Mandan to Acapulco, 1937. Just a fun trip.

 

Col. Welch had a very enjoyable and informative trip….an interesting look at Mexico-1937…. his diary is well-flavored with photos, clippings, maps and labels of exotic booze

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Highlighted Stages of the Adventure

Preamble…A visit to the Alamo

On to Mexico

Monterey

On the way, again, to Mexico City

On the Camino Sinuoso

A Visit to a Native Casa (8′ x12′)

A Visit to Puebla

A Digression

But, to return to the city of Puebla and the Government’s Seizure of Catholic Property.

Back to “Mexico” and a Bull Fight

A Trip to San Juan Teotihuacan

Xochimilco

On to Acapulco

Taxco

Iguala

Ciudad Bravos

Acapulco

Heading Home from this City of 13,000

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Preamble … a visit to the Alamo

This is not a story of Texas; rather a brief record of ancient MEXICO, the ancient Empire of the Mayas,  Toltecs and Aztecs, but as we received our first “foreign impressions” at the beautiful southern city of San Antonio.  It may be wise to mention this part of the United States, which is so closely connected with Mexico, for here we noticed many people of Mexican blood upon the streets; Mexican cafes; patio saloons, palms and semi-tropical flowers and other strange vegetation which apparently flourish along this northern fringe of the low, hot countries to the southward; sounds of Spanish tongue; a lively little river, walled and bridged, flowing through the city; grilled windows and buildings of an age which seemed to be very hoary, to us from the north country of Dakota.

The Mecca of all visitors to San Antonio is the Alamo, now maintained as a museum, by the state government.  This structure was erected in 1716 and was one mission of the several established by the Franciscan Monks, among the tribes of Indians of that region.  It is a rambling, low structure, of adobe, with the inevitable arches and patios.

When the scattered inhabitants seceded from the Spanish Government and rule in Mexico, the Texans established themselves here as an independent state.  Here on March 6th, 1836, they were besieged by General Santa Anna, and after terrific fighting, the garrison of Texans, under command of Col. William B. Travis, fell to the Mexicans, and 182 brave Texans were slaughtered almost to a man.  When the fight to the death became inevitable, Col. Travis drew a line upon the floor with the point of his sword and invited those men, who would fight to the end, to step across.  At this dramatic moment, every  man stepped across except one, a man named Ross, who stated that he believed that he could escape and bring relief.

He did escape from the besieged fort, but what happened to him I am unable to state, but we do know that no relief appeared and that the last of the defending party was slain in the small room just to the right of the main entrance doors.  One woman and her child were permitted to live by Santa Anna, and were sent by him to the Texas authorities to inform them of the fate of the Texans.  This woman was Mrs. Dickinson.  A black slave of Col. Travis was also spared.  Famous men died there.  Among them were Col. Travis, James Bowie (he of bowie knife fame), Steven Austin, David Crockett and Dr. Amos Pollard.  Mrs. Turner, of our party, is distantly related to a hero of that day, David Crockett.

Texas boasts of having been under six flags; Spanish, Mexican, France, Lone Star Empire, the Confederate States and the United States of America.  These flags are to be seen everywhere in the city.  The heritage of the state is a proud one and, at present, appears indeed to belong to an empire in its own right, rich and rapidly developing along all lines.

On to Mexico

We left that last, great city of Texas and drove to Pearsall (71 miles) in order to be out of the traffic and ready for an early start in the morning, having met the Turners at the Alamo according to schedule.

At noon, December 1st, we arrived at Laredo, Texas, separated from the land of our adventures    by only the broad Rio Grande, spanned by an International Bridge, with U.S. soldiers and revenue officers at the northern end and Mexican soldiers and other officers at the southern exit.

We were very well treated by these Mexican officials and, after answering many questions and signing many papers which were printed in Spanish and the purport of which we knew very little, but which did not require passports, we were fairly on the great, new Pan-American Highway and headed for Acapulco, State of Guererro, via Mexico (City), D.F. (Distrito Federal).

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As the flat valley of the Rio Grande unfolded to our view, the dreams of my lifetime appeared to be greater reality.  For I had sat upon the knees of Gen. Lew Wallace, when a boy, and listened to tales of this same country.  He was writing “The Fair God” at that time, was a most profound student. Out of the stories he had told to me I retained a glamorous idea of Toltecs, Chichimeca, Tolucans, Tlasclalans, Oacomas, Taxcans and other tribes of gaily bedecked Indians; of great cities and lakes, causeways, floating flower gardens, canals, human sacrifices, stone gods, temples, bloody courtyards, heartless priests, nail-studded and dark church duneons; certain names of peoples and heathen Gods  – Moctezuma, Cortez and his beautiful mistress, Malinche – Questalcoluatl, the plumed serpent God – Huitzacoatl of human sacrifice, Alvarado, the tumultuous fight in Tenoctitlan, the steel armour and long swords of the Spanish conquistadores; their horses, new to the Mexicans.  A most romantic story, but true  – the conquest of the cultured Aztecs  – the Priests and the Cross, the fanatical zeal of the Christians  – the gold loot which made Spain the richest country of that time in the entire world. All of which sunk the Aztec empire to deep that she is just now emerging into a lighter dawn, after over 400 years of deep subjugation.  So deep that no other nation ever survived such a like treatment.  Not even the conquest of Peru by the Pizarro brothers compares with this, one of the darkest pages of the story of the advance of civilization.

We lost no time in leaving Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican city on the right bank of the Rio Grande.  As we reeled off the kilometers the country changed, architecture, peoples, customs, and we began to see many burros loaded to their ears with hay, fuel, charcoal, vegetables, merchandise  – while on top, serenely contemplating whatever a Mexican thinks about, sat the lord of creation, half asleep in the bright sunshine, both heels beating a steady tattoo upon the side of the larboring, burden-bearing steed.  New forms of chaparral and cactus, great numbers of thin-hipped, calico colored longhorn cattle; while above circled the ever-present buzzards, evidently on the watch for any animal or reptile in the last throes of life, or death itself.  These birds settle rapidly and soon nothing is left of the unfortunate animal but a well-picked carcass of bones, and the scavengers scarcely move out of the way of our car.  There are several kinds of these birds  – the old-fashioned ones seen often in the north; one entirely black; another with light-colored head and neck and large white spots on the wings.  These last ones are more like an eagle than a buzzard or vulture and always appear in pairs.

We soon began to approach a rough range of mountains on the west, rearing their steep sides to a considerable elevation.  At the distance of 88 miles we entered Sabinas Hidalgo, a city of some 12,000 inhabitants.  The mountains on the west had closed in and appeared to be with a few miles of us.  The road began twisting and turning as we entered the range soon after leaving Sabinas Hidalgo and, at about 20 miles, we passed over the Mamaulinque Pass and descended into the valley of Monterey.  At 120 miles from Laredo we seemed to be entering a cul-de-sac of high mountains to the right and left and in front of us, ending in magnificent peaks, a rough and recent formation, sharp, forbidding but beautiful.

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Within this amphitheatre lies the beautiful and important city of Monterey (Mountain of the King).  We passed a large “quartel” here, which quartered the regiments of Mexican Infantry and a squadron of Cavalry, and within a short distance we entered in the Regina Courts, where we made arrangements to spend the night.  The courtyard was full of banana and other semi-tropical growth; the courts are of tile and cement, each apartment furnished with a shower and other modern requirements; a profusion of flowers interested us, forms of strange and exotic aromas.  The arrangements for the night had to be conducted in Spanish.  Here we were introduced to the custom of “having a guide,” an almost necessary provision if one expects to see the places of interest at any locality in Mexico.  We ate an early supper at the café at the Courts and were almost surprised to find the menu printed in Spanish and, as I was the only one of the party who had had any experience with the language, which was a remnant of my Filipino experience, we had considerable fun in the selection of food.

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The cashier attempted to palm a Mexican Peso of mine, professing that she had no change, hoping, of course, that the few centavos in change would be ignored with a wave of the hand.  “Aren’t all Americanos rich people and do they not give us tips?”  But we started well by demanding every centavo we had coming  – and getting it at last.  Then we started up town with Luis, who drove the car.  These guides are fond of doing this but if a traveler has a due regard for his auto, he will do the driving himself, for the driver in Mexico loves to get with a couple of feet of the car ahead and follow it at a high rate of speed, which, in those narrow and winding streets, spells damage to any car.  Everyone in Mexico walks in the middle of the street; burros with their heavy loads also; the reaction of the common pedestrian is very slow, and a sounded horn does not seem to be noticed for several seconds, and then they are as liable to jump to one side as to the other, and then try to cross to the other side.  It was wonder that we did not kill some of them on this trip, and would certainly have done so, had we not exercised care during the entire journey.

Monterey

This city is the largest manufacturing point in all Mexico and lies at the foot of the western end of the Sierra Madre Mountains and is about entirely surrounded by that range.  It lies at an altitude of 1,758 feet and has a climate which averages 61° in the winter and 75° during the summer.  Monterey was founded in 1596 by Diego de Montemayor, however another story is that it was really Don Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueve, who founded the city in 1581.  Spanish influences still linger here, but in the midst of its age old cathedrals and other buildings, which reflect the imprint of a bygone age, there are splendid hotels and cafes, modern in every way.

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Throughout the city the picturesque old life continues as during a century ago.  We drove about the city that evening, and the guide, Luis, conducted us up a rough roadway, stoney and rough, which led to the highest point in the city and finally, after bumping over the outcropping stone ledges, we came to the “Obispa’ (The Bishop’s Palace), an imposing cathedral-like structure, erected two centuries ago on the crest of Chipe Verde.  It was dark by the that time and we felt uneasy as it was an ideal place for a real hold-up, but no such thing happened and we watched, with interest, the expanse of the electrically lighted city, set down deep within the circle of close mountains.

We then went to the Zaragosa Park to listen to the band and watch the Promenade  – a sort of city habit, when girls and young men walk about the park, each on certain paths, and become “acquainted properly.”  Dressed in their best, snickering and 100% self-conscious, them promenaded in time to slow music by the band, threw shy glances at each other as they passed on separate paths.  A sort of glorified Municipal Flirting Fiesta.

On the way again to Mexico D.F.

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However, in spite of inviting side trips from Monterey, we were on the road next day, bright and early, after a breakfast at Regina Courts.  We had sampled several sorts of native drinks at Monterey, and the taste of Noche de Monterey still lingered but was erased by a sip or two of Aguardienti, made from the maguey plant which grows to enormous size and perfection. This is similar to the century plant within greenhouses at home.  When the plant is about seven years old, it sends up a thick stalk which, if left, will develop into a great stem covered with blossoms.  At that time the stalk is cut off, a bucket-shaped depression is scooped out from the middle of the plant.  From this depression, the juice, which would normally feed the stalk and blossom, is gathered every day.  After “working” for 48 hours it becomes pulque, or native beer, and when distilled, the result is several sorts of very strong Cognac and Tequila  – dangerously deceptive.  Pulque was discovered, and its manufacture fostered, by the King of the Aztecs immediately before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519.

Strange vegetation and hot country fruits began to be noticed the next day; almost tropical in character, oranges, limes, bananas, papayas, live oak, bamboo, cacti (40 feet high in great candelabra shapes from a single stalk; others took the form of single stems, four inches wide and an inch thick, straight as a telephone pole for 30 or 40 feet).  Every little thatched hut had a fence of these about it, for here the people do not need walls to protect them from the weather  – just a roof to keep off the rain in the summer and the sun in the winter.  Poinsettias 18 to 20 inches across the flower in great clumps shattered the color scheme with their deep reds; roses in walls; everywhere the bluest and whitest morning glories ran through the jungle, and acres of orchids slashed the walls of the cliffs across the gorges with brilliance; lianas twisted about the stems of forest giants and choked at their very lives; coffee began to appear wild; vanilla and cocoa beans; large trees bore white and blue bell-like flowers ten inches wide.  We were told that these are the belladonna trees; a hundred flowers, new to us; clumps of bananas at every native mountain hut, and, on hillsides as steep as 60°, maize was growing.  Corn, of course, is the common and regular food.  Sugar cane, 15 feet tall, every urchin and frown person we met carried a few feet of it with them, industriously chewing and extracting the sweet sap; larger trees in the lower zone of altitude  – the fragrant frangipani; tall smooth-trunked mangos.  Once in a while the tree from which chuckle is obtained (the foundation of our gum industry) and the black machete slashes as far as a man may reach and from which the hardened resin, or gum, is gathered and sold “down Mexico way,” and which eventually finds its way to Chicago and to the red-lipped telephone girl and the society queen, and known by many trade names.  But GUM in any language is just gum and its base is chickle.

