Page:Mexico, California and Arizona - 1900.djvu/227

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207
SAN JUAN, ORIZABA, AND CORDOBA REVISITED.

certain minor directions. They make long, swift journeys, for instance, acting as beasts of burden or messengers, so that, seeing their performances, the words of Buffon come forcibly to mind: "The civilized man knows not half his powers." But in the greater concerns of life, those requiring forethought for a permanent future, they are very improvident. Perhaps, however, those of Amatlan differ from others, or perhaps the general reputation may not be wholly deserved, for the Cordobans tell you that Amatlan is even richer than Cordoba. There are said to be a number of native residents worth from $50,000 to $80,000 each. They buy land, and bury their surplus cash in the ground. It may well enough be that the lack of savings-banks, or any more secure place of deposit for money than the ground, has something to do with the improvidence complained of. The alcalde, the chief of them, was estimated as worth a million, though this I should very much doubt. He had no large ways of using his wealth, but was said to incline to avarice and delight in simply piling it up. There was a project at one time to build a tram-road hence to Cordoba, the capital to be supplied in part by the Indians, but it fell through. Some of the well-to-do send their sons to good schools, and even to Mexico, to take the degree of licentiate. These favored scions, on their return, must put on the usual dress, and live in no way differently from the rest. The daughters, on the other hand, are never educated, but set, without exception, to rolling tortillas and the other domestic drudgery.

VI.

We dined at an open-air shanty posada, with dogs and pigs running freely about under our feet. Coffee, with-