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CARPENTER’S 
WORLD TRAVELS 

Familiar Talks About Countries 
and Peoples 

WITH THE AUTHOR ON THE SPOT AND 
THE READER IN HIS HOME, BASED 
ON THREE HUNDRED THOU¬ 
SAND MILES OF TRAVEL 
OVER THE GLOBE 


“READING CARPENTER IS SEEING THE WORLD’' 
















MEXICO, OUR TURBULENT NEIGHBOUR 
“As I stood on the bridge in the middle of the Rio Grande astride the 
international boundary line I noticed that my left leg trembled a little, 
perhaps for fear another revolution would break out before I could get both 
feet back into Uncle Sam’s domain.” 







CARPENTER’S IVORLD TRAVELS 


Mexico"' 

BY 

FRANK G. CARPENTER" 

LITT. D., F. R. G. S. 



/ / / 

WITH 123 ILLUSTRATIONS 
FROM ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHS 


/ 


GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 

1924 























F 12.2.4- 

.C as* 

Co-|lXj| ^ 








COPYRIGHT, I 924 , BY 
FRANK G. CARPENTER 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES 
AT 

THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y. 

First Edition 



MAR 26 74 

( 

i 

* ■ - ♦ 

♦ # 

> « <. 

5 « 


©C1A778571 


/ 






ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 


In the publication of this volume on my travels in 
Mexico, I wish to thank the Secretary of State for letters 
which have given me the assistance of our official repre¬ 
sentatives in the Republic. I thank also the Secretary of 
Agriculture and our Secretary of Labour for appointing 
me an Honorary Commissioner of their Departments in 
foreign lands. Their credentials have been of great 
value, making accessible sources of information seldom 
opened to the ordinary traveller. 

I would also thank Mr. Dudley Harmon, my editor, 
and Miss Ellen McBryde Brown, and Miss Josephine 
Lehmann, my associate editors, for their assistance and 
cooperation in the revision of notes dictated or penned 
by me on the ground. 

While nearly all of the illustrations in Carpenter’s 
World Travels are from my own negatives, those in 
this book have been supplemented by photographs from 
Hugo Brehme and the Mexican National Railways, 
Mexico City; the United States War Department, the 
Pan-American Union, George F. Weeks, and Frederick 
Simpich, Washington; and the Richardson Pratt Carter 
Oil Company and Richard Levering Company, New York 
and Mexico. 

F. G. C. 


v 








CONTENTS 


CHAPTER PAGE 

I Just a Word Before We Start. . i 

II On the Border. 7 

III Monterey and Buena Vista. ... 15 

IV The World's Treasure Vault ... 23 

V Lost Mines and Bonanzas .... 34 

VI Where Mother Earth Heats the Bath 

Water.43 

Guanajuato and Its Strange Cemetery 52 
VIII On the Mexican Railways .... 61 

IX Guadalajara, the Athens of Mexico . 71 

X Window Courtship and Marriage Bar¬ 
gains . 77 

XI The Capital City. 88 

XII Palaces and Presidents. 98 

XIII The Mountain of Charity .... 109 

XIV Mexico's Bloody Altar. 117 

XV Cortes and the Montezumas . . . 122 

^XVI The Culture of the Aztecs and Mayas 131 
XVII Some Matters of Business . . . . 138 

XVIII Hanging Judas Iscariot. 147 

XIX The Virgin of Guadalupe .... 15i 

vii 








CONTENTS 


CHAPTER PAGE 

XX Church and State in Mexico . . 155 

XXI The Bull-Fight.161 

XXII Food and Drink Below the Rio 

Grande.17 1 

XXIII “Old Popo”.182 

XXIV Puebla, the City of the Angels . . 192 

XXV Jalapa, the Beautiful.198 

XXVI House-Building in Mexico . . . 204 

XXVII The Front Door of Mexico . . .211 

XXVIII By Mule Car to the Sea . . . .218 

XXIX Floating Gardens of Xochimilco . 223 

XXX A Look at the Markets .... 228 

XXXI Toluca in the Hills.232 

XXXII Slicing Up the Big Estates . . 238 

XXXIII Down the Mountains on a Box Car 248 
XXXIV Tampico and the Oil Fields . . . 257 

XXXV Our Billion-Dollar Investment in 

Mexico.264 

See the World.272 

Index . 277 


viii 








LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 
Mr. Carpenter astride the boundary line. . Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

Countless churches as monuments to the Spanish 2 

Cities built by the Spaniards. 3 

Peons are poorer than poverty itself. 6 

Great stretches of wild country along the Rio Grande 7 

The four bridges of El Paso. 7 

Thirty-three species of cactus.14 

Saddle Mountain looks down upon Monterey . 15 

Native washerwoman at work.15 

Mexican house and patio.18 

The public letter writer.18 

The old Bishop's palace.19 

Irrigation in southern Mexico.19 

Zacatecas water-carrier.34 

Peons work in the terrific heat of the mines... 35 
Silver ore is carried on the backs of the workers . 38 

Peons breaking up silver ore.39 

The patio process of silver extraction.39 

The Hot Springs of Mexico.46 

Linen drawn-work of Aguascalientes.46 

Baths at Aguascalientes.47 

The jumbled houses in the gorge of Guanajuato . 50 

Guanajuato and its flat-roofed houses .... 51 

Niches in the catacombs.51 

ix 
















ILLUSTRATIONS 

•V FACING PAGE 

A pigeon hole for the dead. 54 

Horse-car hearses are common in Mexico ... 55 

Mummies preserved by the dry air.55 

Railroad stations swarm with peddlers .... 62 

Crossing the Tropic of Cancer.63 

Mexican soldiers on box cars.63 

Second- and third-class coaches.66 

Railroads over mountains and canyons .... 66 

A peon potter.67 

Chapala is the largest Mexican lake.70 

The Horseshoe Falls of Juanacatlan.70 

Lake Chapala Indians scorn civilization .... 71 

The plaza at Guadalajara.78 

Indians forego marriage formalities.79 

Tehuantepec native women are superior to the men 86 

The plaza at Mexico City.87 

The Central Park of Mexico City.87 

View from the Cathedral towers.94 

The Paseo de la Reforma.95 

The summer castle at Chapultepec.98 

The West Point of Mexico.99 

Emperor Maximilian's house at Cuernavaca. . . 102 

Where Montezuma had his fish pond.103 

The voice of the beggar is heard everywhere. . . no 

The municipal palace faces the Plaza. hi 

One fourth of the people live in tenements . . . in 

Mexico’s Fifth Avenue.114 

Aztecs of to-day as burden bearers.115 

The sacrificial stone of the Aztecs.118 

The city of Cuernavaca.119 

Statue depicting torture of Guatemoc . . . . 119 

“Tree of the Sad Night”.126 


x 











ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

Entrance to palace at Coyoacan.127 

Ruins at Mitla.130 

Traces of the ancient Mayas.131 

Aztec handicrafts dying out.134 

Mexicans play golf at the Country Club. . . . 135 

“A Trip to Japan”.135 

Street hat peddler.142 

Women and children do most of the church going . 143 

The sacred shrine of Amecameca.146 

Blessing the crops after planting time . . 147 

Pilgrims sell cakes at Guadalupe .150 

The Church of Guadalupe.151 

At the sacred shrine. .151 

Churches erected as thank offerings.158 

First Christian altar on this continent . . . . 159 

Old monasteries of El Desierto.162 

The world’s largest bull ring.163 

Barbs equipped with tiny bombs.163 

Matador poised for the death thrust.166 

Music is the feature of Mexican picnics . . . . 167 

The peon loves a cock fight.167 

Corn is the staff of life in Mexico.174 

Pulque is collected in pigskin sacks.175 

Charcoal is the main fuel.175 

The maguey cactus.178 

Gamecocks are too expensive to eat.179 

Popocatepetl.182 

Sliding down “Old Popo”.183 

The snow-shrouded “White Woman” . . . . 190 

A stronghold of the Catholic faith.191 

Puebla is distinguished for cleanliness . . . . 194 

Charro costumes worn by rancheros .194 


xi 












ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

Chapel to Our Lady of Healing.195 

The peon in his serape.198 

The bright-coloured houses of Jalapa.199 

Mexican doors fasten with locks and bars . . . 206 

Kitchen in a native hut ...... . . 207 

Corridor in a better-class house.207 

Peon hovels of sundried brick .210 

Balcony in a Mexican palace.210 

The port of Vera Cruz.211 

Home of a Vera Cruz hacendado . 211 

Scaffoldings tied with ropes.214 

Fortress of San Juan de Ulua.215 

Buzzards infest the market.215 

A flower peddler of the tropics.222 

The “Floating Gardens” of Xochimilco . . . . 223 

Collecting the sap of the maguey cactus . . . .230 

Bird peddlers of Mexico City.231 

Vegetables sold by the slice.231 

Mexican Christmas trees.238 

Every market has its babies.239 

Wheat carried in fibre nets.239 

A well in the dry regions.242 

Working the irrigated farms.243 

The peon lives a hand-to-mouth existence . . . 246 

The Cave of Cacahuamilpa.247 

From the temperate zone to the tropics .... 254 

Native home in Tampico.255 

Prospecting for oil .255 

Fishing in the Panuco River.258 

Burning oil well.259 

The street photographer and his victims ... 262 

Oil well connected with pipe line.263 

xii 













ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

The Cananea copper smelters.263 

The Mexican labour problem.263 

Cotton mills at Orizaba.270 

“Gringolandia”.270 

British-and American-built railroads .... 271 






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MEXICO 






















































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ME)#fCO 

CHAPTER I 

JUST A WORD BEFORE WE START 

M Y TRAVELS in this book remind me of the 
Hindoo who lusted for diamonds. He had a 
small farm in Madras which he sold that he 
might hunt for these precious stones. He 
travelled far and wide over the world and at last re¬ 
turned home to learn that the Kohinoor, then the 
largest and finest diamond ever discovered, had been 
found on his own little farm. And so for many years 
I had travelled over the world, seeking the diamonds of 
human interest, before I discovered that one of the rar¬ 
est of all countries in this respect lay almost under my 
feet. 

This country is Mexico, a land as picturesque and as 
full of strange customs, strange sights, and strange peoples 
as any in Europe. No billowy ocean with its horrid 
seasickness needs be sailed in order to visit it. It lies 
at our very front doors and can be reached in comfortable 
sleepers which run every day. The only water between 
us is the little Rio Grande, and a trip of two or three 
days takes one into a world of new scenes. 

The past of Mexico is of unceasing interest. Again 
and again the traveller stumbles on relics that indicate a 


MEXICO 


history quite as interesting as that of the Old World from 
which we came. 

Long before the expedition of the Pilgrim Fathers was 
planned, Cortes and his soldiers had appeared in the land 
of the Aztecs and discovered there a civilization that 
compared well with their own. They found Montezuma 
reigning in a healthful city which a retinue of street clean¬ 
ers swept and watered daily so that, in the words of an 
old Spaniard, “a man could walk through it with as little 
danger of soiling his feet as his hands.” The city was 
washed on all sides by a brackish lake, but pure water was 
piped into the fountains and fed the reservoirs of its noble¬ 
men's houses from a sweet spring on a lofty hill three 
miles away. The king lived in royal pomp in a huge 
building erected without a nail, its ceiling inlaid with 
cedar and other sweet-smelling woods. 

The Mexico of to-day is a world in itself. It has a 
population of fifteen millions, of whom more than two 
fifths are pure-blooded Indians of various tribes. These 
Indians cannot read or write, and in many respects their 
civilization is lower than was that of the Aztecs when 
the Spanish conquerors came. There are also about a 
million creoles, or whites of pure Spanish lineage, who 
call themselves Mexicans, and between these two ele¬ 
ments are the mestizos, or mixed bloods, the result of inter¬ 
marriage of Spaniards and Indians. They are the leaders 
of the Mexico of to-day. 

Away down south in the State of Yucatan is a race dis¬ 
tinct from the other Indians of Mexico. It is the Mayas, 
an ancient people, which was ruled, but never was con¬ 
quered. They have seventeen different dialects of the 
same tongue. They are the direct descendants of the 
2 



Countless churches stand to-day as monuments to the handful of 
Spanish soldiers and priests, who conquered a vast empire, converted 
a whole people to Christianity, and gave them a new language. 









































We are to visit a land of cities built by Spaniards when our country 
was young. The soil is rich and the surrounding mountains are store¬ 
houses of treasure, yet progress comes slowly and poverty is the rule. 




















JUST A WORD BEFORE WE START 

semi-civilized people who, long, long before the advent of 
the Spaniards, built the wonderful ruined cities of Uxmal 
and Chichenitza. The mysterious characters on their 
temples and doorways long baffled the most expert ar¬ 
chaeologists. Many of the manuscripts stored in these 
temples, which might have thrown light on the Mayan 
civilization, were destroyed by the Spaniards. 

These are some of the human aspects of the field of our 
travels. Let us now look at its physical side. There 
are only four other republics on this hemisphere that 
have as much land. Mexico is equal to the whole United 
States east of the Mississippi River with the exception 
of the states of Michigan and Illinois, and its coast line 
on the Atlantic and the Pacific is so long that if its parts 
could be joined, it would extend from San Francisco to 
London and leave some to spare. It would more than 
reach from Los Angeles to Manila. The country is 
about as long as from New York to Salt Lake City, and 
its breadth at the top is equal to the distance from Phila¬ 
delphia to Indianapolis. 

The land is shaped like a huge horn, with its roots fast¬ 
ened to the United States, and the tip in Yucatan. The 
horn is bedded in the two oceans; it slopes from both sides 
to the top where are ridges with great mountains upholding 
a vast rolling tableland that is for the most part a mile 
above the sea. The mountains comprise some of the 
highest on the continent, Mount Orizaba being eighteen 
thousand feet in height and Popocatepetl only a few hun¬ 
dred feet lower. Mexico has volcanoes as lofty as Pike’s 
Peak, the names of which we hardly know, and it has 
more than fifteen ranging from two to three and one-half 
miles in altitude. 


3 


MEXICO 


On the plateau for most of the year the climate is like 
that of Ohio in June. The air is as pure as the winter 
winds sweeping over Egypt from the Libyan Desert, and 
Greece can furnish no more beautiful skies. 

From the coasts up to about three thousand feet the 
country is hot, with an average annual temperature of 
from 76° to 88° Fahrenheit. The temperate lands lie 
along the mountain slopes and in the lower plateaus, 
at between three thousand and sixty-five hundred feet 
elevation, a zone that embraces most of the northern 
deserts. In the tierra fria, or cold country, which is cold 
only by comparison with the coast lands, are included the 
high plateaus and the mountains, that part of Mexico 
lying between sixty-five hundred and twelve thousand 
five hundred feet of altitude. Here the thermometer 
averages from 30° to 6o°. About half of the inhabitants 
live in this cool belt. 

During my trips to Mexico I have travelled over the 
whole mighty plateau. Upon it the air is so clear that one 
can see miles farther than in the eastern parts of the 
United States, and it is so filled with ozone that one seems 
to be breathing champagne. The skies appear closer to 
the earth than at home, the moon has more brilliancy, 
and the diamond-like stars remind me of the luminous 
heavens which hang low at night over the Amazon or the 
Gulf of Siam. 

Mexico has two seasons: the wet, from June to Septem¬ 
ber, and the dry, from October to May. Most travellers 
prefer to come during the winter, but the Mexicans them¬ 
selves, especially those who live in the capital, like the 
summer, which is the healthiest time of the year. Then 
daily showers of refreshing rain water the streets and flush 
4 


JUST A WORD BEFORE WE START 

out the sewers. Immediately after each shower the sun 
comes out and the atmosphere so quickly takes up the 
moisture that the streets are soon dry. Throughout the 
winter there are clear and cloudless days and all the year 
round in Mexico City and other places on the plateau the 
cool nights call for a pair of warm blankets. 

The products are as varied as the climates. In the low 
coast lands American companies have set out banana 
plantations not far from the Mexican Gulf. A little higher 
up coffee flourishes and in some sections rubber can be 
profitably raised. 

The high plateau grows all the crops of the temperate 
zone. Its irrigated regions produce large quantities of 
cotton, a fibre that was used by the Aztecs when Cortes 
first came. It yields Indian corn, the staple food of the 
people, and indeed, some claim that Mexico is the original 
home of this plant. I have seen soil that produces two 
crops of wheat in winter months. Little fertilizer is used, 
and the sun, the air, and the earth furnish the plant food. 
As to fruits, Mexico has all those of the tropics and the 
temperate zone, freshly ripened every month. I have 
eaten ripe strawberries in Mexico City at Christmas, and 
at Irapuato, some two hundred miles northwest of the cap¬ 
ital they are brought to the trains for sale the year round. 
Sugar cane is grown in the south, and tobacco is a favourite 
crop with the natives. In Yucatan and Campeche is 
raised henequen, or sisal hemp. 

The very mention of the Mexican mines gives one vi¬ 
sions of inexhaustible riches. They have been producing 
millions ever since Cortes robbed the treasures of the 
Montezumas, and they are still turning out nearly eighty 
million dollars' worth of gold, silver, copper, and lead 
5 


MEXICO 


every twelve months. Mexico has also mountains of 
iron, and her subterranean lakes of petroleum are among 
the wonders of our modern oil world. Few of us realize 
that we import oil from Mexico; that our wheat harvest 
is largely dependent on the binder twine made from its 
henequen; and that all the lead and zinc and three 
fourths of the silver we bring in from foreign lands come 
from this our sister republic. 

The Mexico of to-day is far more advanced than many 
suppose. Nearly all sections of the country are now 
accessible by railroad, and its trunk lines, if stretched end 
to end, would reach more than halfway around the globe. 
More than sixteen thousand miles are in operation, and 
extensions are planned or in process of construction. 

The water powers of the country are being harnessed, 
and the steel posts of high-power transmission lines may 
be seen from the railway for miles up and down the plateau. 
Among others the falls of Juanacatlan, the Niagara of 
Mexico, are generating electricity, and Boquillas dam in the 
state of Chihuahua has the largest storage reservoir on the 
North American continent. That body of water is one 
hundred and fifty-five miles in circumference. It is used 
primarily to create light and power for the cities and 
mines but it also irrigates thousands of acres formerly arid, 
changing them from a Sahara into a Garden of Eden. 


6 



The peons are poorer than poverty itself, yet seem not to realize 
how badly off they are. Millions of them have nothing beyond a hat, 
a few rags, and the frayed pieces of sole leather tied to their feet. 













The great stretches of wild, rough country along the Rio Grande make 
it comparatively easy for Mexican cattle thieves to run stolen herds across 
the river and sell them in the States. 



At El Paso four bridges cross the Rio Grande to Juarez and tie the 
United States to Mexico. Over one of them street cars pass back and 
forth like shuttles between the two countries. 








CHAPTER II 


ON THE BORDER 

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world 
Like a Colossus- 

T HIS quotation from “Julius Caesar” is recalled by 
a peculiar experience I had to-day. I did not 
bestride the world, but I was astraddle of the two 
greatest republics of the North American continent. 
I stood in the centre of the old wagon bridge that crosses 
the Rio Grande at Laredo, with my left foot in the United 
States while my right foot was in Mexico. I know this 
was the fact, for behind me was a post set on the line 
between the two countries. It is a steel shaft, about a 
foot square at the bottom and six feet in height. It is 
plated with silver, and each side of it bears an inscription 
showing that it marks the international boundary. The 
inscription on the side facing our country is in English 
and that on the opposite side in Spanish, but both mean 
the same. The English text reads: 

Boundary of the United States. Treaty of 1848. Re-established 
by treaties of 1884-1889. 

Under these words is the following warning: 

Destruction or displacement of this monument is a misdemeanor, 
punishable by the United States or by Mexico. 

The United States side of the shaft bears the American 
eagle and the other the coat of arms of the Mexican Re- 
7 


MEXICO 


public. As I stood there with my back to the monument 
and my left foot in Mexico, I noticed that leg perceptibly 
trembling. It may have been for fear of another Mexican 
revolution before I could get both feet back into Uncle 
Sam's domain. 

As I looked to the west, my eye followed the course 
of the Rio Grande on its sluggish way to the Gulf. It is a 
dreary river, with ragged, low banks, bordered by vegeta¬ 
tion as coarse and thirsty as that of the Jordan. The 
stream is not navigable, and its chief business seems to be 
to define the winding line between the two countries and 
to give a dangerous task to our state and federal officials 
and even, sometimes, to thousands of soldiers in the 
United States. 

From here to the Gulf of Mexico, its course on the map 
looks like the teeth of a saw, and coming down from El 
Paso to Laredo, it curves in and out and makes great 
bends covering almost double the distance of an air line. 
West of El Paso the river is entirely in the United States, 
and from there to the Pacific our boundary is otherwise 
marked. The whole length of the border, with its many 
curves, is, roughly speaking, as long as from New York 
to Salt Lake City, or more than two thousand miles. 

Contrary to what is commonly supposed, and even to 
the maps in ordinary use, the Rio Grande does not in all 
places separate Texas and Mexico. The river has a way 
of suddenly changing its course in the flood season, cutting 
off great slices of land and adopting new curves. The 
result is that the actual border line is sometimes to the 
south of the river and sometimes to the north. Among 
the score or more of government commissions in Washing¬ 
ton is one that deals exclusively with these quick shifts of 
8 


ON THE BORDER 


the stream and their effects. Were it not for this com¬ 
mission and its constant surveys a ranch owner along the 
river might find his farm gone overnight from the United 
States into Mexico. The next year, perhaps, it might be 
back in Uncle Sam’s land. As it nears its mouth, the 
river grows more and more snakelike. It is but one hun¬ 
dred miles as the crow flies from Mission, in Texas, to 
the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but by the mean¬ 
dering course of the river it is more than five times as 
far. A point twelve miles downstream from the inter¬ 
national ferry at Brownsville is but two miles from the 
ferry in a bee-line. 

When the water is low, the Rio Grande can be forded 
almost anywhere, and in places its banks are cut up into 
gullies and covered with brush, making excellent hiding 
places for the many kinds of evildoers infesting the bor¬ 
der. Indeed, but few people realize how big is the job 
of guarding this imaginary line that separates our rich 
republic from turbulent Mexico. The United States 
customs service must collect the tariff on dutiable goods, 
its immigration authorities are supposed to examine all 
persons crossing the line, its doctors try to keep out both 
people and animals having contagious diseases, its agricul¬ 
tural experts are on watch for infected plants, while the 
prohibition forces do their best to put a stop to the boot¬ 
leggers’ trade. Besides these problems of policing the 
border there are the cattle thieves who rustle American 
herds across into Mexico, and the perennial revolutionist 
seeking to get guns and ammunition from the States into 
the hands of his fellow conspirators. 

In times of actual disturbance in Mexico our army takes 
charge and patrols the border. In peace time, however, 
9 


MEXICO 


the troops stay in their barracks and posts, of which there 
are a dozen or so, extending from Brownsville, in Texas, to 
Nogales, in Arizona. In order to be prepared for any 
contingency the War Department keeps about one fourth 
of all the troops stationed in continental United States, 
and nearly all of our cavalry, in this territory along the 
Mexican border. 

The two chief stations for troops are San Antonio and 
El Paso, where supplies to outfit an invading force of a 
hundred thousand men are constantly kept. The two 
cities also have army aviation schools. There are avia¬ 
tors who fly back and forth along the boundary. 

Since prohibition has bred its horde of bootleggers, the 
customs officers along the Mexican border have had to 
be on guard day and night. The dry laws were hardly 
enacted before liquor began to cross the line like the Rio 
Grande in flood, and the success of the smuggler en¬ 
couraged those who were trying to bring in goods without 
paying duties. The supply of revenue officers is in¬ 
adequate. On the entire border there are not twenty 
ports of entry, and the average distance between them is 
about one hundred miles. The El Paso district has six 
hundred and fifty miles of border with about twenty in¬ 
spectors stationed at twelve different points. 

The duties of the inspectors are difficult and dangerous. 
When they are after the smugglers they often serve as 
targets for pot shots from over the line, and several have 
been killed by the rum-runners. American rifles are fre¬ 
quently traded for liquors, and the Mexicans use the guns 
in case they are in danger from the revenue men. 

The inspectors are mostly “mounted/' which means that 
they go up and down the border in light motor cars. They 
io 


ON THE BORDER 

| 

usually ride in pairs, armed with revolvers and rifles, and 
even shoulder machine guns in order to protect them¬ 
selves in case of attack. Airplanes are sometimes used 
and the rum pirates detected, as it were, from the skies. 
Because of the risk attached to their jobs, the customs 
inspectors are either unable to get insurance policies or 
else compelled to pay extra high rates. 

Even more profitable than bringing liquor over the 
boundary is the smuggling in of narcotics to be sold at 
high prices to drug addicts in the States. A few boxes of 
powders and pills, as many, perhaps, as can be easily 
carried in a hand-satchel or under the seat of an automo¬ 
bile, may have a value of thousands of dollars on this 
side of the line. 

When one considers the character of the country, in¬ 
deed, it is surprising that conditions are not worse than 
I find them. In some places a gang of smugglers might 
pass within a few hundred yards of the revenue officers 
without the latter suspecting that any one was near. 
Nevertheless, these men know to an amazing degree what 
is going on in their districts. The presence of strangers 
in the thinly settled area is promptly noted and cash 
rewards often tempt the lawbreaker to become an in¬ 
former. 

While most of the two-thousand-mile border goes 
through waste land, some of it runs through cities and 
towns. This is so with El Paso and Juarez, and Laredo 
and Nuevo Laredo, the river alone dividing the cities. 
At such points the traffic on the international bridges is 
heavy, and it is not humanly possible to examine every 
passenger and vehicle. At Nogales, stores on the north 
side of International Street are in Arizona, and those on 


MEXICO 


the south side are in Mexico. Tia Juana, just over the 
line from California, is a “wide open” town, exclusively 
devoted to racing, gambling, and drinking. During the 
annual racing season of one hundred days, Californians 
by the thousands cross into Mexico. Many come in 
their automobiles and their cars are strung out for half 
a mile on each side of the boundary, awaiting registra¬ 
tion by the border officials. 

The immigration authorities have almost as much 
trouble with lawbreakers as have the customs men. In 
this case it is people, not packages, that must be kept out. 
Chinese and Hindoos, who by our exclusion laws are 
denied admission to the United States, are constantly 
trying to slip in over the Mexican border. Sometimes 
they pay five hundred or even one thousand dollars apiece 
to men who undertake to pass them by the inspectors, 
and they employ all kinds of tricks and devices. One in¬ 
spector, growing suspicious about a man and a woman 
in an automobile, pried up the lid of a box in the rear 
and found three frightened Chinese curled up inside. 

Right here at Laredo I met a party of Hindoos awaiting 
a chance to slip in. They were on the southern side of 
the bridge, in the plaza that forms the centre of the 
Mexican town of Nuevo Laredo. They were tall, dark¬ 
faced, strong, husky East Indians, and the chief was a 
turbaned Hindoo from the Punjab. 

I asked him where they were going, and was told that 
he had brought the gang of forty-three with him from 
Panama. They had landed in Guatemala by steamer from 
Panama, and come by the Pan American Railway from 
there into Mexico. I photographed four of these Hindoos. 
They were fine-looking fellows, all wearing turbans and 
12 


ON THE BORDER 

Indian dress, and it seemed to me as though they might 
have been lifted up bodily out of the streets of Delhi and 
dropped down into this Mexican town. 

1 am surprised at the number of Mexicans I find on the 
United States side of the boundary. The trains are packed 
with peons, coming into Texas to work on the farms. 1 
am told something like forty thousand enter the United 
States every year to aid in picking cotton and harvest¬ 
ing grain. They go here and there through the border 
states, and as their wages are high, many a man returns 
home with enough money to keep him and his family 
for the rest of the year. The Texans employ Mexicans 
by the hundreds on the larger ranches, and there are 
many Mexican servants in all the towns of south Texas. 

It cost me just a nickel to get into the Mexican Republic 
and another to return to the United States. This was 
the toll over the wagon bridge that crosses the Rio 
Grande into Nuevo Laredo. 1 was stopped on the Mexi¬ 
can side by three officials and asked if I had any guns or 
ammunition, and coming back one of our customs officers 
asked me if I had any liquor or dutiable goods on my 
person. 

The difference in the prosperity of the two republics 
was apparent as soon as I put my feet on Mexican soil. 
The first man I met on leaving the bridge was a blind 
beggar who asked me for alms, and I saw more poor 
people as I came up into the town and went through the 
narrow, unpaved streets. Laredo, Texas, is a city of the 
rich. Its people have money to burn, and they are 
raising gold dollars on the lands lying all around them. 
The people of Nuevo Laredo seem to be just the reverse, 
although they are surrounded by a country equally good. 
13 


MEXICO 


The town has gone to seed, and its houses of brick, covered 
with stucco and painted all the colours of the rainbow, 
are battered and worn. The only sign of active life is in 
the plaza, where a gaily uniformed band plays excellent 
music. I saw soldiers here and there, and now and then 
passed one of the federal infantry patrolling the streets. 


14 



From the thirty-three different species of cactus that thrive on the 
Mexican plateau the natives obtain vinegar, molasses, twine, thatch, 
distilled liquors, and pulque, the native beer. 




Saddle Mountain looks down on the flat roofs of Monterey, which is 
only six hours by train from the United States boundary, yet seems to 
belong to an older world than ours. 



In many places one must send his clothes to be pounded on the rocks 
by the native washerwoman. Time means little to her, and the week’s 
wash may be a month in returning. 









CHAPTER III 


MONTEREY AND BUENA VISTA 

O-DAY I am in Monterey, two hundred and sixty- 



seven miles south of Laredo on the international 


boundary. Monterey is the metropolis of north- 


A ern Mexico and the principal manufacturing city 
of the whole Republic. It lies in a rich mineral country. 
The mountains about it yield silver and gold and its 
railway facilities make it an easy matter to get in coal 
from the neighbouring state of Coahuila. 

Monterey is the Pittsburgh of Mexico. It has the 
biggest steel plant south of the United States boundary, 
huge smelters, controlled by the Guggenheims, and a 
great brewery which looks as though our prohibition 
amendment might have shifted it bodily from Milwaukee 
to the Mexican plateau. I have called Monterey the 
Pittsburgh of Mexico. It is sometimes called the Chicago 
as well, for it is a great distributing point of supplies for 
mining and manufacturing enterprises in northeastern 
Mexico. 

The city is situated six hours by train from the United 
States boundary, in a beautiful valley as high above the 
sea as the top of the Blue Ridge. This valley is sur¬ 
rounded by mountains as ragged as those of the Rockies. 
They shine in opalescent hues under the rays of the semi- 
tropical sun. One of the peaks looks like the hump of a 


MEXICO 


gigantic camel and another has a head like a bishop’s 
mitre. The Sierra Madre, or Mother Range, in this 
clear air, seems to be a great etching traced by the hands 
of the gods. 

The slopes of the mountains are thirsty and dry, but 
the fields of the valley are green, irrigated by the Santa 
Catarina River, which runs through it. Irrigation, how¬ 
ever, cannot alter the nature of the soil which is sandy 
and easily picked up by the wind. Dust-clouds, the 
great pest of this part of Mexico, sometimes sweep over 
the city. The river brings floods which at times carry 
away buildings and drown hundreds of people. Some 
years ago it swept away hundreds of homes and killed 
more than five hundred people. But this same stream, 
which has taken life in the past, is giving light and power 
for the enterprises of to-day. 

The houses of Monterey are typically Mexican. They 
are of one and two stories, built around courts, or patios, 
in which are all sorts of vegetation. A little American 
boy here writing back home thus described them: 

“ In the United States we put a yard around the house. 
Here in Monterey the people build the house around the 
yard.” 

This gives a fair idea of the architecture. Every build¬ 
ing incloses a courtyard, which, viewed from above, 
shows banana plants, bushes, and other vegetation grow¬ 
ing, as it were, right out of the houses. The roofs are 
all flat, and Monterey is more like a city of the Orient 
than of the North American continent. At first sight 
it would seem that it might have come from the Spain of 
a hundred years ago, but as we look more closely we see 
big business buildings and a million-dollar hotel of rein- 
16 


MONTEREY AND BUENA VISTA 


forced concrete not far from the principal plaza, while 
farther out are villas of American style. 

The streets are narrow and cross each other at right 
angles, with plazas and parks here and there. The 
town is paved with brick, and has a factory turning out 
tens of millions of brick every year. In some sections 
American buildings made of brick are going up and the 
day of brick and concrete seems to be crowding out that 
of adobe and stucco. 

Street cars fly back and forth. They remind me of the 
Canadian firm which had the fat contract for making 
the modern improvements in Monterey. This company 
obtained the concession for putting in waterworks, sewers, 
electric lights, and the street railways, and in payment 
received bonds equal to the amount invested at ten per 
cent, interest for ninety-nine years. The concession was 
so worded that the more the contractors spent the better 
their bargain, and the work was done regardless of cost. 
The money was borrowed in England at low rates of 
interest, and remittance men and other second sons of the 
lenders were sent over and given good jobs, for all of 
which the Mexicans paid. 

The same firm planned a big hotel at the Topo Chico 
Springs near here. There is a big business in the sale of 
mineral water from these springs, which are famed for 
their medicinal qualities. 

Next to Tampico, Monterey is perhaps the most Ameri¬ 
can city in Mexico. The shops have signs in both Span¬ 
ish and English, and at the American Store one can get 
American magazines, newspapers, clothing, and other 
things. The two best motion-picture houses specialize 
in American films. Our citizens here are interested in 

17 


MEXICO 


the stores, in plantations, and in other businesses. A 
number of them have bought lands along the railroad 
from Monterey to Tampico, the great oil port. 

To-day ours is a peaceful penetration of Mexico. But 
it was far otherwise when “Old Rough and Ready” 
Zachary Taylor fought the Mexican troops on this very 
spot. My trip from Laredo to Monterey was made in a 
few hours in a comfortable Pullman. General Taylor and 
his army took several weeks to cover the same ground. 

Taylor’s journey was made on horseback with an army 
of sixty-seven hundred men, most of whom were on foot. 
There were then no railroads in Mexico and practically 
none in the United States. Most of the way was over 
the desert, and the country furnished but little food for 
the army. When the Americans got to Monterey they 
found it in the hands of ten thousand Mexican soldiers. 
The town had been fortified. The walls were lined with 
cannon, and the streets and houses were barricaded and 
planted with artillery. There were forts about the city, 
the strongest of which was the bishop’s palace on a hill 
at the southwest. 

I have visited the Grand Plaza and other places which 
the Mexicans had fortified, and have gone to the outskirts 
and picked out the spots where the defence works were 
located. The old palace, or church, where the chief en¬ 
gagement took place, still stands on the edge of the city, 
and there is a wall of stones about it to-day. I found 
some of the old American cannon lying on the slope of the 
hill; they have not been moved from their places since the 
day of the battle. In his siege of the town General Tay¬ 
lor captured the other forts first. When he had taken 
this one he commanded all the heights about the city and 
18 



An American boy wrote home from Monterey: “ In the United States 
we put a yard around the house; here they build the house around the 
yard.” The typical Mexican house encloses an open patio filled with 
shrubs and flowers. 



More than three fourths of the Mexicans can neither read a street sign 
nor write their own names, hence the public letter writer is to be seen in 
every town. He often ekes out his living by selling cigarettes as well as 
his services. 







Some of the fiercest fighting in our war with Mexico was for possession 
of the old Bishop’s Palace, which commanded the town of Monterey. 
The cannon used in the engagement still lie on the slopes of the hillside. 





Only some twenty-five millions of Mexico’s half billion acres are now 
arable. But irrigation is creating new cultivable areas, particularly in 
southern Mexico, where soil once unproductive now yields fine crops of 
oranges, apples, and alfalfa. 








MONTEREY AND BUENA VISTA 

began to shell it, while his men broke their way through 
the walls of the houses until they had almost reached the 
Grand Plaza. At that time the Mexicans, who had lost 
many men, came out with a flag of truce and surrendered. 

It was at Buena Vista, seventy miles south of Mon¬ 
terey, that General Taylor's troops administered a crush¬ 
ing defeat to the Mexican general, Santa Anna, who had 
four times as many men. Indeed, the Mexican force was 
so large that Santa Anna thought it ridiculous for the 
Americans to fight. He demanded of General Taylor 
that he surrender. The reply sent back afterward be¬ 
came a campaign cry and aided in the election of Taylor 
as President. It was: 

“General Taylor never surrenders." 

Shortly after that the Mexicans sent in a party under a 
white flag to inquire what General Taylor was waiting 
for, and “Old Rough and Ready" answered: “General 
Taylor is waiting for General Santa Anna to surrender." 

In that engagement twenty thousand Mexicans were 
beaten by less than five thousand Americans. Their losses 
were about twenty-five hundred killed and wounded 
and four thousand missing. We had only two hun¬ 
dred and sixty-four killed and four hundred and fifty 
wounded, but that was almost one sixth of our whole 
force. General Lew Wallace says that the Americans 
were beaten oftener during that engagement than there 
were hours in the day, but that they did not know they 
were beaten. They rallied and fought, and rallied and 
fought, and at last wrung victory from the hands of de¬ 
feat. 

I have visited the battlefield of Buena Vista. It is 
now desert-like and barren. The ground about it is 
19 


MEXICO 


covered with sagebrush and stones and the only green 
vegetation is the tree under which General Taylor’s 
hospital stood during the engagement. At least, I sup¬ 
pose the hospital stood there, for the tree still bears the 
name of the General Taylor Hospital tree. 

The battle of Buena Vista made General Taylor the 
hero of the American people. Upon his return to the 
United States he was received with great applause, and 
that notwithstanding his desire to keep in the back¬ 
ground. A story illustrating his simplicity is told of a 
senator named Butler, whose brother, Pierce Butler, was 
killed at the battle of Buena Vista. Senator Butler had 
asked for a description of the battle and General Taylor 
replied: “Well, come and dine with me to-day and I will 
tell you all about it.” 

Throughout the dinner the senator waited with more 
or less impatience for the story to begin, and at its close 
brought up the subject of the battle, asking about his 
brother. General Taylor said: 

“Yes, Senator, your brother Pierce was a good soldier 
and he died after a brave fight on the field. Now you 
want to know how the battle was fought, do you?” 

“Yes, General, if you will be so kind. Please tell me 
just how your troops were placed and all about those of the 
enemy. I would like to understand how, with such a 
small force, you could defeat Santa Anna who had four 
times the number.” 

“The difference was more than that,” said General 
Taylor, “but we did not stop to count. I know that I 
wished for more soldiers.” 

“Yes,” said the senator, “but what was the order of 
battle?” 


20 


MONTEREY AND BUENA VISTA 


“Why, Senator, we began fighting early in the morning 
the first day and we fit all that day. We lost a good 
many men, and at night it looked pretty bad.” 

“Well, what next?” 

“Well,” said General Taylor, “when it got dark I rode 
over to Saltillo to look after our stores and provide against 
a surprise.” 

“Why did you go yourself? Why not send one of your 
aides?” 

“You see, Senator, everything depended on our not hav¬ 
ing our supplies cut off, and I wanted to see for myself.” 

“ How was it next morning?” asked the senator. 

“About the same as the night before,” said General 
Taylor, and stopped. 

“Who was the first man you met?” 

“General Wool.” 

“And what did he say?” 

“He said, 'All is lost/” 

“What did you reply?” 

“'Maybe so, General, we’ll see/ And then we went to 
fighting again and fit all that day and toward night it 
looked better.” 

Here General Taylor stopped again, although the sena¬ 
tor waited impatiently for more, and finally asked: 

“What next?” 

“Well, next morning it was reported to me that Santa 
Anna and all his men had disappeared in the night, and I 
can tell you that I was devilish glad to be rid of them 
so.” 

It was in these engagements that General Grant fig¬ 
ured as a second lieutenant. Grant afterward declared 
that the Mexican War was unjust. Jefferson Davis was in 


21 


MEXICO 


command of a regiment of Mississippi volunteers at the 
battle of Monterey and there Robert E. Lee began his 
service in Mexico under General Wool. Lee was after¬ 
ward transferred to the army of Vera Cruz, where he 
served so well that at the close of the war he left Mexico 
as a colonel. 


22 


CHAPTER IV 

THE WORLD'S TREASURE VAULT 

I HAVE come by way of Torreon from Monterey to 
Zacatecas, the famed City of Silver. Much of my 
journey was over barren uplands and cactus-studded 
wastes. We climbed steadily, and during the last nine 
miles the train fairly crawled as it made its way up the 
steep grades. Zacatecas is six thousand feet above Mon¬ 
terey and its altitude is a mile and a half above that of the 
Mexican Gulf. 

I have called it the Silver City. The name is well 
warranted. Here everything is silver. The mines were 
worked in the days of Cortes and from then until now the 
digging has gone on, giving hundreds of millions of dollars' 
worth of precious metal to the world. It goes on still, and 
under my feet the Aztecs of to-day are delving away in the 
bowels of the earth as did their forefathers in the past. 
The city itself is a drab jumble of flat-roofed, box-shaped 
houses built close up to cobblestone sidewalks and packed 
into a narrow ravine or clinging to its sides. Underneath 
its steep streets and lanes tunnels wind in and out through 
veins of silver. Mountains, their sides shot with silver, 
are all around and about, and their tops rise to the silvery 
skies. 

A large part of the population of Zacatecas is made up 
of peon miners, who go in and out of the holes in the 
ground at morning and night. Some of the mines are 
23 


MEXICO 


going twenty-four hours a day and the men work in shifts. 
In the deeper levels the native workers file past the time¬ 
keepers, checking their blankets as they go. Stepping 
into a great bucket attached to the end of a rope they are 
dropped down into the earth. In the more primitive 
workings the crude windlass may stick and they may be 
suspended in the pitch-dark shaft for an hour. 

Here at Zacatecas the deeper workings are terrifically 
hot and the sweat runs off the miners in streams. They 
usually work naked except for the sandals on their feet, 
the narrow strip of cloth between the legs held in place by 
a string, and the rosary or good-luck charm around the 
neck. They wear immense yellow straw hats which pro¬ 
tect them from the falling stones and serve as storage 
place for cigarettes and lunches of tortillas. 

Ore stealing is common in Mexican mines, especially 
those yielding silver and gold. In spite of his scant 
clothing the peon is searched whenever he comes out of 
the ground, and sometimes by three sets of men. He 
often conceals bits of the highest-grade ore under his 
arms, between his toes, in his ears, and in every other 
imaginable place, and it is only by searching that the mine 
owners can prevent sizable losses. 

The miners are devoted to their religion. They often 
put a cross or a bright-coloured picture of the Virgin in an 
empty dynamite box and set it up as an altar in one of 
the subterranean galleries. Sometimes they bring fresh 
flowers or candles to place on these altars, and they always 
take off their hats and cross themselves as they pass. 

Though most of the Zacatecas mines use little railways 
and electric hoists to get out the ore, some are still worked 
by the methods of the past. The ore is sometimes slowly 
24 


THE WORLD’S TREASURE VAULT 


raised by the crudest windlasses worked by patient 
burros or peons and I have seen Indians with rawhide 
bags filled with ore, weighing from one to two hundred 
pounds, crawling up chicken-ladders of logs notched at 
intervals of eight inches. These men occasionally lose 
their balance and fall, but they are for the most part 
very surefooted. The wonder is that more of them are 
not killed every year. 

As elsewhere in Mexico, water has flooded some of the 
deeper mines. Much of this water is pumped out by 
modern machinery, but some is still drawn up in great 
dripping sacks of horsehide and used for drinking and 
washing. Surface water is scarce, and one of the com¬ 
mon sounds of Zacatecas is the cry of the water carriers 
as they go up and down. 

Zacatecas, with its hundred mines and its annual out¬ 
put of six million dollars’ worth of silver, is only one of the 
great mining districts of this country. In its mountains 
are vast hoards of precious metals. Cecil Rhodes, builder 
of Great Britain’s empire in South Africa, once subscribed 
to the prediction that from Mexico’s subterranean treas¬ 
ure houses will come the gold, the silver, the copper, and 
the precious stones that will build the empires of to¬ 
morrow. 

When these words were spoken Mexico had been pro¬ 
ducing gold and silver for nearly four hundred years, but 
it was not until after the death of Rhodes that her mines 
were brought up to the enormous output of recent times. 
Since the discovery of America her total yield of the 
precious metals has been around five billion dollars. She 
has produced one third of all the silver now in use upon 
earth, and the output of gold and silver in a good year 

25 


MEXICO 


amounts to more than sixty-five million dollars. If you 
will take all the gold coins in this country, all of the silver 
dollars, all of the quarters, half dollars, and dimes, and all 
the bullion in the United States Treasury, and shovel 
them together into one pile, that pile would not equal the 
treasure that has come out of Mexico's mines. 

To-day this land stands at the head of the silver- 
producing countries, and that notwithstanding the fact 
that much of the mining is by old and wasteful methods 
and that many localities containing mineral deposits have 
scarcely been touched. It is said that three fourths of 
the mineral possibilities are as yet unexploited. The 
mines have rapidly come into the hands of the Americans, 
however, and they are operating them after the most 
modern methods. Our holdings now constitute eighty 
per cent, of the producing mining properties in Mexico. 
The new stamp mills and smelters and the cyanide process 
have taken the place of the mule-crushers and patio 
methods and the percentage of gold and silver extracted 
from the ores is steadily increasing. 

Almost every state in the Republic has rich mines, but 
the principal ones are in central and western Mexico. 
They run from our border as far down as Oaxaca, a dis¬ 
tance as great as from New York to Oklahoma City, and 
go from there westward as far as from New York to Bos¬ 
ton. The best mines are on the western slopes of the 
mountains at from half a mile to a mile and a half above 
sea-level. Nearly all of them yield silver, either alone or 
in combination with other metals. 

There are more than five thousand silver mines in 
Mexico. Some have produced phenomenal riches. The 
total output of those about Zacatecas has been more than 
26 


THE WORLD’S TREASURE VAULT 

one billion dollars and those of Chihuahua have yielded 
between four and five hundred millions. The Pachuca 
district in the state of Hidalgo has valuable mineral prop¬ 
erties. 

In Guanajuato the Americans have renovated and 
extended the silver-mining industry, which has been in 
operation for more than two hundred years. They have 
sunk their shafts far below those of the former Mexican 
owners and have put up enormous mills capable of han¬ 
dling hundreds of thousands of tons of ore every year. 
They get their power from waterfalls one hundred and 
eighty miles distant and are mining with the most modern 
machinery. 

A little farther north, in Chihuahua, the richest in 
minerals of all the states of the Republic, silver mines are 
still being worked which have been operated for more than 
three centuries. In that region are the Batopilas mine, 
which was modernized by Governor Shepherd, the first 
big American investor in Mexican silver properties; the 
Santa Eulalia mines, now controlled by the American 
Mining and Smelting Company, and the famous Parral 
mine. As early as 1612, Parral was sending a steady 
stream of silver into the royal coffers of Spain and to-day 
it continues to pour treasures into the hands of its Ameri¬ 
can owners. 

In San Luis Potosi the richest district is Catorce, which 
has silver and lead mixed with gold. In Durango there 
are deposits formed of a network of silver veins mixed 
with iron and other metals. In Oaxaca there are more 
than a dozen mineral zones, containing silver, gold, cop¬ 
per, and lead, and in Sonora, where both silver and copper 
are mined, there was found the biggest lump of silver on 
27 


MEXICO 


record. Its weight was 2750 pounds. It was discovered 
by a poor Indian, but through a dispute as to its owner¬ 
ship all of it went to the Spanish crown. 

There are eighteen hundred gold mines in Mexico, 
though the present production is small. The bulk of the 
gold comes from silver veins which also carry more or less 
of the yellow metal. The country has never been as 
important in gold mining as in silver mining. The chief 
gold-producing district is about El Oro, in the state of 
Mexico, where French and English capital is invested. 
That region, which is one of the largest gold fields of 
America, has some valuable mines. The Dos Estrellas 
has paid as much as a million dollars a year on a capitaliza¬ 
tion of three hundred thousand dollars, while the Penoles 
once yielded nearly four million dollars on a hundred and 
twenty-five thousand dollar capital. One of the mines 
has a vein of gold which, in places, is thirty feet wide. 
There are also gold-bearing properties in Sonora, Sinaloa, 
Chihuahua, Oaxaca, and Lower California. In the last- 
mentioned state are a few placer mines, some of which 
have done well. 

Most of Montezuma’s gold must have come from 
placers. Among his presents to Cortes were a Spanish hel¬ 
met of pure gold and two circular plates of gold as large as 
cart wheels. The gold taken from him and sent to Spain 
is estimated to have been worth at least seven million 
dollars. 

In the future, the baser metals are likely to surpass in 
value the gold product of Mexico. Already the copper 
mined in a year is often worth more than the gold. Among 
the best known of the copper mines are the Green Cananea, 
the Moctezuma, and the Boleo. The Green Cananea 
28 


THE WORLD’S TREASURE VAULT 


properties are not far from the Arizona border. They 
have produced forty-one million pounds of copper in a 
single year. The amount of this ore in sight in western 
Mexico is beyond conception, and the country is sure to 
be one of the greatest of the copper producers for genera¬ 
tions to come. 

Deposits of iron found in Oaxaca and Vera Cruz are 
said to amount to many millions of tons. The most 
famous iron mass of the country, however, is the great 
iron mountain, which rises almost out of the city of Du¬ 
rango. It is a mighty hill of solid ore nearly a mile long, 
almost a quarter of a mile wide, and six hundred and forty 
feet high. This enormous deposit runs nearly seventy per 
cent. pure. It is said the amount of iron in it could supply 
all the steel mills of Pittsburgh for hundreds of years. 

Humboldt thought the Durango mine might be the 
world’s greatest meteorite, and he rode more than one 
thousand miles on a mule to study it. But geologists of 
to-day believe that the metallic hill is the result of 
an earthquake which broke a fissure in the earth through 
which molten matter was forced up and hardened. Some 
of this ore now goes to the big steel plant at Monterey, 
where I saw it smelted and cast into ingots for making 
steel rails. 

To-day Mexico’s greatest single source of wealth is 
her oil, of which I shall speak further on. 

Besides her wealth of metals and oil, the country has a 
goodly quantity of pearls and precious or semi-precious 
stones. The pearls come from the shore of Lower Cali¬ 
fornia. The oysters are gathered by native divers on 
both sides of the peninsula and are also cultivated on 
under-sea farms. The pearl fishing is carried on under 
29 


MEXICO 


concessions from the Mexican government. The oysters 
are planted where the young can be protected from their 
natural enemies. As they grow they are taken into deeper 
water and put into large boxes or cages and there left to 
develop. The crop is ready at the end of two years, at 
which time the shells contain the best pearls. I am also 
told that the pearls disappear after that age. 

Three kinds of pearls, yellow, white, and black, are 
now being found. The yellow ones are of the least value, 
the white come next, being worth about twenty-five dol¬ 
lars a carat, and then come the black pearls, which are 
worth eight hundred dollars a carat and upward. 

One of the biggest pearls ever found here was three 
fourths of an inch in diameter. It was taken to Paris 
and sold to the Emperor of Austria for ten thousand dol¬ 
lars. A black pearl from this region valued at twenty- 
five thousand dollars went to Madrid and was given by 
Spain to Napoleon III. Another famous Mexican pearl, 
found about two hundred years ago, was of a rose colour. 
It was sold in Europe for fifty thousand dollars. 

Mexico has mines of fine stones, including opals, emer¬ 
alds, topazes, garnets, and amethysts. The most profit¬ 
able are those which produce the turquoise and the 
opal. The turquoises come mainly from Zacatecas, and 
the opals from near Queretaro where I have seen hundreds 
of peons at work in the mines. The opal veins lie in strata 
scattered through a matrix so hard that dynamite is used 
to dislodge them. 

Like their Spanish predecessors the American owners 
of Mexican mines have on their hands a big labour prob¬ 
lem. The people have always resented the outsiders 
coming into the country and making big fortunes out of 
30 


THE WORLD’S TREASURE VAULT 

Mexico’s natural resources and native labour, and ever 
since Diaz, the popular leaders have raised the cry that the 
country was being given over to foreigners. This is so, 
although the inflow of foreign capital has had the effect 
of increasing wages and improving conditions. The peo¬ 
ple are better off and wages are higher in the districts 
nearest the United States border. Nevertheless, one of 
our consuls has estimated that Mexican wages still average 
only about thirty per cent, of those paid in the States for 
the same kind of labour. In the past thousands of the In¬ 
dians never received any real wages, and even after slav¬ 
ery was wiped out they were long held to their work by 
a peonage system. 

Under Diaz the mining and other big companies were 
free to do about as they pleased, but following the revolu¬ 
tions led by Madero and Carranza, the power of the 
government began to be used in behalf of the workers. 
The constitution of 1917 contains labour provisions far 
more advanced than the laws of any of our states, and its 
adoption has brought protests from the foreign property 
owners, who insist that the constitution will make it impos¬ 
sible for them to continue operations and will bar all fur¬ 
ther investment in Mexico. Mexicans themselves admit 
that many of the provisions are impracticable and not 
enforceable under present conditions. 

Suppose you were in charge of a mine or ranch some¬ 
where in Mexico. According to the constitution, your 
employees could not work more than six days a week, and 
eight hours a day, or seven hours at night. You would be 
obliged to pay wages in cash, not in goods, or orders for 
merchandise, and to pay double rates for all overtime. 
If your property were not near a city or village you would 
3i 


MEXICO 


be required to provide suitable dwellings to be rented to 
your employees at a monthly rate of not more than one 
per cent, of their value; to build and equip schoolhouses, 
and to instal sanitary improvements. You would be 
held liable for all injuries to your men while at work, and 
your labour contracts could be legalized only by the Mex¬ 
ican authorities. The wages would have to be approved 
by a district labour board, created by law, and the same 
board could force you to take back any employee it con¬ 
sidered unjustly discharged or pay him three months' 
wages. 

The constitution guarantees the workers the right to 
strike, but forbids employers to lock out their men. If 
a board of arbitration decides that a strike was justified, 
it may order the employer to pay all or part of the wages 
lost by the men while out on the strike. If you should 
fail to obey the orders of the board, the government may 
step in and take over your business, as actually happened 
in one cotton mill before the owners could be forced to take 
back some men they had discharged. Moreover, accord¬ 
ing to the constitution, your employees would have the 
right to share in the profits made under your management. 

Americans experienced in dealing with labour say these 
constitutional provisions are far beyond the needs or the 
wishes of the average peon, and that most of the workers 
are not interested in them. The foreign-owned proper¬ 
ties, as a whole, pay higher wages and take better care of 
their labour than Mexican employers. On the other hand, 
they have much difficulty in keeping the men on the job. 
The Indian can scarcely be induced to work a full week at 
a time, and he takes a day or two off on the slightest ex¬ 
cuse. Some companies have to carry on their payrolls 
32 


THE WORLD’S TREASURE VAULT 


from twenty-five to fifty per cent, more men than are 
at work at any one time, and they generally pay a bonus 
to the man who puts in a full month. 

Under the stimulus of the revolution and the new con¬ 
stitution, many Mexican workers have been organized 
into unions associated with the big labour bodies of the 
United States. In Mexico City and also in Vera Cruz 
these unions have declared for radical programmes, and 
in Yucatan the workers have put into power a socialist 
governor. Nevertheless, it is the belief of those best in¬ 
formed that changes in the real status of labour will come 
about gradually and that the present restrictions will be so 
modified that foreigners can continue to make profitable 
investments in our sister republic. 


33 


CHAPTER V 


LOST MINES AND BONANZAS 

E VER since I came to Mexico my eyes have been 
bulging at the tales I hear of rich mines, all 
traces of which have disappeared. The stories 
come from old prospectors, from mining engi¬ 
neers, and from men well acquainted with Mexico's min¬ 
eral resources. At the College of Mines, in Mexico City, 
I have seen gold and silver from workings that once 
turned out millions, but are now filled with water; and 
in the government records are notes of vast properties 
long since abandoned. More than a century ago, when 
Alexander Humboldt, the great scientist, travelled over 
this country, he counted three thousand mines, fully two 
thousand of which are now unknown except by tradition. 

