[Illustration: MANUEL AND AN IGUANA; TEHUANTEPEC]
[Illustration: MARKET WOMEN; SAN BLAS]
In the jefe’s office we learned that during the past year not only Coatzacoalcos, but Tehuantepec, had suffered frightfully from yellow fever. Of course, the disease is no rarity on the Gulf coast, though it was never worse than in the last season; but in Tehuantepec, and on the Pacific coast, it is a thing so rare as to be almost unknown. So true is this, that, when it was first reported from this district, the federal government did not believe the story, and sent a commission to investigate. We learned that the commission arrived at evening, and, finding two persons dead in their black vomit on the street, made no further investigation, but started for Mexico on the following train. The spread of the disease to the west coast is generally attributed, and no doubt correctly, to the railroad. The disease was particularly fatal, in both places, to Americans and Englishmen, and it was whispered that 90 per cent of the employes of the new railroad management succumbed. The chief clerk in the jefe’s office told us that, while many cases occurred here, no pure indians were taken, and that none of the mestizos who were affected died—the mortality being confined to the foreigners.
Dr. Castle had moved, but his place was as interesting as ever. For pets, he had three hairless dogs, a mapachtl, two macaws, two parrots, and a lot of doves, one of which he had taught tricks. He was much interested in cactuses, and had established a garden in which he planned to have all the species of the district. We had purchased some iguanas in the market, and Louis had been skinning them. The Doctor said that there were three species of iguanas in the district, the largest being green, changing to orange or gray, and its flesh not being eaten, as it is too sweet; the second species is of medium size, and gray or black in color; the third is rarer, smaller, and is striped lengthwise; it lives among the rocks near the coast. The two last species are both eaten, and are often sold in market. Here we learned, by a casual remark which Manuel dropped on seeing the ugliest of the hairless dogs, that these are believed, not only here, but in Puebla, and no doubt elsewhere through the Republic, to cure rheumatism. In order to effect a cure, the dog must sleep for three nights with the patient, and the uglier the dog the more certain the cure. Through Dr. Castle, we also learned that the Zapotec Indians hereabouts, have many songs, of which the sandunga is a great favorite. Questioning an indian friend of mine, we afterwards learned that there are many of these pieces of music which are held to be truly indian. The words are largely Zapotec; Spanish words are scattered through the song, and the sentiment is largely borrowed. Most of the songs are love-songs, and they abound in metaphorical expressions. Our little trip to