Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/141

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IN THE LOGWOOD FORESTS.

species, and a valuable addition to my collection. The whole character of the forest changed after this; the aguadas were more frequent, and the entire country appeared as though at times submerged. Of this, in fact, my friend assured me, adding that, when he came here, in June, the place where he had his camp, now dry land, was entirely under water.

I was very weary when we at last reached a meadow, in which some horses were feeding, and was told that we were near the rancho. To my great surprise my friend's rancho—from the name of which I was led to expect a small farm—proved to be nothing more than a collection of four huts of palmetto leaves, merely roofs to shed the rain, with open ends and sides. They were on the southern rim of a lovely aguada, surrounded by palmetto and deciduous trees. A pile of logwood, thatched with leaves, a bath-house of palm leaves, and a leaf roof over some hollow logs that served as beehives, completed the establishment.

On the road we had met a train of mules, each with a great plank, fifteen feet long and two wide, lashed on each side, one end projecting beyond his ears, the other dragging on the ground. This is the only way in which Western Yucatan can get its timber, all the west and central portion being covered with scrub or second growth.

About twenty Indians and Mestizos, with bare bodies and legs, sandals, and great cutlasses, were lounging about as we rode in. Three Indian women and a comely Mestiza were busy about their household duties. Upon a large plank, three feet wide, supported on four legs, were two metates, with rollers, used for grinding corn for tortillas; and in addition to this there were a few tubs, a grindstone, and all the things necessary to a camp in the forest. From pole to pole, under the thatched roofs of the open huts, were stretched hammocks of Sisal hemp, and two great mosquito bars told their own tale of insects at night.

We rode into this logwood camp, and I was invited to a hammock, while they talked over news and business, for Alonzo had been gone some time. I noticed one man, a Mestizo, who