Adventures in Peru, Chapter 5

A Terrific Hailstorm

A Journey Into the Interior, Part 3

Next day, soon after breakfast, I started on the last lap of my journey, expecting to reach the workings of my Lima friend, near Tres Cruces, in a couple of days. I took with me a letter of introduction from the Corregidor to a friend of his, who kept sheep and alpacas—chiefly alpacas. He was a Peruvian, and owned farms in both Peru and Bolivia. He lived for the greater part of the year on his Peruvian estate. About three o’clock in the afternoon we got caught in a terrific hailstorm. The hailstones were as large as marbles, and the mules wouldn’t face them. l turned Batson’s stern towards the storm, which lasted a full hour and a half. Muffled in my Irish cloak (a fine affair I had bought at Sandy-point, and big enough to cover me and the mule), we suffered no inconvenience whatever. But the delay proved awkward, because night overtook us ere we reached the farm of Guiterrez. About half an hour after we had resumed our journey, Batson suddenly pricked up his ears and broke into a jog trot. The mules, headed by my chestnut as bell horse, followed suit, likewise the Indians. Very soon we discovered what had occasioned this singular manoeuvre. Within a quarter of an hour, up loomed a big building out of the darkness. It was one of Guiterrez’s barns. His house was close by. We knocked at the door, and Don Ramon himself answered the summons. I handed him Rameres’ letter, which he read, and at once extended his hospitality. Dinner, he said, would be ready in about half an hour, and he would be very pleased if I would join him. I gladly accepted the kind invitation, for I was feeling pretty well famished.

During the meal, which I thoroughly enjoyed, Ramon told me that pumas had been troubling his animals a lot. Within the previous three weeks, they had killed three young colts of very fine pacing breed. He had tried to poison the marauders, by putting stuff on a dead carcass, without the slightest effect, for they had left the bait severely alone. I told him that was quite usual, wild beasts very seldom go for any prey that has been doctored. At the same time, I considered it would be futile to sit up and watch an animal that had been killed by jaguar or puma, unless it had been left lying with its right, or liver, side up. I first learnt this truth from a book, entitled “Leaves from a Sportsman’s Diary,” written by a colonel who had been a great shikari in India, and I had proved its worth on several occasions. Ramon invited me to stay and have a cut at the pumas. I told him nothing would give me greater pleasure. A week or a fortnight occupied in ridding him of these pests would be time well spent.