Almost all the carreteros at this camp were Juchitecos. They were great, strong fellows, and almost all of them wore the old-fashioned indian breech-clout of red cotton under their drawers or trousers. When they were working at their carts, greasing the wheels, or making repairs, they were apt to lay by all their clothing but this simple piece of cloth, and their dark-brown bodies, finely muscled, hard and tough, presented handsome pictures. The little fellows who accompanied them, up to the age of twelve, usually ran about with no article of clothing save their little breech-clouts and white cotton shirts. In the early afternoon, serious work began, and everywhere we saw these men patching coverings, greasing wheels, readjusting cargoes, feeding and watering their animals, harnessing, and making other preparations for leaving. During the idle portion of the day, dice were in evidence, and Eustasio was fascinated with the game. The stakes, of course, were small, but he kept at it persistently until he had lost five pesos, when, with forcible words, he gave up. I am sure the dice were loaded, but I am equally sure, from all I know of Eustasio, that the next time he makes that journey, he will have some loaded dice himself. Setting out at 3:30, we were at the head of a long line of cars, and were soon making another steady zigzag to ever greater heights than those before climbed. According to the official itinerario, the distance from Dolores to San Miguel is five leagues; we had left Dolores a league behind in arriving at Carizal, and we naturally assumed that four leagues would bring us to San Miguel. Eustasio, however, who never under-estimated, claimed that it would take constant travelling until eight in the morning to reach Los Pinos, which is still this side of San Miguel. This is a fair example of the inaccuracy of figures published by the government. As I looked behind at the long line of carts, some of which were empty, and able to journey at good speed, the desire took possession of me to hire one, at least for a short distance, in the hope of getting a little sleep. Looking over the line, to make my choice, I had just selected one, and was about to broach my plan, when its driver ran the vehicle into the branches of a tree, which projected over the road, and tore away his awning. The idea was unaffected by this accident, however, and picking out a cart, which had a thick layer of corn-husks piled in it, promising a comfortable bed, I arranged my bargain with the owner, and deserted my party, betaking myself to my private car. Having no load, we pushed ahead and, stretching myself at full length upon the heap of corn-husks, I was soon asleep. It was my purpose to disembark at Los Pinos, but we had passed that place long before I awoke, and were in sight of San Miguel when I opened my eyes. It was too early for breakfast, so I concluded to ride along to Macuilapa, where my carter turned off into another road. It was just eight when we arrived, and I thought of my companions as probably just reaching Los Pinos. Starting from there at three in the afternoon, they should overtake me at seven. So I took possession of the great country house, sitting in the corridor all day long. The house is a long, large, single-storied building, with heavy tiled-roof; the store-houses, sheds and other out-houses, with the adobe huts belonging to the workmen, surround a somewhat regular area. The view, however, in front of the house is uninterrupted, and looks off into a narrow valley, bounded prettily by hills. The house has a wide brick-paved corridor. Near it was an interesting ancient stone carving. The rock was coarsely crystalline, and gray, or olive-gray in color. It had been battered into the bold, simple outline of a frog, crouched for leaping; the head had an almost human face, with a single central tooth projecting from the lower jaw. The work was in low relief, and looked as if the ancient workman had taken a natural boulder, and beaten with his hammer-stone only sufficiently to bring out the details. The stone measured perhaps four feet in length, three feet in breadth, and two feet in thickness. It was found in the mountains near, and, from the marks upon it, seems to have been embedded in the soil half way up the legs. Probably, when first made, it was placed so that the feet were even with the ground surface, but the accumulation of vegetable soil since has been considerable. The Hacienda of Macuilapa manufactures sugar and raises indigo, quantities of the seed of which were being cleaned when I was there. The owner of the place is a man of means, but the meals served were of a mean and frugal kind. Everyone made dire prophecies about the time of possible arrival of my companions, and the period necessary for our further journey to Tuxtla Gutierrez. I had not expected my companions before seven, and after these dismal forebodings, gave up that expectation. To my surprise, they appeared, in good health and spirits, at five o'clock, though with exciting tales of peril and suffering. After a meal together, we again mounted in the old fashion, and were on our way. The air was fresh and cool, and at 9:30 the moon rose, giving perfect light. The road was high and sandy, with occasional small ascents and descents. At eleven we stopped to rest, I agreeing to wake them all at midnight; at one o'clock I was awakened by our carretero raising the tongue of the wagon! We passed La Razon at three. As one of the oxen, which had been somewhat lame, was now in bad condition, we all dismounted, half-a-league before we reached Zapote, and walked the rest of the way. The Hacienda of Zapote is really almost a town. There are two fincas, belonging to two brothers. Their fine large houses, the out-buildings, and the clusters of adobe huts for the workmen, make an imposing appearance. We stopped at the first group of buildings, which stands a little lower than the other. Arriving at six, we spent the whole day at this place; the meals at the great house were excellent and cheap. In the afternoon we heard marimba-playing; the instrument was called la golondrina and cost the owner forty-three pesos.
The players were carefully trained, being four brothers. The youngest of them was not more than fourteen years old, but he put much expression and spirit into his playing. It was the first time that any of the party, but myself, had heard this instrument, and all were delighted at its brilliant, quick, and pleasing music. We left at 3:45 in the afternoon, but our ailing animal was worse than ever, and Eustasio ran ahead, trying to secure others at different ranches. He had had no success when, after a rough ride of several hours, we drew up at Jiquipilas, where we waited until the morning. We planned to secure new animals, to leave at dawn, and to reach Tuxtla after a twenty-four hour ride. We laid down and slept, waking at five, but finding no sign of animals. We breakfasted at seven, and a little later the new oxen appeared. There were two yokes of rather light animals. Leaving our sick beast, and driving the other three along with us, the new animals were put to the loads, and at eight o'clock we started. I failed to recognize Rancho Disengano, but having passed it, we found ourselves at the bottom of the much-dreaded, last important climb of the journey. The little team dragging the passenger cart was inefficient and unruly; tiring of them, I dismounted and went ahead on foot. For a time I drove the unyoked cattle, but a stubborn one wandering into the brush, I gave up the job, and left poor Louis, who had just overtaken me, to chase him. He had hard work, through tangled brush, here and there, up and down, until at last the animal was once more upon the road. The boy was hot, tired, and loaded with pinolillos. These insects had been in evidence for a long time back. They are exceedingly small ticks, which fix their claws firmly in the flesh, and cause intolerable itching. Keeping in the road, the traveller is little likely to be troubled by them; but walking through grass, or among leafy plants, is dangerous. Having climbed a portion of our great ascent, we found ourselves at Agua Bendita. It was not as beautiful as on the occasion of my other visit; the projecting ledge of rock had little water dripping, and in the round catch-basins, which formerly were filled with fresh, clear water, there was scarcely any; on account of the unusual dryness, the ferns were wilted, and there was little of that beauty and freshness which so delighted me before. Eustasio said that he had never seen the spot so dry in all his many journeys. Nor were there orchids blooming on the great tree near; nor any of the little toucans which had been so attractive in 1896. As we stood, seeking for these well-remembered things, we heard curious cries rising from the valley. At first, I thought it was indians wailing for the dead; then, that it was a band of pilgrims singing. But it turned out to be a company of cowboys, bringing cattle up for shipment to Tabasco. Some rode ahead, and, with loud but not unmusical cries, invited and urged the animals and their drivers to follow. The beasts were divided into three bands, thirty or forty in a band, each of which had its mounted drivers. The animals were lively, and we were warned that they were muy bravo. Manuel had taken the task of driving our loose cattle, and was fearful that he would be overtaken, asserting that the cowboys had said that he must keep on, as they could not pass him with their animals. When he came up to where we were, we put a quick end to his folly, driving our three oxen to the outer edge of the road, where Louis and he stood guard over them, while I crept up on the cliff to avoid scaring the animals that were coming. It took much driving, urging, and coaxing on the part of the cowboys to get the first two or three to pass us, but after they had led the way, the others followed with a rush.
