As a part of its commitment to prevent global warming is making the best of efforts
to preserve the rainforest, being the initial phase the “HUAMBOYA


Tufino – Alvarez Scientific Mission
For a period, greater than one hundred and twenty-five years of republican life, the collective memory of several generations of Chimboracenses have kept the hope, although truncated, to be integrated, as a province, to the eastern region of the Upano Valley ...

The Casa de la Cultura of Chimborazo must persist in their efforts to transform dreams into realities. Therefore, we now pass on to children and young people, those contributions that because of their significance are preferred due to the urgencies posed by the mad disputes of spaces from the development hubs that, at least until the near future, are reluctant to see progress consolidated in the central region of the country…

Two important milestones: The expedition that began on May 17, 1892, leaded by Fray Juan Maria Riera, and that was directly grounded on those undertaken by the Apostolic Prefect Fray Jose Maria Magalli, in 1888, (of which we have no documents) and by the Tufino-Alvarez Scientific Mission in 1912. These elements will allow the updating of knowledge to understand what the Riobamba-Guamote-Macas road represents to us.

On the other hand, our institution pays tribute to all those who, for more than a century, have left us a path of hope.

Carlos A. Falconi,

Wildlife percentages






Among the wildlife are very colorful exotic birds: parrots, toucans, parrots, wild turkeys, parakeets,
mountain rooster and dozens of varieties of hummingbirds.
There is a great variety of multicolored




(EXPLANATORY NOTE: Monsignor Riera received orders from his superiors to find an easy way to enter Macas and the Morona regions).




“The distance from Riobamba to Macas by Huamboya is about 120 kilometers, and up to the Morona about 150 kilometers. If a three-meter wide bridle path was built on rocky soil, and a five-meter on a soft ground, with about four meters of uprooting on the sides of the road, the works up to Macas would cost 300,000 Sucres and up to the Morona some 400,000.


However, if a road instead of a bridle path would be built, the cost would double; a road that, for the most part, could turn into a roadway, thanks to the stones that abound almost all the way.


If instead of a road, a railroad was built, which would be more appropriate, then the calculations made by Mr. Pitault, engineer of the Franco Dutch Company brought by Mr. Fabre would be useful.  He has calculated that the kilometer of the narrow-gauge railway would cost $ 15,000, including the rolling stock and a bridge, every 25 kilometers. The total cost to Macas would be $1,800,000 and to Morona $ 2,250,000. As for the other bridges, which would be small, there is no need for them to be of iron, having as we have, incorruptible wood in abundance.


But we must bear in mind that Mr. Pitault was talking about a 0.75m-gauge railway: if we build a 0.60m-gauge railway only, then the cost would be lower, and even much lower if we consider the discount that may be obtained from the current price, which envisages a 0.75 m gauge.  Examples of 0.60-gauge railways are seen all over the world such as in Chile, in Sweden, in the English Indies, and in other points, which would be too numerous to list. But, especially in South Africa, where the Otavi Mining Society is building a 600-kilometer line, which is considered the longest in the world regarding narrow-gauge railways”.


It seems very opportune to reproduce here, just to confirm our statement, some paragraphs of the important brochure <Ferrocarril al Curaray> of the Civil Engineer, our compatriot, Mr. Carlos Guarderas M., who among other things says: We are convinced that a 0.60 gauge is enough for our secondary railways, including in this classification the transversal ones that will provide the central line with access to the coast and to those that will go to the Oriente.


Let’s examine the qualities and advantages of economic railways: Firstly, their essential characteristics greatly facilitate their construction, because due to the smaller width of their platforms, the reduction of the curves radius and to the greater tolerance in the gradients their location will be more flexible and the adaptability to the unevenness of the terrain, better, thus, the movement of lands will decrease. As a result, expenditure will be less due to the smaller dimensions of the sleepers, the decrease in the weight of the rails and, finally the smallest bucket for the ballast.


In a report on economic railways, the distinguished Belgian engineer, Mr. Omer Huet, Technical Consultant of the Ministry of Public Works and now General Director of the Chile Railways, said referring to those of 0m 60 gauge:


In general, the 0m 60 gauge is sufficient for countries where mining and industrial productions are only germinating. These means of transport are most needed here and will be the ones that will be built if the issue of communication routes were really appreciated. Norms are flexible, they are established with small capitals, they are exploited with simple services, they are maintained with minimal expenses and, finally, they work with advantageous freights rates both for the public and the capital invested”.


These considerations, applicable with rigorous accuracy to our local circumstances and conditions, are still strengthened by these incontrovertible arguments:



End of Mr. Guarderas’s comments


Even if a discount is not obtained from the business company, which is unlikely, the disbursement made by Nation on this railroad would very small compared to the immense benefits that it would obtained We will be in a position not only to take advantage of the vast plains of privileged lands and of exploitable riches in every lineage, up to the Morona River, but it could put us in possession of this great river that flows into the Maranon under the Manseriche Pongo (Passage), which is navigable to an extension of almost 500 kilometers; we will also be in possession of the its powerful tributaries, the Miasal and the Cangaimi, which in addition to being auriferous are navigable; in one word, it would put us in possession of a hydrographic system portentously rich in hunting and fishing, in flora and fauna. To better understand the significance of a road to the Morona, it is enough to know that this river is not only the most navigable of our eastern rivers, but it is the closest to the mountain ranges.  The Morona river could be easily diverted as follows: to the left, towards the Pastaza, navigable in an area almost equal to the Morona; and to the right, towards the auriferous Santiago. Then, an Ecuadorian customs post that would prosper quicker than the ancient and famous city of Borja, would be placed where the Morona River flows into the Maranon.


Since many people have asked our opinion as to which road is more suitable, the Riobamba to Macas, or the Ambato to the Curaray, or Puerto Bolivar to the Marañon, we want to record our stance on the subject to fade errors and clarify confusing ideas to this respect.


The above question seems to us the same as if we were asked, which is the greatest, Shakespeare or Dante, or Isaiah. Questions impossible to answer, because these masterminds are diverse among themselves, but in their sphere so great the one as the other.


The Oriente is too extensive, more extensive than the rest of the Republic. A road that benefits the province of Loja, for instance, could not benefit the province of Carchi. In the Oriente the disproportion is even greater. Of the three indicated routes, each one has an intrinsic value.


The Curaray railway would give us access to the extensive hydrographic basin of the Oriente, such as the Napo and its tributaries, even to part of the Pastaza regions. With a road to Morona, as we have already said, we would take advantage not only of this river but also of the Pastaza and the Santiago Rivers. With the Curaray railway, we would have a customs post right where the Napo flows into the Amazonas, this is about 70 kilometers downstream from Iquitos; and with the railroad to Morona, we will have another customs post at 500 kilometers upstream of the same bridge of Iquitos.  The Puerto Bolivar railway could enable the communication of the four of the richest provinces of Ecuador, such as: El Oro, Loja, Azuay and Cañar, all the part of Zamora; in a word, to a large part of the Oriente, especially Santiago. This means that these three routes are so well distributed, that with them alone we would be able to enjoy all the riches of the whole Oriente; consequently, Ecuador would reach such a degree of prosperity, that it could be comparable to the great American powers.


But we will be asked: And the money? To which we will answer that such a question does not apply to a railroad from Riobamba to Morona as the expenditure would be of no more than two and a half million, which for the nation is nothing, considering that such a railroad would open new sources of wealth that would represent to the country many millions.


Nor would this question be relevant to the railroad to Curaray, because it would be self-financed; the Congress would only need to disburse some funds to put it to work immediately; and since the cost is relatively low, no great efforts will be required, especially if instead of building a 1.07 gauge railway, as it is intended, only a 0.60 was built; thus, it is safe to assume that it would cost the same as the railway from Riobamba to Morona.


This assumption is not very reckless, if we take as starting point in our calculations the cost per kilometer given to us by Mr. Pitault, and even more if these works are carried out with the Nation’s income. If peace is not altered and the Treasury continues to be administered with the success and honesty as usual, there is no reason for not undertaking as soon as possible these works, which will be the true redeemers of the country, especially since Mr. Engineer, Minister of the Treasury, has assured us that funds for the railway to the Curaray are being respected.


As for the railroad from Puerto Bolivar to Maranon, Mr. Fabre is entering into an ad-referendum contract with the Government, a contract that the patriotism of the Congress will discuss, consulting the interests of both parties and the urgent need for such work. This work requires the patriotic effort of national investors.


And, if despite all what has been said so far, they insist on asking: And the money? We will answer this with another question. Weren’t we pursuing a loan of forty million sucres to wage a war with Peru, in these critical days for Ecuador, a war in which we would lose money, credit, territorial integrity, everything? Well, why can’t the country make a sacrifice and get a loan, if sacrifice is to use the millions of its revenues in the aggrandizement of the Homeland?


And finally, don’t we have the Galapagos? In the minds of all is the need to make the most of this Archipelago, which is so threatened by bastard ambitions, as soon as possible.


For years many Ecuadorians have been writing about the convenience of leasing some of such islands to different nations of America and Europe and even to Japan; that is, to all those powers that will benefit most of the Panama Canal. The opening of this Canal must considerably increase the value of our islands, not only for the United States and Chile, but also for Japan, whose commercial expansion in the Pacific has increase enormously, and for the Europeans themselves, who have their colonies in Asia.  After the opening of the Panama Canal, - says Wolf - an important naval station will be formed (in Galapagos) for ships of all nations, for coal deposits, food warehouses and everything related to this service. How many people will have a lucrative occupation because of a single station? It will be a new incentive for trade and speculation.


To conclude, what we need most is to open roads to the Oriente, both to remember our sovereignty in these vast regions, and to obtain new sources of wealth for the Nation. We should not neglect any of the three projected routes: from Puerto Bolivar to Morona, from Riobamba to the same river, and from Ambato to Curaray, and, if our funds are not enough, then we must avail to a loan.


However, we truly believe that of the three roads, the Riobamba to Morona should be a priority, for the following reasons: 1) Because it is the least expensive of the three; as we have already said, it will cost two to two and a half million, maximum. Well, we must not forget that the estimated budget for the railway to Curaray only includes the section that goes from Ambato to Arajuno, and that according to the experts, there is a lot do from the Arajuno to a navigable point at the Curaray. Meaning, that the railroad would cost us less than six to seven million, even if the narrow road was considered, the 0.60; 2)  Besides being the Morona river one of the most comfortable for navigation of all our eastern rivers, in an area of one hundred leagues, it is also the closest to the Cordillera, from the Morona to Riobamba there is no more than 150 kilometers. 3) For the same reason that such river is easily navigable, and is the closest to the Inter-Andean zone, the Peruvians have advanced up to its headwaters, and even higher further up by the Maisal and the Cangaymi, and consequently, it is the obligations of the Public Powers to use the most effective means to prevent further advances, which are an imminent threat to Macas, from which it would be impossible to get them out once they have established there.


The sovereignty and the decorum of the Nation demand an immediate commitment to undertake these works.


In this way, job will be available for countless Ecuadorians who need them. And once works are seriously initiated, interest of all the peoples of the Republic will be awakened; and all will rise with enthusiasm to cooperate with the prompt realization of this redemptive work.


Let’s not forget Wolf’s bitter words that are for the Ecuadorians an embarrassing reproach: "it is necessary to confess, he says: that all the modern knowledge about the past 50 years  we have available on these remote regions (the Ecuadorian Oriente), not only of the southern band, but also of the northern one of the Amazonas and its principal tributaries, we owe to the Peruvian explorers or to the foreigners under the protection of Peru. Ecuador has done nothing to develop them or to get acquainted with these regions or to retain what it is believed to be part of the territory.


