Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/60

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54
TLACOLULA.

Four or five leagues from the entrance of the gorge, the signs of that tremendous convulsion, which has burst this channel through the heart of the mountains, are perfectly bewildering. The thin, laminated strata are broken and twisted in every possible manner; and the river, which had never failed us in the earlier part of our journey, but had formed an abundant stream flowing in a chain of alternate rapids or lucid pools, was found to have totally disappeared, pursuing for some distance a subterraneous course below the surface. Soon after however, we found ourselves again on its banks, and early on the afternoon of the first day emerged from the ravine which I have attempted to describe, and approached the great opening, wherein the Indian village of Tlacolula lies surrounded by its orange groves and pretty cultivated enclosures.

This was by far the most important Indian village we had seen, though perhaps not the largest, and we found that the population was partly engaged in the manufacture of the cotton cloth which serves as a reboso, or veil for the upper part of the person, of the common people throughout Mexico. They are woven in a rudely constructed loom.

We here passed a long evening, bathing in the river, examining whatever was curious—among which we may mention a pretty crystal cascade directly opposite our quarters in one of the palmetto-thatched huts of the village—and in arguing whether it was lawful or unlawful to shoot a monkey. Several of these animals, of the long-tailed yellow and black species, had been descried in the ravine at their avocations, much to our amusement. Pourtales, however, who remembered the delights of strange meats—such as skunk, racoon, and prairie dogs on the great prairies, and whose philosophy was anything but Pythagorean or Braminical, had been in a perfect fever for a taste of the long-armed gentry, and I believed had actually fired a shot or two, which the objects of his aim had contrived to dodge. M'Euen and myself took him to task, for to us it appeared that