Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

Treasure Hoards of the Incas

Tales of Far Peru, Part 9

At Caxamarca visitors are shown the room which Atahualpa had to fill with gold and silver. There was to be a heap of golden ornaments and vessels, as high as the unfortunate Prince could reach, and as wide and long as his outstretched arms. The residue was to be silver. It is estimated that the room would hold treasure to the value of £100,000,000. Its dimensions are variously given as 22 ft. by 16 ft., and 27 ft. by 22 ft. Once part of an Inca palace, it is now used as a school.

A water-colour sketch by the author of the old Inca castle near Caxamarca. Illustration from Adventures in Peru.

Not far from Caxamarca are the remains of a most tremendous building erected by the ancient Peruvians. It would hold, I should say, 4000 to 5000 persons, and was constructed of colossal stones. The vast ransom of Atahualpa represented not a tithe of the Inca hoards. There is no doubt that an immense amount of gold and silver (including the portion of redemption money that was being conveyed to Caxamarca when Atahualpa was condemned to die) was buried by the Indians directly they realized that the Spaniards had played them false.

One has but to read the writings of Benzoni and Raleigh to get some inkling of the limits the Spaniards went to. Raleigh relates how he saw Indian chiefs chained to stakes in the merciless sun, and their bodies basted with burning bacon, in order to make them disclose some of the hiding places. Benzoni tells of Indians stripped and laid on the ground tied to a piece of wood, and then lambasted till their bodies bled profusely. Boiling oil or pitch was next thrown over them, and a mixture of pepper and salt well rubbed in. This doesn’t afford pleasant reading. Happily it is not the record of cultured Spaniards, but only what one might expect of a band of ruffians burning with gold lust, and led by men of doubtful origin. Such uncongenial soil rarely produces much in the way of consideration for other folks’ feelings. I quote this by way of showing that, as far back as 1540, the belief in Inca treasure hoards was firmly held. I cannot help thinking the Italian referred to in my book on Bolivia obtained his gold ingots from one of these secret caches which he had discovered between Juliaca and Cuzco.

The author of The Antiquities and Monuments of Peru, and Markham in his history refer to a hoard concealed in the ancient fortress of Cuzco, by the Incas. According to them, a certain Donna Maria Esquivel was not satisfied with the style in which her husband maintained his household. She deemed it quite unworthy of his rank, and bitterly reproached him with having deceived her. “You call yourself Inca—a Lord—but you are only a poor Indian.”

Don Esquivel bore with her as long as he could, but eventually decided to open her eyes. (The Esquivels, I may say, lived on the outskirts of Cuzco and kept sheep and alpacas.) So he blindfolded her, turned her round thrice, and conducted her a little distance from her apartment to a vault, it is thought, under the ancient fortress. Then he removed the bandages from her eyes.

Donna Esquivel stared about her with amazement, for she found herself in a veritable chamber of Aladdin. Immense quantities of gold and silver ingots and ornaments littered the floor; and ranged round the room were statues of all the Inca kings, fashioned of pure gold. They were about the size of a boy of twelve. It is worthy of note that Donna Esquivel saw no golden image of the Sun—the treasure upon which the Incas set the greatest store.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

In the Mountains

Tales of Far Peru, Part 8

Huanuco, about 200 miles north-west of Lima, is situate in a beautiful valley 6000 ft. up. The climate is lovely, neither too hot nor too cold. Nearly all the houses are surrounded by delightful gardens. Huanuco’s principal industry is sweet-meat making. The country round is devoted to mining and farming. The local cattle are rather small, and I think the breed would be much improved by the introduction of a few Hereford bulls. Land is cheap, the scenery magnificent, and there is a certain amount of game. Bush-chicken, bush-turkey, and martinette are fairly common, and there are two sorts of deer. Jaguar may be met with in the woods, and pumas, foxes, and lynxes abound. High up in the mountains bears are pretty numerous. I got one once and had the hams cured. They were not at all bad eating. I shot specimens of both species of deer. One of the brown, or larger sort, measured 3 ft. 10 in. at the shoulder. It had a nice head and a symmetrical pair of horns. They now hang in my hall, in company with a pair of slender prongs belonging to one of the other species of deer. This last-named delightful little animal isn’t much bigger than a buck hare, but the speed it develops on the run is amazing. lt somewhat resembles the Pete buck, known as Agouti in Venezuela.