The installation of the wireless telegraph throughout the Republic, including Galapagos and the Oriente, is a pressing need. But, even if this is done quickly, it will take time.  It is therefore of urgent necessity that before starting the road to Morona works, a telegraph line from Riobamba to Macas by Licto, Cebadas, Atillo, Zuña and Chanala is implemented.


About the roads to the Oriente, we say again: Let’s imitate Peru, Colombia and be aware of the sad role we are playing in the great concert of the American Nations.


Let's give jobs to Ecuadorians by opening roads to the Oriente. By doing this, we will become more virtuous, peace will be consolidated, the national credit abroad will be rehabilitated and new capitals and immigration, two indispensable conditions for the aggrandizement of the Republic, will be attracted.






While writing in this Report about the most difficult points that we encountered in our expedition for a road from Riobamba to Morona by Huamboya, such as the crossings  of the Sangay and Tunachiguaza rivers, one of us recalled by a telegram to the Illustrious Mr. Riera, Bishop of Guayaquil, the offer he had been made to send us the notes he had, regarding his exploration to the Huamboya regions.


The answer of Mr. Bishop was affirmative.


However, despite that, the announced document did not arrive, we insisted with another telegram.


The answer was as follows:


"Mr. Intendant General of the Oriente: - The report about the Huamboya expedition was sent a few days ago.

I will repeat mail. Bishop Riera "


We realized then that these notes had been misdirected in the mail, which was confirmed by R. P. Valladares, through whom the Bishop had sent the notes.


Although the document come to us when the part of our Report, in which it should have been inserted, was already printed; yet we have resolved to publish it as an Appendix because it seems interesting and opportune to our purpose:


This is it:


“In 1892 I was sent to the Macas mission by Father Apostolic Prefect of the Missions of Macas and Canelos and by Fray Jose Maria Magalli, of the Order of Preachers, to enforce the paschal precept of confession and communion, to the inhabitants of Hatillo, Zuna and Macas: I was also ordered not to return to Riobamba along the well-trodden path of Zuna and Hatillo, but through the unknown region of the old Guamboya, in order to be able to inform the Government about the possibility or impossibility of opening, through that region, a bridle path, which will come from  Riobamba to Macas, project presented by Messrs. Agustin Rodriguez and Company.


In compliance with this mandate, as soon as I concluded my main task in Macas, I undertook the risky excursion, for which I necessarily had to involve the distinguished “Macabeo” (a person from Macas) Mr. Ambrosio Zabala, current Political Chief of the Sangay Canton and the chief of the “jíbaros” into this venture to accompany me.


On May 17, 1892, we: Fray Juan Maria Riera, OP, Messrs Ambrosio Zabala, Pedro Nogueras, N. Carrillo, Luis Calle, Juan Zabala and my boy: Benigno left Macas at 8:30 in the morning towards the mountains of Guamboya. I think Ignacio Aguayo also came with us.  The jibaro, Charupe, the leader of them, an Indian almost octogenarian, but very active and robust, Ambusha and Shikiia (Charupe’s children), Shakiai and Tzamarinda (Charupe’s son-in-law), Cumbanama with his son, Yu, and Ambusha’s wife were waiting for us at Charupe’s house.


Those who left Macas on the 17th, arrive to the Tamboyacu beach at 9:00 a.m. then we crossed the Upano river by canoe, despite it was very swollen.  At 10:00 a.m. we were at Paccha; at 12 and 17 minutes at the Subida; at 2 p.m. we arrive at Ambusha’s house, where we spent the night.


MAY 18

We departed from Ambusha’s house on the 18th at 9 a.m. and arrived at Quilamoque at 10 and 7 minutes a.m.; we reached the Gapula river at 1 and 35 minutes; we crossed it and arrived to Guanga nahinda (or Hill of the Royal Palm) at 3 and 20 minutes p.m.


MAY 19

We left Guanga nahinda at 6 and 20 minutes a.m. and arrived at Tristeza (stream) at 7 and 5 minutes p.m.; we crossed this river at 1 and 20 minutes p.m. and continued; then we arrived at Chiguaza, at Charupe’s house, at 3 p.m.


Immediately after we went to Yu’s and Cumbanama’s houses, which were very close to Charupe’s; and from the patio of Cumbanama’s house the jibaros showed us the mountains of the ancient and historic Guamboya.  We saw them in the distance. Oh! What sad memories gathered in our soul, to see these regions, in which the ferocity of the jibaros swept away opulent cities by blood and fire and exterminated its inhabitants!  Today, thick jungles still bury, who knows for how long, the traces of that amazing Christian civilization! Who would have thought that after so many years, other jibaros, descendants of those same tribes, and bloodthirsty as their ancestors, united in a friendly manner to a poor and dark Priest and in the company of the sons of Macas, descendants perhaps of the remains of the destroyed Seville of Gold, were those who, looped with love, crossed those, once fields of desolation and routine, to see them resuscitate to their old life and splendor…!


MAY 20

Indeed, on May 20, all those named above, headed for an unknown destination at 7 and 35 minutes a.m., opening paths in the secular forest, and at 9 a.m. we arrived at the Chiguaza river; we crossed it and at 10 a.m., we continued forward; we were at the Padimi river at 12 and 3 minutes and we crossed it; we continue our arduous journey at 1 p.m. and we arrived at Guaguaimi at 1:30; we walked until 3 p.m., always opening new paths, and suspended our march, at a point that we called Santa Rosa. Here we spend the night.


MAY 21

We departed at 7 and 25 minutes am., and at 8 and 7 minutes we arrived at the river Namakimi at 8 and 7 minutes a.m., and after crossing it, we continued our exploration; At noon, we arrived to a place where, in 1888, Father Apostolic Fray Jose Maria Magalli had taken a rest while heading from Macas to Canelos through the forest with M. R. P. Oriental Missionary Fray Enrique Vacas Galindo and with the unforgettable Ambrosio Zabala.


We called this place Tambo del Provincial because Father Magalli was a provincial priest in 1892, when we were undertaking this expedition. We moved on, and at 2:30 p.m. we reached the Tunachiguaza River, we crossed it without any difficulty, on foot just like we crossed all the other rivers, and walked until the 3 and half p.m., when we stopped.  We called this place Tambo de San Martin.


MAY 22

We left San Martin at 8 a.m.; we reached a Namakimi river 20 minutes later, and after crossing two rivers of the same name we arrived at Tambo El Gallo at 10 a.m. – At 10 and 11 minutes a.m. we arrived at the Sakea river, then at the Mamakimi river, we crossed both rivers and at 1 p.m. we were at the Malekoa river, we crossed it; at 2 p.m. we continued our journey and at 3 p.m. we stopped at a point we called El Rosario.


MAY 23

At 7 and 20 minutes in the morning we proceeded on our journey, but we had strayed from the path because of the chopping; at 11 and 53 minutes a.m. the jibaros found us, this time they fell behind, the chopping was straightening.  We reached the Rinhuihui river and crossed it at 12 and seven minutes, then we crossed the Arapicos river at 1 and a half p.m., we crossed it twice, one at 2 in the afternoon and the other at 2 and three quarters, always on foot; Because it was a large river, we had some difficulty to cross it; however, the wading was good; the water reached us up to the waist, but it ran very smoothly.  This day we stopped at a point we called San Jacinto.


MAY 24

We reassumed our walk at 7:15 a.m., and at 11:15 it turned out that we were in front of Chiguaza, even when it was distant. We went ahead, and at 2:15 we stopped at San Vicente, name that we imposed on our lodge.


MAY 25

We left San Vicente at 8 a.m. and after 14 minutes we reached a river, which was named after our improvised hotel, San Vicente; we crossed it and arrived at the Paccha river at 11:15 a.m., to the Negro river at 12 and 7 minutes; we crossed those and arrived at 1 and 20 p.m. to the beach of the Volcano river, name given because we noticed that it came from the Sangay volcano. Others, more precisely, call it Sangay river.  It is voluminous and its flow run very fast: we had to wade it almost at its confluence with the Guamboya River, where the beaches are open and the riverbed measures about a hundred meters or so; nevertheless, it seemed to us that the river was very swollen and we decided to postpone the crossing until the following day; we had hope for a change in the flow, as is indeed what happened.


MAY 26

On the 26th, we noticed that the river flow had decreased, although not the width or speed of the current. After entrusting ourselves to God, we began to cross it, in groups of four and helped by snares to hold us against the current; the water reached up to our chests at the most widest points and almost by the end, the river got shallower; we crossed it on foot, with the bundles of clothes and scarce supplies on the head.  As soon as we crossed it, the river grew again, more than the previous day. And since our clothes got wet, including the bedclothes, on the 26th we stayed on the other side of the river drying the clothes by the fire.


This river seemed to us a very serious obstacle for the new road. However, R.P. Fray Alvaro Valladares, current Apostolic Prefect of the Missions of Macas and Canelos, who stayed in Macas for a few years after my departure, assured me that he himself had gone to a place, discovered by Charupe, where the channel of this river narrowed a lot, with rocks on either side, a perfect place to easily put a bridge of about fifteen meters. R.P. Fray Alvaro Valladares has also assured me that when he was in Macas as Minister with Fr. Van- Shoote, they offered Charupe a Spanish shotgun if he discovered, in the mentioned river, a suitable point to place a bridge, and that Charupe came back to collect his shotgun assuring that he had found the desired place for the bridge.  This place should be the one that R. P. Van Schoote went to see personally. I also remember that R. P. Van Shoote told me that from Macas to that point of the Volcano or Sangay River, it did not take him more than three days by foot to get there.


MAY 27

On the 27th, at 9 a.m., we continued our way, according to our calculations, we should have continued along the Guamboya River, but it was really swollen, so we moved through the forest; at 5 p.m. we arrived at the head of a river that we named Rio Blanco, because of the color of the stones that formed its bed. We knew that we had deviated from our route, so we decided to move on the next day, down the river, until finding the beaches of the Guamboya River.


MAY 28

Today, at 7 and 15 minutes in the morning, we entered the Blanco River, and followed it downstream until 12 noon when we found the beaches of Guamboya.  We continued further up by the beach and at 12 and 20 minutes we hit a river Guagracachi - (named like this for being the watering hole for tapirs); we crossed it and we fell back on the banks of the Guamboya, at 3 p.m. We stopped here to spend the night.


MAY 29

We departed at 7 and 3 minutes and passed twice an arm of the Guamboya River, from southeast to northeast, and reached the Coco River at 11 and 20 minutes a.m. and to the Almorzadero at 11 and 42 minutes a.m. We continued at 12 and 33 minutes and found another Coco river, less abundant than the first one; we crossed it and at 3 and 7 minutes we arrived at Santa Ana, the first establishment since we left the Oriente, owned by Mr. Rodriguez and Cia.


MAY 30

We left at 6:15 and crossed the river at 9 a.m. and arrived to Ramos tambo at 1 and 20 minutes, to Tambo de la Playa at 4 and 42 p.m., to San Fidel river at 5:15 and to San Antonio at 6:30. – San Antonio is another establishment owned by Mr. Rodriguez and Cia.


At 9 a.m. we left San Antonio; we arrived at the Negro river at 10:17; at 11:30 to the Innominado river; at 12:20 we passed the same river again and at 1 and 5 minutes p.m. we reached the San Juan river at 1:15 and stayed in San Juan, another establishment of Mr. Rodriguez and Cia.



We departed San Juan at 7 and 43 minutes and arrived at Pusucticho at 10 a.m.; we started to ascend the Cordillera, but as we did not know how long it would take us to reach the summit and pass to the other side, we returned to the foothills, mainly because the snow was fallen heavily and two of the travelers began to feel very bad because of the excessive cold, we all were stuttering.  Only Charupe and his son-in-law Tzamarinda passed to the other side wearing light clothes; they had reached the Cuznipacha ranch half dead and regained sensibility after two hours of heating up by the fire. This was confirmed by the workers of the house Rodriguez and Cia, who luckily were in that place.



