Page:A Study of Mexico.djvu/46

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and some of the larger cities, Mexico is notably deficient in hotels or inns for the accommodation of travelers, and in a majority of the smaller towns there are no such places. And why should there be? The natives rarely go anywhere, and consequently do not expect anybody to come to them.

Large, costly, and often elegant stone edifices—public and private—are not wanting in the principal towns and cities of Mexico; but all, save those of very recent construction, have the characteristic Saracenic or Moorish architecture of Southern Spain—namely, a rectangular structure with rooms opening on to interior piazzas, and a more or less spacious court-yard, which is often fancifully paved and ornamented with fountains and shrubbery; while the exterior, with its gate-furnished arch-ways and narrow and iron-grated windows, suggests the idea of a desire for jealous seclusion on the part of the inmates, or fear of possible outside attack and disturbance. Wooden buildings are almost unknown in Mexico, and in all interiors wood is rarely used where stone, tiles, and iron are possible applications. Consequently, and, in view of the scarcity of water, most fortunately, there are few fires in Mexico: nothing akin to a fire department outside of the city of Mexico, and but little opportunity for insurance companies or the business of insurance agents. As a general rule,