Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/164

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onward, where the pulse of human activity was beating more strongly.

As has been observed, Yucatan possesses few natural attractions in the shape of scenery, and its coast is no better than the interior; low, flat, uninviting, save only where a clump of palms rises above the sands.

Leaving Progreso in the evening, the next morning finds us off Campeche, ten miles from shore. It is the misfortune of this rather famous port that it has no harbor,—that, in fact, no vessel of any considerable size can approach within five miles of land. It is hence difficult to say, in the morning, which of the walled towns glaring white on shore is Campeche; but as the sun gets around to the westward, in the afternoon, the veritable one stands out, like a city of marble, against hills of green. Square white buildings are then plainly visible, and cathedral towers; and other towns shine along the coast, which is high, and apparently dotted with gardens. According to the Mexican law, the steamer is obliged to remain at least twelve hours in or off a port, and this delay gives us a chance to take a peep at Campeche, though through another's spectacles. We learn that it is a finely built city, though in a hot and not over-healthy locality. The character of the surface of the province is similar to that of Yucatan, though rising higher, and everywhere may be found peculiar subterraneos, or caverns. The city, indeed, is built above some very extensive ones, once used as catacombs, in which have been found mummies and idols.

Below Campeche is the isolated town of Champoton, where occurred, in 1517, the bloodiest battle that preceded the advent of Cortes upon this coast, when the Indians attacked Cordova, and killed or wounded all of his party save one. Below this deserted country is the Laguna de Terminos, and the low, unhealthy coast region famous the world over as producing vast quantities of logwood. Carmen is the headquarters for the logwood-cutters, situated on an island at the mouth of the great lagoon of Terminos. The sculptured tablet, of which mention is made farther on, was shipped from Carmen, by the United States consul resident there, to the Smithsonian Institution.