Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/331

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A DAY IN THE MUSEUMS.

tion to the burden on her shoulders, a baby suspended in the rebozo. Another woman, from the canal and the "floating gardens," has immense bouquets in her hands, and a tray of tropical fruits balanced upon her head. Then there is the vender of crockery, who has on his back a huge crate of all sorts of earthen ware; one group represents him chaffing with a customer, so natural in execution that we are transported at once to the markets of Mexico, and mixing in the busy throng in the Plaza Mayor. A lepero closely follows, a mongrel Mexican, with hand outstretched for alms, and his mouth open, from which we may almost imagine we hear the cry, "Por dios, señor." He has one eye closed as if blind, and his tattered leather breeches barely hang together. He passes, and a white-headed Indian trots in sight, bearing a load of fireworks on his shoulders, and all the paraphernalia for the celebration of Holy Week. A basket-maker comes next, then a man with tunas, or prickly-pears, for sale, and all sorts of vegetables and flowers, colored by the artist to exactly imitate the natural article.

While Mexico is fast becoming modernized, it is fortunate, perhaps, that the customs and costumes of the people are thus perpetuated. It will not be many years before the traveller will have to go many a mile, and seek through many a city, for the gorgeous caballero who is a common sight in the capital today; for the advent of railroads is producing a great change, not only in the face of the country, but in the habits and costumes of the people. They are gradually adopting European styles of dress, and throwing off the garb of their forefathers, which has stamped them as the most original and picturesque people on the face of the earth. The only consolation of the future traveller lies in the fact, that among these people dwell those skilful artists who have reproduced in wax and plaster perfect types of these unique costumes, which are fast becoming obsolete.

The archæological fields of Mexico are exceeding rich,[1] but

  1. The author would call attention to the fact that he has enumerated and particularly described (for the first time, it is believed) all the principal ruins, and groups of ruins, in Mexico, of interest to the student of American archæology. A reference to the Index, under the head of Ruins, or Antiquities, will enable the curious reader to trace and locate this line of ancient cities.