Presently our passenger-cart came along, with both teams of oxen hitched to it; the new animals had proved too light to drag their proper loads, so the freight-cart had been left behind, and the full force employed in dragging the first cart up the hill. Just beyond this spot, we found a gang of indians, under a superintendent, prying off an immense rock mass that had fallen from the cliff above onto the road, with the intention of dumping it over the wall into the abyss. It would have been a sight to have seen it plunge, but we had no time to wait, so simply stopped a few minutes to see the method of moving the immense mass with pole pries. Our cart had gone ahead, so we finished the ascent on foot, and having gained the summit, walked a short distance on the high plateau to Petapa, where the cart and carretero, Manuel and Ramon, were waiting. Before we arrived, we met our men going back with the four oxen for the freight-cart. We had supper at the ranch, and waited, until at six o'clock everything was ready. Here we sent back the two yokes of animals which we had brought from Jiquipilas, and secured a fine, strong beast to make up our number, and started. We did not stop to grease the wheels, for lack of time. It was dark, and the first part of the journey was uncertain and difficult; coming out on to the Llano Grande, we found things easy, though here and there were stony places, where we jolted fearfully. At 10:30, we had passed La Cienega, and our ungreased wheels were not only an annoyance, but, Eustasio suggested, a source of danger, as they might take fire. So, at 11:30, we stopped to grease them. As the axles and wheels were then too hot for grease to be safely applied, we lay down while they should cool. Probably in less than five minutes, we were all asleep, and no one moved until, waking with a start and looking at my watch, I found it two in the morning. We hastily applied grease, without removing the wheels, and hurried onward, passing Sabino Perez, Yerba Santa, and Sabinal. Here, the errors in our itinerario, and in our driver's guessing at distances, were curiously emphasized. We had a rather heavy descent, for some distance, over a limestone hill called Santo Domingo. Nowhere do I know of any road which, under the best of circumstances, seems as long as the last stretch before Tuxtla Gutierrez. This we had noticed on our earlier journey, when we were mounted on horseback. Present conditions were not likely to diminish the impression. At last, at 11:30 in the morning of March 12, we reached the capital city of the State of Chiapas, and were taken by our carretero to the little old Hotel Mexico, kept by Paco, where we met a hearty welcome and, for several days, made up for the hardships of our journey in the way of eating.
AT TUXTLA GUTIERREZ
We knew that Governor Pimentel was not at home, having met him in Coalzacoalcos, where we had presented our official letters, and had received from him a communication to his Lieutenant-Governor, Lopez. Having spent the afternoon in settling and cleaning, I called in the evening upon Governor Lopez and explained my needs. After chatting a little time together, he inquired whether I had not made the steamboat journey from Coalzacoalcos to Vera Cruz in March, 1896, and, upon my answering in the affirmative, told me that we had been fellow-travellers on that occasion. He promised that there should be no delay, and made an appointment with me for the morning. I then called on Don Conrado Palacios, who lived directly opposite our little tavern, and who claimed that he recognized me the moment I dismounted from our cart this morning. He is still photographer, but for three years of the time since last we met has been living in the State of Vera Cruz, and but lately returned to Tuxtla. In the morning, Governor Lopez supplied the letters for my further journey, and summoned the jefe politico and the presidente of the city and gave them personal orders that they were to assist, in every way, my work at Tuxtla, among the Zoques. The jefe himself took charge of my arrangements, put his office at my disposition for a workshop, and the work began at once. Contrary to my usual experience, we had less difficulty in securing female subjects here than male. The male indians of Tuxtla are, in large part, employed in contract labor on fincas at a distance from the town. According to their contract, they are not subject to the order of local authorities, and may not be summoned without permission of their employers, or a pecuniary settlement with them. The first day, more than half the women were measured, and the second day, the rest. As is well known the women of Tehuantepec are famous for their beauty. It is not so well known that rivalry exists between them and the women of Tuxtla in this matter. This rivalry had been called to our attention on our preceding visit, and we found that it had in no wise abated. Personally, we saw no comparison between the two sets of women, the Tehuantepecanas being far superior. Eustasio, however, ungallantly and unpatriotically declared that he thought the women of Tuxtla the handsomer; however, we suspect that Eustasio would find the women of any town he might be in, the champions in beauty for the time being. Their dress is picturesque. The enagua is made of two strips of dark blue cloth, sewed together, side by side, with a fancy stitching of colored silks. The free borders are also decorated with similar stitching, and the ends of the strip, which is usually more than two yards in length, sewn together with similarly decorative needlework. In fastening this garment about the body, no belt is used. The open bag is gathered in about the waist, the surplus is folded into pleats in front and the overlap, at the upper edge, is so tucked in as to hold the garment tightly in place, and at the same time form a pouch, or pocket, in which small articles are carried. The little huipil, worn upon the upper body, is of thin, white cotton cloth, native-woven, but a neat and pretty stuff; there are no sleeves, and the neck-opening and arm-slits are bordered with pleated strips of cotton, worked with black embroidery. A larger huipil is regularly carried, but we never saw it in use; practically, it never is worn. If put in place, it would form a garment for the body, with the neck-opening and sleeves bordered with lace, and the lower edge reaching to the knees. The woman carries this garment with her, folding it into a sort of pad, which she places on her head, letting it hang down upon the back and shoulders. Upon this cushion, the woman carries a great bowl, made from the rind of a sort of squash or pumpkin, in which she brings her stuff to market. These vessels are a specialty of the neighborhood, being made at Chiapa; they are richly decorated with a lacquer finish, of bright color. In carrying a baby, the child is placed against one side of the body, with its little legs astride, one in front and one behind, and then lashed in place by a strip of cloth, which is knotted over the woman's opposite shoulder. Almost every Zoque woman is asymmetrical, from this mode of carrying babies, one shoulder being much higher than the other. Among the subjects measured, was a woman notable in several ways. She was the fattest indian woman we had ever seen; she was the richest of her kind, and not only were her garments beautiful in work and decoration, but she was gorgeous with necklaces, bristling with gold coins and crosses; more than this, she was a capital case of purple pinta. The disease is common among the indians of the town, and, while both the red and white forms are found, purple seems to be the common type. Sometimes the face looks as if powder-burned, the purple blotch appearing as if in scattered specks; at other times, the purple spots are continuous, and the skin seems raised and pitted.
It appears that the adjusting of family quarrels and disputes between friends are among the duties of the jefe. In the office that day, a quarrel was settled involving two young men related by blood and by comradeship; a woman and a man of middle age were also interested; the quarrel had been a serious one, involving assaults, ambushes, and shootings. The jefe first summoned each of the four persons singly, going over the whole matter with each one; the more intelligent of the two combatants was first to be reasoned with; then the woman was called in and he and she were left together in the office. For a long time, they would not even speak to each other. Finding this condition, the jefe reasoned with them, and warned them that they must come to some conclusion, after which he left them to themselves again. At first they would not speak, but finally held a conversation, and came to an understanding; the old man was then called in and made to talk the matter over with the two, who had already been in conference. Lastly, the more belligerent youth was summoned, the jefe remaining in the room with the whole party. At first he would not speak, but finally his pride and anger gave way, and he shook hands with his cousin, and the whole party left, after promising the jefe that the past should be forgotten.
The first afternoon that we were working, a curious couple came to the jefe's office. The woman was not unattractive, though rather bold and hard in bearing. She was dark, pretentiously made-up, and rather elegantly dressed. The gentleman was a quiet, handsome fellow, dressed in sober black. When they sailed in, I supposed they were the jefe's personal friends. Sitting down, they showed interest in my work, and the lady in a rather strident voice, but with much composure, addressed us in English. Her knowledge of our language, however, proved to be extremely limited, being confined to such expressions as "How are you, sir?" "I am very well," "Yes, sir," "No, sir," and "I know New York." She was a mystery to the town, where she was commonly called "the Turkish lady."
This nickname, her limited knowledge of English, and her boasted acquaintance with New York, aroused the question, in my mind, whether she might not have been an oriental dancer. She, herself, told us that she was born in South America, and referred to Caracas, as if it were a place with which she was familiar. The jefe was extremely polite in his dealings with these people, and, as soon as they were seated, rang his bell for glasses, and we all drank the lady's health in cognac. The fact was, that these two persons were prisoners; they had come here within a few days, and had the city for a prison; as they had made no effort to leave the town, their movements were not interfered with, but if they had attempted to step outside the city limits, they would have been shot without a word of warning. The jefe himself did not know who they were, nor what crime they had committed; nor did he know how long they would remain in his custody; they had come a weary journey, as he put it, "along the Cordillera;" they had been passed from hand to hand, from one jefe to another; when the order came, he was to start them on their journey to the jefe of the next district. Of the many stories told regarding them, a few will serve as samples. She was said to be the wife of a wealthy merchant of Campeche, from whom she had eloped with her companion, carrying away $150,000. According to another view, they were connected with an important band of forgers and robbers, who had been carrying on extensive operations. The most minutely detailed story, however, was that she had been the mistress and favorite of Francisco Canton, Governor of the State of Yucatan; that, pleased with a younger and handsomer man, she had stolen $7,000 from His Excellency, and attempted an elopement; that, captured, they were being sent as prisoners, nominally to Mexico. Whether any of these stories had a basis of fact, we cannot say, but from remarks the prisoners themselves made to us, we feel sure that the centre of their trouble was Merida, and that, in some way, they had offended the pompous governor. At all events, it is likely that, long before these words are written, both have met their death upon the road. It is a common thing for prisoners, passing along the Cordillera, to be shot "while attempting to escape from their guard."
