Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/69

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UXMAL, THE RUINED CITY.

mitigate the roughness of the road, a peculiar style of vehicle is employed, called a volan. This is a Yucatecan conveyance sui generis, and not found anywhere else; it might be called a modified volante,—in common use in Cuba,—only, instead of sitting up in it, you lie down. It has two large wheels, and the body of the concern is placed directly above the axle, suspended upon high, very elastic springs. The shafts are very long, and a framework projects behind, upon which trunks may be secured, and a bottom of interlaced ropes supports a mattress. It has a canvas top, and is always drawn by three mules,—one in the shafts and one on either side,—harnessed in by such a combination of leather and rope that no stranger could, by any possibility, disentangle them. These mules are generally very small, but make up for lack of size by the length of their ears, which they carry along their backs.

The sun came up; the western sky was reddened and the fine leaves of the mimosas were gilded by its first rays. The many birds that live in the scrub then came out: blackbirds, "chick-bulls" or Crotophaga, jays, orioles, and at one place we passed the fresh skeleton of an ox covered with vultures, the species common in the Southern United States and the West Indies,—Cathartes aura and atratus. At nine o'clock, having accomplished two fifths of the journey, we came in sight of the hacienda of Uayalké. We entered the great gate, and our driver stopped under a large tree in front of the house, and unhitched the mules, as though all belonged to us. This is one of the delights of travel in Yucatan: that any hacendado, or owner of a hacienda, makes you welcome to his hospitality; there being no hotels in the country, this has become a necessity, to which they gracefully submit. We ascended the steps and were greeted by the mayor-domo, who showed us all over the house and ordered breakfast at once,—a charming repast, of tortillas, frijoles, eggs, oranges, and chocolate, with a jar of water in common.

This hacienda is a very large one, having thousands of acres planted in hemp, with great engines busily at work crushing the leaves and rasping the pulp. Great stone corridors sur-