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In Indian Mexico (1908)
by Frederick Starr
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Tlacuilotepec is a dependency of Pahuatlan. We started for our day's trip thither on a good lot of animals, at eight o'clock in the morning, with two foot mozos for carriers. The journey was delightful. For a little, we followed a trail down the left-hand bank of a fine ravine. Nearly at the foot we struck to the left, through a little cut, and were surprised to find ourselves upon the right-hand slope of another gulf of immense depth. A few minutes later, we reached the point where the two streams united. And from there on, for a long time, we followed the bottom of a great gorge. The rock walls were bold and often sheer, and the upper line of mountain horizon was graceful and varied. The cliffs were mostly limestone, and presented remarkable examples of folding and dislocation. The long roots of trees, following exposed rock surfaces downward for yards, and twisting and bending to find lodgment in the crevices, were curious. Great tufts of a plant with long, narrow, light-green leaves hung down along vertical rock faces. In little caverns, at the foot of cliffs, were damp spots filled with ferns and broad-leaved caladiums, and brilliant clusters of begonias in bloom. At several places, the water of springs or underground streams gushed forth, in natural rock-basins, or from under projecting ledges. At one spot, there was a dainty basin of limestone into which a pretty veil of spring water fell gracefully. We crossed and recrossed the stream many times. Everywhere we were within sound of the creaking sugar-mills, and in sight of the ladling of boiled sap; everywhere we met arrieros driving animals loaded with little loaves of native sugar; everywhere the forest was broken with little patches of sugar-cane, growing on the slopes. Here and there, we saw cables slung across the streams, for passing cargoes at high water. At one place was a fine display of basaltic columns, the position of which was horizontal, the flow having come up as a sheet injected from below, and not as a surface out-flow, where the jointage would have been vertical. Finally, leaving this beautiful ravine, we made a rapid ascent, passing a little village consisting almost wholly of a school, noisy with study, and a church, with a separate square tower. Shortly after reaching the summit, and dipping slightly, we found Tlacuilotepec. It is not a large town. At its center mestizo, it has charge of several indian villages. We had been referred for information concerning surviving paganism to a Senor Martinez. We were interested in finding that the presidente of the town was a brother of this gentleman, and that both were Protestants. We were received with great cordiality, not only on account of our official introduction, but also because we brought an unofficial introduction from Protestant friends. Two charming beds were arranged in the little meeting-place in Senor Martinez's own house, and two others, almost as good, were secured for the others of the party, in the little meson of the village. As we chatted, we were refreshed with a delicious orange-wine, which is made here, and during our days spent with Don Quirino, we had meals fit for a king. The indians under his charge are Otomis, and in one little village, Santa Maria, Totonac. When we came to inquire regarding the pagan practice for which we were searching, we learned that it was peculiar to the Otomis, and formed their annual costumbre—custom. They believe that Montezuma is to come again. Meantime, from him come health, crops, and all good things. Their costumbre is a feast given in his honor, of which he is believed to partake. A jacal—hut—is prepared in a retired spot; a table is constructed full length of the house within, and upon this a feast is spread of which all partake.

Upon this table they place many munecos of paper; formerly these were made of the bark paper, but they are now made of ordinary paper bought in the stores. There may be so many of these that they cover the table an inch or two thick. The feasters shove money, usually small pieces of silver, beneath these figures. They then kill turkeys and hens and chickens, and sprinkle the blood from the headless bodies over the munecos. This they do that Montezuma may be propitiated, and give them what they desire; the money and the munecos, sprinkled with blood, are left upon the table after the feast, the former being stolen by passing mestizos.

The presidente stated that, at the pueblito of Santa Maria, where we should go upon the morrow to see some Totonacs, they had just celebrated their annual costumbre. He said that it might be somewhat similar, as they had sent him a headless turkey, as a gift. In the morning, we visited this village accompanied by the two brothers. A half hour's ride brought us to the spot, from which one gets one of the most lovely views in all this picturesque country. Standing on the end of a little spur upon which the village lies, one sees the handsome river below, which separates this municipio from that of Villa Juarez. To the left, rise magnificent mountains covered with brilliant green vegetation, broken here and there by bare rock faces, from the base of which gentle slopes, extending down to the river, are covered with little corn-fields. Cuauhtepec, a Totonac pueblo, where all are said to dress in white, lies upon this stream, and immediately back from it the cultivated fields of the village stretch up to the very crest. To the right, is seen the little ranch Tanchitla, with its fields, a strip of green forest separating these from the fields of the next village, Tlapajualla. The stream abounds in fish of various kinds, which form an important food supply. They are, however, rapidly being destroyed by the practice of exploding dynamite cartridges in the water, by which not only the adult fish, but the young, of all ages, are killed. Unless the practice soon ceases, and there are rigid laws against it, there will soon be no fish left in any of the streams of this whole region. This particular stream bears different names in different portions of its course—thus it is called Tanchitla, Pahuatlan, San Marcos, Caxones, Xico, etc.

Having noticed that here, as at Pahuatlan, the banana trees were badly injured, we learned that this havoc was the result of two recent hail-storms, which were felt over a wide area, and which were of almost unexampled severity. By the time we had enjoyed the outlook, and learned a little of the village, the messenger who had been sent to call the people together had performed his duty, and a picturesque group of our long-sought Totonacs were at hand. The women wear quichiquemils of native cotton cloth, the neck opening of which is over-hemmed with black wool. Lines of crosses, rosettes, birds, etc., are worked in various-colored wools upon them. Many of them have a broad line of color, in geometrical combinations, running vertically up the middle. The men wear cotones of black and white.

Twenty-five or thirty of the more important men of the village were now taken to the schoolhouse, where the presidente inquired, for me, in regard to the costumbre. At first a little hesitancy was shown, but soon all were interested and talked freely. The costumbre comes at about the same time each year, though not upon a fixed date. Its purpose is to secure health, good weather and crops for the coming year, though it may be held on the occasion of pestilence. Everyone, even widows and old maids, brings something for the feast. The celebration is held in some large house, and lasts through two days; floral decorations are arranged in the four corners of the room, candles are lighted, and copal is burned. The first day, each person brings a handful of earth from his field, which is placed in a heap upon the floor. Fowls and animals are slaughtered for the occasion; their heads are cut off and their blood is sprinkled upon the earth. After feasting and drinking, a dance follows, the dancers wearing crowns and necklaces of yellow arnica flowers, and carry in their hands wands made of pine-splints wrapped with corn-husks, and with a flower of arnica tied to each end. The second day, corn on the ear and beans are brought instead of earth, and these are sprinkled with blood. On both days, blood-sprinkled material is carried home, and the seed and earth are later put into the field. In the feasting-room, two paper lanterns are hung from the ceiling; these are stuck over with gilt and colored paper disks and stars. They represent the sun and stars. Upon these lanterns a cross of blood is made, at the time when the earth and seed are sprinkled. After the dance ends on the second day, children shoot at the lanterns with small arrows and try to break them. Disappointed that no mention had been made of bark paper in connection with this ceremonial, we asked whether they ever used it. They answered promptly in the affirmative. For what? To wrap ocotes. With this, the man who told me hastened out and came back with a little parcel in his hand. This consisted of twelve little sticks of pine about three inches long; they were tied together with a band of thread or bark fibre, and were stained with blood; these were wrapped in a piece of green banana leaf, the upper face of the leaf being placed inside and the base of the leaf kept downward. When it had been thus carefully folded, it was carried to the field and buried in a hole, carefully dug, so that the top of the package was close to the surface of the ground, and the face of the leaf wrapping was directed toward the rising sun. To anyone who has studied American indian religions, these two costumbres suggest much of interest.

