Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
In the Sierras
I had the choice between two routes: one through enormous, deep canyons, and another over
mountains where a road had existed once upon a time. I decided on the latter, and in two days
we were safely on the other side, after tiring journeys up and down steep and broken slopes:
A fine drizzle had fallen all the time, and owing to the altitude the damp cold was very pen-
etrating. On the other side we came to a beautiful valley where trees were laden with fruit.
Golden mangos bent down the branches and birds with bright plumage were flying about. I
again slept outside on the floor under the arched corridor of the municipal building in a little
village named Chilar. The presidente municipal , as the village mayor is called, saw to it that
I should have the best of the little the good people had to offer, and when I left I was given a
guide, for the trail was tricky and we had to swim a wide and swift mountain river, the Rio de
las Vueltas.
The aspect of the country soon changed and we were now in vast valleys among a mass of
mountains where huge cactus plants grew and where the ground was either rocky or sandy.
The Rio de las Vueltas (River of Bends), so named because of its many twists and turns,
was very dangerous and wild, and, what was worse, when we had successfully crossed it, we
had to do the same again the next day, some twenty miles further along. Fortunately I could
to swim and land the animals. The difficulty when crossing a swift river, or a boggy swamp,
is not the getting into it nor the actual swimming, but the getting out of it, for often one finds
no place where to land. In swift waters submerged rocks or tree trunks have to be looked for,
for should a horse strike one the chances are that he will be ripped open or crippled.
I was often mistaken for an officer, and people came to ask me for news about the revolu-
Mexicans are often represented as lovers of revolutions or as bandits, but I found that the
vast majority are the very opposite, and all these good people want is peace and quiet, for
the peasant in that country is an exceedingly industrious and hard-working man. Up to recent
Calles a wonderful start has been made to educate the masses. It is obvious that in a few years
things cannot be accomplished that have taken other nations many generations to bring up to
the present point and, furthermore, one has to consider the enormous percentage of pure Indi-
ans and mixed breeds that exist in Mexico, people who have a different mentality from ours,
and who as a rule are adverse to education.
To cite only one example of what has been accomplished in the educational line, let me
mention the State of Oaxaca where the majority of inhabitants are Indians. During the presid-
ency of Calles no fewer than 1,100 schools were opened, and even if these are very primitive
it cannot be denied that this is a wonderful start. Fanaticism, superstition and revolt, like ugly
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