Just as we were ready for a new subject, a young fellow, better dressed than most, passed by. We called him to come in and be measured, but with a somewhat insolent manner, he walked by, paying no attention to our words. Sending the policemen for him, they soon returned with the report, "No quiere" (He does not care to come). To allow a first refusal was not to be thought of, so we ordered his return. Again the policemen came back with no result. Thereupon I declared that no more work should be done until he came; that time would be lost thereby, and the jefe's order would be disregarded, but that it was not our fault. Upon this the presidente informed us that the order was not explicit; it did not state that people must be measured; he would consult the civil code to see whether anyone but criminals must be measured. "Very good," said I, "do as you like; but unless that young man is brought in we shall send complaint to the jefe; send for a messenger at once to carry my report." At this stage, the policemen returned, telling me that the young man wanted did not belong to this town; that he could not be found, and probably had gone home. We told them that we did not believe them, but that we would proceed with our work; however, I said, that, if he really were a stranger but appeared again, I should order his immediate arrest and jailing. To this they all agreed; and we continued work until the town was again too drunk for anything to be done.
About the middle of the afternoon, when the bull-fighting was at its height, the young man wanted appeared in the ring as the chief fighter and attraction of the day. Stepping at once to the policemen I told them that he must be brought immediately to the town-house,—that the bull-fight must cease while our matters were arranged. With much grumbling and complaint they obeyed. The young man dismounted from his bull and was brought by the policeman before us. Here we asked the sindico the name and residence of the young man; and, as we supposed, he belonged in Mitla. Asking him why he had not come to be measured when he was told to do so, he replied that we had already measured him. Telling him that lying would not save him, I commanded him to appear the following morning for measurement,—that otherwise he would be sent a prisoner to Oaxaca. In the morning he did not appear until officials were sent to bring him. After he had gone through the ordeal of measurement he swore eternal friendship to me, and at no time afterward was I able to pass him, on the street or in the square, without his begging me to drink tepache with him.
Mitla is famous for its weaving; fine mantas of wool are made there in two chief styles—one a long strip of black or blue-black cloth, the other a rich red, sometimes banded or striped with black. These Mitla mantas are widely sold to Zapotecs, in all the district around, and form the characteristic women's dress. The Zapotecs of this district wear something on their feet that more nearly resembles true shoes than the footgear of any other Indians in southern Mexico. The sandal of the man has a projecting heel-flap which is bound around the ankles by means of thongs, and forms a good protection to the hind part of the foot. The women have not only such a flap, even higher than that used by the men, but also a broad strip of leather over the forward part of the foot, leaving the toes peeping out in front; between the heel flap and the toe covering, the foot is quite as well enclosed, excepting for the toes, as in a white man's shoe.
It was quite impossible, with the amount of work we had to do, and the difficulties under which we labored, to give the least attention to the ruins. We arranged, however, to make a photograph of the town authorities standing in the great court of one of the fine old buildings—a court the walls of which are covered with beautiful mosaic decorations, betraying taste and skill. The motley crew of half-drunk officials, miserably dressed, degraded, poor, in this scene of past magnificence, called up thoughts of the contrast between the government of old Mitla and the present,—of past magnificence and modern squalor.
Having accomplished all we wished at Mitla, we again struck eastward toward the land of the Mixes. Late in starting, we made no attempt to go further than San Lorenzo that afternoon. The old road was familiar, and from there on, through the following day, everything came back to memory. Even individual trees, projecting rock masses, and little streams, were precisely as we remembered them from our journey of three years earlier. We reached Ayutla in the evening a little before sunset. Riding directly to the municipal house we summoned the town government. We had not provided ourselves with orders from the jefe of the district, as Villa Alta, the jefatura, lay far out of our course. We planned to use our general letter from the governor. When the officials assembled we presented our order and explained it; we told them what we needed for the night, and arrangements were at once made for supplying us; we then told the presidente of the work we had before us, and informed him that, because his town was small, we should ask for only thirty-five men for measurement, and that these must be ready, early in the morning, with no trouble to us.
The presidente demurred; he doubted whether the people would come to be measured; we told him that they would not come, of course, unless he sent for them. When morning came, although everything had been done for our comfort, there was no sign of subjects. That no time might be lost, we took the presidente and three or four other officials, who were waiting around the house; then, with firmness, we ordered that he should bring other subjects. The officials were gone for upwards of an hour, and when they returned, had some ten or twelve men with them. "Ah," said I, "you have brought these, then, for measurement?" "On the contrary, sir," said the presidente, "this is a committee of the principal men of the town who have come to tell you that the people do not wish to be measured." "Ah," said I, "so you are a committee, are you, come to tell me that you do not wish to be measured?" "Yes." Waiting a moment, I turned to the officials and asked, "And which one particularly does not wish to be measured of this committee?" Immediately, a most conservative-looking individual was pointed out. Addressing him, I said, "And so you do not wish to be measured?" "No sir," said he, "I will not be measured." "Very good," said I. "What is your name?" He told us. I marked it down upon my blank, and wrote out the description of his person. Then, seizing my measuring rod, I said to him quite sharply, "Well, well! Take off your hat and sandals. We must lose no time!" And before he really realized what we were doing, I had taken his measurements. Having finished with him, I turned again to the presidente. "And what other member of the committee particularly objects to being measured?" As I spoke, another man was indicated. Turning to him, I said, "Let us lose no time. Take off your hat and sandals while I measure you." In an instant the thing was done. The operation was carried through. Before I had finished with the second case, the others began to smile and snicker, and when I was ready for my third subject I simply asked, "Who next?" and they came one after another without complaint. Having measured all the members of the committee, I soberly addressed them. "Now, if there is any harm in this that I have done, you are all as badly off as can be. If I were you, I would try to get as many other people in the same position as I could; go out and bring in others." Before noon the work was done, and we were ready to go on to Juquila.
We rested, however, the balance of the day, and spent a second night at Ayutla. The day had been given to drinking, throughout the town. It will be remembered that the village proper lies on a terrace, upon a slope above the town-house. As we sat before the house, in the afternoon and evening, we heard from time to time yells and cries above. Some policemen, who were standing up there to keep order, would then appear upon the edge of the slope, and, waving their hands, would loudly cry for help; then the policemen from the town-house would run to their assistance, and in a little time the party would return, dragging one or more victims to the jail. This operation continued from early in the afternoon until late at night; fully fifteen or twenty persons were brought down from the village to the jail during that time.
We had hoped to find the valley of clouds, and the great cloud cataract, on the road to Juquila, but were doomed to disappointment. When we stood upon the summit, looking down into what before had been the sea of mist, the whole place was clear, and everything, to the very bottom of the valley, was visible. The further journey seemed more tedious than before, and the latter part of the road seemed truly endless. There was not a breath of air; the sun poured its hot rays down mercilessly. Long before we reached Juquila I felt, for the first time in Mexico, that I was suffering from fever. After seven and a half hours on the road, we reached the town at 1:30 in the afternoon, and went at once to the town-house, where we were well received, and arrangements were made for our comfort. When they saw that I was suffering, they brought out hammocks, of which I made no use. Making myself a bed of blankets upon the floor, I lay down in my misery and covered myself from the world, a blanket over my head. After some hours, I felt that we were losing time, and that we must, at least, make arrangements for the work of the following day. It was now dusk. I sent for the officials, and when they appeared, told them that, notwithstanding my suffering, I could not lose time, and that early in the morning they must bring persons for measurement. There was a good deal of discussion over the matter. The officials were dissatisfied that my order was not signed by the jefe of their district and dated from San Carlos. They suggested that we send a messenger to San Carlos to inquire whether the order was all right. I replied that four days would be consumed in going and coming; that time was precious, and that it was impossible for us to wait. Seeing that they were likely to refuse to do what I wished, I made a little speech, in which I told them they had better do what I asked, and that promptly. No one so far had recognized me as having been there before. I told them that they had never had better friend that I; that this was not the first time I had visited Juquila; that when I came before I had had difficulty; that my companion, presenting an order from the governor, had been badly received by their presidente, who tried to do him violence; that if I had reported this incident, they knew well what would have happened; that, however, being their good friend, I had never reported it. Having jogged their memory regarding the past, I suggested to them that a report of the previous occurrence, with their present disregard of orders, might be serious. I told them that they knew what I desired; that they might at once inform me whether it would be done or not; if they decided in the negative, the secretario and my mozo must start at once on foot to Oaxaca, carrying my complaint to the governor; that, as for me, having started them upon their journey, I should leave early the following morning going to some town where the people knew what obedience to the law meant. They at once promised that no time should be lost, and that, the following morning, I should have the subjects for whom I asked, viz., thirty-five men and twenty-five women. Nor was it simply promises; having told them that I would begin early in the morning whether I were well or ill, and that I wanted no delay, we found our thirty-five men waiting, at seven o'clock.
