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ahead of us. Suddenly the guide plunged into a dark court-yard and vanished, leaving his charges alone to contemplate the beauties of Aguas by moonlight in the lonely square. It was consoling to remember that murder and robbery are not as prevalent as in former days in Mexico, owing to President Diaz's way of dealing with offenders. A criminal foolish enough to be caught is first shot and then tried, and this summary method has rather discouraged brigandage. As our guide remained conspicuous by his absence, there was plenty of time to notice the illuminated clock on the Municipal Palace on the other side of the square, and the beauty of the open belfry of a neighbouring church. At last a muffled figure approached us, and was made to understand that we wished to be shown to an hotel, any hotel-as standing in the Plaza of Aguas at one in the morning was beginning to be tiresome. This man proved to be quite intelligent, and at once escortted us to a hotel whose proprietor spoke French. Our bags were restored, but no explanation was forthcoming of the so-called guide. Aguas by daylight was found to be
a charming little town with delightful baths, where the hot water comes bubbling from springs. The bath-houses, open to the sky above, have quite a Pompeiian air, with their blue and white tiled floors, and flights of stone steps leading from one's dressing-room to the water. Aguas is headquarters for linen drawn-work of the most lacelike designs. The makers of this bring it to the railway station, where they add to the general confusion by selling their wares.
A Mexican station is most entertaining, as the poorer classes travel incessantly, and are to be seen at most places crowding into the second and third class carriages, laden with a miscellaneous collection of cooking pots, babies, and large bundles of bedding containing the household gods. Smoking, and eating dulce are the chief delights of these people, and whenever the train stops, vendors of unpleasantlooking mixtures readily dispose of these dainties. The large trays carried on men's heads are soon deprived of their loads of sweet potatoes, fried in grease, or some other equally sticky and tasty delicacy.
We sincerely hoped to reach our next destination, Guanajuato, by daylight, but the train was delayed at Santa Maria, whose shrine last year was visited by 70,000 pilgrims. The railway officials seemed quite unable to cope with the enormous crowds awaiting transportation. Thousands of people were encamped on either side of the line, and the train was simply captured by the mob. When it was no longer possible to force one other individual in by the doors, the men hoisted women on their shoulders and forcibly shoved them through the windows. The sight of two scarlet-clad legs finally disappearing after one supreme shove, made us wonder where
the owner landed. The conductor confessed his inability to collect tickets from the packed humanity in the third class carriages.
Some of the male pilgrims were extremely smart in tan-coloured leather suits with silver buttons down the sides of the trousers, short silver embroidered coats, and large sombrero of beaver. The women in the northern part of Mexico are not nearly so picturesque as the men, they wear light-coloured cotton or muslin skirts, and a blue or black reboso draped on their head and shoulders.
Guanajuato, most picturesque of mining towns, is huddled into a winding gorge of the hills, so narrow that steps lead up the steep slopes to houses, built one over the other in the most inaccessible looking places. It is more than three miles from the station and can only be reached by muletrams, which tear along the dark, narrow road at break-neck speed. These trams are drawn by four, and sometimes six mules, and one man holds the reins while another perpetually lashes the animals. At last we arrived at the little three-cornered Plaza of Guanajuata, and found quar
ters in the Waldorf-Astoria of the place, called the Hotel de la Union. Few of the rooms there have windows, an upper panel of the doors opening to let in light and air from the courtyard, where doves and a screaming parrot held an animated debate.
Standing next to the old Spanish Cathedral in glaring incongruity is a modern opera-house of French design, built at enormous cost, and so
far not opened, though finished two years ago. Huge stone lions guard the entrance, and bronze figures of the Muses adorn the top of the façade. The interior has a charming foyer and boxes, but is decorated in the worst possible taste and the crudest colours. The public gardens here are filled with roses, violets, lilies and bougainvilleas, shaded by feathery pepper trees with their bunches of red berries. On either side of these pretty gardens the 'haute noblesse' of Guanajuato have their summer residences.