Huanuco was founded by Gomez Alvarado in 1539. Old Inca ruins are visible on every side. I spent a month here prospecting, and had a nice house and kitchen and corral for 10 sols, or £1 a week. Horses are plentiful, but they are not weight-carriers. For £20 to £30 one could buy an animal up to about 12 stone. Guanacos used to roam over the pampas here in herds of fifteen to twenty.

From Huanuco I went on to Huaraz, the chief town of the Department of Ancacho, situate about 75 leagues north and north-west of Lima, a fertile valley on the banks of the Santa River. Here I fell in with a man named Julio Hernandez, who owned a good deal of land in the vicinity and a lot of cattle. Sugar and all tropical things grow here all the year round, for the soil is very rich. Hernandez had a fine coffee estate about three days’ journey from Huaraz. I went there to examine the banks of the river which runs through the property, and see if there were any gold there. Hernandez lent me six Indians. They removed the top soil, but found no alluvial. A little farther down, however, one day’s work in a small stream which runs into the Santa yielded ½ oz. of the precious metal.

I put in a week at this spot, and then set on twenty Indians. Within three weeks we netted 16 oz. more, a result Hernandez deemed altogether satisfactory. I would have liked to stay here longer, but was due back in Chile. Hernandez, besides giving me £20 for superintending the operations, promised me 10 per cent. of all the gold found during the ensuing six months. This promise he did not fail to redeem. Altogether I benefited £300 by this transaction. Hernandez was a real good fellow. He was reputed to be a lineal descendant of the Hernandez Soto who figured prominently in Pizarro’s time. My suggestion re improving the quality of his cattle so appealed to him that he afterwards imported a couple of fine Hereford bulls.

From this point right up to Ayacucho and beyond, vicuñas are very plentiful. Guanacos, after a lean time, are making headway. The vicuñas are sheared like sheep. There is no wool in the world to equal theirs. It is finer and stronger and better and silkier than any other. Indians ask from £15 to £30 for ponchos made of this wool and enriched with designs picked out in silk. The king of rugs, the Carosse, is not now made in Peru, but may be met with occasionally in parts of Bolivia. Owing partly to the £2 tax imposed on each rug exported, they cost three times as much as they did before 1910.

Hernandez was full of information respecting the Incas. He said that the town of Chota, near Caxamarca, was destroyed by the Chilians during the war of 1882, after they had ransacked the churches of their treasures of gold and silver and precious stones.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

In the Forest

Tales of Far Peru, Part 7

A few days’ mule ride from Piura, in the Province of Jaen, are five very rich and fertile valleys, watered by the Huana, the Cabamba, and the Upper Maranon. In former times more than a million wild cattle grazed there; but their numbers have been sadly depleted of recent years. I am glad to say, however, that the herds are now on the upward grade. As in Bolivia, all unbranded cattle are considered the property of the Government. When I was through this district in 1903-1907, one could buy these animals at £2 a head, and land cost but 1000 to 1500 sols (about £50 to £75) per league. Visitors should take a good gun and rifle with them, for game is very plentiful. Deer, jaguars, pumas, and all manner of fur and feather abound. The best eating bird is, in my opinion, the martinette. Although the climate of the hills and uplands is most agreeable, the valleys near the coast are no white man’s country, for they are unbearably hot. (Only a rough rule or two are necessary to enable one to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy country, almost at a glance. Where coffee, sugar, and tobacco grow is always salubrious. Fever lurks where the ground produces cocoa and rubber.) Very fine coffee is cultivated hereabouts, which compares well with the best Mocha. The addition of a little Costa Rica or Blue Mountain (Jamaica) puts the crowning touch on a beverage fit for a king. The High Flats are wonderfully invigorating.

It is possible to obtain two crops of tobacco every fourteen months, and one of alfalfa every five. The second crop of the latter is better than the first, and the third best of all.

Rubber trees abound in the forests. They are at their best when from twenty-five to sixty years old. They begin producing at the eighth year, Hevea No. 1 yields from 10 lb. to 11 lb. per tree; Hevea No. 2, from 5 lb. to 6 lb.

In the forest. Illustration from Adventures in Peru.