 

We still were on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madre range, but drove to an altitude of 2,500 feet at Ciudad Victoria.  The mountain scenery to the west was very splendid and the peaks rose to several thousand feet above us all day.  All the way from Monterey, we met and overtook groups of Mexican soldiers, apparently road patrols, as the population is inclined to “go bandit” every once in a while.  Nearly every man carried a nice long machette cradled in his arms, and couple of dirks in his belt, or sash, and some few were rich enough to sport a gun on their hips.

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Along the roadway we noticed little crosses, planted by the authorities at the locations where they had buried some person found dead.  Often these crosses bore the words “Mort por le machette” (dead with a machette) which clearly indicated that some person had met a violent death there.  It might have been a neighborhood triangle affair and, again, it might have been the result of some pleasant little bandit affair, or duello.  At any rate, it looked ominous and pitiful.  We learned that it is the law that anyone killed must be buried where the affair took place and that the body (if a foreigner) must remain buried in Mexico for seven years before permission is granted to remove it to another country. However, in all our long trip of about 2,500 miles in Mexico, we had not the slightest difficulty with the thousands of men we met on the highways.  It is true that they appear rather sullen and uncommunicative, but often we received the most hearty smiles and calls of “Adios, Amigos.”

After leaving Monterey with its 165,000 people, we passed through Montemoralos with a population of 18,000; Linares with 22,000 people; Ciudad Victoria, 20,000  – and many smaller towns, some of considerable extent, while others were simply a few nipa shelters down deep in some hidden valley or upon the highest points, and room for no more than a few small houses.  They are very similar to those of the Filipino barrios and just as temporary, and even the Indian inhabitants bore a similarity to those other people of the Malay race.  The forests were damp and lush in certain localities, with racing little streams and deeper, more serious rivers; intriguing trails dropped down from the higher slopes into our highway  – steep, rock trails fit only for bare feet and the sure, little hooves of the burros with their heavy loads of ore, hay, wood, corn, stone and other commodities.  These sad-looking little burros may be purchased with $1.50 American money value.

From Villa Juarez a new road is being constructed eastward to Tampico on the coast, while another road is being built from Antiquo Morelos to St. Luis Potosi, over 200 miles.  None of these trails, or new roads, are passable for automobilies, but have been used by animals and pedestrians for hundreds of years and, no doubt, long before America was discovered.

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In the early evening we debouched from the mountains into a valley, where the little town of Ciudad deValles is located, and we ran through the open gates and into the extensive patio of a Campo Tourista, operated by a Swede by the name of Erik.  Here we established ourselves for the night in good rooms with modern conveniences.  Oranges grew in the yard and a row of black vultures perched upon the ridgepoles. After an evening meal, Mexican mostly, with native coffee, which is slightly bitter, because each household appears to roast their berries in an individual manner, we walked up town.  There had been a slight rain and the streets were muddy.  That mud is just about the stickiest known to man.  It gets into one clothing clear up to the knees.  However, it apparently did not cause any inconvenience to the natives and pigs, goats and chickens, as they were everywhere.

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We stopped at a little public drinking place where there were also a couple of tables for serving food.  There was music here; three native men, a guitar, violin and cornet.  One of the men would suddenly break forth into song, a high wailing sort of voice, sing a few bars and then the instruments would play for several minutes, when the singer would suddenly erupt once more.  The words being sung were of one of those long-winded, never-ending stories; some soldier met death upon the field of battle  – he had loved a girl and had to tell about it before he passed on.  We listened a half hour and the end was not yet.  A crowd had gathered about the tienda, so we sprinkled a few centavos about and wandered on down the street to the ever-present plaza, or Zocalo, with its little campanile of bells and its bronze statue of some almost legendary hero of some almost forgotten insurrection of long ago.  There were sidewalk restaurants serving tortillas and rice and pork cut into small pieces.  Several places where music was being played were noticed and altogether, the “merry villagers” seemed to be enjoying the high spots of a Mexican hectic night of joy.

There were several loads of Americans here to spend the night on their way out of Mexico.  They carried an aire of considerable superiority, and seemed to exude the idea that they had seen something dark and terrible, about which they did not care to talk much  – like a soldier home from the wars, so we received little information from that source.  How self-centered and selfish some Americans are.  Here were we, almost ready to grasp them by the hand and they wrapped themselves with an inscrutable mantle of egotism.  There were Texas, California and Arizona cars.

Turkeys settle in the low orange trees, goats bleated their last goodnights, a late, unsteady night prowler sloshed past through the mud, a few lizards gave vent to hoarse croaks from under the eaves, a passing soldier with his Mauser slung by its strap over his shoulder, talked with the Mexican night-watchman in the patio, saying that it looked like it would rain tomorrow  – we slept.

The next day was to be a real adventure through the wildest mountains, across large rivers (which I somehow always wanted to follow up to their source); passing through mountain villages of a few, poor huts with people standing about and who seemed to be cold and never quite thawed-out;  past droves of burros with their heavy loads; a few mounted men on horses who exuded an atmosphere of superiority over the others afoot and astride burros; hundreds of people afoot on the roads, going somewhere, and we wondered where they came from and where their own villages were.  Always was a dread of what we might finds on that part of the highway, and of which we had been warned ever since entering Mexico  – a stretch of 62 miles of mountain road which had not yet been finished.  By a sort of common consent we did not talk about that part of the roadway ahead, just decided to cross it when we reached it.

On the Camino Sinuoso

There was stiff mountain climbing before we came to the next large town.  Turns and twists, curves and roads which,  we were informed by signs, were “Camino Sinuoso.”  They certainly were.  The highway is wide enough for autos to pass at any place, but guard rails, or walls, had not yet been erected, and, at times, the scenery was grand, almost terrible, as one gazed out into infinity almost, and the volcanic, torn rock walls reaching up into the clouds on the other side of the canyon.  Clouds in heavy stratas clung to the mountain sides.  Upon suddenly approaching these from below we were quickly engulfed by them, clinging, wet, rapidly drifting over any low spot, like water over a dam.  A mile or two, and presto, one was above them, looking down upon a world of white, with black peaks rising from them like islands in an ocean.  Others would appear for a few minutes, through a rift in the clouds, and appeared to be at an almost incredible height above us.

We stopped at one place to look down into a valley which must have been 2,000 feet below us; the dark forest; glimpses of white water as it roared downward; a little native village or two clinging to the rocks; patches where the forests had been cleared on the steep slopes and where a few whitish dots indicated natives working among the corn and swinging machetes against the tangle of bananas and harder growth; a few squares of bananas; maize fields on ground so steep that a ghost could hardly climb.  The whole view like a checkerboard, or a view such as one had from an airplane drifting high.

A visit to a Native Casa (8′ x 12′)

Then at one place we stopped and asked a woman if we might see the inside of her little casa.  This was built upon a ledge about 20 feet down from the roadway.  It was a nipa laid over a bamboo frame, the walls were not much  – mostly the tall cacti.  It was 8’ x 12’ perhaps; on one side was a bed, if such it might be called  – a mat of some sort of rushes laid over a frame of wood.  A baby was lying upon it.  The mother followed through the open space provided for entrance, picked up the child and proceeded to feed it as any other does her baby, but there was no attempt to cover her breasts and she certainly showed no false modesty.  Café de naturale.  In one side of the cactus wall was carved a little niche, and in that was a small straw handmade figure of the Virgin, and a few pieces of tin-foil made the sacred nook appear almost holy.  Her stove was built upon a sort of bench  – of clay and made by her own hands, then baked hard and was serviceable for her scanty needs for a fire of charcoal.  A small kid goat was tied to a stake in one corner of the one-room hut.  Even in the swamps of Louisiana one could never see such wretchedly poor people.  Her Lord and Master stood, meanwhile, upon a tall rock by the roadside, complacently wrapped in his rather soiled, but excellently hand-made, serape, even to his mouth, watching the episode with an inscrutable atmosphere of impenetrability.  “Quien sabe”  – Who can tell  – ’what strange people these Gringos are.’  I tried to purchase his serape, really a good one, but he refused thirty pesos with a shrug of his shoulders, and looked at his woman with what seemed to be a black warning, or maybe a threat.  I handed her a few centavos which she whipped out of sight in her robuska and quickly disappeared into the hillside bushes and down the mountainside with her sad-eyed brat.  The man, pure bred mountain Indian, turned his back, squatted down upon his heals, continued his life-long gazing into infinity and across his beloved gorges, splashed with the beauty of orchids and clumps of poinsettia, both of which shouted to the skies with color such as California and Florida never dreamed could exist.

We finally dropped down from the peaks to an altitude less than 500 feet above sea level  – Tamazunchale (Tom and Charlie, as every tourist gets to call the place).  We took on gas here; they measure it by the litre, and pout it in from a sort of a milk-can affair.  The man who owned the place was a white man.  I just wondered if he were not badly wanted someplace in the northern Republic.  Anyway, we ate lunch at his café, an unwalled, covered place upon a hilltop, with a broad river, Moctomuza, below in the valley.

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From here to Octapan (a convent town) a sketch of the road looks like the path of a fishworm. The first 100 miles ends at Zimapan, and if there is 100 feet of straightaway, I failed to see it.  But beautiful no matter how dangerous.  I know the mountains of the U.S., but nowhere is it possible to drive in such scenery in all our Tockies  – from acres of flowers to rock strata, bent, twisted, some layers in regular circles, the rent and torn bosom of Mother Earth.  Volcanic. What cataclysmic wrenching has taken place here.  But time is kind and blankets the steaming earth with gorgeous raiment of forest, vine and flower.  Even the natives fear neither the memory of such past chaos nor dread another eruption.  “Quien sabe.”

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But we leave Tamazunchale and pass through Jacala, after a most serious climb of 600 feet, and get a wonderful view of Jacala from 1000 feet above it.  The Indians, called Otomie, live about here; a pure mountain strain, which has survived through the advent of both Maya and the subsequent Toltecs, and the Aztec.  From Jacala the road does really climb in earnest  – up to 8,000 feet and more and into Zimapan which is off the highway a few kilometers.  Taxquillo, a small, interesting village where everyone seemed to be walking in the street and to appear from every trail, road and jungle path.  Must have been some sort of fiesta here as everybody, his burro and his woman (in order of importance as named) were on the move.  Hundreds of them, each of them in his Sunday best.  I was driving and it seemed to me that they gave way for our auto rather grudgingly  – but this idea may have been influenced by the alacrity with which our people leap to safety in the good ole United States.  Here they have not yet learned team-work.  These last named towns are on the same river, the Rio Tula.

I forgot to state that we passed through Ixmiquipan (you make your own pronunciation).  At Actopan, we stepped into an old-looking church.  It is, too, for it is one of the first erected by Cortez north of Mexico City.  It’s huge high doors are the original ones and are about 400 years of age, hand hewed and rugged enough to withstand a siege.

One gets to say “400 years” in a glib sort of way down in Mexico, and isn’t very often in error at that.  This is the highest point in the road to Mexico, D.F., about 8,500 feet.  The old city of Pachuca is to be seen from here; an important mining town and has been worked since the days of the Conquest ( They always start “Conquest” with a capital letter). From here we drop into the great central plateau of Mexico, rich, irrigated, flat  – in olden times, covered with lakes which have been rather well-drained at this time.  But it is getting late; we speed on toward the old city of Tenoctitlan, the capital of the Aztecs, conquered by Cortez, surrendered to the United States in 1847, a city of splendid avenues, narrow streets, cathedrals, palaces and hovels  – 1,200,000 people.  At the entrance to the city we reported into a police station and picked up a guide who piloted us through the rather bad network of streets to the Hotel Biltmore, near the floating gardens, where we made arrangements to stay.

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This Hotel Biltmore is a very nice place and is trying very hard to ala American.  We finally were able to obtain a suite with shower-bath and most other expected conveniences, which we divided among us; parked my little Chevrolet in front of the place (had to leave the keys at the office), washed up and wandered into the café, as we had told that and Austrian woman was chef.  Maybe so, we never found out about that detail.  But we did finally secure a meal there.  There seemed to be a sort of comradrie about serving us; first, one hombre came and politely asked what kind of soup we wanted; we decided that a crème soup would be right, and the waiter wrote it down carefully.  In ten minutes he returned and again wrote it down on his pad, then blandly asked us if we desired consommé  We still wanted crème  – and so, he very nicely served us with consommé.  Evidently, quite tired by his efforts, another waiter served us a fish portion and a salad, and still another one, at last came in with the entre meat.  By this time we were not at all surprised when another waiter brought us a dessert and café.  We also had quite some time when we paid the bill.  I insisted that we pay after every mea.  This was from my experience in other Spanish places; seems that a bill charged has a very unpleasant way of becoming larger  – one can hardly recognize them after a day or two has passed.  But we had very good meals there, either Mexican or American as one chose.

