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THE CORDILLERAS AND THE ANDES.
all the objects in nature, none strikes of the lofty Cordilleras penetrate the con
and sublimity than mountains. Nowhere, in the vast continent of this Western world, can the mind acquire such conceptions of vastness and infinity, as upon the summits of the everlasting Andes! About the equator, too, our globe affords in the smallest space the greatest possible variety of impressions from the contemplation of nature. Among the colossal mountains of Quito and Peru, furrowed by deep ravines, man is enabled to contemplate alike the families of plants and the stars of the firmament. Here, at a single glance, the eye surveys humid and rich forests, and majestic palms, while above this growth of tropical vegetation appear oaks, the sweet-brier, and the umbelliferous plants. Here, the traveler, turning his eyes to the intensely blue vault of heaven, at a single glance beholds the constellation of the Southern Cross, the Majellanic clouds, and the guiding stars of the Bear, as they circle around the Arctic pole. In the New World the summits
our globe, and here still remain the subterranean forces which once upheaved these towering monarch mountains, still shaking them to their foundations and threatening their downfall.
On the contrary, the chain of the Himalaya is wanting in the imposing and awful phenomena of volcanoes, which amid the Andes often reveal to the inhabitants, under the most terrific forms, the forces which pervade the interior of our earth. Chimborazo, with its everlasting fires, presents a height twice that of Mount Etna, and although the mountains of India surpass the Cordilleras by their astonishing elevation, they cannot, from their geographical position, present the same inexhaustible phenomena which mark the latter. On the southern declivity of the Himalaya, at an elevation of eleven or twelve thousand feet above the sea, the region of perpetual snow begins, and thus limits the development of organic life in a zone nearly three thousand feet lower than
that where it is found in the equinoctial silver mines, and approached by a frightregion of the Andes.
ful zigzag road, along the side of a mountain. One of them, Santa Rosa, has a perpendicular depth of five hundred and twenty feet. The miners are Indians, and labor hard amid the wet and cold for sixtytwo and a half cents per day; and the ore, when refined by mercury, yields twentytwo per cent.
Upon those burning plains that rise but little above the level of the sea are found the families of the banana and the palm. To these succeed, in the Alpine valleys, and the humid clefts of the Cordilleras, the tree ferns with their lace-like foliage, and the cinchona, from whose febrifuge bark we obtain the world-renowned quinine. The medicinal strength of this remarkable bark is said to increase with the moisture imparted to the tree by the light mists forming the upper surface of the clouds which rest over these elevated plains. Next come the cold regions, and here are the grasses, one vast savannah covering the immense mountain plateau, and reflecting a yellow, golden tinge to the slope of the Cordilleras, and here graze the lamas with the cattle domesticated by the European settlers. Then succeeds the region of perpetual snow, which, resplendent in their own purity and whiteness, crown the summits of the Cordilleras.
Lamas are employed to carry the ore to the grinding mills. They are admirably adapted by nature for these abrupt mountainous regions, safely traveling where the mule would not venture, but by short stages not over ten miles a day. Seven hundred and thirty pounds are a load, and he will carry no more, nor even move when overloaded and tired.
Our illustrations are derived from Lieutenants Herndon and Gibbon's Report to the United States Government of their explorations in the valley of the Amazon, and its inhabitants, during the years 1851 and 1852. They started upon mules from Lima on the twenty-first of May, 1851, for the mountains where the Amazon was supposed to take its rise, and in two days reached Yanacoto, a village built on an elevation of more than two thousand feet above the Pacific. Still at this height there were cases of chills and fever, the people, for a cure, drinking spirits just before the chill, and during the fever, the juice of the bitter orange, with sugar and water. A little beyond | Yanacoto terminates what is called the coast, and the Sierra commences, and there is no tertian fever above this point. The climate is one perpetual spring, free from frosts as well as the damp fogs and sultry heats of the coast. This is a delicious climate for invalids, many of whom resort here. So fine is the evening air that the stars sparkle with intense brilliancy, and a pocket spy-glass distinctly discovers the satellites of Jupiter.
Soon the traveler reaches the silver mines of San Mateo, situated on both sides of the Rimac, and at an elevation of ten thousand two hundred feet above the level of the ocean. Two miles west are the
A large portion of the silver which constitutes the specie circulation of the world is dug from this range of the Cordilleras, and most of it is mined out of that slope drained into the Amazon. The introduction of steam upon that noblest of rivers, with Christian civilization and commerce, may one day turn this stream of the precious metals from the Pacific to the Atlantic side of the continent. Thus would our great city become the distributer to the world of the precious metals from California and the Andes.
In these lofty ridges are also found the copper mining haciendas, which metal is closely mixed with silver. A miner will get out about one thousand pounds of copper per day, and it is worthy of remark that the ore is melted in furnaces built of brick imported from our own country.
Three miles from Morochota the traveler obtains a view of the mountain Puypuy, which is said to be higher than Chimborazo. To reach this lofty eminence the road crossed a range of lower hills from seven hundred to eight hundred feet high, and running diagonally, with a most toilsome ascent on foot and with mules. From its summit the view is most splendid. Cone-shaped, it rises in solitary majesty from a cylindrical base, running up into the blue vault of the heavens fifteen thousand feet above the sea. When the sunlight, bursting from the clouds, rests upon its summit, it appears transcendently beautiful and grand. Lieutenant Gibbon almost froze while taking the sketch of which our plate is a copy. It is remarkable that snipe, ducks, with other aquatic birds, are found in these high regions.
