
the Peruvian Coast - Rivers - Medanos - Winds - Change of Seasons - The
Garuas - The Lomas - Mammalia - Birds - Amphibia 160


Roads leading to the Sierra - Chaclacayo and Santa Iñes - Barometrical
observations - San Pedro Mama - The Rio Seco - Extraordinary Geological
Phenomenon - Similar one described by Mr. Darwin - Surco - Diseases
peculiar to the Villages of Peru - The Verugas - Indian mode of
treating the disorder - The Bird-catching Spider - Horse-Shoeing - Indian
Tambos - San Juan de Matucanas - The Thorn-apple and the Tonga - The
Tambo de Viso - Bridges - San Mateo - Passports - Acchahuari - Malady
called the Veta - Its effects on horses - Singular tact and caution
of Mules - Antarangra and Mountain Passes - Curious partition of
Water - Piedra Parada - Yauli - Indian Smelting Furnaces - Mineral
Springs - Portuguese Mine owners - Saco - Oroya - Hanging
Bridges - Huaros - Roads leading from Oroya 179


The Cordillera and the Andes - Signification of the terms - Altitude
of the Mountains and Passes - Lakes - Metals - Aspect of the
Cordillera - Shattered Rocks - Maladies caused by the diminished
Atmospheric Pressure - The Veta and the Surumpe - Mountain Storms - The
Condor - Its habits - Indian mode of Catching the Bird - The Puna or
Despoblado - Climate - Currents of Warm Air - Vegetation - Tuberous
Plant called the Maca - Animals of the Puna - The Llama, the Alpaco,
the Huanacu and the Vicuña - The Chacu and the Bolas - Household
Utensils of the Ancient Peruvians - The Viscacha and the
Chinchilla - Puna Birds and Amphibia - Cattle and Pasture - Indian
Farms - Shepherds' Huts - Ancient Peruvian Roads and
Buildings - Treasure concealed by the Indians in the Puna 203


Cerro de Pasco - First discovery of the Mines - Careless mode of
working them - Mine Owners and Mine Laborers - Amalgamating and
Refining - Produce of the Mines - Life in Cerro de Pasco - Different
Classes of the Population - Gaming and Drunkenness - Extravagance
and Improvidence of the Indian Mine Laborers - The Cerro de San
Fernando - Other Important Mining Districts in Peru - The Salcedo Mine
Castrovireyna - Vast Productiveness of the Silver Mines of Peru - Rich
Mines secretly known to the Indians - Roads leading from Cerro de
Pasco - The Laguna of Chinchaycocha - Battle of Junin - Indian
Robbers - A Day and a Night in the Puna Wilds 229


The Sierra - Its Climate and Productions - Inhabitants - Trade - Eggs
circulated as money - Mestizos in the Sierra - Their Idleness
and Love of Gaming and Betting - Agriculture - The Quinua Plant,
a substitute for Potatoes - Growth of Vegetables and Fruits
in the Sierra - Rural Festivals at the Seasons of Sowing and
Reaping - Skill of the Indians in various Handicrafts - Excess of
Brandy-Drinking - Chicha - Disgusting mode of making it - Festivals of
Saints - Dances and Bull-Fights - Celebration of Christmas-Day,
New-Year's Day, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday - Contributions levied
on the Indians - Tardy and Irregular Transmission of Letters - Trade
in Mules - General Style of Building in the Towns and Villages of
the Sierra - Ceja de la Montaña 253


Road to the Primeval Forests - Barbacoas, or Indian Suspension
Bridges - Vegetation - Hollow Passes - Zoology - the Montaña
Plantations - Inhabitants - Trade in Peruvian Bark - Wandering
Indians - Wild Indians or Indios Braves - Languages,
Manners, and Customs of the Indios Bravos - Dress - Warlike
Weapons and Hunting Arms - Dwellings - Religion - Physical
formation of the Wild Indian Tribes - Animals of the Aboriginal
Forests - Mammalia - Hunting the Ounce - Birds - Amphibia - Poisonous
Serpents - Huaco - Insects - Plants 271


