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WHEN Don Pedro Duque of Santa Ana was helping us to identify places mentioned in Calancha and Ocampo, the references to “Vilcabamba Viejo,” or Old Uilcapampa, were supposed by two of his informants to point to a place called Conservidayoc. Don Pedro told us that in 1902 Lopez Torres, who had traveled much in the montaña looking for rubber trees, reported the discovery there of the ruins of an Inca city. All of Don Pedro’s friends assured us that Conservidayoc was a terrible place to reach. “No one now living had been there.” “It was inhabited by savage Indians who would not let strangers enter their villages.”
When we reached Paltaybamba, Señor Pancorbo’s manager confirmed what we had heard. He said further that an individual named Saavedra lived at Conservidayoc and undoubtedly knew all about the ruins, but was very averse to receiving visitors. Saavedra’s house was extremely difficult to find. “No one had been there recently and returned alive.” Opinions differed as to how far away it was.
Several days later, while Professor Foote and I were studying the ruins near Rosaspata, Señor Pancorbo, returning from his rubber estate in the San Miguel Valley and learning at Lucma of our presence near by, took great pains to find us and see how we were progressing. When he learned of our intention to search for the ruins of Conservidayoc, he asked us to desist from the attempt. He said Saavedra was “a very powerful man having many Indians under his control and living in grand state, with fifty servants, and not at all desirous of being visited by anybody.” The Indians were “of the Campa tribe, very wild and extremely savage. They use poisoned arrows and are very hostile to strangers.” Admitting that he had heard there were Inca ruins near Saavedra’s station, Señor Pancorbo still begged us not to risk our lives by going to look for them.
By this time our curiosity was thoroughly aroused. We were familiar with the current stories regarding the habits of savage tribes who lived in the montaña and whose services were in great demand as rubber gatherers. We had even heard that Indians did not particularly like to work for Señor Pancorbo, who was an energetic, ambitious man, 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 retainers.
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 montana 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 Huadquina. 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 mule-back 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 unsuspectingly 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 dc 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 Huadquina. 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 falling. 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 Huadquina, we happened to stop at the Colpani telegraph office. The operator said he had felt two shocks on August 13 — 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 Valley. Opposite us rose abruptly a heavily forested mountain, whose summit was lost in the clouds a mile above. To circumvent this mountain the river had been flowing in a westerly direction; now it gradually turned to the northward. Again we were mystified; for, by Raimondi’s map, it should have gone southward.
We entered a dense jungle, where the narrow path became more and more difficult for our carriers. Crawling over rocks, under branches, along slippery little cliffs, on steps which had been cut in earth or rock, over a trail which not even dogs could follow unassisted, slowly we made our way down the valley. Owing to the heat, humidity, and the frequent showers, it was mid-afternoon before we reached another little clearing called Pacaypata. Here, on a hillside nearly a thousand feet above the river, our men decided to spend the night in a tiny little shelter six feet long and five feet wide. Professor Foote and I had to dig a shelf out of the steep hillside in order to pitch our tent.
The next morning, not being detained by the vagaries of a mule train, we made an early start. As we followed the faint little trail across the gulches tributary to the river Pampaconas, we had to negotiate several unusually steep descents and ascents. The bearers suffered from the heat. They found it more and more difficult to carry their loads. Twice we had to cross the rapids of the river on primitive bridges which consisted only of a few little logs lashed together and resting on slippery boulders.
By one o’clock we found ourselves on a small plain (ele. 4500 ft.) in dense woods surrounded by tree ferns, vines, and tangled thickets, through which it was impossible to see for more than a few feet. Here Guzman told us we must stop and rest a while, as we were now in the territory of los salvajes, the savage Indians who acknowledged only the rule of Saavedra and resented all intrusion. Guzman did not seem to be particularly afraid, but said that we ought to send ahead one of our carriers, to warn the savages that we were coming on a friendly mission and were not in search of rubber gatherers; otherwise they might attack us, or run away and disappear into the jungle. He said we should never be able to find the ruins without their help. The carrier who was selected to go ahead did not relish his task. Leaving his pack behind, he proceeded very quietly and cautiously along the trail and was lost to view almost immediately. There followed an exciting half-hour while we waited, wondering what attitude the savages would take toward us, and trying to picture to ourselves the mighty potentate, Saavedra, who had been described as sitting in the midst of savage luxury, “surrounded by fifty servants,” and directing his myrmidons to checkmate our desires to visit the Inca city on the “pampa of ghosts.”