Romanism has sway in the Cordilleras, | monotonous music of a reed pipe and a and Sunday is the day for mass, markets, rude flat drum, both played by the same and intemperance. The men are dressed performer. Each man carries a stick, in tall straw hats, ponchos, breeches but- with a very small wooden or hide shield, toned at the knee, with long woolen stock- which he strikes to the step of the dance. ings. Blue woolen skirts open in front, a They also wear small bells on their knees white cotton petticoat, and the shoulders and feet called cosobelês, which jingle covered with a gay colored plush mantle, with the dance. With this custom there compose the dress of the women. Ladies is a great deal of riot and intoxication. of higher quality wear skirts from colored prints or muslins. The hair, particularly on Sundays, is perfectly arranged, and, parted in the middle, hangs down gracefully plaited behind. It is surmounted by a very neat, low-crowned straw bonnet, and she is always bein calzada, well shod. The women exhibit amiable, frank, and agreeable manners.
The cura has a busy time, as nearly every day there is some "Fiesta" of the Church, which is usually celebrated with ringing of bells, music, the firing of rockets, and Indian dances. A dozen low fellows, dressed in the supposed costume of the ancient Indians, red and white blankets from the shoulders, short blue breeches, and sandals of raw hide, march through the streets. Stopping now and then, they perform a sort of a dance to the dull and
Tarma is a small town of Peru, with some seven thousand inhabitants, and beautifully situated in an atmosphere of high mountains, clothed almost to their tops in summer with waving fields of barley. Its latitude is 11° 25' south, and the place is nine thousand seven hundred and thirtyeight feet above the level of the sea, between the Andes range on the east and the lofty Cordilleras west. The valley in front of the place is half a mile wide, two long, level, and covered with the greenest and richest pasturage. At the farther end the stream which runs through it plunges over a beautiful rocky cataract thirty feet high. The climate is delicious and invigorating, the sick from Lima and the cold inclement mining districts resorting for health to its pure, mild, and equal temperature.
Maize, wheat, barley, and potatoes are the principal crops, cultivated upon the mountain sides and in the rocky valleys of this country.
In nearly all cases the land is cultivated by the aborigines, and their wages average from ten to twenty cents a day. small estates, chacéas, are owned by the descendants of the Spanish Indians, or Mestizos, the last a cross between the two former. The Indians celebrate harvest with great merry-making, cooking their meals, at the time, in the fields, with music and dancing amid the barley stubble. They are very modest, civil, and unassuming in their manners to strangers. The men carry heavy loads of barley or wheat on their backs, while the women drive the loaded mules, slinging the children over their shoulders. All are employed; the father reaps, the mother gathers, the boys tending the flocks, while the girls take care of the children and the cooking, and spin woolen yarn by the hand.
ruary are generally the forerunners of a famine. Black cattle are numerous at the foot of the mountains, and shepherdesses follow thousands of sheep and lambs. During the harvest the tax-gatherers go among the thrashers with silver-headed canes, levying a measure of grain instead of contribution money. They are old Indians, well dressed, with broad-brimmed hats, and a respectable Quaker-like air about them. The priests also are active at the same time for their share of the crops.
Men reach a good old age in this climate; seventy, eighty, ninety years are common, and some reach one hundred to one hundred and thirty, the Indians living longest. Mestizo and Spanish girls have been known to be mothers at the early age of eight or nine years. The Spanish Creole population is small, and are generally the shop-keepers and the only dealers in foreign goods, which they purchase at Lima. These they pay to the Indians for work in the silver mines, the natives preferring blue in their dresses to any other color. The demand for wax in the Romish churches is considerable. Eggs and wool are the chief exports of Lima, and are
When the crops fail on these table-lands the suffering among the Indians is very great. Before the rains commence is their seeding time, and hard frosts in Feb-carried across the Cordilleras on the backs
of mules. Travelers wonder why they find so many bad eggs on the sea-coast, and it arises from the custom to pass them through the country, as current money, for some time before they are sent away to market. Three eggs will purchase a glass of brandy or sixpence worth of anything in the markets. The Mestizos are the shoemakers, blacksmiths, and saddlers of the country, and lord it over the honest Indians.
Inaja is one of the great valleys amid the snowy peaks of Peru, and has a population of about two thousand five hundred inhabitants. The houses are one story, built of unburned bricks, with tile roofs. Its streets are well paved, and a neat little whitewashed church ornaments the plaza. The snowy peaks of the Cordilleras are in full view from the town. No section of Peru is more densely populated than the valley of Inaja. Here, close under the mountains, on the east side, stands the little town of Ocopa, with its convents and schools. From this point Roman Catholic missionaries have been sent in different directions to the forests and plains, at great risk of life and comforts, for the conversion of the savage red man.
Some have been successful, others murdered, and their settlements destroyed by fire, and some never tire!
The Inaja River, rising to the north of Tarma, flows in a serpentine course through the whole length of this elevated valley, and creeping through the Andes, suddenly and rapidly rushes by the Ucayali and Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean.
Huancavelica, a Peruvian town celebrated for its quicksilver mines, has a population of eight thousand, and is situated in a deep ravine, amid a cluster of lofty peaks. It is the capital of the department, and was named by the Incas, boasts of six churches, an hospital, and college, in which are taught physics, chemistry, and mineralogy. A cathedral stands on the side of the Cinnebar Mountain, which contains the famous quicksilver mine of San Barbara. It is truly a wonderful place, and its entrance resembles a railroad tunnel. The eternal glaciers are seen at the very door, six hundred feet below the top of the mountain; icicles hanging over head, with sheets of ice under foot. Old brick-colored columns support the ceilings of the mine as they are excavated by the workmen, who, with hammer and chisel, are literally