Montaña of San Carlos de Vitoc - Villages - Hacienda of
Maraynioc - the Coca Plant - Mode of Cultivating and Gathering
it - Mastication of Coca - Evil Consequences of its excessive
Use - Its Nutritious Qualities - Indian Superstitions connected
with the Coca Plant - Suggestions for its Introduction in
the European Navies - Fabulous animal called the Carbunculo - The
Chunchos - Missions to Cerro de la Sal - Juan Santos Atahuallpa - The
Franciscan Monks - Depopulation of Vitoc 309


Oppressions exercised by the Spaniards upon the Peruvian Indians - The
Repartimiento and the Mita - Indian Insurrections - Tupac Amaru - His
Capture and Execution - War of Independence - Character of the Peruvian
Indians - Music - Dress - Superstitions - Longevity - Diminished Population
of Peru - Languages spoken by the Aboriginal Inhabitants - Specimen of
Quichua Poetry - The Yaravies - The Quipu - Water Conduits - Ancient
Buildings - Fortresses - Idols - Domestic Utensils - Ancient Peruvian
Graves - Mode of Burying the Dead - Mummies 329



Embarkation at Havre - The Voyage - Arrival at the Island of
Chiloe - Landing - The Gyr-Falcon - Punta Arena - The Island of
Chiloe described - Climate and Cultivation - Cattle - The Bay - San
Carlos - The Governor's House - Poverty and Wretchedness of the
Inhabitants of the Town - Strange method of Ploughing - Coasting
Vessels - Smuggling - Zoology - Departure from Chiloe.

On the 27th of February, 1838, I sailed from Havre-de-Grace on board the
"Edmond." This vessel, though a French merchantman, was freighted with a
cargo of Swiss manufactured goods, suited to any commercial transactions
which might be entered into in the course of a circumnavigatory voyage.
It was a boisterous morning. A fall of snow and heavy clouds soon
intercepted our view of the coast of France, and not one cheering
sunbeam shone out to betoken for us a favorable voyage. We passed down
the British Channel, where the multitude of vessels, and the flags of
all nations, presented an enlivening picture, and we finally cleared it
on the 5th of March. Favored by a brisk north wind, we soon reached
Madeira and came in sight of Teneriffe, the peak being just perceptible
on the skirt of the horizon. Easterly breezes soon brought us to the
island of Fogo, which, having passed on the 35th day of our voyage, we
received the usual marine baptism, and participated in all the
ceremonies observed on crossing the equator. We soon reached the tropic
of Capricorn, and endeavored to gain the channel between the Falkland
Islands and Patagonia; but unfavorable winds obliged us to direct our
course eastwards, from the Island of Soledad to the Staten Islands. On
the 3d of March we made the longitude of Cape Horn, but were not able to
double it until we got into the 60th degree of south latitude. In those
dangerous waters, where it is admitted by the boldest English sailors
that the waves rage more furiously than in any other part of the world,
we encountered great risk and difficulty. For twenty-two days we were
driven about on the fearfully agitated sea, southward of Tierra del
Fuego, and were only saved from being buried in the deep, by the
excellent build and soundness of our ship.

