In Indian Mexico (1908) eBook

Frederick Starr
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 409 pages of information about In Indian Mexico (1908).
and considerably wider at the bottom than above; they are dug out in such fashion that the walls are thin and almost vertical on the inner side.  Buttressing pieces are left at the bottom, at two or three places, extending across the canoe and no doubt strengthening the sides; they also serve as squatting places for the passengers.  The prow narrows as well as slopes upward, and a buttressing piece left in it serves as a foot-rest for the steersman, who sits in the bow, instead of in the stern.  He steers by means of a long-handled paddle thrust through a loop of wood fastened to one side of the canoe.  The paddles used for propulsion have handles three or four feet long, with round blades.  The paddlers sometimes make their stroke on but one side of the canoe, sometimes on both.  When they paddle over one side only, the stroke of the oar through the water is oblique, maintaining a steady course.

[Illustration:  SANTA FE DE LA LAGUNA]

In such canoes the Tarascans of the lake villages go from place to place; in such a canoe, we started one morning before six o’clock, for Santa Fe de la Laguna.  Our force consisted of three persons, an old man named Felipe, his wife, and a young man.  All three had paddles, but only two really paddled, the third one steering.  The sun rose shortly after we started, and the light effects of early morning on the water and surrounding mountains were fine.  Though we had made an early start, many had started earlier, and in the first part of our journey we met scores of canoes, the paddlers of which were on their way to Patzcuaro.  It was a beautiful sight to see six or eight paddlers in some great canoe keeping exact time in their movements, singing as they went.  Sometimes two canoes were raced, and laughter and excited cries accompanied the contest.  Here and there along the shores we saw little huts of fishermen, with nets hung out to dry, or groups of men seining or dropping dip-nets; upon many slopes were little terrace garden spots, where modest crops were cultivated; here and there were mats lately finished or heaps of fresh-cut rushes for their fabrication.  Five hours of good paddling brought us to Santa Fe de la Laguna, just opposite the far more famous Tzintzuntzan, and but a little distance from the much larger town, Quiroga.  Santa Fe is quite a town, stretching for a considerable distance along a terrace, but little elevated above the water level.  The houses are built of rather large, dark-brown, adobe bricks; the walls are usually white plastered; the roofs of all the houses are tiled, and the supporting rafters of the roof extend out far beyond the front wall of the house, so that the passer on the footpath is sheltered against rain and the noonday sun.  The outer ends of these rafters are cut to give an ornamental effect.  All the houses are surrounded by fruit trees—­orange, lemon, lime, ahuacate and chirimoya.  Each little property is surrounded by a stone wall of some height; the gate-way through this, giving entrance to the yard, is surmounted by a pretty little double-pitched roofing of thatch.

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In Indian Mexico (1908) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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