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stands at the end of the “ Calle Real," and has a capacity for seating about six thousand people; it is devoted entirely to the exhibition of bull-fights, which, however, are not very exciting in Guatemala,
the killing of the bulls is prohibited by law.
The capital was moved to its present site in the year 1776. Previous to that time the old capital, situated about thirty miles distant, between the volcanoes of Agua and Fuego, had been repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes, so that it was finally abandoned by its inhabitants.
The climate of Guatemala is simply
delightful. The tem. rooms are large and commodious, but, as a perature ranges in the winter from 630 general thing, plainly furnished and without to 75° Fahrenheit, and in summer from 70any attempt at extensive decoration ; mat- to 80°. The rainy season begins in March ting is spread loosely over the tiled floors in or April, and continues more or less through lieu of carpets, which are seldom seen. the spring and summer to about the middle
The Plaza, which forms an important part of November; most of the rain falls between of every Spanish town, is a paved square three in the afternoon and midnight, the of about four hundred feet on each side with mornings being generally bright and pleasant a curiously cut stone fountain in the center throughout the year. Between November and a colonnade on three sides; on these three and March the rain ceases almost entirely; sides, stand the palace, cabildo, and other during this period bright sunny days and public buildings, and the fourth is occupied cool, pleasant nights follow each other in by the cathedral, an imposing edifice solidly regular succession, giving to Guatemala the constructed and beautifully finished in the very perfection of a winter climate. interior, but not so richly decorated as many of the European churches.
The “ Paseo" is a pretty little park with a fountain and large basin in the center, wellkept walks running through and around it, and seats ranged along these walks. Twice a week the government band plays there in the afternoon; the ladies generally appear in considerable numbers on these occasions, and the scene is quite a gay one.
The “ Plaza de Toros” is a large amphitheater, which
From the time of its acquisition by Spain | years; but even now the elections are a to the beginning of the present century, farce. The present government, in which Guatemala had continued in a state of the president and leading ministers are all peace, the natives submitting quietly to the natives, and actually Mestizos, is strongly rule of the Spanish authorities and the opposed to the old Spanish or church party. divine right of the Romish Church being They have broken up the convents and the supreme power in the land. Out of the monasteries, and turned nearly all the Jesuits declaration of independence of 1823, how- out of the country. ever, grew the Republic of the United General Barrios, the president, is a man States of Central America, which comprised about forty years of age and a native of Guatemala, San Salvador, Honduras, Nica- Guatemala. Like every other man occuragua and Costa Rica. This confederacy pying a high official position in these was soon broken up; internal dissensions countries, he seems to be secretly feared arose, suspicion and jealousy of one another and hated in some quarters while he en
manifested themselves in the different states, joys a fair share of popularity with his own party spirit waxed strong and bitter, and party. revolution and bloodshed followed. The The ministers of war and foreign relawhole country was now thrown into a tions, who have virtually as much power as state of strife and anarchy, and many the president, and in some matters more, outrages were committed. From that are men of liberal education and considertime to this the so-called republic of able ability. These men have become Guatemala has never been in a really rich during the few years they have been settled state; the governing party has always in power, but at the same time they come into power by means of revolution, have gained favor with many by their and, even during the periods of temporary progressive ideas and their apparent desire peace, there has been a constant feeling of to advance the interests of the people. insecurity and dread of fresh outbreaks While one condemns in the strongest terms among the people. The state of things many of the actions of the government, has improved slightly during the past few and deplores generally the state of things existing under their administration, one must ductive in the world, and capable of great not forget to give them credit for services development. actually rendered to the country. They Some of the old Spanish families in Guahave opened telegraphic communication temala, although greatly fallen from their with the neighboring republics, bettered the high estate since the church party went out condition of the main roads through the of power, are most charming and cultivated state, raised the standard of the public people, and we were indebted to them for schools, and made large appropriations for many civilities. The general character of city improvements. But, in spite of all this the people, however, is far from elevated : progress, there is still always apparent a they are suspicious, revengeful, indolent and feeling of fear and insecurity among the fond of power, and, with but few excep, people; the merchants, particularly, con- tions, unable to grasp intelligently, and stantly dread the possible breaking out of take a liberal view of any broad questions a fresh revolution, and the consequent con- which do not seem at the first glance to fiscation of their property.
affect their individual interests—characterGuatemala is the largest and most power- istics in themselves inimical to permanent ful of the Central American states, as well peace and prosperity. as the most advanced in general improve- Having spent about a fortnight in the ments. The present government is am- capital, business called me to the “ Costa bitious of more power, and seems to be Granda,”—one of the great coffee-growing quietly watching for some plausible excuse districts, –about sixty leagues distant. I for declaring war against the neighboring purchased for this trip a “ sombrero" with republic of San Salvador, with a view of a very wide brim, a pair of riding-boots obtaining control of that state.