Distinctly less pleasing, but a neces
sary evil from a guide's point of view, is a visit to the Catacombs. These are situated on a high hill, surrounded by walls of great height and depth, containing receptacles for coffins. In a long vaulted, underground gallery, are placed the skeletons of those whose relatives did not pay for a permanent place in the walls above, and whose remains at the end of five years were removed to make room for others.
Volumes could be written of mining traditions concerning the days when silver was accounted as nothing."
The Mint and the de Flores Reduction Works are extremely interesting. In the latter the primitive method of three hundred and fifty years ago of crushing and reducing ore is still adhered to by these conservative people, and the work is done by blindfolded mules, after what is called the "Patio" process, where the muddy mass of ore is trodden for weeks by the patient animals, knee-deep in the mix
Travelling through Mexico early in December one has the good fortune to witness some of the "fiestas" or fêtes
in honor of the patron Saint of the country, Our Lady of Guadalupe. To her memory beautiful chapels are dedicated, where pilgrims throng from all parts of the country. The decorations in these buildings are frequently of the most costly description, a chancel rail of solid silver being by no means uncommon. The plans of most of the cathedrals and churches in Mexico were drawn in Spain. The stone carvings on the façades are often of great beauty, and the interiors though tawdry in decoration contain choirs of
was in progress, the street decorations were uniquely pretty and effective. The national colours, red, white and green, were festooned on the dome and towers of the Santuario. Here special services attracted the usual great crowd, who simply camped in the neighbouring streets with their cooking pots, and picnicked there until the festivities were ended. The warm climate makes an al fresco life
Few people know that in the Sacristy of the Cathedral of Guadalajara is to be seen the original painting of Murillo's Assumption, which has oddly enough found a resting place in the Cathedral of a Mexican town. This Cathedral and the Degollada Theatre were injured by the earthquake on the 20th of January, 1900, the shock of which was registered by the seismograph in a Canadian Observatory.
Of more modern interest than the old Spanish towns just described, though it was an Indian town at the time of the Conquest, is Queretaro, where the unfortunate Maximilian made a last stand against his unwilling subjects. Here his brief dream of a
Mexican Empire ended on the Cerro de Las Campanas, June 19th, 1867, when in company with his Generals, Mejia and Miramon, he was shot facing the city. Three large stones mark the place where they fell, and a chapel is in course of erection by a Mexican gentleman of Imperialistic sympathies. From this hill there is a fine view of the city, the sunny plain surround ing it and the mountains beyond. In the
building of the State Legislature are carefully preserved many melancholy relics of the Emperor, including the rough blood-stained coffin in which his body was first placed after his execution. The almost entire absence of any mementoes of poor Carlotta is quite striking, though she too bore her part in the brief Empire. With the exception of a very inadequate looking bath described as her property in the National Museum at the Capital, no trace of her is to be seen, not even a portrait, while those of Maximilian are many and varied. Little as the people desired an Empire, the symbols of majesty are proudly pointed out, and include a state coach of crimson and gold, a copy of one belonging to the Emperor of Russia, and an immense silver dinner service of truly imperial proportions.
The usual Fiesta was at its height at Queretaro. As our fortress-like windows overlooked the market place where it was held, one could look down upon the surging mob that surrounded the gaming-tables where roulette and rouge et noir, always prominent features of religious feasts in Mexico, did a thriving trade. Flaring torches lit up the stalls of the vendors of" dulcé" (sweets of all kinds) and of "tortillas" (large flat pancakes of corn and chili), while "pulque," that most repellant of national drinks to a foreigner was apparently as nectar in the estimation of the crowd.
Large opal mines are near Queretaro, and the lovely stones form one of its staple commodities, though Hungarian opals are frequently palmed off on the unwary purchaser.
The traveller who enters the City of Mexico by the Mexican Central Rail
way has a chance to see the canal of Nochistongo. This canal was designed and begun late in the 16th century as a tunnel through the hills to drain the Mexican lakes. The Capital was constantly being inundated, and some remedy was necessary. Scarcely was it completed at the cost of hundreds of lives and millions of money when the roof fell in and the gallery was stopped up. Many years later it was decided to make it into an immense canal through the mountains and the tunnel. was opened and walled for a distance of twelve miles. It is now so covered with vegetation that it looks like a