Many of the mines of the Aztecs can still be identified. 
After Cortes had conquered Montezuma he got the Aztec 
emperor to send his tax-gatherers out over the country to 
record the location of the best properties. They brought 
back an itemized list, but it is doubtful whether it was a 
true one. Cortes was even less successful in his attempts 
to find where the Aztecs had buried their treasures. He 
tried to get this information out of Guatemoc, the nephew 
and son-in-law of Montezuma, whom he tortured by fire to 
make him tell what he knew. The Prince at first claimed 
there was no treasure, but finally said that the gold had 
been thrown into the waters. Cortes then searched the 
34 



The water carrier going from house to house with his earthenware jar 
is a common sight, for many Mexican towns have no adequate public 
supply. In Zacatecas some of the drinking water comes from the mines. 




In the terrific heat of the deep mines, the peon discards everything 
except his hat, which serves as protection from falling stones as well as a 
storage place for cigarettes and lunch. He usually wears, too, a rosary 
and perhaps a cross around his neck. 









LOST MINES AND BONANZAS 


lakes about Mexico City, but his divers found nothing, 
although they dug up in the garden of Guatemoc a 
disc of pure gold as big as a cart wheel. 

The treasures of Montezuma remain to this day un¬ 
discovered. They are estimated to have been worth 
eighty million dollars and there are documents, in picture 
language, itemizing the shields, helmets, sandals, and 
plates of solid gold, and the measures of gold grains and 
dust that made up the great hoard. One tradition lo¬ 
cates the hiding place at Coyoacan, not far from Mexico 
City, but it has yet to be verified by recovery of the lost 
treasure. 

There is no question as to the vast wealth of the Aztec 
emperor. Montezuma’s predecessor was a miser who, 
Cortes says, had collected a treasure richer than that of 
any monarch of Europe. Much of this consisted of grains 
and nuggets of gold and gold utensils and trinkets. Cortes 
had a great part of it melted and cast into ingots. He 
sent one fifth of the product to Spain, including a gold 
cannon, which the Aztecs cast for him, and a platter of 
gold so big that a two-hundred-pound hog could have been 
served upon it. He describes how gold dust enclosed in 
birds’ quills was sold as an article of merchandise at Mon¬ 
tezuma’s capital, and expatiates upon the great beauty of 
the gold vessels carved by the Indians. 

When Mexico got its independence from Spain, it 
entered upon an era of revolution that lasted for years. 
During that time some of the most profitable mines were 
abandoned. The water rushed in, their works were 
destroyed and their very existence was blotted from the 
knowledge of man. There are many mine dumps and 
the remains of old workings scattered here and there 
35 


MEXICO 


throughout the country. Some of these dumps are 
said to contain fortunes and are being re-worked. It 
used to be that a mine had to produce at least thirty 
dollars to the ton to be worth operating, so that only 
the rich ore was taken and the poor thrown aside. We 
now have in the United States mines which pay well on 
values of less than five dollars per ton, and the cyanide 
process and modern smelting are bringing tens of millions 
of dollars’ worth of gold and silver out of rocks in Mexico 
once regarded as waste. 

Although the Spaniards in colonial days sometimes made 
fortunes from silver, they only skimmed the cream of the 
mines and were forced to divide the proceeds. The Church 
insisted on having a tenth, and the King of Spain not only 
had a monopoly on the gunpowder and quicksilver neces¬ 
sary for mining but also took for himself a fifth of the 
gross output. The King’s share was afterward cut down 
to a tenth, but there were assay fees and coinage dues which 
brought the taxes on mining up to at least sixteen per 
cent, of the value of the metal obtained. Gold and silver 
bullion was not legal tender until it had been coined at 
the mint in Mexico City. In remote districts unstamped 
silver was sometimes used for money, but it was worth 
only half the same weight in minted coin. 

The mines of those days were worked with what was 
practically slave labour. The Spaniards had no ma¬ 
chinery and everything was done either by men or by 
mules. The supply of labourers was never enough to 
satisfy the demand, for the Indians hated to toil in the 
mines for their conquerors. The working conditions were 
indescribably bad. In one mine, near Pachuca, a gang of 
two hundred were forced to work chained together and 
36 


LOST MINES AND BONANZAS 


never allowed to come above ground from one day to an¬ 
other. In their desperation these Indians set fire to the 
timbers in the tunnels and shafts, causing the mine to cave 
in and bury them alive. 

Ore was brought out in rawhide bags suspended on the 
backs of the miners by straps around their foreheads. 
Sometimes there were as many as eighteen hundred steps 
to be climbed on the ladders leading out of the mines. The 
powder men who blasted the ore seldom lived beyond the 
age of thirty-five. The women and the children who 
worked above ground, breaking up the ore or mixing it 
with acids and mercury, were often blinded and poisoned 
by the rock dust and chemicals. Later mule-power, and 
then machinery, took the place of the peons in such oper¬ 
ations. 

Mine owners used to have the ore brought to the patios 
of their haciendas to be worked, and thus their way of 
mixing it came to be known as the patio process. On my 
first visit to Mexico I saw miners getting out silver by 
this patio process, which is still used in the smaller mines 
in the more remote districts. 

In this method the ore is first ground to a powder and 
mixed with water until it forms a kind of mud. Vitriol, 
salt, and quicksilver are added and six or eight blindfolded 
mules are driven around through the mud for hours until 
the quicksilver has gone through every part of it. The 
particles of native silver in the ore are absorbed by the 
quicksilver, which can then be drawn off and put into a 
furnace and evaporated, the silver itself remaining behind. 

As I saw the mules trotting around in this silver mud, 
I remarked upon their sorry appearance and was told 
that only the oldest and poorest animals were used. The 
37 


MEXICO 


reason is that the quicksilver and the acid rot off the hoofs, 
and after a year or so the mules have to be killed. 

The old methods of mining have left fortunes in 
silver and gold on the dumps. Many of the mines were 
far away in the mountains and transportation was so 
costly that only the rich ore could be worked. When 
water flooded the mines, drainage was often either too 
expensive or beyond the skill of the engineers and the 
work was given up on that account. Some of the best 
mining properties of to-day are old workings that have 
been pumped out and re-opened. The Real del Monte 
near Pachuca, in the state of Hidalgo, was yielding mil¬ 
lions when we were fighting with King George over the 
tax upon tea. It has been abandoned again and again, 
yet its last owners, a group of Americans, got five million 
dollars out of it in less than five years. 

Almost two centuries ago Real del Monte was owned 
by a mule driver named Terreros. He soon grew so rich 
that he loaned the King of Spain a million dollars, and 
presented him with several warships fully equipped. In 
return the king gave him a title of nobility, and he was 
known as the Count of Regia. You may see his bust on 
the front of the national pawnshop in Mexico City of 
which he was the founder. Count Regia once asked his 
sovereign to come over and visit him, saying that he 
would plate the walls of the king’s bedroom with silver 
and pave the paths in the garden with ingots. 

Shortly after Count Regia’s death a subterranean river 
burst into the Real del Monte, and it was under water 
when Humboldt was here. He described the possibili¬ 
ties of re-opening it in a report that started a mining 
craze. The property was capitalized and offered in Eng- 
38 



Two-hundred-pound bags of ore are raised from some of the old 
silver mines by peons climbing hundreds of steps day after day. The 
Spaniards made the burdened Indians crawl up notched logs, from which 
they often fell to their death. 













Modern stamp mills are replacing peons in breaking up silver ore, 
although some mines still find men cheaper than machinery. In Co¬ 
lonial days women and children did this work in the open and were often 
blinded by the dust and glare. 



In the patio process of silver extraction blindfolded mules are driven 
round and round through a mixture of ore, water, salt, vitriol, and mer¬ 
cury. The Spaniards formerly used native women in this process, which 
is ultimately fatal even to mules 











LOST MINES AND BONANZAS 


land. The stock was in such great demand that the 
five-hundred-dollar shares sold as high as eighty thousand 
dollars each in the open market. Cornish miners were 
sent over and shiploads of machinery installed. During 
the next twenty-five years twenty million dollars were 
spent in operating the property, and the output was only 
three fourths of that amount. The company at last went 
bankrupt, and the mine was taken over by others, who are 
said to have gotten something like forty million dollars' 
worth of metal out of their purchase, for which they had 
paid only one hundred and thirty thousand dollars. 

The mines about Guanajuato, which have turned out 
millions for Americans, had their beginning in the dis¬ 
covery of the La Luz, which yielded more than eight hun¬ 
dred million dollars in silver. This mineral region was 
known to Cortes, and the La Luz mine was discovered 
in 1547, only fifty-five years after Columbus made his first 
voyage. It was found by a company of Spanish soldiers, 
who made a fire on a rock to keep warm and were amazed 
to see puddles of silver under the flames. Upon investiga¬ 
tion, they found the country to be full of silver. Another 
mine more lately discovered near the La Luz was the 
Valenciana, which in a little over a century produced more 
than three hundred million dollars in silver. 

Then these mines filled with water, and the work 
stopped. They were later bought by American syndi¬ 
cates, and are now being operated by the best of mining 
machinery. A great electric plant has been installed, 
the power for which comes from a station more than one 
hundred miles distant. Some of the old dumps are being 
worked over, and it is claimed there is enough silver left 
in them to keep the smelters running for years. 

39 


MEXICO 


The mines of Parral, one of which gave the peon min¬ 
ing king, Alvarado, his millions, also lie in a territory 
well known at the time Cortes died. In the year 1600 
they had a force of seven thousand miners, most of whom 
were Indian slaves working under the lash. For a cen¬ 
tury or so they sent a steady stream of silver across the 
ocean. The Indians were driven so hard that they 
avenged themselves by flooding the mines, which remained 
unused until Americans pumped out the water. 

Alvarado was bitterly poor until he made his great 
strike. He then bought every luxury he could think of, 
building a great palace, which he filled with so many 
pianos and canary birds that it was known as the “house 
of song.” One Christmas day he gave away one hundred 
thousand silver dollars, piling the money on a cart and 
scattering it about among the peons of Parral. This is 
the same man who once said he would give ten million 
dollars to the poor of his country and who even offered to 
pay the national debt. There are some who put his for¬ 
tune at seventy-five million dollars. 

The stories of the old silver kings read like pages of 
romance. One of them, Zambrano, took out fifty-five 
million ounces of silver in twelve years and went to Europe 
to spend as much of his wealth as he could get rid of. 
Nevertheless, he left something like sixty millions for his 
heirs to fight over. The rich Count de Rul, who built 
the great cathedral at Guanajuato, is said to have squan¬ 
dered a hundred million dollars within a few years. An¬ 
other silver miner asked the King of Spain for permission 
to build galleries and portales of silver around his man¬ 
sion in Mexico, but the king refused on the ground that 
such magnificence was reserved for royalty alone. The 
40 


LOST MINES AND BONANZAS 


Guanajuato millionaires were finally forbidden by the 
Spanish crown to scatter handfuls of silver coin as they 
rode through the streets, because this habit increased the 
number of beggars who had already become a great public 
nuisance. 

The Dona Maria de Rodriguez mine, in the state of 
Sonora, was so named from its owner, a rich widow who 
managed it herself for a number of years and piled up a 
great store of silver in bars. At length she decided she 
would spend the rest of her days in Spain, so she loaded 
all her treasure on the backs of forty mules, and started 
for Mexico City, When she arrived with her guards and 
retainers, and her four tons of pure silver, she put her 
fortune into the hands of the Spanish viceroy for safe keep¬ 
ing, and told him that at last she breathed freely. But 
her confidence in the viceroy was sadly misplaced, for she 
herself was made away with and her treasure appropriated. 

There are traditions of lost mines in all parts of Mexico. 
The prospector’s best chance is to take one of the disused 
workings or lost mines and follow it back to the original 
vein. I am told that there is a twelve-thousand-acre 
ranch in Sonora, every square yard of which gives colour 
to the prospector’s pan. The source of this gold was 
sought for generations, and was finally found in a hill 
ten miles away, but the vein had been worked out. Some 
day the soil of the old ranch may be run through the mill 
for the scattering bits of gold it contains. 

In another mining region a prospecting party came 
across a piece of rock weighing two tons, which was 
streaked with native silver. It was broken up and re¬ 
duced and found to be worth four thousand dollars. The 
prospectors organized a company and searched the whole 
4i 


MEXICO 


neighbourhood, finally concluding that the great mass had 
in some way been carried downstream from a mining 
territory forty miles distant. 

There are a number of old Spanish mines which are 
worked out and others which cannot be located. One of 
the latter is the Tiaopa, which the Pima Indians claim 
was once the greatest mining property of all Mexico. 
Wonderful stories are told of the San Nicolas mine, in 
Tamaulipas, which was abandoned at the time of the 
Mexicans' struggle for independence. According to tra¬ 
dition this mine was so rich that on special occasions the 
streets of the town were laid with silver ingots, and on 
others silver bullets were cast from the ore. One of the 
Estrella del Norte mines in Sonora was “lost" for many 
years. A notation on an old Jesuit map stated that the 
“opening of its tunnel could be seen from the door of the 
Mission Church." For a long time the hills in front of 
the church were searched in vain. Then in 1905 a wall 
of the old church gave way, disclosing a hidden door. 
From this doorway a prospector examined the hillside 
with his field glass and, like the seeker for treasure in Poe’s 
“Gold Bug," discovered the opening of the lost mine. 
It yielded a fortune. 


42 


CHAPTER VI 

WHERE MOTHER EARTH HEATS THE BATH WATER 

W E ARE at Aguascalientes, the famous 
Hot Springs of Mexico. It is altogether 
different from an American health or sum¬ 
mer resort, and it might be bodily trans¬ 
planted to western India and not seem out of place. 

I am sitting in a long, high-ceilinged room on the first 
floor of my hotel. The hotel is built around a garden 
full of the most beautiful flowers. It reminds me of a 
hotel at which I stopped in Jeypore, one of the native 
states of Hindoostan, save that there I had to have my 
own servant who slept all night in front of my door. Here 
I call my boy chambermaid by clapping my hands. 

Nine tenths of the houses in Aguascalientes are of one 
story. All have flat roofs from which the water is 
drained through pipes of clay that jut out about a foot 
from the edge of the walls. These walls are thick. They 
are built of stone or sun-dried brick and are stuccoed 
where they face the street. This stucco has been painted 
in delicate blues, pinks, and yellows, making the whole 
town one mass of rainbow colours, which shine out under 
the bright Mexican sun. None of the houses have gardens 
in front of them. They are built close up to the cobble¬ 
stone sidewalks so that in going through the town one 
seems to be passing between gaily coloured billboards all 
ready for the posters. In the centre of each house-front 
43 


MEXICO 


is a hole for a door. The poorer houses have doors roughly 
made, and on my drive from the station I saw few windows 
on the sides facing the street. 

Many of the doorways were filled with queer-looking, 
dark-faced people. The men in their bright-coloured 
blankets looked picturesque, and the women, with their 
mahogany faces, their long black hair streaming down 
their backs, freshly wet from their last bath in the hot 
waters, were in some cases pretty, and in others as homely 
as the Witch of Endor after an attack of smallpox. 

On my way I passed the public bath houses—low Span¬ 
ish buildings where one can get a bath for from twenty- 
five cents to one dollar—and went on up a long, dusty 
thoroughfare under wide-spreading green trees into the 
business part of the town. 

Aguascalientes, although sleepy looking, has cotton 
mills, tobacco factories, tanneries, pottery works, and 
railroad shops, besides its smelters for silver ores. It 
used to be noted for the beautiful linen drawn-work made 
by the women in their homes and either sent off to Mexico 
City or sold at the trains to the tourists. A famous 
piece of drawn-work was the dress designed by a woman of 
Aguascalientes for an exhibition in Paris. It was nine years 
in the making and three hundred expert needle-women 
worked upon it. Not a seam appeared in its filmy fabric. 
Of late years, however, more and more of the women and 
girls of the town have been drawn into the factories, 
although factory work is still somewhat looked down upon 
by the middle-class women. Much of the so-called drawn- 
work sold in Mexico nowadays is cheap imitation stuff 
made in Germany, and the traveller has to be careful in 
buying. 


44 


WHERE EARTH HEATS THE BATH WATER 


Another industry is the making of tiny hats of horse¬ 
hair just like the Mexican sombrero. They are sold by 
the thousands to tourists. 

I have been impressed here by the poverty of the people. 
The peons seem scarcely to know how badly off they are. 
The men dress in white cotton, but about their shoulders 
they wear blankets of all the colours of the rainbow that 
give a certain grace and dignity to their appearance. If 
you will take a red woollen blanket and throw it about 
you some morning as you hop out of bed in your snow- 
white pajamas, you will get some idea of the Mexican peon 
as he looks on the street. 

Your hair, however, must be as black as the wing of 
the raven; you must stain your face with walnut juice, 
and put on your head a gorgeous sombrero in a more or 
less dilapidated condition. You must get a piece of dirty 
sole leather so large that your foot can stand in it and leave 
a half inch of space all round. Tie this on with leather 
straps, first cracking the skin on your heels and black¬ 
ing the soles of your feet until they look more rough and 
tough than the leather itself. After you have done this 
you will present a faint caricature of the twentieth-century 
descendant of the Aztecs of old. 

But as you are now, you represent only the Aztec 
at rest. The Aztec at work is a different matter. You 
will see him in as many occupations as those followed 
by his brother fellah in Egypt. He carries on his back the 
heavy burdens of the country. He lugs about Mexican 
beer in pigskins as the Bengalese carrier peddles water. 
You see him in a hundred different aspects on every 
street, and in each one he is a new picture. An American 
artist here, who has spent seven winters in Egypt sketch- 
45 


MEXICO 


ing, says he finds Mexico a more fertile field than the 
well-worked countries of Europe. 

Although their plumage is less gay, the Indian women 
are as interesting as the men. Their dark lustrous eyes 
look at you with a strange wonder out of their olive¬ 
skinned faces. Up to thirty they have a striking beauty, 
but after that they age rapidly, and hard work and 
poor food make them wrinkled and old at thirty-five. 
They are better looking and more picturesque than the 
higher classes. Their dress takes me back to the East. 
They often wear dark blue cottons and drape about their 
heads cotton shawls, or rebosos, so that only the upper 
half of the face shows. I have also seen some of these 
women in bright red skirts and white waists. Many of 
them go barefooted. 

Yet despite the poverty one sees everywhere, the land 
is rich. In coming from Zacatecas to Aguascalientes, I 
rode for miles through fields vying in their fertility with 
the valleys of the Nile or the Ganges. Indeed, this sec¬ 
tion is often called the garden of Mexico. 

It certainly is a wonderfully rich garden, and crops of 
all kinds grow here in the greatest luxuriance. It is more 
than a mile above the sea and the air seems to revivify 
the land so that it produces two crops a year without 
any manure. From here to Mexico City, a day's ride 
on a train, one goes through a farmer's paradise, and 
plains of rich crops stretch away from each side of the 
road until their green fades out into the hazy blue of 
the mountains in the distance. This region of Mexico 
has a good rainfall during the wet season, but there is 
also much irrigation. I have noticed that some of the 
people use the same means of raising the water that I 
46 



Hot baths out of doors are a feature of daily life near the steaming 
springs of Mexico. From them the state of Aguascalientes gets its name, 
Spanish for “hot water.” 



The women of Aguascalientes used to be noted for their fine linen 
drawnwork. Three hundred women once worked on a single piece, which 
was nine years in the stitching. Nowadays factory-made goods are driv¬ 
ing out the ancient home industry. 
















The baths at Aguascalientes have a series of rooms with the tempera¬ 
ture of the water within marked over each door. The continually run¬ 
ning water comes from hot and cold springs and is like blue crystal. 











WHERE EARTH HEATS THE BATH WATER 


have seen about Osaka in western Japan. This consists 
of a long pole, with a weight on one end and a bucket 
on the other, which is pivoted to a second pole set 
upright in the ground. As with our old-fashioned well 
sweep, the bucket is lowered into the water, then raised 
and swung around and emptied into the irrigation canal 
through which the sparkling water flows like a stream of 
silver amid the green. 

The greater part of the country north of here on the 
line of the old Mexican Central railroad is desert. I have 
already told you how the big mining town of Zacatecas 
has men who make water-peddling their business. In the 
dry towns without modern waterworks the peddlers 
still carry about on their backs immense water-jars of 
red pottery about four feet long and a foot in diameter, 
tilting them over as they serve their customers. In one 
small plateau town I have seen the police guarding the 
only working fountain of the place, allowing but a few 
men and women to dip water out at a time. Back of 
them under the blaze of the hot sun squatted other men 
and women, with gourds, crocks, or battered oil cans, 
waiting their turn. 

Aguascalientes means “hot water.” Its hot springs 
are among the finest in the world, and the people come 
by the thousands to bathe in their health-giving waters. 
Some of the springs have water so hot as to cause bathers 
to faint after staying in a short while. In some, the 
patients not only plunge into the steaming baths but 
drink quantities of the hot water, so that profuse perspira¬ 
tion is brought on. 

The big municipal bath-house has excellent bathing 
facilities. It consists of a number of rooms with baths 
47 


MEXICO 


almost big enough to swim in, filled with running water. 
Over the door of each room is marked the temperature of 
the water within. The bather is furnished with towels, 
soap in a tin dish that floats, and the twist of vegetable 
fibre which the Mexicans use for scrubbing themselves. 
After the bath, he may sit wrapped in a sheet in a steamer 
chair or lie on a cot while he smokes his cigarette or sips a 
glass of sherry. At some of the bath-houses in Mexico 
City music is played in the patios, and the men and the 
women, who have separate sections, sit in the corridors 
and visit about, smoking or taking refreshments. 

The big bath-house is near the station on the edge of 
the town, but I have preferred to go to the old baths 
at the springs about a mile out in the country. Picture 
to yourself a long avenue of great cypress trees which al¬ 
most meet far above your head and shut out the glare of 
the Mexican sun and the blazing silver of the clear sky. 
Let these trees go on and on until they almost meet in the 
distance. Let the sides of the road be carpeted with the 
greenest of grass and, on the right as you walk toward 
the bath, let the steam be rising from a stream of steel- 
blue water that flows toward you. Think of this steel- 
blue stream as confined in a little aqueduct of white stone 
about three feet wide and four feet in depth. Now you 
have the background of the picture. 

This stream is the overflow from the hot springs. It 
is also the bathing and laundry place of the common 
people. They are here by the hundreds—men and 
women, girls and boys, lovers and sweethearts—all bath¬ 
ing together in the warm, refreshing, and health-giving 
waters. Many of them have washed their clothes while 
in the water and spread them out on the green banks to 
48 


WHERE EARTH HEATS THE BATH WATER 


dry. White shirts and trousers, red skirts, and many 
bright bits of colour made by serapes cover the green 
banks under the trees while their owners are splashing and 
playing and scrubbing themselves in the trench just be¬ 
low. 

Here is a man bathing while his wife looks on from the 
bank and the sun streaming through the trees paints his 
dark skin a rich mahogany. There is a Venus washing 
some clothes by rubbing them on a rough stone, and 
yonder under a tree a half-dressed Indian lies sound 
asleep. I point my camera, and his wife springs up from 
the stone where she is washing and stands over him as 
though she fears the camera may be some newfangled gun. 
I press the button and the lens does the rest. 

I walk along the stream and amuse myself by taking 
notes of the people. They see nothing wrong in mixed 
bathing, and I see nothing indecent in their behaviour. 
They consider it quite proper for families and friends to 
go in together, and I have again forced upon me the 
feeling that modesty and immodesty are mere matters of 
fashion. As I look, I am reminded of a little maiden in 
Egypt who, upon my approach, covered her head with 
her skirt that she might modestly hide her face from the 
eyes of a man. 

While I was taking my snapshots, a fierce-looking 
Mexican officer galloped up with a troop of thirty horse¬ 
men, each of whom looked like a brigand. Every man of 
them scowled at me from under a hat at least two feet in 
width, and their prancing horses, irritated by murderous 
spurs, jumped about in uncomfortable proximity to my 
feet. 1 feared arrest and thought, of course, the officer 
was going to object to my taking the pictures. But he 
49 


MEXICO 


gave me to understand by signs that he wanted me to 
photograph himself and his troop. I consented and he 
arranged them as I directed. 

The minute I had snapped the camera the officer wanted 
to see the picture. I tried to explain to him that the 
film must first be developed and that it would have to go 
through a chemical process before it would be ready to 
print. He did not understand. He jabbered at me in 
Spanish and I retorted in English. At length I made him 
understand that he must come in a day or two to my 
hotel to get the picture, and he and his soldiers then took 
themselves off. 

The sights at Aguascalientes might lead one to be¬ 
lieve that the Mexican peon delights in bathing. But I 
have learned in my travels that this is far from being the 
case. The native Indian of the hot country, it is true, 
is a frequent bather, because of the heat. But on the 
plateau, where one seldom perspires except under greater 
exertion than the average peon puts forth, it is said that 
he bathes only once in the year, on the day of St. John the 
Baptist, June 24th. The rest of the time he generally goes 
about in filthy rags and with his bare feet caked with dirt. 
When there is an epidemic of any sort in the cities, par¬ 
ticularly of typhus, the police go around and take the 
dirtiest of the peons to the nearest public bath-houses 
and see that they and their clothes get a good washing. 
The victims often shout as they go: “No soap! No soap!” 
for the peon hates soap as the devil hates holy water. 

Except in the most modern houses and the up-to-date 
hotels, bathtubs are still rare in Mexico. In Mexico 
City the hotels have rooms with bath, but outside the 
capital and in the small towns the guest inquiring for the 
50 



In Guanajuato, a typical mining town of northern Mexico, the houses 
are jumbled together in a long, narrow gorge. Sometimes the roof of 
one adobe building will be just below the doorstep of the house next 
above it. 











With its flat-roofed houses, and walled courts that look like open 
boxes, Guanajuato reminds one of the ancient cities of Palestine and 
Egypt. 



Like so many pigeonholes or drawers in a giant filing case, the niches 
of the court-yard wall are filled with the bodies of the dead, and sealed 
with blocks of stone or cement each bearing the name of its occupant. 













WHERE EARTH HEATS THE BATH WATER 


bath may be directed to the nearest river. Many of the 
public bath-houses are hundreds of years old. In Du¬ 
rango is one where water is piped from a stream into a 
little swimming pool big enough for only three or four 
people. Tepic has a bath-house that covers an acre. It 
is an immense stone building with the reception rooms 
and bathrooms surrounding twenty-two springs. In 
some of the cities a hotel will have but one or two bath¬ 
rooms for each floor and these perhaps only showers. 

Besides its hot springs and baths, Aguascalientes has a 
feature which has given it the name: "The Perforated 
City.” This is the system of underground tunnels that 
honeycomb its foundations. Nobody knows who dug 
them or why, as there is nothing about them in the 
records of the Aztecs or of the other former inhabitants. 


51 


CHAPTER VII 


GUANAJUATO AND ITS STRANGE CEMETERY 


S URELY the strangest burying ground of the world 
is here at Guanajuato! 

| I have visited many queer graveyards but 
none that compares with the one from which I 
have just returned. I have stood in the lonely garden of 
the Wat Sah Kai in Bangkok, Siam, where the dead are 
thrown for burial. I have seen vultures by the hundreds 
swoop down upon the naked bodies of the dead Parsees 
placed inside the Towers of Silence at Bombay, and have 
wandered among the tombs of the hundred generations of 
Chinamen that fill the sides of the White Cloud Moun¬ 
tains near the city of Canton. I have admired the sculp¬ 
tured marbles representing living wives bending over their 
deceased husbands in the Campo Santo in Genoa, have 
seen the dead piled naked on top of one another in the 
cemetery at Naples, and lost my way among the bone 
receptacles of the catacombs at Rome. I have explored 
the mummy tombs of Egypt near the abode of Tut-ankh- 
amen, watched the dead Hindoos sizzle on the burning 
ghats of the Ganges, and seen the cremations and the 
quicklime burials of the Japanese. But this Mexican 
cemetery is stranger than all others. Had I not seen it 
with my own eyes, I should hardly have believed in its 
existence. 

Imagine, if you can, the bones of one hundred thousand 
52 


GUANAJUATO AND ITS STRANGE CEMETERY 

human beings piled on top of one another. Put those of 
all ages together. Tear them limb from limb and mix up 
the mass of skulls, legs, arms, and ribs, until the different 
skeletons lose themselves in a vast heap in a vaulted 
granary of bones. This gives only a faint idea of what 
I saw to-day. The cemetery is situated on the top of a 
high hill overlooking Guanajuato. I rode up to it on a 
donkey and was admitted by an Indian who had a hat 
fully a foot high on his dark head, a revolver a foot long 
in his leather belt, and a pair of tight buckskin panta¬ 
loons about his lean legs. 

Entering the cemetery by a wide gate, I found myself 
surrounded by the great walls of a court covering perhaps 
three acres of ground. The walls were eight feet thick. 
They were honeycombed with pigeonholes about three 
feet square and six feet in depth, some open and others 
closed with marble slabs and blocks of cement. On the 
slabs were inscribed the names and virtues of the dead 
shelved within. There were thousands of these pigeon¬ 
holes. 

From a printed card my guide showed me, I learned that 
the spaces are rented. He said that most of them are 
engaged for terms of five years, after which the bones of 
the deceased are taken out, and the holes cleaned and 
made ready for other tenants. The rent of one for five 
years is equal to what you probably pay for your apart¬ 
ment every month, and one can have his grave box per¬ 
petually if he will pay about four times as much. There 
are also family rates which permit the crowding of parents 
and children, one after another, into the same pigeonhole. 

Even such rates are more than the poorest people can 
afford. Consequently their dead are usually buried in 
53 


MEXICO 


holes in the ground, which, like those in the wall, are rented, 
though for a much shorter term. For the sum of one dollar 
a body is allowed to rest undisturbed for two years. At 
the end of that time the remains are dug up and another 
body put in their place. As the result of this system, the 
soil of the cemetery courtyard is literally made up of 
crumbled bones. Every time a body is removed, pieces 
of the skeleton are left behind and the ground is surfaced 
with the dust of past humanity. 

The grave usually dug for the bodies of the poor is about 
two feet wide, seven feet long, and from six to eight feet 
deep. The first corpse that comes gets the bottom berth. 
He is taken out of his rented coffin and laid in with his 
head on a bunch of leaves. His body is covered with 
earth to a depth of perhaps six inches. The grave is then 
ready for the next arrival, who is buried in like manner, 
and other bodies are sandwiched one on top of the other 
until the hole is filled. During the past month there were 
four burials a day in this cemetery, and I saw six deep 
graves already dug when I was there to-day. Three of 
them were only half filled and the others were empty. 

From the courtyard I was led into the great storehouse 
where the bones of the dead are put after their leases have 
expired and they have been ousted by their landlords from 
the tenements above. Going down a winding stair so 
narrow that my sides grazed the walls as I passed, we en¬ 
tered a long vaulted passage walled with stones and paved 
with cement. This passage was well lighted by openings 
from above. It runs clear around and under the edge of 
the cemetery. It is a stone tunnel about twelve feet high, 
six feet wide, and more than one thousand feet long. For 
ages this tunnel has been the receptacle of the bones of 
54 



A pigeon-hole for the dead is ordinarily rented for a term of five years, 
after which, if no more rent is paid, the body is thrown out like a useless 
document, to make room for another tenant. 






Trolley or horse-car hearses, ranging from mere platforms on wheels for 
the poor to elaborate conveyances with all sorts of funeral trappings for the 
rich, are common in Mexico. There are little white cars for children. 



“In a long, vaulted tunnel in the Guanajuato cemetery I saw at 
least a hundred mummies, more horrible than anything in the museum 
at Cairo. The bodies had been preserved, not by embalming but by 
the extreme dryness of the air and the soil” 















GUANAJUATO AND ITS STRANGE CEMETERY 

the dead of the city, and it is now almost filled. I stood 
at the entrance and looking either way I could see the 
great piles of skulls and other parts of skeletons jumbled 
together in all sorts of shapes and mixed up into one 
heterogeneous mass in the great democracy of death. 

Some of the bodies were mummified, and leaning against 
the wall, they guarded, as it were, the remains of the thou¬ 
sands of broken skeletons beyond them. There were at 
least one hundred of the mummies, each more horrible 
than anything in the museum at Cairo in Egypt, or the 
South American and Alaskan mummies in our National 
Museum in Washington. These bodies do not owe their 
gruesome state of preservation to careful embalming 
with spices and tight wrapping in fine linen bands, but 
rather to the extreme dryness of the air and the soil. They 
retain the features of the dead, although their faces are 
shrivelled and covered with wrinkles. 

There against the wall is propped the mummy of a 
bearded man. His face is intact and his whiskers, faded 
into a bleached dust colour by the years, cover the whole 
of the lower part of his face. His clothes have long since 
rotted away, but he, like the rest of the ghastly crew, is 
shrouded from chin to heel with a sheet. I see that a part 
of an old boot still clings to one of his feet, and that the 
other foot has disappeared. Next stands the mummy of a 
woman, whose white teeth are as well preserved in death as 
in life. She has a wealth of long black hair reaching to her 
waist and even yet shows some traces of beauty and grace. 

The coffins in which the dead are taken to the cemetery 
are often rented. Many of them are so big that another 
and smaller one can be put inside. There are no hearses 
in this mountain city, and the dead are carried on the 
55 


MEXICO 


shoulders of bearers up the steep hill to the cemetery. 
As soon as a funeral party passes through the gate the 
coffins are placed on a ledge or stone table and opened. 
This is for the purpose, it is said, of seeing that none con¬ 
tains more than one corpse and that the cemetery is not 
thus cheated out of its fees. When a body is buried in 
a coffin the lid is not screwed down, as with us, but locked, 
and the key given to the relative who pays the cemetery 
rent. I saw men at work making coffins in a number of 
shops along the road up to the cemetery. The caskets, 
although rudely thrown together, are so expensive that 
the poor cannot buy them. Those intended for babies 
are painted a light blue or are grained in oak. At Zac¬ 
atecas I saw a boy carrying a blue coffin on his head, but 
whether he was on his way to the cemetery or not, I could 
not tell. 

The mourning customs in Mexico are somewhat different 
from ours. The people wear black even for intimate friends 
and for distant relatives. The periods of mourning are 
much shorter than with us, but the occasions are so fre¬ 
quent that every lady keeps at least one black dress in her 
wardrobe. For instance, when a girl dies, her friends wear 
black for thirty days, but if it is the girl's mother who is 
dead, the friends will put on black for only half that time. 
Ladies do not attend funerals in Mexico, but they pay visits 
of condolence, wearing mourning clothes. Such friends as 
are unable to call immediately after a death send to the 
family their cards and letters of regret. As a rule funerals 
are held soon after death, for the general law requires 
interment within twenty-four hours. The card announce¬ 
ments of funerals are often of the most touching and 
extravagant nature. 


56 


GUANAJUATO AND ITS STRANGE CEMETERY 

* In many of the cities there are street-car hearses, and 
the car lines make a good thing out of their funeral busi¬ 
ness. In Mexico City one sees these black-draped cars 
spinning along the road toward the cemetery at all hours 
of the day. The funeral car used by the comparatively 
well-to-do has a raised place in its centre for the coffin. 
It is open at the sides but has a black canopy at the 
top, and its decorations are more or less elaborate, accord¬ 
ing to the means of the bereaved family. Behind it comes 
a second car containing the mourners. Some of the 
higher-priced cars are covered with silk, and those for 
infants or young people are often trimmed with white 
satin. The poor have a closed car with doors at the 
back. It is fitted up with shelves upon which the cof¬ 
fins are piled. Attached to this is a cheap-looking car, 
painted black, in which the relatives are transported to 
the funeral. 

Mexican cemeteries are often located within the city 
limits and on hills and slopes, where, because of the meth¬ 
ods of burial, they are a menace to health. The careless¬ 
ness of the Mexican in most matters of sanitation is amaz¬ 
ing. One reason for the great growth in the population 
of Mexico City in the past twenty years is the fact that the 
sanitary improvements, on which Diaz spent $ 15,000,000, 
have cut down the death rate. It is still high, but at the 
time of my first visit to Mexico one hundred and fifty 
people died in the capital every day. Now the number of 
deaths is less than one hundred, or at the annual rate of 
fifty-six to the thousand. 

At Guanajuato I am drinking only boiled or bottled 
water. Great reservoirs furnish the people an abundant 
supply, but this is piped into the city without being 
57 


MEXICO 

purified, and doubtless is polluted with drainage from the 
surrounding hills. 

I find Guanajuato quite as picturesque as its name, 
which means “Hill of Frogs/' It is said that the ancient 
Chichimec Indians found here a great stone chiselled to 
represent a gigantic frog, which they adopted and wor¬ 
shipped as their local divinity. The city is nearly a mile 
and a half above the sea. Therefore the air is bracing, 
and Nature wears a perpetual smile of blue skies and bright 
flowers. The town is surrounded by mountain peaks, of 
which I had a fine view from the hill where the cemetery 
is situated. 

These mountains are treasure houses of silver and gold, 
and doubtless the very hillside in which the dead are buried 
has its share of these precious metals. Years before our 
Revolutionary War Guanajuato was recognized as one of 
the great centres for the production of silver, and its fab¬ 
ulously rich mines were exploited for the Church and the 
Spanish crown. Many of them are still worked, but 
under the ownership of American corporations. 

Guanajuato is famous for its old churches, most of which 
were built as thank-offerings by mine owners who had 
made fortunes here. Perhaps the finest of all is the 
Church of La Valenciana, built on a lofty height about 
two miles from the city. It was erected by Count de Rul, 
once the poor peon Antonio Obregon and later the pro¬ 
prietor of La Valenciana, then the richest of all the Guana¬ 
juato mines. He spent forty thousand dollars on the 
altar, which is covered with silver ornaments. In the 
old days, each of the thousands of miners employed in 
La Valenciana gave the church every week a piece of ore 
the size of the hand, so that from this source alone it had 
58 


GUANAJUATO AND ITS STRANGE CEMETERY 

an income of twenty-five thousand dollars a year for the 
support of its magnificent service. Now there is only one 
priest left in charge of the great edifice. 

It is said that the church stands on one of the richest 
silver deposits of Count de Rul. As soon as this was dis¬ 
covered he was offered huge sums for the privilege of 
working the bonanza. It was even proposed to take 
down the building stone by stone and then put it up again 
on another site. But the count refused, and so it stands 
to-day almost exactly as when it was dedicated, more than 
one hundred and thirty years ago. 

From the church there is a fine view of Guanajuato, 
jumbled together in its long, narrow, and winding gorge, 
with mountains heaped up on all sides of it. In the centre 
of the city is the principal plaza with its shady trees and 
perpetually blooming flowers. Facing this plaza is the 
magnificent Juarez Theatre, built of the pale green stone 
found near by. It took twenty years to complete it 
and it cost more than one million dollars. The side 
streets climb the steep hills and sometimes have cobble¬ 
stone steps from one level to another. Many of them are 
merely precipitous and irregular stone-paved paths, so 
narrow that two people can scarcely squeeze past each 
other in going up and down. The houses are adobe 
huts, and flat-roofed, stucco buildings of pink, cream, and 
pale blue. Sometimes the roof of one house will be just 
below the doorstep of the one next above it. 

The old prison in Guanajuato is one of the most 
famous buildings in all Mexico. It served as a fortress 
in the time of the Spaniards, who built it. The great hill 
that towers above the building is called Quarter Mountain, 
so named from the fact that many a condemned criminal 
59 


MEXICO 


was here drawn and quartered, and one quarter was spiked 
to a post as a warning to all evildoers. 

Hidalgo and his followers captured the stronghold in the 
early days of Mexico’s struggle for independence. Later he 
and his lieutenants were captured and put to death here by 
the Spaniards. Their heads were cut off and placed in iron 
cages suspended from great hooks on the four corners of 
the building. When the revolution was finally successful, 
the skulls were taken to the Cathedral, in Mexico City, 
and placed in a crystal urn which is kept covered with 
flowers. But the hooks for the cages are still in their 
places. 

Nowadays the old prison houses some five hundred 
criminals, who lounge about its sunny patio, smoking, 
playing cards, washing their clothes in the fountain in the 
centre, or weaving hats, baskets, and brushes to sell for 
pocket money. With this they buy food and so do not 
have to depend on the barrels of government rations sent 
in twice a day. Sometimes one of the prisoners is called 
to an iron door in the wall to hear the verdict some judge 
has given in his case, for trial by jury is not the custom 
in Mexico. In one of the rooms opening on the patio there 
is a school for the convicts, but I understand that this is 
not well attended. 


60 


CHAPTER VIII 


ON THE MEXICAN RAILWAYS 

T O-DAY I have been riding for hours in a second- 
class coach, giving up my more comfortable accom¬ 
modations in order to study the people. Our way 
from Irapuato westward to Guadalajara passed 
through a rich valley covered with wheat. Its floor was 
level for the whole distance and it was walled with moun¬ 
tains of frosted silver. The Pacific Ocean lies more than 
two hundred miles farther west, and the country between is 
broken and rough. Building the railroads that run north 
and south along the plateau of Mexico was easy compared 
to getting the lines down through the great mountains 
and deep canyons between the heights and the ocean. 

I enjoyed the trip but feel as though I had been on a 
cut-rate excursion. The second-class cars are of the 
cheapest description, and as a rule are patronized only by 
the Indians and the peons. The passengers sit facing 
each other on benches built under the windows, like 
those on some of our street cars, or back to back on a bench 
through the middle. The seats have neither cushions nor 
rests for the arms. 

The car I rode in to-day was packed full of men, 
women, and children, ranging in colour from white to a 
dark copper, with the Indian type predominating. Most 
of the men were clad in cotton and wore sombreros and 
serapes. The women were without hats, but they had 
61 


MEXICO 


dark blue rebosos over their heads. Some climbed aboard 
with their babies slung in these scarfs, and some car¬ 
ried their lunches and bundles in them. All wore sandals 
of sole-leather tied to their bare feet with thongs. None 
had such a thing as a suitcase or a handbag, but all were 
burdened with numerous baskets and bundles, to which 
they kept adding as our train went along. At every stop 
they patronized the peddlers who swarmed at the stations, 
buying fruit, flowers, tobacco, sugar-cane, candy, and toys. 
There was no separate smoking compartment, and both 
men and women smoked freely together, 

The peon, I find, is much like myself: whenever he gets 
a few dollars ahead he loves to spend it in travel. Some¬ 
times he will take the whole family along and they will 
ride as far in one direction as his money will go, and then 
walk all the way back. He often makes a trip of hundreds 
of miles to visit some religious shrine, of v/hich there are 
many in Mexico. The railways do a great business in 
excursions, not only to the holy places and celebrations of 
saints' days, but also to cock fights and bull fights, horse 
races and airplane exhibitions. Second-class fares are on 
the average about half those charged first-class travellers, 
and the rates are even lower for the popular excursions. 
About seventy-five per cent, of the passenger revenues 
comes, I am told, from the second-class business. 

The best trains in Mexico have dining cars in which one 
can have meals much the same as on our trains at home. 
1 had to get off for my dinner to-day, and I ate with the 
first-class passengers during our stop at La Barca. The 
food was served in Mexican style. The soup was brought 
around in a bowl and each guest was expected to help 
himself with a ladle. After this the plates were changed 
62 



Every railroad station swarms with loafers and peddlers. The latter 
do a good business in cooked foods, fruit, and candy, for to the peon 
buying things to eat is one of the chief joys of a journey. 










"Through trains on the main lines of Mexico's government railways 
have Pullman sleepers. The roads are well built; indeed, I did not feel 
so much as a jar when we crossed the Tropic of Cancer. ” 



When the army is on the move the box car is the Mexican soldiers’ 
coach, sleeper, and dining car. The women camp-followers usually ride 
inside, while the men make the best of it on the roofs. 











ON THE MEXICAN RAILWAYS 

and we had rice and fried eggs, a common Mexican dish. 
We each took a spoonful of the steamed rice on our 
plates, put an egg on top of the rice, cut it to bits, and 
mixed the two together. After this there was another 
change of plates and we had beefsteak and potatoes, 
followed by roast beef, fried chicken, cucumbers, and the 
delicious black or red beans which form a part of every 
Mexican meal and are always served just before the 
dessert. Then we had a plain pudding and the meal ended 
with coffee and cigarettes, both men and women smoking 
at the tables. What I liked best was the fact that there 
was no hurry and no gulping down of the food, such as 
one sees at many of our public eating places. 

Boarding the train after dinner, I watched the conduc¬ 
tor as he collected the tickets and kept the people in some 
sort of order. He was an intelligent Mexican and seemed 
proud of his job. During my first trip to Mexico all the 
trains were run by Americans and for many years men from 
the States enjoyed a monopoly of the well-paid railway posi¬ 
tions. This was because the bulk of the lines owed their 
existence to men, money, and equipment from the United 
States. Mexico got her railroads all of a sudden, so to 
speak, and none of her people knew how to build or oper¬ 
ate them. Later it was realized that in the long run it 
would be better and more economical to train Mexicans 
for work on the railways so as to provide a permanent 
force at much lower pay than the Americans would 
accept. 

Up to that time the Mexicans had furnished only track 
labour, but with the new policy they were given special 
training of every description. Boys of fourteen and over 
were signed up for four-year apprenticeships in the rail- 
63 


MEXICO 


road shops. Native telegraphers were made train dis¬ 
patchers and native firemen were promoted to engineers, 
while the best of the carpenters, mechanics, and boiler¬ 
makers were prepared for positions as foremen and shop 
superintendents. This system, suggested and worked out 
by American managers, produced excellent results, and 
the railways of the country have done more than anything 
else to create a body of skilled industrial workers and 
build up the middle class that Mexico needs. 

As a result of politics and the revolutionary disturbances, 
the Mexicanization of the railroads was carried somewhat 
further than was originally intended. During the regime 
of President Madero all the remaining American conduc¬ 
tors and other trainmen were discharged. Soon afterward 
the American managers were removed and all the roads 
were taken over by the government as a war measure. 

I find the railways well managed and the main lines 
giving good service. Nearly all the track is of standard 
gauge, and Pullman cars are operated on the through 
routes. In normal times one may board a sleeper at St. 
Louis and ride, without change, to Mexico City, and there 
are equally good accommodations to the other cities of 
the Republic. 

For some years Mexico had more and better railroads 
than any other country of Latin America. When Por- 
firio Diaz first came into power there were only four hun¬ 
dred and fifteen miles of track in operation, and most of 
the roads were built during his long term as president. 
Thirty-four years later, when he resigned, the mileage 
had increased to more than fifteen thousand, while in ten 
years his successors added hardly one thousand miles 
of new lines. To-day Mexico has more miles of railway 
64 


ON THE MEXICAN RAILWAYS 


than have Italy and Belgium combined, and more than 
half as many as Australia. 

It is estimated that the cost of Mexico's railways has ex¬ 
ceeded half a billion gold dollars. About seventy per cent, of 
them were built by Americans, fifteen per cent, by the Eng¬ 
lish, and the rest by other foreigners or by the Mexicans 
themselves. All those constructed under Diaz were built 
on the concession system, whereby corporations were 
given the privilege of building specified lines. In return 
for subsidies averaging from three to five thousand dollars 
for each mile of track laid, the government wrote into the 
contracts various provisions giving itself special advan¬ 
tages. All the lines were required to carry public officials 
at half fare, and to furnish trains for moving troops or 
government freight at fifty per cent, of the regular rates. 
In addition, the government got the use of the railroad 
telegraph lines at just half what the public paid, and it 
reserved the right to take over the lines in time of emer¬ 
gency. 

It was an American, a schoolmaster from Boston named 
Kelly, who made the first proposition for building a rail¬ 
road in Mexico. That was in 1833, but it was twenty 
years later before a train was run over the railroad then ex¬ 
tending less than ten miles inland from Vera Cruz. This 
was the beginning of what is now one of the best lines in 
the country, the Mexican Railway from Vera Cruz to the 
capital. Through service was inaugurated in 1873. This 
road was built by the British, who still own and operate 
it. The company received something like twelve million 
dollars in subsidies, while it spent thirty million dollars, 
or about one hundred thousand dollars for every one of 
its three hundred miles of track. 

65 


MEXICO 


The Indian porters who had a monopoly on the carry¬ 
ing business between the seacoast and the capital made 1 
a great protest against the building of the Mexican 
Railway, and in order to conciliate them the ends of the 
line were built first, and then joined in the middle. All 
the material was imported from England, and it cost as 
much as five dollars to carry a single rail by wagon from 
Vera Cruz to Mexico City. For twenty years after the 
line was opened it had no competition, and at one time 
it charged seventy-six dollars for hauling a ton of freight 
three hundred miles. Passenger fares were ten cents a 
mile. 

The road is a marvel of engineering and has some of 
the steepest grades known. To make the big pull over 
the mountains the British equipped the trains with double¬ 
headed twin engines, each with two fireboxes, two boilers, 
and two sets of driving wheels. The locomotives climb 
to an altitude of twenty-five hundred feet in twelve miles 
and ascend more than four thousand feet in less than thirty 
miles, lifting passengers out of the tropical lowlands to 
the heights of the Mexican plateau. 

Though this British line has paid good dividends on 
its capitalization, most of the Mexican railroads failed to 
earn much until after the merger of the principal roads was 
formed by the government in the last years of the Diaz 
regime. Something like eight thousand miles were then 
brought together in one corporation, called the National 
Railways of Mexico, in which the government owns more 
than fifty per cent, of the common stock. It obtained 
the majority of the voting stock in return for guaran¬ 
teeing the payment of the interest and principal on all the 
mortgage bonds included in the merger. Under similar 
66 



Bare board benches running lengthwise form the only seats in the 
second-class coaches, while the cars of the third-class are open on all 
sides to the weather and seem more fitted for live stock than for people. 



The railroads running from the high table land of central Mexico down 
to the sea drop a mile or more through mountain passes and canyons 
which taxed to the utmost the engineering skill of the builders. 







The peon potter often packs on his back the fruit of several weeks’ 
work and peddles it for miles over the country. The whole lot may not 
be worth more than five or six dollars. 












ON THE MEXICAN RAILWAYS 

guarantee other lines were later added to the combination. 
The Mexican people thus acquired nominal control of 
their principal railroads by a total investment, exclusive 
of subsidies, of about nine million dollars, or only a fraction 
of their actual cost. Yet the real ownership remains 
with the holders of the preferred stock and bonds. Under 
the uncertain conditions of the last decade or so they 
might just as well have had their money in a hole in the 
ground so far as any return on their investment is con¬ 
cerned. 

For six years after the merger the National Railways 
paid four per cent, dividends, but when in 1914 all the lines 
in the country were taken over by the government, pay¬ 
ments ceased on both stocks and bonds. When peace was 
restored the lines not included in the National Railways 
were the first to be returned to their owners. The others 
were kept for nearly ten years, until an American commit¬ 
tee of bankers negotiated an agreement for the payment 
of all Mexico’s debts, then amounting to nearly three 
quarters of a billion dollars. Under this arrangement, 
the railroads were to be restored to the bondholders, while 
the Mexican government pledged the proceeds of its oil 
tax, its railroad revenues, and cash at the rate of from 
fifteen to twenty-five million dollars a year until its 
debts should be liquidated. 

During the ten years of revolution the Mexicans did 
as they pleased with the railroads, with little regard 
to either the owners of the properties or the services 
rendered. Every commanding general made free use of 
as much track and rolling stock as he could get hold of. 
Many of the military leaders grew rich by selling trans¬ 
portation and charging exorbitant sums for the privilege of 
67 


MEXICO 


bringing goods in or shipping them out. Such an easy way 
of making money was not quickly abandoned, and even 
after peace was established the grafting continued. The' 
merchants of Mexico, through their national associations, 
complained to President Obregon that the railroad em¬ 
ployees' demands for bribes were a menace to busi¬ 
ness They declared that a shipper could not get cars 
until he had feed the local officials, that the cars would 
not be moved until the train crews were paid, and that to 
insure delivery of goods a man must be sent along to tip 
railway employees all the way to their destination. 

Because of these and other conditions many of the larg¬ 
est American interests handled their own freight on trains 
provided and run by themselves. In such cases they were 
required by the government to pay the regular rates just 
the same, but they had the assurance that their shipments 
would not be sidetracked or looted by train thieves and 
bandits. 

Railway men tell me that if the roads are properly 
managed they ought to yield a return, in spite of the 
damage done them during the revolutions and the graft 
and inefficiency that followed. The resources of the coun¬ 
try are enormous and their continued development will 
make more freight for all the main lines. They say that 
the future of the railroads depends most on whether the 
people themselves can maintain a stabilized government 
and put a permanent end to the popular pastime of revolu¬ 
tion and destruction. 

Outside of the National Railways, the most important 
system in the country is the Southern Pacific of Mexico, 
which is owned by the United States Southern Pacific. A 
line from Nogales, Arizona, to Guaymas, on the west coast 
68 


ON THE MEXICAN RAILWAYS 


of Mexico, formed the nucleus of this system. This was 
long known as the Sonora Railroad, and was the first 
American line built in the Republic. ' As extended under 
the Southern Pacific, it now has nearly one thousand miles 
of track, and concessions to build several hundred miles 
more. It serves some of the great copper mines of north¬ 
western Mexico, and with its branch lines and connections 
links the United States, the Pacific Coast, and the South. 

When the line was built, the Mexican government 
insisted that the work begin at Guaymas, thus com¬ 
pelling the Americans to ship their steel rails and equip¬ 
ment around Cape Horn and up the coast of South and 
Central America. Other difficulties were connected with 
the labour supply, and Negroes were recruited in the 
States and brought down to the job Their sojourn is 
still talked of by the Mexicans in Guaymas, where they 
caused a reign of terror. One writer says of them: 

The Negroes were bad characters, and many of them had two 
names and a razor. When they distributed themselves among the 
natives on the night of a pay day, thoughtful men took refuge in 
cellars. 

In the early days some of the Mexican railways were 
laid down on ties of mahogany and ebony. The chief 
objection to the ebony ties was that it was hard to drive 
in the iron spikes and almost impossible to get them out 
when the rails had to be changed. A large part of the 
old Mexican Central Railway is laid with wooden ties, 
which reminds me of a story told by one of the construc¬ 
tors. Said he: 

“The average hacendado has queer ideas of business. 
I found a strip of forest, which might have supplied us 
with a goodly number of ties. I called upon the owner 
69 


MEXICO 


and asked him his prices for five thousand. He replied 
fifty cents each. I then said: 'But suppose I take fifty 
thousand ties/ 

" 'Oh/ replied the man, 'in that case I could not let 
you have them for less than seventy-five cents/ 

"'And if I want one hundred thousand?' 

‘"One hundred thousand ties!' exclaimed the farmer, 
raising his hands. ‘I doubt whether I could get them out. 
It would be a great deal of trouble. I could not think of 
undertaking to supply that number for less than $1.50/” 


70 



Chapala, which is seventy miles long and twenty miles wide, is the 
largest of the Mexican lakes. Ribera Castellanos, sometimes called the 
Riviera of Mexico, is the most popular lake-shore resort. 



The horseshoe falls of Juanacatlan measure more than five hundred 
feet from tip to tip and the water plunges down seventy feet. The falls 
furnish light for Guadalajara and power for its cotton and starch fac¬ 
tories. 












The Lake Chapala Indians are directly descended from a people who 
most stubbornly resisted the Spaniards and played leading parts in the War 
of Independence. They are to-day scornful of the white man and the 
luxuries of civilization. 










