Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/67

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61
THE MONTE PENULCO.

slanting beams glistened upon the pretty white œnothera which spotted the turf, congratulate each other upon our escape from the persecutions of garapatoes and their insect allies.

The view on all sides was fine, but chiefly so towards the deep defiles of the Cañada at our feet. The Monte Penulco occupies the angle between the forks. Across the opening which marked the great defile above Tlacolula, an even line of blue, melting into the mist of the utmost visible horizon, marked the open country of the Huastec, through which we had passed many days previous. Many little solitary Indian huts, and patches of sugarcane, and numerous herds of cattle, were scattered over the precipitous slopes far and wide, and altogether, we agreed, that nowhere in America had we seen mountain scenery whose general features and colouring bore so great a resemblance to the lower green Alps of Switzerland, with their wide pastures, transparent atmosphere and glistening chalets.

The Monte Penulco lies probably at the height of between four and five thousand feet above the gulf. The limit at which the sugarcane and banana come to perfection, has been given as the boundary between tierras calientes and tierras templadas; but I am doubtful whether that is a just criterion, as so much depends upon the geological formation of a locality, and its position with regard to the surrounding country, and in some parts of Mexico sugar is cultivated at a much greater height than that which otherwise would exhibit the phenomena of the tierras templadas.

 

We supped in our den, during the brief twilight of the tropics, and welcomed the temperate zone of New Spain in a horn of its own vintage, which I here introduce to your notice under the name of pulque—a liquor drawn from the great Mexican aloe, or maguey.

 

I forgot to mention that, on arrival here, we yielded to the desire of Espindola, that we should dispense with his services for the night and following morning, and al-