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THE MALPAIS.

of the scenes which we now saw unfolded to us, hour after hour, for the following three days, while approaching and rounding the base of Popocatepetl.


Though, according to the information we had received, the town of Yautepec was but six leagues distant, and our pace was this morning far from slow, six hours' hard riding scarcely sufficed to bring us within sight of it.

This was partly owing, it is true, to the character of the soil, and certain detours which we unfortunately made, in bending too much to the eastward. After passing a large Indian village, about six miles from Cuernavaca, we came upon a malpais, or a thick bed of hard black basaltic lava, covering a large extent of country towards the base of the mountains in advance. The faint mule track wandered to and fro over the iron surface in a most provoking manner; now to the south, then to the north, till we were perfectly bewildered: the more so, as the whole was covered, in spite of its sterility, with trees and gigantic cacti of divers species.

This obstacle overcome, we entered a valley in the hills— ascended a ravine, and, from the summit of the pass, looked down upon the broad plains of Yautepec and Cuautla, stretching far to the eastward along the foot of the great chain; with numberless towns, villages, and haciendas, situated in the midst of tracts of fertile and highly cultivated land; while broad bands of steril country, at intervals, marked the path of the ancient lavas.


In Yautepec, we found a town of considerable size, situated upon a stream of pure water, enjoying a very salubrious climate. It is imbosomed in groves of lemon and orange, and has claims to great picturesque beauty, both in general situation and detai's. It was a fair-day, and the principal plaza was crowded to suffocation with one of the most entertaining assemblages you can conceive — chaffering with might and main under the glowing beams of the noonday sun.

By the arriero's faithfulness and Garcia's good management — for though a knave, he was not a fool — we found our mules and their cargoes safe, and our quarters