CHAPTER IX 


GUADALAJARA, THE ATHENS OF MEXICO 

G UADALAJARA is the art centre of Mexico 
and for generations has been one of the 
wealthiest and most cultured cities of the 
Republic. It is next in size to the capital 
and has fine streets, magnificent buildings, a great theatre, 
and an old cathedral that looks as if it belonged in some 
city of Italy. It is the capital of Jalisco, a state con¬ 
taining some of the richest agricultural and mining regions 
of Mexico. 

I find Guadalajara one of the most attractive places I 
have visited. Its people are better looking than those 
of any other part of the Republic, and both men and 
women have features that seem more Greek than Mexican. 
The women are tall, straight, and fine looking. In a walk 
in the plaza last night I met a dozen big-eyed girls who 
would be belles in either New York or Washington. In 
the markets I have seen faces that are both refined and 
beautiful, and under the stone portales are women peddlers 
who would make good artists’ models. 

Many of the women here have brown or even light 
hair instead of the shiny black of other Mexican cities. 
The reason for this is that Jalisco was colonized by the 
Andalusians, the aristocracy of old Spain, and the Jalis- 
cans claim that the pure strain has been carefully pre¬ 
served. The women of eastern Mexico have round, 
7i 


MEXICO 


plump faces with noses inclined to thickness and some¬ 
what sallow complexions. Their hair, as black as a tropi¬ 
cal midnight, grows so luxuriantly that it falls to the waist. 
It is seldom tortured with curling irons, and since it has 
a good wash every week, it is fluffy and clean. They 
have pearly teeth, shapely necks, and the easy carriage 
of the Aztecs. Their eyes are beautiful; they are large, 
dark and liquid, and frank and honest withal. 

Many blocks in the business part of Guadalajara have 
arcades upheld by stone columns and forming walkways 
along their whole length—passages like those of the rue 
de Rivoli in Paris. These portales are common in Mexican 
architecture and there are more of them at Guadalajara 
than in any city I have yet visited. They are usually 
filled with peddlers or petty merchants, while opening 
into them are the big stores. 

The city has twenty different plazas, or public 
squares. The main plaza, upon which the government 
buildings face, is filled with trees and has many beautiful 
walks. In the centre is the pavilion where a fine military 
band plays good music several nights of the week. 

In Mexico the altitude largely determines the climate, 
and that of Guadalajara, which is five thousand feet above 
the sea, is ideal. The average temperature is 70°. The 
trees are always green, flowers bloom the year round, and 
the birds never migrate to warmer climes. So dry and 
mild is the atmosphere that the city is becoming more 
and more of a health resort. 

Though the town is an important manufacturing and 
railway centre, no coal smoke pollutes the air. The 
railroads of Mexico are equipped with oil-burning engines, 
and the factories here use electricity furnished by the falls 
72 


GUADALAJARA, THE ATHENS OF MEXICO 

of the Santiago River near by. This river is famous for its 
great gorge, five miles from the city. The canyon is three 
thousand feet deep and the air within it is much warmer 
than that around its rim. It has indeed a tropical climate, 
and bananas, cocoanuts, and other such fruits are growing 
near the bottom, while the surrounding country has only 
the products of the temperate zone. 

The Santiago River flows out of the beautiful Lake 
Chapala, which is seventy miles long and twenty miles 
wide, and by far the largest of the Mexican lakes. It has 
one of the most popular of lake-shore resorts, Ribera 
Castellanos, sometimes called the Riviera of Mexico. The 
marshes of the lake furnish the winter refuge for thousands 
of birds, some of which, like the snow-goose, come from 
as far north as Labrador. The lake is shallow and violent 
storms blow up quickly. The Indian fishermen always 
stop at the twin-steepled church in the village of Chapala 
and pray to Saint Peter for a heavy catch and a safe re¬ 
turn home. 

A striking thing about Guadalajara is the absence of 
beggars. In other cities in Mexico they have swarmed 
around me, but here they are rare. One explanation may 
be the absence of pulque, the Mexican beer. The maguey 
cactus from which this drink is made does not grow in 
the state of Jalisco, and pulque will not stand shipping 
this far from its source. Therefore one sees here but few 
of the saloons so numerous in other plateau cities and 
drunkenness is at its lowest ebb. This city has also the 
distinction of having streets paved with gold. Some years 
ago, when the new pavements were laid, the asphalt was 
mixed with the tailings from an old mine, and later the 
manager of the paving company, to satisfy his curiosity, 
73 


MEXICO 


had these tailings assayed. He found they contained 
about fifteen dollars’ worth of gold to the ton and that six 
thousand dollars’ worth of the precious metal had been 
laid in the streets! 

Yesterday I visited the palace and stood in the audience 
chamber where the governors of Jalisco have long presided 
with more pomp than our president ever assumes. The 
building covers a whole square and it is far more beautiful 
than the National Palace at Mexico City. It has a whis¬ 
pering gallery quite as remarkable as that in our Capitol 
at Washington. 

Next I went to the Cathedral, the cornerstone of which 
was laid three and a half centuries ago. Its most precious 
possession is the original Murillo painting, “The As¬ 
sumption of the Virgin.” During the Carranza revo¬ 
lution the soldiers used the Cathedral for stabling their 
horses, but before the troops took over the church this 
enormously valuable picture was hidden and for years 
was not shown to any one. When Maximilian was in 
Mexico, the French tried to send the Murillo to France, 
and after this effort failed Napoleon III offered to buy it 
for forty thousand dollars. When this was rejected at¬ 
tempts were made to steal the picture, and for ten years 
it was hidden in a secret niche in the wall. Since then ten 
times as much money has been offered and refused for 
this art treasure. 

The Cathedral has been almost destroyed in the past 
and it may be damaged again by the earthquakes so com¬ 
mon in this vicinity. The dome was once shattered by 
lightning and for a long time after that, whenever they 
saw a thunderstorm coming up, the people rang the bells 
to ward off the lightning. But this precaution did not 
74 


GUADALAJARA, THE ATHENS OF MEXICO 

prove effective and lightning rods were installed. The 
two tall towers are illuminated by electricity. 

Guadalajara is noted for its pottery, the finest made 
anywhere in the country. The painted water-jars of 
drab clay are sold by curio dealers all over Mexico. The 
clay is so porous that the water seeps through to the out¬ 
side of the jar, where its rapid evaporation cools the 
container and the water inside it. The jars are made in 
little shops with one or two workmen; most of them are 
situated out in the suburbs. 

I took a car and went out to San Pedro, the chief village 
of the pottery makers. The track is on a high ridge and 
we could see for miles on each side of it. The fields are 
walled with mud fences and covered with rich crops. 
We passed hundreds of peons carrying pottery into 
the city, and soon came into a low-lying town of two- 
story houses, the streets of which are paved with 
cobblestones. The cars deposited us at the market, 
but we wandered about for a long time before we 
could get any one to show us where they were making the 
pottery. Finally we found some rooms not more than six 
feet square in which jars and clay figures were being pro¬ 
duced. One of these was a hut of sun-dried bricks, the 
shop of Panduro, the most noted potter of Mexico. He was 
sitting cross-legged on the floor, working a lump of black 
clay in his hands. Panduro can make your likeness as 
you sit before him, turning out a bust the size of your fist. 

1 bought a piece or two of his workmanship and photo¬ 
graphed him as he modelled. 

It was on Sunday morning that I visited the pottery 
market in Guadalajara. Hundreds of peddlers, men and 
women, were squatting on the ground with all sorts of 
75 


MEXICO 


things made out of clay on sale before them. Some of 
the merchants sold nothing but toys, others had piles of the 
pots and dishes of red clay in which the Mexicans do their 
cooking, and others the finest of water-jars and clay 
figures of men and women. There were also jars as big 
as wash-boilers for the cooking of meat stews and soups. 
The pottery had been wrapped up in hay and brought in 
on the backs of donkeys or men. Many of the peddlers 
bring in their own wares on their backs, untie these loads, 
and sit down behind them ready to remain until the last 
piece is sold, I am told that potters work for weeks 
until they get a large stock. They then peddle their wares 
about over the country. The whole lot may not be 
worth more than five dollars, but they will spend many 
days and walk mile after mile until all their goods have 
been sold. 


76 


CHAPTER X 


WINDOW COURTSHIPS AND MARRIAGE BARGAINS 

Y ESTERDAY afternoon I watched the first stages 
of Mexican courting and doubt not that some of 
the proceedings I witnessed will one day end in 
marriage. The young lovers were part of the 
throng that passed and repassed on the narrow quarter-mile 
stretch between the Cathedral and the plaza of Guadalajara. 
It was Sunday, and, according to the latest fashion, the 
beauties for whom the town is famous drove back and 
forth along this street for an hour or more. On the side¬ 
walks and in other carriages and automobiles were many 
young men on the look-out to cast ardent glances at the 
senoritas of their choice and to receive signs of encourage¬ 
ment in return. Dressed in their light frocks and gay hats 
from Paris, the girls and the women nodded and smiled 
again and again to the friends they must have met at least 
fifty times in the hour's drive. But they did not seem to 
tire, and certainly I could see no reason why the men 
should grow bored with the procession; for the pretty 
women of Guadalajara are, I find, fully deserving of all 
the compliments that have been showered upon them. 

It used to be that the upper-class men and maidens of 
Guadalajara promenaded in the plaza in the evenings, 
walking around and around to the music of the fine mili¬ 
tary band. Then the peons stood outside the inner circle 
of benches and watched the well-dressed men and women 

77 


MEXICO 


marching and countermarching inside. Now the plaza 
is given up to the peons and the Sunday afternoon drive 
is the thing for the fashionables. 

In Mexico the young men and women do not mingle 
freely as is common with us, and the social customs are 
far different from ours. The girls of the best families 
are kept carefully secluded, and are rarely seen in public 
except in company with older women. Yet in other ways 
the Mexican courting allows liberties that our girls and 
their parents would consider objectionable. 

Let us suppose that you are with me in Guadalajara, 
watching the Sunday afternoon procession. You have 
noticed a girl that seems to you beautiful. You would like 
to meet her, yet you do not know any one who can properly 
introduce you. But you can join the promenaders on the 
sidewalk, and each time her carriage passes it will not be 
improper for your eyes to court hers. You may follow 
her home and then send a present, asking her to accept it 
from one who has had the pleasure of seeing and admiring 
her charms. This gift may be a bouquet, a pot of flowers, 
or some pretty trinket. With it you must send your 
name and address, and at the same time fix an hour at 
which you will stroll past her window. If the present is 
accepted, a reply of thanks may be returned, to which 
will be added a wish for the welfare of the giver. Then 
comes the walk past the window, which is the beginning 
of “playing the bear/' as it is called. 

But suppose you get your first sight of the girl of your 
dreams at a ball. Here the ladies and gentlemen do not 
mingle except in dances. As you enter you see the ladies 
seated on one side of the ballroom while the men stand 
in groups round the doorways or stroll through the halls. 
78 



In the evenings when the band plays for the promenade in the plaza 
at Guadalajara, the scene is dominated by the spires of the Cathedral, 
which are brilliantly illuminated by rows of electric lights. 






The peon does not consider himself really married unless the priest 
performs the ceremony. As the church charges a fee and the customary 
wedding feast is expensive, the Indian generally foregoes marriage for¬ 
malities altogether. 













WINDOW COURTSHIPS 


When the music begins the gentlemen can select their 
partners without the formality of an introduction, so you 
can pick out your unknown “love at first sight” and ask 
her to dance. You may even tell her how much you ad¬ 
mire her. If during the waltz you whisper sweet nothings 
into her pearly pink ear she will only cast down her eyes 
and modestly thank you for the compliments paid. 

At the end of the dance you will lead her back to her seat, 
and if you have made a favourable impression she may let 
you have another dance later on. She is coy, however, 
about giving her name and address, but if she likes you 
she may suggest that if you are really in earnest you can 
easily find out. This means that you may follow her 
home and thus learn where she lives. After that the serv¬ 
ants or others will probably give you her name. This 
being accomplished, the way to courtship is open. 

I have seen a little of “playing the bear” during my 
travels in Central America, but here in Mexico it is still 
more common. It may be seen on any residential street at 
certain hours of the day or evening. The man is not 
allowed to call upon the girl and he cannot meet her alone. 
He has the right, however, to walk up and down the 
street in front of her house and to ogle her at a distance. 
He may even chat with her if she will as she sits on the bal¬ 
cony or behind a first-story window. The windows of 
most Mexican homes are barred, and these dear “little 
chickens” are kept, as it were, in iron cages. 

When the Mexican youth "plays the bear” to the maid 
of his choice, the regulation procedure is as follows: We 
will take the lover who is as yet comparatively unknown. 
He may have sent his present and have intimated that he 
greatly admires the girl. She knows when he will come 
79 


MEXICO 


to walk in front of her window, but she may not appear. 
However, if he comes again and again at the same hour 
and she likes him she will finally come forth, and after 
that the visits may be continued from day to day. If she 
likes him not she may not appear at all, and after a week 
or so he may give up in despair. 

Even when the man's suit is received favourably his 
courtship goes slowly. The first reward may be only a 
smile, the next a few words from the maiden, and later on 
a bunch of flowers or some little present of her own needle¬ 
work may be dropped at his feet. He may serenade her, 
and at last she may beckon him to come closer under 
her window. If she likes novelty in wooing, she may have 
provided herself with a hand telephone, a lover's device 
that is sometimes used. Such a Juliet may stand on the 
balcony or behind the bars of her second-story front 
window, throw a combination receiver and transmitter 
to her Romeo, on the street below, and the two may 
whisper their love messages back and forth over the 
wire. 

This playing the bear is expected to continue at the 
pleasure of the lady, and the bear is supposed to be on 
hand every day, rain or shine. If he comes only when 
the sun shines he is considered a fair-weather lover and 
is apt to find the blinds closed after the first heavy rain. 

I have heard of cases where the bear act has gone on 
for years. In one instance a young man has kept it up 
for three years and he has not yet reached the conversa¬ 
tional stage. The other day this beau was asked why 
he continued to play the bear when his sweetheart gave 
him so little encouragement. He replied: “Oh, I love 
her so dearly and she is so rich!" 

80 


WINDOW COURTSHIPS 

All the time the family of the girl knows what is going 
on. They investigate the antecedents, character, and 
financial condition of the would-be fiance, and when 
these are not satisfactory the daughter is forbidden to go 
to the window. If the young man proves acceptable the 
family still keeps track of the courtship, and after they 
conclude that he has pressed his suit long enough he is in¬ 
vited into the house. This means that the family approves 
of the match and it is practically an engagement. The 
man is then allowed to court openly, but when he comes to 
call he finds a number of the other members of the family 
present and still cannot see his sweetheart alone. She 
may perhaps come with him to the door, and thereby 
give him an opportunity to steal a good-night kiss, but 
as a rule all of his billing and cooing is done in the pres¬ 
ence of Papa and Mamma, Grandma and Grandpa, and 
little devils in the shape of the younger brothers and 
sisters, whose saucer-like eyes never close during the 
lover’s stay. 

If he thinks to escape by taking his girl to a concert or 
theatre he learns that, according to custom, he must ask the 
mother and others of the family to go with them, and he 
is also expected to make presents to the parents, brothers, 
and sisters during the courtship. This makes his wooing 
very expensive, and he is anxious to hurry the wedding 
day, when he may have his love to himself. 

Speaking of courting the whole family, I heard yes¬ 
terday of how an American who married a Mexican wife 
successfully fought this matter to a finish. After he had 
become engaged he went for the first time to see his be¬ 
trothed, and the whole family came in to make things 
agreeable. He sat and sat, hoping that they would leave, 
81 


MEXICO 


but they stayed with him to the end. It was the same way 
on his second visit, and at the third also he found every¬ 
one present. He then crooked his finger at the old man, 
and when the two had gone out into the hall, the American 
said that inthe United States it was customary for engaged 
lovers to be allowed to be by themselves. He thought 
that if he was to be trusted with the girl after marriage 
he ought to be trusted with her before marriage, and said 
that if he could not see her alone he would stay away for 
good. The old gentleman was surprised but he consulted 
with the rest of the family, and then it was concluded 
to allow the courting to go on in the American way. After 
that, when this suitor called, the rest of the family got 
up and marched out single file, and when he got ready 
to leave, the old gentleman and the rest of them came in 
and bade him good-night. 

In a Mexican marriage the groom has many expenses 
which in the United States are paid by the bride and her 
parents. He is expected to furnish the trousseau but he 
sometimes fixes the cost, informing the girl’s mother how 
much she may spend. This being done, his mother-in-law- 
to-be does the shopping, picking out for the bride the 
gowns and lingerie needed, including even the shoes, 
stockings, and small toilet articles. She then sends the 
bill to the groom. The groom also gives the bride jewellery 
and other presents, among them an ivory-covered prayer 
book. He supplies the home and the furniture and often 
pays the civil and religious marriage expenses. 

It is not uncommon among the rich for the bride to have 
a marriage settlement, and there are stories of beau¬ 
tiful and thrifty senoritas who have insisted on being made 
independent at the time of their marriage. There is one 
82 


WINDOW COURTSHIPS 

story of a girl whose suitor was a rich miner whom she 
had long held at a distance. Said she one day as he 
entered the house: 

“Senor, behold this long staircase! At the upper end 
of it is my parlour. When you can walk up that staircase, 
placing a brick of solid silver on every step, you will 
receive my hand, but not sooner.” 

I am told the miner sent in the bricks. 

After the courtship has progressed smoothly, the engage-' 
ment has been announced, and the wedding day has been 
fixed, there are still a lot of difficulties to be overcome before 
one can get married in Mexico. If a man is from the United 
States he must have three ceremonies, two in Spanish and 
one more in either English or Spanish. He must give public 
notice of his intention to marry by having it posted up 
on the official bulletin boards for twenty days, and his 
marriage must take place before the civil authorities 
as well as before a priest. The three ceremonies consist 
of a contract of marriage, the civil marriage, and the 
church service. The contract and the civil marriage must 
be performed before a judge and four witnesses, one of 
whom may be the American consul. The ceremony of 
civil marriage is in Spanish and the contract gives the 
names, ages, families, and residences of both parties. The 
civil marriage has to take place before the church marriage 
and for the latter the priest is expected to publish the 
banns for five Sundays. All this costs money. Said an 
American to me the other day: 

“ It takes several weeks to get married in Mexico. You 
have to go to a half-dozen different officials and tell all 
about your own family, your father’s family, and your 
grandfather’s family, and you must give the same in- 

83 


MEXICO 

formation as to your bride. You have also to fee the 
church, and as a rule it costs a pretty penny.” 

The regulations are very onerous to the lower classes. 
As a result many couples live together without the for¬ 
mality of marriage, notwithstanding the fact that the 
children of those who have not made a civil marriage are 
illegitimate. As a rule the Indians are satisfied with a 
church marriage, and would be wedded if they had the 
money to pay the fee. But often they cannot accumu¬ 
late so much cash, and on some of the large haciendas the 
owners pay priests to come at certain times of the year and 
marry their peons wholesale. 

The Indians are usually true to their wives, although 
they sometimes think they have the right to get rid of 
them or to trade old lamps for new as the spirit moves. I 
have heard of instances where men have come before jus¬ 
tices of the peace and asked to have such exchanges legal¬ 
ized. In one case, after three months had elapsed, one of 
the parties returned, saying that he wanted his old wife 
back, but the man she had taken meanwhile refused to 
give her up, saying that he preferred to keep his part of 
the bargain. In another case, where a wife wanted to go 
away with another man, the justice said to the husband: 

“Why don’t you let her go? There are plenty more 
wives to be had/’ 

It is no wonder that there are so many children born 
out of wedlock. A missionary in Zacatecas told me that 
sixty-five per cent, of the births in that district are illegiti¬ 
mate and that the percentage in all Mexico is undoubtedly 
as large. 

This condition, however, does not prevail except with 
the common people. Among the higher classes divorces 
84 


WINDOW COURTSHIPS 


are far less usual than with us. The woman generally 
sticks to her husband, and he knows that it would be 
difficult to get a divorce, even if he so desired. The stand¬ 
ards of these Mexicans are said to be considerably looser 
than ours and a fair proportion of both sexes have their 
sweethearts outside of their own families. Of course the 
majority of women are good in Mexico, as they are the 
world over; but their ideas of life and virtue are more 
like those of the French than like ours. 

Americans who have Mexican wives tell me that they 
make good helpmates. They are economical and devoted 
to their children. The wife has the right to the absolute 
control of all the property she had before marriage, and 
also to one half the property accumulated after the mar¬ 
riage. Such property cannot be transferred except where 
her signature is added to that of her husband. 

Other Mexican social customs besides those concerning 
courtship and marriage are very different from ours. At 
every railroad station at which 1 have stopped I have seen 
grown men rush into each other’s arms while they hug 
most frantically and pat each other on the shoulder. I 
see women embracing and rubbing their cheeks one 
against the other. They throw kisses as they part, and 
they have a way of putting the forefinger and thumb to 
the lips and throwing a whole handful of kisses at once, 
which is very pretty when the girls are young and the lips 
are like ripe cherries. 

When a male visitor enters her home the Mexican lady 
does not rise to greet him. The strangers make the first 
call. The people drop their work the moment one comes in 
and load him down with polite expressions. They always 
refer to their house as yours, but the foreigner who takes 

85 


MEXICO 


literally this bit of extravagance is likely to find the results 
somewhat embarrassing. An invitation I received yester¬ 
day requested me to come to see a Mexican at “my house,” 
at some street the name of which I had never heard before; 
but the owner would have been surprised if I had asked the 
transfer of the property. The Mexicans give but few 
dinner parties, and teas and luncheons are usually confined 
to the family and intimate friends. 

The Mexican woman is fond of dress, but she wastes 
little time on her morning toilet. After a breakfast of a 
cup of chocolate and a roll she puts on a loose negligee and 
slippers and lolls about until the second breakfast, at noon. 
As a rule, she is not the best housekeeper in the world. 
She is by no means averse to paint and powder, both of 
which she plasters freely on her dark cheeks. She is 
proud of her hair, and especially vain of her hands and 
feet. The women have beautiful hands, soft, plump, and 
finely formed, but they ruin their feet by putting them 
into tight little shoes with heels in the middle of the sole, 
after the most approved Paris fashions. These shoes give 
them a mincing gait and I find there are few among them 
who can walk well. 

Some of the more remote Indian tribes stick to their 
old customs of courtship and marriage. The Tarascan 
Indians believe in love charms, and they think the dried 
little finger of a dead man will scratch at the heart of the 
beloved one and make him devoted. Near Lake Patz- 
cuaro the chief place of courtship is at the spring, where 
the lover watches for his sweetheart to come to get water. 
When she appears he catches hold of her shawl and refuses 
to let go until she says yes. He then smashes her jar of 
water so that the contents fall over her, and thereupon the 
86 



The Tehuantepec native women are superior to the men, whom they 
outnumber five to one, the males having been killed off in inter-racial wars. 
The huipil of white lace, frilled and starched, is worn on special occasions. 












The plaza of the capital is the stage for much of Mexico’s history. 
Here emperors have been crowned and overthrown, liberators pro¬ 
claimed, Christian churches built on the ruins of pagan temples, Indians 
tortured, and heretics burned. 



The Alameda is the Central Park of Mexico City, and the favorite 
resort of nurses, babies, and the always-tired. In the afternoon it is gay 
with music and the gowns of well-dressed women. 









WINDOW COURTSHIPS 


girl’s friends give her a new jar in which she can carry some 
water home. The next day the man takes a load of wood 
to the door of his sweetheart, and if this is accepted the 
match is complete. She then comes to his house, and he 
gives her a bouquet of certain yellow flowers which are sup¬ 
posed to bring luck. 

The Tehuana girls are among the beauties of the North 
American continent. They are as straight as a royal 
palm tree and their forms are beautifully rounded. They 
have olive skins, black hair and eyes, and teeth as white 
as lime freshly slaked. Their ordinary costume is a 
jacket and a skirt, the former having short sleeves and 
cut low at the neck so that it exposes beautiful shoulders 
and arms. The jacket reaches almost to the waist where 
a strip of bare skin usually shows between it and the skirt. 

The skirt makes one think of that of the Burmans. It 
consists of a strip of red cloth several yards long. This is 
wrapped tightly around the hips and tucked in at the 
waist. In addition to this every woman has a huipil for 
Sunday and feast days. The huipil is a lace decoration of 
enormous size, worn as a sort of headdress. It incloses 
the face, or it may extend around the neck or hang down 
from the head at the back like the war plumes of a Co¬ 
manche chief. On dress occasions the girls wear also 
full skirts, which are often heavily embroidered with lace. 

The Tehuana women are thrifty and do much of the 
work. They are fond of gold jewellery, and a barefooted 
girl may sometimes be seen wearing a small fortune in 
gold double eagles. 


87 


CHAPTER XI 


THE CAPITAL CITY 

I F PARIS is France, Mexico City is the centre of all 
things Mexican and here we shall see at its best the 
modern life of the Republic. The city itself is a 
wonder. Founded on a swamp, it is nevertheless the 
nearest to heaven of all the great capitals. It is more than 
a mile above the elevation of London, Berlin, Paris, or 
Washington, and it is hemmed in by lofty mountains 
which kiss the sky with their frosty lips some two or 
three miles higher up. Here among the mountains there 
is a little oval valley about fifty miles long and some 
forty miles wide, which is thought to be the floor of 
an ancient volcano. In it five lakes rise one above an¬ 
other, the waters of nearly all being higher than the spot 
on which the great capital stands. 

Lake Texcoco, which is normally only two feet lower 
than the level of the city, has an area of eleven square 
miles, though in the days of Cortes it was of much greater 
extent. In the wet season its waters rise, and for cen¬ 
turies it was a menace to the health of the people living in 
the Valley of Mexico. One inundation lasted for five 
years and was not carried off until an earthquake came 
along and opened a crack in the earth which swallowed 
the flood. In coming into the city I passed a cut made 
by a Spanish engineer more than three hundred years ago 
as part of a great scheme for draining the lakes and the 
88 


THE CAPITAL CITY 


valley and carrying the water off into the Gulf of Mexico. 
A change of government occurred before the plans were 
executed and the work was abandoned. Nowadays, the 
valley is drained by a canal thirty miles long, with which 
Lake Texcoco is connected, so that it is no longer a danger 
to the population through inundation and pestilential 
fevers. 

The Mexico of to-day is founded on the site of the capi¬ 
tal of the Montezumas, and there was a town right here a 
hundred and fifty years before Columbus discovered 
America. The ancient capital was a city of islands and 
the mainland was cut up by canals crossed by numerous 
bridges. Many of its one hundred and twenty thousand 
houses were of red porous stone, though the poor un¬ 
doubtedly lived in huts of rushes and mud. Cement- 
coated footpaths extended along the waterways. 

After the Conquest the Spaniards levelled the city to the 
ground and started to lay out a new capital. They might 
easily have established themselves on the highlands near 
by, but chose instead to build on the same swampy site 
selected by the Aztecs before them. The city of the 
Montezumas was only twelve miles in circumference. The 
present-day city covers about twenty square miles, has a 
population of more than half a million and, including the 
Federal District, is more than twice the size of the city of 
Washington. The Federal District and the capital have 
the same relation to the Republic as Washington and the 
District of Columbia have to the United States. 

But suppose we take a bird’s-eye view of the Mexican 
capital. We can get it from one of the twin towers of the 
great Cathedral, the pivot around which the whole city 
moves. The Cathedral stands where once was the centre 
89 


MEXICO 


of the metropolis of the Montezumas. It is just above the 
site of the pyramid capped by the stone on which the 
Aztecs sacrificed their victims. There sixty thousand 
slaves were butchered in a single year. That pyramid 
rose within fifty feet of the top of the tower, and it was 
there that Cortes stood beside Montezuma and viewed 
the conquered city. 

Taking a taxi from our hotel, we are soon at the Cathe¬ 
dral. We choose the east tower and enter the little door 
at its foot. We wind our way round and round through 
the darkness, up steps worn hollow by the feet of thou¬ 
sands, and at last come out high above the Mexican 
capital. 

What a magnificent place for a city! We are in the 
heart of the Valley of Mexico and surrounded by moun¬ 
tains that make a series of natural fortifications. The 
mountains reach to the skies and those two great peaks 
off there at the south are covered with snow. They are 
Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl. “Old Popo” is considered 
the husband of the latter, which is everywhere known as 
“The White Woman/' See how like a sleeping giantess 
she looks, as, carved in silver, she lies there outstretched 
upon the purple rocks sloping down to the plain. She 
rests on her back with face upturned, and we can see her 
mighty breasts and the whole outline of her gigantic body 
clear to the snowy feet, which are turned toward “Popo. ” 

Now look at the valley. It is a garden spot, with its 
five silvery lakes sparkling like shields studded with 
diamonds. Do you wonder it was chosen as the place for 
the capital of the Aztec empire and as the site of the best 
of that old civilization? 

Skirting the lakes, covering the valley, and coming 
90 


THE CAPITAL CITY 


close to the edge of the city are plains of richest green. 
Within them is the vast red and gray expanse of low build¬ 
ings making up Mexico City. That huge structure to the 
south cost more than two million dollars. It is the peni¬ 
tentiary, the abiding place of many a rebel and the silent 
witness of bloody insurrections. 

Off on the opposite side of the city we can see Chapul- 
tepec where Montezuma had his summer residence, and 
where the presidents of Mexico live. That wide avenue, 
shaded with trees and decorated with statues, which leads 
to it, is the Paseo de la Reforma, and the magnificent 
buildings about make up the colonias. 

Now take your glass and look at the great checkerboard 
of Mexico City. Most of the streets cross each other 
at right angles, and the whole seems to be divided into 
square fields paved with brick. The centre of the net¬ 
work of squares is the plaza filled with green trees which 
lies at our feet. On our right is the long strip of forest 
where the fashionables of the capital ride and promenade 
every Sunday; there is music every afternoon the year 
round. In the business district there are no skyscrapers 
and only a few buildings rise higher than three or four 
stories. Hence there is not the jagged skyline of our 
American cities and we seem to be looking at a metropolis 
of the Old World rather than one of the New. 

The roofs are all flat. There is not a chimney in sight 
and one can number the furnaces in those buildings on his 
fingers and toes. The Mexicans do all their heating and 
cooking with charcoal, or sometimes with wood, and a 
hot-water plant would be as great a wonder here as the 
Siamese twins or a five-legged calf. 

The tops of the houses are almost level, save where an 
91 


MEXICO 


office building here and there rises higher, or where the 
many churches with their spires and towers stand in 
evidence of the days when this land was overrun by 
priests. Their roofs, like those of nearly all of the houses, 
are covered with bricks laid in lime mortar, and there is 
almost as much masonry in the roofs aS in the walls. 

The mighty cathedral from which we look down is the 
largest on the North American continent. Its roof 
covers acres and is paved with enough bricks, I venture, 
to form the roadways for a town of ten thousand people. 
The building cost nearly two millions and the tower where 
we are standing cost one hundred thousand dollars or 
more. Inside the Cathedral there was formerly a single 
statue of gold set with diamonds and valued at a million 
dollars. It was lighted by lamps that cost seventy thou¬ 
sand dollars. Even the altars were set with precious stones. 
Indeed, this was once a temple like those of Shah Jehan 
at Agra and Akbar at Delhi, and like them it has been 
despoiled by the plunderers. 

Each of the two towers is used as a belfry and high up in 
the eastern one lives a family of bell-ringers. The larg¬ 
est of the bells, which weighs twenty-seven hundred 
pounds, cost more than ten thousand dollars. The clap¬ 
per is eight feet long and weighs a quarter of a ton. At 
just about the time when our own Republic was born, the 
bell was brought to the foot of the tower and consecrated 
by the Archbishop of Mexico to the Virgin of Guadalupe. 
The workmen were more than a month getting it into 
place and it was three months before its sweet tones 
floated out over the city that once worshipped at the 
shrine of an Aztec god. On clear days the bell can be 
heard six miles ^way. The church has altogether forty 
92 


THE CAPITAL CITY 

bells, and when they ring at midday the peons take off 
their hats. Their sound serves also as the call to lunch, 
and the clerks then drop their work and rush for the 
streets cars to go home to eat and to rest. 

The Cathedral is not only the biggest church on the 
continent but it is also the oldest. In 1525 a small 
church was erected upon the site of the great Aztec temple 
which Cortes had destroyed. Philip 11 of Spain got permis¬ 
sion from the Pope to tear down the small church, and the 
first stone of the Cathedral was laid. But the difficulties 
of building on the marshy soil were so great that after fifty 
years the walls had risen only twenty feet above the 
ground. Then new plans were drawn and the undertaking 
was lavishly subsidized. The principal sacristy was 
finished three years after our Puritan forefathers landed at 
Plymouth, and in 1667 an inaugural service was held. 
The choir was not completed until sixty years later. So 
the huge structure was nearly two centuries in the build¬ 
ing. 

When the church was opened the richest of the Span¬ 
iards gave jewels worth two million dollars to decorate it. 
One wealthy mine owner presented a gold chalice, covered 
with gems and valued at three hundred thousand dollars. 
Later he lost all his money and begged that his gift be re¬ 
turned. It is said that he got back one hundred thousand 
dollars, but I doubt it. 

Let us now go down from the tower and take a walk 
through the streets. As we come out of the Cathedral 
we find ourselves on the Plaza de la Constitucion, a big 
square, faced by the National Palace, the City Hall, the 
government pawnshop, and other great buildings. It 
was here that the wandering Aztecs saw an eagle perched 
93 


MEXICO 


on a cactus and holding a serpent in his talons. An oracle 
had told them that they should take this as an indication 
of the site of their capital. This is the tradition back of 
the serpent and eagle on the Mexican coat of arms. 

We cross the Plaza and go up the Avenida de Francisco 
I. Madero, called after the president of that name. The 
sun has now set and the electric lights have flashed out. 
The street blazes from end to end with the clustered arc 
lamps which are fastened to posts about fifteen feet high. 
The windows of the shops are also illumined and the 
asphalt shines like polished glass under the electric rays. 

Now stop a moment and look at the crowd. Besides 
the many Americans there are representatives from many 
of the countries of Europe—Germans, Frenchmen, Eng¬ 
lishmen, and Spaniards. We see American goods in the 
stores, and often hear the English language spoken as we 
walk through the streets. There are rich Mexicans, and 
some of those who have come in from the country are in the 
traditional costume of the old hacendado, consisting of an 
immense sombrero loaded with silver and a suit of rich 
cloth decorated with numerous buttons and braid. There 
are peon men wearing blankets over their shoulders and 
Indian women with black rebosos wrapped about their 
heads. There are girls of the lower classes clad in black, 
and women of the well-to-do families wearing high- 
heeled shoes and hats imported from Paris. Most of 
them have powder and paint upon their dark faces, but 
not more, I venture, than you might see any day in a walk 
on Fifth Avenue. 

Our people at home still think of Mexico as a wild and 
dangerous land. When I started out I was warned that I 
took my life in my hands and that I would always be in 
94 



From the cathedral towers one may look out over the flat roofs and 
church domes of the capital to the silver lakes and green plains of the Valley 
of Mexico and the lofty mountain walls beyond. 























In building the Paseo de la Reforma the ill-fated Emperor Maximilian 
and Carlotta his wife created as their monument one of the finest boule¬ 
vards in any country. It extends through the western part of the 
capital to Chapultepec Park. 











THE CAPITAL CITY 


danger of the Mexican bandits and bullets. I replied 
that I would at any rate escape the American automobile, 
and that all the revolutions of Mexico could not equal 
the danger of crossing the street in New York or Chicago. 
I find that I have jumped out of the frying pan and into 
the fire. Mexico City swarms with automobiles and they 
go at such speed that their drivers would be arrested in 
any city or village in the United States. Here no speed 
limit whatever seems to be observed and even the taxi¬ 
cabs race each other on the chief business streets. Lim¬ 
ousines spin along at fifty miles an hour over the asphalt 
of the Paseo de la Reforma, and in the Avenida de Fran¬ 
cisco I. Madero, the Broadway and Fifth Avenue of this 
town, the motor cars almost jump over each other as they 
fly this way and that. The same is true of all kinds of 
traffic. The motor trucks make thirty miles an hour and 
there are hundreds of motorcycles which fly so fast that 
their wheels seem barely to touch the ground. Street cars 
go whizzing by. My heart beats as 1 try to make my 
way through the traffic, and its continual jumping has 
worn my throat to a frazzle. 

I find the streets thronged with people and the stores 
filled with goods bearing price marks as high as those of 
the States. I observe new buildings going up on the out¬ 
skirts and construction of one kind or other on the chief 
business streets. Just below the Alameda gleams the 
pure white marble of the National Theatre, which has 
already cost high into the millions and is perhaps the 
finest building of its kind on the whole North American 
continent, and on the Plaza de la Republica stands the 
Legislative Palace, which, when completed, will have cost 
something like six million dollars. 

95 


MEXICO 


They tell a story here of how a Chinese envoy represent¬ 
ing his country at the centenary of Mexican Independence 
was shown these two buildings. As he looked at the 
magnificent National Theatre he said: “It is beautiful, 
but what a pity not finished/' 

He was next shown the Legislative Palace and exclaimed: 
“Splendid, but what a shame not finished." 

Finally he met President Diaz, then old and deaf. “A 
marvellous man," he said. “What a pity—finished." 

When I was in Mexico City some years ago, the part 
of the capital lying on each side of the Paseo de la Re¬ 
forma had just begun to be. The city was then only half 
the size it is now, and the greater part of this region was 
covered with swamps. Its possibilities were seen by 
American capitalists, who organized a syndicate called 
the American Colony Company and bought large tracts of 
land which they laid out in lots. They drained off the 
water and put in pavements and sewers. They built 
modern houses costing all the way from twenty-five 
thousand to one hundred thousand dollars apiece and 
sold them on long time. The project was exceedingly 
profitable and is said to have yielded one hundred per 
cent, on an outlay of about six million dollars. 

This first district was known as the Colonia Juarez and 
now half a dozen such sections have sprung up in that 
region. One is the Colonia Roma, which represents an 
American investment of about four million dollars, while 
others were built by Mexican capitalists. 

All of these enterprises paid well, and to-day the colonias 
form the finest parts of the Mexican capital. They ex¬ 
tend all the way from the Alameda or a little beyond 
it to Chapultepec, and have covered a large part of the 
96 


THE CAPITAL CITY 


ground to the north and south of the Paseo de la Reforma. 

In one colonia the streets are named after foreign cities 
and one can walk through Vienna, Liverpool, Berlin, or 
London. Another has streets named after famous Mexi¬ 
can statesmen, and another, near the Plaza de Toros, 
might be called the city of doctors, for every street bears 
a name with a “Dr.” before it. 

It is in this colonia section that our embassy is situated, 
and the American flag, afloat over the stone mansion, is 
to me one of the best sights of the Mexican capital. 


97 


CHAPTER XII 


PALACES AND PRESIDENTS 


OIN me in my visits to-day to the National Palace 



and the Congress of Mexico. As our hotel is some 


distance from the Plaza Mayor we have to order a 


taxi, although in riding with these Mexican Jehus 
we feel that we take our lives in our hands. At least, 
by asking the clerk at the desk to get us a reliable 
chauffeur, we have made sure that we may not be 
driven off to the far limits of the city and robbed, as 
has happened more than once to the unwary stranger 


here. 


Soon we are spinning along between the eucalyptus 
trees lining the Paseo de la Reforma, one of the finest 
thoroughfares of the world. We are going so fast that 
we have only a glimpse of its statues, its flower beds 
and lawns, its spacious grounds and beautiful houses. 
Now we have turned into the Avenida Juarez and are 
flying past the Alameda, a pretty little park bathed in 
sunshine and alive with people and colour, and almost 
before we know it we are at the National Palace, the 
official residence of the president of the Republic and one 
of the most imposing structures of Mexico City. It 
stands on the site where Montezuma held his court when 
Cortes came to see him and where Cortes lived after 
the death of the Aztec king. It was in this palace that 
many of the Spanish viceroys reigned, and here Maxi- 



Chapultepec, which commands one of the world’s finest views, still 
dominates Mexico City. The Aztecs built a temple and fortress there, 
which Montezuma converted into a luxurious palace. The castle is now 
the summer home of the Mexican presidents. 
























Most of the officers of the Mexican army are trained at the military 
school at Chapultepec, which is the West Point of Mexico. When we 
took the castle in the Mexican War, many of the cadets fell fighting in 
its defence there. 
















PALACES AND PRESIDENTS 

milian held his court for the brief period in which he 
played at being an emperor. 

The building is several hundred years old and its 
architecture is of the ancient Spanish order. Imagine a 
low, gray, two-story building covering many acres. Let its 
walls be of gray stucco and let it have many courts within 
it, roofed only by the blue sky and paved with great 
blocks of stone. Some of these courts are so large that a 
cavalry troop could go through its evolutions in them. 
The entrance to the palace is by great doors, or gateways, 
faced with massive columns, before which soldiers in uni¬ 
form stand and scrutinize carefully all who go in or pass 
out. We see more soldiers inside the courts and at every 
corner we meet a guard. From one of the largest of the 
courts marble stairs lead up to the offices of the secretary 
of foreign affairs and the audience rooms of the president. 
The foreign minister’s rooms are furnished after the 
French style, with bright-coloured carpets, many pictures, 
and some statuary. The ante-room to the President’s 
office is right next the parlours of Maximilian, and here 
we stop for a moment to see the crowd of office seekers 
and visitors. 

Looking over the waiting throng, each of whom has 
some matter of one kind or other to present to the Presi¬ 
dent, we observe a far greater mixture of classes and 
sharper contrasts in conditions of life than could be seen 
in a similar crowd at the White House. There are two 
score of gentlemen and ladies representing the rich. 
The men wear silk hats and frock coats and are as care¬ 
fully dressed as if about to be received at the Court of 
St. James’s. There are women in silks, wearing broad- 
brimmed feathered hats and decked with jewels galore. 

99 


MEXICO 


There are people of the middle classes, substantial mer¬ 
chants in business suits and nice-looking women and girls 
modestly clad. On one sofa we see three ladies in black. 
One is sixty or more years of age. Next her is a buxom 
woman of thirty, while farther on sits a girl of sixteen. 
All of these have black shawls over their heads. Those 
two girls over there in black seem to be in deep mourning. 
There is not a bit of white to be seen on them anywhere 
except in the pale hue of their ivory skins and in the silver 
buckles on the high-heeled black slippers that peep out 
below their black skirts. There is no lace at the throat 
or the wrists, and their black hats are loaded with black 
ostrich feathers. 

And then there are hacendados , or rich farmers, who 
have chosen to come in typical Mexican costumes. They 
wear tight trousers and roundabout jackets embroidered 
with gold and silver braid. The people of the lowest 
classes and even the peons also have their representatives 
here. There are at least a score of Indians in blankets, 
each of whom has a great sombrero resting on his knee 
or laid over his feet as he waits. The peasants are in 
their bare feet, except for the sandals out of which plainly 
show the bare, red, rough skin of the instep and their 
rosy ragged-nailed toes. Army officers, who by their 
showy uniforms must be major generals at least, pass in 
and out, while the President’s aide, the last word in mili¬ 
tary smartness, speaks briefly to one caller after another, 
and ushers in and out those favoured with an audience. 

Here it was that I once interviewed President Madero. 
Mexico was then on the verge of a new revolution, but the 
President thought his seat was secure. He told me that 
the country was entering an era of peace and that Ameri- 
ioo 


PALACES AND PRESIDENTS 


can property and life were safe, and he painted the future 
in roseate hues. It was several weeks before I was able 
to publish my report of this conversation, and in the mean¬ 
time a new rebellion had broken out and the plots were 
formed that resulted in the assassination of Madero, the 
elevation of Huerta, and the beginning of the troubles be¬ 
tween that country and ours which lasted throughout al¬ 
most the whole of the administration of President Wilson. 
The words of Madero to me were printed verbatim and 
his enthusiastic predictions of peace and prosperity were 
being read all over the United States when the whole edi¬ 
fice of his administration had gone down as by an earth¬ 
quake and he himself was lying in his coffin in the National 
Palace. 

Leaving the president’s offices, let us go on and take a 
look at the Congress of Mexico. There are two houses, the 
Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate holds 
its sessions in the National Palace and the Chamber of 
Deputies has its own hall in the business heart of the city. 

First we stop a few moments in the Senate Chamber. 
There are two members from each of the states and the 
Federal District. They serve four years, must be at least 
thirty-five years old, and may not accept other paid Fed¬ 
eral or state offices during their terms. There is nothing 
particularly interesting to keep us here, so we pass out and 
go over to the Chamber of Deputies.. This structure is 
of stone with doors of wrought iron. Over it floats the 
national flag of the Republic, a tricolour of red, white, and 
green. The building is of the shape of the Roman Pan¬ 
theon, the hall being a great circular room upheld by many 
columns and roofed by a dome. An enormous chandelier 
of cut glass, as big as a two-ton stack of hay, hangs from 

IOI 


MEXICO 


the centre of the dome, and its many frosted light bulbs 
make the hall as bright as day. 

At the back, under the coat-of-arms of Mexico, the 
traditional eagle on the cactus, is the chair of the speaker. 
The other seats are in concentric rows, rising gradually 
from the floor below the speaker's desk to the back. 
Around the hall and looking down into it are galleries 
filled with spectators who listen to every word of the 
speeches and who seem to be much interested in the pro¬ 
ceedings. 

Each member has his own desk and chair, and the order 
in which the desks are kept is far better than that in the 
lower house of our Congress. The Mexican Solons seem 
more dignified than our Congressmen. They are more 
polite and there is less talking, whispering, and smoking 
while the debating goes on. 

The chamber is much smaller than our House of Rep¬ 
resentatives. It has only two hundred and thirty-three 
members, elected for two years, in the proportion of one 
member for each sixty thousand inhabitants. Each 
state and territory has at least one deputy. The United 
States of Mexico consists of twenty-eight states, two 
territories, and the Federal District. 

The Mexican Congress meets annually in two sessions. 
The first is from April ist to May 31st, and the second is 
from September 16th to December 15th. A permanent 
committee of both houses sits during the recess. 

Just as with us, there are three branches of the Mexican 
government—the legislative, consisting of Congress; the 
judicial, vested in the supreme court, and the executive, 
headed by the president. There is now no vice-president, 
the Mexicans having learned by experience that the 
102 



The Emperor Maximilian would sometimes leave his palace and his 
problems in Mexico City for the quiet of his little house at Cuernavaca, 
seventy-five miles away. The swimming pool is said to have been the 
delight of the Empress Carlotta. 















Where Montezuma had his fishpond, his hunting-lodge, and his 
harem, where American soldiers battled in 1847, where hot-tempered 
aristocrats fought their duels, there is now Chapultepec Park, an outdoor 
beauty spot and playground. 














PALACES AND PRESIDENTS 

existence of this office makes for trouble and tends to 
breed revolutions. The president holds most of the real 
power, and neither the court nor the Congress has the 
authority they have with us. More than one dictator- 
president has not only selected the judges and legislators, 
but even put them in prison for not doing his will. In¬ 
deed, although on paper Mexico has long been a democ¬ 
racy, for most of the period of its independence it has 
been ruled by powerful autocrats. In the first hun¬ 
dred years after the creation of the office of president 
there were sixty-six chief executives of one sort or an¬ 
other—acting, substitute, or provisional, with only an oc¬ 
casional incumbent who has been regularly elected. Their 
terms have ranged all the way from the thirty-odd years 
of Diaz’s rule to that of Pedro Lascurain, who enjoyed the 
position for exactly forty-six minutes, from seven to seven 
forty-six of the evening of February 19, 1913. 

Porfirio Diaz was the strongest of them all and did the 
most for the material development of his country. He 
was immensely popular with the mass of the people, and 
highly respected abroad as an able administrator. The 
life of this remarkable man reads like a romance. Born 
a poor boy in the backwoods state of Oaxaca, he fitted him¬ 
self for the law, but when war broke out between Mexico 
and the United States he entered the army and fought 
for his country. After the war was over he remained 
in the army for some time and studied military science. 
He then went back to the law, but returned to the army in 
the revolution of ’55, and from that time on was mixed up 
in successive revolutions until the time of his selection as 
president. 

In the early days of his career he had many narrow 
103 


MEXICO 


escapes. Once he was obliged to flee to New Orleans. 
When he returned he took passage under an assumed 
name and stayed in his room pretending he was seasick. 
There were a number of Mexican officers on board, and he 
thought that they had discovered him. Knowing that 
his arrest meant death, he jumped overboard and started 
to swim to the shore, which was about ten miles away. 
He was seen and rescued, and the captain, thinking him a 
lunatic, handed him over to the purser. This man, 
though he knew he could make fifty thousand dollars by 
turning him over to the soldiers, refused to do so. He 
protected him while on board and smuggled him ashore 
as a coal heaver, and Diaz was soon back in his native 
state and with his army. 

Once firmly established in power, Diaz scarcely bothered 
to pretend that his government was democratic or that 
his elections were constitutional. He was twice pro¬ 
visional president before he entered upon a regular term 
in 1877. From then until he resigned at the age of eighty 
he was reelected eight times in thirty-four years. Under 
the present constitution, the Mexican president is elected 
for a four-year term and may not be reelected. 

For more than a generation Diaz controlled the coun¬ 
try with an iron hand in which was held a two-edged 
sword. He was quick to cut off every head that rose 
above the common level, and he wiped out his enemies 
without regard for anything but the success of the ad¬ 
ministration. Diaz often said that he believed in much 
government and but little politics. The result was that 
political parties were practically extinguished during his 
long reign. However that may be, the fact remains 
that he established law and order to a degree unknown to 
104 


PALACES AND PRESIDENTS 


Mexico before his time and not equalled since. He 
raised his country to a place where it was respected by 
the nations of the earth, he stabilized public credit, and he 
wooed and won foreign capital for the development of the 
land’s resources. 

In 1910 the Mexican Republic celebrated the cen¬ 
tennial of the beginning of the struggle for independence 
from Spanish rule. The elaborate ceremonies were in 
the nature of a personal triumph for President Diaz, and 
congratulations upon the peace and prosperity of his 
country were showered upon him by all the rulers of the 
world. 

At night from the towers of the great cathedral in 
Mexico City there blazed in letters of fire the words: 
“Liberty,” “Peace,” “Progress,” and the dates 1810 and 
1910. At midnight of September 15th, in accordance 
with national custom, President Diaz stepped out on the 
balcony over the entrance to the Palace and stood beside 
the old Liberty Bell tolled by the parish priest Hidalgo 
a hundred years before to call the people to the war for 
freedom. As Diaz struck the bell the crowds below broke 
into great shouts of: “Viva Mexico!” “Viva Diaz!” 
“Viva Don Porfirio!” 

That was the last great public appearance of Mexico’s 
“Grand Old Man.” The seeds of revolution had been 
sown. Francisco Madero, a clever little lawyer of Coa- 
huila, himself a member of a great landowning family, 
had written a book called “The Presidential Succession. 
In this he attacked the whole autocratic Diaz regime and 
the group of Cientificos, or “scientific grafters,” which sur¬ 
rounded him. He had much to say against the great land¬ 
holders and the system that allowed the lands to remain 
105 


MEXICO 


in the hands of a few. Diaz’s term expired in November, 
and when it was announced that he would run again for the 
presidency a storm of protest swept the country. It took 
only a few months of fighting to expose the real weakness 
of the government, and in the following May Diaz fled 
from Mexico and Madero took office as provisional presi¬ 
dent. Instead of the new era of reforms and progress 
Madero expected his success to inaugurate, it was the 
beginning of ten years of revolution and upheaval from 
which the country will be a long time recovering. 

It was at Chapultepec, the summer palace of the presi¬ 
dents, that I had an interview with Porfirio Diaz who was 
then in the height of his power. The President was very 
free in speaking of his country and people and he im¬ 
pressed me as a man of great force. Dressed in plain busi¬ 
ness clothes, he was without ostentation, and at the close 
of the talk we walked together over the palace and took 
a drive through the grounds. 

Chapultepec is one of the wonderful palaces of the 
world. Its park of a thousand acres is filled with splen¬ 
did cypress trees, some of which are more than a hundred 
feet high and many of which are five or six hundred years 
old. Their trunks are of massive size and their gnarled 
limbs spread outward as they go up until they intertwine 
with other branches at the top to form a dense shade. 
They are clothed in perennial green and from them hang 
great beards of the beautiful silver Spanish moss, which 
one sees in the forests of Florida and Louisiana. Under 
these trees Montezuma is said to have held his court and 
here news came to him of the Spanish invasion. A drive 
through this park is like going through the forests of fairy¬ 
land, and in the morning and the afternoon, when the sun 
106 


PALACES AND PRESIDENTS 

casts long shadows through the trees and over the well- 
kept lawn, its sylvan beauties are beyond description. 

In the centre of the park is a mighty rock, rising 
straight up for at least two hundred feet. On its summit 
is built the castle of Chapultepec, covering as much space 
as the Capitol at Washington. It rises in terraces of 
white marble along which are lovely flower gardens that 
make one think of the hanging gardens of the Aztec em¬ 
perors. 

The castle was finished by a Spanish viceroy just before 
our own United States was born, and here he lived with 
his beautiful vice-queen, who was noted as one of the 
first blondes ever seen in Mexico. The building later fell 
into decay, but was restored, and when Maximilian and 
Carlotta were here they did much to make it the imposing 
palace it is to-day. A good deal of the furniture was the 
gift of Napoleon III himself. The Blue Room is famed 
for some exquisite old furniture and for the blue-and-gold 
brocaded satin on its walls. The panels in the walls of 
the state dining room are covered with Gobelin tapestries. 
The President often receives distinguished visitors in the 
Hall of Ambassadors, which is decorated in pink and gold 
in the style of Louis XV. A luxurious suite with dainty 
bath is reserved for guests to whom the Republic wishes to 
do special honour. The only notable structural change 
since Maximilian's time is the bowling-alley installed by 
Madero. This is so arranged that it can be converted 
into a ballroom. 

The view from this castle is one of the finest to be seen 
anywhere in the world. The whole of the Valley of Mex¬ 
ico is spread out before the visitor, and the capital, with its 
cathedral towers and tiled domes, lies at his feet. In 
107 


MEXICO 


the distance silvery lakes sparkle like floods of diamonds 
amid the green. Upon all sides the great mountains of 
Mexico gleam like hills of frosted silver, while away off 
under the sun one sees the white heads of the two great 
volcanoes, Popocatepetl and the White Woman, capped 
with perpetual snow. 


108 


CHAPTER XIII 


THE MOUNTAIN OF CHARITY 


H OW would you like to borrow money of Uncle 
Sam at one per cent a month? 

I do not mean in big, long-time loans, but in 
something like five, ten, or fifty dollar advances 
to tide you over till next pay day. That is what you can 
do in Mexico City. The government has a pawnshop in 
which you can put up your watch or your wedding ring, or 
even an oil stove or a porcelain bathtub. It is known as 
the Monte de Piedad, which means “mountain of charity/' 
and stands right in the heart of the capital just opposite 
the Cathedral and within a stone's throw of the National 
Palace, on one of the corners of Cinco de Mayo Street and 
the great plaza. It is a big, three-story building which 
looks like a prison. On one corner of the roof is a cross, 
and the Mexican coat-of-arms is emblazoned over the 
portals. The building covers almost a block and is filled 
with everything that is pawnable under the Mexican sun. 
There are millions of dollars' worth of gold and silver 
stored away in its vaults, and in the sale cases to-day I 
saw a peck of gold ornaments and precious stones besides 
rings and bracelets galore. 