The young man who had been most interested in our proper understanding of the costumbre was anxious that we should see the village idols. These are kept concealed, apparently in a cave, though it is possible that they are buried in the ground. At all events, they exist, and in considerable number. A lively discussion ensued as to whether it would be proper to show them to us, and it was decided that nothing ought to be done until the old woman, who is at the head of the pagan practices of the village, should be present. It seems that in the costumbre, already described, there are four priests or leaders. One of these is the old woman just mentioned, and the other three are men. She was sent for, and while we waited, we were told that, if we desired to see the lanterns that were used in the last costumbre, they were still preserved in the santocalli. Santocalli is a mongrel word—from Spanish santo, saint, and the Aztec calli, house. It was a little structure of adobe and canes, close to the schoolhouse, and fronting with it upon the little plaza of the village. It had a two-pitched thatched roof and a single door in the front. After some demur, it was opened, and we entered. It consisted of a single plain room with two benches made of beams along the wall. At the back was a terrible Christ and Virgin, and, to the right and behind, another Virgin. These Virgin figures were both small and unattractive, and both wore quichiquemils. In front of the Christ and larger Virgin was a simple altar built against the wall. In the floor, directly in front of it, were four small hollows. To the right of the altar, a flat stone was set into the floor. In front of the altar stood a small table on which were censers and candle-sticks. Underneath this table, the space between the four legs was occupied by a heap of ashes; in front and behind this were ill-defined basin hollows. To beams in front of these were hung the almost globular paper lanterns already mentioned. When we had seen these lanterns, and were about to leave, the old bruja appeared, with her female acolyte. She was furious over the desecration of strangers entering the santocalli, without her presence. She was a striking figure; very small, with a wrinkled, shrewd and serious, but not unkind, face; her white hair was almost concealed by her rebozo, which was folded square and laid upon her head with a portion flowing behind. The most striking thing was her great devotion, and complete unconcern regarding all around her. Entering, she hastened to the altar, knelt,—touched her forehead to the edge—and in a clear but not loud voice crooned an impassioned cry to Christ, to San Jose and to the Virgin. Imperiously turning to her acolyte, she seized the censer filled with copal, and, having lighted it, incensed the figures. Turning to the presidente, she asked whether he were going to placate the saint for invasion by giving aguardiente and candles, both of which appeared, as if by magic, when she was given money. Pouring aguardiente from the bottle into a glass, she poured into the four basins in the ground before the altar, before the Virgin, before and behind the heaps of ashes under the table, and then placed it to the lips of the Virgin and Christ, lovingly requesting them to partake. She then compelled each of the three men priests to make the same libation. Taking the unlighted candles, she made passes with them, over and across the figures, first to one side and then to the other, brushing the wicks against them. This, too, had to be done by the three assistants, after which the old lady began to make vigorous personal use of the bottle of spirits, though she was not at all selfish, urging, not only her acolytes, but the presidente, his brother, and the chief guest, to partake. It was too late to suggest a visit to the idols, but the curious scene we had witnessed gave sufficient food for thought. Hurrying back to Tlacuilotepec, we ate a last excellent dinner, which had been long waiting, and at three left for Pahuatlan. Our host, who had been unremitting in his attention, refused all money. At certain indian houses which we passed upon our homeward way, we saw curious pouches made of armadillo-shells, hanging upon posts or on the house walls. We learned that they were used at planting-time for holding seed-corn. When the shell is freshly removed from the animal, it is bent into the required shape, and then packed full with wet ashes, to make it retain its form in drying. Though it was half-past three when we left, the way was so cool and delightful that we made the journey in three hours.

During our day at Pahuatlan, with a guide furnished by the presidente, I made the journey on foot to Atla, an Aztec town, famous for the little cotton sacks with red wool patterns, which are almost universally carried by men throughout this district. White cotones, with narrow, dark stripes and a transverse band of red decoration at each end, and white quichiquemils, decorated with brilliant designs in red wool, are also made here. Our object was not so much to see the village and the garments, as to visit a famous witch's cave, situated in the noble pinnacle of rock, plainly visible from Pahuatlan. The whole party started out from Pahuatlan, but at the bottom of the great slope, I left my companions to swim, while the guide and I, crossing a pretty covered bridge, scarcely high enough for a man of my height wearing a sombrero, went on. It was a long climb to the village, but, when we reached there, my mozo with great glee called my attention to bruheria directly at the side of the church. In front of the building, to the right of the door as one enters, is a hole in the ground, into which a few large stones have been clumsily thrown or laid. Here chickens, flowers, eggs, etc., are buried, in order to secure good luck or to restore health. Carefully removing some of the stones, we saw ample evidences of such offerings, in bones, bits of egg-shells, and dried flowers. From here, the climb was easy to the crest overlooking the village, and to the curious tower-like mass projecting conspicuously from it. The cave is situated in this mass of rock and faces almost east; it is a shallow cavern, well-sheltered and dry, perhaps fifty feet wide along the cliff's front, though only the eastern third, which is the more completely worn out, is used for ceremonies; it is, perhaps, no more than eight or ten feet deep, and has greater height than depth. Within the cave itself we found a little table, a small chair, and two blocks for seats. On either side of the table, a pole was set obliquely against the wall. The upper end of the left-hand pole was tied with a strip of palm which was looped through a hole in the rock wall. At two or three other places, strips of palm had been slipped through natural holes in the wall, behind bars of stone, and then tied. To the left, were a censer and two candle-sticks, behind which, lying obliquely against the wall, were twenty-five or thirty dance-wands. These were sticks wrapped with corn-husks and tufted with clusters of flowers tied about the middle and at each end. The flowers used were mostly the yellow death-flower and purple ever-lastings. Two or three of them were made with the yellow death-flower—cempoalxochil—alone. A few were made of xocopa leaves. While only twenty-five or thirty were in position, hundreds of old ones lay on the bank to the left. Three small crosses of wood were placed near the wands; much white paper, clipped and cut into decorated designs, was lying about, as also wads of cotton, colored wools, long strings of yarn, and bits of half-beaten bark fibre. Near the front edge of the cave was a hole with large stones; here, with a little scratching, we found feathers and bits of bone of turkeys and hens, that had been sacrificed, as well as splints of pine tied together with bark string. Wooden spoons, probably used in the banquets of the witches, were stowed away in crevices of the rock. Chains of the yellow death-flower were looped up against the wall. It is said that the people of the town never enter here, but only brujas. Nor is it the exclusive property of the witches of Atla, of whom there are but two or three, but those of several pueblos make their rendezvous in this cave. In fact, from the crest, we could see two other little towns that are interested in this cave, though located in another valley.



Don Antonio, at whose house we stayed, told us that San Pablito is worse for bruheria than Atla. He says the people of that town make use of munecos of wood, of various sizes. For these he makes many little shoes, for which he charges five or six reales a pair; at that time he had orders for three pairs, and showed us the little forms or lasts he employs, and the special leather; they are particular about this, using black for shoes for males and red for females. He says they also use little hats, serapes, enaguas and quichiquemils, for their munecos. Some of these dolls they place on the altar in the church, and consider them as sacred, though they remove them when they expect the priest. Others they take to a lake in the district of Tenango, near San Pablo el Grande, and leave them there as offerings. They also throw money and other offerings into the lake.

We started at eight o'clock the following morning, bound for Tenango del Doria. For a little time, after leaving Pahuatlan, we mounted, soon finding ourselves at the top of a magnificent crest. From here the descent was rapid and profound; in front of it rose an equally abrupt slope to an even greater height; toward the left this presented a wonderful knife-edge crest, jagged and toothed astonishingly, and on this great slope, below the level where we were, we saw San Pablito, prettily located. As it was Sunday, most of the people were on their way to market, and we saw many Otomis, whose dark color and broad faces reminded us of those in the state of Mexico, though they did not present so marked a type. The enaguas of the women consisted of an upper white strip and a lower striped one, the colors in the latter being blue and white, or white with a broad band of purplish blue, in which were woven white designs. Their quichiquemil was usually rather plain; white with a broad band of red, magenta or purple, parallel to the edge. It might, however, be decorated with a number of very small geometrical, floral, and animal figures, worked in brown, purple and blue, which were never so crowded as to destroy the white background. At 9:30 we reached the schoolhouse and called out the teacher, to whom we delivered a letter which the presidente of Pahuatlan had given us for him. He summoned the town authorities and we made known our wish to see some of the bark paper. At first there was some hesitancy, but, at last, an old woman produced two sheets which, she said, she made the day before. At our wish she then brought out the tabla, or board of wood on which the beating is done, and the stone for beating. The latter was smaller than the ancient beating-stone, and not grooved upon the beating surfaces; it had, however, the side notches for convenient holding in the hand. The board on which the beating is done is smooth, and is constantly cleaned and soaped. Two kinds of bark are used, moral and xalama, the former giving white, the latter a purplish paper. The bark is thoroughly washed with lye-water taken from soaked maize; it is then washed with fresh water and thoroughly boiled; it is split into thin strips which are carefully arranged upon the board. First the border is laid out the size of the sheet to be made; then, within this, strips are laid lengthwise, side by side. All of this is then beaten with the stone until the sheet of paper results. The paper when finished, presents two sides quite different from each other; one, smooth and finished, is the surface that was below in the beating, while the other, rougher, is the one that was beaten with the stone. The sheets are dried in the sun, carefully folded into convenient size, and done up in packages of a dozen, which are sold to the indians in all the country round about. We secured seventeen dozen sheets of this paper, and samples of the bark, and the board and stone used in the beating.

While arrangements were being made for showing us these details regarding paper-making, we visited the village church, which was very mean and bare; we were disappointed to find nothing suspicious in the way of munecos. It was suggested that we should visit the oratorio, where we found more. Here they held their costumbre in June, or thereabouts. Saints were arranged in the back of the room on a raised altar; in front of this, running through the middle of the room, was a table on which stood censers and small candle-sticks of rude pottery. Upon the wall, over the saints, were decorations of rushes. Here the whole village feast and dance. There were no munecos present, but we found plenty of cut paper, most of which was probably decorative; the most curious was cut into groups of human figures, some of which had crowns and horns, or tufts of hair, upon the top of their heads. These were said to be decorations for Montezuma, in whose honor the feast was given. Leaving San Pablo at eleven, we rapidly made what remained of the great ascent. As we neared the jagged crest of rock, it appeared more irregularly gashed and pinnacled than ever. At the crest, leaving the old road, which passed directly through the fantastic mass of rocks, we reached San Nicolas, from which, on looking backward, we gained a magnificent view of the valley and a fine waterfall, which shone like a sheet of polished metal, far up the mountain side. From here our road descended gently, but winding, in and out, through a series of narrow valleys, lying between parallel ridges. As we passed the crest, we saw a level field of green corn, which looked as if we must reach it in a few minutes. But the curves of the road proved frightfully long. It was after two o'clock before we reached the green field, and, just below it, Tenango del Doria, and made our way to the jefatura.