We suffered much, and were long delayed by this storm; but when it
subsided, a smart breeze sprang up from the southward, and we held our
course along the Pacific to the coast of Chile. After a voyage of 99
days we cast anchor on Sunday the 5th of June, in the Bay of San Carlos.
Like the day of our departure from Europe, that of our arrival off
Chiloe was gloomy and overcast. Heavy clouds obscured the
long-looked-for island, and its picturesque shore could only be seen,
when, at intervals, the wind dispersed the dark atmospheric veil. We had
no sooner cast anchor than several boats came alongside rowed by
Indians, who offered us potatoes, cabbage, fish, and water, in exchange
for tobacco. Only those who have been long at sea can form an idea of
the gratification which fresh provisions, especially vegetables, afford
to the weary voyager. In a couple of hours, the harbor-master came on
board to examine the ship, the cargo, &c., and to give us permission to
go ashore. The long-boat being got out, and well manned, we stepped into
it, and were conveyed to the harbor. The Bay of San Carlos being
shallow, large ships, or vessels, heavily laden, are obliged to go three
English miles or more from the landing-place before they can anchor. Our
boat was gaily decorated and newly painted; but this was mere outside
show, for it was in a very unsound condition. During our passage through
the tropics, the sun had melted the pitch between the planks of the
boat, which lay on the deck keel uppermost. In this crazy boat, we had
scarcely got a quarter of a league from the ship, when the water rushed
in so forcibly through all the cracks and fissures, that it was soon
more than ankle deep. Unluckily the sailors had forgotten to put on
board a bucket or anything for baling out the water, so that we were
obliged to use our hats and boots for that purpose. Fourteen persons
were crowded together in this leaky boat, and the water continued
rising, until at length we began to be seriously apprehensive for our
safety, when, fortunately, our situation was observed by the people on
shore. They promptly prepared to send out a boat to our assistance, but
just as it was got afloat, we succeeded in reaching the pier, happy once
more to set our feet on _terra firma_.

Our first business was to seek shelter and refreshment. There is no
tavern in San Carlos, but there is a sort of substitute for one, kept
by an old Corsican, named Filippi, where captains of ships usually
take up their quarters. Filippi, who recognized an old acquaintance in
one of our party, received us very kindly, and showed us to apartments
which certainly had no claim to the merits of either cleanliness or
convenience. They were long, dark, quadrangular rooms, without
windows, and were destitute of any article of furniture, except a bed
in a kind of recess.

As soon as I got on shore, I saw a multitude of small birds of prey.
They keep in flocks, like our sparrows, hopping about everywhere, and
perching on the hedges and house-tops. I anxiously wished for an
opportunity to make myself better acquainted with one of them.
Presuming that shooting in the town might be displeasing to the
inhabitants, who would naturally claim to themselves a sort of
exclusive sporting right, I took my gun down to the sea-shore, and
there shot one of the birds. It belonged to the Gyr-Falcon family
(_Polyboriniæ_), and was one of the species peculiar to South America
(_Polyborus chimango_, Vieil). The whole of the upper part of the body
is brown, but single feathers here and there have a whitish-brown
edge. On the tail are several indistinct oblique stripes. The
under-part of the body is whitish-brown, and is also marked with
transverse stripes feebly defined. The bird I shot measured from the
point of the beak to the end of the tail 1 foot 6-1/2 inches. Though
these Gyr-Falcons live socially together, yet they are very greedy and
contentious about their prey. They snap up, as food, all the offal
thrown out of doors; and thus they render themselves serviceable to
the inhabitants, who consequently do not destroy them. In some of the
valleys of Peru, I met with these birds again, but very rarely and
always single and solitary. I continued my excursions on the
sea-shore, but with little satisfaction, for the pouring rain had
driven animals of every kind to their lurking-holes. After a few days,
I went on board the "Edmond," for the purpose of visiting PUNTA ARENA,
a town on the side of the bay, whither our boat used to be sent for
fresh water. The ground surrounding the spring whence the ships obtain
supplies of water, is sandy, and it becomes exceedingly marshy further
inland. After wandering about for a few hours, I found myself quite
lost in a morass, out of which I had to work my way with no little
difficulty. The whole produce of my hard day's sport consisted of an
awlbeak, a small dark-brown bird (_Opethiorhyncus patagonicus_), and
some land-snails. On our return, as we were nearing the ship, we
killed a seal (_Otaria chilensis_, Müll.), which was rising after a
dive, close to the boat.