This day, very early in the morning, at 6 a.m. we reassumed the march, we crowned the Pongo at 7 and 45 minutes a.m.; we reached the Cuznipacha River at 8 and 20 minutes a.m.; we crossed it on foot and at 8 and 25 minutes we were at the ranch of the same name. We continue our journey at 9 and 17 minutes a.m. At 12 and 25 minutes we met Messrs. Zuniga, Maldonado and another person and moved on towards the Alao and entered it, still on foot; at 3 and 5 minutes p.m. We met here to Mr. Doctor Agustin Rodriguez.



From Alao we went on horseback to Pungala and on June 4 we headed to Riobamba.


All the jibaros named above, Ambrosio Zabala, Pedro Nogueras, Juan Zabala and I think, Luis Calle, also followed me to Quito.


I should point out that on May 27, when we were unable to walk through the Guamboya’s beach because it was full of water, there had been a terrible alluvium coming down from Sangay. On the 28th, when we returned to this beach, at 12, we found a large quantity of whole trees and others in pieces, piled up all over the beach, covered with a layer of fresh mud, which led us to believe that there had been an extraordinary growth of the Guamboya River, which had dragged so many trees with it.  Moreover, before reaching San Antonio, on the 30th, when we reached a point in the forest where the alluvium had descended, we realized that it had not been a mere crescent of the river, but a formidable eruption of the Sangay, because of the fresh lava we found.  The secular jungle was destroyed in a very wide area, where the alluvium of the Sangay had descended. If this crescent had caught us on the beach of Guamboya, it would have dragged us all, and we would all have perished; nobody would had ever known what happened to us. It was the Divine Providence that protected us, leading us that day through the woods to the headwaters of the Blanco River!


If the way by Guamboya were to be opened, it would be advisable for a scientific commission to carefully study the best location of the line to guard it, insofar as is possible, against this great danger.


These slight notes are very accurately taken in the place of the facts, immediately after their verification. I wrote them down myself in my notebook.


In each place and river, I took the height and the respective temperature, with a good pocket barometer, which was lent to me by Dr. Augusto Rodriguez, and with a thermometer. These notes have been misplaced.


Guayaquil, August 13, 1912



Bishop of Guayaquil




Sent by the Government to the Macas regions in February of the year 1912.



The Government of Mr. D. Carlos Freile Zaldumbide, in his desire to grant the shortest line for a road from Riobamba to Morona, spending the least money possible in the construction of the works, honored us at the end of February of this year, with the mission of exploring the unknown part of that journey. On those days, Mr. Federico Paez, a civil engineer and Director of Public Works, had just returned from a similar mission. Such gentleman followed in his exploration the following route: Riobamba, Pungala, Alao, Pondos de Tres Cruces and Cuspuan, Huamboya and the Arapicos, Tunachiguaza and Chiguaza rivers.  Then he arrived to Macas and returned to Riobamba by the only existing road, namely Huilca, Chanala, Zunac, Hatillo, Cebadas and Licto.


The Government was familiar with the route traveled by Mr. Paez. This gentleman had told us that, in his opinion, Macas should not renounce the aspirations of having a road from Riobamba to Morona.


During our expedition, we not only agreed with Mr. Paez’s opinion, but we concluded that the idea of involving Macas in the road project should not be questioned; it was a necessity to make Macas the center of our successive operations towards the Morona. We are aware that the Government already knew the path traveled by the Director of Public Works. Now it's about going to Macas through a way no one has gone, always leaving the Sangay on our right, but approaching as much as possible to its skirts. Around here we would not have the shortest line from Riobamba to Macas, said the Presidential Government, when everyone was celebrating the victory, but we would avoid the passage, in the low parts, of great rivers like the Coco, the Sangay, the Tunachiguaza, since their headwaters were supposed to offer no difficulty.


We trusted that we were guided by the best maps available of our Orient, in which, in fact, the shortest line to Macas passed through the north side of the volcano; at the same time, it showed us, in that same direction, an immense plain and no signs of rivers or mountains. Our deception was not absolute, because while we flattered ourselves, carried not only by the desire of achieving a victory, but also by that adventurous spirit that is innate in man, at the bottom of our apparent conviction there was something that made us doubt, and our curiosity, stimulated.  If this were an easy task, we said to ourselves, how is it possible that nobody had gone there? And our inner question was even more difficult to answer, since from left to right of those supposed plains shown on the maps, threads were heading in the opposite direction to swell the mighty Palora river, affluent of the Pastaza, or rivers such as the Tunanchiguaza and the Chiguaza, and others that flow into the powerful Upano.


Between these currents, not only science but simple common sense told us that there should be convoluted mountain ranges, higher or lower, in a word a “divortium aquarum”. But nobody shed any light on this, and the map only showed only plains.


Anyhow, the Government decided that we take the chosen direction, and we accepted with enthusiasm such an honorable commission, the first of the undersigned, in his capacity as Head of the Scientific Mission, and the other in the position of General Intendant of the South Oriente. The Commission was also formed, according to the presidential decree, by the gentlemen Julian Fabre (son), Amable Perez and Daniel Villagomez. At the beginning of the expedition, Mr. Fabre left us, due to illness.  The other gentlemen not only fully fulfilled their duties but behaved with true self-denial in the most difficult moments.


We all met in Riobamba, where we bought supplies and more items for the trip, even though things were more expensive there than in Quito, and on March 3 we left that city, at 7 a.m., towards the Oriente.



We arrived at Licto, the first population we encountered, through a wide road.  Licto is 17 kilometers SSE. of Riobamba, and its barometric height is 3,060 meters. It is necessary to stop this consideration in this town, whose geographical position and whose number of inhabitants give it an exceptional importance, because it is here where the traveler heads either to the left if he wants to go to Macas by Huamboya, or to the right, if he want to go by Zunac.


Licto is in a picturesque valley on the left bank of the river Chambo, the main head of the Upper Pastaza and is surrounded by high and green hills of beautiful curves, hills that almost take the proportions of a mountain.


To the SO of Licto, there is a hill called Lucero-Loma from where the viewer dominates one of the most magnificent panoramas in the world: Cruz-Loma, which is surrounded by a labyrinth of round and voluptuous hills of beautiful emerald green color, because of its cultivated fields.


Green valleys and hills, and the numerous houses of the Indians scattered across the place, enhancing the picturesqueness of those landscapes. The valley of Licto is seen from the hills, as well as the smiling town of Pungala on the other side of Chambo. But then the view is dilated by a vast plain partly cut by the Chambo and beautified by the town of San Luis, which is barely visible, and by the beautiful Riobamba, still more distant, whose towers and domes are surrounded by forests; the view no longer stops but on the highest crests of the Eastern and Western Andes, such as the Altar, the terrible Tungurahua, the Carihuairazo, and the King of the Andes, the Chimborazo.


Although the village of Licto itself is large, the parish, which is larger than it appears, it is also made up of the numerous houses that are scattered all around the village.  Most of its inhabitants are Indians and since there has not been an exact census of the inhabitants in the main cities of Ecuador, so it is unlikely that there has been one in Licto: no one knows the number of its inhabitants: 10,000 say some; 15,000 say others, and there have been those who have assured us that there are 20,000 and even 25,000.  We wanted to approximate a mean term by calculating the total population by 15,000 without pretending to be exaggerated, but considering the size of the population, and the numerous houses of the Indians that populate the valleys and hillsides over there. Of these 15,000 only about 500 are white.


By expressing ourselves in such a way about Licto, many have already deducted it that our intention was to show that this town was the only capable of providing 300 or 400 and even more pawns a day, replaceable by fortnights in the event that the Government or any entrepreneur decides to build a road to Macas, especially by Huamboya, where, outside of Pungala, which is fifteen minutes from Licto, there is no other population, that is, no help available. However, to get the most out of this town, it is necessary that the Government trust the local authorities, for their honesty and performance; to this effect, we are pleased to recommend Mr. Pedro Antonio Robalino a person from Licto whose qualities were appreciated during our journey. He joined our expedition in Licto.



We have mentioned that this town is forty-five minutes away from Licto, on the other side of the Chambo. It is a village inhabited by white people, and although it is small, often provides people capable of assisting passing explorers of Oriente with their heavy loads, as they did with us.



Many people knowing that we were in the search of the shortest line from Riobamba to Macas, presented themselves as great connoisseur of those Sangay regions, assuring us that in order to succeed in our adventure, we had to head towards the volcano along the Cullebrillas River, which passed by some skirts, and that  we should not leave it until it flows into the Sangay River.


We were even shown potential contracts to build a road from Riobamba to Morona, in which the supposed entrepreneur claimed to have personally toured those regions, and that the Cullebrillas River was the natural and easy way to Macas.  Among the most fervent defenders of this route, was the intelligent presbyter Don Luis Cepeda, current owner of the Huamboya hacienda, who, before departure day of our expedition, asked to one of us to write down the following itinerary: <From Riobamba to Pungala, on horseback. From Pungala to the Eten hacienda, also on horseback. From Eten to Pongo de Culebrillas, passing through Picanquibal. From the Pongo de Cullebrillas to the Sangay River by the path opened by Mr. Ignacio Borja (this is by the Cullebrillas River). From the Sangay River to the Macuma, and from this point, to Sevilla de Oro in front of Macas. From Sevilla de Oro to any navigable point of the Morona. This route had seemed much more feasible to us, since we knew that Dr. Cepeda, apart from being an enlightened person, was the owner of Huamboya and a Priest in Macas: He had assured us that he was writing a grammar book of the Jibaro language. It was not therefore a nonsense for us to try to find the famous river. Here we go after the Culebrillas River.


From Pungala we continued south for a quarter of an hour up to the confluence of the river Cebadas or Alto Chambo in the Alao, which comes from the East. We continued upstream, right bank of the Alao, by a tolerable road, which with slight repairs or modifications could be very useful; we passed the Maguazo farm, owned by Mr. Robalino, mentioned above, and before reaching the Alao hacienda, owned by Messrs. Merino, we crossed the pure waters of the river; we crossed a mountain range by a hollow called the Pondo de Yugrun , and we stopped for the night at the Eten hacienda, owned by the same Messrs. Merino, located on the right bank of the Guargualla, which runs parallel to the Alao, also towards the Alto Chambo. We crossed the Alao on horse, and although it appeared to be small, we wet our legs no matter how hard we try to avoid it. Barometric height of Eten: 3,358 meters.


On the day 4th we went up by a very convex path. At the height of 3,500 meters we stopped to give the beasts a rest and to wait for the people who were helping us with our loads, who were left behind. When we were resting, we heard for the first time three continuous detonations of the Sangay volcano, which did not excite us, and which resolve a discussion held the day before between the inhabitants of sector, one of whom had claimed that the volcano was to the S.E. from Eten, while the sound came entirely from the East.  From which we deduced that the most direct way to the Culebrillas river should be to follow the direction of the Alao, passing through the hacienda of the same name, and that consequently, we were misguided by those who gave us shelter in Eten. Doubt that was dissipated when we were told that from Alao, in a straight line to the Culebrillas, we had to go through high mountain ranges, which to us seemed reasonable; however, the obstacle of the gradient we were facing, did not disappear. Difficulties that made us realize that the best route should be the one that going through the Alao to the Maguazo farm, passes through the Pongo de Yurun to the Eten hacienda and from there upstream from West to East through the Guargualla, even though a slight curve would be necessary to get to a valley that goes from North to South, where the road will continue to the left.


We continued our route and almost immediately after we reached the Pongo de Calcet, whose barometric height is 4,500 meters; from where we almost quickly descended to the mentioned valley, at the height of 3,500.


