By ten-thirty we had secured a canoe and boatmen, two young and vigorous pure-blood indians. Though a wind was blowing squarely against us, we made good time. We stopped at the picturesque fishing-village of Janicho, on its rock island. Its houses cluster on a little terrace near the bottom of the hill, which rises behind it as a fine background. Steps of rock lead up the stony slope from the water’s edge to the houses. In every yard mattings are laid, upon which little white fish are drying. As they walk through the streets or stand talking together, the men are ever tatting at nets; long lines of net-cord are reeled out for many yards along the wayside; hundreds of feet of seines are hung out in the sun to dry. The houses, with their pretty red tiling, are irregularly clustered along narrow winding streets. The people are purely indian, and wear the characteristic dress.
[Illustration: TARASCAN FISHERMEN; JANICHO]
No town in all the region makes so much use of the tsupakua, or spear-thrower, a wooden stick cut to fit the hand and support the shaft of a spear or long dart, the end of which rests against a peg near the tip of the thrower. By means of this instrument, the long, light, darts of cane with iron points are thrown more directly and forcibly than by the hand alone. These spears are used in hunting ducks. Anciently a spear-throwing stick was widely used through Mexico; to-day it lingers in few places, the best known of which is here on Lake Patzcuaro.
TO URUAPAN BEFORE THE RAILROAD
We easily arranged at Patzcuaro to leave for Uruapan the next morning. Although delayed beyond our proposed hour of starting, we were off at six. It was early enough, indeed, for the morning air was cold; heavy frost coated the leaves and grass and lay upon the soil; in spite of our heavy blankets, wrapped closely about us, we shivered as we rode along upon our horses.
The ride, however, was a lovely one. At first we seemed to leave the lake behind us; mounting for some time we reached a summit from which it again broke upon our view; descending, we constantly caught glimpses of it, with its sinuous shores, its lovely mountain backgrounds, its islands, and its pretty indian towns. Finally, we again left it and rose into a magnificent mountain region, covered chiefly with pines. Passing through Ajuno, which lies upon a steep slope, we overtook a party of police, mounted on horses, taking a group of prisoners to Uruapan. At Escondidas, itself a miserable village, we were impressed by the mercantile spirit of these indians. In all these villages the houses are constructed of heavy logs or timbers, closely and neatly joined; the roofs are shingled with long and narrow shingles, and are abruptly four-sloped. At every house there was something for sale—food, drink, or cigarros. All these houses were built close