Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/218

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WE left Guanajuato at 4 a. m., Monday, Nov. 8th, without a guard, and preceeded by postilions running on foot, and carrying torches, drove at a gallop down the long arroyo, between the fortress-like haciendas of the suburbs and Marfil, and out into the open country below the mountains. When day-break came we were crossing a broad "sand-river," near a little town. Many women were carrying water in jars upon their shoulders from shallow wells scooped out of the sand in the bed of the stream, which is not a stream at all, save during the floods of the rainy season.

We had the choice of the "Empressa General de Diligencias" teams at every station, and as the road was excellent went along at a glorious pace. This was the best part of Mexico, which we had yet seen. The plain is broad and extremely fertile, and generally pretty well cultivated. We saw many fields of corn which would be called No. 1, and something over, in Illinois, and broad belts of wheat already well up and brilliantly green. The farms or ranches are of immense size, separated only by pillars of masonry, some fifteen feet in height, to mark the boundaries, and each hacienda or head farm-house is a fortress in itself, surrounded by a small village, occupied by the former peons, but now enfranchised laborers.