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Across Unknown South America by Landor

From Masisea to Puerto Bermudez 520 kil


Cahaubanas were a monastery and a great many Indians. After halting for the night at that place we continued our journey up the Pachitea with a strange medley of passengers on board. We had the Hungarian count, an Italian farmer, who was a remarkable musician and played the accordion beautifully; we had some Peruvians, a Spanish emigrant, a small Indian boy aged ten who acted as steward, and a young fellow of German origin.

The cook on the launch was a lunatic, who was under the impression that he was the Saviour. It was too pathetic, and occasionally quite alarming, to see the poor man leaving the cooking stove whenever we passed any Indians on the banks, when he raised his arms up in the air and, stretching them forward, gave his benediction to the people he saw, instead of looking after the boiling rice. His benedictions cost him frequent kicks and shakings by the neck on the part of the captain of the launch. He was absorbed in fervent praying during the night. He seldom condescended to speak to any of us on board, as he said that he was not living on this earth, but would come back some day to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. Words of that kind were uttered whilst he was holding a saucepan in one hand and a ladle in the other. It was pathetic.

[Illustration: On the way to Cuzco.

Railway bridges partly carried away by swollen river.]

justify;">In pouring rain we left again on January 16th between the high rocky banks of the river, well padded with earth and with dense vegetation. Extensive beaches of grey sand and coarse gravel were passed, until we arrived at Port Bermudez, situated at the confluence of the Pichis with the Chibbis, a tributary on the left bank. Here we found the last of the chain of wireless stations which had three iron towers. From that place a telephone and telegraph wire have been installed right over the Andes and down to Lima.

The passage on the Government launch from Masisea to Bermudez cost L7 10_s._ I heard there that, thanks to the arrangements which had been made by the Prefect of the Loreto Province, the number of mules I required in order to cross the Andes was duly waiting for me at the foot of that great chain of mountains.

I therefore lost no time, and on January 17th, having left the launch _Esploradora_, proceeded in a canoe with all my baggage intending to navigate as far as possible the river Pichis, a tributary of the Pachitea, formed by the united Nazaratec and Asupizu rivers.

The landscape was getting very beautiful, the Sungaro Paro Mountains rising to a great height on the south-west. Immense _lubuna_ trees, not unlike pines in shape, were the largest trees in that region--from 5 to 6 ft. in diameter. The current was so strong that we were unable to reach the spot where the mules were awaiting me, and I had to spend the night on a gravel beach.

The next morning, however, January 18th, after passing two small rapids, where my men had to go into the water in order to pull the canoe through, I arrived at Yessup, where my mules were awaiting me, and where there was a _tambo_ or rest-house, kept beautifully clean.

[Illustration: Great Sand Dunes along the Peruvian Corporation Railway to Cuzco.]

[Illustration: Inca Bath or Fountain.]

The distance by water from Iquitos to Masisea was 980 kil.; from Masisea to Puerto Bermudez 520 kil.; from Puerto Bermudez to Yessup 40 kil.

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