The jefe politico of this district is a man of education, and professional ability; he is a physician, trained in the City of Mexico; he is ingenious in mechanics, and has devised a number of instruments and inventions of a scientific kind. He had been but a short time in this district, having come from Tonala, where he has a finca. He entertained us at his house, while we were there, and showed us every assistance. It is plain, however, that he found us a white elephant upon his hands. Not that his willingness was lacking, but where should he find one hundred indian men? We pestered him almost to death for subjects, when at last his secretario suggested the district jail. This was a veritable inspiration. There they were sure we would have no difficulty in finding the remainder of our hundred. To the jail we went, but out of seventy-five prisoners fully half were Tzotzils from Chamula and not Zoques. More than half of the remainder were not indian, but mestizos. In fact, out of the total number, only a baker's dozen served our purpose. When we again presented ourselves, the following morning, for subjects, the poor man was in genuine desperation. But again his assistant made a shrewd suggestion. Yesterday we were at the jail; to-day we should go to the cuartel, and measure the soldiers. There were two hundred there, and this would more than see us through. The jefe himself accompanied us to the barracks and introduced us to the colonel, leaving orders that we should be supplied with every aid, and went off happy, in the sense of a bad job well done. But out of the two hundred soldiers in the barracks, just ten turned out to be Zoques of pure blood. And long before the day was over, we were again clamoring at the jefe's house for thirty-six more subjects. To tell the truth, we doubted his ability to secure them, and, in order to lose no time, started our goods and plaster by carreta for San Cristobal. Still, while it was plain that he did not know where to look for help, the good man assured us that we should have our thirty-six subjects the next morning. Meantime, he sent officials with us to visit certain indian houses which we desired to examine, and arranged that we should see a certain characteristic indian dance at his house, at four o'clock that afternoon.
Tuxtla Gutierrez is a capital city. It is also a busy commercial centre. Of course, the population is for the most part mestizo, and not indian. We had been surprised at finding so many indians in the city as there were. We were yet more surprised to find to what extent the houses of the city, though admirably built, were truly indian in style, presenting many points of interest. The walls of the "god-house" were heavy and substantial, smoothly daubed with mud, neatly plastered and often adorned with colored decorations. The "cook-house," slighter and less well-built, was made of poles daubed with mud, and rough with heavy thatching. The granary was elevated above the ground, and sheltered with its own neat thatching.
In the afternoon, at four o'clock, we betook ourselves to the jefe's house to see the dance. At Tuxtla, there are two town governments, that of the mestizos and that of the indians. The indian officials—"alcaldes indios"—are recognizable by their dress, which is a survival of the ancient indian dress of the district. Their camisa, broad hat, and leather breeches, are characteristic. Around the head, under the hat, they wear a red cloth, and those who have served as indian alcaldes continue to wear this head-cloth after their official service ends. These indian officials had been commissioned to bring together the dancers, and make all necessary arrangements. The colonel, the prisoners of state, and one or two other guests were present. The leader of the dance was gaily dressed, in a pair of wide drawers with lace about the legs below the knee, a pair of overdrawers made of bright-colored handkerchiefs, and a helmet or cap of bright-red stuff from which rose a crest of macaw feathers, tipped with tufts of cotton. On his back, he bore a kind of pouch, the upper edge of which was bordered with a line of macaw feathers. In his hand, he carried a wooden war-axe. A pretty little girl, dressed in a Guatemaltec enagua, wore a fancy head-dress, and, in her hand, bore a jicara, which was filled with pink carnival flowers. These two dancers faced each other and in dancing moved slowly back and forth, and from one foot to the other; the only other dancers were two men, one of whom was dressed as, and took the part of a woman. This couple danced in much the same way, but with greater freedom than the chief persons, and at times circled around them. The music consisted of a violin and native pito or pipe, and a drum of the huehuetl type,—cut from a single cylindrical block, but with skin stretched over both ends instead of one.
I was surprised the following morning when thirty-six subjects were produced; we knew that, for the moment, the building operations of the government palace were discontinued, and we suspected that all the work done by indians in Tuxtla was likewise temporarily ceased. When the last one had passed under the instruments, the jefe heaved a sigh, rang his bell for glasses, and the event was celebrated by a final draught of cognac.
The man with whom we had expected to arrange for animals had promised to come to the hotel at seven. He came not then, nor at half-past, nor at eight, nor at nine. When we sent an inquiry, he made the cool reply, that it was now too late to arrange matters; that he would see us at eight the following morning. Furious at his failure, we ourselves went with the boy from the hotel at ten o'clock to his house, but could not get him even to open the door. "To-morrow! To-morrow!" was his cry. Desperate, we went, although it was now almost midnight, to another arriero, who, after some dickering, agreed to leave at eight the following morning, charging a price something more than fifty per cent above the usual rate. Of course he was behindhand, but we actually set out at nine.
TZOTZILS AND TZENDALS
We started out over the hot and dusty road, passing here and there through cuts of the white earth, which is used by the women of Chiapa in their lacquer-work. We soon reached the river, and, leaving our animals behind, to cool before swimming them across, embarked with a dozen other passengers, and all our baggage, in one of the great canoes, which we by no means filled. Landing on the other side, with an hour to wait, we walked down stream, and took a fine bath in the fresh cold, clear, deep water. Just below where we were bathing, some indians had exploded a dynamite cartridge, killing a quantity of fish, and the surface was immediately spotted with their white, upturned bellies. A canoe-load of four men put out to gather the fish, as soon as the shot was fired. Just as they reached the spot, and were leaning over the boat to catch them, the canoe overturned, and all the men were floundering in the water, up to their necks, and the canoe was rapidly drifting down the stream. The fish they get here are quite large, and seem to be a kind of cat-fish. Strolling back to our landing-place, we were interested in the lively scenes there being enacted. Under little arbors of leafy boughs, women were washing clothing; crowds of children, of both sexes, were playing on the sand or splashing in the water; half-a-dozen great canoes were dragged up on the bank, and amid these a group of little brown fellows, from ten to fourteen years of age, were swimming; here and there, a man or woman squatted in the shallow water, dipped water over their bare bodies with jicaras. Now and then the great ferry-boat, loaded with passengers and with animals swimming alongside, made its crossing. Presently our seven animals were swum across, and, after a moment's drying, were repacked and saddled, and we were ready for our forward movement.
Chiapa was formerly the great town of the Chiapanecs, an Indian tribe to whom tradition assigns past splendor, but who, to-day, are represented in three villages, Chiapa, Suchiapa, and Acala. They are much mixed with Spanish blood, and have largely forgotten their ancient language. It is, however, from them, that the modern state, Chiapas, received its name. Chiapa, itself, is a city of some size, situated on a terrace a little way from the river, with a ridge of hills rising behind it. The plaza is large, and in it stands a market-building. Near by is a picturesque old gothic fountain, built of brick. Market was almost over, but we were interested in seeing the quantities of pineapples and cacao beans there offered. To lose no time waiting for dinner, we bought bread and one or two large pineapples, which we ate under the shade of the trees in the plaza. The pineapples were delicious, being tender and exceedingly sweet; our arriero refused to eat any of them, asserting that they were barely fit to eat, lacking sweetness, and being prickly to the taste. The pineapples of Simojovel were to his liking; they are sugar-sweet, leaving no prickly sensation, and anyone can eat three whole ones at a sitting. After luncheon, we looked about for examples of lacquer-work. In one house, we found some small objects and wooden trays of indifferent workmanship. An old crone, badly affected with pinto, the mother of the young woman artist, showed us the wares. With her was the older sister of the lady-worker, who, after we had bought two of the trays, asked whence we came. Upon our telling her that Manuel was a native of Cordoba, and that I had come from the United States, without a word of warning she raised her hands, turned her eyes upward, and gave vent to a torrent of shrill, impassioned, apostrophe to her absent, artistic sister: "A dios, hermana mia, Anastasia Torres, to think that your art-products should penetrate to those distant lands, to those remote portions of the world, to be the wonder and admiration of foreign eyes. A dios, hermana mia, Anastasia Torres!" This she repeated several times, in a voice high enough to be heard a block or two away. Leaving her to continue her exclamations of joy and admiration over the fate of her sister's workmanship, we returned to the plaza, where, in a house near by, we found a considerable stock of better work, consisting of decorated bowls, cups, toy jicaras, gourd-rattles, etc. This brilliant work, characteristic of the town, is carried hundreds of miles into the States of Oaxaca, Tabasco, Vera Cruz, and into the Republic of Guatemala. At two o'clock we hurried from the town in the midst of terrific heat. As we rode out, over the dry and sandy road, we were impressed by the display of death; not only was there one cemetery, with its whitened walls and monuments, but at least three other burial places capped the little hillocks at the border of the town. One, particularly attracted attention, as it resembled an ancient terraced pyramid, with a flight of steps up one side.