Gold is to be found in many Peruvian rivers. One in particular I bear in mind. Some Indians showed me a lot of gold dust they had brought with them to sell at Tumbez and Truxillo. I gave them £200 for a quantity which I resold at Lima later on for £300. They were very decent fellows, and offered to wash for me on the share system; I was to find them in implements, food, etc., plus 1s. per day, and to reimburse myself the cost out of the gold found. This they were willing should be appraised at 6s. per oz. less than the price obtainable at Lima. Half of the residue was to be mine; they would be content with the other half. I should dearly like to take on this proposition with fifty or sixty men. It would, of course, require a bit of capital, for a crowd of that size cannot be fed and looked after for nothing.

Near Tumbez. Illustration from Adventures in Peru.

The Indian method of cultivating the soil is very primitive. For a plough they use the forked boughs of some hardwood tree, such as the pouie tree—as in Inca times. The only difference is, that whereas in the old days a team of Indians used to do the donkey work, now their place is taken by oxen. High Flats and the sides of mountains are ploughed in ridges like Saxon lynchets, big boulders and stones being so placed as to block up the ends.

Because they loved the cold, invigorating atmosphere, the Incas built their castles high up on the hills. Round Cuzco granite and ironstone are very plentiful. The Incas were fond of making stone steps up to their houses, and many of these still remain.

In Northern Peru there are immense deposits of salt. This commodity and tobacco are Government monopolies, so one can only buy them in licensed shops.

In the Province of Jaen the Government used to pay 10 dollars (gold) for 69 kilos of tobacco, I was told.

Sugar grown in the fertile valleys is made into rum and chancaca, i.e. native sugar. Chancaca can be bought for 4 cents a pound.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

The Inca Ruins of Cuzco

Tales of Far Peru, Part 6

To reach Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Incas, one should branch off at Juliaca and take another train. Here, at an altitude of 11,400 ft., the atmosphere is extremely dry and clear throughout the day, but intensely cold o’ nights. To avoid the risk of contracting fever and dysentery travellers would be well advised not to drink any water without first boiling it, or diluting with a little whisky. The best thing, by the way, to drink in the Andes is old Madeira.


Ruins of the Inca palace of Colcampata of the Manco Capac at Cuzco. Illustration from Adventures in Peru.
Part of the uncovered Inca wall at Cuzco. Illustration from Adventures in Peru.

About 700 ft. above Cuzco is situated the fine old Inca fort of Sacsahuanan. The illustrations facing page 196 [above] give some idea of the strength of their buildings. Down below stretches the beautiful Huatenay valley. Here almost anything can be planted with the certainty of obtaining most bountiful returns. The soil acts like magic. Some of the loveliest cacti imaginable grow in wild luxuriance. It is said that Humboldt was first seized with a longing to travel when shown some specimens of these amazing plants.

Machu Picchu presents many features of interest to the antiquarian. It was visited in 1911 by an expedition sent from the United States of America, and headed by Professor Hyram Bingham of Yale. Much of the jungle that formerly cumbered the ground has been cleared away, hence the historic ruins are now comparatively easy to view. Machu Picchu is 8200 ft. up, and lies at the foot of a range of mountains bearing the same name, the river running 2000 ft. below. The climate here is simply grand.

Sixteen miles from the coast, round about Payta and Piura, the best pacers in all Peru are to be found. The price of a decent specimen of this famous breed is from 2000 sols to 4000 sols. (about £200 to £400); but for a stallion one must be prepared to pay much more.

The breed originated in the Spanish palfrey, introduced by Pizarro. It is said that up till then the Indians had never seen a horse, and were filled with amazement when one of Pizarro’s men, who had been wounded, fell from his charger. They thought man and beast were one—centaurs in fact. By the importation of the celebrated Koklani strain—the bluest blood of Araby—and high-class thoroughbreds, the pacers have been much improved.

In 1903 I brought from Chile a beautiful chestnut named Dougal. He was by Rodilard out of Clarabella, a St. Mirin mare. Don Julio Subercaseaux practically presented him to the Peruvians as a token of his friendship. I have reason to know his generosity was greatly appreciated by all classes of Peruvian sportsmen. Certainly no horse could be better qualified to add stamina to the famous pacing breed.