In this valley where the headwaters of the Guargualla run, we stayed overnight, after having traveled through a small stretch of 9 kilometers, due to the high mountain range we had to cross and because the laborers who were far behind, either by mistake or on purpose, had made a curve on the South to get to us.


The next day, the 5th, we could not take the first steps without the horses sinking in the many silts that were there; thus, we were forced to leave horses and continue by foot.


We do not want to go into details that lead to nothing; it is enough for us to say that those who presented themselves as guides were not what they claim to be; that because of this and the thick fog that suddenly covered us, we deviated from the true direction, that's why we missed the same Pongo de Culebrillas that appears in our itinerary; and  thanks to Mr. Pedro Antonio Robalino, we were able to arrive on the 6th in the afternoon to a point from where breathtaking sight revealed to us. On our left toward the west, a magnificent waterfall of white waters like snow, emerged from the heights of the Alao river, jumping on a granite bed. Below, at our feet, these crystalline waters were running freely to join other streams and all of them meandered down through a wide valley to sink into those mysterious regions covered by the fog. It was the Culebrillas River whose origin was the waterfall on our left. In those moments of enthusiasm, and after someone noted the ashes from the Sangay volcano on the ear flower leaves and  on the “sigses”, a happy coincidence occurred: Mr. Fabre wondering about the location of the Sangay, took his compass out and at that same moment our ears were hurt by a strong and cavernous detonation coming from the same point where the Culebrillas was heading, that is towards the SE of us.  We did not see the Sangay because it was covered by the fog, but our imagination saw among the shades a great resemblance to the Tungurahua.


Like the Patate River - we told ourselves - it meanders through a magnificent valley until it gets lost in the foothills of the Tungurahua, and through those terrible concavities it makes its way towards the Oriente.


We really thought that our wishes of finding the desired route there, had been fulfilled.  In that, by chance two Indians appeared by the blade that came down to the other side of the waterfall, and with cries and hand signals, we made them understand that we wanted to talk to them and to meet us at the confluence.  It so happens that they had been in a rodeo in the Alao hacienda and as cowboys of said hacienda, they had come to collect the cattle.  We paid them to guide us, and with them on the lead we arrived later at the Culebrillas basin, after passing the river about twelve times, to avoid the swamps.  Before the end of the day 6th, the beach on the right of the Culebrillas had narrowed, and we continued only by the right, which was becoming steeper and steeper.  We finally stopped at 5 p.m. at a point from where the volcano could be seen, if it only could show itself at some point.  The whole mountain was covered with ashes from the volcano. We named the ranch we formed there, Pica, because it is from there that “macheteros” or “choppers” as it is customary to call them in the Oriente, must start opening our way either by force of by machete through the thick bushes.  That nigh we not only had the fortune to hear the Sangay, but to see it in all its magnificence of active volcano.  Almost until two o'clock in the morning we did not cease to watch how the fire of the wide crater reflected so vividly in the immense plumes of smoke, which as a dense cloud, rose to sky.


The next day, the 7th, walking was almost impossible, not only because the ashes of the volcano were asphyxiating us while the choppers cleared the path, but above all because rocks were falling towards the Culebrillas river, making our progress almost impossible, especially to the laborers who were doing prodigies of acrobats to climb those almost vertical stone walls.


We had barely advanced a league from La Pica, when we convinced ourselves that continuing our journey was out of question. The caravan stopped, and two of us headed three hundred meters towards the Sangay up to the edges of the abyss that separated us from the volcano.  We saw the volcano from there as if we were on the hill of San Juan in Quito, and the Sangay in the Panecillo.  The intermediate space was a labyrinth of abysses, through which the Culebrillas ran very narrowly and although it was far from our sight, its distant and cavernous noise reached our ears. We tried our best to trace the current of the river, but the abundant alders staggered in these depths prevented us from discovering anything.  The volcano is very high; it is necessary to see it so close to appreciate its mass that alike the Tungurahua rises from the bottom of the earth.  The barometric height of the viewpoint from where we contemplate it, is 3,590 meters. Its shape is conical: it did not present cracks but in the skirts; it had a gloomy appearance and was covered all in ashes.


Nobody will be able to calculate the millions of tons of snow that must cover the outer walls of the volcano, but that day there was not a single atom of snow.


From what we saw at that moment, and above all by the fire that it was throwing the previous night, we could appreciate that the crater was very wide, with an inclination towards the NE, that is to say to the Palora, where other rivers and the Sangay end up; and as we saw later, the ash-colored waters of the Sangay came down from that volcano.


According to the opinion of some people who were with us, and even of others who shared their views with us, the Culebrillas river was skirting the volcano to flow into the Sangay River, although this does not happen merely by conjecture, this still seems unlikely, since we were NE of the volcano, and the mentioned river is almost on the opposite side.  It would be necessary to send a commission to study its course, to fill the gap that remains in the plan presented by this Mission.


At the time we were contemplating the Sangay, it was completely clear; and since we had the theodolite with us, the triangulations corresponding to the topographic position of the Sangay including its height, were made.


In the afternoon we returned to sleep at La Pica, from where the next day, the 8th, we returned to the Alao hacienda, for several reasons, among them to do the sketched not only of the course of the Alao, which we would follow to its origins, but also of the mountain ranges running parallel to such river. By the way, we are pleased to record here the kindheartedness shown by the owners of Alao, Messrs. Merino (Miguel Angel and Temistocles), and his honorable brother-in-law, Mr. Nicolas Velez G., during our stay.


As this time we had to engulf ourselves in the middle of the Oriente, from where all  timely communication with the sierra would not have been possible, we decided to send Mr. Fabre and Mr. Amable Perez in commission to Riobamba, so that they, by telegraph, could collect from the supreme government an additional five hundred sucres, as the one thousand sucres given to us were not enough to carry out the adventure, despite the savings made.  We waited for them in vain for two days.



In the end, the third day we decided to continue our trip, with the intention of waiting in Huamboya for our two companions, whose delay disturbed us.


The Alao forms a right angle: the first side runs from N to S, the second from E to O, that is, towards the Chambo. The hacienda’s homestead is located by the second side.


The beaches next to the homesteads of Maguazo and Alao are vast and beautiful: we are heading to the E., and we can’t stop admiring the extensive meadows, where the cattle graze, and the numerous houses of the Indians, and the beautiful sowings: the waters run smoothly in stretches, the gradient is light.  But from one side of the river to the other, high mountain ranges rise from whose summits detached some small waterfalls that look like silver threads. Soon we reached the vertex of the angle, which was on the right; vertex that had the shape of a depression or rather a gorge, where a small waterfall descended. One of the experts told us that the gorge was the Pongo de Cruzada where there was a copper mine. And the place that can be seen in the distance, he adds, looking to our left, to the northernmost part of the Alao, where a great waterfall emerges, is the Pongo de Ainchi, where there is a silver and a gold mines.  From this angle we took to the left, that is from South to North following always the Alao upstream. Here the river basin, also covered with meadows, seems to expand even more. The western walls of the basin are very high and seem to form almost a single block, while those on our right are less high and come from N. to S. as steps, as giving way in more than one point to the traveler to the Oriente.


We never ceased to admire, from right to left, the numerous streams, in the form of big or small waterfalls, which descended from above through the bushes, by beds of stones; streams and waterfalls that acquired greater proportions in flow and number as we move towards to the N., where the origins of the Alao are, and where the two mountain ranges are linked with transversal hills, which give the whole the appearance of one and vast amphitheater.


This chronicle is made on purpose, because we believe that it can be useful in the future for industrialists and the electricians; it will be impossible for us to do it when we cross the mountain range as we will be surrounded by a thick forest, where even if we try to describe what is around us and even if we raise our eyes to the sky, we will see nothing but thick foliage.

Among the most magnificent waterfalls of the high Alao, we find the Supaycaguan, which in Quichua means rest of the devil, which descends from the E side, by a gorge of the same name, and the one at the W side that comes down from the Fondococha lagoon.


Of even greater proportions are those that are seen from above, but that day we only reached at the foot of the small eastern waterfall of the Cuchi (rainbow) that descends from a lagoon of the same name, waterfall at whose foot we sleep, in a hut called the Sushnipaccha Ranch. We arrived at this ranch on foot, because the horses left us downhill, where the vegetation has closed the old road and where from the Quilimas lagoon, which is in the western mountain range, the great waterfall of the same name, emerged.  This waterfall that is 300 meters high and is considered as the true origin of the Alao, joins with the waters that come from the Ainchi and other points, and runs along the beach making a thunderous noise and so hasty that when passing in front of Cuichi's ranch, the water jumps on the rocks until becoming pure foam. The vapor emerging from there flies away as a cloud, that is why the ancient Quichuas have given this cascade the graphic name of Cushnipacha, that is, a stream of smoke. On that spot, at the foot of Cushnipaccha, the river is crossed over a bridge. From the bridge downstream, the river falls asleep in such a way that it is almost impossible to see it move, and the line is so looped that curves almost meet each other.


A little above us, is the Pongo de Cuspuan, mentioned by Mr. Perez. Therefore, we decided to go through the Pongo de Tres Cruces, further to the N.; mainly because some of the people who were with us already knew the Pongo visited by said Mr. Perez.


The next day we followed our path with a steeper slope, but easy to avoid if a road is built; slope that could not surpass 4% here and 6% further up, as we will see later, We have already passed the Quilimas waterfall and we are on the right of Ainchi Chiquito located between Quilimas and the Ainchi Grande’s waterfall that, as already mentioned, closes by the North the Alao waterfall. In front of Ainchi Chiquito, to our right, is located the Yanachocha waterfall or Black Lagoon, which descends by the Pongo of the same name. Before reaching Ainchi Grande we took the right to go through the Pongo de Tres Cruces to pass the mountain range; at this point our path was marked by 5% gradient. The Pongo de Cuspuan was already some 4 kilometers downhill.


While we were going up, an expert was telling us that, not long ago, a Luis Gonzalez had died of cold in Pongo Tres Cruces, because of a snowfall that had covered everything, even the ranch.  In this Pongo, he continued, snow falls in three different forms: of papacara (potato husk), of arrocillo (small rice) and of hail, which are very tiny pebbles.  The snow that looks like potato husk falls without much wind or cold, but it falls in such an amount that in five minutes one cannot longer walk.  The snow that looks like small rice falls with a lot of wind, but usually in less quantity than the papacara. Hail causes less inconveniences. Snow usually falls in the months of July and August but lasts no more than two days, regardless of the amount.


We are at the Pongo.  We left the Cuichi ranch at 8 and 35 a.m. and we arrived here 11 minutes before 11. Unfortunately, the fog has covered everything since a quarter to ten, and we can see absolutely nothing even if we turn out eyes towards the eastern abysses.   Both the ground and the walls of the Pongo are made of rocks with white veins apparently of quartz: the color of the rocks is half ashen, half silvery, and decomposes into sheets as scales: a mineralogist would say that these rocks are schists. These rocks were seen from the Cuschnipaccha. Here, we were unable to orient us: the magnetic needle deviated from the N. due to the influence of the existing minerals. Some foreign miners who came here, the guide said, told us that these mines contained lead and tin. The Pongo has an extension of about 150 meters. The thermometer indicates 5 centigrade below zero, but the cold is intense; it must be the wind, which although it comes from the E., it does cease to be extremely cold.  The barometric height of the Pongo is 3.880 meters.  The Pongo of Cuspuan was 3.600 meters.  The comparison of the Pongos was established to the point, and by reports we received from local people, and by the data we obtained later. Undoubtedly, most favorable conditions for a road are found at the Pongo Cuspuan, because it is higher and much smaller, the presence of fog is rare, and the gradient of the road would not exceed 6% if a slightly inclined road is required. This road would go to the encounter of the Sordo River, whose flow will continue until its confluence with el Placer.