At Juquila the system of public crying from the plaza is fully developed. The town lies in a valley, and most of the houses are on slopes surrounding the little plain or terrace upon which the plaza is situated on which the government house is built. When aid was needed by the town authorities, whether zacate for our horses, food for ourselves, objects for inspection, or what not, one of the officers, whose business it seemed to be, stepped out upon the plaza, and, raising his voice would cry out what was needed by the authorities. Whoever had the things desired, coming out before their houses, would cry back the amount, description and variety of the articles they could supply. This we found to be the constant practice.
Notwithstanding the clearness of the preceding day, our day of working was cold, damp, and foggy. The sea of cloud and cataract of mists must have been in full operation. Where we were, a heavy wind was blowing and, before night, rain falling. We had not thought of the possibility of heavy storms or damaged roads at this time of the year, but, before night came, the people of the village expressed surprise that we should talk of leaving the next morning. They assured us that at Quezaltepec and Ixcuintepec it was surely raining heavily, and that the roads would be wet, slippery and impassable. Long before we went to bed, a gale was blowing and we felt doubts regarding further progress. In the morning it was still wet and chilly; all told of terrible roads and risks in proceeding; we delayed. Finally, we decided to press on at least to Ocotopec. We had tried to send the mozos forward with our baggage, but it was plain they would not move until we did. Finally, somewhat after nine, we started. It was still heavy and chilly; we found the road much better than we feared; at some points it was slippery, but not for long distances. Until we were on the final descent to Ocotopec we were sheltered from the cold wind. To be sure, here and there, where the road passed little funnel openings along the crest, we felt fully the cold wind loaded with mist.
We noticed, what on the other trip escaped my attention, the profound difference in vegetation between the two sides of the hill upon the crest of which we were travelling. The one slope, cold and damp, was densely forested with trees, loaded with air-plants and orchids. The other slope, warmer and drier, was far less heavily grown, and in large part, with pines. Among the plants noticed by the roadside was a species of pinguicula which was very common on damp clay-cuttings. Its leaves form a close, flat rosette upon the ground, from which a slender stalk rises, with a a single crimson flower. When we reached the final descent to the town, we caught the full force of the cold, mist-laden wind, which struck our faces and made us shiver. Yet it was on this very slope, so frequently cold and wet, that the oaks, covered with air-plants and blooming orchids, were at their finest. Ferns in astonishing variety, from the most delicate, through giant herbaceous forms, to magnificent tree-ferns; lycopods of several species, and selaginellas, in tufts, covered the slopes; and great banks of begonias, in fine bloom, showed themselves. Before we reached the village we were forced to dismount, on account of the slippery condition of the road, and entered town on foot.
In our other journey Ocotopec made no impression on us. It is really one of the most picturesque and interesting of the Mixe towns. It is built upon a slope, which is cut and built into a series of little terraced gardens; clusters or groups of houses stand on the terraces. The houses are rectangular, built of adobe brick and heavy thatch, with a thick comb of thatch riding the ridge. Unlike most Mixe churches, the church at Ocotopec is entire, and in good condition. It is built of stone. The town is purely Indian, and the type is the best we had seen. Had there been light for photographing, we should have stopped there and done our work, instead of passing on to Ixcuintepec. As it was, we spent the night, and were well treated. Leaving early in the morning, we hurried to Quezaltepec for dinner, the road being better than we had anticipated. The town is prettily distributed upon a curved crest; the houses are neat, built of adobe or of poles daubed with mud. Much fruit is grown here, and coffee is an important crop. In almost every yard mats were spread out, on which coffee was drying, or being sorted by people squatting on the ground. Considerable cotton is woven at this point.
Leaving at 3:40, the evening ride through the forest was magnificent. The flora was such as we have before described. As we rode through the higher forests, we constantly heard birds, notable among which were the clarins, with their fine clear notes. It was dark before we reached Camotlan. Nowhere had we been better treated. We were shown at once into a clean room, and were soon surrounded by bustle and preparation for our comfort. There are but 143 inhabitants, of whom six—four men and two women—have goitres. We had been previously informed that the whole town was goitrous. There were three deaf-mutes, but no idiots, in the town. Inquiring for books printed in the Mixe tongue, we were informed that the choir-master had one. On expressing my desire to see it, they sent to bring him. We were astonished at his appearance. The messengers who brought him carried him in their arms, and set him down upon the floor, when we saw that he had been born without legs, and with sadly deformed arms and hands. Yet, when once placed upon the floor, he moved about easily, and had a cheery face and sunny temper. He was delighted to show us his book and took the greatest pride in reading from it. It is truly remarkable that he can do this. The book was written in the dialect of Juquila of more than 170 years ago. The dialect of Juquila was no doubt then different from that of Camotlan, and during the 170 years there have been great changes, even in that town itself. As I watched the man read from his book, I noticed that he pronounced parts of words differently from the way in which they were spelled; how he had worked out for himself, unaided, the proper meaning and purport of the words was a mystery. I had intended to purchase the book, but found him so attached to it that I gave up the plan. Had he been a normal man, I should have insisted; but then, if he had been a normal man, he would not have had the book nor known how to read it.
From Camotlan we rode steadily for five hours to reach Ixcuintepec. There were considerable stretches of slippery road to be passed. The two gorge rides, the bridges of vines, and the houses along the way, were beautiful as ever, but the magnificent mountain forests were left entirely behind us. The old church at Ixcuintepec is visible on the high crest for a considerable distance. As we made the final climb, the boys noticed in the trees structures one and a half feet or two feet in diameter, and somewhat dome-shaped. I should have taken them for wasps' nests, but the party insisted that they saw parrots come out of them, and that no doubt young parrots were in the nests. Immediately there was great excitement, for Manuel had all along wanted to capture a parrot to take home with him. The party stopped, and stones were thrown to drive out the birds, but with no result. Finally Mariano climbed the tree, creeping out along the branches almost to the nest; just at that moment an unusually well-aimed stone struck the nest, but instead of parrots, out streamed a great cloud of wasps, which flew straight towards the mozo, who lost no time in getting down from his precarious position.
We found Ixcuintepec almost deserted; hardly any of the town officials were there. Almost everyone was off, working in the coffee fincas. We quickly saw that we had made a great mistake in waiting for our remaining subjects until this town. Not only were men conspicuous by their absence, but the women were extremely hostile. They objected to our photographing their houses or themselves. They drove the messenger whom I had sent to measure a house, for the purpose of making a miniature reproduction, off the premises with clubs. The mozos, who had accompanied us thus far, had no intention of going farther, and the problem of getting carriers—which had troubled us ever since we had left Mitla—assumed serious proportions. It was with great difficulty and much bluster that we secured the food we needed and the mozos. When the mozos came, three out of the four whom it was necessary for us to employ, were mere boys, the heartiest and best of whom was scarcely ten years old. In vain we declared that it was impossible for such little fellows to carry the burdens that needed transportation. It was plain that they were our only resource. Starting the three boys upon a short cut to San Miguel, the oldest mozo and ourselves went by another road to Coatlan. It was fortunate for us that the school-teacher at this town was interested in our work. We took possession of the schoolhouse, showed our orders to the officials, and, after much difficulty, obtained our wishes. The town was almost as deserted as had been Ixcuintepec, but after infinite difficulty, we succeeded in getting sufficient subjects to complete our work.
We had thought ourselves unfortunate at Ixcuintepec and Coatlan; the worst lay before us. We found San Miguel deserted. Our three mozos who had been paid, and ordered to go simply to that village, and there to leave our things, had left before we arrived. The man who had come with us, we had dismissed before we realized conditions. The coffee had been gathered for the season; the chief man of the place was in the mountains; there was no town government; neither prayers, threats, nor bribes produced food for ourselves and our horses; two or three men around the place would not be hired as mozos. We finally were forced to leave our busts, plaster, photographic outfit and plates on a bench under an open shed, and go on alone to Santiago Guevea. It was a bitter disappointment, because our previous experience at San Miguel had been so pleasant and interesting.
