After more than five hours of hard travel we reached the Mixe town of Ayutla, and rode at once to the curato. The priest was not at home. It was market-day, and people were in town from all the country round. The men, surprised at sight of strangers, crowded about us; some gazed at us with angry glances, others eyed us with dark suspicion, some examined us with curious and even friendly interest. Many of them spoke little or no Spanish. Thronging about us they felt our clothing, touched our skins, saddles, baggage, and exhibited childish curiosity. The women at the curato spoke Spanish, of course; we told them we should stay there for a day or two, and sent out for the presidente. On his coming, we explained to him our business and asked leave to occupy the curato in the absence of the priest.
Ayutla is situated on a high terrace, before which opens a lovely valley and behind which rises a fine mountain slope. The village church, while large, is roofless; the town-house lies below the village, and by it are two jails for men and women. The houses of the village are small, rectangular structures of a red-brown-ochre adobe brick; the roofs slope from in front backward, and are covered with red tiles they project in front so as to cover a little space before the house.
By evening most of the indians in the town were drunk. At sunset a miserable procession started from the church, passed through the village, and then returned to the church; composed mostly of women, it was preceded by a band of music and the men who carried the santito. Later, we heard most disconsolate strains, and, on examination, found four musicians playing in front of the old church; three of them had curious, extremely long, old-fashioned horns of brass, while the fourth had a drum or tambour. The tambour was continuously played, while the other instruments were alternated in the most curious fashion. The music was strange and weird, unlike any that we had ever heard before. However, we became thoroughly familiar with it before we had traversed the whole Mixe country, as we heard it twice daily, at sunrise and after sunset. It was the music of the Candelaria, played during the nine days preceding February 2d. As we sat listening to the music the presidente of the town appeared. His Spanish, at no time adequate, was now at its worst, as he was sadly intoxicated. We tried to carry on a conversation with him, but soon seeing that naught but disaster could be expected, if we continued, we discreetly withdrew to our room.
[Illustration: A STREET IN SAN LORENZO]