When the jefe came, we found, to our surprise, that he was the Don Pablo Leyra of whom Xochihua had told us two years before. He is a pure indian, tall, smooth-faced, of gentlemanly manner, and with all the reserve characteristic of his race. He has lived at Huehuetla since boyhood, forty-four years, till just now, and has but recently come to take the position of jefe politico. He has not yet moved his family from Huehuetla, and occupies a single room in his office-building. He secured us a pleasant room, with good beds for the older, and good mattresses for the younger, members of our party, in a house near-by upon the hill. The jefatura fills one side of the little plaza; around the other side are tiendas, with high-pitched single roofs, and private houses. The town suffers much from nublina, and is cold most of the time.



We asked Don Pablo about the lake, concerning which we had heard. He says it is not as much visited as formerly. While used by Otomis, and others of this district, it is most favored by the Huaxtecs, parties of whom go there from long distances. They visit it when there is drought, for fear that the siren, who lives in it, is annoyed at their neglecting to make gifts; when there is too copious rain, they visit it to beg her to desist from sending more, and, when crops have been destroyed, to placate her anger. Sometimes two or three hundred indians are in these companies. They bring munecos of wood, cloth, clay, or even metal; such are shod, clad and hatted. They leave these upon the shore. They also bring seeds and strew them in the water, and some throw money in. They also make offerings of turkeys and hens. Sometimes these bands spend several days on the shore, dancing and eating.

We found that Don Pablo had arranged all our plans. We were to leave at nine, dine at twelve at San Bartolo, leave there at one, and reach Huehuetla between five and six. It was really only a quarter-past-nine when we did start, and the jefe, himself, saw us on our way. The journey was uneventful; the descents were gradual; we saw San Bartolo long before we reached it; and, between it and us, there lay a valley, like a narrow gash, down which we had to go, and up the other side of which we had to climb. We passed Santa Maria, an insignificant town, just before reaching the edge of this gully. From there we saw, in the mountain ahead, above and behind San Bartolo, a great cavern which we believe must belong to witches. Arriving at San Bartolo, we found the market in full progress, and had ample opportunity to see the characteristic dress of the women, with the little black, red and purple designs embroidered upon the white ground. We were impressively received at the town-house, for Don Pablo had telephoned them to be ready. Still, we waited a long time for the promised dinner, but at half-past-one climbed up a steep hill, in the rear of the town-house, to the home of the presidente's father, where a very elaborate meal had been prepared, with wine and luxuries. All payment was refused, and, after we had rested and refreshed ourselves, we left at half-past-two. The road was long; it followed the side of a great gorge, into which it descended abruptly; in this gorge we saw magnificent vegetation. The trees were heavily hung with long vines and ferns; parasitic fig trees, hugging victims whose life sap they were stealing, were abundant. The country was of limestone. On the whole, the road was good, but, here and there, were patches where we traveled over sharp and jagged out-croppings of rock, and near Huehuetla we were forced to make some stiff climbs up the cliff sides. Flocks of parrots were numerous, especially toward evening. The stream was a handsome one, with clear, deep water; we crossed and recrossed many times. The foot-paths rarely crossed, being cut sometimes, as a narrow trail, in the rock of the cliff. Noticeable were numerous silvery lines of water falling over the cliff, several of which must have been hundreds of feet in height; these little threads of water were impregnated with lime, and deposited material in a sheet upon the bank over which they flowed, so that trails of brown tufa marked their location; the lower ends of these deposits expanded into fan-like masses of tufa, over which the water trickled, dripped or fell. Where there was not sufficient water to produce a stream and fall, but enough to keep the tufa moist, the growth of ferns, and other delicate vegetation, was brilliant and striking. We passed a number of coffee and sugar ranches on the road. It was dark long before we reached Huehuetla, and had it not been for the moonlight struggling through the clouds, we should have had difficulty in traveling the last portion of the road. At 7:35 we arrived, and went at once to the large and handsome house of Don Pablo himself, where we were expected, and where an elaborate supper was being made ready. The largest room in the house was put at our disposal and good beds and cots, beautifully clean and carefully made, were ready. Formerly, Don Pablo was the presidente of the town. His successor was at the house to meet us, within five minutes after our arrival, and took supper with us. It is needless to say that in this town we met with no delays in our work. To our surprise, we found a fellow countryman, a civil engineer named Culin, from Philadelphia, who has done and is doing much work for the pueblos of this region.

Huehuetla is a large town, occupying a long valley hemmed in between mountains and bordering a stream. The streets are regular, and the view from the hills about, looking down upon the well-built houses and the intersecting streets, is very pretty. The houses have substantial walls of stone and mud, and many of them are white-plastered outside; all have a thick and heavy thatch. The plaza lies before the house where we stopped, and, to the right, the large church stands on a terrace somewhat above the town. A large school building, finer than many of the best in some large cities, was just being finished; its construction was due to Don Pablo's influence, and it was soon to be occupied. Meantime, the children were given instruction in the church, and at noon and evening, when their lessons were closed, they marched in double file, down the flight of steps in front of the church and across the plaza, where they separated and made their way home. During the time that we were working at this town, when the school children filed past, they always removed their hats in the most respectful manner. While there are many mestizos in the town, it may truly be called an indian town, the largest of those belonging to the Tepehuas. According to Orozco y Berra, Tepehua is not related to any other language in Mexico. We have not studied it sufficiently to be sure that he is right; it is, however, certain that the language has been much affected by the Totonac, if it is not related to it, and many words in the two languages are the same. The people of this tribe have a great reputation, more or less deserved, for cleanliness; probably it is comparative, contrasting with the neighboring Otomis, rather than positive. However that may be, both men and women are usually dressed in clean white clothing. The enaguas of the women are plain white; their belts have a foundation of white cotton, but raised designs of black wool are so thickly worked upon them that the white is quite inconspicuous.

The camisas and quichiquemils are generally white, with a vertical band of red, and with a few animal figures. Women wear many necklaces of bright beads, and braid their hair into two braids, which end with tapes of various colors,—brown, red, green, maroon, and black. These braids are brought together over the head and knotted in place. We secured no women for measure until we had practically completed the work with men, when they came with a rush, the whole twenty-five at once, dressed in their best clothing, and insisted that the work must be done inside the schoolhouse, out of sight, instead of on the street, where we had operated on the men. We had no opportunity to see any of the popular danzas, in some of which, we were told, songs were sung in the Tepehua language, but we did see examples of the little teponastls, or drums, used on these occasions; they are made from a round block, perhaps ten inches long and three inches in diameter; these are hollowed out below, so that two thin lips only are left above, which, when struck, give out far more musical tones than one might expect. The two nights that we were at Huehuetla, we saw men and women fishing in the stream; carrying blazing torches in their left hands, they waded out into the water and watched to see the dark bodies of the fish against the pebbly bottom of the stream; in the right hand they carried a machete, about a foot in length, with which they stabbed the fish, rarely missing.

We were now ready for the last tribe of the season, the Totonacs of Pantepec. Pantepec is in the district of Huachinango, and we had no order from the jefe; Don Valentino, the presidente of Huehuetla, said, however, that the presidente of Pantepec was his friend, and that he would give us a letter of introduction, which would serve all purposes. As we were to return by Huehuetla, we left the busts which we had made, and all but our most necessary baggage, at Don Pablo's house. Though we started at ten, we took the journey slowly, photographing and hunting birds. The road was a trail in a ravine, with all the beautiful scenery with which we now were so familiar. At one point we saw a curious phenomenon. The cliff rose vertically from the water's edge, at a place where the stream made a right angle; this cliff consisted of almost horizontal strata of varying hardness, so that some of the layers were worn a little more than others, leaving these projecting. In the space between these projecting layers, round river-pebbles, from the size of hen's eggs up to the size of a man's fist, were firmly wedged, so that it was with difficulty that they could be dislodged. Not a few, but hundreds of the pebbles, were thus wedged, so regularly and firmly that we could not believe the work to be that of nature, but suspected human hands. We learned, however, that nature really had done the work, on the occasion of a flood, the result of a cloud-burst, which swept into the valley two or three years before. At several places in this stream, we saw groups of from two or three to ten or twelve Totonac indians, who were fishing with little nets. Our trail led back and forth across this stream many times, and before we reached Pantepec we had made thirty-nine crossings. From our last crossing, we climbed a steep ascent, passing the little village of Tenasco, and found ourselves at Pantepec. We rode at once to the town-house, and were told that the presidente was sleeping; we went then to his house, where we were informed that he could not be disturbed. We left word that we must see him as soon as possible, and that he would find us at the municipio. Nearly three hours passed before he put in his appearance. Inasmuch as we had seen this man's jefe, and he knew our errand, we told the secretario to send a message for us to him at Huachinango. We carefully wrote out the message for forwarding, in which we told the jefe, that we had waited three hours for attention from the town officials, and asked how much longer we should put up with delay. We never heard his answer, but in less than ten minutes, the presidente, covered with perspiration, was waiting for our orders and every policeman or the force was ready for our bidding. The message he received from the jefe must have been vigorous, for not only was everything done for our comfort, but work was rushed. During the next day we measured ninety-eight men, photographed twelve subjects, and made moulds for all our five busts—an unparalleled day's labor. We were fortunate in one respect—that the men had been summoned that day for public labor. So far as men were concerned, they gave no difficulty as subjects. With the women it was different, and full half a day was taken in getting together our twenty-five types; not but what there were plenty of them, for our second day at Pantepec was market-day, and the plaza was gay with women, but they did not wish to be measured, and the whole town force, from presidente to the meanest topil, was afraid to meddle with them; at first, too, we had none but the most wretched cases, women broken down and worn out with years of labor. When nearly half our number had passed through our hands, and all presented this same unsatisfactory type, we were forced to make a sharp remonstrance, and only so did we get fair samples of young and middle-aged women.