Soon after, around the Pongo, we found rocks with iron sulfide that were being dragged by some springs.


At 5 p.m., we arrived at the Placer river, which at this point was a small stream, and stopped for the night. The greater gradient of this Pongo is of four kilometers long. The next day we went to the small river Placer and followed its course on the right, in the direction of the river, from W to E. One hour after leaving, the flow of this river grew, a difference that we easily explained, the river has received by the right the waters of the small river of Planchas, and by the left of the San Juan, which was the largest of the three. Barometric height of the Pleasure at this point, the same as in Quito, 2,850 meters. Here, the river Placer is impetuous and bigger than the Alao. The vegetation increases, the alders are numerous as well as the ferns.


The next day, the 3th, we left the Placer ranch in Alao at 8 a.m. At 11 we reached the confluence of the Placer river with the Sordo river, where we found the path opened by Mr. Paez. The Sordo river is bigger and more impetuous than the Placer river.  We crossed it helped by a stick chopped in sections.  The Placer river continues from W to E, while the Sordo flows into it on the S.S.E side. From this confluence the river is called San Antonio, but from now on we decided to name it properly, Alto Palora. Seeing this increasingly varied and grandiose vegetation and so many minerals of a beautiful aspect and so abundant in this site, we regret not having taken with us a botanist and a mineralogist. The beds of these numerous streams look like gold; an expert would have explained to us what are these infinite pyrites that move through the crystalline waters. From the confluence of the Placer into the Sordo, we have been seeing the palmito, the real palm and the silver guarumo. People said that white rubber was abundant in this region and was collected in great amounts; however, because of wrong methods used by rubber tappers to knock down the trees, white rubber has exhausted.  It is two and fifteen minutes, and the guide is showing us the white rubber tree.


At quarter to four we reached the Alto Palora (San Antonio), where the San Fidel flows into it on the right, in the W.S.W direction, in four arms that look like waterfalls. Here we met the cascarillo.


In one of the maps we have, the Sordo, the Placer and the San Fidel converge to the same point.


According to our findings, the geographer was completely wrong.  In winter, the width of this San Fidel river is 32 meters.


The next day, March 15, the fourth in Alao, we continued the trip at 8 am, always on the right of Alto Palora, which like the previous day was heading to the E. About 4 kilometers from the ranch, wild cane and especially the palms used in branches (ramos) in Easter were abundant, reason why this place is called tambo Ramos.


Further down, there is a large stain of red cedar, one of which was so thick that six men could scarcely embrace its well-rounded trunk; it was about 30 meters high, and about sixty centimeters in diameter at the top.  Much further up, by the left of the Alto Palora, we have left behind the Ravine of the Salado, so called because the water is salty, and this is where many tapirs gather to use the water.


At 11 a.m. and 10 a.m., we arrived at the Collantes River, which is a few kilometers or so from the mouth of the San Fidel. The Collantes flows into the Alto Palora from the N.N.E. So great is the Collantes as the Alto Palora.


In this river, and at noon, the thermometer marked 21 degrees in the shade. At the right bank of the Alto Palora, there is some sort of a bridge (tarabita) made of wire used by the rubber workers to go to the other side to collect white rubber.


In this confluence the mineral samples are less varied and abundant than in the San Fidel.


Distance from the San Fidel; 6 kilometers.

Barometric height of the Collantes, 1,900 meters.

River’s width in the summer, 30 meters.

River’s width in the winter, 60 meters.

Current direction of the Alto Palora, from N.N.E. to the S.E.


We left the Collantes at 12 and 19 and arrived at the Anguchaca river at 1 and 32 minutes. Like the previous ones, it flows into the Palora by the right. Direction, S.W. to N.E. We crossed it using a four-inches thick stick and a cane to get some support at the bottom of the river; the laborers crossed it forcing their way through the water.

Distance from the Collantes: 2,985 meters.

Barometric height of Anguchaca: 1,780 meters.

River’s width in the summer, 18 meters.

River’s width in the winter, 25 meters.

Current direction of the Alto Palora, from W. to E.


It is a quarter to three and we arrived at a point called El Arenal, a name that corresponds to the nature of the terrain here. At this point, Alto Palora runs in the direction from W to E. Height of the Palora here, 1,780 meters.


Lightnings are frequent in the Andes. Storms are typical in the headwaters of the rivers and this is how these rivers get so swollen in the winter.


Here the Palora widens about 50 meters and Euclides Guevara, an old rubber tapper and one of our guides tells us that he has crossed the river here, and that in the deepest part the water hardly reaches to his chest. This man is one meter and 75 centimeters tall.


A little further down of the Arenal, the Palora changes its direction and goes from N.N.W. to S.S.E. Here you can see the first bamboo canes. As for the maize, there in abundance from the Placer. In our way to Huamboya we learn about the tree called balsa, so useful in navigation.


At six thirty in the afternoon we arrived at Huamboya. Although this hacienda is abandoned, it is for the traveler like an oasis in the desert. Seeing the sky in all its extension and magnificence, after having walked through narrow and dark paths in the dense forests, it is like for a prisoner to leave the dungeons to breathe the pure air of freedom.   The vast Huamboya basin awakens in the soul ideas of greatness; although Huamboya is surrounded by towering pyramid-shaped hills, they are so remote from each that allow the traveler to admire all the magnificence of the sky. How beautiful is the work of man! He is the one who has transformed the secular jungles in this paradise that we have in sight.


It is necessary to go through all the hardships we went through in the previous days, to understand what a home is worth, what these meadows and cattle are worth; what these cane fields and banana plantations are worth. Gentle palms scattered in the forest are the best ornament of Huamboya, because they stand above the hills and are beautifully drawn in the sky.


But let's descend to explain about our entrance to Huamboya: We crossed a meadow and passed the Santa Ana by tarabita, to reach the homestead located on the other side of the river.  The tarabita in general is a coarser way to pass a river, but the one in Santa Ana is the worst of the tarabitas we have ever seen, because this one does not even have that sort of a leather seat or pieces of wood where the passenger can sit comfortably, instead, one is tied with ropes by the waist and legs, then those ropes are attached to a hook that hangs to the wire by another hook; and then one is pulled by the front.  But before pulling, they say: hold on tight with both hands to the hook that is next to the wire. And one, for fear of falling, takes good care of grabbing the hook tightly.


But as the wire is full of patches and has many knots and it is thrown with force, one suffers severe pain in the hands as well as in the waist and legs because of the ropes.   Involuntarily, one imagines while being tied up to the tarabita that it is going to suffer the death penalty.  When we complained to the local people about the condition of the tarabita, they apologized and told us that before there was a bridge, but it was swept away by a flood.  Then they distracted us by indicating that the Santa Ana River was very auriferous and full of gold that came from the heights, and that whenever the river grows, gold could be collected at certain points, where they offered to take us to the next day.  They even showed us the trays for panning gold in the Santa Ana.


When Don Jose Rivera Escandon was the owner of Huamboya, people say that there were many houses and many inhabitants almost like a village; but at present there was nothing more than an inhabitable two-story building, all of wood, of four rooms and a kitchen on the upper part and a wide corridor; another small house and a building with a roof but with no walls, where there is a still and a mill powered by oxen, whose masses are made of iron.  When we asked why they did not take advantage of the impetuous rivers that flowed by, the Alto Palora and the Santa Ana, they told us that they were going to transform the mill into a hydraulic one. They were unable to tell us the area of the meadows, but we saw a sugar cane plantation that we estimate took up some 14 hectares. The grass that dominates the pastures is the cattail, which is good when it is tender. Among the incorruptible wood found on the site are the olneya tesota (ironwood), which is tall and thick, the puicopo, the golden stick or chachaco, the cross stick, all used to make pans, canoes, etc.  Reeds and the killer trees are seen everywhere. For joinery we have the cedar, the caimito, the laurel, although it is scarce here. The cumbi palm and the corozo palm abound. The first is higher than the real palm.


Other trees that abound are the male fern and other varieties of orchids. Among the medicinal herbs, we found the guaco, of continental fame, a separate pamphlet will be written about it, but for now we will say that this plant has many virtues, one of which is that it is effective against the snake bite. Cattle are fat but at present there are no more than 28 heads; there are also some heads of sheep, a mule, etc. Sugarcane, it is said, develops up to three and a half meters high and two inches in diameter. It would have been in the time of the old owner, because now they do not reach those proportions. The sweet potato is exquisite, and it said that there are specimens of up to six pounds of weight.  It takes nine months to reach maturity just as the carrot, which is also delicate and thick.  The passion fruit and the naranjilla are the best. Here, under the vegetable layer you see yellow clay.


Huamboya is located at N.N.E. of the Sangay. The barometer marked on Saturday, March 16, 1,615 at 9 in the morning, 1,621 at 2 p.m., 1,620 at 8 p.m. The next day at nine in the morning, it marked 1,612.


In Huamboya there are two tarabitas, the one of Santa Ana, already described, and the one of the Palora, whose twisted wire and with no knots is of higher quality than the previous one. La Tarabita of Palora brings us sad memories to us because Dr. Juan Aviles, a Huamboya’s tenant, has just died. He knew how to take care of us when the circumstances demanded. This tarabita goes to the other section of Humaboya, where the best cane fields of the hacienda are located.


Here, the rivers herein listed are not so big to require bridges of more than 25 meters in the summer. But we must bear in mind that in winter they grow a lot and that it would be prudent to give them more room, to prevent them from being devastated by the floods. They would be made of wood and of a single section and they would be supported in the middle with scissors; unless the Engineer who might build them have a better system, they would be covered with zinc to prevent the wood from rotting with the rain, which is frequent. Along our journey, we have found that that there is plenty of incorruptible wood; they would be used either burned or tarred. The swampiest section is the one from the Sordo River to the San Fidel. The distance from the Alao hacienda to Huamboya is estimated at 43 kilometers, along the path we traveled.


From the Placer to Huamboya, the pampas begin with a lighter gradient, which sometimes widens according to the direction of the mountain ranges found from right to left; mountain ranges that decrease in height as we move towards the middle of the Oriente.


We have been informed that Messrs. Jose Rivera Escandon, Jose Noriega, Vidal Gonzalez and Dr. Agustin Rodriguez founded a society to build at their own expense a road from Alao through the Pongo de Tres Cruces. However, we must point out that the only one who carried out the business to the point of opening a good bridle path to Huamboya was Mr. Rivera Escandon.  It is said that he used to come on horseback from Pungala to here in one day. In his time Huamboya was a prosperous place, thanks to the road.  It is also said that at that time there were very good yucca farms, a lot of sugarcane, very good banana plantations, a lot of cattle and some houses; that at his death the heirs sold the cattle and then the hacienda, and that the hacienda became a no-man’s-land and started to deteriorate in every way, especially the road, that despite being 6 meters wide, it has almost disappeared nowadays: everything is weeds and mud.




As our friends sent to Riobamba from Alao did not return, we have waited for them for six days, our expedition continued the sixth day, March 21, when we left Huamboya at 9 a.m. The whole morning had rained like the previous days, and at the time of departure it was still raining. As a result, the Alto Palora was very swollen: at night the noise reached to our beds, and now that we are on its banks, the noise is more thunderous, the stones dragged by the river really rumbled. Before reaching San Joaquin, we passed through the pampas of Elvira, where Mr. Rivera Escandon had beautiful cane and banana plantations, which have disappeared entirely.


The San Joaquin is 4 kilometers from Huamboya; we arrived at the San Joaquin River at one in the afternoon. This river flows into the Palora in the direction S.S.E. The Palora comes meandering from W. to E., and in this point it almost heads to the N. The waters of the Palora are crystalline in the summer, but now they are yellow and are 120 meters wide.