When we left Coatlan that morning, it had been through clouds and drizzling rain. When we passed through San Miguel, conditions were but little better. From there, we went through a gorge road, everywhere passing little plantations of coffee, bananas, and tobacco. Finally, we began our last mountain or forest climb. The wind with the rain became colder and more penetrating. At the summit, we found a typical norther raging, and at points our animals and ourselves were almost blown from the crest. In good weather the road is long, but through this it was dreadful. Few towns compare in beauty of location, and appearance from a distance, with Santiago Guevea. It was nearly five when we drew up in front of the crowded town-house. It will be remembered that this town is Zapotec, Coatlan being the last Mixe town. The school-teacher interested himself in our welfare, securing for us a real sleeping-room with cots, putting our horses into the corridor of the schoolhouse, and arranging for our meals. Chocolate and bread were at once furnished, and at eight o'clock a good supper was sent to our room. In the plaza outside, the wind was blowing a hurricane and the cold cut like a knife; but the house in which we slept was tight and warm. In the morning, we found the wild weather still continuing. It had been out of the question to send mozos to San Miguel the night before, and it seemed wicked to start them out in such a storm of wind, fog, rain and cold. Still, our time was precious, and we ordered men sent to the place where our stuff had been left, to fetch it; meanwhile, we decided to wait until they should appear. Our animals had had nothing to eat the previous day, except a little corn we had brought with us from Coatlan. We therefore ordered zacate brought for them. The night before, I had inquired regarding the acquaintances we had made at San Miguel in our previous trip. I learned that the man had died less than a month before, but that the widow, the four boys and the little girl, having finished their work at the coffee finca at San Miguel, were in town. Accordingly we called at the house. The woman immediately recognized me, and asked after Don Ernesto. The boys were sleeping, bedded on piles of coffee, but were routed from their slumber to greet us. At first, none of them remembered me, but the little girl did, and soon Castolo also. Their house was comfortable, and piles of corn, coffee, and bananas were stacked up in the place. They invited us to stop with them, but we were already well housed by the authorities. As we left, the woman went to the corner, and, from a pile of similar objects, took two things neatly wrapped in corn-husks. On opening them, we found that they were eggs, which are frequently wrapped in this way for storage, in all the indian towns. Although we had ordered food for the horses, at seven o'clock it had not appeared. We called at the town-house several times, but still no zacate. Our dinner came, and the afternoon passed, but still no fodder for the horses was produced, and the poor animals had eaten nothing, practically, for two whole days, although subjected to hard work and the pelting storm. We anxiously watched for the coming of the mozos with our equipment. The storm, though still raging, was abating, and we could see well down the road. When, at half past three in the afternoon, there was no sign of either men or fodder, we called the town authorities to account. We told them that we would wait no longer in a town where our animals could only starve; that they must forward our boxes, plaster and busts promptly to Tehuantepec; that we should hold them responsible for loss or delay, and that all should be delivered at the office of the jefe. Paying no attention to their entreaties that we should wait a little longer for the fodder, which they promised, as they had so many times before, would come soon, we saddled our animals, and at 4:20 left the town. Just as we started, little Castolo appeared with two bunches of zacate sent by his mother, as a present to Don Federico.
Certainly, there must be a new and better road from Guevea to Santa Maria than the one we traversed in our other journey, and which again, following from memory, we used. It was a fearful trail, neglected and ruined, over slippery rock and rough, sharp-splintered stone. Still we pressed on rapidly, making even better time than we had been assured at the town that we might expect to make. Never were we more happy than in reaching Santa Maria, lovely in the moonlight, with its great church, fine municipal-house, cocoa-nut trees and thatched huts. Here was no sign either of the norther or the rain. The next day's journey was over the hot dusty road with glimpses now and then of the distant Pacific and Tlacotepec for destination. The following morning we pressed on toward Tehuantepec, through the dust and heat, reaching the city at noonday. To our great surprise, we found the mozos, with the plaster, the busts, and the boxes of plates, waiting for us since four o'clock in the morning.
ABOUT TEHUANTEPEC (1899)
Since our former visit to Tehuantepec, that hot and dusty city had suffered terrible misfortune. Through a period of several months it was subject to frequent shocks of earthquakes; for a time these were of daily occurrence, and on one occasion there were seventeen in a single day. The town still showed the destruction produced by these earthquake shocks, although for some months past there had been none. Houses, stores, churches, all presented great cracks and bare spots from which plaster had fallen. Many of the people had left the city permanently; those who remained were completely discouraged and unwilling to spend trouble and money in the repair of their houses. Tehuantepec is, of course, a city of considerable size; situated on a railroad, it has lost its importance since that thoroughfare was constructed. It was, formerly, the natural point through which all the produce of the surrounding country passed; the railroad has given similar opportunity to other places, to the loss of Tehuantepec. Between earthquakes, the damage resulting from the railroad, and the location of the military forces at Juchitan, not far distant, the town is declining. It is still, however, the cabecera, and the jefe is a man of some force and vigor. Shortly after our arrival, I visited his office, delivered the governor's letter, and stated our purpose in visiting his city. He seemed interested, and at once stated that there would be no difficulty in carrying out my plans; that I would find plenty of women for measurement in Tehuantepec itself; that the 100 men had better be secured at San Blas, which, although independent in government, adjoins Tehuantepec. I suggested that it would be well to measure the women in the court-yard of his palace; he, however, replied, "By no means; it will be much better to go directly to the market, where the women are gathered in great numbers; a regidor will accompany you to arrange the matter with your subjects."
Although convinced that his plan was bad, we arranged to begin work the following morning; with instruments and regidor we presented ourselves in the market, picking out a suitable spot and preparing for work. Then I told the regidor to bring a subject. The market-place was crowded, probably two or three hundred women being there gathered. Approaching the nearest of them, the regidor politely asked her to step up and be measured. We were not, however, dealing with Triquis. The women of Tehuantepec are certainly the heads of their houses; the men occupy but an inferior position. Possibly, they are really larger than their husbands, but, whether that be true or not, they give that impression to the spectator. The lady indicated lost no time in assuring the regidor that she had no intention of being measured, and he returned crest-fallen to report results. He met with no sympathy. I told him he had been sent to bring the women, that my business was simply to measure them; that if he would do his duty, I would do mine. He made two other efforts, equally futile, and finally returning, said he thought an order would be necessary. I told him, if he had not already an order I did not know what an order was; that the jefe had distinctly told me what he was to do; that he was not doing it. He then said he had better go to the palace a moment; would I kindly wait. I waited. He soon reappeared, and started in bravely with a new subject, but was again repulsed. Returning, he said that we had better go up to the palace and interview the jefe again. I replied that I had no time to spare; that we had already lost two hours at the palace, waiting for the jefe to appear, and that I did not propose to lose more time; that he knew what I expected, and must either do it, or I would return to my hotel. He helplessly remarked that we had better see the jefe, whereupon I picked up my instruments and departed to the hotel. Leaving my instruments at the hotel, I decided, while matters were adjusting themselves—for I had no thought of bothering myself further—to call upon the bishop. Sallying from the hotel, I met upon the street the regidor and two other town officials, who were awaiting me. "Sir," said he, "will you not measure the women?" "No," said I, "I am going to call upon the bishop. I have no time to waste. We went once to measure the women, but you had no power; your jefe plainly is a man without authority." "No, sir," cried he, "the jefe has issued a strict order that the women must be measured." "No matter," I replied, "I have no time to waste. I shall make my call." With this I entered the bishop's palace, and had an interesting visit with that prelate. When leaving the palace, I found the regidor and four town officials, awaiting my appearance. He at once demanded whether it was not my intention to measure the women. He said that he had been to see the jefe, and that the jefe said my wishes must be obeyed. I asked him where it was proposed to measure the women, and he replied that it should be wherever I pleased. "Very good," said I. "We will measure them in the court-yard of the jefe's palace; have subjects brought there at once, and send a man to my hotel for my instruments."