At Pantepec the centre of the town is mestizo; the Indians consist of Otomis, of whom there are thirty households, and Totonacs forming the bulk of the population. It is easy to distinguish the women of the two tribes by the difference in dress. The quichiquemils are particularly picturesque. Both are more heavily loaded with embroidery than any Indian garments we had ever seen, but the styles of the two decorations are completely different. The quichiquemils of the Otomis are smaller and completely covered with red and black embroidery; those of the Totonacs are much larger, and portions of the white foundations may still be seen, notwithstanding the heavy patterns in brilliant colors—red, green, yellow and blue. Mothers put babies onto one side, with their little legs astride a hip, and then tie them firmly in place with an ayate, or carry-cloth, of cotton, thus leaving their hands free for work or other burdens. If we had difficulty measuring the Totonac women, we had still greater difficulty in photographing satisfactory groups of them. Neither pleadings nor bribes on our part, orders nor threats on the part of the officials, had much influence.

Pantepec is a large town, situated near the edge of the great mountain mass, and looking across a valley, which is backed by what appears to be a flat-topped, straight-edged, table mountain. The houses of the town are scattered over a considerable area upon the slope. The walls are of poles, heavily daubed with mud which is neatly and smoothly laid on. The corners of this mud covering are rounded, instead of angular, as usual elsewhere. The thatch is heavy and firm, and squarely cut along its lower edge, where it projects far beyond the walls. The plaza is above the town-house, and is extremely ugly; a kiosk, which certainly can lay no claim to beauty, stands in the centre; ugly shacks, used as tiendas, border a part of it along the main road. Striking, at this time, in the village were the colorin trees, some of which occurred in almost every enclosure; they were in bloom, and had long, slender, flaming-red, cigarette-shaped flowers, which appeared before the leaves, from trunks that were gnarled and brown and almost branchless. Many popular danzas are celebrated here, but none was taking place during our stay. San Gregorio, the town of paper-making, is not far from Pantepec, and large quantities of the bark paper are beaten in the little village of Ixcoyotla, which belongs to this municipio. Asking an old Otomi whether he knew about this paper, he answered us, with great cunning, that we probably knew as much of it as he did. He finally condescended to state that the munecos of it were used in curing disease; that anyone who has a disease secures one of these munecos and applies it to the diseased part. The presidente insisted that this paper was not made from jonote, but from uli, and that formerly it was much used in making strong and durable belts.



In starting back the next morning, we went down a different slope from the one by which we had come, with the result that we had to cross the stream five times more than before, making the full forty-four crossings, of which we had been warned by Culin while we were at Huehuetla. We made our way leisurely, stopped when we pleased, and at one point noticed a cave, which we had not seen before, just across the stream, at a point where it was at its deepest. The cave was so near the water's edge, that it could only be approached from the stream. The boys swam across and entered it to see if perchance they might find some of the paper figures used in bruheria. They found little of interest within; the walls and rocks were marked with crosses, and on the floor were hundreds of little sticks cut to various lengths. We were glad, indeed, to reach Don Pablo's house, to eat his good supper, and to occupy his good beds. Before we went to bed, Dona Panchita suggested that we ought to see certain munecos kept by a man named Diego, and used as idols by the village. Accordingly, she sent orders that the man should bring his munecos to the house for us to see. To this request, he returned the proper reply, that he would not do so; that they would be offended; that they were not toys to be carried about at the nod and beck of everyone. This greatly increased our interest, and we arranged for a trip to his house. We first sent a messenger forward, with word that we were coming, and ordered him to stay there to see that Diego did not run away or hide the idols. After supper, Dona Panchita, our company, Mr. and Mrs. Culin, and one or two others, picked our way by moonlight across the stepping-stones and foot-bridge, up a trail by coffee groves along a purling brook-side. We were soon at the house, and after some hesitation, Diego led us to the Holy of Holies. The munecos were kept in a little house, which contained an altar built of boards, with fresh flowers for decoration. At the back of the altar, against the wall, were prints of Christian saints; on the altar were censers and an open bundle of copal. Two wooden boxes were at the right end of the altar, against the wall. These contained munecos which, for some time, Diego hesitated to produce. Finally he took out an idol of rather fine-grained, brownish-gray stone; the head was large and infantile, with the Mongolian cast of countenance; its badly shaped and scrawny arms were raised so as to bring the hands together on the chest; the body was shapeless. This figure was clad in a suit of unbleached cotton, much too long and slender for it, and the arms of the camisa, and the legs of the calzones hung limp. When we had duly admired this figure, a second was produced—a pottery female-head, fairly shaped, with no body to speak of; this had glass earrings fastened in the ears. Next, a small headless figure was brought out; it was old, though probably made after the Conquest, and we agreed that it represented a padre. Next was a simple pottery head. Last was a figure, with small head and pointed cap, made apparently of pottery; the body had been pieced out to disproportionate length with wood, and ended in a pair of wooden feet; this was dressed in black velvet, and wore a black hat. These, Diego asserted, were all he had. After having expressed our delight with them, and our regret that we had not known what we were to see, that we might have brought with us some fine white copal as incense for these gods, we set them up in a straight line on the edge of the altar to make a flashlight picture. As we left, we gave Diego two reales to spend for the benefit of his gods. After we left, we were assured that he had finer ones of black stone, which he dresses in red, but we were content with the ones we had seen. These figures are particularly used on September 16th, San Miguel's day. They are also used at sowing-time, at harvest, and at the first cutting of sugar-cane. On these occasions, incense and candles are burned, the idols are taken in the hands, and to the sound of music, worshippers move the figures, causing them to dance. Pleased with this, they give good rains to the faithful worshippers. When there is too much rain, they go in procession to the river, playing music and dancing dolls; when arrived, they peg down many ayates and sacks, made for the purpose, into the water against the flow. These are dams, to stay the flood. On the other hand, when there is drought, a procession carries the idols to a cave, where a feast is given and a dance, with wands of flowers carried in the hands, indulged in.

Though the price for animals from Huehuetla to Las Tortugas was exorbitant, we had agreed to pay it—but told the man that, if he left later than six, it should be cut two dollars. It was long after eight before they appeared, and then it was only our own animals that were ready. We were forced to leave the packing to be done by the man himself without direction; we ourselves hurried along the trail, hardly stopping at San Bartolo on the way, arriving at Tenango at 4:15. Our animals were fagged, and we were soaked to the skin, having travelled through nublina most of the afternoon. Don Pablo received us with his usual courtesy, and had arranged for us to sleep at the same house, where we had been before. At bed-time, our man with the mules had not appeared, and we had received most contradictory and discouraging statements regarding him. He had started at nine with two mules and left half our stuff for another day; he had been seen at the river near San Bartolo with two mules heavily loaded, unable to proceed; he had concluded to stop at San Bartolo for the night, to push on to Tenango the next day, and reach Las Tortugas on the third. Dissatisfied and uncertain, we went to bed; still, we determined to leave at five, and so gave orders to our mozo. We rose at 4:15 and the horses were ready before five. Contradictory stories were again told us regarding our animals. Some said the man had passed with them at five o'clock; others that he had not yet come; others that he had spent the night at Santa Maria. Our foot mozo did not come, and sending the rest ahead, I waited for him. Hardly had they started, when Ramon galloped back to announce that the man was in town, that he had three animals and was nearly ready to leave. As he, himself, had told us that he must leave Tenango at three in order to reach Las Tortugas in time for the train, this was not reassuring. Ramon hastened on with the party. At six the mozo appeared and started at once. In a few minutes we passed our arriero who was packing, but not ready to start. I urged him to hasten, but did not wait. Mist had settled during the night, but it was now rising, and we could see the scenery, which, in wildness and beauty, was almost the equal of anything in Mexico, though with a character quite its own. Our trail ran along the side of a precipice; to our left rose great cliffs presenting almost vertical faces of smooth rock; the summits were jagged, and suggested that the mass consisted of stratified rocks tilted up on end. Just as we left town, two narrow and lofty parallel rocks suggested a gate-way. Further down, a mass was worn out into a sharp column, a little separated from the rock mass behind. On the right, was the precipice, ever abrupt, and sometimes the almost vertical bank of a yawning chasm. After an hour and a half over the fairly good road, we came to a grand ascent. It was magnificent, though difficult. In some spots the road was muddy, and at others it was a series of rough stone steps; at still others, it was the unmodified bed of a mountain torrent. As we followed up this gorge, side-gorges joined it, in which we glimpsed pretty cascades, pits worn by little falls, trees, the trunks of which were covered with thick sheets of green moss, quantities of tree-ferns blighted by the late frost, cliffs, and wild forms of rock, in wonderful variety. At last I reached the summit and overtook Manuel, whose horse was completely fagged, and who had been forced to drop behind; for some time we saw the others before us, but somewhere they took a different trail, and we saw them no more. After a considerable descent, we made our final but easy rise. From here we were on a level road, which constantly improved until near Mepetec, while beyond it, we came to a true cart-road. From here a fine view presented itself, over a forest of pine trees to the clean brown plain so typical of Hidalgo, swept, as we soon found, by the equally typical Hidalgo wind. We rode rapidly from the herreria of the Trinidad to Metepec, and then to Las Tortugas, where we arrived at 11:40, having been five hours and a half upon the road. To our surprise, Louis and Ramon were not there. Having waited some time, as it was almost the hour for the train, we ordered dinner for two, but before we had begun to eat the others appeared. They had taken a short road, which did not go by Metepec, and travelled slowly that we might overtake them. After a good meal, we waited for our man with the pack animals. Meantime the train was preparing, and we watched it, realizing that if we missed it, we had a day of dust and scorching sun and heavy wind before us. The train's crew made all ready, the cry of "Vamonos" was given, and we settled down in desperation to await our tardy man. An hour after the train left, he arrived, received his fee less the two dollars, and started homeward. Twenty-three hours later we took the train, and our season's work was done.



