National Geographic : 1942 Aug
The National Geographic Magazine He had been 40 years in Peru and knew every inch of it, he told me, as we walked up and down the sand-dune streets of Mollendo. The outstanding object of the town was a big barn of a movie palace. That 107-mile journey from Mollendo would have been a tedious trip without my missionary Scotsman to point out the sights. For the first hour we could not hear each other talk for the violent waves that broke noisily against the rocky shore alongside the train. At length we struck out across the sand dunes of San Jose which resembled a fan tastic sea frozen stiff. Suddenly we jumped out of the sand pits, and the Andes rose majestically before us in a sweeping panorama of a half dozen 4-mile peaks. "Every one of them has been my parsonage for weeks at a time," he assured me. "Come along wi' me, mon, if you would see the pith of Peru! "Over there, beyond the horizon, has long been m' parish. I've gone over it, horse and burro back, climbin' the backbone of the continent, fording the Perene River; spending week ends with Chuncho Indians, like bare foot Biblical folk all muffled up in their gloomy robes and cowls; gettin' a friendly lift on the road to Huancayo from the Indian women mountaineers and their children with their red-quilted skirts and straw hats. "Or, maybe I'd be spendin' days and nights on the way to Puno and Lake Titicaca, wi' pagan native dancers and havin' to listen to them dance to the pipe the night through! That's a parish for you!" On the "Roof Garden of Eden" At Arequipa we parted for a few days, he to his parochial duties, I to one of the world's most famous halfway-house inns. Quinta Bates (quinta means a farm) for some 40 years has been owned and dominated by the one and only Tia (Auntie) Bates. Perhaps it was breakfast there that I liked best of all. I was awakened by the whistling bread boy on his donkey stumbling down the lane beneath my window. I arose as the street cleaner was raising clouds of dust by brushing back the dirt to the very spot from which he had swept it the morning before. Now I can plainly hear the faithful Honorio, Indian houseboy, polishing the boots as he waits patiently for me to stir, when he will tap gently and leave the ewer of hot water. While I am shaving he will be drawing my bath in a Noah's-Archaic tub, in a neighbor ing birdhouselike lodging for paying guests. At length I pass along the porch, by the familiar life-sized wooden Inca idol, and trip up a flight of steps. Lo! I am on the roof garden of Eden! I select a seat at a small table beneath a big sun umbrella. Tomasa is sweeping up not dust, but flower petals! Honorio appears with my tray. Then Honorio gives a sweep of his hand to ward El Misti, the volcano in Arequipa's front yard, which is a third again as high and quite as beautiful as Fujisan. Like a cake with the frosting trickling down its side, its top is covered with last night's heavy fall of snow. At teatime Tia Bates sat at the head of the table and poured. We were always interrupted by Juanita bringing the chickens and the eggs, and also her 4-month-old latest baby, all of which she managed to tote three miles from her little hacienda. The Overhead of a Godmother "I am the baby's godmother," Tia Bates explained, "her mother's godmother, and her grandmother's. And godmother to a thou sand other Indians. They come to me for gifts on their birthdays. If they die in baby hood I must provide a shroud and a painted coffin." After dinner Tia brought me her guest book in which to write my name. It was an honor. Here was a eulogistic poem by guest Noel Coward; encomiums by General Pershing, Premier Venizelos, Prince Edward of Wales; autographs of Bengali princes, British ad mirals, and Japanese diplomats. There we would sit chatting about home until the clanging ancient bells of the ca thedral reminded her that she must rise at 6 o'clock and go to mass. Next morning Tia and I went to town. We took the miniature careening tram at the cor ner, ceremoniously assisted by the English speaking traffic policeman. "All of our building material has been poured from Old Misti, our pet volcano," she remarked, as we passed by a mile or more of white stone houses. "The white lava is porous, easy to saw into blocks, and lasts forever. This is our reward for being battered by quakes and roasted alive for centuries. "All Arequipefio houses are vaults, except that of Quinta Bates," she rambled on. "Every window in town is barred at night, not to keep out thieves but to keep in the girls. It is an old Spanish custom." Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, I shall long re member for its flowers, palms, and shady benches. It is bounded on three sides by Moorish arcades. The fourth side is dis tinguished by the 300-foot facade of the ca thedral. Only one other facade is "grander,"