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ravin, and to the progressive fall of the table land from 2500 to 800 metres * of absolute height. Carriages may run from Mexico to Santa Fe, in an extent which exceeds the length which the chain of the Alps would have if it was prolonged without interruption from Geneva to the shores of the Black Sea. In fact, the central table land is travelled in four wheel carriages in all directions, from the capital to Guanaxuato, Durango, Chihuahua, Walladolid, Guadalaxara, and Perote; but in the present bad state of the roads, waggons are not established for the conveyance of goods. They give the preference to the employment of beasts of burden; and thousands of horses and mules cover in long files (requas) the roads of Mexico. A considerable number of Mestizoes and Indians are employed to conduct these carayans. Preferring a wandering life to every sort of sedentary occupation, they pass the night in the open air, or in sheds, (tambos, or casas de communidad) which are constructed in the middle of the villages for the convenience of travellers. The mules feed at liberty in the Savannahs; but when the great droughts have parched up the grass, they feed them on maize either in herb, (zacate) or in grain. - - - - The roads which lead from the interior table
* From 8201 to 2624 feet. Trans.
land to the coasts, and which I call transversal, are the most difficult, and chiefly deserve the attention of government. The roads from Mexico to Vera Cruz and Acapulco, from Zacatecas to New Santander, from Guadalaxara to San Blas, from Valladolid to the Port of Colima, and from Durango to Mazatlan passing by the western branch of the Sierra Madre, belong all to this class. The roads by which the capital carries on a communication with the ports of Acapulco and Vera Cruz, are naturally the most frequented. The value of the precious metals, of the agricultural productions, and of the goods of Europe and Asia which flow through these two channels, amounts to the total sum of 820 millions of francs per annum.” These treasures pass along a road which resembles that of Airolo at the hospital of Saint Gothard. From the village of Vigas to L'Encero, the road to Vera Cruz is frequently nothing but a narrow and crooked path, and the most difficult, perhaps, in all America, with the exception of that, by which the goods of Europe are transported from Honda to Santa Fe de Bogota, and from Guayaquil to Quito. ... " ar
The productions from the Philippine Islands and Peru, arrive by the road from Mexico to Acapulco. It is carried along a less rapid slope
* * * 13,334,400l. sterling. Trans.
of the Cordilleras, than the road leading from the capital to Vera Cruz. The slightest glance of the physical sections in the Atlas accompanying this work, will suffice to prove the justice of this assertion. In the European road, as we have already observed ", we remain from the valley of Mexico to beyond Perote, on the central plain, at an elevation of 2300 metrest above the level of the ocean; and from that village we descend with extreme rapidity to the ravin of the Plan del Rio, to the west of Rinconada. On the other hand on the road from Acapulco, which we designate by the name of the Asiatic Road, the descent begins at a distance of eight leagues from Mexico, on the southern slope of the basaltic mountain of Guarda. With the exception of that part which passes through the forest of Guchilaque, it might be easy to render this road fit for carriages without any great expence of labour. It is broad and kept in tolerably good order from Acapulco to the table land of Chilpanzingo; but it becomes narrow and extremely bad in advancing towards the capital, especially from Cuernavaca to Guchilaque, and from thence to the summit of the high mountain called la Cruz del Marques. The difficulties which are the greatest obstacles to
* Vol. i. p. 58. + 7545 feet. Trans.
communication, between the capital and the port of Acapulco, arise from the sudden swell of the waters of two rivers, the Papagallo and the Rio de Mescala. These torrents, which in times of drought are not more than 60 metres in breadth”, are from 250 to 800 t in the rainy season. At this period of the great swells, the loads are frequently stopt for seven or eight days on the banks of the Papagallo, which the muleteers dare not attempt to ford. I have still seen the remains of pillars constructed of emormous hewn stones, which the current had carried away before the arches were completed. A project was entertained in 1803, for making a new endeavour to throw a large stone bridge over the Rio Papagallo; and the government destined nearly half a million of francs f for this undertaking, which would have been of so great importance to the commerce of Mexico with the Philippine Islands. The Rio de Mescala, which takes the name of Rio de Zacatula farther to the west, is almost as dangerous as the Papagallo. I passed it on a raft formed according to the old Mexican custom of the dried fruits of the gourd, on which reeds are fastened together; the raft is directed by two Indians,
* 196 feet. Trans. +"From 820 to 984 feet. Trans. f 20,000l. sterling.
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who support it with the one hand, and swim with the other. * The construction and embellishment of a new road from Mexico to the port of Vera Cruz, have latterly become the object of the solicitude of government. A fortunate rivalship is displayed between the new Council of commerce established at Vera Cruz, under the name of real tribunal del consulado, and the old consulado of the capital; and the latter is gradually beginning to shake off the inactivity with which it has so long been accused. The merchants of Mexico, having constructed at their expence an excellent causeway along the heights of Tiangillo and las Cruses, which separate the basin of Toluca from that of Mexico, wish the new road of Vera Cruz to pass through Orizaba; while the merchants of Vera Cruz who have country houses at Xalapa, and who maintain numerous commercial relations with that town, insist that the new carriage road (camino carrelero) should go by Perote and Xalapa. After a discussion of several years", the consulado of Vera Cruz profited by the arrival of the viceroy, Don Josef de Yvirigarras, who declared himself in favour of the road by Xalapa as of the greatest utility, and who gave the direction of it to
* See Vol. II. p. 270.