CHAPTER XXI

IN THE HUAXTECA

(1901)

The scenery on the Tampico branch was at its best, as there had been recent rains, and everything was fresh and green. At Tampico, we resisted the attractions of the hotels "where Americans always stop," and went to the unpretentious Pan Cardo. Here we were comfortably located, and early the next morning tried to define our plans. We were in uncertainty as to what towns we should visit in order to examine the Huaxtecs. The ancient Huaxtecs were among the most interesting of Mexican tribes. They are a northern offshoot of that great family, of which the Maya of Yucatan is the type. The linguistic relationship is evident upon the most careless comparison. The ancient area occupied by the Huaxtecs was near the Gulf of Mexico, and on both sides of the Panuco River, near the mouth of which some of their important centres were located. To-day Mexicans divide the Huaxteca into two parts,—the Huaxteca Veracruzana and the Huaxteca Potosina—the former in the state of Vera Cruz, the latter in the state of San Luis Potosi. At first, we thought to visit the latter, but the difficulty of reaching it was presented so forcibly, and the ease of reaching the Huaxteca Veracruzana so emphasized, that we determined upon the latter, and selected the town of Ozuluama for our central point. We could go by canoes across the river to Pueblo Viejo, where we could secure horses for the further journey. We were led to believe that it would be easy to make the trip in a single day. We had arranged for a canoe over night. It belonged in Pueblo Viejo, and it was to come over early in the morning; we were at the wharf at six, ready to start, but no canoe was in sight. Not only so, but a norther was blowing, and comforters, lounging on the wharf assured us that no canoe would come from Pueblo Viejo until the storm ceased, which would not be for twenty-four hours. We were loath to believe this information, and brought all our baggage from the various storing-places, where we had left it, out onto the wharf. Time passed; the norther continued, and no canoe from Pueblo Viejo came. Thinking that it might be possible to secure a canoe from here to Pueblo Viejo, we dickered with a boatman at the wharf. We had agreed to pay for the canoe ordered $1.00 for the journey, which was something more than the regular price. The man with whom we now were talking declared that he would not take us across for less than $3.50. We were on the point of yielding to necessity, when a rival appeared and offered to do the work for $2.50. Such is human perversity that we now insisted that he must go for $2.00, which he finally agreed to do. Hurrying away to get his canoe, he soon appeared, and our hearts sank. The man who had demanded $3.50 had a large, well-built boat, which should stand any wind and water. The man whom we had engaged had a canoe so narrow, low, and small that we doubted his ability to perform his contract; however, he assured us that all would be well, and showed himself so skilful in packing our stuff into his boat, that we ourselves embarked, and started down the little lagoon in his canoe. So long as we remained in this narrow, sheltered stream, all was well; but when he poled from its mouth out to the open river, we found it a different matter. More than this, we saw two or three canoes dancing over the white caps, and managed with great difficulty, although not loaded. The courage of our boatman was a little dashed; he suggested that we leave Ramon, Louis, and Manuel on an old scow standing on the bank and fast going to ruin, while he poled myself and the luggage over, after which he would return for my companions. This seemed good sense, and the boys were left behind. It was interesting to see the skill with which the man handled our rather awkward craft, loaded at it was almost to the water's edge. He had no motive power but his long pole. We did not ship a single drop of water, and at last entered the quiet, broad, canal-like lagoon on the other side of the river. A moment more, and we were unloading our luggage onto the shore. To do this, we were forced to wade through mud up to the knees. But at last all was safe, and with his empty canoe, our boatman started merrily back for his other passengers. When they arrived, only a few minutes were necessary for reloading the canoe, and we started up the lagoon. Little side lagoons opened frequently into the one through which we passed. At their mouths were V-shaped weirs of stakes, driven into the bottom and wattled together with flexible twigs. These were open at the mouth, and in the openings were set dip-nets, which could be lowered into the water. Just now, with the heavy norther blowing, thousands of camaron (shrimps) were driven into the nets, and at each one we saw fishermen busily occupied. The lagoon abounded in water-birds of many kinds, and hardly had we entered it, when Louis shot a pretty, small white heron.

Believing that the owner of animals to whom we had been referred was demanding too high a price for his horses and mules, we decided to see what the town authorities would do for us, and went to the municipio. The presidente told us, with delight, that the jefe politico of Ozuluama was there with his family, rusticating, and at once summoned him to meet us. He was a gentlemanly fellow, who told us that the price demanded was regular, but advised us to travel in a different way. "Here," he said, "you can get a large canoe; starting now, you can travel all night; reaching La Llave in the early morning, you can get horses and go the seven leagues remaining comfortably. Take a little something to eat before you start, and carry something for the way." This seemed an opportunity for a new experience, and, though the price was little, if any, less than we were asked to pay for animals, we decided to try it. Arrangements were begun at once, breakfast ordered, and a light lunch prepared for carrying. Meantime, the jefe told us that there were few Indians in Ozuluama, but that in Citlaltepec we would find abundance. He gave us orders to his secretario, who represented him during his absence, and bade us god-speed. We left at one o'clock, in a great canoe, a heavy, timber-framed boat, propelled by long poles, by oars in quiet and deep water, and by a clumsy sail. A framework of poles, covered with matting, roofed over the middle of the boat, and a piece of matting was spread upon the floor. Hanging blankets to shelter ourselves from the heavy wind yet blowing, we busied ourselves variously, the boys skinning birds which they had shot, and I making up my various notes. The lagoon which we now entered was a large stretch of open water. We raised our sail, and made easy work. Having crossed the large lagoon, we entered the mouth of what probably would be considered a fair-sized river, which at first was closely bordered by a tangle of trees and vines, and presented a truly tropical appearance. Palms were abundant, and, here and there, one of unusual size towered high above the rest. The other trees were densely hung with long gray moss. Now and then, we disturbed alligators along the banks, and we were told that snakes were abundant in the grass. The quantity of water-birds was astonishing—great and small white herons, large blue herons, little blue herons, the curious, dark wry-necks, and ducks by thousands. The positions and attitudes of these long-necked and long-legged birds, in the water and on the trees, were curious and striking. The boys kept busy shooting and skinning birds all the afternoon. In the evening, the men built a fire with charcoal in a tin-lined box in the end of the canoe, and toasted tortillas and made coffee. The awning was scarcely large enough to cover the whole party comfortably, when we lay down to sleep, but we wrapped up in blankets and spread mats for beds. We suffered intensely with the cold, sleeping little. At five o'clock our boat came to a stop along the bank, and at six it was light enough to disembark and explore. Climbing up a little bank of clay, we found ourselves on a flat meadow, covered with grass and weeds, through which narrow trails ran to a few scattered palm-thatched huts. With a letter from the jefe, we called at Senora Mora's house. This lady was a widow, whose husband had but lately died; she was well to do, and promised to supply us with animals after we should have had our breakfast. This was long preparing, but at last good coffee, fine enchiladas and cheese were served, and, after eating heartily, we found six animals ready for us. When we asked for our account, the good lady replied that the bill was $2.00. It was plain that she had made no charge for either breakfast or animals, but only something for the boys whom she sent along to bring back the beasts. At about eleven, we started on what was called seven leagues, but what was certainly the longest nine leagues we had travelled for a long time. We had excellent horses that kept up a steady jog. Still, it was after five when we reached Ozuluama. The journey was for the most part over a llano, thicket-covered and sprinkled, here and there, with groves of palm; the soil was dark clay, which in spots, wet by recent rains, was hard travelling for the animals. We caught sight of the town, prettily located upon a hill-slope, about an hour before we reached it. From it, we looked out over an extensive stretch of dark green plains, broken, here and there, by little wooded hillocks, none of them so large as that upon which Ozuluama itself is situated. Riding to the town-house, the secretario was at once sent for. He ordered supper, and put a comfortable room, behind the office, at our disposal. On the back porch, just at our door, was chained a tiger-cat. It belonged to the jefe, and was a favorite with his little children, but since they had been gone, it had been teased until it had developed an ugly disposition. It was a beautiful little creature, graceful in form and elegantly spotted. But it snarled and strove to get at everyone who came near it. The secretario at once told us that Citlaltepec was not the point we ought to aim for, as it was purely Aztec; our best plan was to go to Tamalin, where we would find one congregation of Huaxtecs. From there, if we needed further subjects, we might go to Tancoco, although it did not belong to this district, but to that of Tuxpan. In the course of our conversation, I was reminded that Ozuluama is the home of Alejandro Marcelo, a full-blooded Huaxtec, who once published a book upon the Huaxtec language. Expressing an interest in meeting this man, he was sent for. He is far older than I had realized, celebrating his 74th birthday that very week. He was a man of unusual intelligence and most gentle manner. At nine o'clock next morning, supplied with new animals, we started for Tamalin, said to be thirteen leagues distant. We were well mounted, and the journey was much like that of the preceding day. For three hours we were impressed with the loneliness of the road; no people were to be seen anywhere. Here and there, set far back from the road, were country houses. The road itself was an extremely wide one, cut through a woods, which consisted for the most part of low and scrubby trees, with scattered clumps of palm trees here and there. Usually the trail was single, but where we came on mud patches, many little trails were distributed over the whole breadth of the road. Here and there, where there were particularly bad spots, into which our horses would have sunk knee-deep, we were forced to take trails back among the trees. While the earlier part of the journey was through rolling country, we came at noon into a true plain, though wooded. We found many cross roads, broad and straight, cut through the woods, and were impressed by the great number of dry barrancas into which we had to descend, and out of which we had to climb. Most of these were actually dry, but many of them contained a dirty pool of stagnant water. At many places, the road was bordered with plants, the leaves of which somewhat resembled those of the pineapple. They were light green in color, narrow and long-pointed at the upper end, and spiny along the sides. This plant, named guamara, bears spikes of yellow fruits which are pointed at the upper end, but in color, size, texture, structure and taste reminded us of podophyllum, though it leaves a prickly sensation in the mouth, much like that produced by fresh pineapples. There were also many trees bearing little limes or lemons, of which we gathered abundance for making lemonade. At two o'clock our man pointed out a ranch-house near the road, in front of which two men sat eating, and told us we could procure food and drink there if we wished, and that we had plenty of time for stopping. We found the men at the table to be the parish priest of Tantima and his servant. The priest informed us that Tamalin was three and three-fourths leagues away, while Tantima was four. The road for the greater part of the distance to the two places was the same. We had an interesting conversation with the good priest, and for the first time we met the curious prejudice, which exists throughout this portion of the Huaxteca, against the Huaxtecs, and in favor of the Aztecs. We were kept waiting some little time for our dinner, but by three o'clock were again upon our way. Just as we started, we crossed the first true stream which we had met, but during the balance of the journey we crossed one or two others. Soon, leaving the main road, we bore off to the left, and found several bad spots of stiff black mud, into which our poor animals sank frightfully. After five o'clock we saw, from the slope on which we were, for we had left the llano and were again in rolling country, a little village, and higher and further to the left, a second. The first of these was Gutierrez Zamora, which is Huaxtec, with a few Mexican families living at one side; the second was our destination, Tamalin. We passed through Gutierrez at six, and reached Tamalin at seven.