From the foothills, we struck up the flank of the great mountain mass itself. Mounting higher and higher, a great panorama presented itself behind and below us, including the Chiapa valley, with the hills beyond it. It was, however, merely extensive, and not particularly beautiful or picturesque. As we followed the slope towards the crest, into the narrowing valley, the scene became bolder, until we were at the very edge of a mighty chasm, which yawned sheer at our side. Following it, we saw the gorge suddenly shallow hundreds of feet by a vast precipice of limestone rock rising from its bottom. Having passed this, we journeyed on up the canon, lessened in grandeur, but still presenting pretty bits of scenery. Up to this point, limestone had prevailed, but from here on, we passed over various formations—heavy beds of sand or clay, lying upon conglomerates and shales. The road wound astonishingly, and at one point, coming out upon a hog's-back ridge, we found that we had actually made a loop, and stood directly above where we had been some time before. Near sunset, we reached the summit, and looked down upon the little town of Ixtapa, upon a high llano below, and seeming to be a half-hour's ride distant. Descending on to the llano, we found it intersected by deep and narrow gorges; following along the level, narrow ridge, surrounded by ravines on every side, except the one from which we had approached, we presently descended, along its flank, the bank of the deepest of these barrancas. The sun had set long before we reached the bottom, and through the darkness, we had to climb up over the steep dugway in the sandy clay to the village, which we reached at seven. The little room supplied us for a sleeping-place was clean and neat, the floor was strewn with fresh and fragrant pine-needles, and the wooden beds were supplied with petates. Leaving before eight, the following morning, we travelled through a beautiful canon, with an abundant stream of whitish-blue water, tumbling in fine cascades among the rocks, and dashing now and then into deep pools of inky blackness. Having passed through it, our bridle-trail plunged abruptly downward. From it, we looked upon a neighboring slope, cut at three different levels, one above the other, for the cart-road. Passing next through a small canon of little beauty, but where the air was heavy with an odor like vanilla, coming from sheets of pale-purple or violet flowers, on trees of eight or ten feet in height, we reached San Sebastian, where we found our carretero, whom we supposed to have reached San Cristobal the day before. Rating him soundly, and threatening dire consequences from his delay, we resumed our journey. We were also worried over our mozo, who started from Chiapa at noon, the day before, with our photographic instruments, and whom we had not seen since, although there were several places where we would gladly have taken views. From here, for a long distance, the road was a hard, steep climb, over limestone in great variety—solid limestone, tufaceous stuff, concretionary coatings, satin spar, and calcite crystals. Having passed a small pueblo, or large finca, lying in a little plain below us, we looked down upon Zinacantan. The descent was quickly made, and passing through the village, without stopping, we made a long, slow, ascent before catching sight of our destination, San Cristobal. It made a fine appearance, lying on a little terrace at the base of hills, at the very end of the valley. Its churches and public buildings are so situated as to make the most impression; on account of its length and narrowness, the town appears much larger than it really is. We entered at one end, and then, practically, paralleled our trail through it to the centre, where we stopped at the Hotel Progreso, at 3:30 in the afternoon. We went to the palace, and made arrangements so promptly that we could have begun work immediately, if the carretero and mozo had not been behind. As it was, we waited until next day, and were warned by the secretario at the jefatura that there would not be enough light for work before nine o'clock. In the evening, we called on Padre Sanchez, well known for his study of the native languages, and the works he had written regarding them. He is a large man, well-built, of attractive appearance, and of genial manner. He has been cura in various indian towns among the Chamulas, and he loves the indians, and is regarded as a friend by them. We were prepared for a cold night, and had it, though no heavy frost formed, as had done the night before. In one day's journey, the traveller finds towns, in this neighborhood, with totally different climates. Here woolen garments are necessary, and in towns like Chamula and Cancuc the indians find the heaviest ones comfortable. Our rating of the carretero had an effect both prompt and dire; when we left him, he hastened to hire carriers to bring in the more important part of our load; these, he insisted, should travel all night, and at eight o'clock we found them at the hotel. In the darkness they had stumbled, and our loads had fallen. Whole boxes of unused plates were wrecked, and, still worse, many of our choicest negatives were broken. At nine o'clock the missing mozo appeared with the instruments; it is customary for our carrier to keep up with the company, as we have frequent need of taking views upon the journey; this was almost the only instance, in the hundreds of leagues that we have travelled on horseback, over mountain roads, where our carrier had failed to keep alongside of the animals, or make the same time in journeying that we mounted travellers did.
Though there had been an early mist, there was no lack of sunshine, even before seven. Still, we did not go to the palace until nine o'clock, the hour set. San Cristobal was formerly the capital of the state, and its public buildings are more pretentious than usual in cabeceras. The place in which we did our work was a building of two stories, filling one side of the plaza. We worked in the broad corridor of the second story, outside of the secretario's office, from which our subjects, mostly indians who had come to pay school-taxes, were sent to us for measurement. The market-place of San Cristobal is characteristically indian. Not only do the two chief tribes which frequent it—Tzotzils and Tzendals—differ in dress, but even the different villages of each wear characteristic garments. The Tzotzil of Chamula differs from his brother of Huixtan and San Bartolome; the Tzendal women of Tenejapa, Cancuc and San Andres may be quickly recognized by difference in dress.
Most interesting are the Tzotzils of Chamula. Though looked upon by the mestizos of San Cristobal as mere brutes and savages, they are notably industrious. They weave heavy, woolen blankets and chamaras; they are skilled carpenters, making plain furniture of every kind; they are musicians, and manufacture quantities of harps, guitars, and violins; they braid straw, and make hats of palm; they are excellent leather-dressers, and give a black stain and polish to heavy leather, which is unequalled by the work of their white neighbors. Men wear lower garments of cotton, and heavy black woolen over-garments, which are gathered at the waist with woolen girdles. They wear broad-brimmed, low-crowned hats, of their own braiding, which they adorn with long, streaming, red and green ribbons. Their sandals are supplied with heel-guards of black leather, the height of which indicates the wealth or consequence of the wearer. These indians of Chamula have a love of liberty and desire for independence. The most serious outbreak of recent times was theirs in 1868, when, under the influence of the young woman, Checheb, they attempted to restore the native government, the indian life, and the old-time religion. Temples were erected to the ancient gods, whose inspired priestess the young woman claimed to be; but three hundred years of Christianity had accustomed them to the idea of a Christ crucified; an indian Christ was necessary, not one from the hated invading race; accordingly, a little indian lad, the nephew of the priestess, was crucified, to become a saviour for their race. Their plans involved the killing of every white and mestizo in all the country; in reality, more than one hundred men, women, and children, in the fincas and little towns, were killed; San Cristobal, then the capital city, suffered a veritable panic, and it took the entire force of the whole state to restore order.
The Tzendals of Tenejapa are picturesque in the extreme. Their dark skin, their long black hair, completely covering and concealing the ears, their coarse features, and the black and white striped chamaras of wool—which they buy from the weavers of Chamula—form a striking combination. They do but little weaving, their chief industry being the raising and selling of fruits. Most of the men carry a little sack, netted from strong fibre, slung at one side. Among other trifling possessions in it, is generally a little gourd filled with a green powder, which they call mai, or pelico. It consists chiefly of tobacco, with a mixture of lime and chili, and is chewed, no doubt, for stimulating properties—to remove the weariness of the road, and "to strengthen the teeth," as some say.