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That evening we walked down the Avenue as far as the Palace of Fine Arts (often called the National Theatre).  We were on that wide and splendid Avenue Juarez, line with its strange mixture of ancient and modern buildings; at many places we had enchanting glimpses of ancient patios with running water and shady trees, and great entrance doors and barred windows; above the streets the balconies projected a foot or more from the buildings and conjured up recollections of high turtle-shell combs, black mantillas, full skirts, fans and jewels, flashing eyes and white teeth of smiling señoritas of bygone days.  They are not so far-gone either, but are rather hard to discover, for in Mexico, young women of quality are not often seen upon the streets if not accompanied by a dueña  – she of the black habit and frowning countenance with many wrinkles.  But they do say that many of them are fine chaperones and often do sleep in their chairs.  Our first evening was an enchanting one  – strange peoples, strange tongues, strange customs, strange sights.

“Mexico,” as the city is universally called in that country, is 7,450 feet above the ocean, situated upon the central plateau, which is very extensive.  It is said of the city that “It is hight enough to have no hot summers, and south far enough to have no winter.”  This is literally true.  There are but two seasons there: the rainy season which extends from June to September and the dry season from October to May.  The average sunshine during the year amounts to 3,082 hours.  While the display of flowers seemed to us of the north as something too wonderful, we did not see the greatest flower season, which occurs during the rainy season.  The average temperature is 70° and is said to never fall below 48° even during the coldest season or periods and bed coverings the year round are comfortable.

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Our Hotel, The Biltmore, is situated on Calle Aldena, fronting upon a huge square, “The Plaza de le Republica,” where is now being erected, a great memorial to the Republic.  This is in the general order of the Paris Arc de Triumph.  It is south from the heroic bronze statue of Charles IV, which stands at one end of the 400 feet circle of the Paseo de la Reforma, which, at intervals of 1,000 feet, has statues of Columbus, Cuauhtemoc, who was the last emperor of the Aztec,  The Biltmore has a beautiful lobby.  The ceiling is broken up into nine separate arched divisions, each being decorated by the internationally famous mural artist Tarazona.  These murals depict the United States, China, India, England, Spain, Mexico, Japan and Italy.

A Visit to Puebla

The next day, December fifth, we arise early from comfortable beds and started for PUEBLA.  This city lies 52 miles distant and almost due east from Mexico.  We left over the Maneda, or avenue, called Cuauhtemotzin, past modern air ports and through many separate villages and places of interest in the history of the city and the Conquest.  This avenue is bordered with great trees of uncommon names to us, and canals open on every hand; we followed the old canals built by the engineers of the Aztecs before the Conquest.

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Within 5 kilometers we were at an elevation of 10,483 beet and on the south slopes of an old volcano named Tlaloc.  At this mountain, 13,270 feet high, there was performed, before the Conquest, the ceremony known as the “Lighting of the Fires.”  The Aztec division of time was based not only on the Sun but on the movements of the planet Venus.  This caused a division, or cycle, of time which runs for 53 years.

It was the custom for the Aztecs to rid themselves of their ancient Gods at the end of these periods.  They threw them into the canals or lakes or traded them or otherwise disposed of them, and took new ones for the households.  The chief dangers of the country were, wind, water, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and, at the end of every 53-year period, all fires were extinguished, and even the copal incense was not burned upon the altars of their pyramids.  The Chief Priests were expected to light new fires from an altar erected upon the summit of this volcano and the people of the Nation were greatly excited until they were certain that the new light had been secured.  This was done by rubbing two sticks together, and, during the time when the the lights and fires of the temples had been extinguished and the new light flickered and finally flared, millions of eyes were directed to this mountain-top, throughout the plateau, searching with fear and trembling, for that slight spear of new light from the altar there.  (of course, it finally was to be seen, for what Priest would be so careless as not to bring, in some secret manner, a pot of coals just in case the two sticks could not be lighted).

When the fire attained such brilliancy as to be seen from the valley below, there was great rejoicing among the multitude, and runners of marvelous speed and endurance carried torches lighted from the new fires, to far off villages and settlements; hundreds of prisoners were sacrificed upon the flat tops of the many pyramids throughout the area; gladiatorial combats took place upon the fighting platforms erected for that purpose; people selected the God which was to their liking; and once again Peace had been brought  – together with priestly influence and promotions in every line of governmental and religious sphere of action.  Here was this mountain, and I looked at it with a peculiar interest for upon its summit, strange rites and bloody ceremonials had been performed and there lies the ruins of a city of long ago.

When Cortez entered the country in 1519, there was then an old important city of Cholula.  This is about 15 miles from Puebla, which city Cortez founded after the Conquest, in 1532. Puebla is built upon a level plain, 7,100 feet above the sea level, and directly upon the ancient Spanish trail to Vera Cruz.  At the time of its founding, the principal Indian tribe in that vicinity was the one called Tlaxcalans.  This people had never been conquered by the Aztecs  – but many thousands of them, having been taken prisoner by the Aztecs, had been offered up as human sacrifices upon the altars of their captors.  The Choluans had also suffered in the manner, and by reason of this fact, these two tribes became the eager allies of Cortez after he had been driven from Mexico.  With their aid Cortez finally secured the city of Mexico (Tenoctitlan) and the actual conquest was carried on with swords, armor and horses and hordes of these allies.  This explains why Puebla was built in the country of his allies.

At Cholula we crossed the river over a very old bridge.  We knew that it was an old structure for it had entrance portals at each end and upon the entrance at the north end was a scroll of great antiquity, bearing the inscription “Puenta del Emperour” – Bridge of the Emperor. This bridge had been built when Cortez made his first road from Mexico to Vera Cruz on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, about 1521 to 1524.  Years ago, soldiers in France expected and did cross many bridges erected in Gaul by Ceasar, for we had read of such bridges erected in Amnia Gaulia  – but it was a surprise to find such a stone bridge in Mexico.

At Cholula, Cortez had been maddened by the sight of 365 altars and temples.  He declared that he would raze them and erect, in their places, the same number of Christian churches.  Well, there they are today, just about as he had them built (many being in dilapidated condition though) – one for every day in the year.  He destroyed the ancient pagan altars and erected new ones of Christian import.  The largest and most important of these places of Catholic worship is built upon a pyramid.  The church appears to be rather ill-kept, but the original steps to the summit (1522) lead up straight from the bottom.  The pyramid upon which this cathedral is built is of unknown origin, but it supposed to have been erected by the Chichemeos, Toltecs or Mayas, as it was there when the Aztecs came into the valley plateau.  However, the Aztecs selected this place for their God, Quetzalcoatl, and erected altars for his worship there.  Cortez also like the place and decided to maintain his headquarters here and use messengers back and forth to the court of Moctezuma.  The Cholulans at last became tired of their rather unwelcome guests and plotted a sudden and secret attack to exterminate them.  This scheme was detected by Cortez’ Indian Mistress, Malinche (renamed by the Spaniards, Marina) who had wormed her way into the trust of the wife of a Cholulan cacique (chieftan).  Cortez attacked first; crushed the Cholulans into an humbled people, who forever afterward became slaves subject to the conquerors.

A Digression

Malinche (or Marina) was a native woman, but from just what particular tribe seems to be in dispute, but it is agreed that she was Aztecan.  Perhaps a serious study of original historical sources would clear this to some extent.  She evidently was in close touch with Cortez, having been presented to him by a vanquished ruler when he conquered the northern coasts of Yucatan.  She quickly learned the language of Spain, became interpreter for Cortez and finally his mistress.  She was utterly devoted to Cortez and this loyalty drive her to the betrayal of her own people at Cholula.  She took part in the most dangerous campaigns on the side of her adopted people and was faithful to them in every way.  Finally, she bore Cortez a son who years later was tortured to death by the same inquisition which Marina had assisted to bring to her native land.  But  – and here comes the pity of it all  – the wife of Cortez unexpectedly arrived in Mexico from Havana, Cuba, and Marina was then married to one of Cortez’ men, given some land, and so departs from the pages of the bloody history of Mexico

The Cholulans still mention her name with a sneer.  At any rate Cholula became a dream city and fell into misuse as an Indian city.  Today, miles of ruins deserted, indicate the extent of its narrow streets as they were originally in Cortez time, and it continues to decay in the sun and the rain.  Many of the 365 churches erected by Cortez in the vicinity of Cholula and Puebla are deserted and all seem to be in need of repairs, but from the great cathedral on the highest pyramid in the vicinity, one may look down upon the squalid cluster of the little towns below, where miserable-looking Cholulans stand shrouded in their mysterious serapes while their women folks offer for sale fruits and other commodities, and small urchins hold up papayas and obsidian arrow points in their hands to the tourists as they speed onward toward Puebla and Vera Cruz.

A little study brings the information that Marina was given by Cortez to a Spaniard named Don Juan Xaramillo.  Also that it is probable that she was from the peopled called the Otomie, which people lived at Cholula.  In “Lost Empires of the Itzaes and Mayas” by Willard, the author says that when Cortez was on an expedition to Yucatan, inhabited by the Mayas, he landed at the Tabasco River, and that after considerable fighting there, he obtained the victory and was presented twenty women.  “Among them Doña Marina, or Malintzin, who spoke both Maya and Nahuatl, her native tongue.”  (The Aztecs were called Nahuatl somewhat as were are called Americans).  “She was very young and was the daughter of a chief who had died, after which she was secretly sold to the ruler of Tabasco.  In this way she came into the possession of Cortez * * * she became invaluable to Cortez as an interpreter all through the conquest of Mexico.  She figured prominently in the subsequent events of his wars, and bore Cortez a son who was named Don Martin Cortez.  Later she married another Spanish Captain.”  Another authority states that this young girl had been sold as a slave by her mother, and had been taken to Tobasco.  Selling children as slaves was not uncommon among the tribes.  It is also found that the belief is that Marina was born in the province of Painalle  – which belonged to the Aztecs.  Don Martin is said to be buried at El Calvario Chapel, just north of Cuernavaca.

But to return to the city of Puebla and the Government’s Seizure of Catholic Property.

It seemed miles to the center of the city; walls, churches, old buildings; the usual collection of Mexican peoples, with heavy loads upon their heads; groups of them who seemed to have nothing to do but to smoke and talk; streets were surprisingly clean and wider than most others we went through, perhaps Cortez laid them out with an eye for defensive advantages.  We drove to a place about which just now there is considerable talk and mystery.  It is called “La Conventa” and the following story was told to us, and indications are that it is true:

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It will be remembered that a few years ago, the Church became involved with the Mexican Government.  In this instance, the Government won its point; seized the properties of the Catholic Churches throughout the country; services were taboo, except in secret; priests and nuns were banished and this state continues in more or less strict condition even to this day.

The justice of this act is not the subject of this sketch.  However, it appears that there was a considerable within the city of Puebla to which the authorities did not have access and were not able to plat it upon engineering maps according to their surveys.  A watch was set and an investigation started to determine why this was so.  This was carried out by the Police Department and, one day in October, 1934, the Chief of Police, himself, began to investigate.  We went through this place  – and having entered a room where there was a soapstone bathtub, a charcoal heater and a box for fuel against the wall  – the box was removed and we passed through a low tunnel-like hole into the area which could not be mapped properly.  Evidently this hole was the only entrance.  There the most amazing discoveries had been made by the police.  In various large halls and rooms were thousands of articles used in church services; chalices of gold and silver; statues of the Blessed Virgin with their jewels and necklaces of pearls and precious stones; rich vestments of every description; articles of veneration in the Catholic world; scepters; crucifixes of untold value and many of great age; paintings of religious subjects by the hundreds, some life-size, many of great age and cracked, depicting Saints, scenes and subjects; one room contained a world-famous “Last Supper” with all characters carved from hardwood  – a perfect bewilderment of churchly things, all of which has been secretly taken there for safety with the Government declared the ban on the church.  Within this convent they had discovered over 75 nuns and the Mother Superior.  It being against the law to maintain such church establishments, a seizure was planned.  However, Mother Superior had been tipped off that the place was to be raided.  When the raid was finally made, all the nuns were gone except about 15 who stayed voluntarily or neglected to take advantage of the information.  From these women, the information was obtained that they had been held against their wills.

Further explorations disclosed several tunnels running to the Cathedral and to the Penitentiary, all being old and recently used; each Nun has a niche of a room; ladders were in use at places; mysterious stone fireplaces swung on hinges at the touch of a button; a screen, with holes through it, was built upon a balcony and was the only place from which they could witness the rite of the Mass; a crypt under a floor, just recently discovered, before our visit, was lined with skulls; fruit jars with alcohol contained many human hearts and tongues, and these things we saw; the kitchen was just as they had deserted it; water was still running in the patio; the government was stringing electric lights through the halls and cells; garments left behind were still hanging from the pegs in the walls; we saw the place of penance  – a large crucifix with a worn stone in front where they had knelt  – worn into shape by knees from long years of use.  Altogether it was a eerie place, full of mystery and the very wall seemed to drip with sorrow and unknown heartaches and we breathed the clean air when we left the place, with a better understanding of the outside beauty and freedom.