The alcalde of the village was not there; in fact, we suspect that he but rarely is. The secretario, likewise, was absent. We finally prevailed upon his brother to help us to find an indian girl to cook our meals, and a room in the secretario's house. In this room there was but a single bed and our helper thought me very particular in demanding that petates should be brought as beds for my companions. He assured us that, when he traveled, he slept upon the floor, without petates. It was long after 10 o'clock before we had supper and secured a resting-place. We had planned to push out from here the following morning; no sign, however, of our baggage had appeared, and we were forced to spend two days at Tamalin waiting for its coming. Here, too, we found that there were no Huaxtecs, the town being, so far as it was indian, purely Aztec. We decided, therefore, to try Tancoco, returning, if need be, to Gutierrez. Both Gutierrez and Tancoco were in the district of Tuxpan. Fortunately, we still carried our last year's letter from the governor of Vera Cruz to serve us with the local authorities, as it would be most inconvenient to go to Tuxpan for orders. Seeing that it was impossible to leave that day, I walked in the afternoon to Tantima to visit the priest. Between the two towns rises a fine, high rock hill. The ascent from Tamalin was in three slopes, with short levels between; the crest was but a few yards wide; the descent to Tantima was abrupt and short. From the summit we looked down upon the pretty, level, enclosed valley occupied by a rather regular town, built about a large plaza which, the day being a market day, was gay with booths and people. I met almost the whole population of Tamalin on my way over, as they returned from market. All the men were drunk; some were so helpless that they sprawled upon the road, while others were being helped by their more sober comrades. I reached the plaza just thirty-seven minutes after leaving Tamalin, and at once telegraphed to Ozuluama about the baggage. When I inquired for the priest's house, the telegraph operator informed me that the padre had told him all about us and our errand and that he would accompany me to the curato. Crossing the square, we found the padre living in a comfortable place, close by the great, pretentious, stone church. We were warmly welcomed, and orders were at once given for coffee. The Aztec servant hastened to bring some, piping hot, and was quite abashed at being sharply reproved for offering it directly to me. No, indeed, a gentlemen so distinguished was not to be thus served; the table was moved up before my chair, a clean cloth spread, sweet cakes were sent for, a glass of fresh milk placed, and then the coffee was set upon the table. Thus, in solitary grandeur, I sat and ate and drank, while the priest and operator took their cups of coffee in their hands. Though we had ordered horses for the following morning, the baggage had not come, and we waited all the day. Strolling around the village, we found it a pretty place, through which ran a fine stream, separating the houses into groups or clusters. It is a true Aztec town, and the houses are well-constructed. Several houses are set irregularly within a single enclosure; the walls are built of poles set upright, but these are so heavily daubed with a mixture of mud and chopped straw that they are strong and durable. In applying this daub, the hand is used, and a simple block of wood of rectangular form, with a projecting edge extending midway of the upper side, is used as a trowel for spreading it, and giving it a smooth finish. The thatchings are thick, and project far beyond the walls; they are of palm, and neatly cut at the edges; a cresting, thin, but evenly placed and firmly pegged down, projects over the ridge, down either slope, and its edges form the only break in the smooth surface. Many of the houses had temascals, differing considerably from those of Puebla and Tlaxcala. They are rectangular; the walls are built of poles, set upright, close together, and strengthened by being lashed to a horizontal timber set midway of their height. The roof is a round vault or arch of poles set lengthwise. The whole is neatly plastered over with a mixture of mud and chopped straw, and in the front a cross is worked in the clay mixture, to insure good fortune. The women here wove cotton in the usual indian fashion, but few wore the old dress, and those few were mostly aged. We noticed quantities of pottery here, and throughout the Huaxteca, but none of it is local in manufacture. Most of it has come from the two towns, Huejutla, an Aztec town, and Panuco. We were forced to spend a third night at Tamalin. The secretario had been at home for two days and had fairly done his duty; still, our animals were late when we were ready to start the following morning, and we were not off until 9:30. It was a steady climb, over a long series of ascents, until we reached a crest from which Tancoco could be seen. We made a long descent and then a little upward climb to the town, which is notable for its cleanliness and the industry and cleanness of its inhabitants. The town is situated upon a little hill, from which one looks out on a sea of green forests, with little rocky hillocks covered with trees rising from it, here and there, like wooded islands. Between us and Tamalin rose a semi-circle of ridges, sweeping from us off to the left and forward in the distance. In front, near the top of this curve of ridges, two leagues distant, lay Amatlan, clear and impressive, from this point. Riding up to the little town-house, which had a portico enclosed by a neat railing and supplied with pine benches, we dismounted, and, with some doubt as to its reception, presented our old letter. The secretario was an intelligent mestizo from Tuxpan. He sent at once for the alcalde, who was a good-natured, little Huaxtec, of pure blood, thoroughly dependent upon his subordinate officer. We were promised everything. The schoolhouse, remarkably clean, was put at our disposal, and a messenger was sent to notify an old woman named Guadelupe that she was to prepare our meals. Before four o'clock, work was under way, and during the two days that we remained, there were no difficulties. The houses of the town are somewhat like those of Tamalin, but less well built. The single industry is the weaving of hats from palm. On the house-roofs, and on the ground before the houses, palm was drying. Some of the work was extremely delicate, and the four grades of hats sell for from four pesos upward. Men, women and children are all occupied in the manufacture, and as they sit in their houses or at the door of an evening, or as they walk through the village on errands, their hands are ever busily occupied with the plaiting. There is absolutely nothing characteristic in dress, both men and women dressing like mestizos in the important cities of the Republic. Almost every one wears shoes; women, those with high French heels. A resident tailor makes the bulk of the clothing for the more particular men of the town. In our school-room we were supplied with good kerosene lamps, an experience almost unique. Few, if any, of the houses in the village were without the same mode of light. Many, if not all, of the women had sewing-machines.