When we had exhausted the stock of those who came to pay their taxes, it was suggested that we would find good subjects in the jail. This occupied what was once a fine old convent, built around a large open court, and connected with the church, which, judging from its elaborately carved facade, must have been beautiful. On presenting our credentials to the officials, an order was given, and all the pure-blood indians, one hundred at least, were lined up before us for inspection. There were Tzotzils from Chamula, and Tzendals from Tenejapa, and among them many excellent faces, showing the pure types, finely developed. Having made our inspection, and indicated those whom we should use, we looked about the prison. The prisoners were housed in the old rooms of the monastery, each of which was large enough for six or eight persons. In these rooms, each prisoner had his personal possessions—good clothing, tools, cherished articles, instruments of music. Those who cared to do so, were permitted to work at such things as they could do, and the product of their labor was sold for their benefit. Some braided palm into long strips, to make up into hats; others plaited straw into elaborate, decorative cords or bands for hats; some wove pita into pouches; some dressed leather. Almost all were busily employed. Freedom of conversation and visiting was permitted, and there was no particular hardship in the matter of imprisonment, except the inability to go outside. We were impressed with the fact that, in appearance and manner, few, if any, of these indian prisoners, particularly the Chamulas, showed any signs of criminal tendencies. In fact, they were as clean, as frank, as docile, as intelligent, as any persons we might find in Mexico. A little curious to know the charges on which they had been committed, we inquired, and discovered that some had fifteen or twenty points against them, among which were such trifling charges as murder, manslaughter, arson, rape, and highway robbery. We thought best not to inquire too closely, but it is doubtful, whether any of the subjects here incarcerated under these long and dreadful lists of charges, are guilty of anything except insurrection—a final struggle for freedom.
There were various signs of the approach of Holy Week, and the landlady at our hotel, and her various helpers, were busy manufacturing incense for that occasion. This was made in sticks, as thick as the thumb, and six or eight inches in length, of a black color. Besides copal, leaves and other materials from various kinds of odorous plants were employed in its fabrication; the incense thus made is really fragrant, and it would be interesting to know whether it is, in part at least, of indian origin. In three days we had completed our examination of the men, but not a woman had been produced for examination. On the fourth day, we reiterated our demands to the authorities, and Don Murcio, the janitor or messenger, who had been put subject to our order, was almost frantic. He declared that to secure the women we needed would tax every power of the government; that they refused to come; that his mere appearance in the market caused a scattering. Finally, we told him, that if he would provide twenty-five Chamula women, we would get the Tzendals in their villages, as we passed through them. Encouraged, by having one-half of our demand abated, he made another visit to the market. Soon we heard excited voices, and a moment later Don Murcio came rushing up the stairs with both arms filled with black chamaras. It is the custom of the indian women, when they come to market, and settle down with wares to sell, to fold their heavier garments and lay them on the ground beside them. Don Murcio had gathered up the first of these he came to, and fled with them to the government palace, while the crowd of angry women, chasing along behind, expressed their feelings vigorously. Putting the garments out of reach, the women were told by the officials, that each would receive back her property as soon as the strangers made their desired measurements. While we were dealing with the first cluster, Don Murcio sallied forth, and returned once more with garments and women. In this way, the work proceeded, until the final lot were in our hands. Not to unnecessarily increase their terrors, we had refrained from photographing, until the final company had been secured. We had told the officials of our plan, and as these later ones were measured, they were told that they must wait for their garments until the last one was measured, and until the gentleman had done some other work. When all had been measured, it was explained to the six of seven in the group, that they were to go down into the patio, where a picture would be taken of the company. That they might be properly prepared for the picture, their garments were returned. Suspecting no treachery, Don Murcio led the way, and one of two police officers accompanied the forward part of the procession, while Louis brought up the rear, in expectation of making the portrait. All went well until the first two or three had entered the patio, when the rest suddenly balked, and started to run out onto the street. Hearing the confusion, I started down and caught one of the women as she neared the doorway, while Louis held another, and each of the police officers, and Don Murcio, seized a prisoner. So violent, however, were the struggles, and so loud the outcries of the woman whom I held, that I released her, which was the unintended signal for each of the other guards to do the same, and our group vanished and all thought of gathering a second was given up in desperation.
The morning had thus passed; animals for the further journey had been ordered for ten o'clock, and were really ready a little before three. For once, however, we were not prepared. It was our custom to pack the busts in petroleum boxes; these boxes, each holding a five-gallon can of oil, are of just the size to take a single bust, and they are so thin and light, yet at the same time, so well constructed, that they served our purpose admirably. In small indian towns, they are frequently unobtainable, but in the places where mestizos live, it had been always easy to procure them, at prices varying from ten to twenty-five cents each. In a town the size of San Cristobal, it should be easy to get them; to our surprise, we found that they had been in such demand, for carrying purposes by public workmen, that the supply was small and the price outrageous. We had left the securing of the boxes and the packing of the busts to our plaster-worker, and, though we knew he had had difficulty, imagined that he had secured all needed, and that the busts would be all ready. Diligent search, however, had secured but two boxes, and ridiculous prices had been demanded for those. All of us took to the streets, visiting stores and private houses, and at last five boxes were secured, though they were a dilapidated lot, with bad covers. For these we paid an average of sixty-two cents each. Realizing the time and labor necessary for securing boxes, stuff for packing, and for the work of putting up the busts, we dismissed our horsemen, and arranged for leaving the next morning. In fact, night had fallen before our work was done. Leaving a little before eight, we had a magnificent mountain ride. For a league or more, we rose steadily over a cart-road; keeping at a high altitude, and, with but little of ups and downs, we journeyed through fine pine forests, with oaks mingled, here and there, among the pines. We met quantities of Chamula and Tenejapa indians on their way to market. The Chamulas carried chairs, loads of well-tanned skins, and sacks full of little, round wooden boxes, well and neatly made, while the Tenejapes were loaded with nets of oranges, limas, and ahuacates. We were sorry to leave the village of Chamula to one side, but lack of time forbade our visiting it. It was amusing to note the terror of our arriero on the road. Until we passed Cancuc, he was constantly expecting attack from the dreadful indians of Chamula, Tenejapa, and Cancuc, telling us that such attacks might be expected at any time, but particularly in the early morning and in the dusk of evening. What indians we met were most gentle, and answered our salutations with apparent kindness. After a long journey on the high, smooth road, we finally began descending into a pretty valley, and soon saw the great town of Tenejapa, below us, on a space almost as level as a floor, neatly laid out, and still decked with the arches erected for a recent fiesta. The agente of the town had been warned of our coming, by telephone from the jefatura, and received us warmly, a little before one o'clock, giving us a large and comfortable room in the municipal building, supplied with chairs and benches, and a table, though without beds or mats. We were here delayed by the slowness of the old man, who had been furnished at San Cristobal for carrying our instruments. By three o'clock, all was ready, and the twenty-five women were summoned. They gave no kind of trouble, and by six o'clock the work was done. Women here braid their hair in two braids, which are wrapped about closely with cords, making them look like red ropes; these are then wound around the head and picturesquely fastened. The huipils of cotton are short, and decorated with scattered designs, worked in color, and loosely arranged in transverse bands. Belts are of wool, red in color, and broad, but not long. Over their shoulders the women wear, particularly in cool weather, a red and blue striped cotton shawl or wrap. The red worn—whether in belts, wraps, or hair-strings—is all of one shade, a dull crimson-red. As night fell, dozens of little bonfires were lighted in the plaza, made from cobwork piles of fat-pine. People were already gathering from other pueblos for market, and many of them slept through the night in the open market-place. The band played a mournful piece, repeatedly, during the evening, and some rockets were fired—no doubt, the tailing-off of the late fiesta.
Market had begun in the morning, as we prepared to leave, but the great plaza was not more than half-full, and there was little that was characteristic. Noteworthy, however, were the great loaves of salt made at Ixtapa; about the size of old-fashioned sugar-loaves, they were shaped in rush-mats, and showed the marks of the matting on their surface; saws were used to cut off pieces for purchasers. The agente said that it was not good, being mixed with earth or sand. He, himself, came from the neighborhood of Tapachula, where quantities of salt are made from the lagoon water. The salt-water and the salt-soaked earth from the bottom of the lagoon are put into vats and leached, and the resulting saline is boiled in ovens, each of which contains an olla. The industry is conducted by ladinos, as well as indians, but the salt is poor.
