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OLD MEXICO AND HER LOST PROVINCES.
which I was privileged to set off, under the hospitable guidance of the Director of the Drainage of the Valley, to witness these marvels in person. We had a large row-boat, rowed by five oarsmen; and in our party was an amiable English traveller, who has written a book about Mexico,* and described, among others, this very expedition.
We started about seven o'clock in the morning from the garita of La Viga, an old Spanish water-gate, at which toll is taken from the market boats. The current was against us. The canal of La Viga, a stretch of about sixteen miles, is the outlet of Lake Xochimilco into Texcoco. Chalco and Xochimilco are practically the same lake, being separated only by a narrow causeway of ancient date, which is open at the centre and spanned by a little bridge.
There are numerous hamlets along the way, built like Santa Anita, and each with a few venerable palm-trees in its plaza. The Jefe Politico of one embraced our Director of the Desagüe and kissed his hand. At another a solid little bridge had lately been thrown across the canal, and we heard of a banquet that had been given on the occasion. The orator of the day had delivered a resounding address on human progress, and declared that he was proud to be a resident of a village which could accomplish such a feat. We lunched at a fort-like hacienda at Ixtapalapa, the point where the canal issues from the lake, and there found horses awaiting to take us to the top of the Hill of the Star. Upon this eminence, according to Prescott, were rekindled the extinguished fires and the beautiful captive sacrificed at the end of each of the cycles of fifty years, when the Aztecs thought the existence of the world was to be terminated.
* Brocklehurst's "Mexico To-day." John Murray: London, 1883.