Catachaos, six miles from Piura, is a small town where Panama hats are made out of a very fine tough grass which grows in the vicinity. They are very nice, but not to be compared with those manufactured at Monte Christi in Ecuador and Cuenca. On the other hand, they are superior to the hats made in Colombia and Jamaica. The Catachaos hats range from 8s. each to £10. More expensive ones are manufactured, but are only made to order.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

Too Horrible for Words

Tales of Far Peru, Part 5

Lupus is a terrible disease, but Sana is even worse. Sana is a variety of pox that sometimes affects llamas, and is contracted by human beings who come in contact with their sputum. A fruitful source of infection is also the bestial habits of some of the natives. To counteract this menace, the Governments of Peru and Bolivia will not allow Indians to travel with llamas for a period of more than fourteen days unless they take their wives with them. If the natives have a spite against anyone they frequently find means to infect them with this unsavoury disease. It generally manifests itself in unsightly sores and scabs which extend all over the subject’s head till it is a mass of putridity. The Indian remedy is a simple and efficacious one, but few Europeans would care to take it. Some, in fact, would esteem it too horrible for words. Whenever the malady yields to treatment prescribed by ordinary practitioners, the disease leaves behind it remembrancers in the shape of white tufts of hair. The native method is not attended with such distinctive souvenirs.

Some doctors confuse it with syphilis. I can assure them the two maladies are quite distinct, and call for different treatment. Maybe the idea was induced by the fact that syphilis was introduced into Europe by Pizarro’s men, who, it is said, caught it from the Indians of South America.

It is just on the cards that I may bring home to England, one of these days, the carcass of a diseased llama. For I have been approached by the head of a certain tropical hospital, who thinks that if the disease could be exactly diagnosed medical science would greatly benefit. I am quite willing to go and procure a suitable animal, and fetch it over here in the form of Challona, but the cost would be a matter of £500. Perhaps some philanthropic individual will put up that sum in the interests of medical research. If so, the job could soon be carried through.

A certain Englishman of my acquaintance married a girl belonging to a tribe of Mountain Indians, and tried to smuggle her out of the Indian territory. On the border line he was stopped, and ordered to take the girl back to her people. Knowing the penalties attached to disobedience, he lost no time in complying with the command. He was not permitted to return to the outer world for some time. During his detention he got too near a herd of llamas. One of them that was obviously suffering from Sana and savage with pain, spat on his head. Before many days had passed foul-smelling ulcers made their appearance. He consulted several doctors, and they told him he had contracted syphilis. On mentioning the matter to his wife’s father, he said that if the culprit was really sorry he had broken their Indian law, he could soon be cured. The Englishman readily gave the required assurance, and was then taken in hand by the medicine man, who plastered his head with clay and other ingredients. Within a very short time he “got shot” of his malady; but to the day of his death little white tufts of hair denoted where the ulcers had been. He came to Jura for change of air while I was there, and in hopes of enjoying some guanaco hunting, brought his horse with him. During his stay there he pointed out to me a Peruvian miner who was suffering from Sana. Several ugly-looking ulcers were distinctly visible on his head. I asked Morosini to keep an eye on the fellow, and let me know if he derived any benefit from the waters. My friend told me subsequently, that three weeks’ treatment sufficed to render the Peruvian’s cuticle as clean as a baby’s. He made no mention of any white tufts of hair being left behind.

Dyspeptics find relief at Jura. I know one lady who went there on the recommendation of an eminent Italian physician, and after undergoing the cure for three months, she could digest anything.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

Good Old Humpty Dumpty

Tales of Far Peru, Part 4

Two days later I was at Jura. Almost the first person I came across there was Humpty Dumpty. I shall never forget how our acquaintance started. When I was on my way to the Challana country, and had got as far as where one has to think about leaving the Tipuani-Beni road and take to the footpath known only to a few persons that leads to a small tributary of the Challana River, all of a sudden a fellow came riding down a road on our left. He bestrode a fine black mule. Behind him, also a-muleback, came a very good-looking Indian girl, accompanied by two youngsters, one of whom she carried slung across her shoulders; the other—a mite of three summers—was perched on the forepart of the saddle. Two Indians and three cargo mules followed behind.

The stranger gave me a very breezy greeting. “Hulloa! What’s your name? Where do you come from? and where are you agoing to? I’m good old Humpty Dumpty.”

We both dismounted and had a bit of a yarn together. Dumpty said he had just come from the Beni district where he had a store, and filled in his time buying rubber for a man who was backing him up to £10,000, so there was no immediate reason for him to worry about ways and means.