It was 8:45 when we started, and almost immediately we began a hard climb over limestone, giving a severe test to our poor animals. At the summit we found a group of indian carriers, who, as usual, stopped at the pass to rest and look upon the landscape. The view was really beautiful, the little town lying in a curious, level valley, which was encircled by an abrupt slope, and which had been excavated from an almost level plateau. For some time, we followed this high level, but finally plunged down into a deep gully, where our road passed away to the left in a dry gorge, while to the right, the valley deepened abruptly by a great vertical wall. When we reached the point of sudden deepening, in the gorge below, we saw water, bursting in volume from the cliff's base. Dismounting from our horses, and climbing down, we found a magnificent arch of limestone over the emerging stream, the water of which was fresh and cold, and clear as crystal. The shallow portion of the valley marks the ancient level of the stream. In some past time, the stream had sunk, cutting a subterranean channel under its old bed, which was left high and dry. The deep part of the valley may be due to the falling of the roof of rock above the subterranean stream. Following up the ancient valley, we presently turned into one of its old tributary gorges, coming out into a country well-wooded with pines and oaks. The whole country hereabouts is composed of monoclines, all the crests presenting one long, gentle slope, with rocks dipping with the slope, and one abrupt short slope, cutting the strata. The roads, for the most part, follow along the edge of these monoclines, making them unusually long, though easy. The rocks over which we passed were an olive shaly-sandstone, with notable concentric weathering, limestone, and here and there, red sandstone, abundantly green-spotted. Indians, everywhere, were burning over fields, preparatory to planting, while the day was clear, the smoke rose in clouds, and at many places we suffered from these field fires. Twice we passed a point just as the flames leaped from one side of the road to the other, and rode between two lines of blaze. The fire, burning green branches and stalks, caused thousands of loud explosions, like the rattle of musketry.
Long before we were near it, we caught sight of Cancuc, the beautiful, perched upon its lofty crest. In San Cristobal, our journey had been matter of conversation among the mestizos and many and dire predictions had been made. "Ah, yes, it is easy for these gentlemen to do this work here in the cabecera, but let them get to Tenejapa, and Cancuc—there it will be another matter; they will be killed upon the journey; if they reach Cancuc, they will never leave the town alive." The town is built on the edge of a ridge, which drops in both directions, leaving barely room for the placing of houses. From it, we looked out in every direction over a magnificent landscape. Cancuc is famous for the insurrection of 1712. Curiously, like the outbreak at Chamula in 1868, it was due to the visions and religious influence of a girl. Maria Candaleria was the centre and impulse of the whole movement. Dr. Brinton has thrown the incident, which abounded in picturesque details, and which caused the Spanish government great difficulty, into a little drama, which bears the name of the inspired priestess.
We were now within the district of my friend Valencia. Two years ago, when we passed through the country of the Mixes, he was the jefe politico of the District of Yautepec; he had been transferred to this state and this district, with his cabecera at Ocosingo. That town lay far from our course, and we had written Senor Valencia, that we planned to pass through his district, but had not time to visit the cabecera. We named the towns through which we planned to pass, and begged him to send orders directly to the local authorities, instead of trying to communicate with us. This he had done promptly, and during our stay in his district, everything was done for us without delay. The agente at Cancuc is a new official, but a man of sense, and sympathy for the indians, among whom he lives. We arrived at half-past three and had our mozo been on time, might have done some work. The agente showed us the historic picture in the old church; it is the portrait of a clergyman, whose influence did much to quell the insurrection in 1713. More interesting to us than the old picture, were groups of indians, kneeling and praying. When they knelt, they touched their foreheads and faces to the ground, which they saluted with a kiss. Having assumed the attitude of prayer, they were oblivious to all around them, and, curiously, their prayers were in the native language. The town-house was placed at the disposition of our party, but the agente's bed, in his own house, was given to me. As I sat writing at the table in his room, the whole town government—a dozen or so in number—stalked in. Most of them wore the heavy black chamaras made by the Chamula indians. These were so long that they almost swept the ground. The faces of the men were dark and wild, and their hair hung in great black shocks down upon their shoulders and backs. In their hands they held their long official staves. Advancing to the table where I sat, in the order of their rank, they saluted me, kissing my hand; arranging themselves in a half-circle before my table, the presidente placed before me a bowl filled with eggs, each wrapped in corn-husks, while the first alcalde deposited a cloth filled with a high pile of hot tortillas; a speech was made in Tzendal, which was translated by the second official, in which they told me that they appreciated our visit; it gave them pleasure that such important persons should come from such a distance to investigate the life and manners of their humble town; they trusted that our errand might be entirely to our wishes, and that, in leaving, we might bear with us a pleasant memory. They begged us to accept the poor presents they had brought, while they assured us that, in them, we had our thousand most obedient servants. And this in Cancuc—the town where we were to have met our death! At night, the fires on a hundred hills around us made a magnificent display, forming all sorts of fantastic combinations and outlines. In the evening, the son of the agente, who had been to Tenango with a friend, came home in great excitement. He was a lively young fellow of eighteen years. At the river-crossing, where they arrived at five in the evening, a black cow, standing in the river, scared their horses so that they could not make them cross; the boy emptied his revolver at the animal, but with no effect; it was clearly a vaca bruja—witch cow; an hour and a half was lost before they succeeded in getting their horses past with a rush.
The morning was spent in making pictures. While still in Yucatan, we heard about the music of Cancuc, and among our views was one of the musicians. These are three in number, and they head processions at fiestas; the drum, like that we saw at Tuxtla, is cylindrical, with two heads; the pito is the usual reed whistle; the tortuga, a large turtle-shell, was brought from Palenque; it is hung by a belt to the player, and is beaten on the lower side with two leg-bones of a deer. The Cancuc dress is simple. Men wear the breech-clout, and, when they carry burdens, little else; at other times, they wear short, cotton trousers which hardly reach the knees. The chief garment is a camisa, of native cotton, with a colored stitching at the neck and along the seam where the two edges join; this camisa is of such length that, when girded, it hangs just to, or a little below, the lower edge of the trouser leg. The belts are home-woven, but are made of cotton which is bought already dyed a brilliant red or yellow. Women wear woolen belts made by Chamulas; their enaguas are plain, dull blue in color; their huipils are a dirty white, with a minimum of colored stitching. The chief industry at Cancuc is raising pigs for market.
At 1:15 we started from the town, and rode down the crest of long, gently-sloping ridges, which seemed interminable. The rock over which we passed was red sandstone, mottled and streaked with green, red shale, and occasional patches of conglomerate. Crossing a little stream by a pretty bridge, we made an abrupt ascent, and soon saw the little town, Cuaquitepec, at the base of the opposite hill.
We met many indians carrying great ovoidal jars which were made at Tenango, and which are chiefly used for carrying chicha. This is a fermented drink, made from the sap of sugar-cane, and is much used throughout this state and the adjoining parts of Central America. We inquired of a girl who carried such a vessel, what she had, and asked to try it. She gave us a sip in a wee gourd-vessel, holding less than a wine-glass. Knowing nothing of the price of chicha, we gave her six centavos, with which she seemed well satisfied. A little later, deciding to test the drink again, we stopped a man, who had a vessel of it, and again were given the little cup. On stating that we wished a centavo's worth, we were much surprised to have him fill a great jicara for the price mentioned. It seems the little vessel is carried only for sampling, and that a sale is made only after the purchaser has approved the quality.
Reaching Cuaquitepec at five, we rode up to the town-house, that the authorities might know that we had passed. The place is small and dwindling; there are relatively many ladinos, and few indians. They were expecting us, and seemed disappointed at our refusal to stop. The shell of the old church, almost ready to fall, suggested past magnificence. The little modern structure, at its side, is suited to the present needs. We were vexed at the wanton sacrifice of a great tree, which had stood near the town-house, but whose giant trunk was prostrate, and stripped of its branches. A man on foot showed us the road beyond the town, and it was moonlight before we reached Citala, where we planned to sleep. Of the town itself, we know nothing. The old church is decaying, but in its best days must have been magnificent. The presidente was absent, but his wife, an active, bustling intelligent ladino, expected us, and did everything possible for our comfort. Eggs, beans, tortillas and coffee made up the supper. A room, containing a bed for me, and petates on the floor for my companions, was waiting. When a light was struck more than a dozen great cockroaches were seen running over the wall, none of them less than two inches and a half in length, and of the most brilliant orange and dark brown. In the morning, a fine chicken breakfast was promptly ready, and the woman had summoned a cargador to be ready for our starting. She said that in this town there is a considerable indian population, and that these Tzendals are tall and strongly-built, in comparison with those of Cuaquitepec, and other neighboring towns. She regretted that we could not wait until her husband came, as she had sent him word of our arrival, and was expecting him. We assured her that she had done everything which he could possibly have done, had he been present, and that we should, with pleasure, report our satisfaction to the jefe.
