Adventures in Peru, Chapter 4

A Gentleman Interested in Tin

Sea Serpents and Sea Treasures, Part 2

At Valparaiso I transferred to the Guatemala. Unfortunately the weather was pretty bad when we reached Mollendo, and the water was so rough that the passengers and mails had to be hoisted from the vessel in baskets and let down into surf-boats, and thus conveyed to shore. This method of landing is frequently adopted on this coast. It has its attractions for those who can find a basket to fit them. There was a bit of a difficulty in my case; so I decided to stick to the boat until she reached Callao, where I had some business to transact with a gentleman who was interested in tin. We arrived there in due course, and I went to see him. The proposition he wished to discuss was being worked on a very small scale by one man, with the assistance of two Indians. It was located three days’ mule ride from Sicasica. He received me most hospitably, and, after thoroughly going into the matter, agreed to give me the sum of £300 if I would visit the mine and report fully upon it. I was also to have 25 per cent. of the profits, if he decided to take it up.

I started back to Mollendo on the Huascar. This time the sea was calm, and so we landed without any difficulty. I stayed that night and the next day at the Hotel Ferro Carril. There I met a fellow called Boynton. He was the same Boynton who once started to travel round the world wheeling a barrow for a bet of £10,000 to £200, he to pay all his own expenses. He failed, simply through contracting an Eastern fever, which laid him by the heels for a matter of three months. It left him so weak that he had to give up his project. Otherwise, he thought, he would have succeeded. Boynton was on his way back from Arequipa, where he had been prospecting for gold. He had some pretty good samples with him, and hoped to find a company who would take an interest in them. Whether he ever succeeded, I do not know. Previously, he had been secretary to Lord Headley, who was engaged by a Peruvian Rubber Company in 1903 to report on their estate. Lord Headley told me they paid him £5000 to carry out this work and remain there six months, which wasn’t bad pay. When first approached, he said the job didn’t appeal to him; but he changed his mind when he knew the munificent offer they were prepared to make, and took on Boynton. How and why they eventually parted company is a tale I may, perhaps, tell another day.

Bubonic plague greatly troubled the West Coast of South America when I was at Mollendo. The owner of the Central Hotel had it, and was, in consequence, isolated by the authorities in a building they had set aside for the purpose, at some little distance from the town. This plague attacks one either in the groin or in the neck. They say it can be cured by a simple operation, if only the groin is affected; but when the neck is involved, then, Goodbye everybody! There is no rule, however, without an exception. This chap had bubonic in his neck, bad as could be; but, somehow or other, he managed to pull through.