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From this place we drove to the great cathedral which is famous for its graceful arches and facades.  The church of San Jose is famed for its tile; San Domingo for its tile and gold-plated altars; Templo de la Compania has a very notable flying buttressed dome.  Mountains of beautiful contour and great altitude are to be seen from Puebla; Pico Orizaba 18,820 feet high, the highest on the North American continent with the exception of Mt. McKinley in Alaska; Popocatepetal 17,903 feet, semi-volcanic; Ixtaccihuitl  – the Sleeping Woman  – 16,197 feet; Malanchi 13,690 feet; Cofre de Perote 13,553 feet; Nevada de Toluca, another snow-covered peak appears to spring from the very plain itself.  Most of these peaks are perpetually crowned with snow.

We went to the always present Zocala, or park, where we had dinner in a native place  – several courses and entirely Mexican.  There was the usual dispute about payment of the bill, but we finally emerged and were immediately besieged with those who have things to sell  – one carried serapes; a woman followed us with carved canes for sale.  The boys finally bought one and presented it to me.  Boys with pottery and otter skins for sale; others had snake skins and ocelot and puma hides;  whining out the perfection of the articles they offered for sale; others shoved things into our faces.

Back to “Mexico” and a Bull Fight

After watching the crowds and the market places for some time, we then turned toward Mexico and arrived early enough to attend the opening Bull Fight of the season at the Toreo or Bull Ring.

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Claude and Bill attended to buying the tickets which were 6.50 per reserved seat.  There are two divisions to the arena  – one “under the sun” and the other “in the shade.”  The last-mentioned are the best ones.  The ring is perfectly round and is about 150 feet in diameter.  It is said to hold about 35,000 people and the day we attended, it was packed.  This was the first bull fight of the season and Matadores and Toresdores were the best in Mexico.  The bulls were advertised as being from “La Laguna,” a wide hacienda where these animals are raised to be dangerous and wild.  The original stock was brought from Andulusia in Spain. Every animal was a perfect specimen of what it takes to make a good bull for the ring; sort of jersey color, shading into black upon the shoulders and backs; fighting horns and fast and furious; ready to fight anything which moved.  There were six bulls, each with a name and each finally paid the supreme sacrifice.

We went in a taxi as we did not want to risk our car in the narrow streets and the crush we knew would occur there.  The gathering crowd was an interesting thing to see and we loitered about before taking our reserved seats, which were located very nicely just opposite the bull’s entrance gate.  A large military band furnished music; across the ring the crowd was making much noise and carrying a sort of fight between themselves  – throwing oranges and fruit at each other.  We were told that this was a regular affair at the first fight of the season.

A man of some importance entered with his lady  – both wore wide sombreros and tight pants (at least the man did), both heavily loaded with silver lace and their boleros were beautiful.  The man wore a heavy silver-mounted revolver at this hip.  I asked some one who he was, and the answer was that he was a General of considerable repute and well-liked by the people.

Soldiers with rifles were everyplace and police in their very neat uniforms were in attendance also.  The soldiers in Mexico are mostly Yacqui Indians from the northern part of the country  – very neat and polite and soldierly in their appearance and deportment.  I was surprised at this fact, as I had been led to think that the Mexican soldier was a sort of ragamuffin, ill-clad and dirty, but such is not the case.  My previous experience had been with the insurrecto or irregular class.  Wherever we saw soldiers they were well-uniformed, well-armed and bore themselves with considerable dignity and pride and certainly are not the non-descript army generally pictured in the States.  This applies to both the police and the soldiers.

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Placed high up in the columned arcade of the stand, were about six trumpeters who obeyed the orders of certain officials of the fame.  At last they sounded a flourish and the wide gates of the fighting arena were thrown open for the grand entry.  In pranced a beautiful white horse, mounted by a charro rider in splendid costume.  They danced toward us for directly below us were the officials and moving picture machines.  Then followed the toreadors, picadors, caballeros and matadors, followed by three horses abreast, which were used to drag the dead bulls from the ring.  This parade marched across the arena amid great cheering and then retired.  The caballero with the white horse backed clear to the entrance and then the bugles blew “let in the Bull” – the fight was on.

Each bull had a name and this was emblazoned over the door from which he was to enter the arena.. Open swung the gate.  In leaped bull, head high, snorting with rage and pain from several small darts which had been stuck into his shoulders as he entered.  He charged straight at a gate and the splinters flew; he then caught sight of a fighter across the ring and charged him swiftly as a deer;  again the splinters flew as the man avoided the rush of the bull by stepping behind the barricade.  Whirling, this bull, who had never seen more than a man or two at a time, confronted by a crowd of yelling people, snorted and charged and pawed the earth, his head high and movements as graceful as a cat and just about as fast.  Then from behind the barricade came four men with red capes  – the bewildered animal charged first one and then another, but always, just in the nick of time, the man was not where the bull thought he should be, and he caught only the red cloak upon his horns; back and forth, fighting every moment, charging and snorting.  But, at last, a roar went up from the crowd  – the first bull had caught the Matador, named Alberto Salderas, and tossed him high in the air over his back; both front feet of the bull were in the air as he made this effort and he turned to put in the finishing gore, but another Matador stepped before him with a red cloak and saved the prostrate and stunned Matador from death by leading the charges of the bull to one side and away.

Soon the bugles sounded “Pickadores” and the horses were seen in the arena, attracted the attention of the bull, and immediately he charged, striking the horse in the side and threw him, but the rider kept his seat and held the bull off with a spear in his shoulder.  The horse was partially blind-folded which placed him at a disadvantage, and also there was a heavy leather apron under his belly, and while the mad animal pushed the horses about considerably, none of them were disemboweled during the day.

Again the bugles blew, this time for the “Banderillos.”  There are three of these fighters and they appear before the bull one at a time, each holding two short spears with many ribbons in his hands.  The fighter holds these twenty-inch darts, one in either hand, and when the raging bull charges him, he must place both of the darts in one stroke,  into and on top of the animal’s shoulder, not on the side, but exactly in the center, or within an inch of it.  The action is so fast that it seems impossible for the fighter to get away from those swinging horns, but they all did today.  When the darts are well-placed and the animal  action is graceful and according to the rules of the game, the crowd goes wild and gives the fighter a great “ovationado.”   This part of this dangerous sport appears to me to be the most dangerous, although not so dramatic as the actual killing by the Matador.  With blood running down his sides the frantic animal charges again and again, but with each bull, three men planted their banderillos in his shoulders, where they flopped and swung with each movement the condemned bull made, and no shaking could dislodge them.

Then, once again, at some period not understood by me, the bugles blew “Kill the Bull.”  And then the graceful, proud Matador steps forth, carrying the red cloak and a short, 30-inch blade; begins to maneuver for the correct position from which he may deliver the “coup de morte.”  There are many fine points to this part of the fight; the Matador must show fearlessness, grace and éclat.  He must kill the bull with one stroke and from a certain “stance” with his feet together, and when he has the bull in proper position directly ahead of him and within a few feet, he lifts his left foot and delivers the stroke.  If the stroke is delayed after this signal has been given, he is booed and the crowd throws cushions, bottles, oranges as a mark of their disapproval.

With the animal in front of him he plays him with his cloak, missing death by a hair’s breadth at times, and finally he prepares to deliver the stroke.  The bull, with his head held high; the matador pricks his nose to make him lower his head; he sights the sword for the vital point which is a spot no larger than two inches and directly between his shoulders, and then with a flash swifter than light, delivers the stroke as the animal leaps toward him and, if well-placed, the sword sinks to the hilt and pierces the heart; the animal shudders, coughs up a great quantity of blood, gradually sinks to his knees; the Matador struts his stuff to the crowd, bowing and scraping.  Another man then goes to the bull and gives him a stroke with a short, stout dagger, just back of the horns, penetrating the spinal cord, and the fight is over for the splendid animal.  Into the arena leap the three horses, a rope is tied about the bull’s feet; the bull is drawn away to be sold in the markets; the bugles again blow, in surges another noble animal and another fight is on.

Six bulls were killed at the fight we attended.  One Matador was unlucky in his sword-play and it was necessary for him to deliver seven strokes before the tortured bull was killed.  The crows went wild at such amateurish display and covered the arena with cushions, bottles  – cried to have him disbarred from further fighting.

Two bulls were killed with one stroke through the heart, the others needed more than one stroke for the kill.  After each fight, the bloody spots are sprinkled with white sand, the holes made by the pawing and rushing of the bull are filled up and leveled, the name of the next bull is placed before his gate  – the, in he comes with a rush.  Two of these leaped the high barricade which encircles the arena for the protection of the spectators.  We were told that the splendid animals are of a special breed and very expensive, often costing from 800 to 1000 dollars and these were advertised as being “imported, big, ferocious, man-killing bulls.”  Leading Matadors receive a very large salary for each appearance and are the leading heroes of the community, although not having a high standing in society.

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We were driven back to our hotel in a swift taxi driven by a Mexican with an ambition to get there as quickly as possible, and I cannot remember that he missed any chance.  However, we managed to pass all the monuments and the circles in the Avenue Paseo de la Reforma, soon had our frayed nerves soothes by means of the national drink, Tequila  – the danger of it being at least par with the charging bulls, however easier to take.

Bill and I went to a cinema one evening, taking one of the hotel guides.  The picture proved to be one in which Shirley Temple starred.  The crowd showed great enthusiasm.  The titles were quite lengthy and, of course, in Spanish.  The focus of the machine was not correct at times, and then the crowd would stamp their feet, thus calling attention to the operator that something was wrong.  If I remember correctly the title was “The Little General”  – at any rate half the audience were in tears and the other half were shouting “Bravo.”

A trip to San Juan Teotihuacan 

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By all means, take a trip to San Juan Teotihuacan  – “Where the Gods are Worshipped.”  Here are situated some of the greatest and most massive works of man, of any age, past or present, in any corner of this globe of our  – The Pyramids  – larger at the base than any along the storied Nile in Egypt, and almost as great a mystery as to use and purpose.  Teotihuacan is the name of the village nestling at the feet of the Pyramid of the Sun, easily accessible from “Mexico.”  The drive passes the Cathedral at Zocalo Square, then to the left to Guadeloupe and follows the causeway erected by the Aztecs before the conquest.

There are a few bridges at intervals along this causeway and along one side is an old stone wall about eight feet high, which was built about the same time, to keep the waters from one lake from flowing into the other  – Texcoco and Zumpango.  Remember that the city of Mexico, the old Tenoctitlan, was built in a lake.  The plateau had many lakes in those days, which have been drained since the conquest.  The guide book says that this causeway is the oldest roadway in Mexico.  A heroic statue of Morelos is passed as you enter on this old causeway, which led from the city to the mainland in that direction.

Soon we passed the famous Acolman Convent, a fort-like structure erected in 1539  – then on to Teotihuacan.  The Federal Government maintains a reserve here containing several square miles, and thus far about 500 acres have been excavated.  Who built these great pyramids and when?  We must go back before the coming of the Toltecs, and they preceeded the Aztecs.  However, it is quite probable that the Toltecs assimilated the culture of the people who were there before them.  The temples are spoken of as being Toltec and, if that be true, they are at least 4000 years old.

The proof?  Almost within the city limits of Mexico, out beyond the Country Club, there is another pyramid, smaller than that of the Sun, and the locality is known as the Pedrigal.  Not far from its location stands an ancient volcano of no great height.  During its last eruption, hot lava flowed around the pyramid of Cuicuilco, not far from Tlalpan;  This flow being preceded by a shower of volcanic ashes and probably gas  – over that flowed the melted rock now called the Pedrigal.  In this layer of lower ash, archeologists have found many human skeletons, lying as they fell.  These pathetic remains have been retained and preserved by the Government  – guides will show them to the student.  Now come the really wonderful things about this  – it is plan that these people were killed when the eruption took place and this pyramid was actually anchored to the earth by the flow of lava which flowed right and left about it.  It is estimated that this volcanic action took place at the very latest, over 4,000 years ago.  Many geologists place the date as 10,000 years ago.  So we know that there were people living on the central plateau then, whether it was 4,000 or 10,000 years ago.  Students estimate that there were 20 million inhabitants at the time of the eruption.  Seems incredible, but appears to be within proof.  But back to Teotihuacan and the Pyramids there:

As we approached this incredible and ancient structure, we entered a little village and parked the Chevie under the shade of some old trees and started across the rough, tumbled dirt which is being removed by the Government.  The work is not nearly completed, but what they have already uncovered takes the breath of an archeologist  – ruins everywhere, and what ruins.

We passed to the south side where the great stairway mounts to the summit.  There, under trees with a trickle of water running from the rocks, were several tiendas where women and boys were selling, or at least offering, pottery, and we made several purchases of Toltec vases, book ends, pitchers, bowls and some well-executed earthen Indian heads with headdresses and ear plugs. These last I purchased to present as favors at the annual feast of the Mandan Indian Shriners to be held in Mandan.

