Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/188

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CUERNAVACA.

were all stowed together with bags and baggage, feverish and unrefreshed.

Just as we rode out of the gateway of our posada, the first sunbeams were shining upon the white summit of Popocatepetl, which now appeared exactly in the east.

 

Cuernavaca is most nobly situated, on a tongue of land, girdled on three sides by tremendous barrancas; in which, matchless sterility, and the exuberant and broad-leaved vegetation of the tropics, are blended together in an extraordinary manner. It possesses a large church and prison, and many other buildings, the architectural details of which are uncommonly picturesque. I never saw a country where there were richer subjects for the artist, than that in which our rambles were placed for some days to come.

 

The mule path which we followed, led us for some time along the edge of the great barranca to the west of the town, in a direction nearly due south. But after traversing it by a long descent, and longer ascent, and gaining a village where we took a second guide—the first, furnished by the cura, not being acquainted with the road—we crossed a band of sugar and cotton plantations; and, entering upon the uncultivated stony plains, bent our course a little more to the westward, towards the cerro in advance. Our borrowed horses were wretched animals; and I well remember the hard trot of the emaciated beast which I had the misfortune to bestride; and the galling position in which I was pinioned by a badly constructed Mexican saddle.

By some arrangement of the cura's, which we did not then comprehend, our party had been increased as we left Cuernavaca, by a fine, hardy, bold-looking, armed horseman, who kept us company the whole day, whether as guide or as companion we scarcely knew; though on our return we had a hint given us to pay him a few dollars in quality of the first. He was not talkative; at the same time there was nothing uncourteous in his reserve, or general bearing, which I can best liken to that of a stalwart and stark moss trooper. We had our suspicions