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village of San Martin, which, with loveliness and grandeur all around us, might have been selected for its surpassing beauty of position. We rode to the cabildo, and then to the hut of the alcalde. The people were all Indians; the secretary was a bare-legged boy, who spelled out every word in the passport except our names; but his reading sufficed to procure supper for us and provender for the mules, and early in the morning we pushed on again.
For some distance we rode on a lofty ridge, with a precipitous ravine on each side, in one place so narrow that, as our arriero told us, when the wind is high there is danger of being blown off. We continued descending, and at a quarter past twelve reached San Andres Petapan, fifteen miles distant, blooming with oranges, sapotes, and other fruit trees. Passing through the village, at a short distance beyond we were stopped by a fire in the woods. We turned back, and attempt. ed to pass by another road, but were unable. Before we returned the fire had reached the place we left, and increased so fast that we had apprehensions for the luggage-mules, and hurried them back with the men toward the village. The flames came creeping and crackling toward us, shooting up and whirled by currents of wind, and occasionally, when fed with dry and combustible materials, flashing and darting along like a train of gunpowder. We fell back, keeping as near as we could to the line of fire, the road lying along the side of a mountain ; while the fire came from the ravine below, crossing the road, and moving upward. The clouds of smoke and ashes, the rushing of currents of wind and flames, the crackling of burning branches, and trees wrapped in flames, and the rapid progress of the destroying element, made such a wild and fearful
A FOREST ON FIRE.
scene that we could not tear ourselves away. At length we saw the flames rush up the side of the ravine, intercepting the path before us. We spurred our horses, shot by, and in a moment the whole was a sheet of flame. The fire was now spreading so rapidly that we became alarmed, and hurried back to the church, which, on an elevation strongly defined against the immense mountain in the background, stood before us as a place of refuge. By this time the villagers had become alarmed, and men and women were hurrying to the height to watch the progress of the flames. The village was in danger of conflagration; it would be impossible to urge the loaded mules up the hill we had descended, and we resolved to deposite the luggage in the church, and save the mules by driving them up unburdened. It was another of those wild scenes to which no effect can be given in words. We stopped on the brow of the hill before the square of the church, and while we were watching the fire, the black clouds and sheets of flame rolled up the side of the mountain, and spared the village. Relieved from apprehension, we sat down under a tree in front of the church to the calni enjoyment of the terrific spectacle and a cold fowl. The cinders and ashes fell around, and the destructive element rushed on, sparing the village before us, perhaps to lay some other in ruins.
We were obliged to wait two hours. From the foot of the hill on which the village stood the ground was hot and covered with a light coat of ashes; the brush and underwood were burned away; in some places were lying trees reduced to masses of live coal, and others were standing with their trunks and branches all on fire. In one place we passed a square of white ashes, the remains of some miserable Indian hut. Our faces and hands were scorched, and our whole bodies heated when we emerged, from the fiery forest. For a few moments the open air was delightful; but we were hardly out of one trouble before we had another. Swarms of enormous flies, perhaps driven out by the fire, and hovering on the borders of the burned district, fell upon the mules. Every bite drew blood, and the tormentors clung to the suffering animals until brushed off by a stick. For an hour we laboured hard, but could not keep their heads and necks free. The poor beasts were almost frantic, and, in spite of all we could do, their necks, the inside of their legs, mouths, ears, nostrils, and every tender part of their skin, were trick. ling with blood. Hurrying on, in three hours we saw the Church of San Antonio de Guista, and in a few minutes entered the village, beautifully situated on a tableland projecting from the slope of a mountain, looking upon an immense opening, and commanding on all sides a magnificent view. At this time we were beyond the reach of war, and free from all apprehensions. With the addition of Pawling's pistols and double-barrelled gun, a faithful muleteer, Santiago, and Juan on his legs again, we could have stormed an Indian village, and locked up a refractory alcalde in his own cabildo. We took possession of San Antonio de Guista, dividing ourselves between the cabildo and the convent, sent for the alcalde (even on the borders of Central America the name of Carrera was omnipotent), and told him to stay there and wait upon us, or send an alguazil. The convent stood adjoining the church, on an open table of land, commanding a view of a magnificent valley surrounded by immense mountains, and on the left was a vista between two mountain ranges, wild, rugged, and lofty, losing their tops in clouds. Before
SAN ANTONIO DE GUISTA.
the door of the convent was a large cross on a high pedestal of stone, with the coating decayed, and covered with wild flowers. The convent was enclosed by a brush fence, without any opening until we made one. The padre was not at home, which was very fortunate for him, as there would not have been room enough for us all. In fact, everything seemed exactly intended for our party; there were three beds, just as many as we could conveniently occupy; and the style of them was new : they were made of long sticks about an inch thick, tied with bark strings at top and bottom, and resting on crotches about two feet high, driven into the dirt floor.
The alcalde and his major had roused the village. In a few moments, instead of the mortifying answer “no hay," there is none, the provision made for us was almost equal to the offers of the Turkish paradise. Twenty or thirty women were in the convent at one time, with baskets of corn, tortillas, dolces, plantains, hocotes, sapotes, and a variety of other fruits, each one's stock in trade being of the value of three cents; and among them was a species of tortillas, thin and baked hard, about twelve inches in diameter, one hundred and twenty for six cents, of which, as they were not expensive, we laid in a large supply. · At this place our muleteer was to leave us. We had but one cargo-mule fit for service, and applied to the alcalde for two carriers to go with us across the frontier to Comitan. He went out, as he said, to consult with the mozos, and told us that they asked six dollars apiece. We spoke to him of our friend Carrera, and on a second consultation the demand was reduced by two thirds. We were obliged to make provision for three days, and even to carry corn for the mules; and Juan and San. tiago had a busy night, boiling fowls and eggs.
Comfortable Lodgings.-Journey continued.-Stony Road.-Beautiful River.
Suspension Bridge. — The Dolores.— Rio Lagertero.- Enthusiasm brought down. Another Bridge.-Entry into Mexico.-A Bath.-A Solitary Church. -A Scene of Barrenness.-Zapolouta.-Comitan.-Another Countryman.More Perplexities. - Official Courtesy. - Trade of Comitan. - Smuggling. Scarcity of Soap.
The next morning we found the convent was so comfortable, we were so abundantly served, the alcalde or his major, staff in hand, being in constant attendance, and the situation so beautiful, that we were in no hurry to go; but the alcalde told us that all was ready. We did not see our carriers, and found that he and his major were the mozos whom he had consulted. They could not let slip two dollars apiece, and laying down their staves and dignity, bared their backs, placed the straps across their foreheads, took up the loads, and trotted off.
We started at five minutes before eight. The weather was fine, but hazy. From the village we descended a hill to an extensive stony plain, and at about a league's distance reached the brink of a precipice, from which we looked down into a rich oblong valley, two or three thousand feet deep, shut in all around by a mountain wall, and seeming an immense excavation. Toward the other end of the valley was a village with a ruined church, and the road led up a precipitous ascent to a plain on the same level with that on which we stood, undulating and boundless as the sea. Below us it seemed as if we could drop a stone to the bottom. We descended by one of the steepest and most stony paths we had yet encountered in the country, crossing and