Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/49

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43
THE GREAT HACIENDA DE LA CALERA.

amount of fuel on an acre is enormous The valley itself is one grand garden, run to wild. In one place, rows of tall graceful cocoa palm-trees, loaded with fruit in all stages of growth, lift their feathery heads in air, and call up visions of the gardens of Damascus. Then wide fields of sugar-cane, ripe, and ready for cutting, then corn-fields, where the corn is equal in size to that of Illinois, rice-fields, and great patches of banana plants, fifteen or twenty feet in height, each leaf being of the size of a counterpane on a double bed at home.

Turning our eyes from this scene to that more immediately at hand, we saw life in the tropics in all its lazy luxuriousness. Upon this grand hacienda, which is exactly as large as the District of Columbia, reside three hundred to four hundred natives of pure, or nearly pure, Indian blood, who are employed as laborers in the fields and around the mills. The men receive thirty-seven and-a-half cents per day, and board themselves. They are not very cheap laborers even at that price. For their accommodation, a meat-market is kept under a large open shed in front of the "casa grande." This market is supplied with beef from cattle killed during the night—we had been disturbed in our sleep by the bellowing of the poor beasts—and the market was in full operation when we saw it at day-break. The women by dozens, tall, slender, and dark, dressed in light-colored cotton gowns, without hoops, and bare-footed, with black rebosas wrapped around their shoulders and heads, half hiding their faces, were buying the day's supply of meat for the family, while the men lounged about in every variety of dilapidated garments, smoking cigarritos. A few wore brilliant-hued serapes closely wrapped around them, or thrown with negligent