To the palace we went, and thither shortly four policemen brought a woman from the market. With bad grace, she submitted to be measured, after which the four policemen went again to the market, and soon after reappeared with a second subject. So the work went on, with four policemen to each woman, until our full number was finally secured and the work completed.
Three years ago, on my return from Guatemala, I met in this city an English doctor named Castle, who has lived here for many years—a man of scientific tastes and interests, who has employed his leisure in studying the botany, zoology, and indians of the district. He is well-informed, and one of the few persons acquainted with the Juaves. I counted on his help in approaching that curious and little-known tribe. The doctor's house is full of pets; eight different kinds of parrots, a red and yellow macaw, a brilliant-billed, dark-plumaged toucan, an angora goat, a raccoon, dogs and cats, are a part of the happy family that prowls at large in his house. A little creature, an indian, no more than eight years old, has adopted the doctor for her father. She had come to him as a patient for a trouble by no means uncommon here—night-blindness; in caring for her, he gained the little creature's heart, and she will hardly hear of leaving him to return home. The doctor accompanied us on our first visit to San Blas, and told us many things, not only of the Juaves, but of the Zapotecs and other indians of the region.
From the hotel, in the heart of Tehuantepec, to the town-house of San Blas, is a walk of only twenty minutes. Here for three days we did our work, returning to our hotel for meals and lodging. The work went easily, the men presenting little or no objection to our operations; measurements, busts, portraits—all were taken. On the whole, the Tehuantepecanos do not present a simple, pure indian type. The women seemed to be purer than the men. The secretario at San Blas has been to school. He is one of the few indians of the district who has taken an interest in the study of his native tongue. He has already published a grammar of the Zapotec, as spoken in his village. He has also printed a little tract for lovers, in which high-sounding phrases are translated from the Spanish into Zapotec. He has also prepared, and holds in manuscript, a dictionary of the dialect containing some 4,000 words.
The visit to the Juaves we considered one of the most important and interesting of our journey. These people are conservative, and among the least known of the native populations of Mexico. There are but four towns, with a total population of probably less than three thousand persons. These towns are situated at a few leagues' distance from Tehuantepec, near the Pacific, upon narrow tongues of land, washed by salt lagoons. The nearest, largest, and according to Dr. Castle, the most conservative of the four towns, is San Mateo del Mar. We had hoped that Dr. Castle might accompany us on our journey. This, however, was impossible, but he suggested that he would go with us part of the way. To avoid the great heat, we travelled by night, as there was moonlight. Hiring a carretero at San Blas, we loaded our materials and instruments into the cart, and started it upon its way. At about four o'clock in the afternoon, we rode from Tehuantepec, taking a roundabout road in order to see the hill which gives name to the town. It was Sunday, and many women and girls had been visiting the cemetery, carrying bowls filled with flowers to put upon the graves of friends. We saw numbers of young fellows sitting by the roadside, and learned that they were the lovers of the young women, awaiting their return from the cemetery.
The name Tehuantepec means the mountain of man-eaters. These man-eaters were not men, but tigers, or ocelots. The story runs that long ago this mountain was infested with wild beasts who destroyed the people of the neighboring villages. Fearing extermination, the people of the town decided to consult the Juaves, who were famous for their naguales, or witches. The oldest and most skilled nagual of the tribe was employed. Having performed his incantations, he told them they might expect immediate deliverance; that he had conjured a deliverer from the sea. Soon there came forth from the water a gigantic turtle, who made his way slowly inland, until he reached the bottom of the hill, which was the home of the tigers. The dangerous animals were just descending from the mountain in a double line, but the moment they caught sight of the mammoth sea-monster, their bodies froze with terror and they were turned to stone. Terrified at the power of the creature he had conjured, the old nagual quickly made use of his most powerful incantation, with the result that the turtle also was transformed into stone. The proof of the truth of the story we saw in the lines of stone tigers on the mountain side and the stone turtle at the foot of the hill, as we rode by.
The doctor suggested that it would be well to take a guide with us from San Blas as far as Huilotepec, as there were many side-roads before we reached that town, and that, from there, we would need no help. We followed his suggestion. The road was almost level. It passed through a district covered with a dense growth of brush and thorny trees, except where the land had been plowed for planting corn. In the early evening we saw many birds. Flocks of parrots rose from the trees as we passed by; at one point Manuel shot a little eagle, which fell wounded to the ground. Our guide concluded to carry it on alive. All went well for some time, but at last, with no warning, the bird made a vicious dash, and with its claws tore through the trousers of the guide, making a great gash in his leg. The man promptly decided it was better, on the whole, to carry it further dead than living.
The doctor turned back at sunset. We reached Huilotepec something before eight, and found it a large pueblo with houses built of bamboo or cane. Here we had a good supper, and dismissing our guide started out, by brilliant moonlight, for the last part of our journey. Shortly beyond the town, the road turned, for a moment, into the river, and after passing for a few rods in the river-bed, struck up again onto the bank. At this place we made a fatal blunder. When the road went down into the river, supposing that we were about to ford, we kept straight across the stream. Finding a road upon the other side we had no suspicion but what we were going well and travelled onward. For a long time we found trails of varying degree of badness. Sometimes the branches formed a complete tangle which, even in the daytime, would have required careful watching. As it was, the faces of the party were well scratched with thorns. Sometimes, we seemed to be on a good road; at others, we had hardly found a trail. At one place we passed a ranch—Corral de San Diego. A host of barking dogs announced our coming, and we cried out to the old man living there to tell us the road. His directions were not clear, but in attempting to follow them, we retraced our trail, and then struck into another road. Keeping to it until we really could not follow it further for the tangle, we retraced our steps until we came to a cart-road crossing that on which we were. We started first to the right upon this; then, concluding we were wrong, turned about and went the other way. We soon found ourselves off the road again, and travelling blindly through the brush. Coming to a round patch of clear sand, to which the trail on which we were seemed to have led us, we could find no way out. Convinced that we were hopelessly lost, we camped out upon the sand for the night. Fortunately we had a little corn with us which we gave to the horses, after which we tied them to the trees. As we lay upon the sand in the bright moonlight, we could hear the dashing of the sea waves not far away. The heat was intolerable and the mosquitoes venomous. We secured no rest, and, at the first signs of day, were ready for our start. The two boys went out to hunt a rabbit, but returned with most discouraging reports. While they were absent, Don Anselmo and myself were left in camp. Suddenly he cried out that our horses were running away; such was really the case. The last one was just disappearing in the brush and Anselmo started after them, leaving me to keep the camp. When the other two returned, they, too, started in pursuit. After a hard chase, the animals were captured and brought back. By seven we had mounted and were on our way. We retraced our trail of the night before, going back to the cart-road. A little before eight we came upon a ranch, the Ranchito del Boca del Rio. Here we asked our way, and found that we were still as far from San Mateo, as when we left Huilotepec the night before. Eating a light breakfast, we secured a guide who took us, by the shortest way across the river, back to the main trail for San Mateo, where he left us. The road was long and hot and sandy. Our horses could hardly keep up a decent walk. It seemed that we would never reach the town. More than an hour before we arrived at the town, we encountered little ranches belonging to it. Everywhere we saw flocks of sheep, cows and horses. Curiously, the Juaves have always had herds, since our first records of them, but they eat no meat. The country was more tropical than any through which we had passed. Clumps of palm trees were to be seen here and there. Pools of standing water, where horses and cattle stood cooling themselves, were frequent. The people whom we met wore little clothing. Men frequently had nothing but the breech-clout and hat. Women wore a skirt, but no upper garment. Children up to ten and twelve years of age ran naked. Reaching San Mateo at twelve o'clock, we found the village excited at our non-appearance. Our carretero had arrived long before with our luggage. He had told the presidente of our intended coming, and men from the town had been sent through the by-roads to seek for us. The town lies on a level stretch of sand, and the houses are built of canes and thatched with palm. Most of the trees in the village are palms; some, cocoa palms. The plaza is a large open space. On one side of it is the church, of stone and brick; on another side is the town-building made of brick, covered with plaster, and consisting of three portions,—the presidencia, curato, and jail. A brick-paved corridor, roofed above, runs before the whole building. We were given the jail and presidencia with the corridor. Here hammocks and a bed of palm stalks were prepared for us, and orders issued that eggs and tortillas should be brought us. The Juaves raise no crops. They are fishermen, and their food and living come from the sea. Their dried fish and shrimps, and the salt, which they make from the brine-soaked bottoms of dried lagoons, go far and wide through the country, and for these they get in trade the corn, coffee, chocolate, and raw cotton which they need. We have already spoken of their cattle, which is a source of income, though, as stated before, the Juaves rarely eat meat food.
