The fiesta at Milta should have been a three days’ affair. This year, however, it began on Sunday with the result that it filled four days. Reaching there in the afternoon of Monday, we found the whole town in great excitement and dissipation. The plaza had been enclosed with a fencing of poles, and toros were the amusement of the afternoon. The country sports with bulls are different from the regular bull-fights of the cities. Any one takes part who pleases, and while there is little of trained skill, there is often much of fun, frolic, and daring. The bull is led into the ring from outside by a lasso. It is then lassoed from behind and dragged up to a post or tree, to which it is firmly tied to prevent its moving. A rope is then tightly cinched about its middle and a man mounts upon the back of the beast, fixing his feet firmly in the rope below, between it and the animal, and winding his hands into it above. The ropes which hold the bull are then withdrawn so as to set it loose. Dozens of men and big boys, with jackets and serapes, then torment the beast, which, plunging and dashing at them, scatters them in every direction. Sometimes the angry animal attempts to break through the fence, causing excitement and consternation among the crowds who have been hanging to it and looking over. When, as sometimes happens, he does break through, there is great scattering before him, and closing in behind him, until he is again captured. The man riding on the bull’s back clings as long as he can, in spite of the plunging and other frantic efforts of the animal to unseat him; comparatively few stay long in their uncomfortable position, and when they are thrown, much agility is required to escape from the furious animal.
[Illustration: IN TLACOLULA]
[Illustration: TYPICAL ZAPOTEC HOUSE; TLACOLULA]
As we rode into town these sports were in full blast; everyone, save the bull-fighters, was drunk. Now and then a tube of iron filled with powder was exploded. A band in front of the municipal house was supplying music. A little group of men with pitos and tambours strolled from place to place, playing. Much selling was in progress in the booths, the chief articles offered being intoxicating drinks. A cluster of drunken vocalists, sitting flat upon the ground, but almost unable to hold themselves upright, were singing horribly to untuned guitars. In front of the town-house a bench had been dragged out by the authorities for the benefit of the cura, who, seated thereon, was watching the sports with maudlin gravity. The presidente and other officials were standing by the padre, and all were drinking at frequent intervals. Thinking the moment opportune, I approached the party and handed them my documents; but both presidente and priest were far too drunk to realize my needs. Surveying the drunken town, I felt that it was necessary to act promptly and firmly if we were to accomplish