We were more than ever impressed with the anomalous condition of these people in their own land. They were the cleanest, most industrious, best dressed and most progressive indians whom we had seen in any part of Mexico; but in the Huaxteca, the land which bears their name, they are being crowded by the less progressive Aztecs. Mestizos and Aztecs both speak of them with contempt, and treat them like dogs. As for their language, it is neglected and despised; while many of them know both Spanish and Aztec, neither mestizo nor Aztec considers it worth while to know a word of Huaxtec. While we had no trouble with the men, we began to feel that the women would fail us. It was after five o'clock, the last day of our stay, before a single one appeared. Then they came in a body, accompanied by the full town force, and each with her husband as a guard, to our quarters. They were dressed in their best calico, muslin, silk and satin, with laces and artificial flowers, earrings, necklaces, and with shoes the heels of which measured from thirty to thirty-five millimeters. They were perfumed; their hair was heavily oiled with odorous greases. Each shook hands with our whole party, greeted us politely, and sat down on the long school-benches, waiting for her turn for measurement. Notwithstanding this rather oppressively lady-like mode of procedure, we were assured by old Guadelupe that our errand and work in the town had caused much terror and doubt, the women particularly feeling sure that it boded ill. It was said that they recalled the fact that years ago certain of their old men predicted that strangers would eventually come to the village, who would bewitch the people and destroy the town. It was commonly believed that we were now fulfilling this prediction.

The physical type of the Huaxtecs seems to be well marked. A peculiar gray tint underlies the brown color of the skin. The head is short, broad, and curiously compressed behind; the eyes are wide apart, and frequently oblique; the mouth is large, with thick but not projecting lips.

We had planned to leave about the middle of the afternoon, and at 3:50 the best animals we have ever had were ready for our use. A magnificent horse, the special pride of the alcalde himself, was put at my disposal. When we came to settle for the animals, all payment was refused, their use being the voluntary offering of the town officials. The animals made nothing of the journey, and within an hour and a half we had again reached Tamalin.

We found that Aztec town as disagreeable as ever. Solemn promises had been made that various danzas should be ready for us, and that there should be no delay regarding animals. Of course, we found nothing doing. The only satisfactory memory connected with the town is our cook, Porfiria. She was a master hand, and with training, should make a reputation and a fortune. A pure indian, we would rather eat at her table than at that of any half-breed cook in all that section. She always had quantities of food, and no two meals were alike. Unless we expressly ordered something we had had before, it is doubtful whether she would have repeated a single dish. Her enchiladas, seasoned with cheese and onions, were the best we ever had, and after the first experience, we insisted on having them at every meal. Her masterpieces were in simple maize. Her tortillas were good, but tortillas one finds everywhere; she served cocoles, chavacanes, and pemol. Cocoles are round, flat biscuits or cakes of maize, a couple of inches across and half an inch in diameter; they contain shortening, and when served hot, are delicious. Chavacanes are thin, flat square crackers of corn-meal with shortening and eggs; they are good even when cold, but are best when hot from the griddle. Pemol is a corn-cake, crumbly, sweet, and baked; it contains sugar and shortening, and is made up into the form of rather large cakes, shaped like horse-collars.

As the result of vigorous remonstrance, the secretario really had the danza of los Negros at his house that night. Music was furnished by pito and huehuetl. The two performers, one representing a Spaniard and the other a negro, were masked. The action was lively, and the dialogue vociferous—both players frequently talking at once. The dance was kept up until nearly ten o'clock, after which, as we planned an early start, we were soon in bed. Just as we were dropping off to sleep, we heard the whistling and roaring of the norther outside, and the cold air found its way through every crack into our room. From our house the musicians and the dancers had gone to the syndico's, where they stayed some time; but, between one and two in the morning, they came back to our house and played in the room next to ours, with the door wide open. Our interest was not great enough to lead us forth again. Finally they left, but at four o'clock the musicians, now quite drunk, appeared again, and for a long time the secretario, his lady, and the school-master, danced in lonely grandeur up and down the room.



Don Leandro, the secretario, had promised to accompany us the following morning as far as San Geronimo. We had decided to go on horseback to Paso Real, a little distance beyond San Geronimo, and there take boat for Tampico. When morning came, we expressed surprise over Don Leandro's charging rent, in addition to the rather large price which we had already paid for beds. This seemed to hurt his sensitive feelings, with the result that we started without his company. The ride was monotonous, over a road which made few ascents or descents, and presented little of variety or interest. Little green hills bordered the road on either side, and on many of them were ranch-houses, some of rather good construction. In a little stream over which we passed, we saw a great idol's head, of stone, a foot or more across, and well made. San Geronimo we found to be the comfortable country-house of the alcalde of Tamalin and all the ranches among which we had made our journey. It was a fine old place, with high airy rooms, good verandas, and an old-fashioned tile roof. Our journey had been hot, and we found a fine breeze blowing through the house. The alcalde knew all about our errand and was ready to be helpful. He was a tall, slender, mild-mannered and polite mestizo. After we had eaten, he rode with us to Paso Real to arrange about a boat and point out various objects of interest on the way. Chapapote, from which chewing gum is made, is an important product here, and among those interested in it as a business is an American dentist. We saw many birds, among which doves were conspicuous; the alcalde says that six or eight species occur here, the different kinds singing at different seasons; one of them had a peculiarly sad and mournful song, and is heard in the early morning. Another bird, the primavera, seems to be like our mockingbird, imitating the notes and cries of many other birds and animals. At two places we passed black lines of foraging ants, and he told us that insects, frogs, toads, and even snakes, encountered by these lines, are helpless, being promptly overcome and devoured. Arrived at Paso Real, the alcalde arranged for our boat. He told us that loaded boats require three days for making the journey to Tampico, but that ours, being empty, would probably go through in twenty-four hours. The boat he arranged for had been partly loaded, but its owner had agreed to unload in order to receive us. As a favor to him, we consented to permit five or six not large boxes to go along. Having ordered supper for us at the house upon the summit from which the road descended to Paso Real, the alcalde left us. Supper was slow, but at last was over. Our baggage had already been carried to the boat, and we strolled down to take our passage. Less room was left for us than we had expected the boxes would leave, but it was dark and we raised no question. We waited an impatient hour for our canoemen to take their supper, being almost devoured by mosquitoes, but at last were off at nine o'clock. Our force consisted of two men and a little lad. It was with difficulty that two could be accommodated beneath the awning, and Manuel and I took our places outside. For my own part, sleep was impossible. Now that we were in motion, the mosquitoes ceased to trouble us. The stream was narrow, and on account of the curves, we were forced to move slowly. We floated out under and beneath bamboos, which hung far over the water and outlined themselves like lace-work against the sky. At first, there was moonlight. Later, the moon set, but the stars were brilliant. The early morning was cold, and a heavy dew dampened everything outside the awning. During the day our men stopped on every pretext to rest and sleep, and whenever we came to a considerable stretch of water, any sign of storm or cloud was heralded. Just before daybreak, we had reached the beginning of the first large lagoon. Here our sail was hoisted, though it was of little use, while we poled along near shore, following all the long curves. Our first stop, on account of a norther, was exciting; from the anxiety of the men, we expected to be instantly upset. We ran into the mouth of a little stream and lay to, and the men were almost instantly asleep. Our party went out exploring; our landing place was a heap of shells, whether artificial or natural I am not sure; the place was a favorite spot with hunters of caimans, or alligators, and we found numbers of almost complete skeletons and skulls lying on the banks. The boys picked up quantities of scales and teeth, and it was interesting to see how the new conical teeth grow up under the hollows of the old ones. We killed a duck or two for supper. One or two large caimans were seen, as we strolled along. Finally, I insisted upon the men starting again. We were traversing a system of great lagoons which opened one into another. Poling was our only mode of progress. That night Manuel and I occupied the shelter. When we rose, we found the great lagoon, through which we were then passing, quite different in its character from those preceding it. Thickets of mangroves bordered the shore; the display of aerial roots was interesting, and here we were able to examine the curious smooth tips of the roots which are to penetrate the soft mud bottom. We landed at one place to get wood and to catch a glimpse of the sea, whose roaring we had for hours heard. We left our boat in the lagoon, and walked a short distance over sand dunes, thickly grown with trees, to the beach, which only appeared in sight when we reached the top of the last dune. It was a gently sloping sandy stretch, upon which a fine surf was beating. There were no pebbles save bits of water-worn coral and shell. Quantities of sea-gulls were flying about and flocks of little snipe ran down over the retreating surf, catching food, turning and running rapidly in before the coming wave. A single shot into the flock killed thirty-one of the little creatures, which later in the day supplied us an excellent meal. From this lagoon of mangroves, we finally entered the great lagoon of La Riviera, which pretty town we passed a little before three o'clock. From here we knew that, by hiring horses, we could reach Tampico in two hours; had we really known what lay before us, we would have done so. Having passed La Riviera, we entered a narrow canal, bordered for the most part with tall, flat rushes and a great grass much like our wild rice. Here again we saw large herons and great kingfishers; the boys had repeatedly tried to shoot one of the latter birds, but with no success; finally, one was seen standing on the branch of a tree hanging over the stream; this one was shot, and when we picked it up, we found it to be curiously distorted, the breast being strangely swollen. When skinned, this swelling proved to be due to a fish which the bird had eaten, and which was almost as large as itself. Weighted with this heavy burden, it is no wonder that the bird had been shot so easily. At dusk we found ourselves at a landing-place, where we left the boxes, which turned out to be eight in number, each of which weighed one hundred and twenty-five pounds. They contained chapapote. Our men had talked much of the canal, to which, for some time, we had been looking forward. At this landing, arrangements were made for helping us through the canal, a little canoe being despatched after us, to help unload us. When we reached the canal, narrow, shallow and straight, cut for the most part through the solid rock, the moon was shining brightly. Our great canoe was soon aground, and whole party, seven in number, climbed out into the water to push and pull. We dislodged it soon, but shortly came to a complete standstill. Here for the first time, we realized the cargo which we carried, which before had been carefully covered so that we really were in ignorance of it. Eighty half-dozen cakes of sugar were unloaded into the little canoe, which paddled away. We waited, noting with regret that the falling water, probably due to tide, was fixing our canoe more and more firmly in the mud. Finally, the little canoe came back, taking another eighty half-dozen cakes of sugar on board. Our canoe having been thus lightened, we made another effort to move it, and, after many struggles and groans, finally found ourselves in deeper water, embarked, and poled off. Having reached the place upon the bank where the canoe loads had been left, we stopped to freight again. To our surprise, we found here once more the eight boxes of chapapote, which, apparently, had been carted across. We were now able to calculate the load which our "empty" canoe, hired at thirty pesos, in order to take us quickly through to Tampico, was carrying:

