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[Illustration: Letter T.]
The city of Jalapa, in Mexico, is very beautifully situated at the foot of Macultepec, at an elevation of 4335 feet above the level of the sea; but as this is about the height which the strata of clouds reach, when suspended over the ocean, they come in contact with the ridge of the Cordillera Mountains; this renders the atmosphere exceedingly humid and disagreeable, particularly in north-easterly winds. In summer, however, the mists disappear; the climate is perfectly delightful, as the extremes of heat and cold are never experienced.
On a bright sunny day, the scenery round Jalapa is not to be surpassed. Mountains bound the horizon, except on one side, where a distant view of the sea adds to the beauty of the scene. Orizaba, with its snow-capped peak, appears so close, that one imagines that it is within a few hours’ reach, and rich evergreen forests clothe the surrounding hills. In the foreground are beautiful gardens, with fruits of every clime—the banana and fig, the orange, cherry, and apple. The town is irregularly built, but very picturesque; the houses are in the style of the old houses of Spain, with windows down to the ground, and barred, in which sit the Jalapenas ladies, with their fair complexions and black eyes.
Near Jalapa are two or three cotton factories, under the management of English and Americans: the girls employed are all Indians, healthy and good-looking; they are very apt in learning their work, and soon comprehend the various uses of the machinery. In the town there is but little to interest the stranger, but the church is said to have been founded by Cortez, and there is also a Franciscan convent. The vicinity of Jalapa, although poorly cultivated, produces maize, wheat, grapes, and jalap, from which plant the well-known medicine is prepared, and the town takes its name. A little lower down the Cordillera grows the vanilla, the bean of which is so highly esteemed for its aromatic flavour.
[Illustration: TOWN OF JALAPA, IN MEXICO]