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After gazing in awe at the towering mass above us, we started the ascent by the identical steps used by the Priests of Anahauc centuries ago, in the bloody rites of Huitzelcoatl, which required that the hearts of prisoners be torn from their bodies while lying upon the sacrificial stone altar high up where the pyramid ended in a flat platform.  The priests of Cortez related that cannibalism was practiced also, by the Eagle Warriors and the Tiger Men  – two separate divisions of the greatest and bravest warriors in the nation of the Aztecs.  Two flights of steps rise to the first platform, or road, which circles the pyramid at various stages, one on either side of a platform which reaches out from the bottom.  This was the station of the Moctezuma and from this place he was able to view the ceremonies taking place in the 300 feet wide avenue in front  – gladiatorial combats in which prisoners were pitted against noted warriors and which was to the death of one or the other.  This King’s Place is in perfect repair and we walked about in wonder and pressed the same stones which the jeweled, moccasined feet of the Emperor had tread.

From this first landing at the back of where the Emperor viewed the ceremonies, and which extends clear around the pyramid, there is another flight of steps to the next encircling platform. Here the stairs divide into two series of steps, and very steep, probably for defensive purposes.  From there to the flat top, one set of steps.  Part of these steps are quite steep and could be easily defended from ascending horses of enemies.  That is my idea and may not be worth even the idea, but the stairs suggest it.

The general form of the pyramid is that of a square cornered base, the sides being 761 feet long, 722 feet wide and the entire structure is 217 feet high.  595 steps take one to the top.  Four terraces, or roadways, a wide, safe terrace in each instance, at different altitudes, entirely encircle the pyramid, and at the top it is flat  – at least 50 feet square.  Here was situated the curved stone upon which the victims were stretched and held by priests, while another opened the breast with an obsidian sliver knife and tore the pulsating  heart from the living, bloody prisoner.  This was examined closely for some mysterious sign, and then placed into a deep, vase-like depression sunk in the back of some carved stone mythical beast, and burned with copal.  What became of the bodies is problematic.  It is claimed that 115,000 prisoners were sacrificed in that manner at the coronation of the last Moctezuma.  Such a spectacle would require many such pyramids, and the Pyramid of the Moon, within a short distance from the Pyramid of the Sun, might have been one of them.  This one is not yet completely uncovered and is not quite as large as the Sun Pyramid.

The Aztec calendar contained 18 months of 20 days each, making a total of 360 days.  The remaining 5 days were given to such rituals as described.  At the end of each time cycle of 52 years, additional importance was given to sacrifice.  From the summit of the pyramid it is clearly to be seen that it lies upon a flat plain; to the west, within a half mile, lies the large pyramid called the Moon; at the foot, and extending for a mile and a half and 300 feet wide, is a great avenue now being uncovered, ending at the west at the Pyramid of the Moon.  Both sides of this avenue are lined with ruins of stone material, and many smaller pyramids are to be seen, as yet uncovered, but know to be such.  These are said to represent the solar system and are exactly situated as the principal stars and planets were on December 21st, the time when the days begin to lengthen into summer.

At the east end is another grand ruined structure called “the Temple of the Eagle Warriors.”  This is a stone wall, highly carved and decorated, entirely enclosing many acres, and which is built at least 40 feet high, with wide stone steps to the summit; railings composed of well-laid masonry, decorated with thousands of figures of men, beasts and the heads of the “feathered serpent.”  The tops of the walls are flat and smooth and about 100 feet wide, and at various places platforms are built, upon which important officials maintained stations perhaps, and either important rites were performed or used as a view-point of them in the enclosure below.  The inside appears like an exaggerated idea of a sunken garden, with platforms for caciques (chiefs), and one, wonderfully-carved, is now being excavated in the northern side.  This is supposed to be the platform for the Moctezuma himself, as it is higher and more ornate than any of the others.  This great ruin is situated upon the Avenue which called “The Avenue of Death.”  In the middle of this 300 feet wide street, another large stone structure is now being uncovered and is supposed to contain the bodies of the last two Emperors of the Aztecan people.  On the south side of this Avenue, the conquistadores erected a monastery, using stones from the other buildings without regard to the carvings upon them.  Nothing except walls remain of this building, and the government is now excavating its rambling extent.  It was evidently erected upon the ruins of another Aztecan structure.  Down below the foundations of the monastery have been found many rooms, and we went into these places, finding water still running in spouts and the original gutters and well-appointed bath rooms which have been excavated; the stones are carved and, in many instances, are painted with reds and yellows; carvings of warriors with large ear plugs or swinging ear rings and marvelous headdresses with the long sweeping  green feathers of the rare bird called the “Quetzal,” which were worn only by those of high rank and position.  The archeological treasures are simply astonishing and the ground is just scratched at this time.  Nearly every carving is dated and, as it is now known how to read these dates, a positive history is being built up and some day it may be expected that the inscriptions may be interpreted, but, as yet, that is not possible.

What a pity it is that the fanatical priests of Cortez gathered together and burned entire libraries painted upon leaves of papyrus and linen, and which, no doubt, contained the histories of the surrounding tribal peoples and possibly that of the Mayas of southern Mexico, Yucatan and Tobasco.  In Yucatan three such volumes were stealthily saved from the fires, and these contain much of what is now known of the history of the Mayas, but nothing about them previous to their appearance there, about the time of Christ.  Dated stones have been found, which date from about that period, and are so numbered, but the earlier-dated cycles, which would bring them to about 3,100 years before Christ, have not been discovered  – probably having been erected in the land from whence they emigrated, left there during their exodus into Yucatan, or Central America, and their calendar having been continued in chronological sequence.  Atlantis..?.. Who knows.

But to return to the pyramids:  We feasted our eyes upon these great edifices, erected hundreds of years ago and large than any pyramid built along the Nile;’ we tried to vision the steaming flood of blood which streamed down its sides and steep steps; the agonized cries of the hapless victims; the savage, bloody priests of Huitzcoatl as they proceeded about the business of their mysterious rites; the sounds of thousands of spectators at the foot of the pyramid; the beauty of the royal raiment; the priceless jewels and golden ornaments of the women of the court; the long column of unhappy prisoners, slowly nearing the sacrificial stone, as it wound along that strange Avenue of Death; the haughty Tiger Warriors and the aspiring Eagle Men, waiting for the Emperor’s approval and possible promotion for themselves; the strange men from interior tribes; possible a stern-faced, bewhiskered soldier of Cortez, young fight whose sword had been sunk into many an Aztecan warrior along the causeway which led from the Zocala to that huge sypress tree, on that never-to-be-forgotten night of sorrow, “El Noche de Triste”  – when Cortez was driven from the old city of Tenoctitlan by the furious Aztecs, and the conchs sounded out a never-ending wail  – he had been dragged away from his 38 year old commander’s side and was not waiting to die by the obsidian knife of the priests  – a Spaniard to make the Aztecan holiday; and, no doubt, he died with the words “Madre de Dios  – Ruega por Nosotros” upon his lips and his senses filled with the savagery about him and his lips were tight and white.  Adios, soldier of Cortez, and misguided follower of the Cross  – you met your death bravely we trusted, and laughed in the face of the priests of bloody Huitzil, atop the Pyramid of the Sun, on this platform call Aztecas, and upon we stood.

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We followed the guide through the Museum, viewed the many carven images and gods of stone; some solid granite, porous lava, precious jade and volcanic glass;  carved figures of warriors, priests and prisoners; stones upon which are carved the stories of victories and the taking of prisoners; objects which indicate a curious culture of people of which we know but little today, although there still are thousands of pure-blooded Toltecs, Chichemics, Aztecs and Mayas living in the country.  We autoed back to the city, passing Acolman Convent, Ecatepec, Atatepec, Atzacoalco; along the wide, ancient causeway and the wall between the two lakes; the waters of Texcoco shining in the sun to the west; the high was hid the pyramids of Santa Cecilia to the westward; past Guadeloupe (now called Villa Madero) and finally into the Calle Brazil, Tacuba, Hidalgo, and to the wide Avenue de la Reforma, to our hotel fronting upon the Plaza de la Republica.  A day among ancient wonders.  “Adios, Aligh, Gubye, Go ’head.”

The traditions of the Aztec recount how those people came from the north.  When they appeared in the high, central plateau in the vicinity of the seat of government and power of the Toltecans, they were a poor, despised race of people, who begged and did not care to do much labor.  The Toltecan Caciques brought this to the attention of the Toltec ruler, and he placed them upon a reservation in a part of Lake Texcoco, where they remained for many years, gradually becoming strong and daring enough to name their own caciques.  This action outraged the Toltec King and he laid a tribute against the Aztecs; that of making floating islands in addition to the usual taxation.

So, in the shallow waters of Lake Texcoco, the Aztecs built great rafts of logs and upon them they piled earth from the mainland.  Soon they had many such floating gardens where they raised flowers and vegetables to perfection by the sub-irrigation thus provided.  They were marvels of vegetation and floated here and there by the wind.  The Aztec built up certain tribal influences with the neighboring tribes of the Toltecs; gradually became strong once more, and inflated with ambitious designs upon the Toltecan government.  The long and short of the story is that about the year 1000 AD, they overthrew the Toltecs and completely turned the tables upon them  – became their conquerors.  They drew the tribes together, for the great Aztecan confederation, took unto themselves those arts and sciences they desired from the Toltecs, merged these with their own culture and, at the time when America was first visited by Columbus, they were in absolute possession and power in the Central Plateau of Mexico.

They had even sent an Aztec named Kukulan into Yucatan, where the people were still under the influence and teaching of the man who had led their emigration into Yucatan about the time of the birth of Christ.  This was a monotheistic belief which had been taught by the Mayan leader whose name was Itzamna.  Kukulcan introduced the teaching of human sacrifice among them, and it was the common religion practiced by the Mayas when Spanish influence was first felt upon the arrival of Cortez, after the Mayas had been there practically 1500 years.  The Mayas had appeared from the east and south, and they had, no doubt, brought their culture with them.  So, it is seen that the Aztecs were branching out.  But who the Mayas, Toltecs and Aztecs were and where they came from is still a mystery of archeology and anthropology.  It is sufficient for us to know that the Aztecs were in supreme power in Mexico when the Spaniards landed at Vera Cruz, in the cortege of Cortez, in 1519 AD.

Xochimilco

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So, we went to Xochimilco, where one may see these floating gardens.  Xochimilco is a typical Aztec town with many ancient walls and buildings, many of them having been built before Spanish invasion, and it is said that the village is still living evidence of what Cortez destroyed.

Here, a vast network of canals lead in almost every direction, some extending as far as the city of Mexico.  Hundreds of people were seen along the roadways and in the canals, bearing arms full of flowers of many strange varieties; callas of great size and whiteness; roses of the most brilliant colors; every imaginable flower it seemed to us.  They are taken into the city and sold in the flower markets near the Palace of Fine Arts.  One may purchase a wreath three feet in diameter for a couple of dollars, which, in the United States, would cost at least a hundred.

Gradually these floating gardens have been built up with so much fresh soil that the wickerwork rafts have become stationary.  Flat-bottomed boats were tied at the landings, each with its name done in flowers across the awnings which shade the passengers; Juanita, Celita, Careta and so on.  We were told that there were 175 miles of canals upon which these punts are poled and rowed along between the banks and flower gardens.  We watched the bustle and listened to the cries of the various boatmen and songs and instrumental music of the boat-loads of happy people, reluctantly turned back to the little village, where a fiesta was in progress.  I ran over a bunch of bananas which some native had lying upon the ground for sale and the merchant looked like he was going to cry, but I handed him a few centavos and he want away happy.

We examined a rack hung with serapes and, after a great deal of talking, purchased several.  I obtained one of heavy hand-made woolen yarn, with the hole in the middle through which the wearer puts his head.  My notes say that it was made by a Toltec tribe, a Toltec community which has never quite become accustomed to the change in government, since the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs hundreds of years ago.  It cost 27.00 Mexican Money, amounting to exactly 7.50 American Money.  Maybe plenty  – but I was satisfied.  The merchant, afterward, gave our guide 1.00 for bringing us to his place.  This amounted to 28¢ American.

