Extreme Measures Become Necessary
"I knew we couldn't make them work, but I thought we could force them to travel. Giving the 22 to Tomás, I told him to shoot any man who tried to bolt, but to do it carefully, around the edges. Then, taking a machete, I started ahead, cutting the way, and told them to follow. As Tomás stood between them and the back trail, they decided to do so, and for two hours we went ahead in that way. By that time I was just about exhausted, as we were working through thick cane and I was going at top speed. (It should not be forgotten that all this time Mr. Heald was suffering from the effects of his accident on Huayna Picchu, which had partially disabled his right arm.)
"Coming out on a little shoulder, I thought I saw some ruins on the next spur ahead. Looking through my glass confirmed it. Then I pointed them out to the men. They too saw them, and after that there was no trouble. They were as anxious to get there as I was, for we were all suffering from thirst, and I had told them there was a spring there.
"Two hours of hard work placed us on the spur, though still high above the ruins. From there we could see several stone houses and two thatched huts, which had been left by the treasure-hunters who had come from Abancay two years previously. Just at dark we reached these huts. They showed signs of the old occupancy. There were two or three skulls lying around. A table-stone or two were in evidence and in one corner was an old Inca pot.
"…While four of us were fixing camp I sent the other two out to look for water. In an hour they came back with the news that there was none to be found. By this time we were all very thirsty, but there was nothing to do but grin and bear it.
Water Hard to Find
"About midnight I was wakened by a man crying and pleading. It was Tomás, who was having a nightmare. This in itself would not have been serious, but it excited the superstitions of the peons. They said the Incas were angry because we were there, and they wanted to be gone at daylight. I thought it best to spend some time making a search for the spring; so, as soon as it was light, we started and for an hour hunted in the jungle, but without result. The best we could do was to get water from air plants and chew certain bulbs which contained much moisture. This was not such a small help as it might seem, for many of the air plants had a good swallow of water in them, though of course we got it drop by drop at a time.
"Giving up hopes of finding a spring near the city, we took the back trail. We were all pretty weak, but we made very fair time. Reaching the ridge, we climbed down by a new way, marking our trail with piles of stones, and also followed a new trail back to the draw in which the spring was, striking the draw a good deal higher up. This turned out to be a better road; also it led us to the discovery of a series of stone-faced terraces, and at one point in them the spring broke through, so that with a little fixing we could get all the water we wanted, and that was a good deal."
They later found water within an hour's walk of Choqquequirau, and had a plentiful supply for the work of excavating as long as their provisions lasted. They had hoped to accomplish a good deal of map-work, but, owing to the great amount of rain and the almost continuous prevalence of fog and mist, little could be done besides making a route map.
Accidents Among the Indians
The Indians suffered quite as much as the white men on this journey. One of the bearers, who was carrying a food-box weighing 60 pounds, slipped on a steep bank and fell 20 feet; the box, which fell with him, opened his head. The man was not killed, but of course had to be sent home, and as laborers were extremely scarce, his presence was seriously missed.
Another Indian ran a stick into his foot and blood-poisoning ensued. A third slipped off a precipitous rock and fortunately was saved by the rope which had been tied to his waist when passing this dangerous part of the trail, although he had a toe-nail torn off and suffered considerably from blood-poisoning.
The results of these hardships were the route map―the first ever made of this section of the Andes—the discovery of a number of hitherto unknown Inca engineering works, including ditches and agricultural terraces, now buried deep in the jungle and practically inaccessible, and a few boxes of archeological and osteological specimens.
Because of the scarcity of labor, the terror of the Indians, and the small quantity of provisions that could be carried over the extremely difficult trail, the party was only able to spend five days at Choqquequirau. Under Dr. Eaton's direction 11 graves were examined and such skeletal material and pottery collected as four men could carry on their return march. No metal objects were found in these graves.
The method of burial was similar to that observed at Machu Picchu, except that the construction of bottle-necked graves was far superior at Choqquequirau, and this style of grave apparently more in vogue than at Machu Picchu. It may be noted here as significant that apparently the best example of the bottle-necked grave at Machu Picchu was found in a house closely resembling in its architectural details the buildings at Choqquequirau.
This route had only been used three times previously: (1) by the French explorer Sartiges in 1834, (2) by the Peruvian explorer Samanez in 1861, and (3) by the Almanza brothers in 1885. It was used successfully this year for the first time since 1885. Great credit is due Mr. Heald for his courage and perseverance.