Suddenly, we were startled by the crackling of twigs and the sound of a man running. We instinctively held our rifles a little tighter in readiness for whatever might befall — when there burst out of the woods a pleasant-faced young Peruvian, quite conventionally clad, who had come in haste from Saavedra, his father, to extend to us a most cordial welcome! It seemed scarcely credible, but a glance at his face showed that there was no ambush in store for us. It was with a sigh of relief that we realized there was to be no shower of poisoned arrows from the impenetrable thickets. Gathering up our packs, we continued along the jungle trail, through woods which gradually became higher, deeper, and darker, until presently we saw sunlight ahead and, to our intense astonishment, the bright green of waving sugar cane. A few moments of walking through the cane fields found us at a large comfortable hut, welcomed very simply and modestly by Saavedra himself. A more pleasant and peaceable little man it was never my good fortune to meet. We looked furtively around for his fifty savage servants, but all we saw was his good-natured Indian wife, three or four small children, and a wild-eyed maid-of-all-work, evidently the only savage present. Saavedra said some called this place “Jesús Maria” because they were so surprised when they saw it.
It is difficult to describe our feelings as we accepted Saavedra’s invitation to make ourselves at home, and sat down to an abundant meal of boiled chicken, rice, and sweet cassava (manioc). Saavedra gave us to understand that we were not only most welcome to anything he had, but that he would do everything to enable us to see the ruins, which were, it seemed, at Espiritu Pampa, some distance farther down the valley, to be reached only by a hard trail passable for barefooted savages, but scarcely available for us unless we chose to go a good part of the distance on hands and knees. The next day, while our carriers were engaged in clearing this trail, Professor Foote collected a large number of insects, including eight new species of moths and butterflies.
I inspected Saavedra’s plantation. The soil having lain fallow for centuries, and being rich in humus, had produced more sugar cane than he could grind. In addition to this, he had bananas, coffee trees, sweet potatoes, tobacco, and peanuts. Instead of being “a very powerful chief having many Indians under his control” — a kind of “Pooh-Bah” — he was merely a pioneer. In the utter wilderness, far from any neighbors, surrounded by dense forests and a few savages, he had established his home. He was not an Indian potentate, but only a frontiersman, soft-spoken and energetic, an ingenious carpenter and mechanic, a modest Peruvian of the best type.
Owing to the scarcity of arable land he was obliged to cultivate such pampas as he could find — one an alluvial fan near his house, another a natural terrace near the river. Back of the house was a thatched shelter under which he had constructed a little sugar mill. It had a pair of hardwood rollers, each capable of being turned, with much creaking and cracking, by a large, rustic wheel made of roughly hewn timbers fastened together with wooden pins and lashed with thongs, worked by hand and foot power. Since Saavedra had been unable to coax any pack animals over the trail to Conservidayoc he was obliged to depend entirely on his own limited strength and that of his active son, aided by the uncertain and irregular services of such savages as wished to work for sugar, trinkets, or other trade articles. Sometimes the savages seemed to enjoy the fun of climbing on the great creaking treadwheel, as though it were a game. At other times they would disappear in the woods.
Near the mill were some interesting large pots which Saavedra was using in the process of boiling the juice and making crude sugar. He said he had found the pots in the jungle not far away. They had been made by the Incas. Four of them were of the familiar aryballus type. Another was of a closely related form, having a wide mouth, pointed base, single incised, conventionalized, animal-head nubbin attached to the shoulder, and band-shaped handles attached vertically below the median line. Although capable of holding more than ten gallons, this huge pot was intended to be carried on the back and shoulders by means of a rope passing through the handles and around the nubbin. Saavedra said that he had found near his house several bottle-shaped cists lined with stones, with a flat stone on top — evidently ancient graves. The bones had entirely disappeared. The cover of one of the graves had been pierced; the hole covered with a thin sheet of beaten silver. He had also found a few stone implements and two or three small bronze Inca axes.