The mud almost reaches our knees because of the rain. During the dry season, the San Joaquin is a small river and is easily crossed on foot, because the water only reaches to the calves, but now it is grown and impetuous, it looks like a continuous chiffon from well above, until it flows in the Palora, which is about two hundred meters from here. Those that in summer are just streams that barely wet the feet, we have crossed them with the water up to the knees.  It is impossible to cross the San Joaquin in the usual way.


We knocked down one of the tallest trees in the sector to use as a bridge: but it did not reach the opposite shore, and regardless of its heavy trunk, it was snatched away like a feather; another tree was knocked down, and the same thing happened. Meanwhile we heard the continuous rumble of the stones dragged by the river, rumble of the stones that seemed to increase more and more as the downpour intensified. Then we went upstream in search of a less broad part; once there, we managed to get  the branches reached the other shore; the same mountaineer who knocked the tree down, obliquely shaped the tree in the form of stairs, by which we pass only up to the middle, because from the middle to the other side, the trunk was thinning and help was extremely needed, the mountaineer came to rescue us.

Once on the other side, we feared for the laborers, the trunk was really wet, and a slight slip could have meant a tragedy. The less skillful laborer came last with the help of the mountaineer Joaquin, Colombian, the same who cut the trees, who helped us cross the river; he put the load on his back and allow the laborers to cross the river safely.


Barometric height of the San Joaquin, 1,475 meters.

Width in the summer: 12 meters.

Width in the winter: 20 meters.

Direction: S.E. to N.E.


It took us an hour and a quarter to cross the river and we continued our journey, we soon crossed the Esperanza, much smaller than the San Joaquin; after 8 hours we arrived at the Delicia, which is 7 kilometers from Huamboya; we spent the night there. Up to here, the advantages for the road are many. Everything is flat, and the streams distributed in sections facilitate the drains.  The land is fertile and deep, as farmers say.


The next day we left the Palora, and took a little to the right, always keeping in mind our task: finding the shortest line to Macas. We had not left earlier before because the mountain ranges that we saw to our right had not allowed us to do so.  Although the Delicia ranch was only four and half kilometers from the Coco River, it took us a day and a half to get to that river. Three days before, we had sent three choppers from Huamboya under the supervision of Mr. Villagomez to open a path to the Coco river.


They, with much strictness, had been more concerned about find the shortest line to Macas, than to seek the best conditions for a road, and as we had to follow the open path, we reached the Coco feeling unsatisfied; and once at this river, we sent a commission back to La Delicia by a lower point, which according to information obtained, offered better conditions. In fact, the result was satisfactory, because we were told that at this point almost everything was flat, slightly inclined. Thus, were convinced that from Huamboya to Coco, which was about eleven and a half kilometers away, there was no difficulty for the road. That day we find about the famous taguano liana and another, from which the incense is obtained.  We are in the Coco, this river is larger than the San Joaquin, and there are no trees long enough in the surroundings to help us cross it if it is swollen, given that it about 40 meters wide.  We have calculated that the flow in high waters go up to four and a half meters. As Mr. Villagomez found the river grown, he did not cross it, besides he has been instructed to wait for us there, even if it was on the other side of the river.  When we arrived the flow of the river had gone down, but still commanded respect in us.  But we must cross it.  We went up to a tree, and from there we could see the direction of the Coco; about two kilometers upstream, it comes from W. to E., then almost in front of us, is divided into two arms that bathe an islet, forming an elbow, from where it goes from S to N, in a length of 300 meters to then take from W.S.W. to the E.N.E.


From here, Macas is at 25 S.S.E. The Sangay volcano in a position of 38, starting from the S to the W. The Palora goes bisecting in the direction from the W to the E, and about half league from here the Coco flows into the Palora.


Barometric height of the Coco in the channel: 1,400 meters. Meanwhile the flow of the river had dropped more and thanks to the more robust choppers, Euclides Guevara and Juan Manosalvas, who took us tightly by the hands, we managed to cross the Coco diagonally to a ford, after taking off our clothes as if we were going to take a bath. The choppers leaned on sturdy canes.  The same help was provided to the laborers, who otherwise would not have been able to cross the river; the water reached above our waists and in the middle of the river the water was pushing hard.  We checked the time.  It took us one hour and a half to cross the river.  But what is more important is that Mr. Villagomez has not been able to cross it in days, being that this same river, swollen or not, could have been crossed in a minute, if only we had had a bridge.


For the record, we will also say that the pampas on the left bank of the Coco, were cultivated by Mr. Rivera Escandon.


A bridge at the Coco is feasible, either a little further up from the point where we crossed it, or about 800 meters higher up where it flows into the Palora, where the banks of the river get narrower; however, the road over there would not be as straight as it would be in here.


Looking at the high mountain ranges that rise on the other side of the Coco made us cracked a smile when looking at the map of the Oriente that we carry with us, in which everything is flat, everything appears as a vast plain.


Fortunately, even going up by the steepest part, where we went, both for reasons of scientific exploration, and to avoid deviating from the shortest direction to Macas; even climbing, we say, where we climbed to a height of 300 meters above the Coco, we found a light gradient, where the road it would not reach 7 percent, thanks to the wide and beautiful plateaus staggered, one after another, up to the summits.  But the road would be better if, from the point where we passed the Coco, it continues to the left, that is from S to E, and then it goes through the mountain range by a hollow going around the beautiful valley, which further down, crosses the Tufino river located between the Sangay and the Coco and that is a little smaller than the Coco; site where a bridge can be easily placed, especially at the point where the Tufino runs between two rocks, exactly where we pointed out before, SE direction.


Between the Coco and the Tufino we found are many minerals, holm oak and the famous palo called columbro, as well as the tree called musmus, whose seeds are very aromatic and very appreciated by the jibaros.  It is said that these seeds are good for the stomach: the leaf smells like orange. Fish 20 to 30 centimeters along abound at the Tufino River.

Tufino’s height: 1,460 meters.

Direction: W.S.W. E.N.E.

River’s width in the summer, 35 meters.

River´s width in the winter, 50 meters.


A circumstance worth noting is that the Macabeo, Gabriel Zabala told us in Macas that he had taken nine hours to get from Huamboya to Tufino when he delivered a letter to Mr. Paez; however, we left Huamboya on the 21st and arrived at Tufino on the 26th, mainly because  we were going at the pace of the laborers, opening paths, and looking for the most suitable points for the road. And he assured us that by the route we had taken, the Tufino was more than seven and a half kilometers from the Coco. About a kilometer from the Tufino we found the Sangay. As soon as we saw it, we made shots in the air with joy, but soon we realized the difficulties we were going to face.


Both the Tufino and the Sangay run through a vast plain, in which light ravines are hidden in the forest. The waters of this river were dirty, but not a yellowish dirty as seen in the other rivers, they had a grayish color: when you step on the beaches you can smell the smoke.  People say that these waters have this color all the time.  No river carries as many stones as this river, it seems the continuous rolling of a drum: the bed does not contain thick stones like others, but small black sand, like grit, which disappears when stepping in.


On the beach there are many igneous stones, black and porous like a sponge; there are also many granite stones rolled from the head of the river, judging by the round ones, especially some that seem to be made with a lathe, which reveals the great distance they have travelled. The barometric height of the Sangay at this point is 1,405 meters. But this is not the direction the road should take, because here crossing the river proved to be a difficult task, it took us five days; it must go further down, that is, closer to the Palora, where Mr. Paez crossed it or by the point where the Macabeo Pedro Carvajal opened a path, which would be the same route by the Coco we have advised earlier; or where Monseñor Riera, current bishop of Guayaquil, crossed it, 80 meters from the point it flows into the Palora by a ford of about l00 m wide, ford that he passed on foot even though the river was grown. At this point the Sangay is open, it has no walls. That same illustrious Dominican authorized us assure in his name that there is an easy way to cross the Sangay by a point that was no more than 14 meters wide, as Father Vanschoo has mentioned in many occasions.  Father Vanschoo has told the Monsignor that he crossed the river at this point with Charupa, Chiquila’s father.  Charupa is dead, but his son lives and is the head of the Paloras, with whom one of us will have a meeting on a next trip to the Oriente.  Monsignor Riera also told us that Father Vanschoo had always thought that it was easier to build a road from Macas by Huamboya than by the Zunal, mainly because of the marshy ground from Huilca to Macas, something that was not visible on the other side.  If we were to ignore the testimony of Father Vanschoo, it is undeniable that the Sangay would offer more difficulty than any other, and that a bridge over there would be the most expensive of all, although not impossible, since Mr. Paez has assured that an iron bridge could be placed at the point where he crossed the river.


Moreover, the jibaro Andicha, Chief of the Tribe of Chiguaza, who behaved meekly with us, assured us that he knew more appropriate points for bridges, both at the Tunachiguaza, as at the Sangay and he committed to takes us to these points.  Offer that will be accepted by one of us on a future trip and the data obtained during that trip will complement report. But even when it comes to saving larger rivers, with wider beaches such as the Bajo Palora or the Upano, the question of bridges, which can be made even of raft and of the desired extension, whatever the growth of the rivers, like the one that existed, we do not know if it still exists, in Babahoyo, should not be upset us. We have strong wood in the Oriente for large bridges, which would cost less than iron bridges.


Furthermore, we have the wire for the construction of bridges, I think they are called rope or hammock. It seems very opportune to reproduce here the following paragraph from the work of Humboldt entitled “Sites of the Cordilleras and Monuments of the indigenous peoples of America”:


"The ancient Peruvians also built wooden bridges supported on stone pillars, but the most usual was to string them, which are extremely useful in a hilly country, where the depth of the ravines and the impetuosity of the torrents opposes the construction of the pillars. The oscillating movement that we mentioned may decrease by attaching lateral strings to the middle of the bridge and diagonally strings attached to the shore. By one existing bridge of extraordinary length, and that allows the passage of a pack mule, at the beginning of the century (XIX), a permanent communication was established between Quito and Lima, after having spent sterilely one million pesetas in building near Santa Ana, one made of stone over a torrent that descends from the Andes Cordillera”.


After the words of Humboldt, the testimony of Mr. Perez and the alleged assertions and offer of the jibaro Andicha, we can say that a road from RIOBAMBA TO MACAS BY HUMABOYA is not impossible, but rather easy in almost all the way, because the route from the tribe of Andicha to Macas, is flat. We can assure now that after crossing the Sangay, the beautiful and extensive pampas follow one another; irrespective of one or two knife-edges, or one or two ravines.


We must also mention that in one of the ranches built after the Coco, we had the luxury of making a fire with rubber and copal firewood thanks to the barbarian laborers, who had the duty of obtaining firewood.



This river is not as big as the Sangay, although we passed it by a rough point, but according to Mr. Paez, a bridge on this river is much easier than on the Sangay and according to Bishop Riera, there is a point that does not exceed eight centimeters in height.


At the barometric height of 1,100 meters, this river flows into the nameless river, with crystalline waters, purer than the Tunachiguaza, which we baptized with the name of Alvarez. In this confluence there are many fishes.

Address of Tunachiguaza, E. O.

Width in summer, 70 meters.

There are 4 kilometers left to get to Chiguaza, we arrived at the jibaria of Andicha, the Chief of the Chiguaza, whose will we were able to earn very soon at the expense of small gifts such as caps, chimneys, handkerchiefs, rings, earrings, etc. for him, his family and some of his friends.


White people often treated these people badly and exploited them with threats. They had even been announced that a mission on behalf of the King would soon come, that they would lead them to prison if their request were not satisfied. Reason for which at our arrival, the fear seized the jibaros’ spirits, to the point that two women, of the chief’s house, had escaped and returned three days later.