I went through the various rooms, watching people of 
all ages and financial conditions and of both sexes borrow¬ 
ing money on articles of every description. I watched 
the selling and saw crowds looking over the stocks of 
109 


MEXICO 


various pledges to get bargains. In the loan rooms the 
people stood before long counters above which were wire 
networks like those of our bank cages, and in the great 
patio, or square, around which the rooms are built, I 
saw them bring in automobiles, steel safes, cradles, furni¬ 
ture, and pianos. I watched the unpacking of an upright 
piano. The owner was a pretty girl, dressed in black with 
a mantilla over her head, and the tears stood in her eyes 
as she looked on. In another part of the patio were a man 
and his wife getting a loan on their parlour carpet, which 
still showed the dust of recent wear, and away off in one 
corner lay a half-dozen old bathtubs, which had evidently 
been taken from once well-to-do houses and brought here 
as pledges. It may be they will be redeemed by Saturday 
night. 

In going through the building I saw warehouse after 
warehouse filled with household goods of every conceivable 
kind There were hundreds of metal bathtubs, chairs, 
stools, candlesticks, tables, and beds. There were great 
shelves filled with clothing. There were organs, talking 
machines, and pianos by dozens. There were also kitchen 
and cooking utensils, and many things one would not 
be able to pawn in the States. The smallest sum loaned 
on any article is six cents of our money, and the loans run 
from that up to two thousand dollars. About fifty thou¬ 
sand pieces are pawned every month, and something like 
five hundred thousand dollars in loans is given out in that 
time. All but about ten per cent, are redeemed. The in¬ 
terest is paid monthly and amounts to twenty thousand 
dollars and upward. 

I observed the process of lending. The moment a pledge 
is brought an expert appraises it, and the loan is only a 



The whining voices of beggars are heard everywhere in Mexico City. 
If their appeals get too bothersome, they can usually be turned away 
with the words: “Pardon me, in the name of God.” 









Past the municipal palace, which faces the plaza, the main stream of 
life in Mexico City ceaselessly flows, bearing all sorts and conditions 
of men. The site was purchased from the heirs of Cortes for $12,000. 



Besides its fine parks and boulevards, Mexico City has a tenement 
district housing one fourth of the people, sometimes as many as twelve 
to a room. There the streets swarm with children in rags. 








THE MOUNTAIN OF CHARITY 

certain percentage of this valuation. This amount is 
always proportionately low, for if the pledge is unclaimed, 
and it cannot be sold, the valuator has to take it himself, 
giving therefor the amount of the loan and the interest. 
As long as the interest is paid all pledges are held, but 
if the payments stop they are offered for sale. In going 
through the courts, warehouses, and salesrooms I found 
price tags on everything. These showed the original 
values and the loans. In many cases the values had been 
reduced three or four times, and most things seemed to 
me wonderfully cheap. Indeed, the first price put on is 
about what the goods would bring in a second-hand store. 
This is held for a month, and then, if no one comes to buy 
it, is reduced. The next month it is marked down again, 
and this goes on from month to month until the end of 
five months, when, if it is not sold, the valuator must take 
back the article. 

I spent some time in the jewellery salesroom. Here were 
cases of pearls and diamonds, and quantities of rings, 
brooches, and pins set with jewels. I saw earrings with 
pearls as big as the end of your finger, and great sapphires 
and emeralds valued at from five hundred to four thou¬ 
sand dollars. Many of the jewels were in sets, consisting 
of bracelets, brooches, and earrings, with now and then a 
tiara of diamonds to match. Jewellery is bought by the 
Mexican women for display, and they are great purchasers 
of flashy “ sunbursts” and elaborate ornaments of all 
sorts. Mexico imports quantities of second-grade stones, 
for the people here have not our idea of buying best-quality 
gems as an investment. 

Sometimes tourists pick up great bargains in jewellery 
at the Monte de Piedad. I know of one man who got a 

hi 


MEXICO 


beautiful brooch containing a half-dozen pearls and four 
diamonds for one hundred dollars, and of another who 
bought a fine diamond ring for half that amount. I cov¬ 
eted a set of jewels the price of which had been cut from 
five hundred to three hundred dollars, but I thought of 
our customs and did not invest. 

Just before a bull-fight there is likely to be a rush of 
goods to the pawnshops. During the revolutionary 
period the bull-fights were discontinued for a time. Within 
a few months after their revival twenty thousand watches 
were pawned in Mexico City to get money for the price 
of admission to the Plaza de Toros. 

I wish you might witness one of the auctions of this 
national pawnshop. They are attended by the motley 
throng that makes up the crowds of the Mexican capi¬ 
tal. There are men in sombreros, short jackets, and tight- 
fitting trousers. There are women in black, with mantil¬ 
las over their heads, and there are people dressed much 
like those in our own cities. At the auctions the pledges 
put on sale include chromos and oil paintings, bicycles and 
mirrors, saddles and harness, household goods and cloth¬ 
ing, and jewellery and trinkets of every imaginable kind 
and description. The goods are put up at the request of 
the would-be purchasers and are often knocked down to 
the first bidders. Everything has been appraised, and 
there is no false bidding. The great bargains in good 
things, however, are usually sold before the auctions take 
place. 

The Monte de Piedad is the oldest loan institution in 
Mexico. It was founded before our Declaration of In¬ 
dependence was signed. It was capitalized at three 
hundred thousand dollars, and its purpose was to free the 
112 


THE MOUNTAIN OF CHARITY 

poor people from the usurious rates of interest charged by 
private pawnbrokers. The founder was Count de Regia, 
who owned what was then the bonanza mine of Mexico. 

In 1884 the Monte de Piedad came near failing on ac¬ 
count of its issue of demand liabilities based on long-term 
loans. It then held a cash reserve of two and one half 
millions against a circulation of four millions, but a panic 
came, a run was made, and the institution was compelled 
to suspend. Outside aid was obtained, however, and it 
kept on its feet. 

Mexico was put on a gold standard by Diaz, with the 
peso worth practically fifty cents gold. Before that it 
used to run up and down, fluctuating according to the 
amount of silver it contained. During the last revolu¬ 
tionary period paper money was issued, but as soon as 
recovery began the paper pesos were redeemed at the 
rate of one hundred thousand a day and burned in the 
Public Square of Mexico City. The country is now back 
on a gold basis. 

Before the Madero revolution, the financial condition 
of the government was sound. Considering the assets of 
Mexico, the public debt was small, for it amounted to 
only a little over two hundred million dollars, or about 
one fifth of what the United States then owed. Even 
to-day, after passing through ten years of upheaval, the 
Mexican Republic owes less, proportionately, than other 
nations with comparable resources. The government and 
the international bankers agree that it amounts to less 
than three quarters of a billion, or approximately fifty 
dollars per capita. We came out of the World War with 
a per capita debt many times larger, while some of the 
European countries owe much more. 

H3 


MEXICO 


It is the habit of the Mexicans to hoard money. There 
are said to be millions upon millions under the courtyards 
or hidden away in the walls of the rich haciendas. Men 
die, leaving supposedly worthless estates, and thousands 
of dollars are found in their miserable homes. Not long 
ago an American brought suit to collect a debt from a man 
in one of the provincial cities. He got a judgment and 
the defendant said: “ I can’t pay you, but my father will. ,, 
The father was called on and he took the officials down 
into a cellar under his house where there was four hun¬ 
dred thousand dollars stored away in four hundred bags, 
each containing one thousand dollars. The judgment 
was for five thousand dollars and five of the bags were 
handed over in payment therefor. 

In addition to the Monte de Piedad there are many 
private pawnshops in Mexico City. At these the loans are 
more costly and five or ten per cent, a month is frequently 
paid. It is unsafe to attempt to borrow on stolen wares 
at the Monte de Piedad, but this is not true of some of 
the private pawnshops, which are said to be fences or 
receivers of stolen goods. Indeed, when a Mexican loses 
a piece of personal property he generally accuses his 
servants of the theft. On their emphatic denial a sudden 
demand for the pawn tickets for the goods is often success¬ 
ful. Before the establishment of modern laundries in 
Mexico one sometimes recognized in one of these pawn¬ 
shops the shirt he had too trustingly confided to the hands 
of a dishonest washerwoman. 

There is one trading place here which has so much ques¬ 
tionable merchandise that it goes by the name of the 
Thieves’ Market. It is not far from the Cathedral and 
just off the main market house of the city. It is on a 
114 



The Avenida Francisco I. Madero, the Fifth Avenue of Mexico City, 
which is seldom thronged by day, is at its best toward twilight, when 
shoppers, amusement seekers, and noisy vendors pack the thorough¬ 
fares. Many of the best American stores are here. 








tfi 



Cortes found the Aztecs a brave people who built cities, made beauti¬ 
ful articles of silver and gold, and had worked out a calendar and a written 
language. To-day they are meek and ignorant burden bearers. 




THE MOUNTAIN OF CHARITY 


street once occupied by the palace of Mo itezuma, where 
the first bull ring was afterward established by the Span¬ 
iards. On the same spot thirteen heretics were con¬ 
demned to be burned to death during the Spanish Inquisi¬ 
tion. It is only a century or so since the land has been 
cleared and made the property of the city. 

In my walk through this market I kept my hands on 
my pocketbook, but I was not molested. I examined the 
goods, finding nothing of value in the shape of curios 
and no gold and silver set with jewels. Most of the 
wares seemed to be trinkets, household goods, and old 
clothing. There was a great stock of the latter, and as I 
looked at the silk dresses and men’s suits of one kind or 
another I bethought me of the warning I had been given 
when I spent my first night in Mexico. My adviser was 
an old resident. Said he: 

“ In going to bed on the ground floor you must be careful 
to put your trousers under the mattress and lay your other 
clothes near the wall farthest away from the window, 
especially if you leave your blinds open. This country 
has many sneak thieves and there are professionals who 
have jointed rods with hooks at the end, with which they 
can reach through the bars and drag out your clothing. 
You must also watch out for your pockets, particularly in 
crowds and on the street cars. It is not safe to leave 
your car window open while travelling on the railways and 
you want to keep an eye on your camera.” 

Since then I have found reason to appreciate these 
suggestions. A man travelling with me had his pocket 
picked two days after he entered Mexico, and this has 
scared him so that he now does not venture out without 
one hand in his trousers. I am told that the thieves steal 
ii5 


MEXICO 


wire cable and electric wiring. They cut through the 
roofs to get into the stores and warerooms and even try 
to rob the poor boxes of the churches. The railways lose 
thousands of bolts from the cars and tracks every year and 
even the fishplates are sometimes taken from the rails. 
Doormats are usually chained down. It is hardly safe 
to put an ash-barrel out into the street and potted plants 
and flowers are often stolen, while a vacant house 
frequently loses its lead pipe, electric globes, and bath 
fixtures. 


CHAPTER XIV 
Mexico’s bloody altar 

M EXICO is a land of blood. It has always been 
so, and that it is so to-day is shown again and 
again in every revolution. Human life is held 
at a discount by the great bulk of the people, 
made up as they are for the most part of Indians and half- 
breeds. Even those who have held the highest places in 
the struggle for power have usually risen on the dead 
bodies of their opponents. Their followers have been per¬ 
mitted to torture the victims who fell into their hands and 
among the thousands slaughtered by soldiers, rebels, and 
bandits in recent years have been many Americans. Our 
government files at Washington bear the names of nearly 
four hundred citizens of the United States murdered in Mex¬ 
ico during the decade from 1910 to 1920, while hundreds 
of others were subjected to outrages of every description. 

That such always has been the record of Mexico, is 
proved by evidence right here in the capital. In the 
National Museum is the sacrificial stone of the Aztecs, one 
of the bloodiest shrines upon earth. 

I say bloody shrine and I mean it. The stone, so 
small that it would not fill the parlour of a thirty-dollar 
flat, was bathed again and again in streams of blood. 
All the deaths of Mexico’s decade of revolution are noth¬ 
ing in comparison with the numbers who died on this 
block of granite. Upon it the Spaniards saw their com- 
117 


MEXICO 


rades slain by the Aztecs. The men were stripped to their 
waists, and Cortes and his soldiers, standing at the foot of 
the mound on which the stone rested, could tell them by 
the contrast of their white skins against those of their 
copper-coloured executioners. The Spaniards’ heads were 
adorned with feathers, and they were made to dance as 
they went up. As soon as they were stripped, their 
naked bodies were laid upon this stone. Then came a 
flash of the knife and a moment later the priests held up the 
still pulsating hearts of the victims and threw them to 
the horrid idol of the Aztec god of war. 

On great occasions, such as the crowning of a king or 
the dedication of a temple, men were slaughtered by the 
thousands. Six years before Columbus came to America 
the temple to the Aztec god of war was consecrated. The 
prisoners, who for several years had been held in reserve 
for this festival, were ranged in files and formed a pro¬ 
cession two miles long. The bloodshed went on for days 
and it is said that seventy thousand perished on the sacri¬ 
ficial stone. In one of the buildings near the Teocalli, the 
great temple of the Aztecs, the Spaniards with Cortes 
found one hundred and thirty-six thousand skulls of those 
who had thus been killed. Among them were the re¬ 
mains of men, women, and children. 

But let me tell you how the stone looks. It was thrown 
down by Cortes in the general destruction of Montezuma’s 
capital. That was more than four hundred years ago. 
After lying buried for more than three centuries, the stone 
was dug up, and the authorities ordered it to be broken 
to pieces, intending to use it for paving the city. One of 
the Catholic priests objected, however, and it was saved. 

Nothing brings one closer to the Aztecs than this sacri- 
n8 



The sacrificial stone of the Aztecs was bathed in streams of blood 
from the thousands of victims offered up before a hideous image of the 
god of war. 


* * *1 









Cuernavaca was one of thirty cities the Emperor of Spain gave to 
Cortes. Here the conqueror built himself a palace which houses to¬ 
day the Morelos state legislature, and here for a time he devoted him¬ 
self to raising sugar. 



Even when the Spaniards built a fire under his feet, Guatemoc, the 
last prince of the Aztecs, refused to reveal the hiding place of the trea¬ 
sures of the Montezumas. His torture is depicted on his statue in Mexico 
City. 









MEXICO’S BLOODY ALTAR 


ficial stone. It is perfectly round and its rim is covered 
with carvings. In the centre of the top is a hole as big as 
a tin wash basin, with a groove running out to the rim. 
The hole was used, it is thought, to hold the hearts of the 
victims. 

The Aztecs observed a ritual in making their sacri¬ 
fices, and the most distinguished of the captives were often 
given a chance to fight for their lives. Besides the stone 
of sacrifice there was a gladiatorial stone with a ring in its 
top, upon which the victim, stripped to the skin, fought 
under the eyes of the king and other spectators. The 
man was chained to the rock and given a wooden sword 
and shield. Thus equipped, he contended with a soldier 
armed with a sword of obsidian, a glasslike substance 
made from a kind of volcanic lava. The obsidian weapon 
had a razor-like edge, and the contest was, of course, very 
unequal. Nevertheless, the wooden sword sometimes 
prevailed, and the captive won his freedom. If he failed 
or was wounded, his body was carried to the sacrificial 
stone and there offered to the god of the Aztecs. 

The most famous of all Aztec sacrifices was that which 
took place once every year, when the victim was the hand¬ 
somest youth of the nation. The priests who made the 
selection insisted on his being physically perfect, without 
a single blemish and in possession of all the graces of youth. 
He was chosen a year prior to the sacrifice, and from that 
time until his death he lived like a prince. He was wined 
and dined and had four of the most beautiful girls in the 
land as his mistresses. He was the gilded youth of his 
time, and passed his days with music and feasting upon 
flowery beds of ease. Thus he lived gaily until the day 
of his doom. 


119 


MEXICO 


When the final hour came he said good-bye to his sweet¬ 
hearts, and decorated with flowers, took his place on the 
stone. Then a priest dressed in red drove his knife into 
the breast of the youth and pulled out his heart. It was 
held aloft before the eyes of the people and they fell on 
their knees in adoration. Later on the body was cut into 
pieces and distributed to a favoured few who cooked and 
served it on their tables as the tidbit of the year. 

Prescott states that this was the only kind of cannibal¬ 
ism practised by the Aztecs, and says that these feasts 
were served up in royal style. The cooking was done by 
the country’s best culinary artists, and men and women 
came together to enjoy the horrible menu. 

Human sacrifices began in Mexico two or three hundred 
years before the Spaniards landed. In addition to the 
Teocalli in Mexico City there were sacrificial pyramids 
and mounds in different parts of the country, and when¬ 
ever plagues or other calamities visited a region the vic¬ 
tims increased in number. 

In times of drought, when the rain gods were supposed 
to be angry with the people, infants were offered up to 
appease them. The tears shed by the babies were believed 
to be a good omen for the passing of the drought. Our 
archaeologists have discovered that among the Mayas, the 
rain gods were propitiated with offerings of the most 
beautiful maidens. They were thrown down a deep 
natural well in the ancient city of Chichenitza in Yucatan. 
This well became a sacred shrine to which pilgrims jour¬ 
neyed from great distances to make their oblations of 
jade, copper, pottery, and bells. 

The deity in whose honour many of the Aztecs’ human 
sacrifices were offered was the god of war and bloodshed, 
120 


MEXICO’S BLOODY ALTAR 


whose chief representation may be seen in the National 
Museum. This is a block of stone nine feet in height cov¬ 
ered with carving. It represents a squatty figure with 
a great flat head out of which peep two cylindrical eyes 
above four little horns that serve as noses. The mouth is 
large and the head rests on the shoulders without any 
neck. When Cortes, in company with King Montezuma, 
first saw this statue it stood not far from the sacrificial 
stone. It was then covered with gold and studded with 
jewels. Golden serpents were wound about its waist, and 
a necklace of life-size hands and hearts of gold and silver 
encircled the neck. Before it was burning a pan of incense 
in which the hearts of three human beings were roasting 
After the Spaniards had conquered, they tore off the gold, 
silver, and jewels. They threw down the statue, and it 
was years later that it was brought forth as an archaeo¬ 
logical relic. 


121 


CHAPTER XV 


CORTES AND THE MONTEZUMAS 

D O YOU know that descendants of both Hernando 
l Cortes and the Emperor Montezuma, whom 
J he conquered, are still living in Mexico and in 
Europe? Some of them have in their possession 
big estates once owned by the Aztec ruler or the Spanish 
invader. The family of Montezuma was large and he left 
his children to the care of Cortes, who promised to look 
after them as though they were his own. This Cortes 
did, sending them to Spain, where they were educated in 
the imperial household of Charles V. Some of them 
intermarried with Spanish nobles and to-day there are 
great landed properties in Salamanca that have come 
down through fourteen generations from a son of Monte¬ 
zuma. The present head of the family has the title 
of Marquis de Castellano. He is a high Spanish noble, 
with some of the imperial blood of the Aztecs in his 
veins. 

The Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, was a 
descendant of one of Montezuma’s children, while the 
same blood tints even some of the ducal families of Eng¬ 
land. A relative of Columbus’s eldest son is said to have 
married into the Aztec emperor’s family. There are still 
several Montezumas in Mexico City. One is a lawyer, 
another a banker, and a third a musician. Other families 
here, although no longer called Montezuma, are said to 


122 


CORTES AND THE MONTEZUMAS 


trace their ancestry back to the imperial ruler. One of 
Montezuma’s daughters became the mistress of Cortes, 
who was a man of many loves and several marriages. He 
left the University of Salamanca at the age of sixteen on 
account of his love affairs, and when he had first decided 
to try his fortune in the New World, his departure was 
postponed by a tumble from a wall which he was scaling 
in order to meet a sweetheart. He was only nineteen 
years old when he sailed for Santo Domingo, and there 
he became intimate with a beautiful Spanish girl named 
Catalina Juarez. For a time he refused to marry her, but 
was afterward forced to do so. She brought him lands 
and money, as well as the friendship of the governor, 
Velasquez, who later on sent him from Cuba in command 
of the expedition to conquer Mexico. On this expedition 
Cortes landed in what is now the State of Tabasco. There 
he picked up a beautiful Indian girl, Marina, and made 
her his mistress. He taught her Spanish, and she became 
the interpreter through whom he talked with the natives 
of different parts of Mexico. 

The two lived together at Mexico City or at Cortes’s 
residence near by and she went with him during his tours. 
He had an estate at Orizaba and it was in his palace there 
that he married off the Lady Marina, as she was then 
called, to one of his lieutenants. By this husband she had 
a number of children. As late as the close of the seven¬ 
teenth century the heirs of Dona Marina and Jaramillo 
were living near Orizaba, while the great estate once 
owned by the Lady Marina is famous to-day for its im¬ 
ported live-stock. 

While Cortes was living with Marina, his wife, whom 
he had left in Cuba, came to Mexico. She sneaked into 
123 



MEXICO 


the country without his knowledge and came to Coyoacan, 
his seat of government just outside of Mexico City. He 
took her into his palace, and there, as the story goes, 
after one of his riotous banquets, strangled her with her 
own necklace of pearls. Others say that she committed 
suicide. At any rate, after Cortes returned to Spain he 
was indicted for murdering his wife. The case occupies 
many pages in the “Archives of the Indies,” which tell the 
story of the crime, the judicial proceedings against the 
conquerer, and his final acquittal. Cortes married again 
while he was in Spain, taking there a wife, Doha Juanna 
de Zunigay Arellano, a woman of title and wealth. He 
had a son by her, who was christened Don Martin and 
who inherited most of the property. 

The daughter of Montezuma, whom Cortes took as one 
of his mistresses, had been given the Christian name of 
Isabella. She had been married to Guatemoc, Monte¬ 
zuma's nephew and successor, who fought against Cortes 
and who was put to death by the Spaniards in 1522. 
Cortes was accused of having him executed in order that 
he might possess Isabella. Some time afterward Isabella 
married again, this time a Spaniard. He died and she 
married once more and had three sons and a daughter. 
One of her sons married a daughter of the Duke of 
Toledo. 

It is also said that Isabella had a daughter by Cortes 
named Leonor, and that when she died she made a will 
giving her estate to her six children, stating that five of 
them were legitimate by her two Spanish husbands, and 
that the other, the said Leonor Cortes, was a natural 
daughter by the great general. This will is said to be still 
in existence. Leonor Cortes married and her daughter 
124 


CORTES AND THE MONTEZUMAS 


was known as the Princess Acaltan, from whom is de¬ 
scended the Duke of Soteles de Montezuma of Madrid. 

The first husband of Isabella, the Emperor Guatemoc, 
was one of the famous characters of Aztec history. The 
Spaniards tortured him by fire to make him reveal where 
the Aztecs had buried their treasure. With him during the 
roasting was another chief who could not stand the pain 
and cried out that he felt he must tell. Thereupon 
Guatemoc shook his head and said sternly: 

“Am I taking my pleasure in my bath?” 

The painting of this scene is one of the great pictures 
of the National Museum. Guatemoc’s words have be¬ 
come proverbial in Mexico, being used when one has his 
own troubles yet is asked to bear those of others. 

Cortes, like Columbus, had a sad time during his latter 
days. When he left Mexico for the last time and went 
back to Spain, he found he was out of favour at the court 
of Charles V. At one time he tried to force his way 
through the crowd to the Emperor’s carriage, and even put 
his foot on the step. Thereupon the Emperor, aston¬ 
ished at his assurance, demanded to know who he was. 
Cortes replied: 

“ I am a man, Sire, who has given you more provinces 
than your ancestors left you cities.” 

At the time of his death he held the title of Marquis 
of the Valley of Oaxaca and owned great estates in the 
land he had conquered in the name of his king. He had 
properties in the Valley of Mexico, others near Cuerna¬ 
vaca, and some on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. He had 
also a palace and other valuable property at Coyoacan. 
This remained in the hands of his heirs until some 
years ago, when it was taken over by the town council. 

125 


MEXICO 


His so-called palace, which still stands, was for a long 
time used as the city council chamber and jail. It was 
one of the first buildings erected by white men on the 
North American continent and bears the Cortes coat of 
arms over its doorway. Similar insignia have been found 
in Cuernavaca, Vera Cruz, and Oaxaca. 

This Coyoacan palace is a rude building without much 
architectural beauty, but the doorway inside the patio is 
Moorish. The cornice of the building is plain. The walls 
are thick and the house was evidently a fortification as 
well as a home. Near by is the Church of John the Bap¬ 
tist, which was erected about the same time, and not far 
away is the Dominican monastery where Cortes is said to 
have strangled his Cuban wife. 

Nobody knows the exact extent of the lands given to 
Cortes, but they probably amounted to millions of acres. 
The property he had in Tehuantepec, which comprised 
several hundred thousand acres, was for many years the 
home of his descendants. He erected a house there in 1527 
but it is now in ruins. The estate has been divided into 
three ranches. One of them has seventy thousand acres 
and is devoted chiefly to stock raising. Another has seven 
thousand acres of sugar cane on it, and a third is right on 
the Tehuantepec railway, having a station of its own. It 
is not far from Rincon Antonio. This property remained 
in the hands of the heirs of Cortes until the days of Andrew 
Jackson, when it was purchased by the family that now 
holds it. 

When Cortes died he gave some of his Cuernavaca lands 
to the hospital and church of Jesus of Nazareth, which is 
not far from the Cathedral in Mexico City. In this church 
are preserved his patent of nobility and the documents 
126 



The only living witness of the horrors of the Spanish invasion is the 
“Tree of the Sad Night” at Mexico City. Beneath it Cortes once sat and 
wept as his shattered troops filed past after their defeat by the Aztecs. 












Cortes’s coat of arms may still be seen over the main entrance to the 
palace he built at Coyoacan four hundred years ago. It was here that 
he strangled his Spanish wife with her own pearl necklace 





































CORTES AND THE MONTEZUMAS 

giving him title to his lands. The hospital stands on the 
site of Montezuma’s palace, where the Emperor was stoned 
to death by a mob of his own people whom he was trying to 
pacify. 

After he came back from Spain in 1530, Cortes built 
a palace at Cuernavaca which was for a time his favourite 
residence. There he personally superintended the culti¬ 
vation of his vast estates. He introduced sugar cane from 
Cuba and erected sugar mills and other works. Most of 
the estates have been more or less subdivided, and the 
town of Cuernavaca, which contains about seven thousand 
people, has grown up on his land. The place is noted for 
its beautiful views and is also celebrated as a health resort. 

The cathedral of Cuernavaca is one of the oldest and 
quaintest in Mexico. It is known as the Church of San 
Francisco and was founded at the suggestion of Cortes. 
For years it was the most important Franciscan institution 
on this continent. The tower contains a clock which the 
Emperor Charles V gave to Cortes at the same time that 
he gave him most of the great valley to be seen from 
the top of the tower. The clock is run by weights that 
hang almost to the ground. They are wound up at inter¬ 
vals by a mechanism at the top. 

It is interesting to follow the footsteps of Cortes through 
Mexico. Sailing out of the harbour of Santiago de Cuba, 
he touched first at Tabasco, on the Gulf Coast southeast 
of Vera Cruz. He coasted along the Mexican Gulf until 
he came to the bay of Vera Cruz. There he landed and 
made his first settlement, building rude huts and mount¬ 
ing guns to defend his expedition from the Indians. He 
had at this time ten vessels in the harbour, and his force 
consisted of about seven hundred Spaniards, eighteen 
127 


MEXICO 


horses, and some pieces of cannon. Having already 
learned at Tabasco of the Emperor Montezuma, Cortes 
sent a message to him as soon as he landed at Vera Cruz 
saying that he, Cortes, came as the ambassador of a mighty 
ruler from beyond the seas to bring him a present. This 
letter was put in the form of picture writing by an Aztec 
chieftain and sent by messenger to the capital. 

The runner service of the Aztecs was so swift that an 
answer came back within one week, although the distance 
covered was more than two hundred miles each way. The 
reply from Montezuma was that the road to the capital 
was long and dangerous, and that Cortes had best not 
come. The Emperor added: “You had better go back 
to your own country with our greetings to your mighty 
king.” 

Montezuma sent presents with this letter. Among 
them were two huge plates, one of solid gold and the 
other of silver. Each plate was as big around as a cart 
wheel, or about twenty feet in circumference, and the 
gold wheel was afterward estimated to be worth two 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. There were also 
necklaces of rubies and pearls, and many golden shields, 
inlaid and decorated. 

One can easily imagine the effect these presents had 
on the Spaniards. Cortes replied that he had come six 
thousand miles over the oceans to see Montezuma, and 
he could not go back to his king without having personally 
met him. The Aztec sent back a ceremonious message 
telling Cortes to leave, but notwithstanding all this, the 
Spaniard started inland. With his little band he made 
his way over the mountains, marching to the conquest of 
a nation of millions. The story has been wonderfully 
128 


CORTES AND THE MONTEZUMAS 


told in the works of Prescott and others, and those times 
have been pictured in the novels of Rider Haggard and of 
our own General Lew Wallace. 

Cortes drafted one thousand Indian porters to trans¬ 
port his baggage over the two hundred miles. Most of his 
way was through the wilderness. At the town of Tlaxcala, 
near Puebla, he fought with the Indians of that name and 
made them his allies. The place is now a shabby village, 
the chief interest of which is its collection of Cortes relics. 

It was at this point that some of the Spaniards turned 
aside to ascend Popocatepetl and get from the volcano 
sulphur for making gunpowder. Near by was the great 
Indian town of Amecameca, lying on the slope of the 
volcano. Passing through this place, Cortes and his men 
entered the Valley of Mexico. 

Mexico City is to-day full of reminders of Cortes and 
the Montezumas. I have already spoken of the Cathedral 
standing on the site of the great Aztec temple, of the 
Hospital of Jesus, which marks the spot where Montezuma 
welcomed the Spaniards, and of Chapultepec, which was 
the summer residence of the Aztec emperor. At Chapul¬ 
tepec Montezuma had his favourite wives, his fish ponds, 
his aviary, and his hunting lodge. One can ride out to 
it now on the street car. The Spaniards made their way 
there in boats and on foot. Farther out of the city 
you may trace the causeway by which Cortes entered 
the capital, and find the place where once were the fa¬ 
mous gardens in which Montezuma and Guatemoc en¬ 
tertained the Spaniards. 

There is one spot, however, which you will fail to find— 
the grave of Cortes. Where that is no one knows. 
Fifteen years after Cortes died in Spain, his son Don 
129 


MEXICO 


Martin had his body exhumed and brought to Mexico. 
It was first placed in the Monastery of San Francisco, in 
Texcoco, and later brought to the Church of San Francisco 
in Mexico City. It lay in that church for more than one 
hundred and fifty years before it was again brought forth 
in a great procession and carried to the Hospital of Jesus 
of Nazareth. There it lay for thirty years, and then for 
fear of a mob that threatened to destroy it, friends of the 
family entered the tomb by night and secretly removed the 
remains. Some believe that they were again buried in 
Mexico, and others will tell you that they rest in the 
tombs of the Sicilian branch of the family near Palermo. 
As to the truth, I am unable to say. 


130 



The monoliths of the Hall of Columbus distinguish the Mitla ruins 
from all others in Mexico. How the huge stones were quarried and 
placed and what edged tools hewed their flinty substances into shape 
remain mysteries. 








Walls of carved stone and arches built without keystones bear witness 
at Uxmal and other ancient cities in Yucatan to the advanced culture 
possessed by the Mavas centuries before Columbus discovered the New 
World. 







CHAPTER XVI 


THE CULTURE OF THE AZTECS AND THE MAYAS 

T HE Mexicans of to-day are thoroughly alive to the 
archaeological possibilities of their own country. 
They are anxious to have the ruins explored, and 
have given concessions to foreigners to do much of 
the work. Not a few have been given to Americans con¬ 
nected with the Smithsonian Institution and others of 
our societies, and their members have made great dis¬ 
coveries. 

Perhaps the most interesting finds are those now being 
made in southeastern Mexico, which is a veritable archae¬ 
ologist's paradise. The recent discoveries relate to the 
ancient civilization of the Mayas, Indians who reached the 
highest state of development of any native race on the 
North American continent. Mayan history has been 
traced back more than two thousand years and the rem¬ 
nants of the Maya kingdoms preserved their identity and 
resisted conquest down to the days of the Mexican Repub¬ 
lic. The Mayas were spread over the entire peninsula of 
Yucatan, all of Guatemala, and part of the Republic of 
Salvador. Ruins of hundreds of their cities are in ex¬ 
istence to-day, and it is estimated that one million three 
hundred thousand Indians still speak Maya dialects ex¬ 
clusively. 

From the archaeological standpoint the Mayas are most 
noted for their architecture, their calendar, and their 
1 3i 


MEXICO 


hieroglyphics. They had paved streets, cement-lined 
reservoirs for storing water, and great public buildings. 
They had a central government, and, like other Indians 
in Mexico, held their lands in common. Although the 
fanatical Spaniards destroyed most of the records which 
fell into their hands, this loss has been partially restored 
by the studies of the ruins of the ancient cities, temples, 
and monuments through which our scientists have built 
up a picture of the Maya civilization. 

Ruins at Chichenitza and elsewhere in Yucatan show 
in great variety the different forms of such development. 
At Chichenitza, for example, is a great pyramid, more than 
one hundred feet high and five hundred and fifty feet 
square at the base, with a building nearly two hundred 
feet long on the top. The walls contain some of the best 
specimens of Mayan painting, with colouring so vivid that 
modern enamel makers have tried to discover the secret of 
the processes used. The ancient temples and other build¬ 
ings were adorned with figures carved in bas-relief and 
covered with picture-writings, many of which have now 
been translated. Examples of the Maya arch built with¬ 
out a keystone are still standing. 

The Mayan calendar was even more advanced than that 
of the Aztecs. It divided the year into eighteen months 
of twenty days each, and five-day weeks, with five “name¬ 
less days” left over at the end of each year. 

Besides the carvings and picture-writing a few of the 
Mayan books remain. These are writings on paper made 
from the maguey, or cactus plant, covered with a thin 
coating of stucco. Many of the discoveries are due to the 
chewing gum industry, for it was in connection with the 
gathering of chicle that some of the cities concealed in 
132 


THE CULTURE OF THE AZTECS AND MAYAS 


the jungles were found and the attention of our scientists 
was attracted to them. The Mexicans themselves have 
done a great deal of archaeological research. One of the 
Spanish viceroys ordered that all the relics dug up in the 
capital should be taken to the old University of Mexico 
and from there they came to the National Museum. 
Maximilian also was interested in such investigations, 
and Diaz encouraged them. 

There is no doubt that many interesting things still lie 
under the Mexican capital. Every time a new sewer is 
dug or a great foundation excavated a fresh discovery is 
made. The sacrificial stone was found buried near the 
southwest corner of the Cathedral, and the Aztec calendar 
stone, which is also in the museum, was originally found 
under the earth in the great plaza. When it was taken 
up the Archbishop of Mexico, fearing that it might be 
worshipped by the Indians, ordered that it be re-buried. 
Later on it was again dug up and cemented on to the base 
of one of the Cathedral towers, where it remained until a 
generation ago when it was removed to the museum. 

This calendar stone gives some idea of the advanced 
civilization of the Aztecs. It was used as a sun dial and 
calendar, and the hieroglyphs upon it represent the years, 
months, and days. The archaeologists disagree as to 
the exact meaning of some of the symbols, but certain 
figures show that the priests knew how to adjust their 
festivals by the movements of the heavenly bodies. They 
were able to fix the length of the year even better than the 
philosophers of antiquity, and they had means of marking 
with precision the hours of the day and the times of the 
solstices and equinoxes. 

The stone originally weighed about fifty tons and the 
133 


MEXICO 


records prove that it came from over the mountains, a 
distance of many leagues. The Aztecs had neither horses 
nor oxen, so it must have been carried by men. The Mex¬ 
ican twenty-dollar gold piece now has the design of the 
calendar stone stamped on it. 

Other exhibits in the museum show that these ancient 
Indians had a higher degree of civilization than is gener¬ 
ally supposed. They had their own literature, most of 
which was destroyed by the Spaniards. They used 
picture-writings and much of their traditional and scien¬ 
tific lore was committed to manuscript. In their system of 
writing, each character represented an idea. Moreover, 
there was a colour scheme whereby a figure in black meant 
one thing, while the same symbol in blue meant another. 
Thus a white disk stood for the rising sun, a black disk 
for the setting sun, a disk half white and half black for 
midday. A tongue meant speaking; a foot, travelling; a 
man sitting down, an earthquake. The serpent stood for 
time, perhaps because time slips so noiselessly away. 

It was part of the religious fanaticism of the Spaniards 
that they wished to destroy all the records and symbols 
of the pagan race they had conquered. One priest 
made a great collection of these early picture-writings 
just to have the pleasure of burning them up. At last 
this intolerance spent itself and then the Spanish priests 
began gathering and translating whatever manuscripts 
they could find. 

The Aztecs knew how to make paper, and they used 
cotton clothing. They made dyes like the Tyrian pur¬ 
ple and cloth of the fur of rabbits. They had fairs 
for the encouragement of trade and agriculture, and were 
expert workers in metal. Some of the articles carried to 
134 



When the Spaniards came the Aztecs were spinning and weaving much 
as the Mexican Indians do to-day, although such handicrafts are dying 
out. Cortes said the fine cottons woven for the rich reminded him of 
the beautiful fabrics of Salamanca. 















Business men in Mexico City entertain their friends at the Country 
Club, built by the Americans at a cost of $350,000. It has a fine golf 
course and many Mexicans have taken up the game. 



The old-fashioned Mexican merchant uses some fancy name rather 
than his own over his store. “A Trip to Japan,” with its painted walls, 
its flags, and its tissue-paper decorations, is a typical pulque shop. 




















THE CULTURE OF THE AZTECS AND MAYAS 


Spain by Cortes were vessels of gold, silver, and copper, 
among them some silver basins so big that they could not 
be encircled by the arms of a man. 

The archives tell how the Aztec nobles ate at tables 
set with silver and gold plates and had chafing dishes to 
keep their meats warm. They had napkins and finger 
bowls and smoked cigarettes after dinner. They had 
good cooks and ate all kinds of vegetables, fruits, and 
meats. Montezuma had fish from the ocean brought to 
him by fast runners over the mountains, a distance of 
more than two hundred miles, and the Spanish historians 
say that the markets of the capital contained domestic 
poultry, game from the forests, fish from the lakes, and 
fruits of the temperate and tropical zones. The stalls in 
the market were decorated with flowers, and the throng 
there usually numbered about forty thousand. Cortes 
says the multitude was three times as great as that of the 
market at Salamanca, and also that the Aztec cloths and 
tapestry made him think of the silks of Granada. 

One part of the market was assigned to the goldsmiths, 
another to toy peddlers, and other sections to pottery 
workers and the sellers of copper and obsidian, of which 
the razors and mirrors were made. There were also drug 
shops, and stores selling blank books and charts. 

Yet there are now millions of the descendants of these 
people who cannot read or write. They are mere hewers 
of wood and drawers of water, and their future is one of 
the big problems in Mexico. There is no doubt, however, 
that they have natural ability, for the greatest men of 
modern Mexico have had more or less Indian blood in their 
veins. President Juarez was an Indian, and President 
Diaz had Indian ancestors. 


135 


MEXICO 


Some of the ancient emperors wrote poetry and philoso¬ 
phy, and there is one Nexahualcoyatl, whose utterances 
made one think of the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, or 
the proverbs of Solomon. This man was a Toltec. He be¬ 
longed to the tribe that preceded the Aztecs in power, and 
during his reign he revolutionized the laws and government 
of Mexico. Here is a quotation from one of his poems 
which has been translated into Spanish and then into 
English. It suggests the verse in Ecclesiastes: 

Then I commended Mirth; because a man hath no better thing under 
the sun than to eat, drink and to be merry. 

This is the way the ancient Toltec puts it: 

Banish care! If there are bounds to pleasure, the saddest life must 
also have an end. Then weave the chaplet of flowers, sing thy songs 
in the praise of the all-powerful God, for the glory of the world soon 
fadeth! Rejoice in the green freshness of the spring, for the day will 
come when thou shalt sigh for these joys in vain; when the sceptre shall 
p^ss from thy hand and the sons of thy nobles drink the dregs of dis¬ 
tress. Yet the remembrance of the just shall not pass away from the 
nations and the good thou hast done shall ever be held in honour. 
The goods of this life, its glories and riches, are but lent to us. Its 
substance is but an illusory shadow, and the things of to-day shall 
change on the morrow. Then gather the flowers from thy gardens to 
bind round thy brows and seize the joys of to-day. 

Nexahualcoyatl, like the Athenians of the time of St. 
Paul, erected a temple to the unknown god. He was a 
sort of Mexican David, and was like Solomon in that he 
loved beautiful women. He coveted the wife of one of 
his officers, and, even as David did to Uriah, he put 
this officer in the forefront of the battle and then took 
his widow to wife. Is it not strange how the lines of 
great lives, even though they be divided by ages of time, 
by thousands of miles of water and land, and even by 
136 


THE CULTURE OF THE AZTECS AND MAYAS 

worlds unknown one to the other, sometimes follow the 
same course? 

The story of Nexahualcoyatl's splendid palaces and 
manner of living reads like a page from the “Arabian 
Nights/' The principal residence of this king covered 
seventy-seven acres. In it were salons for scientists and 
poets, and he kept here the archives of the kingdom. His 
private apartments were hung with tapestry and cloth 
made of feathers. Its walls were of alabaster, and it had 
luxurious baths and gardens filled with flowers. Its ponds 
were stocked with fish, and there were aviaries containing 
the most gorgeous birds of Mexico and the South. It had 
three hundred rooms, some of them more than one hun¬ 
dred feet square. It took, it is said, two hundred thousand 
men to build this palace. In addition, the king had a 
number of country seats which had as many curious con¬ 
ceits as those of an American millionaire's palace of to-day. 
With his fine cooks, his literary labours, his professional 
dancers, and his hunting reserves, he seems to have led 
a happier life than many a monarch of modern times. 

I close this chapter with what this ancient philosopher 
of the New World had to say about death: 

The world is nothing but a sepulchre, and there is nothing that lives 
on its surface that shall not be beneath it. The things of yesterday 
are no more to-day, and the things of to-day shall cease, perhaps, on 
the morrow. The glories that have been, have all passed away like 
the fearful smoke that issues from the throat of Popocatapetl, with no 
other existence of a record than the page of a chronicler. The great, 
the wise, the valiant, and the beautiful! Alas, where are they now? 
That which has befallen them shall happen to us and to those that 
come after us. The horrors of the tomb are but the cradle of the sun 
and the dark shadows of death make only more brilliant the light of 
the stars. 


137 


CHAPTER XVII 


SOME MATTERS OF BUSINESS 

I T IS two o’clock in the afternoon and we are on the 
Avenida de Francisco I. Madero in the heart of the 
capital of Mexico. In Washington, Berlin, Paris, and 
London it is the busiest hour of the day. Here the 
streets are deserted, the stores are closed, and their show 
windows are covered with shutters of corrugated iron. 
The front doors of the chief business establishments are 
locked with great bolts, and the town makes one think of 
the dead city of Nijni-Novgorod on the Volga when the 
fair is not going on. 

What is the matter? 

Has revolution again broken loose and have the people 
fled for their lives? 

Nothing of the kind. These are the business conditions 
at two o’clock every week day all the year round. The 
stores, which have been open from eight until one, will 
open again from three until seven. They are closed now 
for lunch, and the whole city, merchants and clerks, 
salesmen and customers, have gone home for their midday 
meal and siesta. 

Stand with me on the corner and look up the street. 
An hour ago it was black with people, and the automobiles 
and carriages flew back and forth so that one crossed at 
the risk of his life. Now hardly a car or a coach is to be 
i 3 8 


SOME MATTERS OF BUSINESS 


seen and the only men in sight are the policemen who walk 
back and forth. 

Let us go down to the Plaza and wait till the street 
cars bring the people back from their homes. The Plaza 
is the centre to which nearly every electric line comes. 
At the rush hours the cars are run in trains, a dozen often 
being nose to tail on the same track. The midday traffic 
makes up a big part of the receipts, for nearly everyone 
goes home to lunch. 

But it is now three thirty p.m. The cars have emptied 
the clerks and customers into the stores, and once more 
business is well under way. Let us cross the Plaza and 
stroll through the arcades along its west side. The shops 
have goods of many descriptions behind their glass 
windows. The most interesting are those selling hats. 
They contain headgear of all sorts, from the latest men’s 
shapes from New York and London to the gigantic som¬ 
breros of plush and felt that the old-time Mexicans wear. 

Stop and look at some of them. Here is one as big 
around as a limousine tire. It is of bright red, trimmed 
with silver, and the band consists of eight strands of silver 
wire. The hat hanging above it is gray, appliqued with 
leather, and at the right and the left are two sombreros of 
black, laced back and forth with great bands of silver. 
There are hats as green as the wing of that parrot which 
the peddler has thrust under our eyes, and hats of plush 
snow-white with golden embroidery woven about them. 
Put on one of these sombreros and wrap yourself in a 
blanket and I will take your photograph to show you 
how you look in Mexican costume. I can tell you that 
your hat weighs several pounds and is worth forty dollars. 

Other clothing costs almost as much. We go into a 
139 


MEXICO 


tailor shop farther up the street, and look at some riding 
trousers of buckskin with solid silver buttons lining the 
seams. One pair costs twenty dollars, and that short 
roundabout jacket embroidered with silver is likewise ex¬ 
pensive. We enter a shop next door which has saddles 
and bridles with trappings of silver, and are told that a 
hacendado often spends several hundred dollars on his 
equestrian outfit. 

Now look up at the sign over the store in front of which 
we are standing. You may think those letters spell 
“Hats and Sombreros.” They do not. They read: 
“Puerto del Sol ',” or “Gate of the Sun.” A little farther 
on is a barber sign, “La Perla,” or “The Pearl,” and over 
the way a tobacconist sells cigars and cigarettes under the 
sign of “TheWhite Cat.” Some stores have such names as 
“Vesuvius,” “The Violets,” “The Pearl of the Occident,” 
“The White Rose,” “La Perfumista,” and “The Drinking 
Place to Hidalgo.” The old-fashioned Mexican never 
puts his own name over his store, but like the Chinese, 
chooses instead some fancy title that gives no indication 
of who he is or what he is selling. 

Some of the street names are quite as picturesque as 
these signs. For example, there is one called the “Love 
of God,” another is the “ Lost Child Street,” yet another 
is the “Sad Indian Street,” while a very narrow thorough¬ 
fare says to the visitor “ Pass If You Can.” The “Coffin- 
Makers’ Street” is given over to that brotherhood. The 
shops of a Mexican city are often grouped according to 
business or the goods sold. In the market district one side 
of a street may be lined with hat stores while the other is 
given up to candy-sellers. Some of the streets have side¬ 
walks so narrow that two people cannot pass on them, 
140 


SOME MATTERS OF BUSINESS 


and when the peon meets a man of a higher degree, the 
peon steps into the gutter. If two gentlemen meet there 
is often much bowing and scraping as to which one shall 
yield the way. 

There are cigar stores everywhere. From the lately 
weaned baby to the gray-haired old grown-up on the edge 
of the grave, nearly everyone in Mexico smokes cigars or 
cigarettes. This is true of both men and women. The 
country produces excellent tobacco, and cigars and ciga¬ 
rettes are sold cheaper here than at home. The cigarettes 
rolled in black paper look deadly, but the tobacco in them 
is mild and they are said to be good. 

The customers inside the native shops are as strange as 
the signs. Only the department stores and large shops 
have any fixed prices, and one is usually asked three times 
what the merchant expects. This applies especially to 
foreigners, whom the clerks are often allowed to charge 
what they please, receiving a percentage of all they can 
get over the regular price. Mexican merchants permit 
their employees to smoke while waiting on customers, and 
sometimes the clerks seem more interested in their ciga¬ 
rettes than in their sales. 

The Mexican business men have their own ways of do¬ 
ing things, which sometimes seem foolish to us; but they 
generally succeed and often grow wealthy. The percent¬ 
age of failures has for years been lower than in the United 
States. Our motto is usually: “Quick sales and small prof¬ 
its/' but the merchant of Mexico is more likely to insist 
on "big profits," no matter how slow the turnover. He 
holds his goods until he gets his price and bargain days 
are uncommon. He buys as much as he can on as long 
time as possible. His own sales are largely for cash, but 
141 


MEXICO 


he will hold out for long credits in placing his orders, no 
matter how much money he may have lying idle. I have 
found many who say that the Mexican merchant is apt 
to be sharp in his dealings but none who accuses him 
of not paying his bills. 

Mexico is one of Uncle Sam’s most valuable customers 
and she buys more from us than from any other nation. 
Every year more than half of the goods she imports come 
from the United States, while we take from Mexico about 
eighty per cent, of her exports. This has not always 
been so, as prior to the great inflow of American capital 
the European countries used to get the bulk of the trade. 
Germans and Frenchmen still have a large share of the big 
business, but American goods form the greater part of the 
annual turnover. 

An American of long residence in Mexico was speaking 
to-day about the sale of our goods. Said he: 

“ I am sick and tired of all this talk about Americans 
not knowing how to do business with Mexico and of how 
they are beaten by the British, the French, and the Ger¬ 
mans. The truth is our people are selling more here than 
all of the other nations put together. Americans have 
come into Mexico by the tens of thousands, following in the 
trail of our enormous investments. They have sent home 
for goods of all kinds and thus showed the Mexicans what 
the United States has to offer. 

“They have equipped the mines, the oil wells, and many 
big ranches with our machinery, tools, and supplies, and 
have brought down from the States countless other articles 
we use at home. When the Mexican sees the American ar¬ 
ticle is superior to his, he loses no time in adopting it. The 
European merchants prefer to sell goods from their own 
142 



The best city shops sell enormous felt hats, heavy with silver spangles 
and braid and costing forty dollars or more, but the cheap straws worn by 
the peons are sold by street peddlers all over the country. 











Women and children do most of the church-going in Mexico, though 
the people are devout and support an immense number of places of wor¬ 
ship. Usually the church doors are kept open all day. 









SOME MATTERS OF BUSINESS 


countries, but unless they are willing to let someone else 
have the business they are forced to supply the United 
States goods which their customers want. 

“I remember some years ago meeting a bright young 
man sent down to Tampico by the United States govern¬ 
ment. He was greatly disturbed to find the Germans had 
all the hardware business, which, on account of the pur¬ 
chases of the oil companies, runs into big figures. I under¬ 
took to prove to him that Europeans might be doing the 
selling but that their goods came from American factories, 
and took him to call on the biggest German firm in the 
city. You have seen the machetes, or long knives, the 
peon’s universal weapon and tool. I offered to buy every 
machete in the establishment not from the States. We 
looked over the stock, and all were made in Connecticut. 
Asking for small tools, we found that all bore the name of 
a firm in Massachusetts. This store sells pipe by the 
mile to the oil companies, but the owner admitted that it 
all comes from the States. 

“At this point the trade investigator asked if the firm 
sold any mouse traps and found that the whole stock on 
hand came from St. Louis, where he lived, and from the 
very factory he had in mind. About the only German 
goods in this German store were pieces of cheap, imitation 
silverware. 

“What is true of machetes and mouse traps is equally 
true of other lines. The Frenchmen, who control much 
of the business in men’s furnishings, carry collars and 
garters manufactured in the United States, while most 
well-to-do Mexicans wear American shoes. The native 
ox-cart is being replaced by wagons from the Mississippi 
Valley and motor trucks from Detroit, and American cars 
M3 


MEXICO 


are taking the place of the French and the Italian auto¬ 
mobiles which the fashionables of Mexico City formerly 
bought.” 

The Mexican takes more time for his business than 
we do, and he always has time to be polite. He usually 
shakes hands and inquires for the health of the merchant’s 
family before proceeding to buy or to sell. The American 
sales letter, so esteemed in some of our commercial houses, 
horrifies him. He is so punctilious and formal that he 
often uses in place of our “Yours truly” the initials 
S.S.S.Q.B.S.M. They stand for: “Su seguro servidor, que 
besa su mano,” which literally translated is, “Your faith¬ 
ful servant, who kisses your hand.” 

There are now many American business establishments 
in the Mexican capital, and most of them have fixed 
prices marked in plain figures. Among the finest are the 
jewellery stores. They are filled with gold and silver 
trinkets from Paris and with precious stones of all kinds. 
I find them in almost every block, and along the Avenida 
de Francisco I. Madero some which would be a credit to 
New York or Chicago. There are also American groceries, 
dry goods stores, and hardware houses. 

The curio shops are interesting. They sell Mexican 
drawn-work, stamped-leather pocketbooks, mantillas and 
laces, and Spanish fans. The gorgeous serapes, or Mexican 
blankets, are always displayed, but one should be careful 
to get the real thing, and not one poorly dyed or mixed 
with horsehair, “made in Germany.” The best serapes 
are woven throughout of good Mexican wool, and coloured 
with brilliant vegetable dyes. 

Nearly every curio dealer has a half peck or so of opals, 
which he sells by the piece or the handful, according to 
144 


SOME MATTERS OF BUSINESS 


quality. Some of the stones are beautiful, and an espe¬ 
cially fine one will bring one hundred dollars and upward. 
Others which may reflect all the colours of the rainbow 
are bunched together and sold at a few dollars a pint. The 
reputable dealers sell only “seasoned stones/’ or those 
that have been tested for flaws. But there are many 
tricks in this opal trade. The peddler at the railroad sta¬ 
tion may substitute a poor stone for a good one just as the 
train pulls out. Soft opals are easily scratched, so that 
they become dull and lifeless. The sharper sometimes 
soaks a cracked opal in oil, which fills in the crevices and 
makes the stone appear perfect until it dries out. The 
best are the fire opals, which are also called “precious 
opals,” on account of the variety and the beauty of their 
colouring. 

As to the nationality of the men who are doing the retail 
business here, Americans own most of the stores selling 
curios, the French have the fine dry goods business, and 
the Germans sell most of the hardware and drugs. As a 
rule the German merchants speak Spanish and not a few 
of them have Mexican wives. The Spaniards hold some¬ 
what the same place that the Italians do in the United 
States. They have the corner groceries, and they also 
peddle goods all over the country. Some of them stay 
only a short time, and then go back to Spain to spend 
what they have made. 

Nine tenths of the business of the country is done in 
small shops and by Mexicans, although the west coast 
towns have many Chinese retailers. Every city has hun¬ 
dreds of peddlers in its markets and about the market- 
houses one will find booths selling fancy work, pottery, 
shoes, cheap dry goods, and fancy gimcracks. 

M5 


MEXICO 


A business that flourishes continually is the sale of 
lottery tickets. Every time I go outside my hotel I meet 
a lottery-ticket peddler. He is a native, six feet tall and 
broad in proportion. Over his shoulders he has a bright- 
coloured blanket and on his head a sombrero as big as an 
umbrella. He wears also a red shirt and trousers and a 
brown jacket gaily embroidered. This representative of 
Dame Fortune walks up and down Sixteenth of September 
Street all day long and begs one to buy. There are many 
lottery-ticket sellers about the Cathedral and also at the 
entrance to the ring of the Plaza de Toros. 

Beggars are common throughout the Republic, and they 
are especially bothersome in Mexico City. Their whin¬ 
ing voices are everywhere heard, but they can always 
be turned away with the words, “ Perdoneme por Dios,” 
or “ Pardon me in the name of God.” Sometimes children 
are taught to beg from their earliest years and are com¬ 
pelled to give up whatever they may get to their parents 
who often spend it in the nearest pulqueria. Clothing 
is generally pawned, for the average begger would rather 
do without clothes than lack cigarettes or drink. 


146 



On Ash Wednesday thousands of Indians climb the stone steps to 
the shrine on the sacred mountain of Amecameca. It is dedicated to a 
holy friar and contains an ancient pith image of the Virgin. 











Just after planting-time some Indians carry images of the Madonna 
out to bless the coming crops. In remote country districts the priest 
blesses bagfuls of worms so that when returned to the soil they may spread 
a “Christian” influence among their fellows. 




