Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/94

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West of the city of Mexico and the state of the same name lies Michoacan, one of the largest of the present divisions of the country. It begins on the plateau, but stretches down the steep western slope to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, seamed with deep barrancas between the upper and the lower portions, so steep and impassable that the railway which is already engineered to connect the capital with Colima on the western coast, waits long to gather courage for the leap. On the higher land mountain-peaks divide fertile lofty valleys, in which large lakes sparkle in the soft light of the climate. Michoacan signifies in Tarascan Land of Fish. These broad sheets of water are even now as still and lonely as when the early wanderers from the unknown North settled upon their borders, except when the shriek of a modern steam-engine disturbs their silence, and frightens the many birds who live there. As the train passes along the edge of Lake Cuitzao, eighteen miles long, clouds of winged creatures start up surprised, but not much frightened from the rushes by the water. Perhaps a rose-colored flamingo may be seen standing on one leg,