On the 22d of June, all our ship's company were on board by order of
the captain. We weighed anchor, and cruized about for some time. At
length, about five in the afternoon, we returned, and the ship was
anchored again precisely on the spot she had left a few hours before.
It was set down in the log-book that the wind was not sufficiently
favorable to allow the ship to pass out safely through the narrow
entrance to the bay. But all on board were well aware that this was
merely a pretence on the part of the captain, who, for some reason or
other, wished to stop longer at San Carlos.

I was very much pleased at this opportunity of prolonging my stay at the
Island of Chiloe, hoping that better weather would enable me to make an
excursion into the interior. But the sky still continued overcast, and
the rain poured incessantly. One day, however, I undertook a journey to
Castro, in company with the French Chargé d'Affaires to Peru, one of my
fellow passengers on the voyage. A merchant accommodated us with two
horses, saddled in the Chilian manner; but he warned us to be on our
guard, as horses were often restive when just returned from their summer
pasturage. We set off very promisingly. The commencement of our ride was
pleasant enough, though the road was steep and very difficult. It
sometimes lay over smooth slippery stones, then through deep marshes, or
over scattered logs of wood, which bore evidence of attempts to render
the ground passable, by this rude kind of paving. After we had ridden
for several hours in the forest, the rain checked our further progress,
and we turned, to retrace our way back. Our horses seemed well pleased
with the project of returning home. For a time they proceeded with
wonderful steadiness; but on coming to a part of the road where the
ground was comparatively level and firm, they quickened their pace, and
at length dashed forward through the wood, uncontrolled by the bridle.
The long narrow saddle, with its woollen covering, the crescent-shaped
wooden stirrups, and the heavy spurs, with their clumsy rowels, baffled
all our skill in horsemanship, and it was with no little difficulty we
kept our seats. We thought it best to give the animals the rein, and
they galloped through the umbrageous thickets, until at last, panting
and breathless, they stuck in a morass. Here we recovered our control
over them, and pursued the remainder of our journey without further
accident, though we were drenched to the skin on our return to the town.

On subsequent days, I took my rambles on foot, and found myself richly
rewarded thereby. The long evenings we spent in the company of our host
and the harbor-master, from both of whom I obtained some useful
information respecting the island.

Chiloe is one of the largest islands of the Archipelago which extends
along the west coast of South America, from 42° south lat. to the
Straits of Magellan. It is about 23 German miles long, and 10 broad. A
magnificent, but almost inaccessible forest covers the unbroken line of
hills stretching along Chiloe, and gives to the island a charming aspect
of undulating luxuriance. Seldom, however, can the eye command a
distinct view of those verdant hills; for overhanging clouds surcharged
with rain, almost constantly veil the spreading tops of the trees. At
most parts of the shore the declivity is rapid. There are many inlets,
which, though small, afford secure anchorage; but there are no harbors
of any magnitude. While Castro was the capital of the island, Chacao was
the principal port; but San Carlos having become the residence of the
governor, this latter place is considered the chief harbor; and with
reason, for its secure, tranquil bay unites all the advantages the
navigator can desire on the stormy coast of South Chile. At Chacao, on
the contrary, reefs and strong currents render the entrance dangerous
and the anchorage insecure.

Chiloe is but little cultivated, and scantily populated. If the
statement of my informant, the harbor-master, be correct, Chiloe and the
adjacent small islands contain only from 48,000 to 50,000 inhabitants,
part of whom live in _ranchos_ (huts), and part in a few villages. Next
to San Carlos, and the half-deserted Castro, to which the title of
"City" is given, the chief places are Chacao, Vilipilli, Cucao, Velinoe.
It is only in the neighborhood of these towns or villages that the
forest trees have been felled, and their removal has uncovered a fertile
soil, which would reward by a hundred-fold the labor of the husbandman.

Online LibraryJohann Jakob von TschudiTravels in Peru, on the Coast, in the Sierra, Across the Cordilleras and the Andes, into the Primeval Forests → online text (page 1 of 34)