CHAPTER XVIII 


HANGING JUDAS ISCARIOT 

E lSTER is the gayest day of the year in Mexico. 
The streets of the capital are alive with colour, 
there is a great bull-fight in the Plaza de Toros, 
the theatres are open for matinee and evening per¬ 
formances, and Judas Iscariot is hanged again and again 
in all parts of the city. This hanging of Judas is a custom 
observed throughout the country. It was originated to 
give the Indian converts to Christianity a chance to vent 
their rage upon the traitor to Christ. In the cities it has 
now become a mere show for the children. 

Here at the Mexican capital images of Judas, made in 
all shapes and sizes, are peddled about the streets in ad¬ 
vance of the celebration. They range in price from a 
few cents to a number of dollars, the larger ones being 
often filled with firecrackers and other explosives, which 
go off and blow Judas to pieces. Some bear such mottoes 
as: “I am the Devil’s son. Blow me to Hell.” 

These big Judas figures, which are made as ugly as 
possible, have ropes attached to them and are dragged 
about the streets. They are knocked about this way and 
that until their owners think they have sufficiently shown 
their disgust and contempt, and then they are taken up 
and hanged. Sometimes a rope is stretched across the 
street, from the second-story windows of the houses, in 
such a way that Judas hangs from the middle, or a flag 
147 


MEXICO 


staff is put out with Judas dangling at the end of it. Both 
children and grown-ups mob the effigy, throwing stones 
at it or pelting it with mud. 

Some of the figures are stuffed with candies and presents 
for the children, but in such cases they are usually hung 
inside the patios of the houses, where the little ones can 
keep the sweets for themselves. There are also merchants 
who advertise by hanging above their stores Judases 
filled with firecrackers and trashy articles of one kind or 
other. When the firecrackers explode, the contents of 
the figures are scattered over the sidewalk and the crowd 
scrambles for them. 

Easter Sunday is very popular here on account of the 
rigid way in which the Mexicans observe Lent. During 
that time all festivities are prohibited. The Church will 
not celebrate the sacrament of marriage, and many of the 
women put off their fine clothes and wear only black. 
Even the churches are draped in black and the gorgeous 
altars have sable mantles over their beautiful decorations 
of gold, silver, and lace. Every good Christian is supposed 
to go to church, and all of the women and the Indians 
do so. The church bells ring from morning till night, and 
have awakened me before daybreak by their din. 

This continues until Palm Sunday, when the Indians 
bring in palms by the thousand and crosses woven of 
palms are everywhere sold. Some of these crosses are 
from six to ten feet in length and some are so small that 
I can hold them in the hollow of my hand. Some are not 
more than two inches wide, being made of the finest fibres 
of palm. Others are of the whole leaves, and often a single 
large palm cross will sell for five dollars. These palms are 
blessed by the priests and are carried home to be tied to 
148 


HANGING JUDAS ISCARIOT 

the front balconies, there to remain until the next Palm 
Sunday. 

Good Friday has its own special services, and in the 
afternoon and evening of that day the churches are dark 
and the worshippers engage in silent prayer. The last 
of the ceremonies come on Saturday at noon, when the 
choirs sing the “Gloria” to organ accompaniments. At 
the same time the black draperies are stripped from the 
altars and the bells are rung. After this the gaieties com¬ 
mence. 

The superstitions of the Indians, which led them to have 
fantastic dances and shows during Lent and at Easter time 
have been discouraged. One of the strangest of these shows 
was the Passion Play, which used to be given with great 
feeling all over the country. The Mexicans called it the 
Three Falls of Christ, and it represented the stations of 
the cross on the way to the Crucifixion. A figure of the 
Christ, robed in red velvet and gaudy with gold lace, was 
taken in a car through the streets and at intervals made 
to fall on its face. These stops were the signals for ha¬ 
rangues from the priest. In the car with the figure was a 
real live Mexican Indian bearing a heavy cross and taking 
the part of Simon of Cyrene. His costume usually con¬ 
sisted of red cotton coat and trousers, set off with white 
lace at cuffs, collar, and vest, and completed by a flat red 
turban and white lace pantalettes. After the “three 
falls” the figure of the Christ was crucified. In the early 
days of this Passion Play Indians took the part of Christ, 
but as their hands and feet were often actually pierced with 
nails, sometimes with fatal results, the use of figures was 
substituted. 

It is not long since many of the churches had a ceremony 
149 


MEXICO 


of washing the feet of beggars. This occurred on Holy 
Thursday, when twelve of the oldest beggars of the parish 
were given seats near the church altar. An attendant 
then brought water in a basin, and the priest, taking off 
the sandals of the beggars, cleansed their feet. After 
this he anointed them with oil, and then turned them 
loose to go on with their begging. This ceremony was 
very like the washing of the feet of the Twelve Apostles, 
celebrated by the Greek Church every Easter in front 
of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. I 
have seen the latter ceremony, but in that case the Greek 
Patriarch did the washing and it was the feet of bishops 
and not those of beggars that were washed. 

I doubt whether there are any people more supersti¬ 
tious or more devout than the Mexican masses. The 
Indians here were converted wholesale at the time of the 
Conquest, and their religion of to-day is still mixed with 
the superstitions of the Aztecs. 


150 



%w>m 

mam 


Many pilgrims to Guadalupe, the most popular shrine in all Mexico, 
pay their expenses by cooking and selling tiny cakes, called “little fat 
ones of the Virgin.” The Indians eat these cakes in huge quantities. 







The church of Guadalupe enshrines a picture of the Virgin which ap¬ 
peared miraculously on an Indian’s blanket. The church is built on 
the spot where she came to the peon and commanded that a temple be 
built here in her honour. 



The spring at Guadalupe is supposed to have burst forth at the Vir¬ 
gin’s command. Pilgrims fill bottles with its waters and half the nation 
has drunk from the copper dippers chained to the rail. 










CHAPTER XIX 


THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE 

O NE of the best places to see how earnest the 
i Indians are in their worship is at the Shrine 
f of Guadalupe, situated about three miles from 
the Cathedral of Mexico City and accessible 
by street cars. I have spent several days in moving about 
among the thousands of Indians who come there to wor¬ 
ship. 

The shrine was built because of a miracle, said to have 
been performed there by the Virgin Mary about four hun¬ 
dred years ago. One bright December morning when 
Juan Diego, a poor Indian peasant, was on his way to 
worship at a church farther on, he crossed the rocky, arid 
hill where the shrine now stands. As he reached it he 
was confronted by a beautiful woman who told him that 
she was the Blessed Virgin and that she wished the Mex¬ 
ican people to build a church on the spot where she stood. 
Juan was commanded to report this to the bishop. He 
did so, but was disbelieved. 

The next day he came again, and again the Virgin met 
him and called him her son and repeated her wish to 
have the church built. She then said that she would give 
him a sign to convince the bishop that he was telling the 
truth. She bade him go to the top of the hill and bring 
back an armful of the roses he would find growing there. 
Juan knew that the hill was a rocky desert, covered only 

151 


MEXICO 


with cactus, but he went, and lo, the hilltop was a bed 
of beautiful flowers! He took the blanket, or tilma , 
from his shoulders and filled it with blossoms. As the 
Virgin directed, he carried them to the bishop and repeated 
his story, spreading the flowers out on the ground. At 
the same time he held up his mantle, and behold, the por¬ 
trait of the Virgin appeared painted upon it. 

It was then known that a miracle had been performed 
and the news went far and wide. The bishop ordered 
that a chapel be built and in it was placed the holy pic¬ 
ture. The miraculous painting is now enshrined in a gold- 
and-silver frame in the high altar of marble and bronze in 
the great stone church. The tilma is a coarse-fibre cloth on 
which much of the colouring of the picture remains. The 
blue robe and the pink skirt of the Virgin are especially 
well preserved. 

On Coronation Day and on December 12th is exhibited 
the great golden crown of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It 
is encrusted with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, and 
was subscribed by the women of Mexico from their own 
jewels. At other times the crown is kept in a steel safe, 
but a tip to the sacristan gave me a view of it. It weighs 
thirty pounds and is nearly three feet in diameter. 

Every peasant knows of this shrine, and the pilgrims 
come by the hundreds of thousands to visit it, particularly 
on the great feast day of December 12th. The railroad 
officials tell me that the travel to it materially increases 
the receipts of the roads, and that it is a traffic asset 
worth several hundred thousand dollars a year. 

I wish you could see the Indians as they crawl up the 
hill on their knees to visit the place where Juan found the 
roses Halfway up are the Stone Sails of Guadalupe. 

152 


THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE 


More than two centuries ago some sailors caught in a 
storm prayed to the Virgin, promising that if they came 
out alive they would carry the foremast and sails of their 
ship to this hill. After their safe landing they took their 
rigging on their shoulders from Vera Cruz to Guadalupe, 
where they set it up, building around it for protection 
against the weather the covering of stone which still 
stands. 

Next to the church itself, the most celebrated place in 
Mexico is the Chapel of the Well near by. Here, below 
the pavement, is a spring of sulphur which boils and bub¬ 
bles within its walls of wet stone. The waters, believed 
to have sprung up on the place where the Virgin stood, 
contain sulphur, magnesia, and potash. They smell like 
venerable eggs. There is a grating over the well, and 
upon it are copper dippers fastened to chains, which the 
pilgrims let down to draw up the water. There are no 
individual cups and year after year processions of hundreds 
of thousands of pilgrims drink from the same old dippers. 

But suppose we go into the church. It is filled with 
Indians, girls and boys and women and men. All are 
on their knees and all hold candles, the flames of which 
make a smoke so thick that it half hides the altar. These 
are bought by the worshippers from the dozens of peddlers 
outside, who sell rosaries as well. The candles are of all 
sizes from that of your finger to that of your leg, and 
range in price from ten cents to several dollars. 

Some of the worshippers are gathered in knots down on 
the floor. They are kissing small squares of crystal glass 
containing saintly relics. Some even lay their babies on 
the glass, uttering pious exclamations as they do so. 
Many are seeking cures for their ailments, and in the 
153 


MEXICO 


church there are displayed on panels of black cloth, tiny 
silver feet, legs, and arms offered by pilgrims who have 
been made whole. 

On all Sundays and feast days there are crowds in the 
church, but on the 12th of December both church and 
village are packed almost to suffocation. Then, it is 
said, forty thousand pilgrims visit Guadalupe, which is to 
these Indians what Mecca is to the Mohammedans, Nikko 
to the Japanese, or the Ganges to the Hindoos. Often the 
shriners come afoot, bringing along pottery, blankets, and 
home-made knick-knacks, which they sell on the road or 
'in stands set up in the plaza before the church. Among 
the specialties are little biscuits made of a certain kind of 
large-grained corn and called “ little fat ones of the Virgin." 

A strange religious observance here in Mexico City is 
the “blessing of the animals" at the Church of Saint 
Anthony the Abbot in the midst of one of the poorest sec¬ 
tions. On that Saint's feast day the churchyard is alive 
with goats, burros, parrots, sheep, pigs, and cows. All 
the animals are decorated with bright ribbons and papers 
and some are actually painted in all colours of the rainbow. 
Even old hens and geese appear with brilliant ribbons tied 
in bows about their necks. As the church bell sounds 
the priest appears. The people then rush forward with 
their pets and beasts of burden so as to get the drops of 
holy water and the blessing that will make their charges 
docile and “Christian" and keep them in good health 
throughout the rest of the year. In some of the country 
districts the priests bless bagfuls of worms, ants, and other 
enemies of the farmer so that when returned to the fields 
they may spread the right influence among their fellows 
and thus induce them to leave the crops alone. 

154 


CHAPTER XX 


CHURCH AND STATE IN MEXICO 

T HE Mexican government now insists that there 
shall be an absolute separation of Church and 
State. It forbids church processions throughout 
the country. No one is allowed to wear clerical 
garb on the street, and here one does not see monks with 
tonsured heads, wearing sandals and long gowns, as in 
some other of the Latin American republics. 

The great break between Church and State began 
before the time of President Juarez, but it was first put 
in force by him in 1857. At that time all the church 
property was confiscated and all the members of the re¬ 
ligious societies, from the Jesuits to the Sisters of Charity, 
who taught in the schools and served as nurses in the 
hospitals, were sent out of the country. For a while even 
the ringing of the church bells was prohibited by law, and 
all religious parades outside the churches were forbidden. 

Although the long gown and the clerical hat are not seen 
on the streets, one can readily tell the priests by their 
suits of black broadcloth, their high cravats, straight col¬ 
lars, and tall silk hats, while the nuns are easily known 
by their heads. As to the religious processions, they have 
been practically abolished. 

Priests and even high dignitaries of the Church who 
have defied the law have frequently been arrested and 
sometimes expelled from the country. Recently even the 
155 


MEXICO 


Pope's own special delegate was sent out of Mexico. He 
assisted in the ceremonies of laying the cornerstone of a 
statue of Christ on the summit of Mont Cubilete. In 
Mexico priests may not hold religious services of any 
kind in the open air or anywhere except in places of worship 
supervised by the authorities. On this occasion a tent 
was put up for the cornerstone laying, but this was viewed 
by the authorities as an attempt to get around the law. 
The clergy are also forbidden to criticize the fundamental 
laws or the authorities; they have no vote, are ineligible for 
political office, and cannot assemble for political purposes. 
No new church may be built without government per¬ 
mission. In Carranza’s time the authorities removed 
from the churches the screens of the confessionals and 
the priests were forbidden to hear confessions in secret. 
Beautiful old hand-carved wooden screens were allowed 
to stand in the open for months. In some districts, 
where the local officials are less hostile to the clergy, they 
have not interfered with the priests in restoring the confes¬ 
sionals. 

Although the Mexican government insists that the 
Roman Catholic shall not be the state church, the officials 
realize that it has a strong hold on the people and in times 
of stress the church dignitaries are often asked to help re¬ 
store order. In one of the revolutionary disturbances the 
Secretary of the Interior asked that the Pope be requested 
to issue a peace decree, and in the Catholic churches 
throughout the country a special mass was said for divine 
intervention. At the same hour the papal father cele¬ 
brated mass and joined in the prayers for the restoration 
of peace. 

The Mexican people are really Catholics, and the 
156 


CHURCH AND STATE IN MEXICO 

great majority of them believe in their religion. I am 
told that there are eleven thousand churches and chapels 
in the Republic, and I find a cathedral in nearly every 
city I visit. 

The Church is supposed to be enormously wealthy. 
At the time of the Juarez confiscations it had property 
amounting to three hundred million dollars and owned 
almost nine thousand estates. It had more than twenty- 
two thousand lots in Mexico City which alone were worth 
more than one hundred million dollars, and it had property 
scattered here and there throughout the land. When 
Juarez made the law of confiscation effective, a great part 
of this property was sold at auction to the highest bidders. 
It is said that those who bought risked the disfavour of 
the Church, and that many took over the properties and 
held them in trust so that it got them back. Others 
turned over to it the difference between the auction price 
and what the property would have brought under other 
conditions, and in this way the Church regained many 
of its millions. By the new law marriage was valid only 
through a civil contract, but no well-to-do woman in 
Mexico thinks of herself as really married unless she has 
the sanction of the Church for her wedding, and no priest 
would perform the ceremony for a family who had ac¬ 
quired church property unless some restitution was made. 

I do not know how much has been spent on church 
buildings in Mexico but the sum must run high into the 
hundreds of millions. The Christian religion was brought 
here just twenty-five years after Columbus discovered the 
New World, and the early Spaniards prided themselves on 
their support of the Church. A goodly share of all the 
gold and silver taken out of the mines was donated to the 
157 


MEXICO 


cause of religion, and every cathedral was a treasure vault 
filled with ornaments of silver and gold. There is a 
church at Chihuahua which cost six hundred thousand 
dollars and was built through a tax of twenty-five cents 
on every pound of silver produced in that neighbourhood. 
The cathedral in Zacatecas was erected out of a tax levied 
on the silver mines under the city; and its income was so 
great that Europe was ransacked for pictures and orna¬ 
ments to decorate it; for it could afford the best. It has 
a font of solid silver which cost more than fifty thousand 
dollars and in Spanish times it was ablaze with gold and 
silver candelabra and with cloths of woven gold. An¬ 
other church in Zacatecas had an altar of gold, and one 
at Queretaro had a gold altar which was destroyed by the 
French. 

The Catholic priests have done much for Mexico. In 
the Spanish Conquest the sword went along with the cross. 
Priests came with Cortes, and the friars and Jesuits sailed 
in the first ships that followed him. All through the in¬ 
terior of the country and even into the far southwest of 
what is now the United States, the devout friars, with a 
soldier or two for guards and messengers, gathered the 
Indians into their missions and taught them the principles 
of the Christian religion. Until the time of the Mexican 
independence, all education was in the hands of the priests, 
and in the early days of the Republic the schools were 
continued by them. But the Reform laws of Juarez made 
education a state matter, and even compulsory attendance 
laws were passed, although for lack of teachers and 
facilities they could not be carried out. In the recent 
decade of revolution the Protestant missionary schools as 
well as the Catholic schools were closed, and now there is 
i 5 8 



One reason that Mexico is a land of churches is the fact that in the 
old days men, made suddenly rich by mines, erected churches as thank 
offerings. Hundreds of peons worked without wages to build them. 














In the church of San Francisco, founded at Tlaxcala in 1521, is the 
first pulpit from which the gospel was preached in the New World. Here 
also four Indian chiefs, the first converts, were baptized, with Cortes 
as godfather. 
































CHURCH AND STATE IN MEXICO 

a great opposition to education under religious control of 
any sort. To-day less than a tenth of the people have 
a common school education and eighty per cent, cannot 
read a street sign or write their own names. 

Under the Constitution of 1917, “No religious corpora¬ 
tion or minister of any religious creed” is permitted to 
establish or direct primary schools. Churches may not 
acquire, hold, or administer real property. Places of 
public worship are declared to be the property of the 
federal government, which determines which of them 
may continue to be devoted to their present purpose. 
The Mexican government has asserted its rights by turn¬ 
ing church buildings of all sorts into barracks for soldiers, 
offices, and even residences for its officials. 

The Catholic Church still has a great hold upon the 
people. Ninety-five per cent, of the grown-up men and 
women of Mexico belong to it and it is the universal faith 
of the Indians. The ceremonies and the ritual of Cathol¬ 
icism appeal to the natives more than the simpler forms 
of Protestantism, and in Mexico the field of missionary 
work can be better cultivated by the Catholics than by the 
Protestants. The Catholics are gradually adopting the 
newer methods of that Church in other countries. The 
Knights of Columbus have organizations in many of the 
cities. They have evening classes for industrial and busi¬ 
ness courses and are opening employment bureaus. Some 
of the churches are establishing Sunday-schools and some 
of the church schools are adding playgrounds to their 
equipment. 

Though the Protestant missionaries have worked long 
and earnestly here, Protestantism has never gained much 
headway in Mexico. Besides, the field is large and these 
159 


MEXICO 


churches have only one missionary to every twenty thou¬ 
sand of the population. This compares with one Catholic 
priest for every three thousand Mexicans. In the United 
States there is one priest or clergyman to every one hun¬ 
dred and fifty-three church members. The Baptists are 
represented in Mexico by the American Baptist Home 
Mission Society and by the foreign missionary board of 
the Southern Baptist Convention. The Presbyterians 
have many church buildings, boarding and day schools, 
and a number of missions. The Methodist Episcopal 
Church has a number of native teachers and preachers 
and reports twelve thousand adherents. The last census 
showed that of the religious population only some seventy 
thousand are Protestants. 


160 


CHAPTER XXI 


THE BULL-FIGHT 

T HIS afternoon I saw six magnificent bulls and 
twelve old horses tortured to death amid the clap¬ 
ping and shouting of twenty thousand Mexican 
spectators. The bull-fight was held in the Plaza 
de Toros, within a rifle shot of Chapultepec, and an equal 
distance of the mighty Cathedral. This bull-ring, it is 
claimed, is the biggest in the world, and with its seats ris¬ 
ing in concentric circles from the arena in which the 
fighting goes on it reminds one of the amphitheatres of 
old Rome. Altogether it covers acres, and its seating 
capacity is just about one fourth that of the Colosseum. 
It will hold seven thousand more than the largest bull-ring 
in Madrid The ring is built of American steel and cost 
seven hundred thousand dollars. It is the best patronized 
of all the places of amusement in the Mexican capital, and 
the box receipts of to-day must have been at least twenty- 
five thousand dollars. The holiday fights often net thirty 
thousand. 

At the fight this afternoon there were at least twenty 
thousand spectators. The amphitheatre was filled from 
ring to roof with a more enthusiastic throng than you will 
find at a championship American baseball game. 

The crowd consisted of all ages and conditions of men. 
I saw well-dressed boys and girls of six and ten who 
shrieked their applause as the horns of the bulls gored deep 
161 


MEXICO 


into the horses. I saw delicate young ladies in new gowns 
from Paris, who split their white kid gloves in their clap¬ 
ping, and gaily dressed dudes who fairly burst their spat- 
covered patent leather shoes as they stamped in applause 
of the death stroke of the matador. There were also thou¬ 
sands of the common people, ranging from the Indian in 
his sandals and blanket to the country member of the 
Chamber of Deputies, from wrinkled old women in black 
shawls to young maids in mantillas, all forming, as it were, 
a great human flower garden rising from the arena to the 
top seats near the skies. 

In addition to the spectators were the officials, on hand 
to direct the fighting and give the signals to start. There 
was a brass band which burst forth with triumphal marches 
from time to time as the fighting went on, and a company 
of soldiers with rifles and bayonets ready to shoot at a 
signal if any sign of disorder broke out. 

I sat in the shade and my place on the steps cost me 
four dollars. The fights always take place in the after¬ 
noon when the sun is declining, so that one half of the 
seats are in the shade and the others in the full glare. 
The shady seats are reserved and the sunny ones corre¬ 
spond to the bleachers of our baseball stands. Some of 
the box seats cost as much as those for a grand opera. 

Further on I give some notes as I whispered them into 
the ear of my stenographer as the bull-fighting went on 
in the arena below me. The scene was a horrible one, 
as disgusting, I should think, as any of the gladiatorial 
shows on the banks of the Tiber during the days of Ca¬ 
ligula and Nero. Nevertheless, even women waved their 
handkerchiefs and applauded as the blood flowed from 
the animals, reminding me of the Roman matrons who 
162 



Shaded roads lead through the forest reserve in which is the old mon¬ 
astery of El Desierto. The monks who built it chose the best of land 
for its site, and according to at least one seventeenth-century author, 
they lived anything but self-denying lives in their retreat. 












Mexico City has the world’s largest bull-ring, where fights are opened 
with an elaborate ceremonial that includes a parade of the performers, 
from the stars of the day to the attendants told off to drag out the dead 
animals. 



Sometimes the barbs hurled into the bull’s neck are equipped with 
tiny bombs which explode in his flesh, so that to the delight of the crowd 
he attacks his tormentors more fiercely than ever. 











THE BULL-FIGHT 


turned down their thumbs and condemned men to be de¬ 
voured by the lions. 

The worst feature was the torture of the horses, which 
the bulls were tormented into killing. The picadors, 
gaily dressed men upon horseback, rode in with great 
lances which they thrust at the bull and now and then 
drove into his shoulders. Maddened by their spears, a 
bull would dash at them and their mounts, and actually 
rip to shreds with his horns the scrawny, worn-out steeds. 
At times a single thrust would wound a horse almost to 
death. Gored again and again, he would be spurred and 
whipped to his feet and made to continue until finally 
killed. Each horse was blindfolded in one eye with a band 
of red flannel and the other eye was kept turned away from 
the bull so that the horse could not see the enraged beast 
rushing down upon him with its terrible horns. 

Now suppose yourself sitting beside me in the Plaza de 
Toros looking at this amusement which is the favourite 
of all the Mexican people. We are close to the officials, 
between the ranks of the armed soldiers, about half-a-dozen 
rows above the arena. The band is over there at the right. 
The bull-fighters are coming. Some are on foot and some 
are on horseback. The police officers of the ring are 
mounted on capering stallions. The plumes of their hats 
wave as they ride around the arena, keeping time to the 
music of the band. Their horses are different from the 
ones the picadors will ride during the fighting. Behind 
come the matadors, the real bull-fighters, three walking 
abreast. They are gorgeous in gold lace, gold braid, pink 
knee-breeches, and beaded slippers. They have cloaks 
over their shoulders, reminding one of the feudal knights 
of the stage. They are the stars of the show and the 
163 


MEXICO 


spectators clap their hands as they strut through the 
ring. 

Then come the banderilleros, with their barbed arrows, 
and finally the picadors in broad-brimmed hats, short vel¬ 
vet jackets, and breeches of light yellow leather. The 
picadors have gay scarfs about their waists, frilled shirt 
fronts, and gold waistcoats. 

The procession is ended by the ring servants, sometimes 
called “the wise monkeys,” who attend to the horses and 
clean up the ring after the fight, followed by the mule 
teams, gaily caparisoned, which, three abreast, drag the 
dead bulls and dead horses away at the end of each act. 

The cavalcade goes round while the band plays, and as 
the music stops the bull-fighters and torturers take their 
places. Then the drum beats and a trumpet sounds. We 
follow the eyes of the audience. They are turned toward 
that door in the walls of the ring. See, it has opened and 
the bull rushes through! As it does so a man leans over 
and drives into its shoulder, up to the hilt, a dagger from 
which flutter bright-coloured ribbons. 

The bull snorts with rage. It paws the sand of the 
arena, and then, seeing the matador waving a red blanket, 
goes on the rush, with head down, to wipe him from the 
face of the earth. The matador leaps off to one side, 
and the head of the bull is lost in the blanket. The 
beast now catches sight of another man with a purple 
shawl and rushes for him. It runs this way and that, 
its tormentors leaping out of the way, or, if crowded too 
closely, jumping over the walls into the space between the 
ring and the seats. Now the bull stops a moment and 
one of the picadors rides gaily toward it pointing his lance. 
The bull rushes at the horse and drives its horns into its 
164 


THE BULL-FIGHT 


belly. The horse falls; its bowels gush out, and the picador 
narrowly escapes by crawling over the fence. The throng 
is delighted at the sight of first blood. 

Now the bull sees a second horse on the opposite side of 
the ring and rushes that way. It carries the animal to 
the ground and then makes for the picador. See, the 
great black beast is goring him! It has torn a piece from 
his thigh and the man escapes only because the matador 
has thrown his blanket over the eyes of the bull while some 
of the other fighters drag the wounded man to the wall. 

The band breaks out once more. There is a blast 
at every new rush of the bull, and the music keeps time 
to the fight. After a while the bull tires. It is desperate 
at its failures to kill its tormentors. It is now further 
enraged by the banderilleros, of whom there are three. 
Each is armed with two sticks of ash about a yard long 
tipped at the end with steel barbs. These barbs are like 
harpoons or fish-hooks, each being attached to a long 
shaft decorated with bright-coloured paper. 

The banderilleros stand in front of the bull and taunt 
it with the harpoons. As it rushes at them they jump 
this way and that, and, watching their chance, thrust the 
barbs deep into its shoulders. Only the shafts stick out, 
bobbing this way and that, as the animal runs. The 
blood flows from its shoulders to its feet in great red 
splotches. 

Each man does his work, and at the end there are six 
of these terrible shafts torturing the bull at every motion 
it makes. Sometimes, to make it more angry and in¬ 
crease the pain, firecrackers or other explosives are fastened 
to the barbs, so that they burst and burn inside the flesh 
and a mist of smoke and blood rises. The panic-stricken 
165 


MEXICO 

bull leaps into the air. The crowd laughs and shouts over 
its antics. 

Now take a look at the crowd. The walls of humanity 
that surround the arena are alive with enthusiasm and 
shouting. Thousands of handkerchiefs are waving, and 
the clapping and the stamping and the cheering go on. 
The band continues to play, and as the enraged and tor¬ 
tured animal again rushes after its prey, the uproar in¬ 
creases. This continues for ten minutes, and then the bull 
seems to tire. 

It is now time for the final act, and the throng howls for 
the matador who is to drive his sword into the bull and 
give the death blow. This is the critical time of the fight 
and the people almost pant with excitement. The mat¬ 
ador teases the bull and tries to get it in just the position 
where he can drive his sword between the shoulders, right 
to the heart. He plays with the bull, making it rush this 
way and that, and finally points the sword at the level of 
its shoulder and, running his eye along the blade, aims 
at the point he wishes to strike. He tries again and again 
to give just the right thrust, and as he fails the crowd jeers. 

He takes a new sword and this time succeeds in driving 
it in up to the hilt. Nevertheless, the bull charges again. 
It has a yard of steel through its body, but it makes one 
final effort to annihilate its tormentors, only to stagger and 
fall. As it does so the band strikes up once more and the 
blood-maddened spectators cheer. 

In comes a team of three white mules in gay trappings. 
They are harnessed to the horns of the dead bull and 
drag it out on the run to the sound of the music and the 
shouts of the multitude. 

This, in brief, is the sport which I saw repeated again 

166 



The matador is poised for the death thrust. He must plunge his 
sword to the hilt into the bull’s body at just the right spot, and in the 
same instant escape the animal’s lunge forward. 

















The Mexicans of all classes enjoy a picnic day in the country. Music 
is a feature of these occasions, which usually end in singing and dancing 
to their somewhat melancholy harmonies. 



The peon loves a cockfight and will watch with delight two half- 
plucked roosters in a ring, picking at each other and stabbing with knife- 
edged steel spurs until one of them falls dead. 






THE BULL-FIGHT 

and again in six acts this afternoon. Each act resulted in 
the killing after prolonged torture of a splendid bull and 
two horses. Nevertheless, the butchers were heroes in 
the eyes of the crowd, and the more brutal their actions 
the greater the cheering. The most talked-of man in 
Mexico City is always the chief matador, and his pictures 
sell at the rate of one hundred to one in comparison with 
those of any other celebrity. 

Bull-fighting is the favourite sport of the Spaniards and 
the Latin-Americans. You will find bull-rings in nearly 
all of the Mexican cities. There are big ones at Lima, 
Peru, and other South American capitals. The bull-ring 
at Madrid will seat thirteen thousand, that of Valencia 
seats more than sixteen thousand, while the one at Mur¬ 
cia accommodates seventeen thousand five hundred. 

In Mexican towns the bull-ring is generally municipal 
property and it may be rented for such entertainments. 
In some cases, the amphitheatre belongs to the local hos¬ 
pital, bringing in a considerable revenue. Here in 
Mexico City the management pays the government fifteen 
per cent, of its total receipts in return for the exclusive 
privilege of putting on bull-fights in the Federal District. 
The enclosure contains a small hospital for treating the 
wounded fighters, as well as a chapel where they receive 
the Sacrament and the last offices of the Church in case 
they are mortally hurt. Formerly those killed in the 
arena were not accorded certain burial rights because they 
had died without confession. 

The bull-fight came from Spain, where it has been com¬ 
mon for more than eight hundred years, having been 
brought there by the Moors. The first bull-fighters were 
aristocrats, and it is recorded that ten knights lost their 
167 


MEXICO 


lives at a bull-fight festival just about twenty years after 
Columbus came to this part of the world. As time went 
on the sport increased in popularity, and that notwith¬ 
standing the fact that Pope Pius V threatened to excom¬ 
municate all princes who permitted matadors within their 
dominions. 

As time went on bull-fighting passed from the hands of 
the aristocrats into those of professionals and the sport 
is now on a purely commercial basis. The best fighters 
still come from Spain, and the city of Seville has bred the 
most noted. According to a statement before me ninety 
per cent, of all the Spanish matadors come from there. 
Pedro Romero, the greatest of all, was in the ring for 
more than thirty years, and died at the age of eighty-five, 
having slain more than five thousand bulls. I am told 
that the average yearly kill of a crack matador exceeds 
one hundred bulls and that a star fighter sometimes gets 
from three to five thousand dollars for an afternoon's 
entertainment. From this he must pay the three bander- 
illeros and the three picadors who make up his company. 

The best of the fighting bulls are bred as carefully as 
our pedigreed horses and cattle and certain breeds com¬ 
mand the highest prices. The best come from Spain, a 
good one bringing five hundred dollars. In addition to 
this is the cost of transportation, so that a Spanish bull 
costs six hundred dollars or more by the time it reaches 
Mexico City. It has to be rested for several months be¬ 
fore it can be brought into the ring, and at the same time 
every effort is made to keep it vicious and easily angered. 
As to the Mexican-bred bulls, there are certain haciendas 
which make a specialty of them, but the Spanish-bred 
are the fiercest and draw the best crowds. 

168 


THE BULL-FIGHT 

Many of the upper class in Mexico now frown on bull¬ 
fighting and do not appear at the ring. President Diaz 
was opposed to the sport, but the people were so much at¬ 
tached to it that even at the height of his power he dared 
not abolish it. More than once bull-fights have been for¬ 
bidden within the Federal District, but the people have 
insisted on having them back. There is an organized 
movement for the abolition of the sport, and as the senti¬ 
ment against it is growing, it is likely ultimately to disap¬ 
pear. Bull-fights are forbidden in several of the towns of 
Mexico. 

Another favourite amusement of the Mexicans is cock- 
fighting. This is the commonest diversion on feast days 
and saints' days, and where special holy festivals are held 
cocks are shipped in by the thousands. The best breeds 
of these birds are well known, and a cock with a record 
will easily bring twenty-five dollars. Some of the best 
come from crosses of the American game cock with Jap¬ 
anese hens. 

These cocks are cared for like racehorses. They are 
exercised and trained for the fray. They are kept clean 
and are given special kinds of food which are supposed to 
increase their fighting spirit. 

Before they enter the pit the chickens are stripped for 
the encounter. Each has had the feathers plucked from its 
back, neck,and legs, so that it looks pitiably cold. The neck 
and head are bare and the red ears glow out of the bald¬ 
ness. The feathers are picked out one by one and from 
time to time, so as not to injure the cock, and its flesh is 
then toughened by massaging and squeezing until it is 
all muscle and gristle. Removal of the feathers is neces¬ 
sary, because otherwise the cocks catch hold of each other's 
169 


MEXICO 


feathers with their bills and hold on until they can get in 
a deadly blow with the spur. 

The birds are equipped with gaffs or spurs made of steel. 
The gaffs are knife blades three or four inches long, 
strapped to the ankle with a piece of soft leather; they are 
as sharp as razors, and a single thrust may cause death. 
Before the fight begins, the backers fill their mouths with 
brandy and blow it out in a spray over the heads, wings, 
and tails of the fowls. The cocks are then made to peck 
at each other, and when they are sufficiently angry they 
are set down and go at it. The cocks fence for positions 
like prizefighters, sparring and parrying. After a time 
they begin to jump at each other, each endeavouring to 
stab his enemy with his steel spurs. They are urged on 
and kept fighting, round after round, until one or the 
other drops dead. 


170 


CHAPTER XXII 


FOOD AND DRINK BELOW THE RIO GRANDE 

I WISH I could show you a Mexican kitchen. We 
have nothing like it at home. It is a little room with 
a floor of red bricks. The range is a number of oven¬ 
like holes in a ledge of brick and clay, extending two 
or three feet from the wall with its top about four feet from 
the floor. Each of the holes is one cooking place. It is 
filled with charcoal and the draft comes in from an opening 
underneath. The Mexican cook wants no other stove. 

One American here recently sent for a cooking range 
from the States. He had to tear a hole through the rear 
wall to make room for the chimney. After setting it up in 
his daughter’s house, he gave instructions that it be used. 
Later his daughter reported that although the servants 
had struggled for hours they could not make the new stove 
burn. When he went to investigate he found they had 
built the fire in the oven. 

Home baking is almost unknown in Mexico, but many 
of the Indian villages have great ovens which are used in 
common. The family desiring to bake brings its own 
fuel, or sometimes several join together in a baking day. 

The cooking pots, which are sometimes copper but 
more often red clay, are set on the live coals, and water is 
boiled, soups are made, meats are fried, and, in short, first- 
class meals are prepared in this way. The fuel is compara¬ 
tively cheap, so that a workingman’s family can do its 
171 


MEXICO 


cooking on about two cents' worth a day. Much of the 
food is boiled or fried, and the good cooks make tasty 
soups and stews highly flavoured with pepper. Almost 
everything is hot with condiments of one kind or other. 
The cooking is a kind of a mixture of the culinary arts of 
both Spaniards and Indians. 

The Aztecs surprised their white invaders with their 
table. They had thirty different ways of dressing meats, 
and it is said that at one meal served for Montezuma 
there were three hundred different dishes and that the 
servants who prepared them and waited upon the table 
numbered more than one thousand. The Aztecs had 
chickens, turkeys, pheasants, tame and wild geese, and a 
half-dozen different kinds of game. They had fish from 
the lakes as well as some from the ocean. 

At the better-class houses of to-day the Mexicans have 
elaborate luncheons and dinners, and not a few serve their 
meals in European style. The average family, however, 
lives a la Mexico, and the meals are much the same 
throughout the Republic. This means a rather heavy 
diet of beans, corn bread, and fats. The Mexicans eat 
comparatively few vegetables. Rice often takes the place 
held by potatoes with us, and squash is commonly eaten. 
Few Mexicans care for salads, even the alligator pear being 
used rather as a sort of butter than as a salad. 

The typical dishes are tortillas, tamales, enchiladas , and 
frijoles. There are also stews of meat with peppers, com¬ 
monly called chile con came, and some other dishes the 
names of which I cannot give. The tortillas are a kind of 
mashed hominy pounded and kneaded into a tough dough. 
They are made of Indian corn soaked for twelve hours in 
lye water, after which the swollen grains are mashed by 
172 


BELOW THE RIO GRANDE 


rubbing them between stones. The mush, or dough, thus 
made is kneaded into thin cakes about the size of a saucer. 
These are baked but not browned over the coals and they 
are eaten without salt or any other seasoning. Tortillas 
are always sold about the markets where one can get them 
hot from the fire at a few cents a dozen. Even in the 
menus of the well-to-do wheat bread seldom appears ex¬ 
cept with the chocolate or coffee of the first breakfast. 

Tamales are made of corn treated in the same way as 
for tortillas and wrapped around ground pork, highly 
seasoned, and enclosed in corn husks. They are boiled 
in lard for a quarter of an hour and then served 
steaming hot. They are also made with raisins or soft 
sweetmeats in the middle. Tamales are eaten cold by 
ranch-hands and miners. They are sold at railway sta¬ 
tions and are also served at picnics or afternoon tea-parties. 
A tamalada , or party for eating tamales , is a festal occasion, 
like a watermelon feast with us. 

In making the cakes called enchiladas, tortillas are used 
as a base, but the cakes are filled with a kind of hash of 
onions, peppers, and native cheese. A favourite dish is 
barbacca, a sort of barbecued mutton prepared in an oven 
made of a hole in the ground lined with cactus leaves and 
so covered that the meat cooks and steams all night. 

Another dish made of mutton is puchero. This is a 
stew made by cooking the meat in a little water with car¬ 
rots, parsnips, green corn, cabbage, and a half-dozen other 
vegetables, as well as onions, apples, and squashes. The 
stew is kept on the fire two hours or so without skimming. 
It is dressed without salt or other seasoning. The Mex¬ 
ican cuisine has eggs in a half-dozen different styles, 
chickens and turkeys, kids, and young pigs. 

173 


MEXICO 


Frijoles, which are served at every meal except the 
first breakfast, are Mexican black or red beans equal to 
the best “Boston baked/’ Beans are used so much that 
the joking invitation of one Mexican to another is, “Come 
home to beans with me.” Most Mexican cooking is made 
very hot with chiles and is usually somewhat greasy. The 
people seem to crave fats and the careful housekeeper has 
to watch her lard as the servants eat it just as it comes 
from the grocer. 

Though Mexico is a stock-raising country, meat is so 
high that the poor man’s house seldom has it. There are 
cook-shops about the markets where the shreds and cut¬ 
tings and scraps are fried over charcoal and offered for sale. 
Here the Indian customers take up the greasy morsels in 
their fingers and consume them without knives, forks, or 
plates. 

The ways of butchering and marketing are different from 
ours. Every part of the animal is eaten. When an Amer¬ 
ican firm was in charge of the slaughter-house in Mexico 
City it found it was cheaper to send to the States for the 
skins to cover their sausages, as the entrails of the animals 
killed readily sold to the natives at good prices. A great 
deal of the beef is cut in long strings, and sold almost by 
the yard. Much of it is jerked, or dried, and is used for 
stews. In some of the interior cities the butcher’s wagon 
is a mule with a framework bearing hooks set on the sad¬ 
dle. Halves and quarters of beef are hung on the hooks, 
and as the mule moves along the blood from the meat drips 
to the ground. If the mule is small, the meat almost 
touches the roadway and is peppered with the dust raised 
by the animal’s feet. The peddlers will hack off a slice 
for you upon order. Sometimes the butcher’s boy, on the 
174 



Corn, not wheat, is the staff of life in Mexico. The peon woman 
spends most of her days soaking the grains in lime water, kneading the 
softened mass on a stone, pounding it into a paste, and baking it into 
tortillas. 





Pulque, the Mexican beer, is made from the sap of the maguey cactus 
gathered in pigskin sacks. The fermented liquor loses its flavour so 
quickly that it must be brought to town and sold the day it is made. 



On the square holes of a brick or tile stove are cooked the beans, the 
tamales, and the chile-seasoned dishes for which the Mexican cuisine is 
noted. Oil and gas burners are sometimes found, but charcoal is the 
common fuel. 















BELOW THE RIO GRANDE 


way to a customer, uses one of the meat strips in his 
basket to take a whack at a passing dog. 

The meat of bulls killed in the bull-fights is not sold 
as it is considered poisoned by the “heated blood” due to 
the animal’s rage at the time of his killing. It is either 
thrown away or else given to soldiers and prisoners. 

So far, the Mexicans are not educated up to cold-storage 
beef. Some Americans started an up-to-date refrigerating 
plant in the cattle country at Uruapam, but the venture was 
unsuccessful. Canned foods from the States are extremely 
popular with the people who can afford them. Canned 
salmon is in general use and sardines are especially liked by 
the peons, who stow away enormous quantities of them 
on feast days and holidays when they are spending freely. 

Here is how one eats around the clock at Mexico City. 
When he rises he has desayuno, or the first breakfast of 
which I have spoken. This is so light that it would hardly 
form a wedge to keep the stomach of an American from 
rubbing his backbone. It is merely a cup of coffee, or choc¬ 
olate, and rolls. The coffee is usually an extract poured 
from a bottle into hot milk. Such breakfasts are served 
at all the hotels, and if you want meat or eggs you have to 
pay extra. 

The next meal is almuer^o, or comida. Almuer^o con- 
sits of bread, generally tortillas , and meat and eggs, with 
coffee and chocolate; and the comida, served between 
eleven a.m. and one-thirty p.m., is made up of a soup, 
eggs, rice, fish, some kind of meat, with dessert and a small 
cup of coffee. Dinner, which comes between seven and 
eight o’clock, is much the same as the comida. 

One can have the first breakfast in bed if he likes. The 
second breakfast is eaten in the dining room with all of 
175 


MEXICO 


the family at the table. After this breakfast comes the 
siesta, or rest, of two hours or more. 

There are more than a hundred restaurants in Mexico 
City. Among the best known are Sylvain’s and the Cafe 
Chapultepec, both of which have French cooks. San¬ 
born’s, the famous American restaurant, is housed in the 
beautiful old Jockey Club building. This is known every¬ 
where as the House of Tiles. It was built in the sixteenth 
century by one Don Rodrigo, the Count of the Valley of 
Orizaba. His son, Luis de Vivero, grew up into such an 
extravagant and idle young man that his father once said 
to him: “My son, you will never build a house of tiles,” 
which was the same as telling him he would never set the 
world on fire. This remark so stung the young fellow’s 
pride that he braced up, set to work, married well, and 
as soon as he became owner of the house, he covered it 
with tiles. On Sunday mornings after mass the patio of 
Sanborn’s is thronged with the beautiful women and the 
wealth and fashion of the capital. 

The cost of living is rising in Mexico, just as it has done 
all over the world. Some years ago one could live almost 
anywhere for from two to four dollars a day, but here at 
the capital a room alone now costs more than used to be 
required for a whole day’s expenses. 

Compared with what they used to be, rents in Mexico 
City are exceedingly high. Flats rent for from fifty to two 
hundred dollars a month, and good houses of from eight 
to twelve rooms bring from one thousand to three thou¬ 
sand dollars a year, while in the best residential sections 
they are even higher than that. On the other hand, 
there are families living in two rooms, for which they pay 
less than ten dollars a month, while the very poor are 
176 


BELOW THE RIO GRANDE 


crowded into warrens where the rent is not half as much. 
In the latter case the rooms are often unlighted and with¬ 
out ventilation. 

To keep house in Mexico City costs considerable money, 
for the domestic work is organized differently from the 
way it is with us, and one has to have three times as many 
servants to get the same results. The labour is divided, 
and one servant will never do the work of another. The 
cook will not make the bed nor will the chambermaid help 
in the kitchen, and she will often refuse to serve at the 
table. The cook would leave if asked to do the washing, 
and even the mo^o has limited duties. As a result, the 
average well-to-do family has four or five servants, and 
there are big housekeeping leaks. The cook expects to 
feed her family from the kitchen and often runs a sort 
of boarding house for her relatives on the side. 

The wages of domestics are higher in the capital than 
elsewhere in the Republic. Here the cooks get as much as 
household help in my own city, Washington. In the smaller 
towns cooks receive much less and work from dawn until 
after dark. If they understand how to use a stove and 
to do foreign cooking they get double wages, but this is 
from the foreigner who always pays through the nose. 

Housemaids get about half as much as the cooks while 
chauffeurs rank as skilled labourers and their wages run 
high. There is usually a mo^o, or manservant, who tends 
the door, carries the water, and does other odd jobs. 
Some of the wages include board, and others an allowance 
for food. The latter, however, is seldom more than 
twenty cents a day. 

The Mexican lady scarcely ever goes to the markets her¬ 
self; the cook or the mo^o does the buying, squeezing a 
177 


MEXICO 


commission wherever it can be had. Only one day’s 
supplies are bought at a time, even to the half-cent’s 
worth of salt on top of the market basket. This is not 
only to save waste because of lack of refrigeration, but 
also because the servants like their daily outing and take 
pleasure in haggling with the market men and women. 

In the homes of the wealthy there is usually a housekeeper 
who carries the keys and manages the servants. She buys 
the provisions and takes charge of the nurses and the chil¬ 
dren. In such houses there is also a doorkeeper at the front 
door day and night. He generally sleeps inside on the floor. 

There is a growing class of country Mexicans, mostly 
half-breeds, who come to the cities as servants and save 
enough money to go back rich to their homes. The serv¬ 
ant class is respected by the lower orders, and holds a real 
place in the Mexican household. The domestics are present 
at family weddings and christenings and are encouraged 
to confide their joys and woes to their mistresses. 

As to what Mexico drinks, that would fill a chapter* 
The rich have all kinds of wine, and the poor have their 
aguardiente, or Mexican brandy, and pulque, the native 
beer made from the cactus. Aguardiente is distilled from 
the juice of the sugar cane. It is a brandy so hot that 
a rag wet with it and laid on the skin will soon raise a blis¬ 
ter; I have been told it is good for sore throat. In Guate¬ 
mala it is called “white eye,” and a few glances from it 
will make the foreigner drunk. 

Pulque is about the cheapest beer of the world. All 
over the Mexican plateau one can buy it for one cent a 
glass, and the wholesale price is about three cents a quart. 
It is said that more than two hundred thousand gallons 
are consumed daily in Mexico City. This makes about 
178 



When its flower-stalk is not cut off by the pulque gatherer, the ma¬ 
guey cactus sends up a stem twenty or thirty feet tall crowned with 
clusters of greenish-yellow blossoms. After this the plant dies. 








These birds are too expensive to eat, for they will bring big prices 
as fighters. Game-cocks are carried with their heads hidden like this 
so that they may not peck at each other. 









BELOW THE RIO GRANDE 


six tumblerfuls per day for every man, woman, and child 
in the capital, and the consumption is proportionately 
large in many other parts of the Republic. The beer is 
brought here by the trainload, and also on carts and in 
wagons. Each morning there come into the capital one 
hundred carloads of pulque, or many times the number of 
milk cars. The sales amount to thousands of dollars, and 
the tax upon it forms an important item in the public 
revenues. Even during the times of the Spaniards, the 
annual consumption in Mexico City was so large that the 
tax paid to the crown exceeded eight hundred thousand 
Mexican dollars. Of recent years the government has 
increased the tax, not only to gain more revenue but in the 
hope of decreasing the drinking. 

Both the government and the people realize the evils 
of intoxicating liquors and the day may come when pro¬ 
hibition will cut as great a figure here as it does in the 
United States. Several of the provinces are already dry 
and there are anti-alcohol leagues in others. The move¬ 
ment is devoted to the prohibition of pulque rather than to 
that of the wines and beers drunk by the upper classes. 
The government of Carranza ordered that the pulque shops 
should be closed on Sundays but this law soon became a 
dead letter. The trades unions very generally advocate 
the suppression of drinking. There have been labour 
parades in the cities in favour of closing the saloons on 
Sundays, and in such parades one sees banners bearing 
the slogans “We Want Education, Not Drink”; “The 
Working Men Want Schools, Not Saloons.” 

The land barons are against these movements, preferring 
to keep the Indians in such a backward state as means 
low wages and easy exploitation. 

179 


MEXICO 


Pulque is nature's own product. It comes from the sap 
of the maguey, a cactus of the same species as the century 
plant. It may be seen growing in endless rows on the 
plantations of the tablelands. The Plain of Apam, near 
Puebla, is entirely given up to the production of pulque . 
The plants there cover tens of thousands of acres, making 
veritable forests of cactus. The leaves sprout from the 
ground around a green cone, or stalk, which is a foot 
thick at the base and rises high above them and ends in a 
point like a needle. When this stalk is about seven years 
old it flowers out, and then the plant dies. 

It is just before blossoming that the maguey is ready 
for pulque. The stalk is then cut out of the base of the 
plant, leaving a great bowl in which the sap gathers. The 
juice runs so fast that one plant will furnish ten or fifteen 
pints every day and it continues its flow for three or 
four months, yielding barrels and sometimes hogsheads of 
liquor. 

As the sap flows into the bowl it is as sweet as sugar and 
as clear as pure alcohol. After twenty-four hours it looks 
like skim milk and tastes not unlike buttermilk. It then 
begins to give forth an odour, which grows stronger as 
the liquor grows older. Indeed, I believe that one could 
shut his eyes and find the pulqueria, or saloon, by follow¬ 
ing his nose. 

I have tried drinking pulque. It has about the same 
effect as strong German bock. It makes one feel comfort¬ 
able, and if he takes a little too much it will go to his 
head. It acts upon the liver and the kidneys, and some 
claim it is an excellent tonic. If it is taken before retir¬ 
ing at night, one need have no fear of insomnia, and he 
sleeps free from dreams. 

180 


BELOW THE RIO GRANDE 


I have travelled for miles through these -pulque planta¬ 
tions and watched the dirty Indian peons gathering the 
liquor. Each carries a long gourd and a sack of un¬ 
tanned pigskin. He first sucks the gourd full of sap and 
then empties it into the bag. When a bag is full it is 
emptied into a cask, where the liquor is allowed to fer¬ 
ment. Sometimes fermentation is hastened by throwing 
into the bag a little old pulque which has become rank and 
sour. It takes only twenty-four hours to turn the sap 
into beer, and it is marketed the day it is made. If it gets 
old it spoils and grows flat. For this reason it cannot 
be shipped off the plateau and so it is unknown in the 
lowlands. The pulque dealers are compelled by law to 
sell none more than twenty-four hours old. 

There are about a thousand pulque saloons at the capi¬ 
tal. One finds them on almost every block and knows 
them by the florid-faced Indians hanging around them. 
The walls of the pulquertas, facing the street, are usually 
decorated with fringes of gaudy paper and sometimes 
with crude paintings. The saloons have all sorts of queer 
names. I know of one called “The Sanctuary/' In the 
Street of the Holy Ghost is another whose sign is “The 
Hang-out of John the Baptist." 

When he can afford it, the peon tops off his drink of 
pulque with some mescal, a strong distilled liquor made 
from the aloe. Then, indeed, he feels like shouting the 
lines of a Spanish verse, which translated reads- 

Know you not that pulque 
Is a liquor divine 
And that angels in heaven 
Prefer it to wine? 


181 


CHAPTER XXIII 


OLD POPO 


D O YOU want to buy a volcano? 

If so, come to Mexico and size up Popocata- 
petl. It is the highest smoking volcano on the 
North American continent, and every now and 
then someone comes along who thinks it can be made to 
pay big dividends. The old mountain has been for sale, 
off and on, for the last thirty years or so. A deal was 
once made for its purchase by a syndicate of Americans. 
The consideration was to be ten million dollars in Mexican 
money, and the American company had an authorized 
capital of ten million dollars in gold. The plan was to 
work the enormous sulphur resources of the volcano and 
at the same time to supply ice to Mexico City from the 
ice fields that cover the peak. The principal forests 
about the base of the mountain were to be converted into 
a beautiful park and an inclined railway to the top was to 
attract tourists from all over the world. 

The sale was only partially consummated. The title 
was disputed and after several years the project was aban¬ 
doned. The mountain then came back to General San¬ 
chez Ochoa, one of the great mining engineers of Mexico, 
who had owned it for many years. Other companies have 
since considered the purchase, and their plans include 
cogged railroads, not only to the top of old “Popo,” but 
182 



For centuries Popocatepetl lived up to its Indian name, “smoke 
mountain,” with frequent eruptions. Now, after one hundred years, it 
is belching again. It is North America’s third highest peak. 











The descent from “Popo” is easy for any one willing to imitate the 
Indians and slide down the snow-covered mountain on a mat, guided by 
a stick which also serves as a brake. 



“OLD POPO” 


also to Ixtaccihuatl, that mighty extinct volcano tower¬ 
ing into the clouds only a few miles away. 

Popocatepetl itself is a live volcano, or, at best, it is only 
sleeping. Since the time of Cortes it has had ten great 
eruptions. It is the Vesuvius of America and is liable to 
break out at any time in another explosion of lava and 
fire. Its last eruption was in 1802, but just recently there 
was an outburst of gases and vapour, which are still breath¬ 
ing forth from the holes in its crater. These holes are 
from seven to twelve inches in diameter, and they ooze 
liquid sulphur, making the volcano a huge brimstone 
factory. 

The crater of “Popo” is about a mile wide at the top 
and something like a thousand feet deep. It is shaped 
like a bell, or the crown of a Mexican sombrero. The 
diameter at the bottom is one fourth of a mile. The floor 
is of pure sulphur, which extends down in a mass for one 
thousand feet. The mountain is spitting forth sulphur at 
the rate of about a million tons per annum. Since the 
conquest of Mexico more than one hundred million tons 
have been taken out, and it is estimated that there is half 
as much more on the floor of the crater. 

The supply is far beyond the demands of the world. 
Sulphur sells for about twenty dollars a long ton, or around 
one cent a pound, so that, as Colonel Sellers said of his 
famous eye-water, “There’s millions in it,” if only it could 
be profitably marketed. But transportation conditions, 
freight rates, and our own supply are all against the devel¬ 
opment of old "Popo’s” rich stores. Texas and Louisiana 
give us practically all the sulphur we need for the manu¬ 
facture of sulphuric acid, the vulcanizing of rubber, and 
many other commercial uses. We have not only become 
183 


MEXICO 


independent of the sulphur formerly imported from Sicily 
but have some left over to sell to the rest of the world. 

The millions of tons of sulphur already obtained from 
the volcano have been dug from the crater by the Indians 
who carried it up rope ladders in bags on their backs. As 
soon as the sulphur came to the top it was handed over to 
men who put it on straw mats and slid with it down over 
the snow to the timber line, whence it was carried by 
horses and mules to the cars. 