with high tops, and a long India rubber and tranquillity of to-day cannot probably coat. My good friend, Don Manuel Benito last very long, and may be disturbed at any one of the leading Spanish merchants of time by a revolution. The political out- Guatemala, loaned me a comfortable saddle look is certainly not very encouraging, and and a pair of formidable spurs, and assisted it does not seem probable now that the me in engaging my mules and “arriero." country will ever become thoroughly settled I had three mules,--one for my own use. or prosperous until it falls into the hands of one for the servant, and a third for my bag, the Anglo-Saxon race. There seems to be gage. My only companion was the half no likelihood of this at present, which is the Indian Rosendo, who, under the compremore to be deplored because the country hensive name of " arriero," blled the duties in itself is one of the richest and most pro- of guide, muleteer, and general body-servant
We turned into the Calle Real and rode | ranked among the most unfortunate cities up past the Paseo and the church of El in the world. It was founded in 1542, and Calvario, and around the great “pila” at during the two and a quarter centuries bethe head of the street, out toward the gates tween that year and the date of the removal of the city. These pilas are to be met with of the city to its present site it was thrice in almost every town of Central America, destroyed by earthquakes and many times and consist of large, circular stone basins, visited by terrible epidemics and pestilences with a stone fountain in the center, which which swept away in a few weeks large keeps up a constant supply of water. numbers of the inhabitants. Women carry thither great earthenware On every side are evidences of the former jugs, which they fill with water and place wealth and beauty of the capital, and the carefully upon their heads, returning to their ruins of churches, public buildings, and palahouses with them in this position; some- tial residences, many of them now partially times, preferring to do their washing in the overgrown with grass and trees, are exceedopen air, they bring their bundles of linen l ingly interesting, bringing home to one, as to the fountain, and, using the edge of the stone basin as a washboard, they rub away contentedly, quite indifferent to the fact that they are gradually reducing the unfortunate garments to a state of stringy pulp. The pilas are also used as public troughs for
watering horses and cattle.
As we passed out of the gates the sun just rising, casting his slanting rays far out upon the plain and lighting up the eastern slopes of the great volcanoes. About noon the wind rose and commenced howling arnong the mountains, sending terrible clouds of dust before it, which not only cut off all chance of any enjoyment of the scenery, but really almost blinded and suffocated us. After nearly four hours of wind and dust over a rough road, and constantly climbing and descending mountains, we finally came into view of La Antigua, delightfully situated in a rich valley entirely shut in by mountains, the grand volcanoes of Agua and Fuego tower- it were, a realization of the terrible disasters ing up to an elevation of over 14,000 feet which have so frequently visited this lovely on either side of the city. Antigua was the spot. The ruins of the immense cathedral, former capital of Guatemala, and, although the walls of which are till standing, and of at one time rich and beautiful, may be the once beautiful church of Santo Do
DESTROYED BY EARTHQUAKE, 1774.
ON A COCHINEAL PLANTATION, SAN MATEO. mingo, are particularly striking. The coun- Godines and soon after leaving that village try in the immediate vicinity of Antigua was came out upon the lofty table-land bordering at one time largely devoted to the cultivation the lake of Atitlan. The scene which now of cochineal, and there are still several opened to our view was magnificent in the flourishing plantations. It has now, how- extreme, and one which, as far as my feeble ever, ceased to be an important article of pen is concerned, certainly beggars descripexport, owing to its great depreciation in tion. For four hours we descended along value in all the markets of the world, other the borders of this beautiful lake, the everand cheaper dyes being substituted, and changing combinations of lake and mountmany plantations in different parts of the ains, and light and shadow, constantly prestate have been destroyed in order to turn senting new views, each one of which seemed the soil to better account in the production to surpass the others in grandeur and magof sugar and coffee. The cochineal is a nificence. On reaching the plain we passed small insect, and is cultivated on a species through the village of San Andres, by a road of cactus-plant. The plants are set out in delightfully shaded by large trees, many of rows in the field, and are generally from which were covered with beautiful flowers. three to five feet in height. The young of After a long ascent, during which the lake these insects, as soon as they begin to have was hidden from our view, we came out life, are placed in great numbers on every upon it again and passed for a short disleaf of the plants; they soon fasten upon tance along its shore before entering upon the leaf and feed, never moving until they the very steep zigzag path leading up toare carefully brushed off and dried at the ward Solola." The road was very bad in proper season; they are then packed in places, and the ascent very severe upon our hide seroons or bags and shipped. A few jaded beasts. The afternoon was now getof the insects are saved every year for seed. ting advanced, and the shadows cast by the The crop was formerly very valuable. It mountains and volcanoes heightened the has to be carefully collected before the end effect of the magnificent scenery through of the dry season: as there is always the which we were passing; a cataract was risk of its being destroyed by an early rain. rushing down the side of the mountain
After a good night's rest at Antigua, we within a short distance of our path, and renewed our journey at sunrise the next now plunging over the rocks, and again morning. Our road led us through a mount- gurgling and muttering beneath them, kept ainous country during the afternoon, and up a continual roar as we slowly ascended. we crossed many rivers of pure, sparkling The road from Solola, where we passed water and passed through several small the night, to Quezaltenango, by the way of Indian villages, reaching Patzun at five Naguala, leads up and down long “cuestas," o'clock. Here we passed the night, leaving through a wild but picturesque country. the village well behind us by six o'clock Sometimes from a high barren bluff or exthe next morning. We breakfasted at posed mountain summit, where the sharp