But we knew how to gain their respect in such a way that not only men came out, the women also came out and they were happy to see us.  In a separate notebook we will describe the customs of these jibaros; right now; it is enough to say that these jibaros cultivated sugarcane, cassava, bananas, chili, corn, cotton and that they trade rubber with white people. The women, some cultivate the farms, while others work in pottery, taking advantage of that tiny clay they have, clay that we also saw in Macas.


Here, we learned about the bombay liana, which it is brought from very far and that serves to make baskets, chairs, etc.


Apart from the gifts, we offered the chief Andicha to appoint him, in Macas, as Governor of his domains: Tunachiguaza and Chiguaza; it was a cause of true joy for him and all his people; and it was then when he offered to render all his support with the construction of the road and, above all, to point out the best places to build a bridge at the Sangay and Tunachiguaza.


Over there, he told us, pointing with his hand toward the Sangay River; over here, he told us looking at the Tunachiguaza, pointing out the best ways for a road. When they point a hand to a given point, no matter how distant it is, that hand says more than the compass, it says with accuracy not only where the North is, where the South is, but it also says, there are no ravines there, there is no danger.

Let’s not forget that the jibaro is a very useful element in the construction of a road to Macas by Huamboya; route where the jibaros of Chiquila and Andicha are settled.


The Chiguaza, as we said, is 4 kilometers beyond the Chiquile. This river is less plentiful than the Tunachiguaza, and easy to cross in dry weather.

Barometric height of this river, 1,080 meters.

Direction, W.E.

Width in the summer, 50 meters.

Width in the winter, 70 meters.


In the height of a sharp edge, which extends to the right of the Chiguaza, it is located the house of the jibaro Chamico, from the Andicha’s tribe.  From here we saw the Sangay volcano at the magnetic M.E.; el Palora or Arapicos, which were at the N.N.E, Macas at the S.W. and Quito at the N.N.W.


After the Chiguaza, we passed a small river, which we called Tendema; then we found another one, also small, named Macuma, but we changed it to Natema, so as not to confuse it with the other Macuma that goes to the Morona.

Barometric height of the Tendema, 1,260 meters.

Direction, W.E.

Width in summer, 8 meters

Width in winter, 8 meters

Barometric height of the Natema, 1,250 meters.

Direction, W.E.

Width in summer, 6 meters

Width in winter, 7 meters


Before reaching the Wuapula there is the Tristeza, a river that according to the map that we are carry, runs toward the Morona, when in fact it is a tributary of the Upano.

Barometric height of the Tristeza, 1,250 meters.

Width in summer, 20 meters

Width in winter, 20 meters.


The Wuapala is 25 kilometers and a half from Chiguaza, including the sinuosity of the trail travelled.

Its barometric height, 1,230 meters.

Direction, W.N.W. E.S.E.

Width in summer, 21meters

Width in winter, 25 meters


From the Tristeza we began to hear the dull thud of the Upano or high Santiago, which runs through Macas. The Macabeo Gabriel Zabala, who was sent from Macas by Mr. Secretary of the Intendency of the South of the Oriente and by the Mr. Amable Perez, Member of the Mission, who for reasons that would be long to say here, had gone to Macas by Zuna; this guide and interpreter of the jibaros, told us that only when the Upano was grown, it could be heard from the Tristeza. From there, then the noise of the Upano accompanies us all the way and it gets more vivid as we move forward; we are going parallel to it or rather, we took a convergent direction towards Macas.


At 6 kilometers from the ranch of Wuapula, where we slept, a palisade began. Palisade is called to those clusters of trees shot down by hurricanes. The palisade covered the road for more than a kilometer; we had to walk over the trunks or breaking the fallen branches with great difficulty.  These hurricanes usually cause havoc in the Oriente. On February 6 of this year, the Macabeo told us, he saw in Yuquipa (located two or three days further down of Macas), a formidable hurricane, which lasted half an hour, from 6:30 to 7 at night. It was a storm of water and hail: the lightnings were a swarm of fire; and the noise, terrifying. It destroyed a large expanse of forests on both sides of the Upano and demolished 12 houses of the Arapico Upanos jibaro tribe.


What impressed us most about the Macabeo’s story, was the part related to the fall of hail, which he assured us saw with his own eyes.


After travelling 8 and a half kilometers from Waupula, we arrived at Upano, in front of Macas, on April 11, at 11 and 37 a.m.


At the beginning of the descent towards the river, which is about 50 meters down, we announce ourselves by gun shots. Local people answered us from the opposite also with shots, which caused us great pleasure. There was a real correspondence of rifle shots, which increased from one side to another, and more in Macas. Soon we saw with the telescope, groups of people among the bushes and reedbeds in the rocks in front of us, especially next to the hill where the plaza and the church are located.  Our arrival in Macas was taken with such a joy by the local people insomuch as they have been waiting for us for days fearing that we would have gotten lost in the jungle, judging by the letters we had received at the jibaria of Andicha, one of which said: I write to you but I have no hope that this letter will reach your hands…


The joy experienced at our arrival to Macas was understandable. The bells of the church were tolling, but because of the distance and the noise of the river, we did not hear them. Meanwhile, part of the town was grouping in the heights of the riverbank, the others, we saw, were coming down from the hills to the river bank, making continuous shots.


We arrived at the beach; we could hardly distinguish the signs they were doing to us because we were still separated by about 700 meters.  In some section, the river was divided in many great arms, but we passed where it was divided into three. Zabala, the same one who came to meet us in Andicha, took a canoe out of the bushes; then he took his clothes off, leaving on only a kind of loincloth, which they call itipi, to imitate the jibaros, and he tied his head with a handkerchief like a turban. Along with Zabala came a silent Macabeo, whose slenderness, despite being a laborer, we never ceased to admire.


Both helped us, our laborers and our cargoes to get to an island of sand and stones. We were amazed at the ability of these men, especially Zabala, in handling the oars; it took agility and skill to break the current of a river so impetuous and many meters deep.  In large floods, the entire beach is covered, as shown in the map. But now, although it is swollen, we see several islands and we are in the first of the two that we must pass; meanwhile the rowers took the canoe by one of the arms downwards where we are waiting to cross the second arm. When we passed that, other rowers in their canoes came to encounter us, all wearing their itipi. When only the third arm separated us, although it was wider and more violent than the previous ones, we were less frightened, and we were able to mumble some words; and then some handkerchiefs were waved in the air. One of the rowers, perhaps the most interested in our lives, told us "I cannot believe my eyes, I cannot believe my eyes", words that moved us.


After we crossed the third arm, the hugs were tight and repetitive, because among those who waited for us, there were intimate relatives.


Mr. Carlos Reyes, Police Commissioner of Macas, was one of those who kindly went down to meet us. From the plaza to the town there is a vertical height of about fifty meters and a very steep path, something that can be avoided very easily by opening a road at that point, which was already being studied by the Secretary of the General Intendance.

Barometric height of the Upano course in Macas, 1,008 meters.

Barometric height of the town, 1.051

Direction of the river from N to S.


Its width in summer is not possible to be determined because, as we have already said, it divides into several arms, and these usually change courses in each of the floods.


If the jibarias can be very useful in the construction of a road by Huamboya, Macas must necessarily be the center of operations in any expedition going to Morona. Let’s us not forget the glorious ancestry of Macas and its antiquity, which goes back to the sixteenth century, since the current Macas is nothing but the powerful Sevilla de Oro located in front of the Upano, which became so prosperous that in a short time the population reached 25,000 inhabitants, thanks to the gold that abounds in those regions,  wealth so much neglected by the indolence of the governments that succeeded the Colony. Back in 1858, the population of Macas, according to Villavicencio, was 370, when 70 years before Villavicencio, the population, according to Alcedo, was 700, which means that Macas was descending, and that after Villavicencio, it had prospered very little or nothing because the population currently stands at 490.


An observation worthy noting is that at a depth of one meter, the subsoil of Macas marks a temperature of 22' 5' constantly, at night and day. Precious quality that is typical of tropical countries, if we are to believe Humboldt when he says: "Under tropics, the invariable layer is already one foot below the surface, a circumstance that Boussingault has taken advantage of, to determine in a simple way and at his judgment very accurate, the average temperature of the local atmosphere".


One of us had the opportunity to listen at the Meteorological Observatory of Montsouris in Paris, to an erudite who believed that a constant temperature during day and night, between 22 and 250, was ideal for agriculture. We have then the satisfaction to leave on record that agriculture in Maca will have an enviable future.


And yet, the Macabeos do not take any advantage of the prodigious virtue of the soil. They content themselves with what nature gives spontaneously. If we have the delicious yucca, why can’t we find out which plant gives us two, three and four arrobas, what better thing can we aspire to? Why do we need wheat? Why do we need the potato, if a well-seasoned sweet potato replaces it, just fine? And, if carrots from Macas, pleasant to taste as the best delicacy, and delicious as the best butter are not found in the highlands, what do we have to envy the civilized Serranos?


Where else can our cane be found, so tall, so thick, so soft and sweet? Are there any other pineapples like ours? Are there any other oranges or naranjillas like the ones we have? Where else than in Macas can a more variety of bananas be found? And the aroma of our coffee, isn’t it of higher quality than the one produced in Brazil? What tree has a more pleasant smell than our canelo? These were the things, we imagined, the Macabeo was thinking at every reproach from us for his indolence in the promotion of agriculture. In fact, in the most rudimentary way, women devote themselves to the cultivation of their farms, while men go, with a machete in hand, through the woods or to clear the woods or to look for rubber and cinchona. Macabeos ignore about the existence of the plow, the shovel and the hoe.


The lack of roads has isolated them more from the more civilized towns and have developed a great inclination to imitate the jibaros’ customs. The jibaros live in more artistic and harmoniously set two-story houses.  We really wonder who needs to learn from whom, if the Macabeos from the jibaros or vice versa.


The houses lack floors and old canoes divided in half that lie at the foot of the long walls, are used as seats. Footwear is not known in Macas. Macabeos do not like good roads and neglect them just like jibaros do.


The streets of Macas are not streets, but narrow paths that in the winter are filled with mud. The houses of the population as in the jibarias, are distant from each other, and each house is hidden among guabo, sapote, coffee, banana and achiote trees.


And despite everything, the Macabeos seemed willing to embrace civilization. In schools we noticed, especially in the female sex, a high level of intelligence; and the parents seemed to be very interested in improving their schools and having good teachers. Macabeos are reputed to be refractory to every civilization and enemies of good roads. We assume that this may be true.  We do not know how true their words were, but they told us: "Give us roads and then we will leave this lifestyle so miserable behind; gives us support and we will be ready to work with you. We have never had good authorities who take responsibility for us, that's why we live this kind of life" While they talked to us, we looked to the local authorities and did not blamed them, we made the higher authorities and even the Government accountable for the faults. If the local authorities had no policemen, who will they turn to enforce the laws? If they do not have tools or farming tools, what should they use to make a government house, or farms, or roads? And if above all, they do not receive any payment, what should they do but what they already do. Some, get involve in trading activities, acquiring commitments with all the Macabeos, thus losing the independence that an authority must have to do justice when required; others forcing themselves to receive food from the Macabeos, with whom they have become so acquainted that all kind of consideration was lost.  We have here requests to the General Intendent of the South of the Oriente from teachers, the Commissioner and the Political Head of Macas, and by the Teacher of the School and the Political Lieutenant of Zuna, requesting the Government to pay their salaries due since January of last year.

Despite so much backwardness and so much ignorance, Macas is a true wonder for the traveler.