The Juaves present a well-defined physical type. They are of medium stature or tall. Their noses are the largest and most prominent in indian Mexico, and are boldly aquiline. The men are rarely idle; even as they walk, they carry with them their netting, or spindle with which they spin cord for making nets. It seems to be law, and is certainly custom, that persons coming to the plaza are expected to be more fully dressed than when travelling on the road or when in their homes. Usually white cotton drawers and shirt are worn in the plaza; outside, practically nothing but the breech-clout.
There is an interesting commerce carried on in Juave towns by Zapotec traders from Juchitan. As might be expected, this is entirely in the hands of women. Some women make two journeys weekly between the two towns. They come in ox-carts, with loads of corn, fodder, coffee, chocolate, cotton and the like. These they trade or sell. When they return to Juchitan, they carry with them a lot of salted and dried fish, shrimps, salt and eggs. Upon these expeditions the whole family accompanies the woman; the traveling is done almost entirely by night. These Zapotec women are shrewd at bargaining. They must be doing a paying business. It was interesting to see the primitive devices for weighing. The scales consisted of two tin pans of equal size and weight hung from a balance beam. The only weight was a stone weighing a pound. In case a Juave woman wished to buy a quarter-of-a-pound of cotton, the procedure was as follows: The weight was put into one pan of the scales and a pound of cotton weighed out into the other; the weight was then removed and the cotton divided, so as to balance in the two pans; one of the pans was then emptied, and the remaining cotton again divided, with the result that a quarter-of-a-pound of cotton had been weighed.
One curious feature, which we had not seen elsewhere, but which Dr. Castle had warned us we should find, was the nightly guard set upon us. As we lay upon our beds at night, looking out upon the white sand in front of us, we could see, by the moonlight, at some little distance, a circle of eight or ten men who spent the night sleeping within call. Another striking feature was the music which we heard in the late evening and early morning. In the early morning, five o'clock or earlier, and at sunset, there was service in the church. Later on, at eight, there was again singing in the churchyard, lasting until quite a late hour. One evening, on investigating, we found eight or ten men kneeling on the sand before the church door, singing in the moonlight. They were practicing for the procession and special service of the second Friday of Lent.
The water-life of the Juaves is at once picturesque and curiously tame. The men spend much of their time on or in the water. They make great dugout canoes from large tree trunks. There are usually no paddles, but poles are used to propel the craft sluggishly over the waters of the lagoon. Few of the men can swim. The fish are chiefly caught with nets, and both seines and throw nets are used. The lagoons are said to abound in alligators, and the men, when fishing, generally carry with them spears with long iron points which are said to be used for protection against attacks of these reptiles. Great respect is shown the alligator, and curious superstitions prevail regarding it.
Between San Mateo and the nearest of the great lagoons, the country ceases to be level and is covered with sand dunes. On these dunes there are great numbers of hares of a species peculiar to the locality. They make excellent eating, and Manuel kept our larder supplied with fresh meat, which was welcome, and which we could not otherwise have had among these non-meat-eating folk. An old Zapotec woman, seventy years of age, with snowy hair and gentle face, was deputed by the town authorities to do our cooking. Her relatives live in Juchitan, and why she had chosen to live among these people I do not know. She took a motherly interest in all our party. Nothing was too good for us. She spent her whole time in hunting supplies and cooking and serving food. Not only did she insist on all our purchases being supplied at cheapest rates, but her own charge for help and service was ridiculously small. From early morning until late at night the poor old soul was busy in our behalf. On our leaving, she took my hands between her own, and kissing them, begged that we would send her a picture as a remembrance.
The road to Tehuantepec at night was one of no adventure. We were impressed with the great number of families travelling in ox-carts over these roads in the cool night air. It was a custom and habit of which we had before no realization. It lacked but ten minutes of one o'clock when finally we rode up to the hotel in Tehuantepec. From the hostler we learned that every room was full,—five persons in some cases sleeping in a single room. So we were compelled to lie down upon the porch outside until the morning.
ON THE MAIN HIGH-ROAD
After a day or two of rest, we started from Tehuantepec upon our return to Oaxaca. For the first time, we were to follow the usually travelled high-road. Our hearts failed us, as we thought of thus neglecting the lovely land of the Mixes, but it was on our program to see the Chontals. Starting at seven, we lost a little time in having a photograph of our party taken as we left the city, so that it was really 8:15 before we were on our way. Our plaster had been sent by carreta to Xalapa. We had a hot, hot, hot ride over a heavy, difficult sand road. At least half a dozen times we forded the Tehuantepec river, and everywhere at places which would have justified the name, Xalapa, "the sandy water." Finally, arriving at Xalapa at four o'clock, we found it a large town, of the usual hot, dusty Zapotec kind. The authorities bestirred themselves vigorously to locate us in comfortable quarters, with an old lady of regal appearance and dignity. From the start, we feared that this royal appearance and dignity would be paid for, but the opportunity for comfort was not to be neglected. One of the houses of her royal domain was vacated for our use, and two good cots and a hammock were put at our disposal. The supper was abundant, and capital in quality, and there was plenty of food for the horses. Strolling down to the river after supper we found it broad but very shallow; it did not reach our knees at any point, when we waded across it; the bottom was, as we imagined it would be from the name, moving sand. After a bath in the much too shallow stream for swimming, we returned refreshed to our comfortable beds. As anticipated, we found the bill, when presented in the morning, truly regal; after some demur, our queenly hostess reduced it slightly, but, even so, we were reminded of the summer-resorts of our own country.
Tequixistlan, perhaps the largest of the Chontal towns, we found without an official head. While we were in Tehuantepec the jefe received notice of his father's death. This notice had been duly sent to all the villages and towns within the district, and, on a certain day, the presidente and other chief officers of the different pueblos gathered at Tehuantepec to express their sympathy by speeches and to present flowers to the official. It was for this errand that the presidente of Tequixistlan had gone to the cabecera. Had he been at home, perhaps we would have had no difficulty, but as it was we found the government disjointed and nerveless. Constant nagging and harrying were necessary in carrying out our wishes. The town itself was not bad. It stands upon a sort of terrace, at a little height above the neighboring river. The town-house is a long building, occupying the whole upper end of the large rectangular plaza; at the lower end is the fine church and curato. Along the sides were tiendas, school, etc., well built adobes and plastered over with tinted plaster. Behind the church beyond the river rises a handsome background of mountains. The long corridor in front of the municipal-house was fine and broad, with a high roof and brick pavement. Oleanders bloomed before this corridor. The view from it was fine, and the air cool there even in the middle of the day. We accordingly took possession of it, working and sleeping there. So far as personal comfort was concerned, we were well cared for. We had good meals, comfortable cots, plenty of food for the horses, but, as we have said, the work lagged, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that we could accomplish it.
There is little distinctive about the Chontals, as we saw them. The women dress much like the Zapotec women in the neighboring towns. The men present nothing notable in dress. Outside the plaza, the houses were built of light materials, and resembled the ordinary cane-walled, thatched huts of the Zapotecs. The people appeared to be badly mixed, and this not only with white, but also with negro blood. Nevertheless, as we worked upon subject after subject, a fairly defined type seemed to grow upon us. We could see that the Chontals are tall, with rather well-shaped faces, though somewhat high cheek-bones, with light complexions, and with wavy or curly hair. When the work was finished, we had great difficulty in securing carriers to bear our burdens to San Bartolo. Enormous prices were demanded, and at last, angry over the attempted extortion, we threatened to leave all our stuff behind us, and hold the town responsible, reporting them to the authorities when we should reach Oaxaca, demanding that damages should be collected. These threats had the desired effect. The secretario, who had been the only member of the town government displaying energy in our behalf, promised by all that was sacred that our goods should be delivered promptly at San Bartolo; that if they were not already there on our arrival, we might safely arrange for further transportation from that town, convinced that the goods would come before we left.