Previously Dumpty had been engineer on one of the P. S. N. Co.’s boats; but had got touched with the gold fever and left his job to go to the Tipuani washings, where he and a fellow named Melville worked with Mackenzie for some time. Then he picked up with Brummagem Joe and became his agent.

When I told Dumpty where I was going, and the purport of my journey, he strongly advised me to turn back. “They will never let you in,” he said, “and you’ll be very lucky if you don’t come to harm.” At this point his wife intervened. “Prodgers is all right,” she said. “They will let him in.” She evidently knew something, but I didn’t press for information; that was forthcoming subsequently.

After we had enjoyed a nice little chat we parted, he going his way and I mine. On my return journey I met him again at the Hotel Guibert, in La Paz. I inquired after his wife. He then told me she was a Beni woman and, as a natural consequence, had to turn back so soon as they reached the Tipuani. He had married her, so I discovered, out of gratitude for curing him of lupus. She used to paint the affected places with a concoction of herbs and earths, a secret remedy of her tribe. I told Dumpty all about Jura, and persuaded him to finish off his cure there.

The following year I went to Jura, and found he had taken my advice. The baths had applied the finishing touch as I had anticipated, and his ear was quite all right. It was, in fact, as clean as a smelt.

By the way, we had an amusing deal together. He asked me to bring him out from England on my next trip a quantity of cheap jewellery for his store. He said he could dispose of it so as to make 1 per cent. profit. “That means 100 per cent. I suppose,” I exclaimed. “No,” he retorted, “1 per cent. What you charge me £1 for, I shall get £5 to £10 for!”

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

Hell for Leather

Tales of Far Peru, Part 3

When I left Antonio’s place to return to Jura, I rode El Pasha. My other horse, Luftibus, was still feeling the effects of a good gallop I had had, three days previously, after guanacos. The hunt had been arranged by Antonio partly for my entertainment, and partly for the sake of his own larder. He had nine big dogs of the crossed deerhound type, just the sort for the job we had on hand.

Our party consisted of Antonio and his two sons, mounted on good mules, a couple of Indians on horseback, and several on foot. The mounted men were all expert bola-throwers, and carried their native weapon with them coiled up ready for use on the peak of their saddles. I was the only rifleman of the company, and had my big-bore Winchester.

One of the Indians notified Antonio that there were some guanacos over the other side of some hills that stretched up to the horizon about three or four leagues away. Our way lay through delightful scenery resplendent with dazzling cacti, but we were all too much engaged in weighing up our chances of a successful hunt to pay a great deal of heed to our sublime surroundings. I rode El Pasha up to the hills and then changed to Luftibus. We were now on the feeding ground of the guanacos and vicuñas, called by the Indians for that reason Los Guanacos. To reach the other side of the mountain range we had to negotiate a rather awkward pass. It was only 12,500 ft. up, but in some respects it was a bit of a teaser. The track was an old Inca path, so narrow that we had to proceed in Indian file. First rode the Indian scout, then came Antonio, next followed my unworthy self, and behind me Poncho carrying my rifle. I took charge of the cartridges, in accordance with my usual custom.

After reaching the summit we rode downhill, a matter of six miles or more, and then came to a part of the High Flats which our scout said was much frequented by guanacos. We continued on our way for half an hour, keeping a bright look-out for any signs of our quarry. Soon we picked up the spoor, and, after following it for another half-hour, saw in the distance a big herd of guanacos. To get within range of them without giving them notice of our approach was a stiff problem. Happily Antonio knew of a convenient gulley that enabled us to outflank the timid animals. This brought us to the border of the High Flats. When we had approached within 300 yards of them, the herd scented us and took fright. I at once dismounted and, sighting my rifle at 300 yards, pulled trigger. By great good fortune I killed one of the guanacos. For my second shot I raised my sight to 500 yards, and let drive. Another member of the herd at once dropped behind his fellows and limped along on three legs, evidently hit pretty hard.

Antonio slipped his dogs, and followed “Hell for Leather,” dinging along at a good hard gallop over an expanse of ground as flat as a billiard table. For full twenty minutes I enjoyed one of the finest rides of my life. Then the dogs got to the heels of the wounded animal, and soon brought it to bay. They had been so well trained that they didn’t attempt to molest it, but simply circled round, barking until their master arrived upon the scene. Antonio at once threw his bola, and entangled the animal at the first attempt. Poncho then ran in and cut its throat.

