National Geographic : 1896 Jul
A JOURNEY IN ECUADOR rough road from Guayaquil to Quito, crossing the Andes at an elevation of 14,000 feet just south of Chimborazo. On thejourney from Tumaco I was accompanied by an English man named Nelson. The first day out we stopped for the night in this interior channel. The vegetation was dense and thick, and parasitic vines stretched completely across the waterway. Many different kinds of parrots combined with innumerable insects and lizards and a few monkeys to make night hideous; and when a sharp, curious noise like a dog-bark caused my friend to thrust his head from under his leafy canopy in the canoe to inquire, "What is that noise?" I answered "An equi snake." Nelson dropped back under his ranch, and when he ventured out in the morning remarked, " What an infernal country, when even the snakes bark ! " We followed the inland passage to the mouth of Rio Santiago and ascended this river 12 miles to Borbon. The passage was so narrow and the vegetation so thick as to give the impression of floating through a forest. At Borbon we found a warehouse which thereafter served as our base of supplies. The Spaniards knew of gold placers on the Santiago over. two hundred years ago and brought in negro slaves to work them. The descendants of these slaves now people one branch of the river, numbering over 1,500. They crowded out the natives (the Cayapas Indians, about 1,000 in number), who retired to another fork of the same river. At Borbon the Santiago forks, the left (northern) and decidedly smaller branch retaining the name, while the right fork is called Cayapas, after the native tribe. The old semi civilization of South America and Central America seems to have been confined to the elevated plateaus, particularly in Peru and Ecuador, and there only do we find ruins of the remarkable buildings constructed by the Incas, such as those of Quito, Cuzco, and Lake Titicaca. When Pizarro conquered this region in the earlier half of the sixteenth century many of these people fled before the conquistador and established new homes along the banks of these torrential rivers, which plunge into the Pacific after a limited course, usually 75 to 100 miles. These rivers would seem magnificent if they were not surpassed by the gran deur of their neighbors, the Orinoco and the Amazon. Santiago river and its branches rise in the snowy crest of the Andes, and the Cayapas Indians are probably descendants of the Chimec or Chibcha, who, conquered neither by Inca nor Spaniard, retired to remote districts and held themselves aloof from strangers.