That we might not be too much delayed by this palaver regarding carriers, I had started the balance of the party ahead, and rode on alone after them. They had left at 10:15, and we all had a hot, dry, dusty, thirsty mountain ride until five o'clock in the afternoon, when we reached the ranch, Las Vacas. It consisted of a dozen houses. We rode to the last one in the place, which consisted of brush and leafy branches, and had an enclosed corral adjoining it, where we asked for lodging. The owner was a young Zapotec, who, with his wife, was strikingly neat and clean. A little girl of seven was the only other member of the family. The house had but a single room, but there was a coro, or cane platform, and loft. Having fed our horses and eaten our own supper, I mounted to the loft, despite the advice of all the members of the party, who predicted smoke, heat, mosquitoes, fleas and other trials. They stayed below. There is no question that they fared worse from all the sources mentioned than myself. The woman worked until midnight, making tortillas and cooking chicken for us to carry as luncheon on the road. We had started by four in the morning, and pushed along over a mountain road. The first portion of the road was well-watered, but afterward it became hot, dry, and stony. Having gained the pass looking down upon the valley, we could see, at its further side, lying on a terrace, the pueblo of San Bartolo, stretching out in a long line near the front of a mighty mountain, upon which plainly our way would pass. It was almost noon when we reached the municipal-house, and found that our carriers had already arrived, and left the luggage. Here things were really quite as bad as at Tequixistlan, but here fortunately we had no work to do. The town was Zapotec. One might suppose, from its being upon the main high-road, that they would be accustomed to see strangers. We have hardly found a population at once so stupid and timid. It was with great difficulty that we found food to eat. Here we had to pay for beds (made of sticks tied together), belonging to the municipality, a thing which we had never done at any other town in Mexico.
The people wear curious and characteristic garments.
All the stuff used for clothing is woven in the town, and not only the women's camisas, but the men's camisas and trousers, are decorated with elaborate designs—birds, animals, and geometrical figures—worked in various colors. Even in purchasing examples of these clothes, we were compelled to make a vigorous display of our civil and religious orders. After some bickering, we arranged for carriers to San Carlos, which is the cabecera of the district. Starting by moonlight, at two o'clock in the morning, we struck out over the enormous mountain mass to which we have already referred. Roads in the Zapotec country do not go directly up the hillside, as in the land of the Mixes, but zigzag by gentle diagonals up the slopes. The road was largely composed of jagged rock; two hours and fifteen minutes were necessary for the ascent; the descent was bad enough, but a distinct improvement. At one place, however, we wandered from the main-travelled road, and found ourselves in an abandoned portion of the road, full of great holes which were filled with drifted fallen leaves, so that their presence was not betrayed until our horses fell into them. The latter part of this descent was slippery, being over hard stone, which was worn almost to a glassy smoothness by the passage of many hoofs. A little before reaching Manteca, as we looked down from the height, we saw an immense train of pack-mules coming. In the good old days, before there were railroads, such trains as this were frequent. From Manteca the road penetrated into contracting valleys, until finally it might, with propriety, be called a canon road. At half past eight we reached San Carlos, a mean town with no meson or other regular stopping-place. We left the horses under the shady trees with the old farrier. While we rested and waited for breakfast, I called upon the jefe politico, who had received several communications from me, and had become interested in my work. Our luggage was all at his office, and he promptly made arrangements for its further transportation. At breakfast, we received the cheerful news that Mr. Lang's horse had the lockjaw and showed signs of dying. On inspection, this proved to be quite true; the poor animal was in great pain, and could eat nothing, though making every effort to do so. Our first thought was a shot in the head to put it out of misery, but the old farrier wished to try a remedio. He did his best, and it looked as if the animal might recover; it was plain, however, that he could not be used again that afternoon. Accordingly, an extra horse was rented for Mr. Lang's use. The remainder of the party was started on the road at 1:50, while I waited to give the remedio a chance to operate and the beast an opportunity to rest. At three I started, leading the sick horse. We had a fine ride in the cool of the evening, over a mountain road past the little ranch El Quemado, beyond which we found an immense ascent. When we reached the summit, it was fast darkening, and I pressed on as rapidly as the led horse would permit. Finally, I reached Escondido at seven. Several large parties of packers, with their trains of mules, had already settled for the night; camp-fires were burning. Here and there drinking had been going on, and there was noise of loud laughter, singing and dancing. Our party was already eating supper when I arrived, and my own meal had been ordered. Shelter was supplied us adjoining the house, where we spread our blankets and spent a comfortable night. We were late in starting, and were not upon the road until seven in the morning. We found the high-road most uninteresting. For long distances we descended, passing a ranch and emerging finally into a deep, hot gorge. By the time we reached Pichones we were tired, hot and thirsty. There, however, we could get no water, for man or beast, for love or money; suffering with thirst, the road seemed long to the river near Totolapa, where we refreshed ourselves with water, but a heavier road than ever had to be traversed. Much of the way we followed the stream-bed, fording repeatedly; the remainder was through deep sand and over rolling pebbles. Passing Juanico, on a high bank overlooking the river, at noonday, we were delighted to strike upon a rock road, high on the river bank. Keeping to this trail, passing from plantations of bananas lying at the river level below us and catching many pretty views of valley and of mountain, we at last reached Totolapa, completely worn out with the journey and the heat. Here we rested until the heat of the day should be past.
We had expected at this town to secure a muleteer, as the one we hired from San Carlos had agreed to come only to this town. Here, too, we had expected to rent a new horse for Mr. Lang. Our muleteer, however, was much taken with the party, and declared that he should hire himself to continue with us to Tlacolula. We quickly arranged with him, and at four o'clock prepared to leave. The sick horse was then at its worst; it had lain down, and for a time we believed it was really dead; it was out of the question for it to go further; so, calling one of the villagers, I told him that he might have the horse, and if there was any possibility of curing, it, he should do what might be necessary.
From four to seven it was a tiresome climb, largely through stream-beds to Carvajal. It is a large rancho, but we stopped at the first house we came to, a miserable place, where, however, we got coffee, bread, beans and eggs, and some mats for beds, which we laid out upon the ground, under the open sky. Taking early coffee and tortillas, we were again mounted at four and on our way. It was the last ascent. The moon was shining brightly, and we could see that the road followed the edge of a fine gorge. When we once reached the summit, there was no further descent to make. We were on the high, flat, table-land of Oaxaca, and from here to the capital city of the state, the road is level, and passes through a rich agricultural district. Passing San Dionisio at seven, we pressed on as rapidly as possible to Tlacolula, where we arrived before noon, ready for the good meals and comfortable quarters which we well knew awaited us there.
Tlacolula is a large town, in the midst of a dusty valley. Its houses are large, rectangular constructions, well built of poles, with fine thatched roofs. They stand in yards, which are enclosed by fences of organ-pipe cactus. The people dress well, and at almost every house they own an ox-cart and a yoke of animals. While photographing there that afternoon, we suggested that we wanted a group of girls and women in native dress. "Very well; I will take you to the house, where you can get one." Arrived there, the policeman at once led out five women and four children, whom he placed in line. After the picture was taken, we expressed our satisfaction and surprise that so good a group had been so readily secured at a single house. "Oh, sir," he replied, "we struck a lucky time; there is a funeral going on there."
Between Tehuacan and Oaxaca the railroad passes through a low, deep valley which is ever hot. Few people on the train pass through this valley without feeling its depressing influence. It would seem that travelers would hardly stop at stations within its limits, unless impelled by actual necessity. The most important of the towns in this valley is Cuicatlan. Little of it is to be seen from the railroad, but in reality it is a notably picturesque village.
It is the cabecera of a district in which dwell three most interesting tribes—the Cuicatecs, Chinantecs, and Mazatecs. We had time to visit only the nearest of the Cuicatec towns. Cuicatlan itself is situated near one side of a valley, through which runs a considerable stream. The distant bank rises in two magnificent mountain masses. The nearer bank, at the very base of which the town nestles on a series of little hills, rises into almost sheer precipices of purple conglomerate. These cliffs are hundreds of feet high, and are, apparently, due to a gigantic landslide. The mass which fell must have measured fully two miles in length, and still lies, broken and heaped up, at the base of the cliffs. The face of the cliffs, and the fallen masses of rock at its base, are cut into narrow gullies and gaps by water. The town consists of several clusters of houses, scaled along the slopes of little hillocks and settled into the spaces between them. Gigantic cactuses surround the town, and cocoa palms rise to great heights within it.