We were interested in the fiesta; a group of singers and dancers at one place; bright costumes; singing, laughter; music of tambourines, violin, guitar; little shops and wares to sell, spread upon the grass or upon the broad leaves of bananas or upon soiled white cloth.  We finally drove completely around the plaza, or Zocalo, and leaving the place, passed through Noria, Teperan, Huipulco, Sta. Ursula, San Paulo, the Foreign Country Club, through Churubusco and into the ancient causeway over which Cortez struggled in a dark night, with thousands of Aztecs, smarting under their wrongs at his hands, struggled to prevent his passage.  They threw themselves under his horses feet; they landed from canoes upon the causeway and grappled with his mailed soldiers, dragged them into the lake; bridges were burned and Cortez filled the gaps with dead natives and thus crossed.  And, at last, the night lighted by burning houses and Aztec palaces, he gained the mainland shores; retired to Puebla; raise another army of allies and the next year returned to capture the city, leaving hardly one stone upon another in the fury of his destructive revenge; destroyed their temples; overthrew their heathen gods; razed their works of art; raped them of their jewels, their pearls and valuable gold and silver; seized their daughters; broke their spirit and stopped, for hundreds of years, the advancement of a cultured and artistic people; placed upon them the yoke of slaves and created a nation of peons subject to barons and favorites of the Spanish throne and Viceroys.  Black pages in the history of the advance of civilization in America.  The name of Cortez is still loathed in Mexico.

On to Acapulco

Then one day, without any apparent preparation, we set out for Acapulco, 285 miles south of Mexico City.  This is the oldest port, or harbor, on the Pacific North American coast and Cortez sent out ships from there in 1531, to explore the coast-line to the north, and in the guide book we found the statement that the Japanese government landed their first embassy to the New World at this port in 1614 (Must one believe guide books?).  This was, and still is, a surprise to me, as I have always thought of Japan as a closed nation, and that even their own people who landed on foreign shores, could never return for fear of being beheaded.  I always thought that Admiral Perry was the agent of the USA and that it had been through his efforts that Japan “opened” her gates, when Perry landed on her shores at Nagasaki  – but maybe I am wrong.

But whether or not to believe what one reads in guide books, we were on our way one bright morning and had no difficulty in following the correct highway as the people are very kind to answer questions by visiting Americans.  Roadway oiled and wide.  In looking back at the plateau and the great city from La Cima, where one has climbed 9866 feet, a most beautiful panorama is spread below, and the snow-capped peaks of the mountains so often spoken of in this paper, may be seen.

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We are travelling in a forest of evergreen trees and the roadway turns and twists unendingly through these high mountains.  We meet Mexican busses loaded with people and produce on its way into the city, and we most carefully keep to the right of the road to avoid collisions.  We had picked out an old road paved with cobblestones, which sometimes was below and at other places crossed our new roadway.  This was the road from Acapulco to Mexico, built by Cortez about 1524, by a conquered people, and extended from Mexico to Vera Cruz, an additional 189 miles.   It was a surprise to us to learn that much of the  oriental trade to Spain had been unloaded at Acapulco, loaded upon burros (which had been introduced by Cortez); take to Vera Cruz, via Mexico, and reshipped to Spain.  This road, then, is certainly the oldest practical highway in American

We took much interest in watching for this old road and often were able to distinguish the 400 year-old highway in the jungles or where it passed over a ridge.  Finally we stopped and dug out several old cobblestones, worn flat and smooth by the passing thousands of bare feet and the small sharp hooves of countless little burros, and appearing diminutive bearers of heavy burdens.  What a picture an elastic imagination might conjure up, as one caught sight of this old roadway, deep down in a jungle-clad valley or soaring across the face of some high cliff.  Just try it.  First, one should see the paintings of the Mexican, Rivera, in the old Palace at Cuernavaca; would be able to understand that the many thousands of workmen who cut the narrow roadway through the sharp mountains; setting the cobblestones in place, were slaves, slaves from the many tribes of the conquered Aztecan people; urged on by relentless and pitiless overseers; beaten and flogged and thousands of them killed and their bodies thrown aside down the mountain sides for the vultures to pounce upon; following completion of a section probably an inspection was made by an agent of the great Cortez; then came foot soldiers, some of them in coats of mail and chain armor, Toledo blades and spears and pikes; companies of their allies, Tlasclalansin cotton shirts as armor, thick and heavy, each headed by a resplendent cacique, feathers of the quetzal flying from his headdress and ornaments of gold and silver upon his arms and about his neck, his heavy two-edged club set with teeth of obsidian, his short scotch-like skirt above his knee pads, his feet encased in moccasins decorated with stones of precious rarity; then long lines of men bearing upon their heads, bales and bundles, and urged onward toward the great city; trains of burros each almost covered by his load from Cathay, being transferred to waiting ships at Vera Cruz more than 300 miles away; men who approached the road with caution  – leaped across and were quickly lost to sight in the jungles; and a horde of peons, sickles and machetes cradled in their arms, following Zapata the insurrectionists from the south; then a company of gay ladies and gallant gentlemen, from some wide-spread hacienda, and from which they had departed days ago on their way to Mexico or Spain; groups of desperados; hunters; others going to fiesta or some sacred shrine; and floods rushing down the road, and avalanches and slides, set into motion by earthquake, covering id deep in debris at places; jingling, clanking cavalry passes by, and lumbering heavy carriages with teams in tandem; and bloody clashes between ladrones and travelers  – while today, another highway, twenty feet wide, and safe, practically paralleling this old stone pathway and over which slide beautiful, shiny automobiles, making the trip from Acapulco to Mexico in one day, bearing tags from the USA and varying “Gringos’ with an insatiable desire to “see things,” and watching this older road, wondering what it cost.  Money it cost, not much perhaps, but in labor, sweat, groans from knotted whips, and sickness and wounds and death  – who can what the cost was, after 400 years.

This road is well patrolled by Mexican soldiers, their barracks erected at convenient places along the highway, and every mile or so we met patrols, armed and afoot.  We picked up one of these soldiers who appeared to be on leave and he rode on the running board as far as Cuernavaca.  Somehow I felt easier with him riding with us.  So many things looked ominous, especially so with so many little crosses by the roadside where men had been found dead or had been killed while on construction and had been buried.

When we reached Cuernavaca we went through the narrow streets to the Palace;  Emperor Maximilian occupied it, too, with his Empress Carlotta, and the Palace is now occupied by the Governor of the State of Morelos as the Capital.  The Spanish Viceroys also spent much time in this weather-tempered city; the President of Mexico also maintains a summer home here, and our own Ambassador Morrow, lived here, and here was where Lindburgh met his future wife.  The city is unspoiled by tourists demands, a small American colony lives here; it is supplied by crystal-clear mountain water, and apparently every known species of tropical fruits grow in the trade vicinity.

We wandered over the Palace, spending considerable time examining the frescos by Rivera.  These are written of by experts and I suggest that these works be consulted if one desires to write about these paintings.  They are very large, almost life-size, and depict events in the history of the Aztecs and Cuernavaca; how the city was captured by crossing the arroyo by climbing trees; the actions of the Tiger Men; the operations of great sugar plantations; slavery; Zapeta’s insurrection; priests of Cortez receiving gold from the peons and lords, as well; Rivera always depicts the priests with a crafty and sly look and never with faces showing mercy and lover for anything but gold.  That which impressed me most was the fact that, while the paintings are made upon a flat, plastered surface, the figures seem to stand out like carvings in relief.  These murals were the present of Ambassador Morrow to the Republic.

The pyramid of Teopanzolco is on the top of a mountain in this vicinity.  The wonderful gardens of Gorda, the creation of a man who made an incredible fortune in silver in this vicinity, lies here.  This man poured out a fortune in creating this garden and in restoring the Cathedral of Taxco.  On the way back to the highway, after having a short chat with the President of Morelos, we passed the cathedral, erected in 1529.  The pyramid mentioned has been classified by the noted archeologist Mr. Marret, as Toltec or pre-Aztecan. If this be true, it is at least 2000 years of age.

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But, we hurried on, if careful driving may be called “haste.”  We passed such jawbreakers as Alputeca, Xoccocotla, Coasetetlco, Maxatepes, Cacahuamilpa, Tetecala, Coatlandelrio, Huajintlan  – real Mexican towns, each with its plaza, lop-eared burros, bright-eyed children and tired men leaning against the age-old walls or sitting upon the stone steps of the churches.  We made purchases of strange fruits and saw our first ripe coconuts in the markets.  Bananas, of course, are at their best here, and yellow mangos and other tropical fruits interested us.

At the town of Huajintlan we left the State of Morelos and entered Guerrero, started to climb over another range.  At Puenta de Ixtla we found the hottest place of the entire trip and were told that it was always hot here.  In this part of the country there are many varieties of cacti  – some branching out from a single trunk and which are used as hay stacks and for the storing of corn and other things.  The natives cut out the inner branches and build a platform there.  Other cacti are 40 feet tall and have single trunks five inches wide and in inch thick.  We have left the end of paved roadway, and are now running over gravel and rock.  We reach the beautiful and romantic city of

TAXCO.

This town has about 5500 inhabitants and sits in the mountains at an altitude of 5609 feet above sea level.  We entered the city through very narrow and curving streets, picturesque, which streets narrow even more as we get further in, and ascends a steep slope with just enough space for a car and, Presto  – one is at the top and immediately in front is the plaza or park, fronting it is the great cathedral with its rich carvings and appointments.  The city is built in a very rough part of the mountains, and many houses are built high above the streets at places of vantage.  We followed a very narrow street to a place where we might park the car by a fountain, and went down the street to a café run by a Dan who had been there for many years.  There is quite an English colony in Taxco  – drawn by the charm and romance of the city,  its many interesting nooks and corners and splendid views, which lend themselves to etching and painting.

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We talked with a young fellow with his easel and paint box and he was enthusiastic over the artistic possibilities.  It is rich in its Colonial monuments and is the most interesting town on this road and leaves an indelible impression of beauty and romance with us.  It is comparable to the most beautiful and picturesque mountainous towns of old Spain.  We examined the church with its old carvings of wood and the many altars and nitches and outside balconies, and views from these high, hanging passages.  These tumbled mountain ranges have long ago been found to contain silver in immense quantities.  In facet, the first silver shipped to Spain by the Conquistadores was obtained here.

The government has made a National Monument of this city and has prohibited the erection of modern buildings here; every house is roofed with red tile and the cobblestones streets even, have designs with different colored stones, even gas stations must be outside the town.  The climate is said to be ideal, never cold and never too hot, as it is situated at such a high elevation.  Well worth a special visit from Mexico City.  Here is made quantities of interesting filigree work and other articles made of pounded raw tin, such as lanterns, trays, bird and animal figures.  One literally coasts down to the next important town,

IGUALA 

Which lies in the Tierra Caliente, or hot country  – tropical as any one may desire.  It is 300 feet lower than Taxco, and but twenty miles from that city.  Iguala is a town of 16,000 inhabitants and is the first city as one enters the State of Guererro from the north.  We stopped at one side of the Plaza and purchased some strange orange-like fruit, but twice as large as a good-sized orange; saw the really wonderful Tamarind trees there, planted over 100 years ago.

We followed the Zilitla river out of this town, over a roadway which requires some precaution on account of so many sharp turns and short curves.  We soon, thereafter, crossed the Balsas, or Mezcala river, over a new concrete bridge with modernistic approaches and entered a famous canyon called Zopilote canyon, with the river of the same name rushing through the narrow defiles and white with foam.  The gorge is a little over three miles long, but not particularly dangerous.  All through this part of the country the fields of maize appear to be set on edge  – climbing the steep slopes, dangerous even for a goat.  The dense forests were infested with wild boar and we saw some animals scuttle across the road, which we took to be boar.

We passed through the mountain village called Sacacayuca (the first part reminded me of our Indian woman guide for Lewis and Clark  – Sacacawea), many other villages of unprounceable names, finally coming to

CIUDAD BRAVOS,

The capital city of Guererro, and with 7000 people; lies at an elevation of 5600 feet.  It is called the City of the Braves because it was the birthplace of three immortal heroes of the struggle for Mexican independence from the iron heel of Spain  – Don Nicolas, Don Leonardo and Don Miguel Bravo.  The city is located in the valley of the Chilpancinco river, one of the most fertile and attractive regions of the south.  The first Mexican Congress met here and here the Act of Independence was signed.

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Recently immense caverns have been discovered in the vicinity, the walls covered with prehistoric drawings of warriors and hunters.  Skeletons and pottery have been found covered with stalactites and this would indicate that the valley has been inhabited since a great many years.

We go through a very beautiful canyon called Acahuizotla, climbing mountains with dangerous twists and turns, rock walls to the left and immensity to the right.  Then another narrow canyon called Zolapa as the end of which we cross a bridge over the Rio Xaltianguia, and soon cross several other streams over recently-constructed bridges, one of which bore the name of El Quemado, until, at last, at kilometer post 447.5 we began the descent toward the Pacific Ocean, which now spreads out before us with the little port city of

ACAPULCO

lying close to the shores of the serene and quiet bay which forms a natural harbor, surrounded by its crown of high mountains with volcanic peaks sticking up like the jeweled part of a coronet. As we stopped to inquire directions to a hotel, we were immediately surrounded by a chattering crowd of muchachos, each wanting to guide us to anyplace we desired to go.  We finally selected two of them, shooed the others from the running boards and, under the direction of our little guides, we finally arrived at a small hotel run by a Dane whose wife was a native woman and who “did the cooking,” and that phrase embraced every other work which was done about there.  The lordly Dane played cards with a number of Mexibanas as long as we were there.  At this place Claude and Mrs. Turner obtained quarters and Bill and I went to the American Hotel, run by a rather fat and self-satisfied Mexican woman.

