The whole town was in commotion; people threw themselves upon their knees in the streets and prayed to the Virgin for protection. Later in the day, we saw a priest and a saint’s figure passing through the streets, and as they passed the people paid reverence. Surely the little procession, illegal though it was, must have been successful, for there were no further shocks. We found here a most interesting superstition, which we had not met before, but which we heard several times later, in other districts. We were assured that the earthquake was but one of many signs that the world was coming to an end. We discovered that thousands of the people expected the ending of the world in 1900, and when we asked why, were reminded that this was the last year of the century. This is certainly a survival of ancient superstition. The old Mexicans did not count their years by hundreds or centuries, as we do, but by cycles of 52 years each. It was believed that the world would come to an end at the close of a cycle, and important ceremonies were conducted to avert such a catastrophe. It is clear that the old idea, of the destruction of the world at the close of a cycle, has been transferred to the new mode of reckoning time.
[Illustration: VIEW AT CHICAHUASTLA]
From Tlaxiaco to Teposcolula, there was a cart-road, though it was possible that no carreta ever passed over it. It presented little good scenery. We passed the pueblos of San Martin Jilmeca, San Felipe, and San Miguel. Just before reaching the first of these towns, the road passes over a coarse rock mass, which weathers into spheroidal shells. At Jilmeca and some other points along the day’s route the rock over which we passed was a white tufaceous material loaded with streaks of black flint. Sometimes this black flint passes into chert and chalcedony of blue and purple tints. Here and there, along the mountain sides, we caught glimpses of rock exposures, which looked snow-white in the distance. Between Jilmeca and San Felipe there was a pretty brook, with fine cypresses along the banks, and a suspension bridge of great logs. Having passed through San Felipe and San Miguel, a pleasant road, through a gorge, brought us to the valley in which Teposcolula lies. The great convent church, historically interesting, is striking in size and architecture. The priest, an excellent man, is a pure-blooded Mixtec indian, talking the language as his mother tongue. With great pride he showed us about the building, which was once a grand Dominican monastery. The old carved wooden cupboard for gold and silver articles, used in the church service, is fine work. The gold and silver articles for which it was built have long since disappeared. In the patio are many old paintings, most of which are badly damaged, and some of which have been repaired with pieces cut from other pictures, not at all like the missing piece. Among these pictures is a series of scenes from the