It is customary for travelers to emphasize the slowness of the Mexicans. Either we have been exceptionally fortunate, or the reputation is largely undeserved. We have been rarely delayed by sluggish action. Here, however, we found a jefe who would surely satisfy the most complaining. He was mild in manner, gentle in speech, fond of brilliant plans and schemes, all of which, however, were to be put in operation to-morrow and not to-day. It was with difficulty that we impressed upon him our necessity. We told him that we wanted animals to carry us to Papalo. In reply, he told us that Papalo was but a poor town, and he outlined a journey the traveling alone in which would occupy some eight or ten days. When we assured him that we had no time for such an enterprise, he said that it would be much better for the towns to come to us in Cuicatlan. He proposed sending to-morrow to those towns, and assured us that, at the end of a week's time, we would have all the subjects we needed. So, when we suggested that this, too, was loss of time, he had other brilliant plans, all quite as useless. With the utmost difficulty we finally succeeded in getting him to arrange for animals to go to Papalo. From the very start, the road was up-hill. Passing first through a section covered with a magnificent growth of tree cactuses of two species, in fine fruit and flower, we found the vegetation varied as we mounted, and at last came up among the pines. There was a great variety of landscape and geological formation. Purple-red conglomerate, with horizontal layers weathered into massive forms; granitic schistose rocks, over which we later passed, gave their peculiar scenic outlines. We climbed steadily for fully four hours, and then looked down, along a gently sloping hill trail, to our town, perched upon a slightly lower hill. Just at the edge of the town, we passed a gang of men and boys at work, making a level platform for the new plaza and town-house. We congratulated ourselves that we should have no difficulty, here, in finding subjects. The town claimed three thousand population. Many of them were certainly away upon their fields and ranches, scattered through the mountains, and working fincas for wealthy landowners. The town itself is picturesque in the extreme. Notable among its features is the ruined church, the roof of which has fallen in; the walls still stand, bare and broken, but the decorations, some richly carved and gilded, are still unmoved within the demolished edifice. The damage was recent, and represented a double catastrophe—lightning and earthquake.
We could not begin work until the mozo came with the instruments. Finally, at four o'clock in the afternoon, we began measuring with no great difficulty. Before night, fifteen subjects had passed through our hands and one bust had been made. Even when we arrived, at midday, it was too cold for us to stay with comfort in the town-house, though it was hot enough outside in the sunshine. When night came, it was bitter cold, and we went to bed early in hope of keeping warm, a hope without foundation. Early the next morning, we were ready for our work. Every one had disappeared, except those whom we had measured the night before. We requested the town authorities to bring in subjects. A few stragglers were dragged in and measured, and some pictures taken. Notwithstanding the poor way in which they had done their work, the policemen struck, declaring that they would not bring others until they had been paid. It was plain the town needed a lesson. We promptly paid the demand made upon us, and, then, calling the presidente and the secretario, we told them that we must have a receipt for the payment to show the jefe. We said that such a thing was unheard of; that, for town officials to demand pay, before they would agree to obey the order of their chief, was mutiny. At first they flatly refused to give the receipt, but after a little consultation were anxious to return the money, and threats were freely made to throw the whole police-force into jail. We said that this was not our desire; we were surprised at the demand, but, having met it, we insisted upon having our receipt. A meeting of the town authorities being held to consider the matter, our request was again refused, but attention was called to the fact that some subjects were waiting outside to be measured and photographed. I thereupon refused to measure or photograph any person until my demand had been met. I showed them, clearly, the position in which they had placed themselves; I stated that when they had done a wrong, and a stranger demanded an official statement of the case, their duty was simple and clear. By this time my own party was in arms; photographer, plaster-worker, Manuel, all were scared. They insisted that our throats would be cut that night. They called attention to the ugly manner and black looks of the town authorities. They declared that we had better flee, while yet there was opportunity; they insisted that they had not left comfortable homes to be murdered in cold blood; they begged that I would, at least, retreat from the position taken, and consent to measure the subjects who were waiting. I assured them that it was far more important to teach the town a lesson regarding their duty to their higher officials, than to measure a few indians. Finally, after hours of uncertainty, black looks, mutterings, and refusals, the town capitulated, and the receipt was in my possession. Having gained my point, I called the attention of the town officials to the bearings of the case. I emphasized their duty to the jefe. They knew, quite well, that it was out of place to demand money for obeying his order; I stated that I appreciated whatever work the policemen might have done, and that, in due season, I might have recognized it by a gift, but that demands were quite another thing. I showed them how important it was, that, when trouble rose between them and a stranger, they should furnish any statement of the case he might, in justice, ask. Having stated the matter fully, I consented to receive back the money, and tore up the receipt much to their relief.
Still the work went slowly. No one was left in town but the officials and some women. The latter locked and barred their doors, at the approach of any of the town authorities, and neither threats to burn their houses above their heads nor bribes would bring them forth. It was only after three days of hard work that eighty men and twenty-five women were secured. By that time, it was plain that the other men were safely out of reach, and we concluded that naught remained but to return to Cuicatlan, to complete our work with representatives from other towns. This we did, although we found our jefe still gentle, mild, and slow.
Once in the hot valley, we concluded that we might as well see more of it. Leaving Cuicatlan at noon, a few minutes' ride brought us to the station at Tecomavaca, perhaps the hottest of the hot valley towns. Within it are ruins which have been strangely neglected by all tourists and investigators. Probably, the great heat has killed whatever little enthusiasm may have been kindled in those who have seen aught of these ruins. When we reached the station, in the hottest portion of the day, the valley seemed to glow; all looked hot and desolate. There were no mozos to help in carrying baggage, though the town was fully half a mile from the station, behind bare, hot, sandy hills. It is one of the poorest and meanest of the Mexican towns. A dreary plaza is surrounded by miserable adobe, or adobe-plastered, buildings. The only edifices that looked clean and neat were the school, jail, and town-house. We found shelter at a sort of a meson, where we could get no supper until nine, or possibly till ten. Rather than go inside the rooms, we took possession of the corridor, and there, with two cots, a table, and the floor, lay down to rest. But not to sleep! The town, small as it was, had twenty cases of la grippe. The woman of the house where we were stopping was one of these. Her husband, who came back from the mountains long after dark, appeared to have an affection and solicitude regarding her, which, under other circumstances, might have been quite touching, but which, then, was thoroughly exasperating. While he cooked his own supper, made chocolate for her, and heated hot water for her use, he kept passing back and forth, between the kitchen and the sick chamber, until later than two o'clock in the morning. The noise which he made, and these repeated movements, kept us all awake the whole night long. The night was hot and close, and new and unknown insects troubled us extremely. We were glad to be dressed and mounted, the following morning. Riding across the river, we made the ascent to the summit, on which were the ruins of Tecomavaca Viejo. The ascent was so abrupt that our horses were repeatedly compelled to stop for breath. The trail passed through cactuses, and spiny shrubs and trees, which tore our clothes more than all we had endured during weeks of travel. The ruins are unquestionably old. The hilly slope presents a succession of terraced platforms, one behind the other, at different heights. The rock walls between these are banked up and faced with rock, coated with plaster and mud; there are many pyramids and mounds; there are also curious subterranean, stone-faced, graves. Many curious disks of stone were found, a foot or eighteen inches in diameter, and three or four inches thick; these were all reddish grit, and had plainly been piled one upon another to form pillars. Along the forward edge of some of the terraced platforms, we found the lower discs of some columns still in place. While the amount of work, represented in these cut terraces, banked rocks, and subterranean constructions, impressed us greatly, it was difficult to get a clear idea of the relationship of the parts.
When, however, we found ourselves at the station, waiting for the train, we looked back across the river to our three ruin-crowned hills. Then, for the first time, having visited the spot, we could clearly make out the relations. Three natural mountains or hills, the greater, central one flanked on both sides by lesser, had been utilized by the old builders; the natural rock masses had been cut and walled, until they practically formed masses of construction, rising terrace behind terrace, to the very summit. When the terraces were entire, with their temple-crowned pyramids, and with embankments and walls in full repair, these vast constructions must have been indeed impressive.