The crater is exceedingly hot, but it is so high that its 
rim is bordered with perpetual snow. Except for the vents 
spouting gases and sulphur, the floor is solid so that the 
workmen could move about over it. Now and then water 
bursts in, and striking the hot places in the floor, causes 
steam, which rises high over the mountain. But the 
sulphur miners suffered most from the high altitude 
and the exposure, and it was hard to keep a force in the 
crater. 

Popocatapetl is next to the highest point on the Mexican 
uplands, being surpassed only by Mount Orizaba. Kiss¬ 
ing the clouds 17,800 feet above the sea, it is the fourth 
highest mountain in North America. The other two moun¬ 
tains on our continent that are higher are Mount St. Elias 
and Mount McKinley in Alaska, the latter being over 
twenty thousand feet. Pike’s Peak is more than three 
thousand feet lower and Mount Washington not much 
more than one third as high. 

I have seen most of the world’s great volcanoes. One 
of the best known is Stromboli, called the lighthouse of 
the Mediterranean Sea, down the side of which lava is 
continually pouring. It is near Vesuvius, whose smoky 
cone is less than one fourth as tall as “Popo.” I have 
184 


“OLD POPO” 


been on Vesuvius while it was in mild eruption and have 
seen the golden lava flowing down in streams so narrow 
and so hot that one could cook an egg by holding it in a 
wire basket over them. 

Java has so many volcanoes that it is called the fire 
island. Between it and Sumatra is Krakatoa, the top of 
which blew off about forty years ago with an explosion 
that was heard in southern Australia, twenty-two hun¬ 
dred miles off. That eruption took away two thirds of the 
island, and where the mountain once stood, the sea is 
now a thousand feet deep. The biggest volcanic crater in 
Java is in the eastern part of the island, and is known as 
the Sand Sea. It is surrounded by craters and it has 
other volcanoes in its centre. I rode across the Sand Sea 
on a pony, and climbed to the top of the Bromo volcano, 
which is still smoking. 

There are few mountains more beautiful than Popoca- 
tapetl and Ixtaccihuatl; or, as they are commonly called 
here, “Old Popo” and the “White Woman.” And there 
are no others which are at once so high and so easily as¬ 
cended, or which pay so well for the trip. Both moun¬ 
tains are capped with snow. Standing on one of the Ca¬ 
thedral towers in Mexico any afternoon one can see the 
snow turned to silver and then to burnished copper by the 
rays of the setting sun. “Popo” is a little more than a 
thousand feet higher than his mate, and his form is per¬ 
haps more majestic. 

Ixtaccihuatl is called the “White Woman” because the 
snow-covered top of the mountain is shaped like the gi¬ 
gantic figure of a woman lying on her back with her feet 
toward “Old Popo.” As one stands on the Cathedral 
tower he can plainly see the outlines of the head, the 
185 


MEXICO 

swelling breasts, and the great knees and feet beneath the 
coverlid of snow. 

According to the Aztec tradition, in the days of the 
beginnings of things a mighty god, named Popocatapetl, 
came to earth, ajid fell in love with one of the prettiest of 
Aztec maidens. The girl had a perfect figure, and her 
skin was as white as the driven snow. “Old Popo” made 
her his wife and took her to Heaven to reign with him. 
She proved too handsome, however, and soon all of the 
young gods were running after her. 

At last “Old Popo” learned that she had been unfaithful 
to him, and he changed her into this mountain. As she 
turned to snow and lay on the top of the rocky mass of 
his creation, he grew remorseful. His heart froze with 
regret and he assumed the form that he now has. At 
times he grows angry and spits forth fire and brimstone. 
^The natives say that the earthquakes are his groans and 
the steam and sulphur fumes his perpetual sighing. 

The ascent of Popocatapetl can be made in three days 
at an approximate cost of fifty dollars. One needs 
warm clothing, strong shoes, and several good guides. 
You can ride on the railroad to the foot of the mountain, 
stopping at the town of Amecameca, which is about a 
mile and a half above the sea and forty miles south of 
Mexico City. Getting your outfit and horses here, you 
can reach a rest house by nightfall. This is at TIamacas, 
twelve thousand eight hundred feet above the sea. You 
will find it bitter cold around midnight and colder still 
toward morning. You rise early and by seven o'clock 
are again upon horseback. The guides will warn you to 
take no breakfast, saying that if you do you will be nau¬ 
seated as you get to the higher altitudes. Two hours 
186 


“OLD POPO” 


later you will have ascended three thousand feet to about 
the altitude of Pike's Peak or Fujiyama. Your breathing 
is now difficult. You debate the worth of your thoughts 
and whether it will pay to use the strength needed to utter 
them. Your feet have grown heavy and you cannot walk 
fast. 

The first part of your way is through loose, shifting black 
sand, and the latter part is all snow. You are soon far 
up in the clouds above the rest of the world, and if the 
day is clear you have magnificent views of the Valley of 
Mexico and the great capital lying in its lake-studded ba¬ 
sin. Higher still and the “White Woman ” lies below you, 
while all around are the great hills which are the most 
striking features of the Mexican plateau. Much of the 
time you are in the clouds, and now and then you can see 
them both above and below you. They look like live things, 
and you can watch them drifting to your feet and chas¬ 
ing each other from mountain to mountain. Now they 
envelop you in a mist, and then pass onward and upward 
until they are lost in the crater. 

As you rise, the snow, which is wet at the start, grows 
harder and dryer; near the top there are pinnacles of ice 
which tear your hands as you pull yourself from rock to 
rock. The glare hurts your eyes, and you drop down ex¬ 
hausted as you stand at last on the edge of the crater at 
one of the topmost points on the roof of the North Amer¬ 
ican continent. 

If you are very venturesome you can crawl down a 
short distance into the crater and peep over. The walls 
are steep and of black obsidian. You can see the yellow 
sulphur far down below, and the gas rising out of the 
crevices in the floor. It is difficult to take pictures on 
187 


MEXICO 

account of the steam, and it is dangerous to play round 
the rim. 

Going down Popocatapetl is easy if you have the nerve 
to take the toboggan slide of your life. When the snow 
is smooth and hard you make the slide seated on a straw 
mat, guided by an Indian who carries an iron-shod staff 
and directs your way through the rocks and crevasses. 
The Indian sits at the front of the mat and uses his stick 
as a brake. You sit behind and grab him around the 
waist. It takes only a few minutes to reach the snow line, 
for you go down as far in one minute as you climbed in 
an hour. 

In ascending Ixtaccihuatl you may ride a great part of 
the way. The timber line is about thirteen thousand feet 
up and the region of eternal snow begins a little more than 
a thousand feet higher. At the summit you are in perpet¬ 
ual snow, and as you tramp over the “White Woman” you 
find that she is really a mountain saddle more than two 
miles in length. Over this saddle Cortes constructed the 
highway upon which he came into the Valley of Mexico 
with his band of Conquistadors. 

At the town of Amecameca at the base of Popocatapetl 
is the Sacred Mountain, one of the great shrines of the 
Indians. In a deep cave here there once lived a most holy 
man, Friar Martin de Valencia, one of the Twelve Apostles 
of Mexico who came over in 1524 as missionaries to the 
Indians. Years after his death, so the story goes, a mule 
bearing the image of the Virgin stopped at the cave where 
San Martin’s body was buried, and refused to budge an¬ 
other step. This was looked on as a sign from Heaven 
that the image should go no farther, and so there it is to this 
day. It is kept in a glass case and every year on Ash 
188 


“OLD POPO” 


Wednesday is taken from place to place with impressive 
ceremonies. It is very light and very old and is said to be 
made of the pith of maize. On Good Friday some of the 
most devout crawl up the Sacred Mountain on their knees 
and others standor kneel for hours in attitudes of adoration. 
Many hang their unwashed garments on the trees near the 
shrine so that the spirit of the saint may bless them. 

One might call “Popo” the grandfather of the moun¬ 
tains of Mexico, but Orizaba is their monarch. Its snow¬ 
capped summit is eighteen thousand feet above the level of 
the sea, and someone has said that it has “what few mor¬ 
tals possess: a warm heart, with a clear, cold head.” Al¬ 
though it is harder to ascend than Popocatapetl, it has been 
scaled more than once. The first men to reach the top 
were some of our American officers during the Mexican 
War, and the next man who went up was a Frenchman. 
He made the ascent in 1851 and found on the peak a tat¬ 
tered American flag floating from a staff in which was cut 
the date 1848. A few years later this same Frenchman 
tried a second ascent and nearly lost his life in the at¬ 
tempt. 

The present starting point for Mount Orizaba is a little 
village at the snow line, and I am told that there are sev¬ 
eral dry caves on the way near the trail where one can 
camp during the trip. The peak is shaped like a great 
anthill, and an iron cross now surmounts it. There are 
no avalanches, and one may take a mat and coast down 
over the hard snow just as on Popocatapetl. 

I stopped at Orizaba on a trip from Mexico City to Vera 
Cruz. The town is as high as the top of the Alleghanies, 
but it is surrounded by coffee plantations, and the ther¬ 
mometer there was ninety degrees in the shade. The 
189 


MEXICO 


perspiration stood on my face as I looked up at the top 
of the mountain above me and saw the mantle of perpetual 
snow. 

In addition to these mountains Mexico has many other 
volcanoes, most of them extinct, but some liable to break 
out into action. The region about Guadalajara has been 
troubled with earthquakes and many think that this, one 
of the largest cities of Mexico, will one day be swallowed 
up in the earth. About a hundred miles to the southwest 
of Mexico City is the volcano of Colima, which is more 
than two miles in height and perpetually active. Near 
by is a splendid volcanic peak, El Nevado, as tall as Fuji¬ 
yama and almost as beautiful. Colima is frequently hid¬ 
den by the dense masses of steam always rolling out of its 
crater, and at night this steam is coloured with flames. 
The crater, which is almost circular, has a diameter of 
about one third of a mile. It is more than one hundred 
feet deep. 

Mount Colima has had many eruptions, and there have 
been a half-dozen violent ones, accompanied by earth¬ 
quakes, within the last three centuries. Ashes from it 
have at times covered the sky for many miles, and even 
flown as far as Guadalajara, Zacatecas, and San Luis 
Potosi. 

One of the queerest volcanoes of Mexico is Mount 
Jorullo, which is still steaming. This mountain stands in 
a rich farming district that was once as flat as a floor. 
One day there was a rumbling of the earth and in the midst 
of a great estate of indigo and sugar a volcano shaped 
like a great bladder arose to a height of one thousand 
seven hundred feet. It then burst. The mud poured out 
in sheets. Clouds of steam filled the sky, and all the coun- 
190 



According to the Indian tradition, when the god Popocatepetl found 
that the beautiful Aztec maiden he had taken to heaven as his wife was 
unfaithful, he turned her into the mountain shrouded in snow called the 
“White Woman/' 






Puebla, said to have been laid out by the angels, has for four centuries 
been a stronghold of the Catholic faith. It has sixty churches and some 
of its people still kneel in the streets when the archbishop’s carriage goes 
by. 















“OLD POPO” 

try about was covered with rocks and ashes and molten 
lava. 

Two large streams were swallowed up by the eruption, 
and some distance away two new rivers appeared. The 
eruption continued for nearly a year, and now steam 
issues here and there through cracks in the earth. 


CHAPTER XXIV 


PUEBLA, THE CITY OF THE ANGELS 

I AM in Puebla, the City of the Angels, in a great hotel 
which once was the palace of a landed aristocrat but 
is now open to every stranger who has the price of a 
room. As I look out upon the clean streets, the hum 
of one of the busiest cities of the Republic falls upon my 
ears, yet the odd-looking people and queer carts make me 
think I am in a far-off corner of Spain rather than in one 
of the chief manufacturing cities of Mexico. Puebla has 
cotton and flour mills, glass, soap, and paper factories, and 
it turns out much of the cheap pottery that one finds for 
sale in every part of the country. It is said to be the 
cleanest and most healthful city in Mexico. The streets 
are well kept and the sanitary regulations are strictly 
enforced. Most of the buildings are a cream-white, but 
some are tinted in different shades, so that the whole 
town gives a pleasing effect of varied colours that harmo¬ 
nize with each other. 

Politically, the name of the town is Puebla de Zaragoza, 
in honour of the Mexican hero of the time of the French 
invasion. On the maps it is simply Puebla, which means 
“town.” To the Mexican it is Puebla de los Angeles, or 
“City of the Angels.” Soon after the Conquest the Span¬ 
iards wanted to set up a town between the capital and 
Vera Cruz. Its location was decided by a devout Francis¬ 
can monk who saw in a dream a beautiful plain between 
192 


PUEBLA, THE CITY OF THE ANGELS 


two lofty snow-white peaks. Upon it were angels with 
measuring rods and other surveying instruments who pro¬ 
ceeded to lay off the ground as if for the streets of a city. 
When the friar awoke he went in search of the plain, which 
he found at last in the shadow of Popocatapetl and 
Ixtaccihuatl. And here in 1532 with Popocatapetl and 
the '‘White Woman” looking on, was built Puebla de 
los Angeles, at one time the second city of Mexico. While 
the Cathedral was being erected, it is said the angels came 
by night and put up a part of one of the towers. At still 
another time, so the people will tell you, they appeared in 
a great host hovering over the city. 

With such evidences of heavenly favour it is no won¬ 
der that Puebla became a stronghold of the Catholic 
Church, and is such to this day. When the Church 
Party was at its height and before the Reform Laws of 
Juarez four fifths of all the property in the city belonged to 
the Church. Even to-day there are among its population 
those who kneel in the streets when they hear the wheels 
of the Archbishop’s carriage. 

I don’t know about “the angels” at Puebla, but I can 
testify that it is a city of churches. There are more than 
sixty of them, or one for every two thousand souls, while 
the Cathedral is regarded by some as the finest on the 
whole continent. Certainly it surpasses in its gold and 
glitter the great Cathedral of Mexico City. The high 
altar, a wonderful combination of gilded pillars, marble 
statuary and green onyx, cost more than one hundred 
thousand dollars. There are a score of chapels which 
have in front of them great grilled screens of wrought- 
iron as high as a haystack. The iron is covered with gold 
as bright as that the dentist puts into one’s teeth, and 
193 


MEXICO 

there are gilded columns by the dozens, and hundreds 
of massive gilded candlesticks, each as tall as a man. 
The immense roof, which extends like a vault over the 
whole, is rich with gilt; the pulpit is of the purest onyx, 
carved artistically and trimmed with gold, and a great 
gold canopy hangs above it. 

And then the paintings and the carvings! Some of 
them are equal to those of any of the great cathedrals of 
Europe and fully as costly. Each of the fourteen chapels 
has half a dozen or more pictures in frames of gold, carved 
like those of Florence, and there are acres of cherubs and 
saints in the most brilliant colours. 

The walls of the chapter room are hung with old Flem¬ 
ish tapestries woven after designs by Rubens, representing 
scenes that are anything but sacred. These now priceless 
tapestries and thirty-two old Spanish chairs were presented 
to the Cathedral by the Emperor Charles V. Perhaps he 
was grateful to Puebla for its activities in the time of the 
Spanish Inquisition, when a number of "pestilent Luther¬ 
ans^ were put to death. Some fifty years ago, when the 
old House of the Inquisition in Puebla was remodelled, sev¬ 
eral skeletons were found in walled-up cells. They were 
doubtless the remains of men buried alive because of their 
Protestantism. 

Now let us take a look at the worshippers and see what 
sort of people support this great cathedral. There is one 
of them kneeling on the floor. The penitent has on his 
whole wardrobe, a cotton shirt and pantaloons. As he 
kneels the soles of his feet, covered with rude leather san¬ 
dals, are turned upward. Upon his back hangs the great 
load of pots he carries from one place to another for less 
than a dollar a day. He has never received more than this, 
194 



Puebla is distinguished among Mexican cities for its cleanliness. 
Having waxed fat in the old days on trade with Spain, it became a centre 
of conservatism and fanatical religious devotion. 



The charro costume with trousers trimmed in silver buttons, bolero 
coat, bright sash, soft shirt, and elaborate sombrero is still worn by some 
rancheros, or small private land owners. From this class have come many 
of the revolutionary leaders. 












A chapel to Our Lady of Healing now stands on the pyramid at Cho- 
lula, which was built by a people who were here before the Aztecs. They 
erected upon it a temple to the god of light. 




PUEBLA, THE CITY OF THE ANGELS 

but, as in the past, one tenth of his earnings goes to the 
Church. It is the poor Indians who keep the churches 
alive and it is they who are the devout people of Mexico. 
Their offerings amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars 
a year, and though the property of the Church has been 
confiscated again and again, it is always restored by the 
gifts of the masses. 

In the Church of San Francisco, not far from the Ca¬ 
thedral, there is a little image of the Virgin, said to have 
been carried for years by Cortes, who presented it to a 
member of the Aztec imperial family upon his conversion 
to Christianity. 

This church is decorated with tiles peculiar to the 
architecture of Puebla. They were made by the natives 
who were taught by potters whom the Dominican friars 
brought from Toledo, Spain, just after the Conquest. 
The Indians soon became noted for their fine wares, and 
glazed tiles made at Puebla were used for decorations 
throughout Mexico. Some of the old houses have facades 
of tiles set in mosaics of saints, birds, and animals. 

Long before the conversion of the Indians this district 
was a religious centre for all Mexico. At Cholula, eight 
miles away, are the ruins of one of the greatest pyramids of 
the world. The Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, which I have 
climbed, covers about thirteen acres and its top is about 
the size of a croquet ground. The Pyramid of Cholula was 
one hundred and seventy-seven feet high and had a base 
fourteen hundred feet square. Its flat summit measured 
more than an acre. Cholula itself was a city of one hun¬ 
dred and fifty thousand and held somewhat the same place 
among the Aztecs as did Puebla among the Mexicans of 
a later period. It was a sort of Mecca for pilgrims. 

195 


MEXICO 


At some time and by some people unknown this great 
pyramid was raised. The Aztecs found it here when 
they came. It was built of sun-dried brick, limestone, 
and clay. On its top was a great temple to Quetzalcoatl, 
the white god of light and agriculture, who paused here for 
twenty years on his way to the coast and taught the 
people the arts of civilization. Then all mankind was 
happy, the air was sweet with perfumes and filled with the 
melody of birds. The earth produced fruits and flowers 
without cultivation and even the cotton took on the rich¬ 
est of colours. But one of the principal gods grew angry 
with Quetzalcoatl and he was forced to leave the country. 
He departed, saying he would one day return. And so 
when Cortes appeared the people thought him their 
“fair god” come back at last. At first he was worshipped 
by some, but the treachery and cruelty of the Spaniards 
soon dispelled the illusion. 

In the temple of Cholula was an image of Quetzalcoatl, 
which Prescott thus describes: 

He had ebon features, unlike the fair complexion he bore upon earth. 
He wore a mitre on his head of waving plumes of fire, a resplendent col¬ 
lar of gold around his neck and turquoise pendants in his ears. He 
had a jewelled sceptre in one hand, and a shield, curiously painted, the 
emblem of his rule over the winds, in the other. 

Besides the great temple on the pyramid, Cortes counted 
four hundred shrines in the Indian city and said that it was 
his desire to replace each of them with a Christian church. 
He must have succeeded for to-day Cholula has a church 
for about every one hundred of its population. The 
church on the site of the temple has a great dome covered 
with glazed tiles of green, white, and yellow. It is dedi¬ 
cated to Our Lady of Healing, and in it are many offer- 
196 


PUEBLA, THE CITY OF THE ANGELS 

ings of those who have been miraculously cured by her. 
In the vestibule are paintings showing such scenes as a 
man in front of an oncoming train being snatched away by 
the Virgin, just in time to save his life. 

The mighty pyramid has long since crumbled to pieces, 
and the grass grows over its ruins. The little town at 
its base has barely ten thousand people. It is full of 
beggars, and noted only as the site of the great Aztec 
shrine. No effort has been made to preserve the pyra¬ 
mid. A tramway cuts through it. Much of it has been 
levelled, and the ground is now planted to Indian corn. 

Standing upon the site of this ancient monument, I saw 
the smoke of the steam-engine as the train on the Inter- 
oceanic Railroad went whizzing by. It gave a shriek as it 
passed, voicing, as it were, its defiance and contempt of 
the pagan structure. It was indeed a symbol of the 
power of the present over that of the past. 


197 


CHAPTER XXV 


JALAPA, THE BEAUTIFUL 

O RIZABA, the highest peak in Mexico, looks 
i down at me from under its cap of perpetual 
f snow. I am in the mountain city of Jalapa. 
The clouds nestle in the hills above and below 
and the vegetation about is the greenest of green. The 
town has as much rainfall as the cities of Ireland, and 
the moist, warm air keeps everything growing. 

Jalapa is perched nearly a mile above the sea, on the 
edge of the great Mexican plateau. It is about twenty- 
five miles inland from Vera Cruz and is the capital of the 
state of that name. Next to Puebla, it is the biggest 
city on the line of the old National Road, which was a 
post-route in the time of the Montezumas. From that 
day to this Jalapa has been a trade centre. It is now the 
market of one of the richest coffee regions of Mexico. 
Coffee plantations lie all around it, the business is prof¬ 
itable, and many of the people are rich. 

I wish I could give you a picture of Jalapa. Time has 
brought but few changes and it is one of the quaintest and 
most picturesque cities of Mexico. It has narrow streets 
which run up the hills and then dive down into the valleys 
and turn and crook and wind about with all the intricacies 
of Rosamond's Bower. The streets are bordered by two- 
story houses of stucco with roofs of red tile and walls 
coloured in rainbow effects. Oftentimes there will be 
198 



The peon of the plateau muffles himself in his serape during the chilly 
morning hours. In the frequent cold drizzles at Jalapa he remains 
wrapped up all day and devoutly prays, “Holy Mother, let the sun come 
out!” 
















Time has brought few changes to Jalapa, perched a mile above the sea 
on the old National Road over which Cortes marched to the capital of 
the Montezumas. Its stucco houses of various tints with red-tiled roofs 
and overhanging rafters of sky-blue give a charming effect. 









JALAPA, THE BEAUTIFUL 

several colours on the same house. A strip of Venetian 
red a yard wide may be close to the ground, with a cream 
or gray or brown strip above reaching to the under side of 
the projecting roof of red tiles which has rafters as blue as 
the sky. 

Looking up a street overhung by these azure rafters one 
finds the effect charming. I am even more pleased as I 
study the houses built in the old Spanish style. Great 
windows barred with long rods of iron are set into walls 
and run down almost flush with the pavement. In many, 
the glass behind the bars has been taken away and the 
passer-by looks into big rooms floored with shining red 
tiles, and furnished with tables and straight-back chairs 
set stiffly against the wall. The ordinary Mexican house 
is a tier of rooms around a courtyard, or patio. In Jalapa 
the patio is always a garden with a fountain playing 
among the flowers and trees. One sees the sparkling of 
the falling water amid the green as he looks through the 
iron bars of the windows. 

The Jalapa girls have wonderfully beautiful eyes, and 
their dark cheeks rival the moss rose. They are tall and 
straight and as plump as partridges at harvest time. 
They have an international reputation for beauty, and 
“ Bewitching and alluring are the girls of Jalapa” is a Mex¬ 
ican saying. Although they are modest, I find them not 
prudish, and have caught a picture of one or two with my 
camera. They seem to consider the picture-taking more 
of a joke than anything else. 

Jalapa, like every town in Mexico, has its public square, 
or plaza. The plaza is filled with beautiful trees. It has 
marble seats and a stand where one of the best bands of 
Mexico plays in the evenings. At this time the pretty 
199 


MEXICO 


girls come out and sit on the marble benches, or stroll 
about, arm in arm. Meanwhile the men promenade back 
and forth and cast sheeps’ eyes at the girls. 

During my stay here I have been driven out to Coatepec. 
This is a typical Indian pueblo, seven miles from Jalapa 
in the centre of some of the best coffee plantations. Let 
me give you a few of the pictures I saw on the trip. The 
road was that over which Cortes marched with his troops, 
and General Scott led his American army when he cap¬ 
tured Mexico City. Near Jalapa it is wide and paved with 
cobblestones. A thick vegetation grows on each side of 
the highway, and the stone fences that line it are as 
moss-grown as those in southern Ireland about Cork and 
Killarney. The fields are full of the signs of prosperity 
and grass as green as that of Old England covers the hills. 
Here is a man ploughing, and a cut in the field shows me 
how deep is the rich brown loam. It is odd to note the 
different stages of the same crop in fields side by side. 
Here is one with the corn in the ear, and there in another 
the sprouts are just shooting out of the ground. This 
soil will produce two crops of corn a year with but little 
or no fertilization. 

Now we pass a coffee plantation. The glossy green 
trees are shaded by tall, wide-leaved banana plants. The 
coffee trees are full of ripe red berries showing out of the 
green. Here is a Buenas Noches tree thirty feet high and 
crowned with great red flowers, and over there are trees 
filled with blossoms of the same size and shape as the 
calla lily. Below the trees are the long tendrils of the 
Mexican love-plant which have wrapped themselves 
around the moss-covered fences. The light rain in 
which we set out ends in a sunshower and the diamond 


200 


JALAPA, THE BEAUTIFUL 

drops glisten on the emerald leaves of the dark coffee 
trees. 

We get our first sight of the Mexican orchid as we enter 
a forest a few miles from Jalapa and as we go onward see 
orchids covering the trees and hanging down in great 
bunches. There are more than a hundred varieties, of all 
shapes and colours and on all sorts of trees. We might 
have a carload for the picking, for they hang over the 
road and fairly load down the branches of the trees on 
which they grow. Birds of the brightest plumage fly in 
and out among these beautiful flowers and mocking-birds 
whistle as we pass. In places the vines have intertwined 
and looped themselves from tree to tree, so as to form a 
continuous arbour. Sometimes they have choked the 
life out of the trees, which have become dead supports for 
the vine masses. 

Some of the new fences along the road were made of 
American wire, fastened to cactus plants. I noted also 
fences of poles tied together with withes. We passed 
many huts of cane and thatch. The cane walls were built 
of poles, and thatch laid upon poles made the roof. 

Outside the towns, the poorer people of this region of 
Mexico live very cheaply. I shall not forget a call I 
made upon a small coffee planter. Although he had a 
grove of many acres, his home was a hut about twenty 
feet square, made of sunburnt bricks and roofed with red 
tile. The ground formed the floor. The whole family 
slept in one room. There were three beds upon two of 
which children were lying. As I entered a chicken sprang 
out from a saddle in the middle of the floor, and flew be¬ 
tween its master’s legs out thjough the door. The man 
asked me to be seated, and he was not averse to showing 


201 


MEXICO 


me his house and plantation. From this parlour and bed¬ 
room combined he took me into the kitchen. Here there 
was a sort of clay range at one end, and a little Mexican 
baby in a cradle hung from the rafters at the other. The 
two rooms made up the house, and the furniture con¬ 
sisted of the beds, half-a-dozen chairs, a table, and some 
earthenware cooking pots. 

Leaving the house my host took me out to look over his 
little plantation. The coffee trees ranged in size from 
sprouts to trees from six to eight feet high. But for the 
fact that they are carefully pruned, they would grow to a 
height of from fifteen to twenty feet. They have dark 
green leaves, and bright red berries, the seeds of which 
are the coffee of commerce. The crop is now ready for 
picking, and the Indians are moving to and fro among the 
plants gathering the fruit. The planter tells me that the 
average tree produces only one or two pounds a year, 
but that some yield as much as three, four, and five 
pounds. The trees do not begin to be profitable until 
they are five years old. The plants are started in a 
nursery and then transplanted; they begin to bear at 
about three years of age. 

Coffee and chocolate are the two popular beverages of 
Mexico, but I do not find the coffee particularly tempt¬ 
ing. This, I think, is the fault of the makers and not of 
the bean. A strong essence is prepared by the drip 
method, the liquid being poured through the grounds 
again and again. The only good coffee I have had has 
been at private houses. All I get at the hotels tastes as 
though it had been cooked a half-dozen times, or perhaps 
saved from last week, while that served at the restaurants 
makes me think of the Brazilian saying, that good coffee 
202 


JALAPA, THE BEAUTIFUL 

should be “as black as ink, as bitter as death, as hot as 
hell, and as sweet as love.” As far as these attributes are 
concerned, the Mexican hotel coffee certainly excels, save 
that it is often cold when brought in. In the country dis¬ 
tricts a wine bottle of cold essence is often placed in the 
middle of the table and everyone helps himself. The 
usual method is to pour hot milk and coffee into the cup 
at the same time. 

The chief beverage, however, is chocolate, and almost 
anywhere in the country one is pretty sure of getting a 
good cup of it made in the Mexican fashion. After the 
chocolate is brought to a boil, sugar and milk are added, 
and the mixture is then stirred with a wooden beater 
whirled between the hands. The result is delicious. 


203 


CHAPTER XXVI 


HOUSE-BUILDING IN MEXICO 

I FIND all Mexican cities much the same. Except 
in the main thoroughfares few of the sidewalks of 
the larger towns are wide enough for two persons 
to pass along together. Both residences and stores 
are built close to them and there are no bay windows 
or other projections save the iron-railed balconies on 
the upper floors of the houses of two or more stories. 
Occasionally, as in Jalapa, the roofs hang over the 
sidewalks so as to ward off the rain from those passing 
beneath. 

As there are few blinds and no shutters to speak of, one 
can usually look through the iron-barred windows into 
the houses and see their rather stiff but scrupulously clean 
interiors. All the better houses of the country are built 
the same way. There is practically no individuality in 
architecture in Mexico. The rich man’s house in Jalapa 
is put together in the same way as the rich man’s house in 
Guadalajara, and the retailer of San Luis Potosi or his 
brother merchant of Mexico City have the same kind of 
business buildings. Only in recent years have the Mexi¬ 
cans begun to build themselves detached houses on the 
edges of their cities. The houses in the colonias, as the 
new suburban residential districts are usually called, are 
more on the order of French villas than like ours. 

I have watched the building of a number of Mexican 
204 


HOUSE-BUILDING IN MEXICO 


houses. They are all on the Spanish plan with one- or two- 
story tiers of rooms around a court roofed by the sky. 
There are few houses in the country which are more than 
two stories high, though there are some built of stone and 
brick after the American style. Where there is room, the 
buildings are spread out over the ground instead of being 
built up into the air as with us, and they are peculiarly well 
adapted to the climate. In some of the houses the walls 
are from two to four feet thick. They are made of sun- 
dried brick and plaster. After the wall is laid the side of 
the house facing the street is covered with stucco, which 
is smoothed down so that it has an even surface. This is 
tinted a light blue, bright yellow, gray, or drab. The com¬ 
binations of colours walling the two sides of a Mexican 
street give the cities a gay appearance. The interior walls 
are finished much as ours are, except that they are seldom 
papered and are usually painted or kalsomined. Mexican 
rooms are bright with many-coloured frescoed designs. 
The rooms are usually large and the ceilings very high. 
The houses have little ventilation save from the front 
windows. When there is a double tier of rooms, one open¬ 
ing on the street and the other on the court, there is no 
means by which to get a draft through the rooms. 

In the big hotel at Jalapa I have a room with a ceiling so 
high that it makes me think the room has been turned up 
on end. The only ventilation is a hole over the door. I am 
on the second story, but the floor, nevertheless, is of brick 
laid in plaster. A cold chill runs up from my heels to my 
head when I get out upon these bricks in the morning. 
In some of the more modern houses wooden floors are 
laid and rugs used, though carpets are seldom seen, be¬ 
cause of the dampness during the wet season. 

205 


MEXICO 


There is little wood employed in building. Iron of 
all kinds has to be imported and after it has paid the 
tariff and the various freights the cost is almost prohibi¬ 
tive. The result is that beams are sunk deep into the 
mortar and the stone floors are laid upon them. The 
staircases are of stone and brick. String and rope here 
largely take the place of nails. If the Mexicans put up a 
scaffold about a building they tie the planks to poles or 
studding with great ropes and splice one piece of studding 
to another with a light line. These scaffolds do not look 
at all safe, but I am told that they are stronger than if 
they were fastened together with iron. I found this same 
use of ropes in building common in the Far East and even 
in Belgium and France. In Japan I saw a scaffolding 
leading up to the roof of a six-story building. It was made 
of thousands of rafters and poles which formed the walks 
and pathways up which materials were carried to the 
roof. In the whole there was not a single nail, rope and 
cord being used instead. Here in Mexico but few of 
the boxes are nailed together and crates for carrying goods 
are usually tied. 

At one of the biggest mines of the country, the houses of 
the owners of which were built of sun-dried bricks and 
mortar, I found the night watchman had made a house for 
himself out of soap-boxes. These were not more than 
two feet square, but he had saved the pieces and tied them 
together to posts so that they covered the walls and roof of 
his house. 

The typical Mexican home has few of the modern con¬ 
veniences. Where there is a bath it is generally a big, 
gloomy room into which the sunlight never enters, with 
the floor of tiles or cement and a drain in one corner. 

206 



Forbidding are the doors of Mexican homes and places of business. 
Set in walls four feet thick, fastened with huge locks and double bars, 
each usually has also its portero, who is guard and janitor combined. 









The native hut may be poorly built and have a leaky roof and a floor 
of flea-infested dust, but the kitchen arrangements are often a triumph 
of ingenuity. Although it may not look it, this kitchen is completely 
equipped. 



The occupants of a better-class house usually spend much of their 
time in the tiled, high-pitched corridor that surrounds the patio, from 
which all the rooms, except those facing the street, are entered. 









HOUSE-BUILDING IN MEXICO 


There is a shower bath for the warmer season and a metal 
tub for the cool months. 

I met a fellow American in a hotel here the other day 
and asked him how he got along with his Spanish. He said 
he had only learned three words. Pointing to his face, 
which he had shaved in such a way that the cuts upon it 
made me think of a Iamb sheared by an amateur farmer, he 
went on: "I had to learn these words to get my water for 
shaving. They are agua muy caliente , and they mean 
‘hot water, damned hot/” 

However much one may want to be on the ground 
floor in Mexican investments he does not want to live on 
the ground floor of a Mexican house. None of the houses 
has any cellar, so that the lower floor is often damp. As a 
rule the better classes sleep on the second floor, and the 
ground floor is given up to the servants. 

The house of the average well-to-do man has a big 
metal-studded front door, which looks more like the en¬ 
trance to a church or a hall than to a private residence. 
It has a great lock, and the older houses have door-knockers 
of curious shapes. The porter opens the door, and 
you see as you go in that he lives in the room at the side 
of the entrance. You may turn from here to the second 
floor or you may have to cross the court to reach the stone 
stairway leading to it. 

Upstairs the ceilings are from fourteen to twenty feet 
from the floor, and the roof sometimes juts out over a 
balcony built in front of the second-story rooms and 
looking down on the patio. If it does it will pay you to 
look at the rafters. They are laid and cut in as many 
different shapes as though they were in Japanese temples. 
In Jalapa 1 have dined in a court, or little patio, roofed 
207 


MEXICO 


with rough rafters of the most delicate sky-blue, which in 
contrast to the Venetian red floor and white walls were 
most striking. 

Most of the Mexican roofs are flat, and the water spouts 
are a characteristic feature of many of the towns. In 
some places, such as Aguascalientes, they thrust out over 
the street in the shape of great round tiles, and in others 
they are built out from the wall. Sometimes they are 
made of clay, and look as queer as the gargoyles of a 
mediaeval cathedral. Nowhere have I seen any of tin 
or iron. The spouts often stick out over the patio toward 
which the roof slopes. 

The roofs, which are very thick, are practically fire- and 
heat-proof. Great wooden beams are first put across the 
top of the thick house walls and set into them. On the 
top of the beams are laid planks coated with pitch which 
are covered with a layer of earth an inch thick; over the 
earth is applied a thick coating of gravel, and the whole is 
finished off with cement so that it is as smooth as a floor, 
and one may walk on it without injuring it. Some of the 
roofs are paved with bricks, and many of the larger build¬ 
ings of the city are finished in this way. A low coping 
rises about a foot or more above the average Mexican 
roof. As the housetop is often the gathering place of the 
family in the evening, flowers are kept blooming on it, 
and on a street where the dwellings are of about the same 
height one can go from one to the other on the roofs. 

Mexico has neither cooking stoves nor base-burners, and 
the fireplace and the grate are practically unknown out¬ 
side the capital. The people think that fireplaces are 
unhealthful and most of the cooking and heating of the 
country is done with charcoal. As to hot water and steam, 
208 


HOUSE-BUILDING IN MEXICO 


I should hate to risk my reputation for truthfulness by 
telling the average Mexican that such things are used 
for keeping people warm in our country. And as to sup¬ 
plying the nation with stoves from America, practically 
all the houses would have to be constructed differently to 
admit of their use. I remember on my first visit here I 
found that the American consul at San Luis Potosi had 
set up a battered old stove in the ante-room between his 
office and his living room, but he had to run the pipe out of 
the window, and though the heater made him comfortable 
it looked very much out of place. 

Mexico City, with its hundreds of big men, its scores of 
millionaires, and its more than half a million people, has 
but few houses that are properly heated, and I doubt if 
there are a hundred buildings in all Mexico which are 
heated by steam or hot water. None of the houses has 
any stoves to speak of, and in looking down upon a dozen 
Mexican towns I have yet to see any chimneys, excepting 
those of the factories. 

The other day I heard of an American who asked his 
landlady if he might have a fire in his room. She replied 
that he certainly might any time that he wanted one. But 
he found no provision for a fire, so called on his landlady 
once more. “Why, build it anywhere you like,” said 
she, pointing to the tiled floor. 

Occasionally the foreigners bring in oil stoves, which are 
a comfort in the chill of the mornings on the high plateau. 
But even the stranger soon learns to imitate the native 
habit of standing the first thing in the mornings in front 
of a wall facing east so as to warm up with a sun bath. 
The houses of brick and stone built after American designs 
with thin walls and no patios, which are quite numerous 
209 


MEXICO 


in the capital, have been found unsatisfactory by the 
Mexicans. Fireplaces in such dwellings cannot take the 
place of the sun-warmed courts, while the thin walls are 
not resistant alike to the cold of winter and the heat of 
summer. 


210 



On some of the huge estates of the Mexican plateau the owner lives in 
a luxurious home or squanders his wealth in the capital or in Paris. Mean¬ 
while he houses his peons in windowless hovels of sun-dried brick. 



In the olden days the city homes of wealthy Mexicans often had shops 
on the street floors. Now the downstairs rooms are sometimes used as 
servants’ quarters and garages, the family living in the rooms opening on 
the balcony around a patio. 

















Once the starting point of Spanish galleons laden with silver wrested 
from the conquered Aztecs, Vera Cruz is to-day the chief port of a free 
people through which they exchange goods with the rest of the world. 



The hacendado of the rich hot lands of Vera Cruz lives in one of the 
garden spots of the earth. Large scale operations and much capital are 
required for profitable cultivation of coffee, sugar, and rubber. 
















CHAPTER XXVII 


THE FRONT DOOR OF MEXICO 

F OR four hundred years the low-lying beach and 
curved harbour of Vera Cruz have formed the porch 
and front door of all Mexico. Here successive 
conquerors gained their first footholds, and from 
here they fought their way into the country and over the 
mountains to the heights of Mexico City. 

The city is still the chief port of entry for passengers 
and goods from Havana, New York, and Europe. More 
than one fourth of all the imports pass through its cus¬ 
tom house, which collects duties that average a million 
pesos a month. Tampico, because of its enormous out¬ 
put of oil, takes first rank in tonnage of shipping, but 
Vera Cruz is the most important for the export of other 
Mexican products and also as an inlet for miscellaneous 
goods. Now that Mexico is tied to the United States by 
several lines of excellent railways, many Americans cross 
our southern border and enter by the back door, but 
Vera Cruz, founded by Cortes, gives most visitors their 
first view. In the course of a year, the flags of all mari¬ 
time nations may be seen in its harbour, and for steam¬ 
ers of several Atlantic lines it is a regular port of call. 

Although it has borne the brunt of repeated attacks 
from the sea, and submitted to a series of occupations by 
foreign invaders, Vera Cruz remains to this day one of the 
most typically Spanish cities of Mexico. Seen from the 
2 I I 


MEXICO 


harbour, its low buildings seem hardly to rise above the 
ocean level, while behind and around it are vast stretches 
of green plains. Its waterfront has docks wonderfully con¬ 
structed of great blocks of stone, and so long, that a 
walk to the end of them is a tiresome trip under the blaz¬ 
ing sun. 

Their equipment includes giant cranes, railroad tracks, 
and every modern device for loading and unloading car¬ 
goes moving by ship or by train. The port works, as 
well as the asphalt-paved streets, water supply, and sew¬ 
ers, were put in by an English firm, and it must be con¬ 
ceded that they did a good job. Many a larger town in 
the States has fewer modern port facilities and an uglier 
waterfront than this ancient entrance to the present-day 
Mexico. 

Until Vera Cruz was cleaned up it had frequent epi¬ 
demics of yellow fever, and travellers hurried on to the 
highlands by the first train available. Before the harbour 
was improved shipmasters dreaded to call on account of 
the “northers/' strong winds that sweep down from the 
north from November to March. These usually last from 
two days to two weeks, and during that time both the sea 
and the sky are a dull leaden gray and seem to be trying 
to lash themselves into fury. 

Behind the docks and the waterfront buildings begins 
the old city with its walls of pink, blue, and white. The 
narrow streets are now well paved and clean, but in the 
past open sewers ran through them and they were the dump¬ 
ing ground for all sorts of refuse. The only scavengers 
were the buzzards which flocked here in such numbers 
that they darkened the sky. ' They are still here, although 
they have to work harder to pick up a living. The roof 
212 


THE FRONT DOOR OF MEXICO 


of the market building is lined with them and they swoop 
down for such food as drops on the streets. They also 
perch on the carts carrying garbage and fight with each 
other for the contents. 

A walk of a few squares from the docks brings us to the 
plaza. It is nearly four centuries old, but not very im¬ 
posing. It is faced on two sides by hotels with wide 
porticoes where leisured Mexicans and foreigners sit at 
cast-iron tables drinking beer from Orizaba, or perhaps 
something stronger. The municipal building extends 
along the side nearest the harbour, while on the fourth side 
is the parochial church. The band plays every evening 
among the palms of the plaza, and here doubtless many a 
political plot has been hatched and its details worked out 
under cover of the music. 

But suppose we sit down in the port ales. We have a 
table with both the shade and the breeze and need not 
regard the hot sun that blazes down all around us. We are 
sitting not far from the spot where Cortes first claimed 
all Mexico in the name of his king. The day he landed 
was Good Friday, the day of the True Cross, Vera Cruz, 
and he gave the place that name, which it has borne ever 
since. Later he moved his camp to higher ground a mile 
farther inland, and it was on those very hills that the 
United States troops pitched their tents and stood sentry 
during our occupation of this city in 1914. 

It was with his own countrymen that Cortes had to 
fight first for his hold on Vera Cruz. The Indians were 
friendly and helped him make his way up to the Aztec 
capital. But the governor of Cuba, jealous of the successes 
of Cortes, sent over to Mexico a second expedition under 
a leader instructed to assume full command. He landed 
213 


MEXICO 


at Vera Cruz while Cortes was still in the capital and took 
possession of the fort, the first the Spanish had built. 
When Cortes learned this he hurried back to the coast by 
forced marches and, attacking by night, was victorious. 
He then merged the second army with his own small com¬ 
mand and led both back over the mountains to the valley 
of the Montezumas. During Queen Elizabeth’s reign 
the fort was again captured, this time by an English¬ 
man, Sir John Hawkins, who was later driven away by 
the arrival of a new fleet from Spain. 

As the city grew in wealth from its rich traffic with 
Spain, it repeatedly fell prey to the pirates infesting the 
Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Vera Cruz 
children are still frightened into being good by the story 
of one band of sea robbers which kept fifteen hundred of 
the townspeople locked up for four days in that very 
church on the other side of the plaza while they looted 
the city. Another pirate, himself a Spaniard, put three 
hundred men, women, and children on an island in the bay, 
and left them to starve—a horrible sacrifice even in those 
cruel days. From this the place takes its name, Sacri¬ 
fices Island. 

Nearly a century before the Mayflower pilgrims landed 
at Plymouth, the Spaniards began to build the fortress 
that for hundreds of years was the key to this city and, 
I might say, to all Mexico. This was San Juan de Ulua, 
one of their first strongholds in Mexico and the last place 
the Spanish gave up when driven from the country. It 
covers practically all of a small island about a mile from 
shore, forming one of the best examples on our continent 
of the work of the military engineers of old Europe. It 
has the fittings of a castle of the Middle Ages, including a 
214 



Nails are but little used in Mexico, either by skilled carpenters or 
Indian hut builders. Poles for scaffoldings or the frames of houses in the 
jungle are tied together with ropes or withes. 














The filth of four centuries was removed from the fortress of San Juan 
de Ulna when it got its first scrubbing during the American occupation 
in 1914. Many of its dark dungeons lie below sea level. 



Since Vera Cruz has been made more sanitary, the buzzards that used 
to infest its streets have had a harder time of it. But the market still 
furnishes them with fair pickings. 









THE FRONT DOOR OF MEXICO 

moat, and its walls are joined at various angles so that the 
attackers at any point are exposed to two streams of gun 
fire. The walls are of dingy white stone, and so massive 
that they seem a part of the rock. At the corners they 
are surmounted with little domed cupolas, big enough to 
hold a sentry on duty, while slits for lookouts and rifles 
and large openings for cannon threaten on every side. 
Vast fortunes were spent in building the fort, the founda¬ 
tion alone costing two million dollars, while the total bill 
sent to Charles V at Madrid was twenty times as much. 
One day the Emperor was asked what he was gazing at 
so intently in the west. “I am looking for San Juan de 
Ulua,” he replied. “ It has cost so much that we ought to 
be able to see it from here.” 

Inside the fort is a great paved court, with the walls 
rising to the height of two stories above. Here the garri¬ 
sons were drilled and prisoners executed. Around the 
court are all sorts of rooms, with walls, ceilings, and floors 
of stone. Of its many dark dungeons, some were sunk 
below the level of the sea. Instruments of punishment 
and torture were in regular use, and untold numbers of 
prisoners dragged out their lives in the darkness and 
damp of the cells. Even up to recent times, the fortress 
has been used as a prison, both for criminals and for politi¬ 
cal offenders, and only a few years ago were its dungeons 
sealed up, never to be used again. 

San Juan de Ulua got its first bath in the American oc¬ 
cupation of Vera Cruz in 1914. At that time it was 
given a good cleaning and scrubbing, and the dirt and 
filth of four centuries were removed. This was the second 
time the Stars and Stripes flew over the old fortress, as in 
1847 an American fleet carrying General Scott and his 
215 


MEXICO 

troops bombarded and captured San Juan and the city. 
The French held it twice, once in 1838 and again in 1861, 
when, with Great Britain and Spain, they seized the cus¬ 
toms house of the city. 

Many of the older buildings of Vera Cruz bear the scars 
of these repeated attacks. To see the latest we need 
walk only a block or two from our seats facing the plaza 
down to the naval academy. Its pink stuccoed walls 
were shot full of holes by the guns of Uncle Sam's war¬ 
ships when Huerta ruled in Mexico City. 

In Mexico's century of revolutions, as well as in foreign 
invasions, Vera Cruz has always been a most important 
factor. Here about the middle of the last century Benito 
Juarez and his troops held out against a rival government 
in Mexico City, and here some years afterward Porfirio 
Diaz was secretly landed to begin his march to the presi¬ 
dency. More than a generation later another Diaz, 
General Felix, a nephew of Don Porfirio, occupied the 
city and set up a government in opposition to Madero. 

There are several reasons why Vera Cruz is a pre¬ 
ferred spot for starting revolutions. One is its ac¬ 
cessibility by sea, affording a convenient landing place 
for the political exile seeking glory. It is also the seaport 
nearest the capital, being only two hundred and sixty- 
five miles from Mexico City. But perhaps the chief 
reason is that its customs house offers a supply of the 
sinews of war, the first need of the revolutionist being 
cash. He who sits in the box office has the best chance 
of running the theatre, and the Vera Cruz customs re¬ 
ceipts are always enough to maintain a small army. 

Ever since the day of Cortes the road from here up to 
Mexico City has been the highway to power. It has also 
216 


THE FRONT DOOR OF MEXICO 


served as an avenue of escape. When the political atmos¬ 
phere of the capital gets too hot for a president or one of 
his opponents, a night ride in a Pullman drops the fugitive 
from the heights down to the Vera Cruz docks, with their 
steamers for Havana, New York, or other ports of refuge 
in France or Spain. 


217 


CHAPTER XXVIII 


BY MULE CAR TO THE SEA 

I N MY first travels in Mexico I made a trip down to 
Vera Cruz from the highlands that cannot now be 
repeated. Starting from Jalapa, I rode for seventy- 
two miles in a street car, leaving at seven in the morn¬ 
ing and arriving here at three in the afternoon. Most of 
the way was downhill, and our speed averaged twelve 
miles an hour, although the return journey up the moun¬ 
tains took twice as long. Now the same distance is cov¬ 
ered in comfortable trains which go back and forth in 
about the same time. 

I was one of the last Americans to make this journey by 
street car, as the Interoceanic Railway was then nearly 
completed. It was a mad, wild race down the mountains 
with a peon driver behind four lively mules. They gal¬ 
loped through jungle, orange groves, and pineapple beds, 
from the cool coffee uplands to the coast plain, hot and 
humid. The car contained six benches for seats. It was 
only about fifteen feet long, with a platform in front where 
the driver stood holding his whip and lines. 

Our road was that over which Cortes marched with his 
troops, and which General Scott took when he led his 
army up to the capture of Mexico City. It had been in 
existence for hundreds of years, and until the building, 
first of the light railway, and then of the steam roads, was 
almost the sole means of communication between the 
218 


BY MULE CAR TO THE SEA 


Mexican coast and the capital more than a mile higher 
up in the mountains. Over it the swift runners of the 
Aztecs carried their messages, and up its slopes toiled 
generation after generation of Indians, in ceaseless pro¬ 
cession, their backs bent double with burdens of every 
description. 

Near Jalapa the road is wide, rugged, and cobbled. We 
came on a dead gallop up to the house where Santa Anna, 
the man our General Scott defeated at Cerro Gordo, made 
his headquarters. When he was the dictator of the 
Republic, Santa Anna owned hundreds of thousands of 
acres along this highway. We rode for perhaps fifty 
miles through the plantations he once held. His for¬ 
mer home is a hollow square of long, low buildings, sur¬ 
rounded by thatched huts in which live descendants of 
the Indians who were practically his slaves. 

It was here that we made our first change of mules. 
Then the driver cracked his whip and away we went. He 
seemed to rejoice in every fresh team and had no mercy 
on the animals that pulled us along. He had a whip 
twenty feet long, the crack of which sounded like a pistol, 
and, uphill or downhill, he thrashed his mules, keeping 
them on a dead gallop all the time. He especially de¬ 
lighted in whipping his steeds as we passed the peons on 
the road, and he was the admiration of the dark-eyed 
Indian girls. The man wore the whitest of white cotton 
clothes, and his pantaloons fitted his legs as closely as a 
ballet girl’s tights. 

The Indians of the hot lands below Jalapa are different 
from those of the Mexican plateau. They wear fewer 
clothes, and in fact some of them wear nothing at all. I 
saw many naked babies, and under one palm-leaf roof half 
219 


MEXICO 


a dozen men slept with nothing but breech clouts upon 
them, while the sun shone in through the slits in the roof 
and painted their skins a varnished mahogany-brown. 
Many of the women were bare-armed and bare-bosomed, 
and their long black hair hung in braids down their backs. 
As they looked out of their thatched huts some of them 
really seemed almost beautiful. 

The Indians of Vera Cruz, especially those near the 
coast, are said to be the laziest in Mexico. The climate is 
so hot and damp that it is enervating. The soil is so 
rich and food is so plentiful that they can live almost with¬ 
out working. Even the houses are cruder than elsewhere 
in Mexico, the natives evidently seeing no reason why 
they should trouble themselves to build any better. Some 
have but one room, in which men, women, and children, 
married and single, sleep on the bare ground together 
under the same shelter of thatch. Many of the huts 
have no doors, and we caught many weird sights as we 
went by. The people cook without stoves over fires 
built on the floor, and the smoke finds its way out of the 
hut as best it can. 

We took our dinner at Rinconado, eating with a 
dozen Mexican farmers, who wore their black sombreros 
at the table. A pretty Mexican girl with a black 
scarf round her head sat opposite me and smoked a 
cigarette after her meal, and hungry-eyed Indians looked 
curiously through the windows and watched us as we 
ate. 

Leaving the station we passed a boy ploughing in the 
jungle and I noticed that his wooden plough was pulled by 
oxen, which were harnessed to it by the horns. Every¬ 
where in the fields and in the houses we saw signs of the 
220 


BY MULE CAR TO THE SEA 


many superstitions of the Mexican peasants. Most of the 
com and wheat fields had crosses stuck up in them to 
keep the devil out of the crops, and many of the thatched 
huts had crosses covered with flowers and paper stuck in 
their roofs or in the ground hard by. 

The vegetation changed as we descended the mountains 
and entered the coast plains. We passed by great trees 
hung with the pods of the vanilla bean, and palms with 
clusters of cocoanuts. In climate and resources the State of 
Vera Cruz is one of the most varied in all Mexico. Its 
natural products include those of both the tropical and 
sub-tropical zones, and it is the principal coffee-growing 
state in the Republic. The annual coffee crop of Mexico 
amounts to about one hundred million pounds, two thirds 
of which is exported to the United States. Coffee is one 
of the chief exports of Vera Cruz, and this with the ex¬ 
port of oil and the customs on imports makes the city and 
state the principal source of income of the Mexican 
government. 

Vera Cruz is a most interesting state. Its southern end 
rests on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, famous for its trans¬ 
continental railroad which competes for traffic with our 
Panama Canal. One may go from Vera Cruz to the cap¬ 
ital by the Mexican Railway, which traverses one of the 
most picturesque parts of Mexico, or by the Interoceanic, 
which follows the route Cortes took, and passes through 
beautiful Jalapa. Both roads are marvels of railway en¬ 
gineering, and the journey is speedy and comfortable. 
In my estimation, however, neither trip can compare in 
interest or in grandeur with my ride in a street car down 
from Jalapa. Within the borders of the state are many 
peaks of the Sierra Madre, including the highest of all, 
221 


MEXICO 


Mount Orizaba, while its eastern edge is washed by the blue 
waters of the Mexican Gulf. On the north it extends to 
the Panuco River, the harbour of the great oil port of 
Tampico. To the south of the river lie the bulk of the 
producing oil fields. 


222 



The Mexicans are fond of flowers and raise great quantities of roses, 
carnations, big double violets, and blooms of the tropics. At the capital 
flowers are especially cheap and abundant, and on sale every day in the year. 











At Xochimilco pleasure parties throng the water passages between 
little green islands, which, because they were formed of masses of vegeta¬ 
tion drifting on the lake surface, came to be called “floating gardens.” 


It, , 





CHAPTER XXIX 

FLOATING GARDENS OF XOCHIMILCO 

B ACK in Mexico City once more, I have spent to¬ 
day upon the lakes and canals that wind about 
) through the once floating gardens of Xochimilco. 
The gardens do not float now but in days gone 
by they drifted from one place to another and the people 
here say that in some of the upper lakes there are islands 
that will bob up and down if you jump on them. His¬ 
torians record that there were thousands afloat in the 
days of the Aztecs and that Cortes found Texcoco, the 
lake nearest Mexico City, covered with them. 

During the thirteenth century an Indian tribe, the 
Xochimilcas, drove the Chichimecas out of this region and 
established themselves here in an empire which was part 
land and part water. Later on the Spaniards had con¬ 
siderable trouble in routing them from their island strong¬ 
hold. Many of the old canals on which the Indians used 
to paddle their dugouts have now been filled in, but there 
are still three main canals and several smaller branches. 