Five miles at least was, I guess, the extent of our jolly little spin. By the time it concluded, old Luftibus knew that he had done a bit of weight carrying, for I rode about 19 stone.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

Prospecting in Peru

Tales of Far Peru, Part 2

Morosini, himself, first went to Jura to see what the baths could do for him, for he had acute dyspepsia. Under the water’s influence his complaint vanished like smoke before the wind, so he decided to stay at Jura and do a bit of prospecting. He was curious to learn what riches lay hidden beneath the mighty peaks that tower up all round. Gold, silver, copper, and tin indications were plentiful, and vast formations of limestone and quartz hinted of emeralds waiting to be won. Ultimately Morosini resolved to make Jura his permanent abode, so he bought some ground off the Peruvian Government and built himself a fine hotel. (The terms on which he secured the ground were very exceptional. In return he engaged not to charge more than 2½ sols per day for a double-bedded room, nor more than 3½ sols where a person wanted a whole room to himself. These charges included early coffee, ten o’clock breakfast and late dinner. Only lunch was extra, so the accommodation was both good and cheap.)

I once went prospecting with Morosini. Though we weren’t out long enough to get very good results, we found indications of gold in paying quantities. On another occasion my companion was Horne, M. M. Penny’s assayer. With him of course I had to take matters more seriously; still, for all that, I enjoyed myself. We used to start off every day, each carrying a bottle of beer, some soda water, native bread and cold meat; and at the end of our expeditions there wasn’t much likely ground within a fifteen-mile radius of Jura, that we had not investigated. I say “We” out of courtesy, for Horne didn’t care for the sweat of nosing around precipices, and so forth. He preferred to sit and smoke and read, while I did the donkey work. I don’t blame him, as I dare say I should have done the same had our positions been reversed. Anyhow he was able to appraise the samples I obtained on the spot.

My idea in looking round was to take time by the forelock, so that if Penny and Minchin went “off song” on tin, and decided to open out in gold and silver between Titicaca and Jura, I might have some data ready to hand. We happened upon no old mines round Jura, but about fifteen miles from the baths we came across an aged Indian, who put me wise as to the situation of several gold propositions, a bit further off in the direction of Arequipa.

This old boy was a miner by trade, and had for years, so he said, worked a mine on his own. I gathered it was of the placer variety, and located about thirty leagues from where he lived. During the three days I stayed at his house, this Indian gave me much valuable information about mining and mining propositions. At his mine, it was so cold all through the winter months, that he and his assistants had to thaw the ground, by building fires on it, before they could get at the gold. But he had evidently done himself a bit of good over the affair, for he owned lots of llamas and farmed some nice breadths of barley and wheat.

Antonio, my old Indian friend, showed me the kind of clothes he wore during his mining operations. They were made of guanaco skin with the fur inside. Underneath he wore garments knitted of llama wool. His boots came more than halfway up his calves, and were not unlike hunting boots. They were very soft and pliable, made of whole thigh pieces of guanaco skin, fur inside. Over these boots Antonio wore sandals, having very thick soles of bullock hide and tied with gut. Vicuña wool stockings completed the outfit. The Indian women round about where Antonio lives are great hands at making socks. Their workmanship is excellent; but beyond that I think they must treat their yarn in some particular way, for the articles they turn out seem to wear much longer than any other sort. Vicuña socks cost 10s. per pair; those made of llama or sheep wool, only 4s. The vicuñas and llamas easily outlast twenty or thirty pairs of European manufacture. I have never seen them offered for sale in large quantities except at Cuzco, Arequipa, or La Paz.

Adventures in Peru, Chapter 14

Back to the Baths

Tales of Far Peru, Part 1

To know Peru well one must not be content to scrape acquaintance only with her barren coast-line which extends from Payta right away to Antofagasta in Chile—past Areca, Iquique, and Pisagua, all formerly part of Peru. One requires to penetrate into the interior. Her innumerable beautiful valleys and plains must be explored, ere one can form a just idea of this lovely and most interesting country. One has only to journey a very few leagues inland, to enter upon lands fertile almost beyond belief. One needs but to plant and irrigate; the wonderful soil does the rest.

