Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/619

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Here, at a point mainly above the roofs of the city, is a vacant lot, the only eligible site for an American hotel, and which, I was told, the owner offered to give outright to any one who would erect there a structure costing not less than $60,000. There is certainly a need for a good public house in Chihuahua, as those at present existing are not altogether satisfactory. The obstacles in the way, however, are both numerous and serious; the principal being the lack of fuel and produce, and the great cost of everything necessary to the running of a successful public house. Of restaurants and second rate hotels Chihuahua now has a sufficient number; and whether the increasing travel will warrant the erection of a costly house, which must depend almost entirely upon the "States" for its provisions, and entirely upon them for patronage, would seem at present problematical. All the requisites for success as a winter resort—bright sun, pure and bracing air, picturesque (though circumscribed) surroundings, and a region new to the average tourist—are here. The prices of necessary staples are about as follows: flour, $8 per hundred pounds; wood, $26 per cord; coal, $25 per ton; chickens, forty cents each; eggs, fifty cents per dozen; American cheese, fifty cents per pound; lard, forty cents; butter, sixty cents: sugar (American), thirty-seven cents; ham (American), fifty cents; fresh beef, six to twelve cents; mutton, eight to fifteen cents; native vegetables at low prices. Building material is excessively dear, and labor, skilled and common, very low. I might add, that Chihuahua possesses one monopoly,—a diminutive dog, so small that it leaves nothing to be desired, and so intelligent that it never barks and rarely bites. Its origin is enveloped in mystery, but its fate, so far as Mexico is concerned, is likely to be extermination, as all the specimens procurable are bought at fabulous prices and sent North. Attempts to propagate the species, outside of Chihuahua, have failed in producing pups that did not outstrip their progenitors in size, and thus become worthless.

An immense trade was carried on here with the United States, as the distance is so great, to the Mexican producing and manufacturing centres that nearly all supplies are obtained from the