Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/72

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now and then a large tree and with a single line of hills, blue in the distance, ten miles beyond which was our destination.

In descending, we found ourselves covered with garrapatas, or ticks, with which the entire territory of Yucatan abounds. These insects are very small, but also very annoying, for no one can venture into a wood without being covered with them, and they cause a dreadful itching, festering in the wounds. The only protection from them that I am aware of is petroleum, with which the entire body must be rubbed, and the clothes must be changed when coming from the fields. Emerging from the miles of woods, we saw a hemp-field, and soon the white gate of a hacienda,—a beautiful place,—which we reached at four in the afternoon. We intended to go on, but the mayor-domo pressed us to stay, and gave us a splendid supper of turtle-soup and steak, eggs, frijoles, and tortillas, with claret and honey. A garden, every way the equal of that we had visited in the morning, surrounded the house, and we walked in its delightful shades in the evening. The beehives attracted my attention, they were so primitive and so complete, for a tropical country, being merely round hollow logs, about two feet long, plastered up at each end with mud, and piled up in long rows. They are emptied every six weeks. The honey is so fragrant at some seasons as to scent the house; and there is an added charm to bee-keeping in this country from the fact that the bees are stingless. At sunset the chapel bell sounded for oracion, or evening prayer, and all the laborers gathered about with uncovered heads. When it was finished, they came to us and wished us "Buenas noches " (good night). This delightful custom is in vogue in every portion of the country; in Merida, the servants and children never failed to give us this salutation of peace, as the last stroke of the bell died on the air.

That evening, in March, 1881, was a glorious one, with a new moon, and Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn forming a triangle above her. We slept in hammocks in the corridor, and at four next morning were out in search of José, our driver; at six, after waiting a long time for chocolate, we left the hospitable mayor-domo, who was complaining of having been kept up after his