The road to Tehuantepec at night was one of no adventure. We were impressed with the great number of families travelling in ox-carts over these roads in the cool night air. It was a custom and habit of which we had before no realization. It lacked but ten minutes of one o’clock when finally we rode up to the hotel in Tehuantepec. From the hostler we learned that every room was full,—five persons in some cases sleeping in a single room. So we were compelled to lie down upon the porch outside until the morning.
ON THE MAIN HIGH-ROAD
After a day or two of rest, we started from Tehuantepec upon our return to Oaxaca. For the first time, we were to follow the usually travelled high-road. Our hearts failed us, as we thought of thus neglecting the lovely land of the Mixes, but it was on our program to see the Chontals. Starting at seven, we lost a little time in having a photograph of our party taken as we left the city, so that it was really 8:15 before we were on our way. Our plaster had been sent by carreta to Xalapa. We had a hot, hot, hot ride over a heavy, difficult sand road. At least half a dozen times we forded the Tehuantepec river, and everywhere at places which would have justified the name, Xalapa, “the sandy water.” Finally, arriving at Xalapa at four o’clock, we found it a large town, of the usual hot, dusty Zapotec kind. The authorities bestirred themselves vigorously to locate us in comfortable quarters, with an old lady of regal appearance and dignity. From the start, we feared that this royal appearance and dignity would be paid for, but the opportunity for comfort was not to be neglected. One of the houses of her royal domain was vacated for our use, and two good cots and a hammock were put at our disposal. The supper was abundant, and capital in quality, and there was plenty of food for the horses. Strolling down to the river after supper we found it broad but very shallow; it did not reach our knees at any point, when we waded across it; the bottom was, as we imagined it would be from the name, moving sand. After a bath in the much too shallow stream for swimming, we returned refreshed to our comfortable beds. As anticipated, we found the bill, when presented in the morning, truly regal; after some demur, our queenly hostess reduced it slightly, but, even so, we were reminded of the summer-resorts of our own country.
Tequixistlan, perhaps the largest of the Chontal towns, we found without an official head. While we were in Tehuantepec the jefe received notice of his father’s death. This notice had been duly sent to all the villages and towns within the district, and, on a certain day, the presidente and other chief officers of the different pueblos gathered at Tehuantepec to express their sympathy by speeches and to present flowers to the official. It was