Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/420

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TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

on the summit of the hill, yet the caves we entered, two in number, were in a cerrito, at a little distance from that supporting the Castillo. Chill and damp were these caverns, though outside was the terrible heat of a Mexican midsummer noon. Scorpions and serpents were said to lurk here,—this is the excuse the Indians gave for not wishing to explore the dark passages,—yet we saw none. Doubtless, some one could find here sufficient to reward him for a week of arduous labor. We had not the time nor the money for exploration, and so we turned away from these grand ruins with reluctance.

Of the journey back to Cuernavaca I recall little that would seem of interest, except a solitary Indian village, where the people seemed to shun us, and an ancient stone bridge, spanning a deep ravine by a single arch, and just wide enough, without an inch to spare, for our horses to walk across it. My guide said it was made by the very ancient Indians, the same who built the Castillo, and was used by them on their pilgrimages to the valley of Mexico. It is not improbable, as its arch was not the true arch of the present day, but nearly approaching that seen in the Maya ruins of Yucatan, and its every aspect indicates great age, and a workmanship entirely different from Spanish or modern Mexican.

It was a matter of great regret that I could not visit the great cave, called Cacahuamilpa, situated to the southwest of Cuernavaca some thirty miles, which is of unknown extent, though it has been explored for a distance of three or four leagues. Its existence was unknown previous to 1835, when a criminal used it as a place of refuge, and it was subsequently explored. Celebrated travellers have visited this famous cave, and only a few years ago a great cavalcade of Mexican notables, headed by the President, made a journey to the place, and met with numerous accidents and incidents. The entrance to this enormous cavern is about one hundred feet in width, the passage descending to a vast gallery divided fantastically into different salas, or halls, to which the different fancies of travellers have given different names. The first is the Sala del Chivo, or the Goat Saloon, from an agglomeration of stalactites in the shape