SAAVEDRA AND HIS INCA POTTERY
INCA GABLE AT ESPIRITU PAMPA
On the pampa, below his house, Saavedra had constructed with infinite labor another sugar mill. It seemed strange that he should have taken the trouble to make two mills; but when one remembered that he had no pack animals and was usually obliged to bring the cane to the mill on his own back and the back of his son, one realized that it was easier, while the cane was growing, to construct a new mill near the cane field than to have to carry the heavy bundles of ripe cane up the hill. He said his hardest task was to get money with which to send his children to school in Cuzco and to pay his taxes. The only way in which he could get any cash was by making chancaca, crude brown sugar, and carrying it on his back, fifty pounds at a time, three hard days’ journey on foot up the mountain to Pampaconas or Vilcabamba, six or seven thousand feet above his little plantation. He said he could usually sell such a load for five soles, equivalent to two dollars and a half! His was certainly a hard lot, but he did not complain, although he smilingly admitted that it was very difficult to keep the trail open, since the jungle grew so fast and the floods in the river continually washed away his little rustic bridges. His chief regret was that as the result of a recent revolution, with which he had had nothing to do, the government had decreed that all firearms should be turned in, and so he had lost the one thing he needed to enable him to get fresh meat in the forest. In the clearing near the house we were interested to see a large turkey-like bird, the pava de la montãna, glossy black, its most striking feature a high, coral red comb. Although completely at liberty, it seemed to be thoroughly domesticated. It would make an attractive bird for introduction into our Southern States.
Saavedra gave us some very black leaves of native tobacco, which he had cured. An inveterate smoker who tried it in his pipe said it was without exception the strongest stuff he ever had encountered!
So interested did I become in talking with Saavedra, seeing his plantation, and marveling that he should be worried about taxes and have to obey regulations in regard to firearms, I had almost forgotten about the wild Indians. Suddenly our carriers ran toward the house in a great flurry of excitement, shouting that there was a “savage” in the bushes near by. The “wild man” was very timid, but curiosity finally got the better of fear and he summoned up sufficient courage to accept Saavedra’s urgent invitation that he come out and meet us. He proved to be a miserable specimen, suffering from a very bad cold in his head. It has been my good fortune at one time or another to meet primitive folk in various parts of America and the Pacific, but this man was by far the dirtiest and most wretched savage that I have ever seen.
He was dressed in a long, filthy tunic which came nearly to his ankles. It was made of a large square of coarsely woven cotton cloth, with a hole in the middle for his head. The sides were stitched up, leaving holes for the arms. His hair was long, unkempt, and matted. He had small, deep-set eyes, cadaverous cheeks, thick lips, and a large mouth. His big toes were unusually long and prehensile. Slung over one shoulder he carried a small knapsack made of coarse fiber net. Around his neck hung what at first sight seemed to be a necklace composed of a dozen stout cords securely knotted together. Although I did not see it in use, I was given to understand that when climbing trees, he used this stout loop to fasten his ankles together and thus secure a tighter grip for his feet.
By evening two other savages had come in; a young married man and his little sister. Both had bad colds. Saavedra told us that these Indians were Pichanguerras, a subdivision of the Campa tribe. Saavedra and his son spoke a little of their language, which sounded to our unaccustomed ears like a succession of low grunts, breathings, and gutturals. It was pieced out by signs. The long tunics worn by the men indicated that they had one or more wives. Before marrying they wear very scanty attire — nothing more than a few rags hanging over one shoulder and tied about the waist. The long tunic, a comfortable enough garment to wear during the cold nights, and their only covering, must impede their progress in the jungle; yet they live partly by hunting, using bows and arrows. We learned that these Pichanguerras had run away from the rubber country in the lower valleys; that they found it uncomfortably cold at this altitude, 4500 feet, but preferred freedom in the higher valleys to serfdom on a rubber estate.
Saavedra said that he had named his plantation Conservidayoc, because it was in truth “a spot where one may be preserved from harm.” Such was the home of the potentate from whose abode “no one had been known to return alive.”