Once, the chief of these, the Viga Canal, was dotted 
with floating gardens practically all the way in to the city 
markets. But now for several miles its banks are bor¬ 
dered with breweries and other factories which pollute the 
stream and make the waters anything but agreeable for 
travel. Besides, the canal is here choked up with water 
lilies, so that the Indian boatmen can make little head- 
223 


MEXICO 


way. It is at Xochimilco, which means “the place where 
the flowers are,” that one really sees the best of the 
chinampas, as the floating islands are called. 

These floating islands were made of mats of interlacing 
branches of trees covered with a thin layer of soil. Upon 
them plants were set out and tiny huts built. Where the 
water was not more than ten or twenty feet deep they 
were anchored to the lake bottom by willow poles driven 
through them down into the mud. These poles took root 
and year after year as the soil thickened the floating masses 
became the permanent islands we see to-day. Many of 
the islands are only about twenty feet wide, and some are 
separated from one another by waterways not more than 
six feet in width. They remind one of Venice or Holland 
and to me are among the great sights of Mexico. 

My trip through these islands was in a flat-bottomed, 
gondola-like boat which was poled along by an Indian 
boy at the stern. We passed great flower beds that were 
masses of bloom; roses and lilies and pinks by the million. 
The water was covered with tiny leaves the size of a pin¬ 
head and we floated through these green highways with 
acres of flowers on both sides and great overhanging trees 
shading our way. Now and then we came to a vegetable 
farm, where the waterbound patches of black earth were 
filled with cabbages, or heads of green lettuce. There were 
dozens of fields of beets, of carrots, and of round artichokes 
like those I have bought on the Mediterranean. Some of 
the farms grew only onions, each almost as big as the 
head of a baby. Here and there I noticed men at work in 
the fields, and saw that most of the cultivation was by 
mattock rather than with spade or plough. 

My peon boy boatman was not the least interesting part 
224 


FLOATING GARDENS OF XOCHIMILCO 


of the picture. His eyes were as dark as the rich ground 
over which we passed, and his skin was as yellow as the 
great golden carrots which, dropping from boats loaded 
for the market, had here and there fallen into the water. 
His teeth were as white as the snowy turnips in the boats 
that went by, and his short bushy hair of jet black was so 
stiff that it almost raised his hat from his head. He 
picked many flowers for me as we stopped from time to 
time, and upon my saying that I was hungry, he landed 
near a thatched hut and brought me some delicious 
tamales still piping hot in their corn husks. 

Many other boats passed us. Some were filled with 
vegetables, some carried picnic parties, and others were 
floating refreshment stands. Peddlers, both men and 
women, paddled or poled their way up and down the 
canals selling things to eat and drink. Some of them had 
great jars of pulque , others tamales and tortillas. Near the 
city much peddling is done from boats to the retail dealers 
whose shops are so close to the canal that the prows of the 
boats can almost reach into the stores. The whole scene 
reminded me of the floating homes of Bangkok and the 
rivermen’s craft of Canton, on which more than one hun¬ 
dred thousand people spend their whole lives. 

While in the boat I looked in vain for the water flies, 
said to have been one of the delicacies of Aztec gastronomy. 
It may not have been the proper season, or it may be that 
I did not strike the breeding beds. The Spaniards who 
came over with Cortes reported that the Aztecs ate a kind 
of mud made into cakes. This mud is believed to have 
been a mixture of the fly eggs which the Indians of the 
Valley of Mexico still enjoy. They also mash the insects 
themselves into a paste, which they boil in corn husks 
225 


MEXICO 


and offer for sale in the markets. Sometimes hens’ eggs 
are mixed with the flies’ eggs to make a paste which is sold 
in cakes. 

As the female flies usually deposit their eggs on reeds, the 
Indians plant rushes along the marshy banks to attract 
them. They gather the eggs by pulling up the reed stalks 
and shaking them over a sheet. 

In winter the lakes are thick with wild ducks which feed 
on these flies. The birds are killed by methods that our 
hunters would consider most unsportsmanlike. They are 
often slaughtered by guns in batteries arranged in three 
tiers one above the other, so that birds not killed on the 
first shot are brought down as they rise from the water. 
The Indians are said to have a still more economical way 
of bagging their game. The duck-hunter hollows out a 
pumpkin or a big squash, cuts slits to look through, and, 
putting this over his head, wades out up to his neck in the 
water. Slowly working his way into the midst of a flock 
of the unsuspecting ducks, he catches them by the feet, 
one at a time, and kills them by wringing their necks. 

The Indians who work the floating gardens and lands 
along the Viga Canal and its branches are different from 
those in the city. They are full-blooded Aztecs and are 
said to speak the ancient tongue. They are remarkable 
for their cleanliness, and are proud of their lineage and 
the fact that they have not mingled their blood with that 
of other races. 

In the bottom of Lake Xochimilco are springs of pure 
water, fed perhaps by the snows of “Popo.” One of 
them supplies part of the water of Mexico City, flowing 
about eight million gallons in twenty-four hours. Near it 
at Xochimilco stands a pumping station of the city power 
226 


FLOATING GARDENS OF XOCHIMILCO 


company, and hard by, in the midst of olive trees, pines, 
and flowers, a great pool of cold crystal-clear water bub¬ 
bles up from the bottom of the lake. There are also 
several good outdoor restaurants, which are well patro¬ 
nized. 

The Mexicans of all classes love to spend a day in the 
country, and almost every Sunday people of high and low 
degree plan picnics. The upper classes visit each other 
at their haciendas, but the peon of the capital often begins 
his outing with a trip in a scow hired from an Indian mar¬ 
ket gardener and ends it with a meal under the trees fol¬ 
lowed by dancing. On moonlight nights the canals are 
full of boats loaded with family parties, music tinkles from 
guitars, and young people give themselves up to love- 
making as freely as any on a Coney Island steamer. 


227 


CHAPTER XXX 


A LOOK AT THE MARKETS 


us follow some of the boats down the Viga 



Canal to Mexico City and visit the markets 


where the produce of the floating gardens and 


* ^ farms is sold. The markets are among the 
finest in North America, and I doubt whether better vege¬ 
tables and fruits are anywhere to be had. Nearly every 
vegetable can be bought all the year round, and owing 
to the great variety of the climate, the fruits include 
apples, peaches, and pears as well as oranges, bananas, 
pineapples, lemons, and mangoes. A pineapple as big 
as my head costs me ten cents, and two fairly good oranges 
are sold for one cent. Porters go along with great baskets 
of fruit on their heads, and, as we look, one of them, carry¬ 
ing two bushels of pineapples, slips and the great rosy 
fruit rolls over the floor. No one laughs as the natives 
help him pick up his wares. 

Some of the most interesting peddlers are outside the 
big market. Here the streets are lined with booths where 
Indians are selling wares of all kinds which they have 
brought in from the country. Here is one man who has 
cups, saucers, and carafes, all made of burnt clay. He has 
also pottery, toy plates for the children as big around as a 
cent, and cups the size of a thimble. Near him is a peon 
with clay savings banks in the form of little red pigs with 
slots in their backs, and next is a man peddling whistles. 
The whistles, which are of black clay, make as shrill a 


228 


A LOOK AT THE MARKETS 


noise as that of any policeman's whistle of nickel. They 
sell at two for a cent. 

A little farther on is a man peddling rat traps made of 
steel hoops, and beside him are two Indians, selling tur¬ 
keys, which are slung over their shoulders. I price the 
great birds and find I can have one for five dollars. We 
weigh it and it kicks the beam at twelve pounds. 

But here comes a porter with a load of wrapping ma¬ 
terial tied to his back. It consists of bundles of dried 
corn husks and will be used by the butchers and other 
market people to wrap up small purchases. Every mar¬ 
ket man and woman keeps a stock of corn husks on hand, 
and the great load borne by the peon will be easily sold. 

There are even peddlers selling game cocks. There is 
one now. We can see only his legs, which move along 
under the great framework of baskets covering his back 
and reaching high over his head. Out of each basket 
waves the tail of a cock, and as he goes by we hear a great 
squawking. The best of birds will bring twice as much 
as a turkey. The cocks' heads are tucked inside the bas¬ 
kets, so that they may not peck at one another. 

About the Cathedral are scores of street peddlers who 
sell candies, peanuts, and fruit. It is remarkable how 
small are the purchases of many of the people. The pea¬ 
nuts are not measured out by the glass or the pint as 
with us, but are counted. One can get about ten for a 
cent. In one pile may be four or five candies and an¬ 
other may contain four oranges laid up like a pyramid. 

In the markets there are little piles of potatoes con¬ 
taining a dozen tubers not more than an inch in diameter. 
Such a pile may sell for a nickel. Onions and green pep¬ 
pers are counted, and squash and pumpkins are cut into 
229 


MEXICO 


pieces and sold by the slice. I saw women to-day buying 
them at one cent a slice. Think of a cent’s worth of 
cabbage! But many of the people are poor, ten or fifteen 
cents must cover a whole morning’s marketing, and a 
cent’s worth of cabbage will flavour a stew. In the 
villages of the interior no market woman will sell her eggs 
except by the mano, or hand, which means five at one 
time. If you want to buy five dozen, you must let her 
count you out twelve manos, paying for each as it is 
handed to you. 

Mexico has always been noted for its markets. Some 
of the largest and most elaborate buildings of to-day are 
devoted to them and every city considers its market house 
a sort of public institution. Many of the markets are 
hundreds of years old. I found one at Jalapa which 
looked as though it had been built by the Moors. It 
had many Doric columns upholding the portico sur¬ 
rounding the court where the Indian peddlers squatted 
and offered their wares. The market of the capital is 
largely of iron and is big enough to accommodate huck¬ 
sters to the number of ten thousand or more. Toluca has 
a wonderful market, while that of Puebla is spread over 
six acres. Everything one can think of is sold in these 
places, and the mass of people depend upon them for their 
vegetables, meat, grain, and fruits. 

About every city market you will find booths devoted 
to fancy work, pottery, shoes, or cheap dry goods, and 
notions. Mexico has many house industries, and there 
are towns that make certain kinds of wares which are 
peddled about over the country or sold in small shops by 
the natives. Every town has its plaza around which 
are often arcades upheld by pillars. These arcades 
230 



The pulque gatherer sucks into a gourd the sap of the maguey cactus, 
and then transfers it to his pigskin bag, in which it is taken to the fer¬ 
menting room. 







Bird peddlers, whose stocks range from live turkeys to fighting cocks, 
are a feature of the street life of Mexico City. Parrots that talk, screech¬ 
ing parakeets, and tiny songsters from the jungle are also sold in the 
flower market. 



The Mexican housekeeper purchases only one day’s supplies at a 
time. Piles of a dozen potatoes may bring a nickel and squash and 
pumpkins are sold by the slice. One may even buy a cent’s worth of 
cabbage. 
















A LOOK AT THE MARKETS 

are filled with petty merchants, each of whom has a 
cupboard and counter set against one of the pillars. 
The peddlers are of all ages and of both sexes and they sell 
all sorts of things. Here the wife of a shoemaker stands 
with her back against the wall with a half-dozen pairs of 
sharp-toed children’s shoes on the flags at her feet. Next 
is a black-bearded man peddling bridle-bits and ornamen¬ 
tal Mexican spurs, while hard by, perhaps, is a cane peddler 
who has carved sticks to catch the eye of the tourist. All 
of the villages have little stores run by Indians. 

In Mexico City there are many street peddlers selling 
clothing, some hawking straw hats and baskets, and others 
with trays of toys, candy, and other sweetmeats. I saw 
one to-day who had a score of birdcages tied to his back. 
He was peddling canaries and parrots. Near him was a 
woman with an open umbrella filled with picture post¬ 
cards, and farther on walked a porter loaded with dressed 
chickens tied by the legs in a bundle. He offered them 
to the passers-by at so much apiece. 

And then there are men who carry kids over their 
shoulders and peddle them from house to house, and boys 
who go along with great screenlike frames of shoestrings 
tied to sticks. There are some peddling books and others 
with mirrors and notions for women. There are peddlers 
who drive live turkeys through the streets so that you 
can buy your Thanksgiving bird on the hoof and know it 
is fresh. The turkeys are often driven to market from 
miles out in the country and the men in charge will re¬ 
fuse to sell the whole flock on the way. You may perhaps 
get one or two birds but the flock must be kept as an ex¬ 
cuse for his stay in the market, where he meets all his 
friends. 


23 1 


CHAPTER XXXI 


TOLUCA IN THE HILLS 

C OMING from the capital to Toluca my train 
carried me past the great castle of Chapul- 
tepec, along the fashionable drive of the Paseo 
and out into the beautiful Valley of Mexico, 
one of the richest farming districts on the globe. As far 
as I could see, until the mountains cut off the view, were 
plains of black earth and green crops spotted with peons 
in white clothes. Here a herd of cattle was watched by 
an Indian girl who waved her hand at us as the cars 
flashed by. There were peons carrying all kinds of stuff 
on their backs to the market and a little farther on were 
automobiles streaming over the fine motor road between 
Toluca and Mexico City. Now the train cut its way 
through a vast plantation of maguey being cultivated to 
supply the pulquer'ias of the capital. Indians were gather¬ 
ing the juice from the plants and carrying it off in pig¬ 
skins, some staggering, drunk with the beer they were 
bearing. 

As we rode farther on over the country the City 
of Mexico receded. The hundred great domes which 
tower above the plain of flat-roofed houses dwindled, and 
off in the distance the snowcapped mountains and the 
great twin volcanoes of Mexico looked down upon us. 
The “White Woman” seemed to have put on a new shroud 
as she lay there on her cold bier under the blue sky, and in 
232 


TOLUCA IN THE HILLS 

the strong sunlight the other mountains were dusted with 
silver. 

Half an hour later the country grew rougher and the 
floor of the valley became rolling. We ascended low hills 
and shot out of the green into a range of brown mountains 
as wild as the wildest part of the Rockies. Great hills 
rose upward over the track, frowning threateningly down 
upon the engine as it defiantly steamed its way onward. 
Passing through deep gorges and along rocky defiles, 
the train dashed down into green valleys, taking us in a 
quarter of an hour from the scenery of the Nevada Rockies 
to that of the Alleghanies. The hills were now green, and 
the queer huts of the peons reminded me so much of the 
Tyrolese Alps, that when we stopped at the station, I half 
expected to see German faces under the great hats of the 
people. 

The houses of this region were different from any I have 
seen elsewhere in Mexico. Many of them were not bigger 
than dog-kennels and some looked like old-fashioned 
chicken coops. They had ridged roofs tied down by ropes 
to the low walls; they seldom had windows, and the doors 
were so low that the people had to stoop to get into them. 
They were built right into the sides of the mountain. Now 
and then we passed villages of thatched huts with little 
plantations of maguey about them. The Indians here 
hold and work the land in common. The fields are sep¬ 
arated from one another by rows of maguey plants, which 
form excellent fences. They make the whole land look 
like a crazy quilt of crops, with the patches joined by 
seams of green cactus. 

Whenever the train halted, the chocolate-coloured crowd 
that gathered around us was Egyptian rather than Bavar- 
233 


MEXICO 


ian. Pretty Indian women in white waists and red skirts, 
and little girls clad only in blankets held out their hands 
just as do the children of the Nile when they clamour for 
backsheesh. 

At Mexico City we were more than seven thousand feet 
above the sea. At Dos Rios, seventeen miles farther on, 
we were thirteen feet higher. A little later we reached the 
great divide where two streams only fifty feet apart flow in 
opposite directions, one pouring into the Pacific Ocean and 
the other into the Gulf of Mexico. This point is nearly 
two miles above the level of the sea, and it was here that 
I first saw the snow-white volcano of Nevada de Toluca, 
which is fifteen thousand feet high. 

We now entered the rich valley of Toluca with its vast 
haciendas covered with the splendid crops produced by 
the wonderful climate and irrigated soil. Here again the 
houses changed, the board roofs held down by stone and 
the thatches of cactus giving place to great white haciendas 
with tiled roofs. About them were patches of red and 
white, the kennel-like houses of the peons, each not more 
than six feet square. As we descended the mountain we 
skirted the village of Jajalpa where a score of pretty girls, 
bare-armed and bare-footed, brought pulque to the car win¬ 
dows to sell. A few minutes more and we were at Toluca. 

Though in the last hour of our ride we had descended 
one thousand feet, at Toluca we were still that much 
higher than Mexico City. If the town could be moved 
into Europe or the United States, it would make fortunes 
for its people as a mountain resort, for it is situated more 
than eight thousand feet above the sea and is as clean as a 
pin. Streams of clear water flow through the streets, and 
the coloured walls of the houses with their dark red roofs 
234 


TOLUCA IN THE HILLS 

look as though they had just received a coat of fresh 
paint. 

Toluca seems newer than any city of Massachusetts, yet 
it was founded more than one hundred years before Boston 
sprang up on the cow paths, and it has been the capital of 
the state of Mexico for almost a century. Where the 
State House stands on the plaza was once the palace of a 
son of Cortes, and near it is the long, low market-house, 
its heavy roof upheld by many columns. 

This market is famous for the Toluca baskets woven in 
green, red, blue, and white; they are sold by the thou¬ 
sand. The peddlers squatting in its arcades have also 
Indian lacquer work, rag dolls, and other toys. The 
Mexicans are fond of their children, and one of the chief 
industries of the country is making playthings. 

In fact, Mexico might almost be called the land of the 
rag baby. Near the great Cathedral in Mexico City 
I saw a hundred men selling rag dolls that were of all col¬ 
ours and made up to represent all sorts of characters. 
There were black dolls and white dolls, and dolls dressed 
as Indian maidens. Here at Toluca I found a doll, as big 
as a two-year-old child, made out of rags. Puebla has 
dolls with papier-mache heads and bodies of rags, and I 
find everywhere dolls of burnt clay ranging in length from 
that of my little finger to that of a baby. Some of the 
dolls sold in Mexico City are of wax or clay on which 
cloth has been pasted. Some have mantillas of lace and 
others are in full Mexican costumes. Peddlers sell them 
about the hotels where the foreigners stay. 

At Christmas time the streets of all the towns and cities 
are lined with stalls selling dolls, candy, mats, baskets, 
and pottery figures. Our Christmas trees are unknown to 
235 


MEXICO 


Mexican children. Instead they have earthenware jars 
decorated with tinsel and streamers of bright tissue paper, 
called pinates. Sometimes the jars take the form of 
clowns, dancing girls, or animals. 

On Christmas Eve, the pinata, stuffed with candy, 
games, and toys, is hung from the ceiling of a room or 
from a tree in the patio. The children are blindfolded 
and each is given three chances to strike the jar with a 
stick. At last the jar is broken and down comes a shower 
of sweetmeats and toys. The children tear the bandages 
from their eyes and shout and laugh as they scramble 
about for sweetmeats and gifts. 

In Mexico the Christmas festivities usually begin on the 
16th of December and end on the 25th. A great feature 
is the posada, from a word meaning an inn. The posadas 
are characteristic of Mexico and are held in commemora¬ 
tion of the time when Joseph and Mary found no abiding 
place in the inn and were forced to go to the stable in Beth¬ 
lehem. For the nine-day celebration nine families often 
join forces, the whole company coming together in their re¬ 
spective homes on successive evenings. Each night they 
form a procession and walk about the house several times 
carrying lighted candles and chanting a litany. The leader 
bears wax or clay figures of Mary and Joseph which he 
holds up as he asks shelter for the Holy Family. This 
is refused every night until Christmas Eve. Then with an 
image of the Christ Child added to those of Mary and 
Joseph, the whole party finds refuge with the host best able 
to entertain the party and there all the nine families 
have a dance and a supper. 

I saw a great many live babies in the market of Toluca. 
They were with their mothers who were selling dolls of rags 
236 


TOLUCA IN THE HILLS 


and of clay. The Mexican babies are the brightest black- 
eyed specimens of humanity I have ever seen. Those of 
the poorer classes are wrapped up in shawls and carried 
around on the backs of their mothers or it may be of their 
little brothers. A bare-legged rascal of six who begged a 
dime from me at the station to-day had a baby on his back 
nearly as big as himself. He looked more like a Japanese 
urchin than a Mexican Indian, and it was worth ten cents 
to get a laugh out of him and his baby sister. 

For a month after they are born, Mexican babies are 
kept in swaddling clothes. Then, whether boys or girls, 
they are put into pantalets. As they grow older their 
clothes become more like those of their mothers and fathers. 
A boy of four is often dressed just like the head of the 
family. 

I remember two youngsters I photographed yesterday. 
Each had on a hat higher than mine. They were more dig¬ 
nified than American boys of sixteen, though they could 
not have been more than four years of age. Their sister 
had the long dark shawl of the Mexican woman about her, 
and her dress reached almost to her feet. She could not 
have been more then ten years of age but she was already 
approaching womanhood. Girls here mature at thirteen 
and at fourteen they can be legally married. The great 
mortality among Mexican infants is probably due in 
some degree to early marriages. The authorities state 
that half of all the children of Mexico die before they are 
seven years of age. 


237 


CHAPTER XXXII 


SLICING UP THE BIG ESTATES 

I AM delighted with San Luis Potosi. It is one of 
the live, up-to-date centres of northern Mexico and 
many Americans regard it as the best city of the 
country. For many years it has been known prin¬ 
cipally for the silver and gold mines in the surrounding 
mountains. It is also the capital of the state of San Luis 
Potosi. The legislature which meets here was one of the 
first to pass laws putting into effect the radical land re¬ 
forms decreed by the Constitution of 1917. 

The first city was built up in the hills of San Pedro, 
twelve miles from here, but that site was later abandoned 
for lack of adequate water supply. The present water 
works, which are owned by a private concern, have not 
kept pace with the growth of the city. Nevertheless, San 
Luis Potosi has paid much attention to sanitary matters, 
and, in contrast with some of the neighbouring cities, is 
remarkably clean. 

San Luis lies in a basin formed by the mountains. It is 
more than a mile above the sea, and its altitude and beau¬ 
tiful surroundings make it a favourite summer resort for 
people of the coast regions. It is on the main line of the 
Mexican National, which is crossed here by the railroad 
to Tampico nearly three hundred miles away. Besides the 
smelters serving the mines, it has a fruit cannery, woollen 
238 



Instead of Christmas trees the Mexicans use decorated pottery jars 
and figures called pinates. These are stuffed with presents, hung from 
the ceiling, and then shattered to bring down a shower of gifts. 












“Every market has its babies, either crawling about underfoot or carried 
in their mothers’ shawls. Smaller than our babies of the same age, they 
are the brightest little black-eyed specimens of humanity I have ever seen.’’ 



In the highlands, where wheat is grown, it is brought to the threshing 
mills in great fibre nets. The Mexicans eat less of this grain than we, 
corn being their staple food. 














SLICING UP THE BIG ESTATES 

mills, and many small shops making rough shoes, overalls, 
and shirts for the peons. 

The city is well built. It has a fine cathedral, a baker’s 
dozen of gray churches, and stores with the best-looking 
show windows I have found anywhere outside the capital. 
The show window is a sign of progress in Mexican mer¬ 
chandising. In my first trip to Mexico I found hardly a 
store with a window exhibit, but now the merchants ap¬ 
preciate the advantage of displaying their goods. The 
business men here are among the most enterprising in the 
country and many of them have grown rich. 

The population of San Luis is rapidly increasing. In¬ 
deed, I am surprised at the number and size of the Mexi¬ 
can cities. The capital is larger than Pittsburgh, Guadala¬ 
jara has almost as many people as New Haven, and any 
one of half-a-dozen other cities would be a metropolis 
in Mississippi or Montana. But Mexico has always been 
a land of town dwellers. Even out in the country the 
Indians huddle together in villages and every large 
hacienda is a miniature city which may furnish shelter and 
employment for thousands. 

It is at such enormous estates that the new land laws 
are directed. The big trust of Mexico has long been the 
land trust. For generations about one thousand families 
owned the bulk of the good lands and the land barons 
were the real power behind the government. One cause 
of the revolutions was the demand of the people for the 
control of the land, and it was the big estate owners, 
rather than the political leaders, who were overthrown in 
the struggle. Diaz foresaw the trouble and tried to bring 
about reform by taxing the big areas not under cultivation. 
But the cattle kings and their followers frustrated his plans 
239 


MEXICO 

and only after years of warfare are their estates being sliced 
up for the people. 

About sixty-odd years ago every village had certain 
lands owned in common. Each householder had the 
use of a little plot, upon which he could raise enough 
corn for his family and pasture his cows. These blocks 
of land with the town in the centre were often in the 
heart of or adjoining big estates which were held 
under grants given by the kings of Spain centuries 
ago, and the estate owners wanted to add the town lands 
to their already large tracts. During the administration 
of President Juarez they succeeded in abolishing the com¬ 
munal system and in passing a law to divide up the com¬ 
munal lands in severalty among the people of the villages. 
The Indians were so simple that as soon as they got pos¬ 
session they sold out for practically nothing and thus the 
communal tracts came into the hands of the estate owners. 

The peons now had neither communal holdings nor any 
land of their own, and so they became more than ever de¬ 
pendent upon the big hacendados and were compelled to 
work the estates upon any terms the owners might offer. 
It is this situation that the present rulers are trying to 
remedy. 

Under the Constitution of 1917 and the new laws, a vil¬ 
lage may petition the agrarian commission for land, either 
as “restitution” of tracts it once owned, or as a “donation.” 
If it cannot establish a just claim for “restitution,” enough 
acreage may be “donated” to provide every head of a 
family with twelve and a half acres of irrigated land and if 
no irrigated land is available, fifteen acres of inferior land 
may be allotted instead. Lands so distributed are carved 
out of the surrounding large estates. 

240 


SLICING UP THE BIG ESTATES 


Already nearly half of the villages of Mexico have asked 
for such land division. Some of the petitions have been 
denied and some are still pending; but more than two mil¬ 
lion acres have been divided and about one thousand of 
the nearly nine thousand great haciendas have had slices 
taken from them. 

The state of San Luis Potosi, which is of the same size as 
West Virginia, has good farming land as well as great areas 
that are more than half desert. In the western semi-arid 
regions of the state the hacendado may keep for himself a 
maximum of ten thousand acres, while in the well-watered 
eastern portion he must give up all but five thousand acres. 
The remainder of his hacienda may be divided into single¬ 
family farms and sold on instalments to persons equipped 
to work them. The hacendados are given a year to cut up 
their estates or let the government do it for them. The 
tax rates for large holdings have been increased so as to 
make it to the advantage of the owners to sell some of 
their lands. 

The Mexican movement for dividing up the large estates 
is much like the land-reform programmes in eastern and 
central Europe, where some of the governments are trying 
to provide every poor man with a farm of his own. In no 
country do the big landowners like the new order, and in 
Mexico many have complained that they were being de¬ 
prived of their property without adequate compensation. 
The government has paid for the tracts taken over for 
resale to the people with bonds supposed to be worth the 
assessed value of the lands, plus ten per cent. Some of 
the owners, especially foreigners, have refused to accept 
the bonds, because, they said, they would have no market 
value as securities until the government began to pay the 
241 


MEXICO 


six per cent, interest they are supposed to bear, and because 
they have been issued in such large amounts as to cause 
doubt as to their redemption. 

The state of Chihuahua has a law limiting the maximum 
holdings to from twenty-five hundred to ten thousand 
acres, plus one hundred thousand acres of grazing land. 
Laws like these strike the death blow to such estates as 
those of the Terrazas family. 

Don Luis Terrazas and his immediate relatives held 
outright nearly eight million acres of the best land of 
Chihuahua, and in crossing their farms from north to south 
one might ride on the train farther than from New York 
to Washington. From east to west the estate was wider 
than from Baltimore to New York and the boundaries were 
so poorly defined that no one knew just where their lands 
ended. It is said that Terrazas himself did not know how 
many acres he had. His wealth was reckoned at one 
hundred million dollars and he was the autocrat of the 
state. 

This enormous area was kept in large tracts and most 
of it was used for stock raising only. It had great droves 
of horses and mules and large flocks of sheep and goats; 
sixty thousand calves were branded every year and it was 
said that Terrazas could lose a thousand beef cattle and 
not miss them. 

Besides the land he held, Don Luis had acquired most 
of the public utilities of his part of Mexico. He loaned 
money at high rates of interest and controlled the banks. 
He lived like a lord and entertained royally on his great 
hacienda. He could take care of one hundred guests at 
a time, and his establishment had as many servants as the 
palace of a king. Some years ago he asked a high church 
242 



Ownership of wells and streams often complicates the division of land 
in the regions where water is scarce. The land laws permit larger holdings 
in the dry districts than in those of abundant rain. 




It is claimed that because expensive irrigation and machinery are 
needed for development of its coffee, sisal, sugar, and other agricultural 
resources, Mexico can never be a country of small farmers. 



SLICING UP THE BIG ESTATES 


dignitary to dedicate a new house of worship on one of his 
ranches. The holy father came with a great corps of 
guests and Don Luis kept them for more than three weeks, 
entertaining them with hunting parties and excursions of 
various kinds. During this time the guests rode only 
white horses which had been specially selected by the 
old hacendado. 

When it came to deal with the Terrazas properties the 
Chihuahua state government proposed to let Americans 
buy a large part of them. But the federal government 
objected to the foreigners gaining control of such a large 
territory and is itself dividing the great estate. Its decree 
reads: 

Whereas Senor Don Luis Terrazas now possesses more land than 
any other person in the Republic, since his estates cover more than five 
million acres in the state of Chihuahua; 

Whereas a large part of this property is at present uncultivated and 
abandoned, and its owner is making no effort to make it productive; 

Whereas it is the policy of the federal government to procure by 
all legal means the subdivision of the estates which do not constitute 
a source of production 

Senor Terrazas’s lands except those which he is himself cultivating, 
are expropriated at the valuation registered in the land-tax office, 
plus ten per cent. 

Another question in Mexico is, what will the peon do 
with the lands thus restored? Will he let them lie idle for 
lack of ability and enterprise to work them, or will he sell 
his holdings to any one who wants to buy? Already, it is 
stated, cultivation has ceased on many large areas as a 
resultof the land-reform lawsand fearof theirconsequences. 
It is claimed also that, even if the peons were as capable 
as the best farmers of Kansas, Mexico could not be made 
a land of small farms. Much of the soil requires irriga- 

243 


MEXICO 


tion and expensive machinery and it is said that it can 
be worked profitably only when held in large tracts and 
by men having plenty of capital. There are some who 
deny that the peon even wants the responsibility of manag¬ 
ing his own acres. 

The farm labourer in Mexico takes no thought of the 
morrow: 

He is the same that his fathers have been. 

He sees the same sights his fathers have seen. 

He breathes the same air, he views the same sun, 

And does the same things that his fathers have done. 

He wants money for bare necessities, for spending at the 
numerous fiestas, for drink and gambling, but seldom 
for comforts or savings. As an experiment, one of the 
American mine companies in Chihuahua put up sixty 
comfortable two-room houses, with windows, doors, and 
wooden floors. The Indian miners took possession. A 
year later they had sold doors, windows, locks, and hinges, 
and burnt up the floors by making fires on them. 

Many maintain that the only way to keep a peon at 
work is to keep him in debt by advancing him wages or 
goods. This idea formed the basis of the complete and 
widespread peonage system. Nearly every big estate 
had its store where the Indian labourers could run bills, 
and the same was true of the factories and the mines. The 
peon is like a child. He is naturally thriftless, and will 
borrow all he can, especially for weddings and funerals. 
A man will mortgage his future in order to have a big wed¬ 
ding outfit, and every death in the family means more debt 
to pay for the funeral. 

Peonage kept thousands of farm hands and their fami¬ 
lies in a state of debt slavery. They dared not leave a 
244 


SLICING UP THE BIG ESTATES 


master as long as they owed him, and so they lived along 
from hand to mouth, receiving food and clothing and now 
and then a little extra money to spend. The only way 
they could escape was by getting someone to assume their 
debts and this often meant a new master. 

The following story illustrates the old system: 

Some Americans who were opening a rubber plantation 
in the tropical lowlands were hard up for labour. They 
offered big wages, but in vain. All the peons of the neigh¬ 
bourhood were indebted to the owners of the estates about 
and the promises of the foreigners fell flat. 

At last the Americans brought in several bushels of new 
Mexican dollars, and laid them in a great pile on the 
table in the rude building which formed the plantation 
office. They then called in the peons and showed them 
the money, saying that it had been brought there to pay 
off their debts and that there were bushels of other dollars 
to pay wages as well. The wages proposed were higher 
than any the peons had ever had in the past. The sight 
of the money worked wonders. The peons came over in a 
body, bringing with them papers showing their exact in¬ 
debtedness to their former employers. The Americans then 
went with them to their old employers and saw that they 
were legally freed. The men were now able to make con¬ 
tracts, which were registered with the district officials so 
that the labourers were bound to the American employers. 

The rich estate owners practically controlled the jefe- 
politico, or local official, who could draft into the army 
any man refusing to work. During the administration 
of Diaz it was the same with factories, the jefe-politico 
aiding the managers in keeping the men on the job. 

I heard the other night a story of how the ignorant 

245 


MEXICO 


Indian was prevented from leaving an employer. One of 
the peons who thought he would keep track of his indebt¬ 
edness had marked down his advances item by item in a 
book. He took this book to his master and asked him 
how it was that the foreman had charged him fifteen 
dollars, when he had received only five. The master 
called in the foreman, who swore at the peon, saying: 

“You ignorant fellow, can’t you see you owe fifteen 
dollars? First there was the five dollars you asked me for; 
second, the five dollars I gave you; and third, the five dol¬ 
lars that was charged to your account. Now three times 
five is fifteen. You owe fifteen dollars and you must get 
out of here and go back to your work.” 

This is probably an overdrawn statement, but any 
fraud could be easily perpetrated upon the unsuspecting 
peon by an unscrupulous master. 

The peon himself often frustrated the efforts of his 
employers to make him a free man. Some years ago an 
American bought a hacienda along with which went four 
hundred peons and their accounts, amounting to some six 
thousand dollars. He paid the accounts and then called 
the workmen together and told them that in order to make 
the right start he had wiped out all their debts to him and 
would pay regular cash wages. Much to his surprise, the 
peons did not report for work for several days afterward, 
and he found they were preparing to leave. Upon further 
inquiry he learned that the idea of working for a hacendado 
to whom they did not owe money made them feel that 
they could not be sure of keeping their places. Not until 
the owner had told them that he had changed his mind 
and their accounts were still binding did they become 
pacified and go back to work. 

246 



Many Mexicans think the peon will not be able to manage the land 
restored to him under the reform laws, for, like his forefathers, he takes 
no thought for the moirow and leads a hand-to-mouth existence. 














Of all the caves in Mexico the finest is at Cacahuamilpa. On its walls 
the Empress Carlotta wrote, “Maria Carlotta reached this point.” 
Twelve years later a Mexican president, who hated kings, wrote beneath, 
“Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada went beyond.” 








SLICING UP THE BIG ESTATES 


Another American ranch owner helped one of his men 
to reduce his debt from five hundred to three hundred and 
fifty pesos. Thereupon the man tried to get his indebted¬ 
ness back to the old figure, because he was proud of being 
permitted to owe such a big sum. 

The revolutions have wiped out the debts that held the 
workers in their places, and under the new constitution 
and labour laws debt slavery has been made illegal. Yet, 
I am told, many peons are afraid to take advantage of the 
rights now guaranteed them. They still want a master to 
lean on, and prefer to continue in the same way to which 
they have so long been accustomed. 


247 


CHAPTER XXXIII 


DOWN THE MOUNTAINS ON A BOX CAR 

OWN the mountains on top of a box car at fifty 
miles an hour! 



a A mad descent through some of the wildest 
^ gorges on the American continent! 

From the temperate to the torrid zone in a single leap! 

Shooting out of the cold and barren Mexican highlands 
into the tropical luxuriance of the shores of the Gulf of 
Mexico! 

These are some of the features of the ride I took yester¬ 
day over the railroad from San Luis Potosi toTampico. 
Starting from Aguascalientes, on the main line from El 
Paso to Mexico City, it runs to San Luis and thence across 
the high plateau and down to the lowlands on the Gulf 
Coast. The cars cling to the sides of the mountain cliffs, 
steam their way through plains of the richest soil, and as 
they make the descent from a mile up in the air to sea level, 
command panoramic views of some of the most magnifi¬ 
cent scenery of this picturesque land. 

But let me give you the story of my ride. The first 
part of it was taken in a sleeper, traversing the plateau 
during the night. When I went to the station at San 
Luis Potosi it was moonlight, and the pure air and bright 
sky made such a picture as one can see only in Mexico or 
Spain. The light of the great yellow moon softened the 
lines of the old Moorish buildings and turned into ghostly 


248 


DOWN THE MOUNTAINS ON A BOX CAR 

brigands the natives moving about. The stars seemed 
closer to the earth. I felt that I was in the land of the 
Orient, and was tempted to look for the Southern Cross, 
when a grinning American porter, with white teeth shining 
out of his coal-black face, came to tell me that my train 
was ready. He opened the car, and a few minutes later we 
were riding out over great fields of cactuses, through plan¬ 
tations of maguey plants, and by little villages which lay 
like white cities of the dead under the rays of the moon. 
It was amid such surroundings that I went to sleep. 

Awaking I found myself in a nest of the mountains, and 
on the edge of one of the most picturesque of Mexican 
towns. This was Cardenas, where we took breakfast. 
Except for the station and the sheet-iron railroad shops 
we found the town made up almost entirely of huts with 
thatched roofs. And such huts and such thatch! The 
rough leaves of palm trees had been interwoven with grass 
and tied to poles, making mats which had been placed 
over the buildings of sun-dried bricks. The huts were of 
all sizes. Some were bigger than dog-kennels, and others 
could have been crowded into the hall bedroom of a city 
house without touching the walls. There were no windows 
and the doors looked as though they had been chopped 
out with a hatchet. In front and peering out of the doors 
were men, women, and children, any one of whom would 
draw a crowd if seen on Broadway. There were Indians 
and mestizos, the women half dressed and some of the 
babies not dressed at all; the men barefooted and in 
blankets and hats. All devoured us with their great eyes 
as we sat in the little station and drank black coffee and 
ate the heavy hot biscuits which with young chicken 
made up our breakfast. 


249 


MEXICO 


Leaving Cardenas the railroad climbed on into the 
mountains. We passed over plains with crops growing 
in the richest luxuriance. Here and there were haciendas, 
and beyond a great plain out of which rose in solemn 
grandeur sugar-loaf hills with plateaus on their tops. 
Now and then we went through fine farming districts 
where the land was well tilled, and as we ascended the 
mountains, I saw the hills of blue-grass, patched with 
black fields and crossed with roads of dark brown. Here 
our surroundings were those of the Alleghanies in Penn¬ 
sylvania, and at times it seemed as though we were in the 
foothills of the Swiss Alps. 

At the beginning of the Tomasopo Canyon I crawled 
with the trainmaster, a Mexican wearing a big pistol in a 
holster attached to his belt, to the top of a box car and 
began my wild ride down the mountain. The road here 
runs about a great amphitheatre, with walls of green hills 
rising from a green plain in the centre. The track skirts 
the plain in an almost perfect circle, making a curve more 
wonderful than that of the famous Horseshoe Bend. At 
one end of the amphitheatre a cascade of silver waters 
tumbles into the canyon. Great mountains rise above 
the road, and in some places their walls are precipitous 
and cliffs overhang the train. Sometimes I could look 
down for thousands of feet, sometimes we tore through 
rocky gorges so narrow that nothing but a strip of sky 
could be seen overhead. Here the huts were clinging to 
slopes so steep that it would seem that the peasants must 
have to plant their corn with shotguns, and there was a 
tunnel where, as our train plunged in, I had to flatten my¬ 
self out on the top of the car to keep from being crushed 
or knocked off. Now we crossed rushing streams scold- 
250 


DOWN THE MOUNTAINS ON A BOX CAR 

mg their way over rocks one thousand feet below us and 
we looked with wonder at the vegetation and the trees lin¬ 
ing the banks. Some of the ferns were as big as those of 
the Himalayas; and the trees of calla lilies and orchids 
were like none I have seen in any other part of the world. 

In the Tomasopo Canyon the railroad winds about 
so that we travelled thirty miles to cover a distance which, 
as the crow flies, is only fifteen. The steepest grades are 
four and one half per cent, and we descended forty-five 
feet in every thousand. At places the railroad seems to be 
tacked to the cliff, and I do not wonder that some parts of 
its construction cost more than a half million dollars a mile. 

As we neared the end of the canyon it widened. We 
could see the road climbing the hill above, and the valley 
below with the Tomasopo River breaking its way over 
wonderful waterfalls. At one point there are twelve falls, 
and the river tumbles down three hundred feet in a series 
of cascades. Here the sides of the canyon are walled 
with green. This makes the water look like a mixture 
of emeralds and diamonds as it leaps from one level to 
another. 

The sudden change of climate was startling. When I 
climbed to the top of the car my overcoat was comfort¬ 
able, but I took off my coat and vest before I got to 
the bottom of the canyon, and at the last of the trip I 
felt like shedding my skin and sitting in my flesh and 
bones. The flowers changed with the climate. As we 
slid down into the valley we saw coffee trees growing wild 
and palm trees, banana plants, and even bamboos. In 
the trees were thousands of parrots and blue paroquets 
and I was told that this whole region is filled with mon¬ 
keys and game. Royal pheasants and wild turkeys 
251 


MEXICO 


abound and also the chacalaca, which has a call that 
sounds like its name. There are wild ducks, white-tailed 
deer, and not a few jaguars. 

Just before leaving the mountains, we stopped at a 
village which was a fair type of the mountain hamlets. 
The telegraph station was in a car by the roadside, and 
back of it were the dozen huts that made up the town. 
There were no streets and no stores. The huts measured 
about ten by twelve feet and were made of wooden poles 
stuck in the ground with other poles on top tied together to 
make the roofs. The doors were just four feet in height 
and so narrow that only one person could crawl in at a 
time. I climbed down from my box car and looked into 
one. Its single room had neither chairs nor tables; the 
family squatted on the floor and slept on the ground. 
A half-dozen clay pots and kettles made up the utensils 
for cooking, all of which is done out-of-doors. The women 
were quite pretty. One of them was frightened nearly 
out of her wits when I photographed her. 

! We took dinner at Rascon, another village of huts. 
About the town is a carpet of ferns, and green coffee 
plants grow among the trees of the neighbourhood. The 
hillsides are clothed with thickets of palm and bamboo, 
and orchids of a hundred different varieties hang from 
the branches. 

Rascon lies in a range of low hills, which, as we pro¬ 
ceeded, grew into mountains. Soon the train dashed 
through another canyon and we wound along the walls of 
cliffs overhanging a broad valley which as far as the eye 
could reach seemed nothing but jungle. All of this valley 
used to belong to one man. It is now the property of a 
sugar company. 


252 


DOWN THE MOUNTAINS ON A BOX CAR 


As we went on toward the coast we again climbed the 
mountains, our train hugging their sides, and below us 
was another vast plain filled with jungle where bushy 
cacti pushed their tall heads above the rest of the green. 
There was no sign of animal life. The land seemed good, 
but there were no houses or towns. 

One of the most remarkable scenic wonders along the 
Tampico railroad is the Choy Cave near which our train 
obligingly stopped. To get an idea of it you must im¬ 
agine a rocky mountain wall rising a thousand feet above 
the railroad tracks, with the floor of the valley lying 
two hundred feet below. Looking out of the car window 
you see a river of green water rushing out of an opening 
in the side of the mountain, and climbing down, find that 
the cave can be entered where the stream pours itself out. 
The inside of the cave resembles a vast cathedral with two 
great chambers connected by an almost perfect arch. 
Within the cave there is a pool of water which is more 
than sixty feet deep. There are a number of caves in this 
mountain and others near by, which have not been ex¬ 
plored. A little back of Choy Cave is a huge underground 
chamber with a domed roof, lighted by a hole in the top. 
It is seven hundred feet from this opening to the floor. 
The walls of the cavern are white. Another cave has an 
entrance so low that one has to stoop to get in, and a 
chamber so large that a thousand men could stand up¬ 
right within it. 

Leaving the Choy Cave, we passed through miles of 
jungle and forest unbroken except for the narrow groove 
carved out by the railroad. Here is some of the finest 
timber in Mexico. I saw ebony, rosewood, and mahog¬ 
any trees, which would bring good prices if cut and 
253 


MEXICO 


shipped to the markets. At present little lumbering is 
done, as the high wages paid by the oil companies make it 
all but impossible to get men to work in the forests. 

We were then on the edge of the petroleum kingdom, 
where tens of thousands of subjects are engaged in the 
service of the black monarch of our era of oil. After 
traversing thirty miles of dense growth, without a single 
open field or pasture, our train burst into a clearing, in the 
midst of which rises a conical hill. It is topped by brick 
buildings and about it are wooden dwellings and black 
iron tanks. This is Ebano, where, on May 14, 1901, the 
first big oil well in Mexico came in with a rush that blew 
the drilling tools into the air. The preceding year a 
party of American capitalists and geologists had examined 
numerous pools formed by petroleum seeping out of the 
earth in this neighbourhood and had found at Ebano a 
spring bubbling with oil. Convinced that they were in 
the heart of one of the great oil fields of the future, they 
bought up land and laid out the works that have since 
taken the place of the jungle. For lack of a better market 
the first crude petroleum produced here was used in pav¬ 
ing the streets of Mexico City. Later the Mexican rail¬ 
roads made over their coal-burning locomotives so as to 
use the new fuel. As the demand grew more wells were 
brought in, until now Ebano has tanks and reservoirs with 
a total storage capacity of more than a half-million barrels. 

Oil seepages like that which led to the opening of the 
Tampico fields had been known for centuries. Many 
of the exudes were of such enormous size that they were 
death-traps for both animals and men. In them have been 
found bones of reptiles, beasts, and human beings, some of 
which, geologists say, belonged to creatures that lived be- 
254 



From the mountain plateau down through Tomasopo Canyon is a 
descent of more than a mile, a swift journey from the temperate zone to 
the tropics, with wonderful scenery all the way. 




The homes of the natives give no sign that they are living on the edge 
of the Tampico oil fields, which have poured forth streams of liquid gold 
such as the world has never known before. 



Pools of oil that have seeped out of the earth are invaluable guides to 
prospectors, but death-traps to men and beasts. The Aztecs used to burn 
chapopote as the sticky mass is called, on the altars of their gods. 










DOWN THE MOUNTAINS ON A BOX CAR 


fore William the Conqueror landed in England. The 
Indians surrounded the pools with fences of thorny bushes 
to keep their livestock from falling into the sticky mass, 
which they called chapopote. They coated the roofs of 
their huts with the crude petroleum, just as the oil com¬ 
panies to-day use it as paint to protect their storage tanks 
from the weather. It is said that the Aztecs burned 
chapopote on their pagan altars. 

The tanks in which oil is stored at Ebano are far more 
conspicuous than the wells. They are of steel and are 
made in the States. The standard size is ninety-five 
feet in diameter and thirty feet high, and has a capacity of 
fifty-five thousand barrels of oil. Each tank is surrounded 
with an earthen embankment, thrown up to keep in the oil 
in case of a leak or a fire. All one can see of a flowing oil 
well after it has been successfully brought in and put under 
control is a block of concrete with a large iron pipe coming 
out of it and running down into the ground, and con¬ 
nected with the tanks and reservoirs where the oil is 
stored. As the oil flows from the wells its temperature is 
about 120° F. If it grows cool it will thicken and will not 
flow easily. For this reason the pipe lines are laid under¬ 
ground. 

Leaving Ebano, the railroad track again enters the 
jungle and after ten miles or so reaches the Panuco River, 
which it parallels to Tampico. The Panuco is the water 
highway of the oil business of Mexico and the busiest 
river of the Republic. Its banks are lined with refineries 
and oil-loading stations, where barges and ocean-going 
tank ships of twelve thousand tons lie at the docks and 
take on their cargoes. At some of the stations the proc¬ 
ess of loading has been so speeded up that a tanker can 
255 


MEXICO 


leave port on the same day she enters. The Huasteca 
station set a world's record when it loaded a hundred- 
thousand-barrel tank ship in eight hours. 

Much of the oil is shipped out by train, and the tracks 
along the river above Tampico are lined with pipes for 
filling tank cars. Whole trains of these cars are filled 
at one time and then hauled all over Mexico to keep the 
railways supplied. 


256 


CHAPTER XXXIV 


TAMPICO AND THE OIL FIELDS 

T AMPICO is the world's greatest oil port. It 
often ships nine million barrels of oil in a month. 
In the amount of tonnage entering and leaving 
its harbour it is the second port on the Atlantic 
coast of North America. For miles from the shore the 
surface of the Gulf is often covered with a scum of oil 
which incoming tankers have blown out along with their 
water ballast, and the sweet, sickish smell of petroleum 
fills the air of the whole region. Ships from all parts of 
the globe come in riding light and high and go out loaded 
to the water line with Mexican oil. 

The city lies about seven miles back from the coast on 
the north bank of the Panuco River, up which big tankers 
can go for a distance of about fifteen miles. Constant 
dredging is necessary to clear the channel of the silt 
brought down by the stream and the oil companies com¬ 
plain that this costs them about three hundred thousand 
dollars a year. The Mexican government imposes a 
harbour tax of ten cents a ton on all shipping, the pro¬ 
ceeds of which are supposed to be spent in dredging the 
channel. The customs wharf and the jetties and other 
harbour improvements, designed and built by foreign 
engineers, have cost millions. The river gives sufficient 
harbourage for scores of vessels, and five or six big ocean 
steamers can lie alongside the customs wharf at one time. 
257 


MEXICO 


Twenty years ago Tampico was a miserable little town 
where filth, poverty, and pestilence prevailed. Yellow 
fever stalked through the rough stone streets in the middle 
of which ran open sewers. To-day the city has a hundred 
thousand people and is clean, well-lighted, and up-to- 
date. 

Tampico is the natural port for a large territory of 
wonderful agricultural possibilities as well as for the 
mining industry of northeastern Mexico. Some day, 
perhaps, when the oil wells no longer flow liquid gold and 
the agricultural and mining resources are more largely 
developed, it may be known as a general commercial city. 
But just now it is the oil developments that make it the 
livest town in the Republic. 

To-day Tampico is the most American city in Mexico 
and the Mexicans themselves call it “Gringolandia.” 
Side by side with old Spanish houses are seven- and eight- 
story office buildings of steel, brick, and concrete. The 
Imperial, the best hotel, is built in the American style, 
and is under American management. The railways to 
Monterey and San Luis Potosi were constructed with 
capital from the States, and an American steamer will 
take me from Tampico to New York. All of the oil wells 
were brought in by American drillers and all are equipped 
with American machinery. The Americans have even 
been able to inject into the Mexicans here some of the 
push and energy of Uncle Sam’s nephews. 

But, although our people have had the largest part in 
opening up this, the most remarkable oil reservoir ever 
discovered, other foreigners have shared in its develop¬ 
ment. The corporations now working are chiefly Ameri¬ 
can and British, although smaller Italian, French, German,' 
258 



To Americans, one of the attractions of life in the oil fields is the fine 
fishing in the Panuco River, where tarpon, the “silver king” of the game 
fish, is plentiful. The Tampico district offers good hunting also. 





Sometimes when a big well comes in the pressure blows the drilling 
tools up against a steel block in the derrick striking a spark that ignites 
the oil and making a great blaze which it may take weeks to extinguish. 









TAMPICO AND THE OIL FIELDS 


Scandinavian, Spanish, and Mexican companies are in 
active operation. Complete refineries for making com¬ 
mercial products from crude oil have been constructed in 
Tampico by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, the 
American Pierce Oil Corporation, and the British Royal 
Dutch Shell. The latter has two plants with a total daily 
capacity of more than 125,000 barrels of crude oil. 

The light oil fields extend for hundreds of miles along 
the Mexican Gulf. The profitable wells are scattered 
from about sixty miles south of Tampico to Tuxpam; and 
oil in paying quantities has been found farther south on the 
Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The exact width of the terri¬ 
tory is not defined but the region in which the prospecting 
is going on is about as large as the state of Illinois. They 
are now taking oil out thirty miles back from the sea. 
The best wells have a depth of from sixteen hundred to 
twenty-four hundred feet. 

The famous gusher, Potrero del Llano No. 4, was bored 
in 1910, and when the oil was struck it burst forth in a 
great stream which rose to the height of four hundred 
feet and continued to flow for more than three months 
before it could be controlled. During that time the 
petroleum was pouring out at the rate of five thousand 
barrels an hour. It covered the whole country, filling the 
rivers and lakes and contaminating the creeks. The oil 
spread over the grazing and drinking places of the cattle 
and caused the death of thousands. Vast quantities 
of oil flowed out to the sea and the Mexican Gulf had a 
coating of petroleum for three hundred miles along that 
part of its coast. 

In their efforts to stop this enormous waste, the Pearson 
syndicate dug a reservoir covering several acres and ran 
259 


MEXICO 


the petroleum into it. This reservoir had a capacity of 
more than three million barrels, and it took just twenty- 
eight days to fill it. The great danger was fire, against 
which every precaution was taken. Guards were on duty 
both day and night. All vegetation was cut back to a 
distance of three hundred feet. Arc-lamps were kept 
burning at night to aid in the watch. After a flow of 
three months, the engineers succeeded in putting on the 
caps and the great gusher was finally brought under con¬ 
trol. The well was then connected with a pipe line which 
carried the oil off to the tanks and the coast. 

Another enormous gusher was the Dos Bocas, near the 
mouth of the San Geronimo River, sixty-seven miles 
south of Tampico. This was struck at a depth of eight¬ 
een hundred feet. It was on the Fourth of July, 1908, 
and provided the greatest Independence Day fireworks 
ever seen. The oil, which rushed forth at the rate of 
about four thousand barrels an hour, caught fire from the 
boiler of one of the engines, and the immense column of 
smoke and flame rose, it is said, to a height of two thou¬ 
sand feet. The blaze measured from forty to seventy-five 
feet in width. The fire kept going for more than two 
months, and it has been estimated that something like 
one hundred thousand barrels of oil was daily consumed 
before it was put out. At night the blazing torch could be 
seen more than two hundred miles away on the Mexican 
Gulf. It illuminated the whole country, and at midnight 
newspapers could be easily read seventeen miles away. 

Huge sums were spent in efforts to shut off this Dos 
Bocas well. The owners tried in every way to extinguish 
the flames, but it was only when the salt water of some 
subterranean channel broke through that they were 
260 


TAMPICO AND THE OIL FIELDS 

checked. The salt water mixed with the oil and ruined 
the well. To-day there is a steady stream of hot salt and 
sulphur water flowing from the Dos Bocas crater into the 
ocean. 

Other famous producers were Casiano No. 7 and Cerro 
Azul No. 4, of the Mexican Petroleum Corporation. The 
former yielded more than seventy-five million barrels 
of oil before the salt water flowed in, and the latter has 
exceeded that enormous production. 

These are not fairy stories. The Potrero del Llano No. 4 
was drilled under the supervision of the late C. W. Hayes, 
once an engineer of the United States Geological Survey. 
Two days before oil was struck, Dr. Hayes had left the 
discouraged drillers for a trip into the country. As he 
rode off on his mule, he told them that they would proba¬ 
bly reach oil within twelve feet. He was only fifty miles 
away, and the drill had gone down seven feet, when the 
oil and gas threw the tools high into the air and the well 
began to flow at a ten-thousand-barrel rate. It steadily 
increased. Within twenty-four hours the flow was twenty 
thousand barrels. The next day it was thirty thousand, 
and the gain continued until the daily output reached one 
hundred and sixty thousand barrels. The well had a pres¬ 
sure of more than eight hundred pounds to the square inch, 
and the oil flowed through eight-inch pipes to the tanks. 