Among the places not too far distant from the coast that one can visit with the expenditure of a small amount of energy, may be mentioned Chupa, Arequipa, Mollendo, Jura, Cuzco, the entrancing valley of Huatenay, and the old city of Machu Picchu.

Chupa—Spanish for “suck”—five leagues from Chala, is a great fruit-growing centre. Here are raised amazing quantities of pipless oranges, grenadillas, cherimoyas, paltas, pines, and bananas, all for shipment to Lima. They are conveyed to the coast on mules and pack donkeys, and then put up in baskets. Living is very cheap. In 1921 one could buy sheep and horses on most reasonable terms. The climate is healthy, and the atmosphere beautiful. One can ride all day long without once touching macadam roads—the bugbear of the prairie lover. The country-folk are most hospitable, and will let one have anything in the way of food and fruit at “rock-bottom” prices.

Mollendo, the port for Arequipa, is 7600 ft. above sea-level, and is noted for its fine and invigorating atmosphere. It is a very clean, healthy town, with a grand old cathedral dating back to Pizarro’s time; and there are some very interesting ruins only a few leagues away.

Façade of Campania Church, Arequipa. Illustration from Adventures in Peru.

Jura is but a couple of hours’ train ride from Arequipa. Its noted medicinal baths, situated 9000 ft. up, are fully described in Adventures in Bolivia. What I have said about the remarkable properties of these truly marvellous baths, is only a tithe of the truth. To all I have written about Jura I would add this. No matter what your complaint, never give up hope until you have given her baths a trial.

Besides the cases noted in my Bolivian book, I was acquainted with many more. Not the least remarkable concerned a rich merchant of Iquique, who kept a large ship-chandler’s store, and also dabbled in nitrate. A martyr to rheumatism and sciatica, he had spent a vast sum of money in trying to get some relief from his complaints. He had visited French and English doctors, and had even gone as far as Russia in order to see whether certain celebrated mud baths would do him good, but obtained only negative results.

At last an English doctor said, “Why not try one of the Inca baths Prescott speaks so highly of in his history of Peru?”

Three or four occurred to the merchant’s mind: Canquenes in Chile, some distance from Santiago; Chillan, sixty miles beyond the town of Chillan; Jura near Arequipa, and Lake Huacachina, by Ica. Of these he chose Jura, and made the best of his way there without further delay, accompanied by his wife, two daughters and a man-servant. When he reached the baths, he was absolutely helpless, and was quite unable to walk without assistance.

The party took up their residence in three cottages belonging to the Municipality of Arequipa. (As regards accommodation and fittings, they were exactly similar to Piccione’s at Huacachina, being, as a matter of fact, modelled from his.) These good people remained at Jura three months. Being an Italian, the man claimed friendship with Morosini who kept the big hotel there, and mentioned my name to him. Morosini told me that the first week his compatriot had to be carried to the baths, by himself and the valet. The second week he was able to walk with hardly any assistance whatever; and the third week, to show what great strides he had made towards perfect convalescence, he danced an Italian hornpipe! In celebration of his cure he gave a dinner at Morosini’s, to which he invited all the Italians who were taking the waters.

Morosini advised him to remain at Jura another month to make assurance doubly sure. “A month!” exclaimed the rejuvenated cripple, “I mean to stay another three! Jura just suits me down to the ground.” So he bought a horse for himself, and a couple of the four-nostrilled donkeys peculiar to the district. Thenceforward he and his Chilian valet were always out and about, exploring the country round Jura, potting duck and partridges, or bent on searching out fresh varieties of cacti, which flourish here as if this and no other place was their true home.

These are indeed magnificent. No words could describe the wonderful sight they present to the eye. I used to visit, every day when I was at Jura, their chief haunts, just for the pleasure of gazing on their loveliness. Imagine blooms, bigger than saucers, all a riot of gorgeous colour. Reds, red and orange, bluish mauve, white, yellow, at a little distance they looked like gigantic beds of opals. Altogether I visited Jura eight times. I always went there to get myself in good fettle for my mining expeditions; and I invariably put in a fortnight on my way back from prospecting, to recuperate, previous to returning to England.

Four months really elapsed before the ship-chandler man bade good-bye to Jura. He said he was perfectly cured, and though, since then, he has written Morosini quite a number of letters, he has never once referred to his old malady, so we must assume the cure was permanent.