CHAPTER XI. The Search Continued
At the end of the day we crossed the Urubamba River on a fine steel bridge and found ourselves in the prosperous little town of Quillabamba, the provincial capital. Its main street was lined with well-filled shops, evidence of the fact that this is one of the principal gateways to the Peruvian rubber country which, with the high price of rubber then prevailing, 1911, was the scene of unusual activity. Passing through Quillabamba and up a slight hill beyond it, we came to the long colonnades of the celebrated sugar estate of Santa Ana founded by the Jesuits, where all explorers who have passed this way since the days of Charles Wiener have been entertained. He says that he was received here "with a thousand signs of friendship" ("mille temoignages d'amitie"). We were received the same way. Even in a region where we had repeatedly received valuable assistance from government officials and generous hospitality from private individuals, our reception at Santa Ana stands out as particularly delightful.
Don Pedro Duque took great interest in enabling us to get all possible information about the little-known region into which we proposed to penetrate. Born in Colombia, but long resident in Peru, he was a gentleman of the old school, keenly interested, not only in the administration and economic progress of his plantation, but also in the intellectual movements of the outside world. He entered with zest into our historical-geographical studies. The name Uiticos was new to him, but after reading over with us our extracts from the Spanish chronicles he was sure that he could help us find it. And help us he did. Santa Ana is less than thirteen degrees south of the equator; the elevation is barely 2000 feet; the "winter" nights are cool; but the heat in the middle of the day is intense. Nevertheless, our host was so energetic that as a result of his efforts a number of the best-informed residents were brought to the conferences at the great plantation house. They told all they knew of the towns and valleys where the last four Incas had found a refuge, but that was not much. They all agreed that "if only Senor Lopez Torres were alive he could have been of great service" to us, as "he had prospected for mines and rubber in those parts more than any one else, and had once seen some Inca ruins in the forest!" Of Uiticos and Chuquipalpa and most of the places mentioned in the chronicles, none of Don Pedro's friends had ever heard. It was all rather discouraging, until one day, by the greatest good fortune, there arrived at Santa Ana another friend of Don Pedro's, the teniente gobernador of the village of Lucma in the valley of Vilcabamba - a crusty old fellow named Evaristo Mogrovejo. His brother, Pio Mogrovejo, had been a member of the party of energetic Peruvians who, in 1884, had searched for buried treasure at Choqquequirau and had left their names on its walls. Evaristo Mogrovejo could understand searching for buried treasure, but he was totally unable otherwise to comprehend our desire to find the ruins of the places mentioned by Father Calancha and the contemporaries of Captain Garcia. Had we first met Mogrovejo in Lucma he would undoubtedly have received us with suspicion and done nothing to further our quest. Fortunately for us, his official superior was the sub-prefect of the province of Convencion, lived at Quillabamba near Santa Ana, and was a friend of Don Pedro's. The sub-prefect had received orders from his own official superior, the prefect of Cuzco, to take a personal interest in our undertaking, and accordingly gave particular orders to Mogrovejo to see to it that we were given every facility for finding the ancient ruins and identifying the places of historic interest. Although Mogrovejo declined to risk his skin in the savage wilderness of Conservidayoc, he carried out his orders faithfully and was ultimately of great assistance to us.
Extremely gratified with the result of our conferences in Santa Ana, yet reluctant to leave the delightful hospitality and charming conversation of our gracious host, we decided to go at once to Lucma, taking the road on the southwest side of the Urubamba and using the route followed by the pack animals which carry the precious cargoes of coca and aguardiente from Santa Ana to Ollantaytambo and Cuzco. Thanks to Don Pedro's energy, we made an excellent start; not one of those meant-to-be-early but really late-in-the-morning departures so customary in the Andes.
We passed through a region which originally had been heavily forested, had long since been cleared, and was now covered with bushes and second growth. Near the roadside I noticed a considerable number of land shells grouped on the under-side of overhanging rocks. As a boy in the Hawaiian Islands I had spent too many Saturdays collecting those beautiful and fascinating mollusks, which usually prefer the trees of upland valleys, to enable me to resist the temptation of gathering a large number of such as could easily be secured. None of the snails were moving. The dry season appears to be their resting period. Some weeks later Professor Foote and I passed through Maras and were interested to notice thousands of land shells, mostly white in color, on small bushes, where they seemed to be quietly sleeping. They were fairly "glued to their resting places"; clustered so closely in some cases as to give the stems of the bushes a ghostly appearance.