The cargador whom she supplied, was a comfort, after the wretched sluggards whom we had lately had. With our instruments upon his shoulders, he trotted, like a faithful dog, directly at our side, from start to finish, never showing the least weariness or sense of burden. Both foot mozos and arrieros through this district carry a mass of posole with them on a journey. Unlike that which Eustasio and his Zapotec companions carried, the mass here is pure corn, white and moist, being kept wrapped in fresh banana leaves; at every brook-side, a jicara of fresh water is dipped, and a handful of posole is squeezed up in it till thoroughly mixed, when it is drunk. It tastes a little sour, and is refreshing. At 11:15, we passed the bridge over the stream on which Chilon is built, and a moment later drew up at the town-house. Here we regretted that our serious work with the Tzendals was done. We were received royally, and told that our house was ready. This was really so, a pretty little house of three good rooms having been cleaned and prepared for our use. We lay down and napped until the good dinner, which had been started when we had first been seen upon the road, and some time before we reached the village, was ready. Sitting on the porch of our little house, and looking out over bushes, full of roses, in the garden before us, we rested until the greatest heat of the day was past, when we started, and pushed on over the three leagues that lay between us and Yajalon, where we arrived at near sunset. The town is large, and, in great part, indian. The women dressed more gaily than in any other Tzendal town which we have seen; their huipils were decorated with a mass of bright designs, worked in colored wools or silk. Here we saw our first Chol, a carrier, passing through the village with his load; in order to make a start upon our final tribe, we had him halted, to take his measurements and picture. At this town, we stopped at a sort of boarding-house, or traveller's-rest, close by the town-house, kept by a widow with several children. We impressed upon this good woman the necessity of having breakfast without fail at five o'clock, as we wished to make an early start, stopping at Hidalgo for work during the hotter portion of the day, and pressing on to Tumbala at night. The poor creature kept me awake all night, making her preparations for the meal, which was to be a masterpiece of culinary art, and at four o'clock routed us all out with the report that breakfast was waiting on the table. It was a turkey-breakfast, too.
Of course, after such a start, we were delayed in getting the animals ready for the journey, and the sun had been up full half an hour when we left. It was a short ride to Hidalgo, which lies prettily in a small, flat valley, on a good-sized stream. We were doubtful about our reception, for Yajalon was the last town in Valencia's district, and we had no documents to present to the town officials, until we should reach El Salto, the cabecera, except our general letter from Governor Lopez. It is true that the presidente of Yajalon, at our request, had telephoned Hidalgo that we came highly recommended, and that everything possible must be done for our assistance. The agente was an old man, suffering from headache, who showed but listless interest in our work. In a general way, he gave us his endorsement, and we, therefore, took the management into our own hands. He had kept the people in town, so that we had subjects, though fewer than we had hoped. We measured twenty-seven men, and there were really no more in the town, the rest being away on fincas. The men gave us no trouble, but the women were another matter. Several times we issued orders that they be brought to the town-house for measurement, and each time, after an effort to obey our orders, we were told that they would not come. "Very good," said I, "if they will not come, it is plain that we must go and measure them in their houses." Accompanied by the town government, we started on our rounds. The first house was tightly closed, and no reply was made to our demands for entrance. The second was the same; one might imagine that it had been deserted for weeks. At the third, the door was opened, and within, an aged woman, ugly, bent, decrepit. Here we measured. The next house, and the next, and the next, were shut. And then another open house contained another veritable hag. Passing several other houses, tightly closed, we found a third old woman, and I saw that we were destined to secure nothing but decrepit hags, as representatives of the fair sex. At the next closed house, I stopped, and turning to an official, who spoke Spanish, said, "I am tired of these closed houses; who owns this house?" His name was given, and I wrote it down. "Very well," said I, "I shall recommend to the jefe of the district, when I reach El Salto, that he be made to pay a fine of five pesos." At this, the town officials gasped, but we walked to the next house, which was also closed. "Who owns this house?" And down went a second name. By the time I had three names of owners of closed houses on my paper, the officials held a hasty whispered consultation; then coming to me, they begged me to excuse them for a moment, as the secretario would accompany me upon my round, and they would soon rejoin us. With this, they disappeared, and we entered another old woman's house. When we emerged, a wonderful change had taken place; every house in the village had its door wide open, and in the doorway were to be seen anywhere from one to three or four ladies of all ages. From this time on, there was no lack of women, and the twenty-five were promptly measured.
We had picked out our subjects for modeling before we started on our rounds to measure women; and had left Ramon in charge of that part of our work, staying only long enough to see him make the mould of the first subject. This was an indian, named Juan, the first alcalde of the village. We had carefully explained the operation to our subjects; we had described in detail the sensations and emotions connected with the thing, and thought we had the subjects well prepared. When Juan began, he seemed to have good courage, but we told a young fellow, who sat near and understood Spanish, that he should tell the man certain encouraging things which we repeated to him. The translation was promptly done, and we were therefore much surprised to see our subject's confidence gradually give way to terror. While we were applying the first mould, he began to sob and cry like a child; this was, however, nothing compared with the abject terror and sorrow which he displayed while we were making the face-mould. The tears flowed from his eyes; he sobbed, cried aloud, and we could see the thumping of his heart against his chest. We had never had a subject who took the matter so hardly. When the operation was completed, we learned the cause of all this trouble. Our interpreter turned out to be a joker, and, while we were telling him encouraging remarks, with which to soothe the subject, he was saying, "Now you will die; pretty soon you will not be able to breathe any more; you will be dead and buried before to-morrow; your poor widow will no doubt feel badly, but probably she will find another quite as good as you." We had always realized the possibility of such misinterpretations, but, so far as we know, this was the only time that our interpreter ever played us false.
On our return from measuring the women, we found that Ramon had made no progress. The three subjects, whom we had selected and left in his charge, under strenuous orders, had taken fright at Juan's experience and fled. We lost two hours in hunting them and bringing them in; and we should not have succeeded then, had it not been for Juan's assistance. He seemed to feel that, having undergone the operation, it might ease his position, and decrease possible danger, if he had companions in misery. Finally, at 4:30, long after the hour we had set, we left for Tumbala. We secured six cargadors—one each for the four moulds, one for the instruments, and one for the remaining plaster,—as our pack-animals had long since passed. Five of them were left to follow at their leisure, on condition that they reach Tumbala early the next morning, but the sixth, a wee old man, who had helped us woman-hunting, went with us, by his own request, to carry the instruments. He was so small that we did not believe he could carry the burden, but he made no sort of trouble about it, trotting along most happily. We had been told that the road was pura subida—pure ascent—and so we found it. We were soon in the tropical forest of the Chinantla, and the land of the Mixes, with begonias, tree-ferns, bromelias, and orchids. Here and there, were bad bits of road, deep mud, slippery stones, irregular limestone masses. It was dark before we reached Tumbala, and although there was a moon, the mists were so dense that it did little good. Arriving at 6:45, we found the town a wretched place, with a worthless and nerveless agente. This was once the largest of the Chol towns, and we had thought to do the bulk of our work there. It is fortunate, indeed, that we stopped at Hidalgo, because Tumbala is now completely ruined by the contract-labor system, which has sent its men all through the country onto fincas. The agente would probably have done nothing for us, but his little daughter, much impressed by our letter from the governor, took an active interest in our welfare, promised to prepare a dinner, and decided him to give us sleeping-quarters in a store-room in the building. He thawed a little after we had eaten, but spoke discouragingly regarding the possibility of working there. He said we would do well to go to El Triunfo; that it would take two days to find indians and bring them to the town; that there were no animals, nothing to eat, no conveniences in Tumbala, in all of which he probably was quite correct. Our arrieros had contracted only to this point from San Cristobal. We urged them to make the further journey, and offered them a price much above the regular, but they wanted to be back in San Cristobal for Holy Week, and assured us that the roads ahead were the worst that could be imagined, and that they ran the risk of killing all their animals if they went with us.