We had two big beds in one large room, barred windows with no glass, heavily hand-hewed beams across the ceiling.  We washed and otherwise made ourselves as presentable as possible.  Nature’s insistence demanded comfort, and Bill finally made himself understood, followed a maid-servant through long, dark tunnel-like halls and across a patio with running water and papaya trees in it, to a place where she very courteously and obligingly held the door open while he attended to that duty for which he had come, and then asked him very nicely if everything was all right.  Bill went through rather a serious few minutes, but for me, who had been in Spanish countries before, it was understood to be one of the courteous gestures of the people of all torrid zones, so she was told that apparently everything was working to perfection.

Both of our hotels were in a sort of high draw between high mountains, a movement of ocean air always seems to be felt across the little pass and through the streets.  This pass is called La Quedrada and is a grand place for hotels and residences on account of the air movements.  Buildings here are built in true Spanish style, with patios, shuttered doors in the interiors, open, screened windows, and we slept on top of the sheets.

A hundred yards or so from our hotels the narrow street widens out into a sort of square, with the inevitable statue in the center, the one here bearing the figure of an old-style ship with high sides and poop, but I neglected to make notes as to whose ship it was, so this part of the trip is not complete.  The narrow Cabreda has high mountains on both sides, with the ocean directly below at the west end, the street eastward reaching down to the shores of the harbor and the city on the lower lands about it.

After evening mean, we all strolled to the west end and found a crowd gathering there for a dance, which was held on a cement platform, from which steps lead downward to various terraces hanging upon the sharp rocks; below us the ocean surged and roared.  The lowest terrace had water up in both sides of it, which rolled into deep caves and sharp little inlets which led into the rocks.  The water roared and broke into foam as it whipped the steep granite sides of these narrow inlets.  We stayed there a long and, with the interest of a dweller of the prairies, watched the great forces below us, listened with fascination to the roar and tumult of the sea rolling in from the Antarctic wastes.

The dance continued in full swing, music by a bass viol, trumpet, a violin and a couple of wind instruments which were not known to me.  The dance was modern and the music was a sort of Spanish ragtime, and was inclined to be more in waltz-time and rather mournful melody.  Naked children ran about and played; down on one of the terraces a band of young people were singing “I am Popeye the Sailor Man”  – and were showing off their English, but I rather doubt that they understood what they were trying to say.

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Reluctantly we strolled back to our hotels and to bed after a cooling drink and a late lunch.  As we sat in the wide porch before retiring, we watched the hundreds of chameleons on the walls and made friends with a green parrot which had the run of the house and patio.  Watched the Danish proprietor lose a sombrero full of Mexican money in a game of what looked like poker, with another Mexican and which ended in the usual quarrel and much waving of hands and rapid talk.

Acapulco harbor is a wonderful, natural basin of considerable area, almost entirely protected by a peninsula and several rocky islands.  It is almost surrounded by a high range of mountains, the peaks of which appear to be points left in the sides of a very extensive volcanic region, indicated by the fact that several of the highest peaks are flat, as though the interior disturbances had blown away the tops of the mountains and had left jagged, ragged teeth-like tors.

One morning we drove about with our two little muchachos, and the climb took us to a Mexican wireless station upon a high mountain from which we could see the Quebrada with its houses clinging to the rocky cliffs and the ocean breaking at its feet; a couple of small Mexican gunboats in the harbor; vistas of tall cocoanuts and deep green bananas; small islands in the harbor and many pelican fisherbirds.

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We then drove about until we came to the seashore at Playa La Caleta, a beautiful beach of snow white pulverize coral, where we went in “swimmin.”  Water was warm and pleasant, and so clear that by swimming out beyond the disturbance of other bathers, the bottom could be clearly seen fifty feet below; dark appearing fish lazily drifted about or darted here and there as the exigencies of their lives demanded.  We went to other beaches where others were bathing, at one we watched the white pelicans dive for their prey in the breakers and seldom did they rise again before they had their supper in their bills.

As we passed the market place we noticed many bright, colored fish for sale. For this is a famous fishing district, sail fish, tuna, dolphin, tarpon and needle fish for game, and giant rays which we were told were often twenty feet across the fins.  Besides the fame fish, there are many varieties of food fish which are taken by fleets and other boats.

The Danish proprietor of the hotel was so anxious to sell us the fresh hide of a twenty-foot alligator, or cayman, that we decided to take a trip to the salt water lagoon where there are many of these reptiles.  Again our two guides showed us the way out of the city to a little-travelled road which we followed for some twelve miles, passing through a tunnel at one place, which is built in he arc of a circle, up and down some very steep places, finally coming down from the mountains to the shore.

I asked the muchachos if there were any iguanas to be found and, upon saying there were many, Claude insisted upon seeing some of the them and buying a live one.  So when we were passing a nipa hut close by the roadway, we stopped and the little guide (we had dubbed him “Warrior” because he was rather badly scarred up and had lost his teeth in some boyish scrap) called out and almost immediately out came the native man with an Iguana in each hand.  One was a beauty, a female for it was a bright green.  They were about four feet long; their jaws were bound with rattan and their feet were bound together across their backs.  The woman also came out with a couple of them and then ran back and returned with the fresh skins of others. These swamp reptiles have a comb along their backs and the males have pouches under their throats which they can distend, and are altogether dangerous appearing throw-backs to the time when great saurians roamed the world.

However, we just weren’t in the market for iguanas that day and proceeded onward to a sand-spit about 1000 feet across, with the ocean rolling onto the beach, while on the landward side and separated from the sea by the sand-spit, was a fresh-water lagoon infested with ‘gators.  This is the Laguna Coyuca.  At a small embarkadero, or landing, for  boats, we stopped at a house of  native construction and were more than surprised to find that it was run by an American named Todd.  He was “on the beach,” as the expression is in the oriental countries  – or “gone native,” as some say.  Had a native woman and a lot of children; a Mexican house; a few boats on the laguna.  His story is that he accidently killed his wife in Indiana; left his well-established dental laboratories there; came down here years ago, to forget.  Well, it looked like he had forgotten all right.  He wore a breechcloth, showed us the head of an alligator he had killed a few days before  – the skull was about thirty inches in length.

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We walked across the sand to the ocean beach, one of the best I have ever seen, for “combers.”  The wind was just right to strike at the correct angle on the steep beach; to smash in a splendid breaker, curling at least 12 or 15 feet high, with a thunderous roar; rushed up the beach with hissing and threatening gulps.  As the wave curled from the swell, it sucked up small crabs from the sand, and in the breakers, with the sun shining behind them, could be seen hundreds of some sort of surf fish, darting about for the crabs, and we expected to see them break through the perpendicular wall of swiftly-moving water and to fall upon the beach  – but, of course, they never did.  Guess they understood their business all right.  Cocoanuts were adrift in the surf.  As we looked directly westward, our line of vision would pass the Hawaiian Islands, leaving them far to the north, and without a break, except perhaps a small atoll, or two, pass through Luzon in the Filipino group, a third of the distance around this good earth of ours.

Returning, we reached Acapulco with sighs of genuine relief; examined the Fuerta, or old fort, which stands upon the beach within the inner harbor.  This ancient fortress is of the old, star-shaped type, with low walls and embankments.  It is called Fuerta de San Diego; is manned with artillerymen, and commands the entrance to the harbor, but is too much exposed to return fire, to last long against any modern gun equipment or long-range, high-angle fire.  We noticed many gun muzzles at the ports, but they appeared to be of old Spanish style and good for nothing at this stage of gun improvement, except, perhaps, to act as decorations upon a village square.  Of course, our inspection was from a distance, as we had no desire to be “detained” for any reason.  However unjust our arrest might have been, it is well-known that justice moves slowly in Spanish-influenced countries.

Then back to the marketplace.  Here is displayed almost any article one may desire.  One tienda which interested me was one where tanned skins were on sale; twelve-foot boa skins; alligator skins; jaguar, ocelot, puma and other hides of cats; javelinas (boars) and fresh-water otter pelts, skins of iguanas and shells of turtles and sharks.  Other places sold hand-made machetes and daggers; twine and rope, riatas and bags and carriers made of rope, which is hand-made from their own sisal; stands selling native tobacco, native coffee, cocoa, meats, stringy and open to the air and handling, native candles, cigarillos, beans, rice, chili stands and places where some woman was grinding corn  in a matate and patting a paste of it with her hands, paper-thin, preparatory to cooking on her hand-made clay stove; places where parrots may be bought; others selling birds of every hue, color and disposition; oranges, limes, bananas, cocoanuts, papayas, chicos and other fruits unknown to us; fish stalls with an amazing variety;    cotton cloth, overalls, comisas and serapes, sugarcane, pulque, aquardiante tequila, strong drinks all;  women with great flat baskets, or trays, upon their heads loaded with sugar and other things (the women are for sale, too).

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We ate frequently and well at the Dane’s Hotel, and the food was really excellent.  It was always served out on the shaded porch and we were amused by the actions of a small, green parrot which would haul himself up our legs, finally perching upon our shoulders, begging for beans and fruit.

Altogether, Acapulco reminded me much of cities of similar size in the Filipines, and even the inhabitants, dark-skinned, bare-footed, or with sandals, bearing burdens upon their heads, Spanish-talking or conversing in their native tongues, were very similar to the natives of that country and the island groups; then, too, the markets, buildings, streets, vegetation and natural environment were quite the same, and all these influences combined, made me think of other cities separated from us by only the tossing waters of this same ocean, but 8000 miles to the west, inhabited by people of the Malay race.

HEADING HOME from THIS CITY OF 10,000

 

But, at last we paid our hotel bills and the muchachos who had been so faithful to us, and followed us like trained dogs, and started upon the return trip to Mexico.  Acapulco was the end of the world to us  – no roads to other places; jungles upon every hand; impossible to penetrate with anything except a burro and a small army with chopping-knives, or machetes, to cut through the green walls.  Had there been any passable roads to Yucatan, or even the nearer state, Tabasco, we would have undertaken the trip by land.  On the sea, looking south, the first land would be the continent at the south pole and then the southern tip of India, some 16000 miles away; to the west, the east coast of Luzon and Borneo.  Consequently there was no way to go, but back, and leave this city of 10,000 people, set upon the shores of a tropical sea, deep down within the remaining semi-circle of volcanic peaks  – sleepy, romantic, dangerous, sun-baked and threshed by rain  – Acapulco  – the end of the world, and almost directly south from Mandan, North Dakota.

Returning to Mexico, we necessarily travelled the same road we had come over, but it seemed practically new to us.  I drove the first 100 kilometers, then Claude took the wheel.  Met the usual number of villagers and burros upon the road, and passed many automobiles driven by natives and these cars carried the tags of Mexican states.  We left Acapulco at 6 A.M., in order to pass the terrific heat in the middle of the day while in the hot country, and arrived at Taxco for lunch.  After we had eaten we went through the cathedral.  I believe that I have already written that this cathedral was erected in 1527 by the priests of Cortez and later redecorated by the silver king  – Borda.  We walked about through the priest’s quarters, seeing none of the usual cowled and studiously studious personification of virtuous religious persons, and the impression is had that the government has stopped all services in religious costume, buy many churches do have services led by priests in common clothing, but not in priestly robes and habiliments.  The bells in the high towers rang out though, while we were there.  We did not see a single priest in robes while we were in Mexico.  But in Mexico city we saw services led by laymen.  A barefooted policeman guarded our car while we were in the Cathedral in Taxco, and bowed very politely when we handed him a gratuity of 50 centavos.  Hope of a little reward goes a long ways in Mexico.

The entire distance from Acapulco to Mexico is guarded by federal soldiers, we met them every few miles, generally two together.  The State of Guererro is particularly wild and often troublesome, the wild tribes frequently descend upon travelers upon this road and we were told that they are often treated somewhat roughly during the frequent holdups.  Those little “dead crosses” were not a bit reassuring.  It became a sort of a game to keep track of the old cobblestone road built by Cortez, as it clung to the sides of the steep mountains, dipped into deep gorges and dense forests, at times approaching our highway to cross some range over the same pass, often following the same route for some distance.  This old road is built with three lines of rather large stones  – one line on either side or shoulder, and another one in the middle, between these rows, smaller cobblestones were placed with great care, closely together, and were so well-set that most of them are still in the original position.  It is generally eight feet wide.

