Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/35

This page has been validated.
29
TAMPICO.

observed beset by the market boats and canoes of the Indians, laden with the produce of the farms of the upper district—sugarcane, bamboo, hay, and fruit, or with loads of sweet water brought down the Tammasee, At the same hour the shore was lined by females standing up to their knees in water, patiently labouring at the purification of some article of apparel, in defiance of the alligators swarming on the neighbouring swampy shore, and disporting themselves in the river. Lower down, abreast of the custom house, and busy market place, appeared the various foreign merchant vessels at anchor; and still farther to the left, the range of hills which rise above Pueblo Viejo, and form the right bank of the Panuco to the gulf Nothing could exceed the picturesque appearance of many of the figures which here continually passed before us, or the classic character of the women, laden with the Etruscan-shaped water jar of the of country; and many a time were we allured to maintain our post, till the heat of the sun, and the effluvia of putrid carcasses which line the shore, forced us to retire. The most striking features of the same view were to be commanded from any of the farms situated to the right of the St. Luis Potosi road, which, from the peculiar water-girt position of the town, formed the only evening ride of all the gallants of Tampico; the road to the bar being nearly impassable, on account of the state of the intervening swamps.

Every evening during this period of detention, our tawdry retainer, Juliano, appeared about an hour before sunset, with our horses, at the door of the Bolza, and mounting, we never failed to forget the ennui of our position, and the heat and annoyances of midday, in our two hours' gallop amid scenes of such beauty.

But you will not be tempted to suspect that I could be, with my prying disposition, in a new country, teeming with novelty and wonders in natural history, without a partial resumption of my wonted habit of an occasional stroll on foot, in spite of heat, insects, and the robbers, from whom there was of course some risk as in other highly civilized countries. "What was the heat to me,"