As we were on the road, a little before we reached Tumbala, we found a company of indian boys making camp for the night. Calling to us, they said that Don Enrique had told them if they saw us on the road, to say that we should keep straight on to El Triunfo, as he had a message for us. We had never heard of Don Enrique, and thought there was some error, but after supper, the agente handed us a letter which had come that afternoon from the gentleman in question. In it we read: "Sir: Mr. Ellsworth, of the Rio Michol Rubber Co., Salto, asked me by telephone to tell you that he will be waiting for you the 4th of April in La Cruzada, and hopes that you will kindly accompany Mrs. Ellsworth as far as Mexico, and that, in case she would not find a steamer in Frontera, he is going to charter one. Hoping to see you here in Triunfo, and waiting for an answer to La Cruzada, I remain, Yours truly, H. Rau." This was a gleam of light amid our dark affairs. There we were, with all our baggage and instruments, but without carriers, deserted by our arrieros, and with no opportunity in Tumbala to secure new animals or helpers; it was like the voice of a friend, to receive this English letter from El Triunfo, and we felt that, if worst came to worst, Don Enrique might help us out.
The room in which we slept was filled with stored stuff and two tables. On one of these I made my bed, while my companions spread a large petate on the floor, and our little indian carrier put down a small one for himself, as he declared he should not leave us until morning. He had a good supper, and in a fit of generosity, presented Louis with what was left of his package of posole. With much enthusiasm, he told us of an "animal" which he had seen and tried to catch upon the road. From his description, it appeared to be an armadillo. Before he lay down on his petate, he kissed my hand, wished me a good night's rest, and asked my good-night blessing. He was happy in possession of a real's worth of aguardiente, from which, at intervals during the night, he drank. Early in the morning, he opened the door, and, looking out, crossed himself, and repeated his morning prayer. He then came to Tatita (little father) to receive his morning's blessing, and hoped that I had passed a good night in slumber. He then brought me a jicara of cool, fresh water, after which he urged me to take a sip from his dear bottle. Going outside a little time, he returned with two roses, heavy with dew and very fragrant, and gave them to me as if they were a gift for kings. Very soon, however, his potations got the better of him, and bidding us a fond farewell, he started for Hidalgo.
It was my day of fever, and I spent the greater portion of the morning on my hard bed, getting up from time to time to try to move the agente to procure an animal, on which I might make the journey to El Triunfo. Finally, in despair, after difficulty in securing a foot-messenger, I sent a letter to Don Enrique, asking him to send an animal for my use. During the afternoon, a fine mule and a letter came from El Triunfo. "Sir: The boy brought me your letter, and I send you a good mule for yourself, so we shall talk all the rest when you shall get here. If you need more pack-mules I will send them afterwards, as soon as you tell me how many you need. Hoping to see you this afternoon, I remain, Yours very truly, Henry Rau." The road was down hill, and there were but two or three bad spots. I rode through tropical forests, the whole distance, with high trees, bound together with a mass of vines, and loaded with parasitic or aerial plants. Here and there, rose the largest tree-ferns I have ever seen. I was not in the best mood, however, for enjoying the journey, and the hour-and-a-quarter seemed like much more. The great coffee finca of El Triunfo occupied an irregular valley, the slopes of which were covered with thousands of coffee-trees, with their magnificent dark green leaves and sweet-scented, white flowers. Three hundred and fifty thousand trees made up the plantation, which was one of two owned and managed by Senor Rau. The house was large, and rather pretentious, two stories in height, with buildings for cleaning, packing and storing coffee on the same terrace, and with a veritable village of houses for the indian workmen down below. I received a warm reception from the Senor and his household, who have established here a veritable bit of Germany in tropical America. Not only was I myself cared for, but I was urged to make no haste in going further, as no steamer would go from La Cruzada before the 4th, and it would be easy to reach that place in twenty-four hours. So, for several days the hospitable plantation-house was my home. Great lines of mules were constantly going from here, through to El Salto and La Cruzada, with loads of coffee, and coming back with provisions, and the many supplies necessary for an establishment of this importance. When the next mulada should appear, animals would be sent to Tumbala for my companions and the luggage. Curiously, none came for two whole days—a very unusual occurrence—and the boys remained prisoners in that dreary town for all that time. For my own part, I was thankful to reach a place where a comfortable bed and certain meals were to be counted on. My fever left me, but the following morning I found myself suffering from swollen jaws; every tooth was loose and sore, and it was difficult to chew even the flesh of bananas; this difficulty I had lately suffered, whenever in the moist mountain district of Pennsylvania, and I feared that there would be no relief until I was permanently out of the district of forest-grown mountains. Nor was I mistaken, for ten days passed, and we had reached the dry central table-land of Mexico, before my suffering ended. One day, while we were on the finca, considerable excitement was caused by one of the Indians working in the field being bitten by a poisonous serpent. The man was brought at once to the house, and remedies were applied which prevented serious results, although his leg swelled badly. The serpent was killed, and measured about five feet in length, having much the general appearance of a rattlesnake, but with no rattles. Don Enrique says that the most dangerous snake in this district is a little creature more brightly colored, with a smaller head, which is less markedly flat, and with smaller fangs; he showed us one of these, not more than a foot in length, from whose bite a man on the plantation, a year before, had died. In telling us of this event, he gave us a suggestion of the working of the contract-labor system; the man who died owed one hundred and forty pesos of work—almost three years of labor; the jefe, indeed, had sent the son to work out the debt, but the young man soon ran away, and the most diligent effort to recapture him had failed.
Perhaps two hundred persons lived as workmen on the finca of El Triunfo. They were, of course, all indians, and were about evenly divided between Tzendals and Chols; it was impossible to gather them for measurement till Sunday, when they all came to the house and the store. It was a day of amusement and recreation for the laborers, a day when all of them—men, women, children—drank quantities of liquor. It was interesting to watch them as they came up to the store to make their little purchases for the week. All were in their best clothing, and family groups presented many interesting scenes. On Sundays and fiestas, they play toro—one man creeping into a framework of light canes covered with leather, meant to represent a bull, while others play the part of bull-fighters. The Chols present a well-marked type. They are short, broad-headed and dark-skinned; their noses are among the most aquiline in Mexico. Men, especially those of Tumbala, have a characteristic mode of cropping the hair; that on the back of the head is cut close, leaving the hair of the forward third of the head longer. The men are almost immediately recognized, wherever met, by the characteristic camisa, made of white cotton, vertically striped with narrow lines of pink, which is woven in the Chol towns, and does not appear to be used by other Indians.
The doors of the hospitable home at El Triunfo are ever open, and a day rarely passes without some traveller seeking shelter and entertainment. Spaniards, Mexicans, Germans, Englishmen, Americans, all are welcome, and during the few days of our stay, the house was never free of other visitors. Among these was Stanton Morrison, famous in Yale's football team in '92; he now lives in this district, and has a coffee finca four hours' ride away.
Finally, at 10:10 Tuesday morning, April 2d, having completed all our work, we started from El Triunfo for our last ride of the season. We could easily have gone, starting in the early morning, to El Salto before night; as it was, Don Enrique planned a different method. We had good animals, which he had loaned us, or for which he had arranged for us with the muleteers. At two o'clock we reached La Trinidad, where he had promised that we should eat the finest meal in the State of Chiapas. We found a complete surprise. Trinidad is little more than a finca, or rancho, but it has an agente, and quite a population of Chol indians. The agente was a decent-looking fellow, active and ambitious; he talks a little English, and is something of an amateur photographer. His house of poles and mud presented no notable external features, but within, it was supplied with furniture so varied and abundant as is rare in any part of Mexico. Chairs, rockers, tables, cupboards, washstands, all were there; and beds, real beds, which for cleanness were marvels. As soon as we entered the house, fresh water and clean towels were brought. On the tables were vases of fresh-gathered flowers, in quantities, and beautifully arranged. The visible service for all this elegance, and for the meals, were two little indian girls not more than six or eight years old, neatly dressed, and an indian boy of the same size and cleanness. The invisible helpers were buxom indian girls, well-dressed and clean, but who never came into the room where we were, leaving all carrying, setting of tables, and serving, in the hands of these three little servants. There was, indeed, one other person in the household—a beautiful girl, slender and refined, whose relation to the master I do not know, but who was treated by him as if she were a veritable queen, or some lovely flower in the wilderness. Here we rested, ate and slept in comfort, and here, when morning came, we paid a bill which ordinarily would have seemed large; however, if one finds beautiful flowers in the wilderness, he must expect to pay. It was worth while paying to enjoy the best sleep, in the best bed, that one had had for months.