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we found ourselves in such comfortable quarters on board this brig. We had an afternoon squall, but we considered ourselves merely passengers, and, with a good vessel, master, and crew, laughed at a distant bungo crawling close along the shore, and for the first time feared that the voyage would end too soon. Perhaps no captain ever had passengers so perfectly contented under storm or calm. Oh you who cross the Atlantic in packet-ships, complaining of discomforts, and threaten to publish the captain because the porter does not hold out, may you one day be caught on board a bungo loaded with logwood' The wear and tear of our wardrobe was manifest to the most indifferent observer; and Mrs. Fensley, pitying our ragged condition, sewed on our buttons, darned, patched, and mended us, and put us in order for another expedition. On the third morning Captain Fensley told us we had passed Campeachy during the night, and, if the wind held, would reach Sisal that day. At eight o'clock we came in sight of the long low coast, and moving steadily toward it, at a little before dark anchored off the port, about two miles from the shore. One brig was lying there, a Spanish trader, bound to Havana, and the only vessel in port. The anchorage is an open roadstead outside of the breakers, which is considered perfectly safe except during a northeast storm, when Spanish vessels always slip their cables and stand out to sea. In the uncertainty whether what we were going to see was worth the trouble, and the greater uncertainty of a conveyance when we wanted it, it was trying to leave a good vessel which in twenty days might carry us home. Nevertheless, we made the exertion. It was dusk when we left the vessel. We landed at the end
of a long wooden dock, built out on the open shore of the sea, where we were challenged by a soldier. At the head of the pier was a guard and custom house, where an officer presented himself to escort us to the commandant. On the right, near the shore, was an old Spanish fortress with turrets. A soldier, barely distinguishable on the battlements, challenged us; and, passing the quartel, we were challenged again. The answer, as in Central America, was “Patria libre.” The tone of the place was warlike, the Liberal party dominant. The revolution, as in all the other places, had been conducted in a spirit of moderation; but when the garrison was driven out, the commandant, who had been very tyrannical and oppressive, was taken, and the character of the revolution would have been stained by his murder, but he was put on board a bungo and escaped. We were well received by the commandant; and Captain Fensley took us to the house of an acquaintance, where we saw the captain of the brig in the offing, which was to sail in eight days for Havana, and no other vessel was expected for a long time. We made arrangements for setting out the next day for Merida, and early in the morning accompanied the captain to the pier, saw him embark in a bungo, waited till he got on board, and saw the brig, with a fine breeze and every sail set, stand out into the ocean for home. We turned our backs upon it with regret. There was nothing to detain us at Sisal. Though prettily situated on the seashore and a thriving place, it was merely the depôt of the exports and imports of Merida. At two o'clock we set out for the capital. We were now in a country as different from Central America as if separated by the Atlantic, and we began our journey with an entirely new mode of conveyance. It was in a vehicle called a calèche, built somewhat like the oldfashioned cab, but very large, cumbersome, made for rough roads, without springs, and painted, red, green, and yellow. One cowhide trunk for each was strapped on behind, and above them, reaching to the top of the calèche, was secured a pile of sacate for the horses. The whole of this load, with Mr. Catherwood and me, was drawn by a single horse, having a rider on his back. Two other horses followed for change, harnessed, and each with a boy riding him. The road was perfectly level, and on a causeway a little elevated above the plain, which was stony and covered with scrub-trees. At first it seemed a great luxury to roll along in a wheel carriage; but, with the roughness of the road, and the calèche being without springs, in a little while this luxury began to be questionable. After the magnificent scenery of Central America the country was barren and uninteresting, but we perceived the tokens of a rich interior in large cars drawn by mules five abreast, with high wheels ten or twelve feet apart, and loaded with hemp, bagging, wax, honey, and ox and deer skins. The first incident of the road was changing horses, which consisted in taking out the horse in the shafts and putting in one of the others, already in a sweat. This occurred twice; and at one o'clock we entered the village of Hunucama, pleasantly situated, imbowered among trees, with a large plaza, at that time decorated with an arbour of evergreens all around, preparatory to the great fete of Corpus Christi, which was to be celebrated the next day. Here we took three fresh horses; and changing them as before, and passing two villages, through a vista two miles long saw the steeples of Merida, and at six o'clock rode into the city. The houses were well built, with balconied
windows, and many had two stories. The streets were clean, and many people in them well dressed, animated, and cheerful in appearance; calèches fancifully painted and curtained, having ladies in them handsomely dressed, without hats, and their hair ornamented with flowers, gave it an air of gayety and beauty that, after the sombre towns through which we had passed, was fascinating and almost poetic. No place had yet made so agreeable a first impression; and there was a hotel in a large building kept by Donna Michaele, driving up to which we felt as if by some accident we had fallen upon a European city. The reader will perhaps be surprised, but I had a friend in Merida who expected me. Before embarking from New-York, I had been in the habit of dining at a Spanish hotel in Fulton-street, frequented principally by Spanish Americans, at which place I had met a gentleman of Merida, and learned that he was the proprietor of the ruins of Uxmal. As yet I knew nothing of the position or character of my friend, but I soon found that everybody in Merida knew Don Simon Peon. In the evening we called at his house. It was a large, aristocratic-looking mansion of dark gray stone, with baleonied windows, occupying nearly the half of one side of the plaza. Unfortunately, he was then at Uxmal; but we saw his wife, father, mother, and sisters, the house being a family residence, and the different members of it having separate haciendas. They had heard from him of my intended visit, and received me as an acquaintance. Don Simon was expected back in a few days, but, in the hope of finding him at Uxmal, we determined to go on immediately. Donna Joaquina, his mother, promised to make all necessary arrangements for the journey, and to send a servant with us. It was long since we passed so pleasant an evening; we saw many persons who in appearance and manner would do credit to any society, and left with a strong disposition to make some stay in Merida.
The plaza presented a gay scene. It was the eve of the fête of El Corpus. Two sides of the plaza were occupied by corridors, and the others were adorned with arbours of evergreens, among which lights were interspersed. Gay parties were promenading under them, and along the corridors and in front of the houses were placed chairs and benches for the use of the promenaders, and all who chose to take them.
The city of Merida contains about twenty thousand inhabitants. It is founded on the site of an old Indian village, and dates from a few years after the conquest. In different parts of the city are the remains of Indian buildings. As the capital of the powerful State of Yucatan, it had always enjoyed a high degree of consideration in the Mexican Confederacy, and throughout the republic is famed for its sabios or learned men. The State of Yucatan had declared its independence of Mexico; indeed, its independence was considered achieved. News had been received of the capitulation of Campeachy and the surrender of the Central garrison. The last remnant of despotism was rooted out, and the capital was in the first flush of successful revolution, the pride of independence. Removed by position, it was manifest that it would be no easy matter for Mexico to reconquer it; and probably, like Texas, it is a limb forever lopped from that great, but feeble and distracted republic. It was pleasant to find that political animosities were not cherished with the same ferocity; and Centralists and Liberals met like men of opposite parties at home.