And if the military colonization is carried out as it is the interest of many men like Colonel Luis Cabrera, very soon we will make Macas a flourishing population, which will exceed by far the ancient and glorious Seville of Gold. It’s beautiful surroundings; its mild climate; the absence of diseases, epidemies typical of tropical countries; the exuberance of its soil; the kindness of its inhabitants, everything in Macas leads to an attractive and promising future. Without prejudice to the current population, the city could be resuscitated to the other side of the Upano, in those dilated and wonderful pampas that extend with small interruptions to the Morona, we could resuscitate the old Golden Seville, right there, where it existed in other times. If a wire bridge is not possible, a good canoe service could be established to allow communication between the two populations. In addition, experts assured that one or two leagues above the Macas, the river narrows and thus, a bride could be easily placed there.


Before moving on, we must remember that other products cultivated by the jibaros in Macas are: the aji, corn, cotton, tobacco, four precious items that are also cultivated by the jibaros, and the beans, which are of good quality.  Ceuta lemon, what is called subtle among us, is thick and fragrant; the guava pod is 60 and 80 centimeters long; whose fruit is exquisite; there are two classes, the machetona and the liana. Papaya and guavas abound, and they are of the best quality, but Macabeos do not use them. They were surprised to see us eat them. We offered them to taste the papaya converted into sweet syrup, they loved it; they enjoyed the guava jam so much that they asked us to teach them how to prepare such fruits.


But the main products they grow, said Alcedo referring to Macas, is the tobacco that is collected in abundance and is carried in rolls to be sold in Peru; very appreciated for its fine quality.  The tobacco trade with Peru would had happened in the happy days of Alcedo, but not now, when the poor Macabeos no longer think of trading with Peruvians, but of defending themselves from their threatening aggressions, no matter what Dr. Francisco Andrade Marin says in his message to Congress, that our international relations are fully satisfactory, and even if optimism suggests him the hope that one day in the near future all the people of Earth will be united in an universal hug.


All around, continues Alcedo, is covered by rough forests and the Estoraque tree whose resin is a very fragrant aromatic…We say the same with respect to the blue powder minerals that are of outstanding quality.


You can also find cinnamon trees of better quality and different from those of Quixos, because they grow in more open places where they obtain the benefit of sun and air, as evidenced by a tree that by chance or maintenance is close to the Capital (Macas), which crust is so delicate to the taste, and so fragrant that it exceeds the best of the East, and their flowers excels in quality.


As for rice, it is known that Macas produces a very good rice. The guava is for the Macabeo, what coca is for the Paraguayan, or the tea for the Chinese. Orchids, palms, ornamental plants are seen in all variety and capricious beauty, which is a delight to the eye. The toquilla straw is produced in Macas as in other regions of the Oriente with an extraordinary exuberance and as the hat industry does not exist, it is used to cover houses. The Macabeos do not know how to benefit from toquilla straw or tobacco. In terms of wood, we have in Macas the killer tree, the copal, the fig tree, which rival each other for their extraordinary development. The Copal is used not only for construction wood, but its resin extracted is used for lighting purposes. Macas also produced the laurel, from which a wax of the same name is produced.


In Macas we also saw the cacao trees, which are white and black, as we were told, and their quality is the best.  It is said that from Macas along the Upano to Santiago thousands of cocoa trees are seen.


From the Andicha’s jibarias to Macas, we got familiar with the famous narcotic of the jibaros: the natema: which is like the hayahuasca of the Zaparos, or the opium of the Chinese.  We also knew about, and we brought with us, not only the natema but also a sample of the pigua leaf, which has the virtue of making teeth stronger; we also knew about the nashumbe seeds, which have the same virtue.


Two or three days from Macas, just a few hours if a road would be available, we have other beautiful products such as vanilla, syringa, chambira, gutta-percha and one hundred wonders in flora and fauna.  In Macas and before Macas the partridge, the turtledove, the pauji, the peasant and many other wildfowl abound.


Macas cattle is of superior quality; there are about 500 heads, which are maintained in a meadow of some 60 hectares; the grass of these meadows is mostly gramalote. It is known that janeiro is very good, but at present it is found only in minimal amounts.


According to the Macabeos, the banana is harvested once a year; the cane once a year; the corn at five months; the bean at four; the sweet potato at four; the peanuts at five; coffee once a year, the rice at four months; pumpkins (sambos and pumpkins) at three months, potatoes at four. Maize production is quite abundant.


It is a pity that products such as sugarcane, cassava, from which a higher quality starch is obtained, tobacco, toquilla straw, coffee, cocoa are produced only to cover the needs of the few inhabitants of the place; lack of roads and the consequent limited commerce, forces them to reduce the production of products to such a minimum scale.  In Chile pineapple costs five pesos; a banana, one peseta; the kilo of sugar, 2,50 pesos. In Chile there is no sugar or beet, these articles are exported from Peru with a revenue of five to six million pesos a year, if we are not misinformed; Chile does not have cotton, which is imported from Peru. Tobacco is expensive and scarce in Chile and the Ecuadorian tobacco is very much appreciated. A toquilla straw hat, which costs here about 25 sucres, is sold in Chile at 120 and 150 pesos.


So, why can anyone see that with a narrow-gauge railroad that would be inexpensive, all these products, of superior quality, can be taken to Chile on a large scale from the regions of Huamboya to Macas, that is from the Ports of the Oriente?


We believe appropriate to reproduce here an article published in El Comercio of this capital on June 20 of this year, which says: "Mr. Carlos Uribe, Minister of Colombia is negotiation with the Railroad Company, the reduction of freight charges on five sacks of 100 lbs. which will be taken from Guayaquil to Colombia via Pasto”.


As for banana, which is produced in a large scale in Macas and is of a great quality, trade is opening more and more in the commercial world. last July El Telegrafo of Guayaquil published  an interesting article from the banana industry in Colombia, which we reproduce here, as we think is relevant: "In 1906, it says, the export of bananas in Colombia was of one and a half million bunches; in 1907, it rose to 1'938,711; in 1908 amounted to 2'219,974; in 1909, 3'700,518, and in 1911, it has already reached to 5'026.296, a figure that will surely be higher this year, if we take into account that only during the previous month, according to Bogota's cable communications, Atlantic Fruit invested 500,000 dollars in its banana plantations, and other foreign capitalists and nationals made in theirs, investments of one million dollars.


Let's go back to the Macabeos. The mills (trapiche) available are made of wood and so rudimental, that with the work of four men, they can hardly produce enough cane broth to satisfy the family’s needs.  Every house has its own mill.  To grind the cane, they first crush it by force of a mallet, and then it is passed five times or six times by the smooth maces of such a trapiche. The cane broth, also called chuya is par excellence the liquor preferred by the Macabeos, a drink that replaces any other liquor, which they do not have.


We will say in passing, that considering the variety of riches of our oriental jungles in our three kingdoms, we have decided to form a Museum of the Oriente, with the samples of raw material that we are going to receive. This museum must be in the place where the Society of Orientalists hold their meetings; to this effect, the patriotism and the illustration of the Minister of Public Instruction and Oriente has offered its support.


It seems to us that we have said enough to make known the importance of the capital of Canton Sangay and its promising future.


But before leaving Macas, we believe that it is our duty to insert in this Report the patriotic speech that, during our visit to the place, Mr. Alejandro Ojeda V., Secretary of the General Intendency of the South of the Oriente, addressed us. It says:

"Mr. Intendant General of the South of the Oriente, Mr. Luis G. Tufino, Chief of the Exploratory Commission for the road from Riobamba to Morona


The long expedition, so self-sacrificing as heroically carried out by you, has reminded me vividly to the master farmer mentioned by Zola, who calmly and serenely cultivated the land, while the armies of France and Germany, in bloody struggle, are leaving in those same military camps, the corpses.

It seems incredible that because of the horrible internal commotion, which perhaps we have not yet overcome, you have moved to this big hell to find the key to the happiness of all your compatriots, which I think you have already found it: to that effect, you have crossed over thistles and thorns, you have defied the storms and the hurricanes, the precipices and the forests, the beasts and the rivers. We do realize that nature has made all efforts to make your venture difficult. Thirty-eight days of dangerous struggle are enough to prove how immensely the noble and holy patriotism that animates you, has strengthened; you have arrived here safe and sound, to our great surprise. You are welcome, gentlemen, we greet you with our soul”.


"Those of us who have come here, knowing exactly where we were heading, already familiar with the people, homesteads and aware of the assistance that the traveler cannot do without, are completely aware of the great hardships and unpleasantness one has to endure to come to the Oriente. That is why we admire you, because just fulfilled the main purpose of your mission, which is to find the shortest and easiest line to open a road from Riobamba to Morona; you have broken the forests and defied the dangers, you have conquered step by step your way to here, without permitting that horrifying abysses, nor impetuous rivers stopped your journey”.


"And here you are already sure of your success; you must be very pleased to have found the true door to paradise: open it, then show your compatriots the wonderful world that is reserved for them: it is mandatory to get to it, no matter how. I recommend you, however, not to forget Macas, a strong and well-constituted town, a town that has remained perfectly organized despite the deep and criminal carelessness of our governments.


"When I think that a man like you, Mr. Intendent, have come to these places to make them your home, to act on behalf of the Government to enforce the law; it gives me great joy to know the great and healthy transformation that these regions are going to experience and the environment of kindness and justice that  people are going to live in; your talent and culture, your nobility of the soul and high ideals are well known, so that no one can think otherwise.  All you need is the support of the Government to turn this world into the most beautiful and rich hacienda of our Homeland, to which you love with such self-denial and fervor".


"After a few days here to will be able to realize the immensity of the work so rightly entrusted to you by the Government, since the dangerous exploration you have just carried out in the company of the enlightened and talented Mr. Luis Tufino, has surely provided you with so many details that can never be seen from a Ministry office”.


"The work is arduous, as you will see, everywhere eyes are looking at you with suspicion, because they think that you have come here loaded with greed and despotism like other authorities who have come to our Oriente.  It is therefore urgent that these misgivings are vanished by beginning to realize these ideals in their favor, especially when the Government is willing to provide you with their most indispensable and urgent cooperation”.


“And you, Mr. Tufino, can do a lot of good to these places since you do not lack of illustration, talent or will, to print in the geographical map of Ecuador, all the studies you have done since leaving Riobamba, looking for the best way to the Oriente. The work of studying the Oriente is a gigantic task, which requires a lot of time and energy. Already the intrepid General Proano discovered Morona and became interested in it; the intelligent and honest French businessman, Mr. Julian Fabre studied it and included it on the map, rendering us an invaluable service, as the wise Don Pedro Maldonado did when he studied the Pastaza;  you, Mr. Tufino, has the noble task to continue with these studies and to spread among us the most accurate knowledge of the Ecuadorian oriental map. As Director of the Astronomical Observatory of the Capital and a member of the Society of People of the Oriente, which a few days ago was founded in Quito by Intendent, Mr. Eudofilo Alvarez, you have strong reasons to be interested in making known and save these wonderful labyrinths from which one day the Ecuadorian greatness would emerge”.


“Then, why excite you? Why recommend anything to you, if with all sincerity I can attribute to you the same nobility of soul, highness of ideals and holy patriotism found in our Intendent?" Before your arrival here, I was aware of how important your task was; a task that involves verifications of triangulations, level of distances traveled, heights, location of rivers and mountains, in a word, the topography of the terrain, and everything that may be of interest to the geography; from now on everything that was within the scope of your instruments is known; thus, you have fully fulfilled the mission entrusted to you by the Government, I thank you, then, for the immense good you are doing to us”.


"May God bless the inter-Andean canyon, where you will arrive after enduring long deprivations and discomfort yet to be overcome; may God bless us with a peaceful and honorable presidential period like the one that ended in 1905; and then  our fields, as vast as they are will be waiting for you to do good in all the amplitude of your ideals”.