Passing through a native village, we were attracted by a rodeo, or perhaps a bull fight.  We stopped and climbed to the top of a high fence of poles and watched the affair.  About twenty men on horseback were in the ring where the roping and riding took place.  It seemed to be necessary to rope the steer by one foot at either end and then one about his horns and then stretch him flat upon the ground.  Then about twenty men tied a rope about him, the rider selected was then ready to jump aboard and they coaxed the poor beast to his feet and he began at once to hunt a hole in the fence through which he might escape.  Ridiculous toreadors with red serapes then tried to make him rush them, but in each case the tired and unhappy bull positively refused to operate that way.  There were two “bands” present, at this amazing exhibition  – all perched upon the rails  – bull fiddles, guitars, violins.  A great barbeque hole held a steer upon a spit, and there were also several goats being roasted, and the assembled multitude waited for the barbeque.  Really this was positively the funniest thing ever seen, and fortunate were we to see it,  I laughed until I had cramps.  To see barefooted toreadors flaunt their red capes in the faces of those poor, old, tired-out oxen, and politely invite them to flare u and fight, was too much and we stumbled back to the car, our faces covered with tears and of joy and happiness.  Best laugh I’ve had for years, worth the entire trip to laugh like I did  – for miles I laughed and cried with glee, remembering how them pushed those poor, old work-steers about to make a Mexican holiday for the boys and gals o’ that there village lying there in the sun.

We reached the big city after dark and, as we came within sight of the plateau lighted for miles and miles, it brought a genuine feeling of relief that we were safe and sound after such an experience in those wild mountains, and a reaction of pleasure that we had taken the trip  – “as far south as we could go.”  The next day we rested by going shopping, a real experience, too.  Just to stir the memory will mention that we visited the cathedral, Zocalo, the Pawn Shop, where case after case of gems and jewels are.  The shop was founded by the Conde de Regia in 1775,  We window-shopped, too, along several streets; to lunch at a native restaurant; wandered back to the hotel tired buy happy, and almost ready to start the homeward journey.

So, with many shouts and much laughter we were filled with gas and oil at a gas station, the workmen gazing with almost awe uon us  – “Dakota del Norte”  – tierra de mucho frio, etc.” – cold country  – their idea of our state.  They know that it is a long ways away and to the north and their idea is that it is continually frigid and covered with ice and snow at all times.  We had not seen a single car with “N.D.“ upon it in all our travels south of the line.  We left the Zocala, Palace, Fine Arts Building, Museum and the rest of this fine group of old buildings, the center of Aztec activity, the scene of Cortez’ first defeat and also of his victory at the last; threaded our way through the street called Argentina, and which soon changes to “Carranza,” past that shrine of all Mexicans, Guadelupe, traffic of street cars, autos, trucks, footmen, etc.  – through the Guadalupe fiesta crowd of over 100,000 people, and again into the old, worn causeway with its wall to separate the two great lakes; through the Venta de Carpio and out upon the level plain of the Central Plateau.

We noted to the west, an immense place being erected on the mountain side. This we found out was started by a former Presidente of Mexico, and was not yet finished.  A reservoir was built here to catch the rainfall and run-off from the mountains, for irrigation purposes.  This last part of the ambitious scheme of the Hon. William Lemke of N. D., who held a rather delicate ownership to many thousands of acres here and launched a real estate scheme for colonization of the tract, which was to be irrigated from this reservoir. But insurrections and general unrest caused collapse of the plan.

On through Colonia, Actopan and its interesting church built in 1544; Iamiquilpan, where many Itomie Indians now live and situated on a grand river, the Rio Tula; past Zimpan where there is a cypress tree 42 feet around at its base.  The tourist note on this town is that “the Hotel Jardin is quaint and possible.” We wondered just what is meant by “possible,” sounded like a sleepless night to us.  From here to Valles, where we expect to spend the night, the road is quite tough and through rough mountains, but as we have passed through them on the way down, we do not fear them.  Now we run through mountains covered with live oak and pine trees.  It is a stretch of forty miles with very few villages, from Rio Tula to Jacala, which lies at an elevation of 5000 feet.  The highest point reached in this forty mile strip was 8200 feet.  After leaving Jacala we ran another forty miles through similar mountain scenery and catch a view of Chalpulhaucan, “quaint and curious.”

We were much interested in the many small villages where nipa huts were set upon the most inaccessible points, and Indians are met upon the road all wrapped up in their serapes, covering the mouth, and the women appear to be just continually thawing out.  However, a woman is simply a woman and a serape is a serape.

We again filled with gas at the unpronounceable place and noted that the old monastery is being cleared out and made into a tourist camp.  We were compelled to run for many miles with our lights on, as the white clouds clung to the mountain-sides and drifted across the lower places like water.  This cloud was very dense and it was not possible to see the road for much more than a hundred feet or so and it sometimes closed in like a wet blanket.

Sharp turns (and it was mostly just that) and meeting other cars made driving  really a test, but Claude made the drive very nicely and, at last, we skirted another mountain-side and there was our old friend, Tamazunchale (“Tom and Charlie”).

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We stopped at a broad place in the road, allowed the engine to cool, while we climbed up some steps in the mountainside to a native restaurant, where we had lunch.  This appeared to be run by a family and we were quite certain that all the relatives were assisting.  The kitchen was to be seen at the rear, from across a far where liquor was sold, and it has often been noted that our desires are received with a sort of surprise.  At least it was quite an effort to secure just what we wanted.  The young girl who tended bar here simply could not understand why we did not want Scotch whiskey and why we did call for Tequila Viejo (old Tequila), but at last we got it.  Then just why Americanos call for soupe crème instead of consumme is an unanswered question for them to work out to their satisfaction.  Another peculiarity of the Americanos is that they would prefer a nicely fried trout, fresh from the waters which rushed at the bottom of the cliff, to a perfectly dandy dish of frisky young kid, cooked in blood and goat’s milk, served with chili, of course, after having been slain just at the side of the house a few minutes before dinner was served.  Certainly the meat was fresh and unspoiled, senores y Senoras, so why do you select fish?  Well, that was easily known to us but hard to explain to the Indian youth who served us.  As for myself, I always remember the long darning needle-like instrument pushed through the eyes of the kicking, young kid as it hung by its feet, in the markets of France, and its piteous bleats as its hide was stripped off to make gloves for ladies and gentlemen and flappers in this good old United States of our.  And  – well, I just don’t like goat meat anyway.  And so  – we were at least served with nice, spotted trout fresh from the water.

From Chalpulhaucan to Tamazunchale we had dropped from an elevation of 3900 feet to 500 feet and from the tribes known as Itomie to the Aztecs, and again we had picked up the vegetation of the tropics in this lower altitude; crossed the Rio Moctezuma which enters the Golfo de Mexico at Tampico and are now traveling in the country where coffee is produced for export as well as for local consumption.  After crossing another high and rather difficult watershed we descended to the Rio Axtla; then we gained the pontoon bridge across the Rio Tampoa at Pujal and another fifteen miles or so, we entered Valles, hunted up our old friend Erik and his Campo Tourista, where we had stayed over a night on the way down.

We came close to a tragedy at this place; we noticed a lady here, evidently in difficulty and evidently laboring under severe reaction.  We noticed that she was wearing a plain, gold ring, and peculiar in that it was made up of three narrow bands.  This ring called forth our interest and here is her story:

It seemed that she and another lady-friend decided to see Mexico, and crossed into the country at Laredo; at Monterey they had engaged an English-speaking guide to take them to Mexico City.  They had come thus far and had spent the previous night at Erik’s place.  This morning they had started southward, guide driving the car.  At a dangerous place on the highway, the car left the road and plunged down some distance, coming to rest against a clump of bananas, after rolling over and over.  The ladies got out, finally, discovered the guide running away, had not seen him again.  They finally got to the road, caught a ride back in Valles.  One lady was in bed with broken ribs and this other one was excitedly walking back and forth, doing much talking, refused to be consoled or to listen to what we considered to be reasonable planning.  She was of an age and disposition which in her home state, Indiana, is described by the word “set.”  She had taken out an accident policy as she came through Customs at Laredo.  The company was a Mexican concern, she intended to go to Mexico and collect.  The last she had seen of her car it was merrily bounding from shelf to rock shelf and thence to some unknown point of rest, hundreds of feet below the highway.  One of the provisions in her Spanish-language policy was to the effect that the company would not be liable for any damages if the car was not being driven by the owner at the time of the accident  – and this self-sufficient woman said that she would not lit about who was driving.  Now, what’s a poor girl to do, anyway?  She stood just about as much chance to have damages paid as she had to recover her car which was now at the bottom of a jungle-covered gorge, where it rolled and tumbled to a happy, little river on its careless way to the sea.  Tried to urge her not to go to Mexico, but that night the sick woman was carried to the depot, by some natives, followed by this Major-domo of a lady, took the train to Mexico City.  I’ll make a bet that they are both there yet.

The one we talked with was one of those strong-willed women who usually wield hammers where the back-bars are covered with crystal glasses and strong drink is served; take prominent places in the Church Sewing Circles; lead the cows to the neighbor’s bull at nature appointed times; just ‘cause William (that’s my husband) “was busy totin’ my preserves to the cellar, just like I told him to do. And then he’s got to beat the front room rug.  He can let the corn chuckin’ go til snow flies I s’pose.  He jest never seems to be doin’ nothing.’”  Why will some people leave their candle-lighted home upon the Wabash?  She received our Masonic interest and offers of assistance, but I fear there was not too much brotherly love in it.

We had seen four ladies at our hotel in Mexico, traveling alone from the States, and here we met them again.  We wandered down the street this evening and listened to some music in a drinking place.  These Mexicans can make even the Stars and Stripes sound mournful and sad, and get a sort of waltz movement into it.  Mujeres, muchachos, pigs, dogs, goats, hombres  – all joined together in the dark, unpaved streets, and it took careful stepping and judicious choosing for a place for the next step in order to escape the most objectionable part of the evening’s stroll, but we finally arrived at the Court, sat on the balcony, watched the world go to bed, then followed in turn.

The Indians in this part of the country belong to the Huichuhuayanches.  With a name like that, they should be good.  The four girls mentioned, had seen a native car plunge over the side of the road during the day’s drive, and eight natives had been killed.

We left the campo of the giant Norwegian Erik  – and were on the road rather early, reaching Ciudad Victoria for an early dinner.  Crossed two important rivers during the forenoon, the Rio Gueyejelo and Rio Purification  – the last might be a good place to go in swimming’  – from the name.  We noticed a very enlightening sign upon a would-be garage:  “Englis she is spoke.”  From here to Montemorelos, a distance of one hundred miles, a great hunting country is advertised and hunting parties may be arranged for  – to hunt for bear, mountain lion, deer, boar, turkey and quail.  We have seen several deer, a couple of wolves, several coyotes, some turkey on this trip.

The road leveled off somewhat and we sped into Monterey about 5:30 pm, went first to Arturo’s Place and had a cocktail or two, and then to Regina Courts, the same place where we stayed on the trip into Mexico.  Had nice quarters there, bath, good bed and nice clean rooms, with gas heater in each room, and they were needed that night, for it had rained recently in the mountain valleys, and the air was crisp and cool.

We were awakened early by the bugles at the Fuerta nearby, and tumbled out with the soldiers at that place; ate breakfast at the café at the courts, and had gone fifty miles by sunrise and were at the Mamaulique Pass when the sun appeared over the mountains.  This is the highest point we will reach now, for the road drops into the wide Rio Grande valley and our maintain-climbing is over.

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We soon crossed the Rio Sabinas and stopped at Power’s Café at Sabinas Hidalgo for lunch.  This is an interesting place with all sorts of things to buy and here we saw an Indian youth making a serape upon a crude, but sufficient, loom.

We are in Tamaulipas State now and about 85 miles from Nuevo Laredo and the Custom’s Office.  We cross the Salado River and then have a straight road across the valley of the Rio Grande, and we reeled off the miles as we do in the Red River Valley, soon reaching the International Bridge.  Mexican officials looked over the car a little, but we were soon released by them and then met the United States officials at the north end of the bridge.

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These American officers asked up if we had any plants, seeds, fruits, animals, reptiles and birds.  Examined car and passed us into the States.  As we were leaving the bridge, we were halted by Texas Officials, who taxed us 20¢ per quart to any liquor we might have.

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We went to a garage where Claude had stored his car with our winter coats and baggage; had dinner at a rather Mexican-like café, and, after filling up the car and checking tires, etc., we traveled as far as Webb, a few miles out.  At this point, the road to California turned to the left, while the highway toward San Antonio led straight ahead and to the north.  Here we drew up at the side of the road and changed baggage.  The party was split here and our good pals, the Turners, waved, we tooted, and within a few minutes we were miles apart.

It was all so sudden that it didn’t seem real.  Bill and I sped along northward, with regret at the parting and happiness because of having made this wonderful trip with the Turners.  Great travelers, both of them, we agreed, and we often spoke of them during the return trip from San Antonio through the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, and on to Minneapolis and Bismarck.

We arrived at Mandan, December 21st, 1937 at 4:00 pm after making 6,340 miles, having been gone just four weeks.

 

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