This oil well is said to be the largest of history. The 
Lucas gusher, at Spindletop, Texas, flowed seventy-five 
thousand barrels a day for a day or two, and the produc¬ 
tion of some of the Russian wells is reported at slightly 
more than one hundred thousand barrels daily, but none, 
except possibly Cerro Azul No. 4, has approached the 
yield of No. 4 of Potrero del Llano. 

261 


MEXICO 


This is the first big oil well that has ever been found in 
limestone. All the great wells of Russia and California 
have been in sand formations, involving cave-ins and 
other handicaps before they could be controlled and their 
flow could be cared for. 

Oil wells like these are apparently veritable streams of 
gold. This is so where the owners can control sufficient 
acreage around their wells, but where the ownership is held 
in small parcels, competing companies may be able to tap 
the same pool. In such cases it is necessary to work 
rapidly; this leads to feverish haste, with disregard of ex^ 
pense. It leads also to over-production, which means 
lower prices. It costs anywhere from fifty to one hun¬ 
dred and fifty thousand dollars to drill a well, and by no 
means is every well a producer. The oil field south of 
Tampico has made many millions of dollars for some and 
lost millions for others. 

The oil from the wells is pumped through pipe lines to 
Tampico, to Tuxpam, and to the various sea loading 
terminals. There are huge steel tanks in the fields, at 
the pump stations, and at the sea coast. The largest of 
the tanks holds nearly ninety thousand barrels, and 
altogether their combined capacity is well over thirty 
million barrels. 

At Tampico the tank ships are filled at docks, but on 
the coast the oil flows in through pipes laid on the sea 
bottom as far as two miles out from the beach. Fitted 
to the end of such a pipe is a flexible hose which is joined 
to the pipes of the tanker and the oil is then pumped in 
from the tanks on the shore. 

The crude oil of Tampico yields a high percentage of 
gasoline and it is well adapted for refining. A large part 
262 



Displaying samples of his art, the itinerant photographer in Mexico 
sows the seed of social ambition, flattering his victims as persuasively as 
does his northern cousin at Coney Island. 



When this well came in it blew the drilling derrick sky high. Finally 
it was brought under control and it now flows its hundreds of barrels of oil 
through pipelines connecting it with a big tank at tidewater. 










Ninety tons of copper a day can be produced in the smelters of the 
Cananea Consolidated Copper Company, an American corporation. At 
times its payroll in Mexico is more than $500,000 a month. 



The labour problem pursues the American investor across the border. 
Wages are lower in Mexico than with us, but so is efficiency; on some 
jobs it takes three Mexicans to do the work of one American. 






TAMPICO AND THE OIL FIELDS 

of it goes to the oil refineries on our Atlantic coast, and at 
peak production more than five hundred thousand barrels 
per day have been shipped. 

Adjacent to Tampico is another great oil field, the 
Panuco-Topila. This is located along the Panuco River 
about thirty miles west of the city. It yields a much 
heavier oil, which can be economically used for fuel just 
as it comes from the well. The operations here have been 
less spectacular and on a smaller scale than in the south¬ 
ern field, but they promise to have a much longer life. 
In the early days, before fuel oil was in general use, the 
development of this region was slow on account of low 
prices. With the increased use of oil as fuel, the price 
has advanced and the yield from this field is now more 
than two hundred thousand barrels per day. 

The transportation of the oil from the wells to Tampico 
is accomplished both by pumping and by barges on the 
Panuco. There are about fifteen sternwheelers engaged 
in this trade. 

Fuel oil has become of such immense importance to 
every nation in the world and the production is so likely 
to run short, that Mexico's supply has become a tremen¬ 
dous asset. Both British and American interests are 
keen to control more and more of the world's supply, and 
Mexico realizes that she should derive as much revenue 
as possible for herself from this situation. The govern¬ 
ment has laid heavy taxes on the industry and the oil re¬ 
ceipts of to-day are greater than were the revenues from all 
sources in the days of Porfirio Diaz. In the Constitution 
of 1917, Mexico declared that the oil deposits were the 
property of the nation and rigidly limited their exploita¬ 
tion by foreigners. 


263 


CHAPTER XXXV 


OUR BILLION-DOLLAR INVESTMENT IN MEXICO 

I F YOU will look at the map, you will see that Mexico 
has the form of a horn of plenty tilted upward, with 
its tip at Yucatan and its great, gaping mouth spread¬ 
ing across our entire southern border. Into this horn 
the United States has been pouring a stream of dollars, 
like so many golden grains of wheat falling into a sack. 
This has been going on for a generation, until now our 
investments in Mexico exceed one billion dollars, so much 
that if each dollar earned but five cents a year, the return 
would be more than enough to give an annual income 
of one hundred dollars to every citizen of Cincinnati or 
Buffalo. 

The Mexico of to-day with its mines, railroads, oil wells, 
factories, and farms has been built up on borrowed money. 
Most of the money came not from her own people but 
from the United States, Great Britain, and a half-dozen 
countries of Europe. The foreign investors now own 
much more than the Mexicans do, and more than one third 
of the wealth of the nation is in the hands of Americans. 
This does not take into account the vast sums in mort¬ 
gages and claims for damages. 

I have before me a balance sheet of the Republic, show¬ 
ing what portions of her wealth are owned by the various 
nationalities. The figures come from every available 
source, including the Mexican federal and state govern- 
264 


OUR INVESTMENT IN MEXICO 

ments, reports of our own consular officers, and state¬ 
ments from bankers and managers having to do with the 
financing and operation of properties in Mexico. Accord¬ 
ing to these estimates, Americans own more in Mexico 
than any other nationality; the British come next, and 
then the French, Germans, Spanish, Dutch, Belgians, 
and Swiss, in the order named. The share of the Mexicans 
is less than one third of the whole. 

The high tide of foreign investment was reached in the 
last days of Diaz, just before the ten years of revolution 
began. American millions were pouring into the coun¬ 
try. Then came the revolutions, and, as the upheaval 
continued, the country was thrown into a turmoil and 
the unsettled conditions grew steadily worse. The bal¬ 
ance sheets of the foreign corporations were strewn with 
figures in red ink, representing losses, and capital was 
frightened away. During this period the oil companies in 
the Tampico district were about the only foreign interests 
to increase their holdings and extend their operations. 
Even after Mexico quieted down, capital remained dis¬ 
trustful and the resumption of our peaceful invasion came 
very slowly. With the exception of the financing of a few 
mining and water-power projects in the northern and west¬ 
ern parts of the country, the new money so far invested 
had been largely to preserve the existing properties. 
Meantime, huge claims for damages to life and property 
had piled up and the international bankers had to be 
called in to work out a plan by which Mexico might pay 
what she owes to the rest of the world. 

Let me make a comparison showing the effect of the 
ten years of civil war and disorder upon the development 
of Mexico. Suppose you had a contract for working an- 
265 


MEXICO 


other man’s farm, you to furnish everything, even to the 
household equipment. Suppose that after you have put 
in your money and are hard at work on the job, the owner 
and his family should quarrel and start to tear the whole 
farm to pieces, destroying the expensive tools and furni¬ 
ture you have provided and driving off your workmen and 
even shooting them down. Would you not feel like call¬ 
ing in the police to stop the fighting or at least to protect 
your property from danger? Would you not demand from 
the head of the family a guarantee that in future your 
rights should be respected? That was the condition of 
Mexico during the revolution. It explains the attitude 
of the American and other foreign investors to-day. 

Porfirio Diaz, the dictator president, was the man who 
opened up Mexico to foreign capital. He saw that the 
country was hundreds of years behind the times and 
that it was not developing. He invited in outsiders with 
money and brains and gave them a free hand in making 
things go. By this means railways, waterworks, power 
plants, street cars, and public improvements of all kinds 
were obtained. The vast resources of the Republic began 
to be exploited and the Mexicans got profits and wages 
through the working of the foreign investments. Diaz had 
some capable men to aid him and under their direction all 
went smoothly and great fortunes were made. 

Mexico has always lacked the capital and the technical 
knowledge necessary to develop her resources. These 
things must come from outside, and most of her great 
enterprises must be financed by foreigners. The revolu¬ 
tions which transferred the political power from the few 
to the many have developed new policies which do not 
attract foreign investors. The day has passed when great 
2 66 


OUR INVESTMENT IN MEXICO 


fortunes can be had for the asking, but the country has 
wonderful possibilities and there is plenty of room for 
sound conservative investment which should pay very 
good dividends. With fair treatment of persons and 
property, the American holdings will steadily increase and 
our interests in the country will continue to grow. 

It is interesting to know how our investments in Mexico 
compare with those of the other nations. The country 
has about sixteen thousand miles of railways. In these 
the Mexican government owns most of the common stock 
but British and American capitalists own the preferred 
stock and bonds. 

Taking the item of mines, the Mexicans own much less 
than we do. Their mine investments amount to twenty 
million dollars, while ours are nearly five hundred million 
dollars, a sum that equals more than three fourths the 
value of all the mineral properties in the country. We 
own two thirds of the smelters and an equal proportion 
of the petroleum now being developed and have put many 
millions into lands, factories, and other industries. We 
have more than one hundred million in timber lands, 
ranches, and farms. 

The Mexican investments in live stock are more than 
five times those of the Americans. They have also large 
holdings in houses and personal property and they do the 
bulk of the real-estate business. They own many of the 
hotels, theatres, and breweries and about half of the bank 
stock, the remainder of which is chiefly in the hands of 
the French. 

Our newspapers frequently publish reports that the 
Japanese are trying to get control of the Mexican lands. 
As a matter of fact, all the land held by them is worth no 
267 


MEXICO 


more than three quarters of a million dollars. The 
Chinese have two thirds as much. 

The Mexican oil fields are among the richest of the 
world. An actual count recently made showed that three 
hundred oil companies had been organized for developing 
them. Of these the American firms were in the great 
majority both in number and assets, with the British 
interests next, followed by the Dutch, the Spanish, and 
the Mexicans. The disputes between our own government 
and the various administrations in Mexico both during and 
since the revolutions have grown largely out of the treat¬ 
ment of the oil companies by the Mexican authorities. At 
present, not including the undeveloped lands, the Ameri¬ 
cans own oil properties conservatively estimated at more 
than a quarter of a billion dollars. 

In addition to all these forms of wealth, our people have 
millions in Mexican government bonds, coal lands, lumber, 
and manufacturing of one kind and another. The Brit¬ 
ish and Canadians own most of the light, power, and tram¬ 
way companies, having invested in them to the value of 
more than one hundred millions. 

At the beginning of the revolutionary period, the total 
foreign population of Mexico was more than one hundred 
thousand. Of these about three fourths were from Spain, 
Guatemala, and the United States and the remainder were 
British, French, and German in the order named. These 
proportions still hold good, but, owing to the destruction of 
property and the closing down of mines, ranches, and smelt¬ 
ers, the number has been decreased by more than one half. 

The Spaniards control the grocery and grain trades of 
the Republic. There are also many Spanish professional 
men and clerks, bookkeepers, and farmers. The French 
268 


OUR INVESTMENT IN MEXICO 

have the wholesale and retail dry goods and jewellery 
stores. They own most of the cotton mills and have put 
more than three million dollars into tobacco factories. The 
Germans control the hardware trade and own a number of 
plantations. The English have made large investments 
in mines, railroads, farms, and oil. 

Most of the American interests are held by corporations 
accustomed to do things on a big scale. The capitaliza¬ 
tion of many of the companies is figured in tens and even 
hundreds of millions. The holdings in lands are enormous. 
In one list of foreign enterprises I find that seven of the 
American firms each owns more than a million acres and 
dozens of others control tracts of one hundred thousand 
acres and more. The largest holdings are those of the 
cattle, lumber, and rubber companies. Claims for dam¬ 
ages to American properties, growing out of the revolu¬ 
tionary disturbances, have been estimated to amount to 
nearly half a billion dollars. No one expects such a huge 
sum will be collected, but the figure emphasizes the mag¬ 
nitude of our interests in Mexico. It also explains why 
the official relations between Washington and Mexico City 
will be somewhat complicated for decades to come. 

With the many big companies already in the field it is 
foolish to suppose that the real opportunities to make 
money in Mexico will ever go begging. Nevertheless, every 
period of prosperity brings into being fraudulent schemes 
to catch the little investor. Oftentimes the stock of such 
companies is sold with the promise of profits of from 
two hundred to five hundred per cent. Such companies 
are usually frauds pure and simple, and the man who 
buys these stocks is sure to lose his money. 

Many of the Americans interested in Mexican properties 
269 


MEXICO 


are on the ground to look after them. There are hundreds 
of miners, and engineers of all kinds. The chicle industry, 
which keeps millions of jaws chewing gum, has been devel¬ 
oped entirely by men and money from the United States. 

Indeed, the record of Americans here is unique. I am 
told that every oil well has been drilled by an American, 
and that American workmen have set up every piece of 
machinery used in the mines. For many years the rail¬ 
roads were managed by Americans who filled all the bet¬ 
ter paid positions, from superintendents to conductors and 
firemen. The Mexicans now operating the railroad ma¬ 
chinery and equipment got their training under Americans. 
Our doctors and dentists are especially successful, the lat¬ 
ter often putting peas of silver amalgam into Mexicans’ 
mouths and taking pumpkins of gold out of their pockets. 
Every large city has its American colony, and an Ameri¬ 
can boarding house, usually run by a woman from the 
States, is often to be found in the largest towns. Many 
Americans live in the capital and a constant procession of 
others visits that city on business or pleasure. Some act 
as sales agents for American corporations, and a lesser 
number have wholesale and retail selling establishments. 
The Americans have two clubs in Mexico City, the Univer¬ 
sity Club in the Colonia section, and the Country Club, 
where they go to loaf and play golf. 

In addition to the above eminently respectable class of 
Americans who have skill, money, and brains, there are 
some of a far different type. We have a few Americans 
in Mexico who have left the United States under a cloud 
and we have some who have come in with chips on their 
shoulders. They call the Mexicans “ Greasers,” and do 
not hesitate to wound the feelings of a people naturally 
270 



Cotton manufacturing, which has developed more than any other 
machine industry in Mexico, is controlled chiefly by the French. The 
Rio Blanco and other large mills are located at Orizaba. 



The Mexicans call Tampico, “Gringolandia” because it is so pre¬ 
dominantly American. Office buildings, banks, hotels, railways, and oil 
tanks and pipelines all proclaim Yankee enterprise. The Americans have 
even injected some of their energy into the native labourer. 


















Upon her British- and American-built railroads largely depends the 
future development of Mexico’s vast resources and the rise of the peon 
to more profitable employment and a better condition in life. 















OUR INVESTMENT IN MEXICO 

polite. These “Gringoes,” as the Mexicans call them, have 
had much to do with keeping alive the ill feeling between 
the two countries. 

Even the peons are polite, and our bluff ways are dis¬ 
agreeable to them. Many Americans do not understand 
how to handle the native labourer, and often offend him 
without knowing just why. Others, who act more consid¬ 
erately, make friends with the people and enjoy the respect 
and liking of those in their employ. 

The question is often asked as to whether the Mexicans 
as a people like us or not. If you put this to a Mexican 
gentleman he will say yes, and add that his country looks 
to ours for its development and culture. He will show 
you that many of the boys and girls who go abroad to be 
educated are sent to the United States and that we have 
the bulk of Mexico’s trade. On the other hand, the real 
Mexican is a mixture of Spaniard and Indian, and a good 
hard scratch reveals the latter. I do not believe the Mex¬ 
ican has much love for the American. He is jealous and 
covets our ability to do big things and to make money. 
He is frightened by the rapid increase of American in¬ 
vestments and in his soul believes we mean to take pos¬ 
session of his country. The more we protest, the greater 
he thinks our hypocrisy. Moreover, some of the upper 
classes have a contempt for business and business men. 
They would rather be poorly paid government clerks or the 
hangers-on of the rich hacendados than mine managers at 
five thousand dollars a year. Since the revolution this at¬ 
titude has been considerably changed as many of the aris¬ 
tocracy were then forced to leave Mexico and have never 
returned. 

THE END 

271 


SEE THE WORLD 


WITH 

Frank G. Carpenter 

You can go around the world under your own living- 
room lamp by reading the travels of Frank G. Carpenter. 

Millions of Americans have already found Carpenter 
their ideal fellow traveller, and have enjoyed visiting with 
him all the corners of the globe. He tells his readers what 
they want to know, shows them what they want to see, 
and makes them feel that they are there. 

Doubleday, Page & Company, in response to the de¬ 
mand from Carpenter readers, are now publishing, for the 
first time, the complete story of Carpenter's World 
Travels, of which this book is the eighth in the series. 
Those now available are: 

/. “The Holy Land and Syria 1 * 

2. “From Tangier to Tripoli 11 
Morocco, Algeria, 

Tunisia, and Tripoli. 

5. “ Alaska , Our Northern Wonderland” 

4. “The Tail of the Hemisphere 11 

Chile and Argentina. 

5. “From Cairo to Kisumu ” 

Egypt, The Sudan, 
and Kenya Colony. 

272 


SEE THE WORLD 


6 . “Java and the East Indies” 

Java, Sumatra, Celebes, 

The Moluccas, New Guinea, 
Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula. 

7. “France to Scandinavia ” 

France, Belgium, 

Holland, Denmark, 

Norway, Sweden. 

8 . “Mexico” 


Carpenter's World Travels is the only work of its 
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the reader in his home. No other one man has visited so 
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incidents of the journey, but the painstaking study of a 
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fruit of more than thirty years of unparalleled success in 
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In the present state of affairs, a knowledge of nations 
and peoples is essential to an understanding of what is go¬ 
ing on, of how all that is happening affects us, and why. 

273 


SEE THE WORLD 


Carpenter takes his readers to the lands of the news, and 
makes more real the daily flashes by cable and radio. 

A word to your bookseller will enable you to get the 
books of Carpenter's World Travels already published 
and to learn how you may arrange to secure the entire 
series. 


274 


INDEX 





% 






















* 















INDEX 


Acaltan, Princess, said to be a descen¬ 
dant of both Montezuma and Cortes, 
, 2 5 -. 

Accessibility of Mexico to Americans, 

1. 

Agricultural possibilities in Tampico 
district, 258. 

Aguardiente, the native brandy, 178. 

Aguascalientes, the Hot Springs of 
Mexico, 43. 

Airplanes, used in patrol of the border, 
10, 11. 

Alvarado, peon mining king, 40. 

Amecameca, on the slope of Popo¬ 
catepetl, 129; place of outfitting for 
ascent of Popocatapetl, 186; famous 
shrine of the Sacred Mountain at, 
188. 

American goods, the demand for, 142. 

American investments in Mexico, 
extent of, 264 et seq. 

American residents, their business and 
professional interests, 270. 

American stores, in Mexico City, 
144, 145. 

Americans, development of Tampico 
by, 258; the feeling, good and bad, 
toward, 271. 

American Colony Company, real 
estate projects in Mexico City, 96. 

Amethysts, the mining of, 30 

Ancient civilization of the Aztecs, 

2, 131 

Arch, Mayan, without a keystone, 132. 

Archaeological researches into Mayan 
and Aztec history, 131, 133. 

Architecture, the patio form, 16; the 
portales of Guadalajara, 72; the 
prevailing type of residence, 204. 
American type of house not satis¬ 
factory, 209. 

Art, Guadalajara the centre of, 71. 

Auctions, at the government pawn¬ 
shop, 112 

Automobiles, reckless speed of, in 
Mexico City, 95, 98. 


Aviation, on the border patrol, 10, 11. 

Aztec Calendar Stone, an indication of 
advanced civilization, 133. 

Aztec mines, location of, 34. 

Aztec sacrificial stone, discovery of, 
> 33 - 

Aztecs, their ancient civilization, 2, 
131 et seq.; the modern Aztec a pic¬ 
turesque character, 45; elaborate 
service of food, 172; their use of crude 
petroleum, 235; pure bloods still on 
Lake Kochimilco, 226. 

Babies, how cared for and dressed, 237. 

Baking, method of, 171 

Ballroom customs, 78. 

Bananas, plantations of American 
companies, 5. 

Baptist Church, its work in Mexico, 
160. 

Barbacca, a favourite dish, 173. 

Basketry, of Toluca, 235. 

Baths, hot, at Aguascalientes, 47. 

Bathrooms, unusual and of primitive 
type, 206. 

Bathtubs, rare in Mexico, 50. 

Batopilas, silver mine at, 27. 

Beggars, prevalence of, 146. 

Binder twine, our dependence on 
Mexico for, 6. 

“Blessing of the Animals,” religious 
observance of the, 154. 

Bribery, necessary to obtain service on 
freight shipments, 68 

Boleo copper mine, one of the best 
known, 28. 

Boquillas dam, largest storage reser¬ 
voir on American continent, 6. 

Bootleggers, trouble with, on the 
border, 10. 

Boundary Commission, kept busy 
owing to shifting of banks of Rio 
Grande, 9. 

Boundary line, difficulties in guarding 
the, 9. 

Boundary monument at Laredo, 7. 


INDEX 


Box car, trip down the mountains on 
a, 248. 

Buena Vista, battle of, 19. 

Buenos Noches, a tropical tree with 
great red flowers, 200. 

Bulls, specially bred for bull-fighting, 
168; meat not used for food, 175. 

Bull-fighting at Mexico City, 161 
et seq.\ the favourite sport of the 
Spaniards and Latin-Americans, 167. 

Bull-fights, influence of, on the pawn¬ 
shop, 112. 

Burial, strange, at Guanajuato, 52. 

Business customs in Mexico, 138 et seq. 

Butchering, methods of, 175. 

Butler, Senator, hears story of battle 
of Buena Vista from General Taylor, 
20. 

Calendar, Mayan, more advanced 
than that of the Aztecs, 132. 

Calendar Stone, the Aztec, 133. 

Cane, sugar, production of, 5. 

Cannibalism, as practised by the 
Aztecs, 120. 

Cardenas, a town of thatched roofs, 
249. 

Casiano No. 7, a famous oil well, 261. 

Castellano, Marquis de, a descendant 
of Montezuma, 122. 

Cathedral, Cuernavaca, one of the 
oldest and quaintest in Mexico, 127. 

Cathedral, Guadalajara, famous 
Murillo painting in, 74. 

Cathedral, Guanajuato, built by 
wealthy silver miner, 40, 58. 

Cathedral, Mexico City, largest on 
the North American continent, 92; 
and the oldest, 93. 

Cathedral, Puebla, finest on the con¬ 
tinent, 193. 

Cathedral, Zacatecas, erected by tax 
levy on the silver mines, 158. 

Catholic Church, government opposi¬ 
tion to the, 155; its strong hold on 
the people, 156, 159; value of 

property held by, 157; of great 
benefit to the people, 158. 

Catorce, rich mineral district, 27. 

Cattle thieves, a source of trouble on 
the border, 9. 

Ceilings, usually very high, 205, 207. 

Cellars, absence of, 207. 

Cemetery, strange, at Guanajuato, 

53 - 


Cerro Azul No. 4, a famous oil well, 
261. 

Cbacalaca, abundant in Tomasopa 
Canyon, 252. 

Chapala, Lake, largest of Mexican 
lakes, 73. 

Chapel of the Well, at Guadalupe, 153. 

Chapultepec, once the place of re¬ 
sidence of Montezuma, now that of 
the presidents, 91, 129; one of the 
wonderful palaces of the world, 106. 

Charcoal, the house fuel of Mexico, 
91, 208. 

Chichenitza, ruined Mayan city in 
Yucatan, 3; the sacrifice of maidens 
at, 120; ruins of Mayan temples at, 
132. 

Chichimec Indians, worshippers of the 
frog god, 58. 

Chicle industry, instrumental in dis¬ 
covery of Mayan ruined cities, 132; 
developed by Americans, 270. 

Chihuahua, State of, total yield in 
three centuries of mining, 27; gold- 
bearing properties in, 28; splitting 
up the immense Terrazas estates, 
242. 

Chinese, smuggling of, across the 
border, 12; small holdings of, in 
Mexico, 267. 

Chinese merchants in Mexico, 145. 

Choy Cave, a remarkable scenic 
wonder, 253. 

Chocolate, the chief beverage, and 
deliciously prepared, 203. 

Cholula, ancient Aztec religious city, 
195. 

Cholula Pyramid, one of the greatest 
in the world, 195. 

Christmas, how observed, 236. 

Church, exacted share of the minerals 
mined, 36. 

Church and State, absolute separation 
of, 155. 

Church of Jesus of Nazareth, docu¬ 
ments of Cortes preserved in, 126. 

Church of John the Baptist, at 
Coyoacan, 126. 

Church of Our Lady of Healing, at 
Cholula, 196. 

Church of San Francisco, at Cuer¬ 
navaca, founded at suggestion of 
Cortes, 127. 

Church of San Francisco, at Puebla, 
contains relic of Cortes, 195. 


278 


INDEX 


Church of St. Anthony the Abbot, 
“blessing of the animals” at, 154. 

“Cientlficos” the ruling group under 
Diaz, 105. 

Cigarettes, used by the Aztecs, 135. 

Climate, and temperature zones, 4. 

Clothing, elaborate and expensive, 
139. 

Coatepec, Indian pueblo near Jalapa, 
200. 

Cock-fighting, a favourite amusement, 
169. 

Coffee, production of, 5; amount pro- 

, duced annually, 221; the beverage 
poorly made in Mexico, 202. 

Coffee plantations at Jalapa, 200, 202. 

Coffins, custom of renting, 55. 

Colima, volcano of, 190. 

Colonias, the new suburban residen¬ 
tial districts, 96, 204. 

Confessionals, laws forbidding, 156. 

Confiscation of Church property, 
155 et seq. 

Congress, visit to the, 98, 101. 

Cooking, methods of, 171; use of 
charcoal for, 208. 

Copper mines, production of, 5; yearly 
product exceeds that of gold in value, 

1 28; the best known mines, 28. 

Corn, staple food of Mexican people, 
5; two crops a year at Jalapa, 200. 

Cortes, Hernando, finds ancient civi¬ 
lization, 2; his efforts to locate the 
Aztec mines, 34; his descendants 
still living, 122; loses favour at 
court, 125; owned great estates at 
time of his death, 125; his route of 
conquest through Mexico, 127; 
his last burial place unknown, 129; 
his many love affairs, 123; indicted 
for the murder of his wife, 124; 
constructs highway over Mount 
Ixtaccihuatl, 188; worshipped as 
the “fair god,” 196; his church 
building at Cholula, 196; founds 
city of Vera Cruz, 213; captures 
command sent to supplant him, 214. 

Cortes, Don Martin, removes his 
father's body from Spain to Mexico, 
130. 

Cost of living, in Mexico City, 176. 

Costumes of the Tehuana women, 87. 

Cotton, large production in irrigated 
regions, 5; use of by the Aztecs, 134. 

Courtship, customs of, 77. 


Courtyard or patio type of architec¬ 
ture, 16. 

Coyoacan; palace of Cortes at, 125. 

Creoles, proportion of, composing 
population, 2. 

Crown of the Virgin of Guadalupe, 
encrusted with precious stones, 152. 

Cuernavaca, site of town on estate of 
Cortes, 127. 

Cuernavaca Cathedral, founded at 
suggestion of Cortes, 127. 

Curio shops, of Mexico City, 144. 

Customs officers, difficulties of, along 
the border, 10. 

Dancing, customs of, 78. 

Davis, Jefferson, in command of a 
regiment at the battle of Monterey, 
21. 

De Rul, Count, wealthy mine owner, 
builds Guanajuato Cathedral, 40, 
5 8 - 

De Valencia, Friar Martin, one of the 
Twelve Apostles of Mexico, 188. 

Diaz, General Felix, occupies Vera 
Cruz, 216. 

Diaz, Porfirio, his sanitary improve¬ 
ments greatly reduce death rate, 57; 
his remarkable life, 103; interview 
with, 106; encouraged archaeological 
research, 133; of Indian blood, 135; 
lands at Vera Cruz, on his way to 
power, 216; opens up the country 
to development by foreign capital, 
266. 

Dining cars and railway restaurants, 
service of, 62. 

Divorces, seldom obtained among the 
better classes, 84. 

Dolls, many sold by peddlers, 235. 

Doha Maria de Rodriguez mine, 
misfortune of the widow-owner, 41. 

Domestics, limited duties and high 
wages of, 177. 

Dos Bocas oil gusher, the conflagra¬ 
tion of the, 260. 

Dos Estrellas, the rich gold mine, 28. 

Dos Rios, altitude of, 234. 

Drawn-work, as produced at Aguas- 
calientes, 44. 

Durango, public bath-houses, at, 51. 

Durango, state of, rich mineral de¬ 
posits, of, 27. 

Dust-clouds, frequent at Monterey, 16. 

Dyes, as made by the Aztecs, 134. 


279 


INDEX 


Easter, gayest day of the year, 147. 

Ebano, the first big oil well of Mexico, 
254- 

Ebony, used for railway ties, 69; along 
the Tampico railroad, 253. 

Education, opposition to, under 
Church auspices, 158, 159. 

Eggs, as sold in the market, 230. 

El Nevado, beautiful mountain peak 
of, 190. 

El Oro, chief gold-producing district, 
28. 

Emeralds, the mining of, 30. 

Enchiladas, how made, 173. 

Estrella del Norte, how this lost mine 
was re-located, 42. 

EugSnie, Empress, a descendant of 
Montezuma, 122. 

Exports to, and imports from, the 
United States, importance of, 142. 

Fertility of the soil, at Aguascalientes, 
46. 

Fireplaces, not in general use, 208,210. 

Floating gardens of Kochimilco, 223. 

Floors, of masonry instead of wood, 
205, 209. 

Food, methods of preparing, 171 etseq 
meals and their time of serving, 175. 

Foreign investments, at high tide 
under the Diaz administration, 265, 
266. 

Foreign population, extent of, 268. 

Foreigners, as retail merchants, 142, 
145. 

Fraudulent investment schemes, to 
be guarded against, 269. 

French, in control of the dry goods 
and jewellery trade, 269. 

French merchants in Mexico City, 
142, 143, 145. 

Frijoles, a typical dish, 172, 174. 

Fruit markets of Mexico City, 228. 

Fruits, abundance of, 5. 

Fuel oil, from the Panuco-Topila 
field, 263. 

Funeral cars, and street-car hearses, 
57- 

Funerals and mourning customs, 56. 

Game, abundant in Tomasopo Canyon, 
251. 

Game cocks, sold at the city market, 
229. 

Gardens, floating, of Kochimilco, 223. 


Garnets, the mining of, 30. 

German merchants in Mexico, 142, 
143, 145. 

Gladiatorial stone of the Aztecs, 119. 

God of war, the Aztec, 121. 

Good Friday, observance of, 149. 

Gold, extent of mining in Mexico, 
28; abundant among the Aztecs, 35; 
altars of, in churches, 158. 

Gold mines, production of, 5. 

Gold standard, adopted by Diaz 
government, 113. 

Government, the different branches, 
102. 

Grant, General, a lieutenant in the 
Mexican War, 21. 

Green Cananea copper properties, 
immense production of, 28. 

Guadalajara, the Athens of Mexico, 
71; the mild climate making the 
locality a health resort, 72, hydro¬ 
electric development furnishes light 
and power, 72; absence of drunken¬ 
ness, and scarcity of saloons, 73; 
streets “paved with gold,” 73; 
the Palace, and the Cathedral, 
74; the pottery market, 75; Sunday 
afternoon on the plaza, 77; men¬ 
aced by earthquakes, 190. 

Guadalajara Cathedral, long in pos¬ 
session of Murillo painting, “The 
Assumption of the Virgin,” 74, 

Guadalupe, Shrine of the Virgin of, 

151. 

Guanajuato Cathedral, built by a 
silver king, 40, 58. 

Guanajuato, city of, its strange 
cemetery, 52; water supply from 
reservoirs, 57; derivation of its name, 
58; its old churches and public 
buildings, 58. 

Guanajuato, state of, development of 
silver mining in, by Americans, 27, 
39> 58. 

Guatemala, ancient civilization of 
the Mayas, 131. 

Guatemoc, nephew and successor to ( 
Montezuma, tortured by Cortes in 
search of Aztec treasure, 34, 125; 
executed by Cortes, 124. 

Haciendas, splitting up the large, 239. 

Hayes, C. W., in charge of drilling on 
the Potrero del Llano No. 4, 261. 

Hearses, street-car, 57. 


280 


INDEX 


Heating, primitive methods of, 208, 
209. 

Hemp, sisal, a production of Yucatan, 

Henequen, or sisal hemp, a production 
of Yucatan, 5. 

Hidalgo, executed at Guanajuato, 60. 

Hindoos, smuggling of, across the 
border, 12. 

Hoarding of money, a national habit, 

114. 

Home of a poor farmer, 201. 

Horses, tortured at the bull-fights, 163. 

House of the Inquisition, Puebla, 194. 

House of Tiles, the, at Mexico City, 
176. 

Houses, style of, near Toluca, 233. 

House-building, most residences are 
of the same type, 204. 

Humboldt, Alexander, makes study of 
the great Durango iron mountain, 
29; his record of mines, 34; his 
scheme for reopening flooded mine 
causes craze of speculation in 
England, 38. 

Huts, primitive of the natives, 249, 
252. 

Hydroelectric development of water- 

^ falls, 6, 27, 72. 

Ice, proposal to supply Mexico City 
from top of Mount Popocatapetl, 
182, 183. 

Illegitimacy, reasons for prevalence 
of, 84. 

Immigration officers, difficulties of, 
on the border, 12. 

Imports from and exports to the 
United States, importance of, 142. 

Inclined railway planned to run to top 
of Mt. Popocatepetl, 182. 

Infants, sacrifice of, by the Aztecs, 120. 

Indian marriage customs, 86; pro¬ 
portion of, composing population, 
2; indolent in the hot lands, 219, 
220. 

Insects, used as food, 225. 

International boundary monument 
at Laredo, 7. 

Investments, foreign, extent of, 264; 
at high tide under Diaz, 265, 266. 

Iron, little used in building, 206. 

Iron ore, abundance of, 6. 

Iron ore, the famous mass at Durango, 
29- 


Irrigation, cotton production under, 5; 
from Boquillas dam, 6; on the Santa 
Catarina River, 16; ancient meth¬ 
ods employed, 46. 

Isabella, daughter of Montezuma, 
taken as mistress by Cortes, 124. 

Ixtaccihuatl, Mount, 90, The “White 
Woman,” 185; legend of, 186; the 
ascent of, 188. 

Jalapa, beautiful city of, a trade centre 
from time of Montezuma to the 
present day, 198; style of architec¬ 
ture, 198; coffee plantations and 
tropical trees and flowers, 200; the 
ancient market, 230. 

Jalisco, state of, people differ from 
other sections, 71. 

Japanese, small holdings of, in Mexico, 
267. 

Jefe politico, power of the, 245. 

Jesuits, expulsion of the, 155; have 
been of great benefit to the people, 
158. 

Jewellery, the Mexican women’s 
regard for, 111. 

Jorullo, Mount, formed and burst 
during earthquake, 190. 

Juanacatlan, waterpower develop¬ 
ment of the falls of, 6. 

Juarez, President Benito, an Indian, 
135; effects the separation of Church 
and State, 155; in possession of 
Vera Cruz, 216. 

Juarez Theatre, at Guanajuato, 59. 

Judas Iscariot, custom of hanging 
effigies of, 147. 

Jury trial, not a custom in Mexico, 60. 

Knights of Columbus, many organiza¬ 
tions of, in the cities, 159. 

Kohinoor, parable of the, 1. 

Labour laws, impracticable provisions 
of the constitution, 31. 

Labour troubles, in Mexican mines, 
30. 

Labour problem, the, and the peonage 
system, 244. 

Labour unions, radical programmes of. 

Labourers, Mexican, large numbers in 
the border states, 13. 

Lake Chapala, largest of Mexican lakes 
and a popular summer resort, 73. 


INDEX 


La Luz mine, discovered by Spanish 
soldiers, 39. 

Land laws, reform of the, 238 et seq. 

Laredo, Tex., a city of the rich, 13. 

Lascurain, Pedro, term of presidency 
only a few minutes, 103. 

Lead mines, production of, 5. 

Lee, General Robert E., his service 
in the Mexican War, 22. 

Legislative Palace, Mexico City, 95. 

Lent, rigid observance of, 148. 

Leonor, daughter of Cortes, 124. 

Liquors, smuggling of, across the 
border, 10; native, varieties of, 178. 

Lost mines and bonanzas, stories of, 
34 - 

Lottery tickets, sale of, a flourishing 
business, 146. 

Love charms, belief in, 86. 

Lower California, gold-bearing prop¬ 
erties in, 28; her pearl fisheries, 29. 

Lumber, little used in house building, 
206. 

Lumbering, Cessation of, due to 
labour going to oil districts, 254. 

Machinery, American, the demand 
for, 142. 

Madero, Francisco, interview with, as 
President, 100; his assassination, 101; 
story of his rise to the presidency, 
105. 

Maguey cactus, source of -pulque, 180; 
plantations of, near Toluca, 232; 
used to form fences, 233. 

Mahogany, used for railway ties, 69; 
along the Tampico railroad, 253. 

Marina, Lady, Indian mistress of 
Cortes, 123. 

Markets, of the Aztecs, 135. 

Markets of Mexico City, a visit to the, 
228. 

Marriage customs, 82; of the Indian 
tribes, 86. 

Maximilian, Emperor, work in restora¬ 
tion and furnishing of castle of 
Chapultepec, 107. 

Mayas, ancient civilization of the, in 
Yucatan, 2, 131 et seq.; human sac¬ 
rifices of the, 120. 

Meals, and their time of serving, 175. 

Meat, cost prohibitive to the poor, 
174; methods of marketing, 174. 

Merchants, their ways of doing busi¬ 
ness, 141, 144. 


Mestizos, proportion of, comprising 
population, 2. 

Metalwork, of the Aztecs, 134. 

Methodist Episcopal Church, its 
work in Mexico, 160. 

Mexican coat of arms, tradition of its 
serpent and eagle, 93. 

Mexican labourers, large numbers in 
the border states, 13. 

Mexican Railway, difficulties in 
construction of, 65; owned by Brit¬ 
ish capitalists, 65; high freight rates 
on, 66. 

Mexican Central Railway, difficulties 
in construction, 69. 

Mexico City, climate, 4; highest in 
altitude of the great capitals yet 
built on a swamp, 88, ancient 
capital of the Montezumas, 89; 
points of interest, 89; many Ameri¬ 
can and other foreign residents, 
94; dangerous speed of the auto¬ 
mobiles, 95; National Theatre and 
the Legislative Palace, 95; real 
estate projects of American capi¬ 
talists, 96; the American embassy, 
97; water supply from Lake Xochi- 
milco, 226; altitude, 234. 1 

Mines, producing for centuries, 5. 

Mines, lost, stories of, 34. 

Mines, silver, at Guanajuato, 58. 

Mining, the silver mines at Zacatecas, 
23; value of gold and silver pro¬ 
duced in Mexico since discovery of 
America, 25; industry in the hands 
of Americans, 26, 27; location of 
the principal mines, 26; the re¬ 
working of old dumps, 36, 38; old 
mines worked by slave labour, 36. 

Miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe, 
151 - 

Missionary schools, closed by the 
government, 158. 

Moctezuma copper mine, one of the 
best known, 28. 

Monte de Piedad, the government 
pawnshop in Mexico City, 109. v 

Monterey, principal manufacturing 
city of Mexico, in a rich mineral 
country, 15; style of architecture,' 
16; public improvements installed 
regardless of cost, 17; resembles an 
American city, 17; steel plant 
supplied with ore from Durango, 
29. 


282 


INDEX 


Montezuma, civilization of, 2; amount 
of gold taken from, 28; efforts to 
locate treasure of, 35; his descen¬ 
dants still living, 122; stoned to 
death by mob of his own people, 
127; attempts to discourage Cortes 
in his invasion, 128. 

Montezuma, Duke of Soteles de, said 
to be a descendant of both Monte¬ 
zuma and Cortes, 125. 

Mosaic tiles, in Puebla, 195. 

Motor cars, preference for American, 
143. 

Mount Ixtaccihuatl, “the White 
Woman,” 90, 185, 186, 188. 

Mount Orizaba, 3, 184, 189, 198. 

Mount Popocatepetl, 3, 90, 129, 182, 
183, 184, 186, 188. 

Mountains, highest on the continent, 

Mourning customs, in Mexico, 56. 

M010, duties and perquisites of the, 
177. 

Mule car, trip by, from Jalapa to 
Vera Cruz, 218. 

Mummified bodies in Guanajuato 
cemetery, 55. 

Murders, of Americans in Mexico 
during the revolutions, 117. 

Murillo, his painting “The Assump¬ 
tion of the Virgin,” at Guadalajara 
Cathedral, 74. 

Music, excellent, of Mexican bands, 
14 - 

Nails, few used in building, 206. 

Napoleon III, fails to purchase Murillo 
painting from Guadalajara Cathe¬ 
dral, 74; presented much of the 
furniture of the Castle of Chapul- 
tepec, 107. 

Narcotics, smuggling of, across the 
border, 11. 

National Palace, a visit to, 98. 

National Railways, organization of 
the, 66. 

National Theatre, finest on the con¬ 
tinent, 95. 

Nationality of retail merchants of 
Mexico City, 142, 145. 

Negroes, recruited in the United 
States for railway construction in 
Sonora, 69. 

Nevada de Toluca, volcano of, 234. 

Nexahualcoyatl, Toltec emperor, poet. 


and philosopher, 136; his splendid 
palaces and manner of living, 137. 

Nogales, boundary line divides the 
town, 11. 

Oaxaca, state of, rich mineral zones of, 
27; gold-bearing properties in, 28; 
immense iron deposits of, 29. 

Oil, Mexico’s greatest single source of 
wealth, 29; in the Tampico field, 

2 54, 2 57> restrictions imposed by 
the Constitution of 1917, 263. 

Oil-burning locomotives, on the Mexi¬ 
can railroads, 254. 

Oil seepages, long known in Mexico, 
254 - 

Oil tankers, the process of loading, 

255, 262. 

Oil wells, famous producers, 259. 

Opals, from Queretaro mines, 30; in 
the curio shops, 144. 

Orchids, at Jalapa, 201. 

Ore stealing, common in the mines, 24. 

Orizaba, city of, 189. 

Orizaba, Mount, height of, 3; highest 
Mexican mountain, 184; first ascent 
of, made by American officers dur¬ 
ing the Mexican War, 189; over¬ 
looks city of Jalapa, 198. 

Oxen, hitched to plough by the horns, 
220. 

Pachuca, valuable mineral properties 
at, 27, 38. 

Palm Sunday, observance of, 148. 

Panduro, noted potter at Guadalajara, 
75 - 

P&nuco River, the water highway of 
the oil business, 255; oil wells along 
the, 263. 

Panuco-Topila oil field, the, 263. 

Paper, as made by Mayans and 
Aztecs, 132, 134. 

Pawnshop, the government, at Mexico 
City, 109. 

Parral, silver mines at, 27; mines 
destroyed by slave labourers, 40. 

Parrots, abundant in Tomasopo 
Canyon, 251. 

Passion Play, as given by the Indians, 
149 - 

Patio, typical Mexican form of 
architecture, 16. 

Patio process of mining silver, 37. 

Pearls, the fishers of Lower Cali- 


INDEX 


fornia, 29; some famous Mexican 
pearls, 30. 

Peddlers, and their wares, 231. 

Penoles, the rich gold mine, 28. 

Peon, the, has no wish to improve 
his condition, 244. 

Peonage, the system widespread, 244. 

Petroleum, deposits of, 6; in the 
Tampico field, 254. See also Oil. 

Philosophy, of the Toltecs, 136. 

Picnics, natives delight in, 227. 

Picture-writings of the Aztecs, 134. 

Pierce Oil Corporation, refineries at 
Tampico, 259. 

Pilgrimages to the Shrine of Guada¬ 
lupe, 154. 

Pinates, take the place of Christmas 
trees, 236. 

Pirates, repeatedly loot Vera Cruz, 
214. 

“Playing the bear,” the courting 
custom, 78, 79. 

Playthings, making of, a principal 
industry of Toluca, 235. 

Plaza de Toros, a bull-fight at the, 

161 et seq. 

Pledges, a diversity of, at the govern¬ 
ment pawnshop, Mexico City, 109. 

Poetry, of the Toltecs, 136. 

Popocatepetl, Mount, height of, 3; 
viewed from the Cathedral tower, 
90; source of sulphur for making of 
gunpowder by the Spaniards, 129; 
plans for its scenic and mineral 
development, 182; its many erup¬ 
tions, 183; its supply of sulphur 
greater than the demand of entire 
world, 183; compared in height 
with other North American moun¬ 
tains, 184; how the ascent is made, 
186; the toboggan slide from the 
top, 188. 

Population, numbers and elements of, 
2. 

Population, foreign, extent of, 268. 

Posada , a feature of the Christmas 
festivities, 236. 

Potrero del Llano No. 4, the wild 
flowing oil well, 259; the largest out¬ 
put of history, 261. 

Pottery, centre of manufacture at 
Guadalajara, 75. 

Poultry, sold by peddlers, 231. 

Precious stones, varieties mined in 
Mexico, 30. 


Presbyterian Church, its work in 
Mexico, 160. 

Prescott, the historian, description of 
Quetzalcoatl, 196. 

Presidents, power of the, 103; may not 
now be re-elected, 104. 

Prohibition, efforts in behalf of, 179. 

Protestant Churches, difficulties in 
obtaining a hold among the people, 
159. 

Puchero, a mutton stew, 173. 

Puebla, chief manufacturing city, 
192; stronghold of the Catholic 
Church, 193; its Cathedral the 
finest on the continent, 193; the 
immense market, 230. 

Pulque, beneficent absence of, in Guad¬ 
alajara, 73; cheap and consumed 
in great quantities, 178; how pro¬ 
duced, 180, 181; sold at the car 
windows, 234. 

Pyramid, Mayan, at Chichenitza, 132. 

Pyramid of Cholula, one of the great¬ 
est in the world, 195. 

Quarter Mountain, ancient place of 
execution at Guanajuato, 59. 

Quetzalcoatl, the “fair god,” 196. 

Rafters, unusual, in the overhanging 
roofs, 199, 204, 207. 

Rag baby dolls, many sold by peddlers, 
235 - 

Railroads, extent of, 6. 

Railway restaurants and dining cars, 
service of, 62. 

Railway travel, customs of, 61. 

Railways, cost of travel on, 62; now 
manned by natives, 63; amount of 
trackage, 64; estimated cost, 65; 
building of the first railroad, 65; 
the government merger a benefit 
to the roads, 66; difficulties during 
the revolutions, 67; grafting and 
bad service forces American in¬ 
terests to run own freight trains, 
68 . 

Rasc6n, on the Tampico railroad, 252. 

Real del Monte, history of this famous 
mine, 38. 

Regia, Count de, makes immense 
fortune in silver mining and founds 
pawnshop, 38, 113. 

Religion, opposition of the govern¬ 
ment to, 155, 158, 159. 


284 


INDEX 


Religious processions, forbidden by 
law, 155. 

Rents, exceedingly high in Mexico 
City, 176. 

Restaurants, of Mexico City, 176. 

Retail merchants, nationality of, 
142, 145- 

Revenue officers, difficulties of, on the 
border, 10. 

Revolutions, cause heavy losses to 
foreign investors, 265. 

Rhodes, Cecil, prediction as to future 
of Mexican mining, 25. 

Ribera Castellanos, popular summer 
resort on Lake Chapala, 73. 

Rio Grande, constantly shifting its 
banks, 8; a shallow and crooked 
stream, 9. 

Riviera of Mexico, Lake Chapala 
called the, 73. 

Robberies, prevalent in Mexico, 115. 

Roofs, mostly flat and fireproof, 208. 

Rosewood, on the Tampico railroad, 
253- 

Royal Dutch Shell, refineries in 
Tampico, 259. 

Rubber, profitable production of, 5. 

Rurales, the picturesque, 49. 

Sacrifices, human, of the Aztecs, 90, 
117^ seq. 

Sacrificial Stone of the Aztecs, 90; 
its bloody history, 117. 

Sacrificios Island, why named, 214. 

Saint Anthony the Abbot, Church of, 
1 54- 

Sal vador, ancient civilization of the 
Mayas in, 131. 

San Juan de UHoa, fortress at Vera 
Cruz, 214; held by American troops 
in 1847 and 1914, 215. 

San Luis Potosf, a live up-to-date 
city, 238; trip from, to Tampico, 249. 

San Luis Potosf, state of, rich mining 
districts in, 27; dividing up the big 
estates in, 238 et seq. 

San Nicolas, one of the lost mines, 42. 

San Pedro, village of pottery makers, 
75- 

Sanborn’s, famous American restaur¬ 
ant at Mexico City, 176. 

Sanchez Ochoa, General, owner of 
Mount Popocatepetl, 182. 

Sandals, the footwear of the peon, 
24, 45, 62. 


Sanitation, native careless in, 57. 

Santa Anna, defeated at Buena Vista, 
19. 

Santa Catarina River, irrigation on 
the, 16; subject to destructive floods, 
16. 

Santa Eulalia, silver mines at, 27. 

Santiago River, waterpower develop¬ 
ment on, 72; great gorge of the, 73. 

Serapes, or Mexican blankets, 144. 

Servants, their limited duties and high 
wages, 177. 

Shepherd, Governor, development of 
Batopilas mine by, 27. 

Sidewalks, narrowness of, 140, 204. 

Siesta, cessation of business during 
the, 138, 176. 

Signs, fantastic, 140, 181. 

Silver, largest lump of record found in 
Sonora, 28. 

Silver kings, stories of the old, 38, 40. 

Silver mines, production of, 5; the 
mines at Zacatecas, 23. 

Sinaloa, state of, gold-bearing prop¬ 
erties in, 28. 

Sisal hemp, a production of Yucatan, 

Sisters of Charity, expulsion of the, 

155- 

Slavery, in the working of the old 
mines, 36; slaves in desperation 
destroy the mines, 37, 40. 

Smithsonian Institution, researches 
into the ancient civilization of the 
Mayas, 131. 

Smuggling, difficulties in controlling, 
on the border, 9, 10. 

Social customs, 85. 

Soil, productivity of the, 5. 

Sombreros, elaborate and costly, 139. 

Sonora, state of, rich mineral deposits 
of, 27, 42; gold-bearing properties 
in, 28. 

Sonora Railroad, first American 
line built in Mexico, 69. 

Southern Pacific of Mexico, important 
railway system owned by the Amer¬ 
ican Southern Pacific, 68. 

Spanish, proportion of, comprising 
population, 2. 

Spanish Inquisition, activities at 
Puebla, 194. 

Spanish merchants in Mexico, 145; 
in control of grocery and grain 
trades, 268. 


285 


INDEX 


Standard Oil Co., refineries in Tam¬ 
pico, 259. 

Stone Sails of Guadalupe, the, 152. 

Store signs, fantastic, 140. 

Stoves and ranges not used in Mexico, 
208. 

Strawberries, abundance of, 5. 

Street names, fantastic and pictur¬ 
esque, 140. 

Stromboli, Mount, “lighthouse of the 
Mediterranean Sea,” 184. 

Sugar cane, production of, 5. 

Sulphur, immense deposits of Mount 
Popocatepetl, 182, 183. 

Superstition, of the masses, 150, 221. 

Table customs, of the Aztecs, 135. 

Tamales how made and served, 172, 

173- 

Tamaulipas, mines of, 42. 

Tampico, the world’s greatest oil port, 
257 et seq. 

Tankers, oil, the process of loading, 
255, 262. 

Tarascan Indians, customs of court¬ 
ship and marriage, 86. 

Taylor, General Zachary, his siege of 
Monterey, 18; defeat of Santa Anna 
at Buena Vista, 19; anecdote giving 
his story of the battle, 20. 

Tehuana Indians, costumes of the 
women, 87. 

Tehuantepec, estate of Cortes, in, 
126. 

Teocalli, the great temple of the 
Aztecs, 118, 120. 

Tepic, public bath-house at, 51. 

Terrazas, Don Luis, his immense 
estate in Chihuahua being split up 
by the government, 242. 

Texcoco, Lake, difficulties of the early 
Spaniards in draining, 88; covered 
with floating gardens, 223. 

Thatched roofs, of Cardenas, 249. 

“The Assumption of the Virgin,” 
Murillo painting in Guadalajara 
Cathedral, 74. 

Thieves’ Market, at Mexico City, 114. 

Three Falls of Christ, the Mexican 
Passion Play, 149. 

Tia Juana, “wide open” town across 
the border, 12. 

Tiaopa, one of the lost mines, 42. 

Tiles, peculiar to the architecture of 
Puebla, 195. 


Tlaxcala, village containing relics of 
Cortes, 129. 

Tobacco, a favourite native crop, 5; 
used by both men and women, 
141. 

Tobogganing from topof Popocatepetl, 
188; from Mount Orizaba, 189. 

Toluca, a visit to, 233 et seq. 

Tomasopo Canyon, trip through, 250. 

Topazes, the mining of, 30. 

Topo Chico Springs, famed for 
medicinal qualities of their waters, 
17- 

Tortillas, how made and served, 172. 

Troops, U. S., in service along the 
border, 9. 

Truck farming, on the floating islands, 
224. 

Turkeys, marketed by peddlers, 229, 
231- 

Turkeys, Wild, abundant in Tom- 
asopa Canyon, 251. 

Turquoise mining, at Zacatecas, 30. 

Tuxpam, oil fields at, 259, 262. 

Underground passageways, prehis¬ 
toric, at Aguascalientes, 51. 

Uxmal, ruined Mayan city in Yucatan, 
3- 

Vaults, burial, at Guanajuato, 52. 

Valenciana, La, richest of the Guana¬ 
juato mines, 39, 58. 

Valley of Mexico, a garden spot, 90. 

Vera Cruz, the front door of Mexico, 
211; chief port of entry, 211; its 
new docks, water supply, and 
sewers, 212; repeatedly looted by 
pirates, 214; held by American 
troops, 213, 215, 216; favourite 
starting point of revolutions, 216. 

Vera Cruz, state of, products and 
climate in wide variation, 221. 

Vesuvius, Mount, compared in size 
with Popocatepetl, 184. 

Vice-President, office abolished, 102. 

Viga Canal, once filled with floating 
gardens, 223, 228. 

Virgin of Guadalupe, Shrine of the, 

151- 

Volcanoes, many and of great height, 
3, 182 et seq. 

Wallace, General Lew, on battle of 
Buena Vista, 19. 


286 


INDEX 


Water jars, as made in Guadalajara, 
75- 

Water peddlers, numerous in Zaca¬ 
tecas, 25; in the desert towns, 47. 

Water spouts, types of, from the flat 
roofs, 208. 

Waterfalls, on Tomasopo River, 251. 

Waterfowl, winter refuge on Lake 
Chapala, 73. 

Waterpower, development of, 6; for 
operation of Guanajuato mines, 27; 
hydro-electric development of falls 
of the Santiago at Guadalajara, 72. 

Wheat, production of, 5, 61. 

Wild ducks, as hunted by the Indians, 
226. 

Wool, General, in the Mexican War, 
21, 22. 

Women, the native, 46. Mexican, 
make good helpmates and devoted 


to their children, 85; not the best of 
housekeepers, 86. 

Xochimilcas, Indian tribe, establish 
themselves on Lake Texcoco, 223. 

Xochimilco, floating gardens of, 223. 

Yucatan, ancient civilization of the 
Mayas, 2, 131; henequen, of sisal 
hemp production, 5; socialist gover¬ 
nor placed in power by the working 
element, 33; ancient civilization of 
the Mayas, 131. , 

Zacatecas, the City of Silver, 23; 
total production of the mines, 26. 

Zacatecas Cathedral, erected by tax 
levy on the silver mines, 158. 

Zambrano, one of the old silver kings, 
40. 


287 


311.77