Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/169

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The following morning we addressed ourselves early to the duty of escorting our ponderous vehicle to the north towards Lake Zumpango, over a line of country on which we were led to believe that the banditti were as plentiful as the nopal bushes. But here again our perverse good fortune brought us through without adventure, or any chance of trying our mettle; and to tell the truth, had it not been for the coach and its ten mules, a more banditti-looking party than our own could hardly have been met with.

The range of secondary hills over which our track lay on our early morning ride to Tecama, an old halting place on the Real del Monte road, gave us frequent glimpses of the lakes in the plain below, and particularly of that of San Cristobal, between which and the marshes of Lake Tezcuco, the old Spaniards have left one of the noblest monuments of their skill and magnificence, in the construction of the celebrated dike and causeway, by which they prevented the surplus waters of the higher from entering the lower. Its length is fifteen hundred veras, its breadth ten, and height from three to four; the whole structure being a mass of solid masonry.

A short pause at Tecama was followed by our descent into the great level, which, once doubtless covered with waters, extends from the present shores of the lake, round the base of a group of volcanic hills, towards the foot of the great chain, which hems in the valley of Mexico to the north and northeast.

Zumpango is about five leagues distant from Tecama, or eight from San Juan Teotihuacan.

It may give you some idea of the utter ignorance which reigns in the capital among the better classes, both natives and Europeans, as to the topography of the country, when I assure you that we had set out on this excursion, as upon a journey of discovery; without being able to gather the slightest information of a positive character with regard to the practicability of what we proposed