120 dozen cakes of panela, of 2 lbs 2,880 lbs. 8 boxes chapapote, of 125 lbs 1,000 lbs. 6 sacks of beans, of 100 lbs 600 lbs.

Total 4,480 lbs.

In other words, we had been crowded and delayed by more than two tons of cargo. Perhaps, had we been actually alone in the boat, it might have made its journey in the twenty-four hours promised, instead of the sixty of accomplishment. It was nine o'clock when we were again aboard, and we made the boatman travel all night long. At the stroke of half-past-three we heard the bells of Tampico, and drew up along the waterside-landing of that city. For two full hours we lay there, listening to the buyers bartering with the boatmen for their load of maize, frijol and panela until daylight, when we gave orders to unload.



CHAPTER XXII

IN MAYA LAND

(1901)

We had planned to go from Tampico to Chiapas, and from there to Yucatan, where we were to finish our work for the season. We found, however, that there was no certainty in regard to a boat for Coatzacoalcos, while the Benito Juarez was about to sail for Progreso the next day. Not to lose time, we decided to do our Yucatan work first, and to let Chiapas wait until later. We were busy that day making arrangements for departure, and in the afternoon hired a canoe to take our stuff from the wharf to the boat, which was standing out in the river, beyond Dona Cecilia. There was a brisk wind against us, and we almost arrived too late to have our luggage taken aboard. The next morning, we took the first train to Dona Cecilia, and were on board the boat at nine o'clock. We had been told that the sailing would take place at ten, but, on arrival, found that they were waiting for cattle which were being brought across country. One hundred and twenty head were to make our chief cargo, and they were expected at six a.m. Nothing, however, was to be seen of them in any direction. We had taken breakfast, and it was almost twelve o'clock before the first signs of the animals were to be seen. Meantime, at eleven, a norther appeared, and we were informed that it would be impossible to leave short of twenty-four hours. Besides our company, there were three first-class passengers—a sort of German-Austrian baron and his lady, and a contractor, who was taking a force of hands to Yucatan for farm labor. Eighty-three of these hands were our third-class passengers; they had been picked up all along the line of the Tampico Branch of the Central Railway, and few of them realized the hardships and trials which lay before them. We were assured that more than half of them would surely die before the end of their first year in Yucatan. As we could not leave until the norther passed, it was decided not to take the cattle on board until next day. Thus we spent a day as prisoners on the boat, standing in the river. In the morning the water was still rough and the wind heavy, but at 9:30 the loading of the animals began. They were brought out on a barge, about one-half of the whole number to a load; tackle was rigged and the creatures were lifted by ropes looped around their horns. The first few were lifted singly, but after that, two at once. While it sounds brutal, it is really a most convenient method, and the animals, though startled, do not seem to be injured in the least, nor indulge in much kicking. By 11:40 all were loaded and we were ready for our start. We had to wait until the customs-house inspector should come on board to discharge us, and this was not done until half-past one. We sailed out, between the jetties, at two o'clock, and found the Gulf rough, and a high wind, which continued through most of our voyage. The smell from the cattle was disagreeable, and between it and the roughness, all were seasick before the first afternoon was over.

Captain Irvine is the youngest captain of the Ward Line, being but twenty-six years of age. He has followed the sea since he was thirteen years old. A Nova Scotian by birth, he has sailed this coast for some little time, and is a competent official, doing his utmost for the pleasure and convenience of his passengers. The journey was uneventful. There was some excitement among the third-class passengers, many of whom were drunk and quarrelsome. The first evening, two of them were fighting, with the result that the head of one was split open and had to be dressed by the captain. When we had been some forty-eight or fifty hours at sea, we found ourselves off the Campeche banks, in quieter water. Those who had suffered from sickness were again quite themselves. It was 4:30 Sunday morning, February 3, after we had been almost three days and three nights at sea, and four days on the boat, that the Progreso light was sighted, and not long after we came to anchor. We waited from six o'clock until almost ten for lighters and the doctor. After he had made his inspection, we piled off with all our baggage onto a little steamer, which charged three dollars, each passenger, for taking us to the pier, which was close by, and to which our own boat could easily have run. This, however, was but the beginning of Yucatecan troubles. When we found ourselves on the wharf, the customs officials insisted upon our going to the general office for inspection, on account of the character and amount of our luggage. Arrived there, we found that we had no clearing papers for our stuff, and forty dollars duty was required for material which had already paid duty in entering Mexico, and which had only gone from one Mexican port to another, as baggage. In vain we argued and attempted to explain matters. The officials advised us to bring the American consul and have him straighten matters; but his office was shut, as it was Sunday. Meantime, we saw the train, which we had expected to take at 11:30, leave for Merida, and at twelve o'clock the customs-house offices were closed, and we were forced to leave the business for another day. Fortunately, there are two railroads from Progreso to Merida, and we were able to take an afternoon train over the narrow-gauge line for the capital city. The station was an enormous, wooden, barn-like structure; the cars were weather-beaten and dilapidated to a degree—except the first-class car, which was in fair condition. Passengers were gathering, but no particular signs of the starting of a train were evident. Boys at the station were selling slabs of pudding, squares of sponge cake soaked with red liquor, pieces of papaya, cups of sweetened boiled rice, and oranges. The oranges were unexpectedly high in price, two selling for a medio; the seller pares off the yellow skins and cuts them squarely in two before selling; the buyer eats merely the pulp, throwing the white skin away. As train-time neared, interesting incidents occurred. The ticket-agent was drunk and picked a quarrel with a decent, harmless-looking indian; the conductor dressed in the waiting-room, putting on a clean shirt and taking off his old one, at the same time talking to us about our baggage-checks. A fine horse, frisky and active, was loaded into the same baggage-freight car with our goods. The bells were rung as signals, and the station locked; the whole management—ticket-agent, conductor and baggagemen—then got upon the train and we were off. At one of the stations the ticket-agent took his horse out from the car, and riding off into the country, we saw no more of him.



The country through which we were running was just as I had imagined it. Though it was supposed to be the cold season, the day was frightfully hot, and everyone was suffering. The country was level and covered with a growth of scrub. There was, however, more color in the gray landscape than I had expected. Besides the grays of many shades—dusty trees, foliage, bark and branches—there were greens and yellows, both of foliage and flowers, and here and there, a little red. But everywhere there was the flat land, the gray limestone, the low scrub, the dust and dryness, and the blazing sun. There were many palm trees—chiefly cocoa-nut—on the country-places, and there were fields of hennequin, though neither so extensive nor well-kept as I had anticipated. It resembles the maguey, though the leaves are not so broad, nor do they grow from the ground; the hennequin leaves are long, narrow, sharp-pointed, and rather thickly set upon a woody stalk that grows upright to a height of several feet. The leaves are trimmed off, from season to season, leaving the bare stalk, showing the leaf-scar. The upper leaves continue to grow. In places we noticed a curious mode of protecting trees by rings of limestone rock built around them; many of these trees appear to grow from an elevated, circular earth mass. At Conkal, the great stone church magnificently represented the olden time, but it bore two lightning rods and was accompanied by two wind-mills of American manufacture. Everywhere, in fact, the American wind-mill is in evidence. One can but wish that the poor users of the old cenotes might come to life, and, for a little time, enjoy the work of the winds in their behalf. Everywhere we saw plenty of Maya indians and heard something of the old language. All travellers to Yucatan comment on the universal cleanness of the population; notable in the indians, this marks equally well the mestizos, whites and negroes. They are not only clean, but all are well dressed. Men wear low, round-crowned, broad-brimmed palm hats; trousers are rarely of the tight-fitting Mexican kind; indians who work at heavy labor protect their clean white shirts and drawers with a strip of stuff, like ticking, wrapped about them. Women wear two white garments, both ample, hanging from the neck, bordered with black or colored bands. They generally wear long necklaces or rosaries, the beads of which are spaced with gold coins, and a cross of gold or a medal of the same material hangs at the bottom. Women of middle age are usually stout, and march with quite a stately tread.

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