IN TLAXCALAN TOWNS
A street-car line, running for most of the distance down hill, connects Santa Ana with Tlaxcala, the towns being separated by seven miles. When making this little journey to Tlaxcala in January, 1897, we noticed in the car with us, a stout, purely indian man, who seemed anxious to engage us in conversation. Knowing a few words of English, he was particularly anxious to practice them. He called our attention to the various villages, streams, and mountains in the country through which we were passing, and took delight in analyzing the native names and explaining their meanings. When we were returning in the afternoon, we met a gentleman who had been in the same car with us in the morning, and we inquired regarding our indian acquaintance. He told us that he was a full-blooded indian, whose native tongue was Aztec, and who lived in Santa Ana. Being the child of poor parents, the state had assisted in his education; he was now studying law in the city of Puebla. He was also a musician, and on this occasion had been upon his way to a public appointment, where he was to sing.
Later, in Puebla, we called upon this gentleman, whose name we found was Quechol, meaning a bird with a crooked neck, perhaps a flamingo. He was interested in our study, and said we ought some time to visit the indian towns of his people upon the slopes of Malintzi. In January, 1900, having been delayed in our plans, we decided to spend a few days in Tlaxcala, and secured his company. Our preparations were made at Santa Ana; at the home of his parents we were hospitably welcomed, and chocolate and bread were furnished, before we started on our journey. While this refreshment was preparing, we visited the old church, in front of which stood an aged cypress tree, hung with gray moss and blazing with red flowers. We also entered some of the houses, where, on domestic looms, the serapes for which the town is famous are manufactured. We visited also a private school for girls, established by a Senor Barela, who is noted as the first to introduce the industry of weaving wool into this community. While the memory of this gentleman is held in high esteem by this people, that of his wife is by no means savory. It seems that she was an avaricious, vain and selfish woman, with no sympathy for his schemes for the betterment of the people. Her feeling was well known, and she died heartily hated by all. When the time came for her burial, the grave was prepared, and her body placed within it. But the earth twice refused to receive the corpse. It was then carried to to the Sawapa, near by, and thrown into its waters. The stream overflowed its banks, and tossed the body upon the ground; again the effort was made to thus dispose of it, but again it was thrown upon the shore. It was then suggested that it be carried to "the Cuezcomate," an extinct geyser-crater, famous through all the country, and popularly believed to be the mouth of hell; when the body was thrown into this opening, it is said the devils were seen to swarm upward to receive it.
It was almost noon as our little party started on foot in the direction of Malintzi. Our indian friend, his brother, a white friend, our photographer, our Mexican boy and ourself, made up the party, and we were followed by three mozos on foot carrying supplies of food. We struck out over a sandy plain, where the foot sunk deep into dry sand, until we finally reached a well-built wall of stone, considered in the district a notable piece of engineering. It was constructed to turn the course of a little stream which, in times of flood, has frequently done damage to the town. From here, our trail led us on through the sandy pine-scrub, broken now and then by narrow gullies, called barrancas, with almost vertical sides. In every case, we were obliged to descend into these gullies and climb out upon the other side. After one and a half hours of walking we reached the village of San Pedro, where we stopped for dinner. The two Americans accompanying us lay down upon the ground, completely tired out, and were fast asleep within five minutes. Manuel assisted the local cook in preparing dinner, while we talked with visitors until the meal was ready. The houses of San Pedro are well constructed of stone, set in adobe, and have well-thatched roofs. The granaries, or cuezcomates, are of unusual size and well built. They range from six or eight feet in height to twelve or more, and are shaped like great urns, open at the top, which is protected by a thatch, generally two-pitched. The temascals were also unusually well built of stone, and frequently were neatly covered with white plaster. Soon after leaving San Pedro, in the afternoon, we came upon two indian boys digging in the ground. Inquiring what they were doing, we learned that they were hunting honey-ants, and in a moment our whole party was engaged in the same operation. These ants were found some inches below the surface, either singly, or in roundish holes containing half a dozen or more; the abdomen was swelled until it was as round as a pea and as large as a fair-sized currant, and was filled with honey. To get the sweet liquid, one takes the insect by the head or forward body and pressing the honey bag sucks out the contents. It is sweet and rich, with a little twang, as if fermented, and people in the district call it honey-wine. Three quarters of an hour brought us to San Francisco, though we had to go down and up two large barrancas before we reached the town. It was almost sunset when we arrived. Sitting down before the town-house, we sent for the agente. Soon after our arrival the church-bell rang furiously, and the din and clangor was kept up a long time. While waiting for the official, supper was prepared, though we had had some difficulty in arranging for it, and were in doubt as to where we were to spend the night. Before supper was ready, a motley crowd poured into the room in which we sat. One large fellow carried a great sword strapped at his side, another bore a short sword, another a knife, another a large and ancient gun. Probably there were other weapons not in sight. This group of indians was the agente and his guardia. We were objects of suspicion, and much argument, and an abundant supply of huitzatl—strong drink—were necessary, before we secured permission to spend the night at the house where we were to have supper. No sooner had this company withdrawn and supper been eaten, than we prepared for bed. One wooden bed, with a mat of rushes, served for Senor Quechol and myself. A second mat, laid on the floor, formed the bed for our four companions. In the morning, we took a walk to Akxotla, where we wished to see an ancient painting. Here we encountered greater suspicion than before, and, after wasting the greater part of the day, accomplished nothing. It is true an indian made a camalpa for us. This is a stringed musical instrument; though the name is Aztec, it is unlikely that it was known before the coming of the Spaniards. Quechol says the word means mouth-harp, coming from the Aztec cam, mouth, and the Spanish harpa, harp. We returned to San Francisco for our dinner, and at four o'clock again started on our journey.
It was after five before we reached San Bartolome. As we drew near the village, we saw a magnificent double rainbow, brilliantly displayed upon the eastern sky against a cloud of almost inky blackness. Looking westward, as we entered the village, we saw the sun setting in a sea of gold, between Popocatapetl and Ixtaccihuatl. Watching this magnificent sunset, we sat down before the old church, and almost instantly a crowd gathered to see what the strangers might want. Don Romualdo, in wandering through the village, found a temascal in use, and hurrying to us, led us to see the method of its use. It is a dome-shaped structure, with an entrance so low that one must crawl upon his hands and knees in entering; it is a sweat-bath, used for cleanliness and health. A quick fire, built inside, heats it thoroughly, after which water is thrown upon the hot stones to produce steam. Four persons, of both sexes, were in the one in question, taking a sweat-bath. When we returned to our companions, sitting before the church, an indian of the village, accosting Don Romualdo, claimed to know him; he also claimed my acquaintance, and reminded me that he had been one of the subjects I had measured two years before in Tlaxcala. A score or more of natives had gathered, in the moonlight, around our party. Having heard some indians singing, we tried to get these to sing some native songs. Only after Louis and Frank had sung some English songs, which were well received, were we able to hear Aztec songs in exchange. After a long delay, we were taken to the schoolhouse for supper and the night, and spent the balance of the evening in taking down a native song, The Tlaxcalteca, and witnessing a dance which accompanied it. A bed was made up for the party by putting various benches and tables together.
Most of the following day was spent in visiting in the village, purchasing idols and in making notes on life and customs; at four o'clock in the afternoon, we set out for Ixcotla. Near sunset we reached the house of Quechol's uncle, old Isidro. Almost eighty years of age, he was straight and lithe as a man of thirty. His house and all the lesser buildings of his place were excellent and in fine condition. A flight of steps led to the flat roof, from which we watched the sunset. In the yard, were half a dozen hives for bees, made from the stocks of the maguey. The old man was rich, and owned other houses, but he lives alone, his wife being dead and his daughters married. He is a master of the Aztec, and uses it in its most poetical and figurative style. He does not speak like common men, but his conversation abounds in metaphor and flowers of speech. When once one spoke to him of his lonely and solitary life, he said, "Alone and solitary! No, we are three! There are here myself, my good angel, and my bad angel. I am never alone." Isidro knows all the boundaries of the fields, and can trace all the titles, and is frequently appealed to in land disputes, and even in law cases, is summoned to give testimony. He received us heartily, offered cigarettes and ordered supper. To refresh us, he broke fresh leaves from the orange-tree and steeped them in hot water, sweetening with sugar. After supper, good beds were made upon the floor, with plenty of mats and blankets.