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The New York Times, November 24, 1851, p.4:|
ACAPULCO.Climate, Rents, Expenses, &c.--The Route to the City of Mexico--
Robbery--The Steamer Stockton--The New United States Consul.
Correspondence of the New-York Daily Times
ACAPULCO, Mexico, Oct. 25, 1851.
When I left New-York for a year's probation at Acapulco, I promised, I believe, to keep you informed of anything of interest that might transpire in my "precinct;" and, although nothing of that character has yet laid me under contribution, I presume you think it is about time for me to report progress.
The rainy season and the fever season is over, the mosquitos have "vamosed the ranch," and the Doctors are laying on their oars. The cool zephyrs from the mountains fan the town during the day, and in the evening a fresh breeze from the sea lowers the temperature. This has been called the oven of Mexico, but I do not think the weather here hotter than at Panama, and if the buildings were high enough to shade the streets, I think it would not be considered so hot.
Acapulco, like all other cities of the Pacific which handle California gold, is becoming somewhat Americanized, and the people and the people have followed the example of the Panameños, of demanding for rents, produce and labor dollars, where before they were content with dimes. Buildings rent enormously high. A little crib, not bigger than a Jew's clothing-shop in San Francisco, brings $50 a month. The adobe occupied as the "American Hotel" rents, including the premium paid for the lease, at $600 a month. It has eight or ten rooms in it, and, like all the buildings in Acapulco, is only one story high.
When I came here, a month since, there was not a house vacant in town--so I had to take my family to "board." A day or two since, however, I took the lease of a house of the hands of a family going to California. The house has but three rooms in it, for which I pay $365 a year, and since I have taken it I have been offered $600 a year for it.
In the immediate vicinity of Acapulco, no agricultural produce is raised, from the fact that the ants destroy almost every species of garden vegetation. The natives bring vegetables on horses twenty or thirty leagues to market; and this, with the fact that the steamships require a good deal, makes everything in that line very high.
Chickens and turkeys are oftentimes brought 250 miles to market; eggs, however, are brought so far in the sun that but very little trouble would be required to chickenize them--and, as transportation is so difficult, I am not sure that this would not be the cheaper way to arrive at the result. Before the steamships commenced touching here, eggs could be had for six cents a dozen, and chickens two for a bit. The natives now get fifty cents a dozen for their eggs, and from fifty to seventy-five cents for chickens.
The brig Triumph, from San Francisco, touched here a few days since with 80 passengers, bound to San Juan del Sur, but about 60 of them, finding the route between here and Vera Cruz a convenient one, took mules for the City of Mexico. The road, or track, to the City of Mexico is a tolerably good one--the mail going through a distance of 300 miles in from five to six days. Travelers generally make the distance, on the same horse or mule, in about nine days. Contractors furnish them with horses, saddles and guides for $30, and expenses on the road are about one dollar per day.
From the City of Mexico to Vera Cruz, however, the expenses are higher. Were this Yankee territory, I think there would soon be a railroad from Acapulco to Vera Cruz. The whole distance is but little over 500 miles in a reasonably straight line.
A steamer could easily be run from San Francisco to Acapulco, distance 2,000 miles, in seven days. Allow two days from here by railway to Vera Cruz, and four days from thence to New-Orleans or Mobile, and you could have news in New-York by telegraph from California in thirteen days. Passengers could set themselves down in New-York in nineteen days from San Francisco.
We have a circus here from San Francisco, quite a respectable affair, but no other amusements, if we except the Sunday cock-fights.
The safe of Mr. Bill, agent of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, containing several thousand dollars, was carried off from his office on the evening of the 21st at about 8 o'clock, but was found buried the next morning, money all safe. The four Mexican robbers tied the boy left in charge before they commenced operations. They have all been taken. You see we are getting hold of California fashions.
The steamer Commodore Stockton is still here, disabled, awaiting advices from her owner at San Francisco.
The steamer Panama arrived here to-day from Panama, with 444 passengers for San Francisco, generally in a good state of health.
Mr. Rice, the newly appointed United States Consul at this port, arrived here early this month, and assumed the duties of his post about the 10th instant. His health, which was considerably impaired by a severe attack of Chagres fever, is now entirely reestablished.
The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1851 was approximately equivalent to $24.60 in 2007 dollars.
The New York Times, May 4, 1879, p.2:|
COUNTRY LIFE IN MEXICO.AWAY FROM THE BIG CITIES.
ORANGES, BANANAS, AND COCOA-NUTS
GROWING AROUND THE FRONT DOOR--
NO WORK BUT KEEPING IN THE SHADE--
A PRETTY PICTURE WITH A VERY DARK SIDE.
Anybody who would gain a good idea of America must not confine himself to New-York and Chicago and San Francisco, but strike out into the country and see the people who are thriving very leisurely by rising at 5 in the morning, and retiring in time to save the price of candles... People in big cities are very much the same the world over. They all live huddled close together, and elbow each other in street cars, and eat pretty often in restaurants, and the restaurants are always dirty, and it's pretty much the same old story, whether it's in China or Chicago.
But the country tells the story...
The life of a genuine country family in the warm districts of Mexico is about as happy an illustration of quiet resignation and peaceful contentment and blissful ignorance as this world can afford. I had the pleasure of visiting such a happy household, about 50 miles inland from Vera Cruz, nearly on the line of the railroad, and this family shall stand up as a model.
The train was to make a stop of nearly an hour, and we had time to wander around. The place at which we stopped was a watering station for the engine, and the entire settlement consisted of three structures that were not exactly the right shape to be called huts, but could not be dignified with the name of houses. The weather was about right from sitting in an ice-house and fanning yourself, although it was the middle of January. The vegetation was very much such as we used to see pictured in the geographies, so thick that it was hard to walk through the bushes, and the big leaves growing far upward and then curving gracefully down again.
I am proud to say that Mr. Geographer Mitchell's representations of tropical vegetation are just about right. These things so often turn out frauds. You remember the old schoolbook story of the Indians around Niagara Falls, who used to guide themselves through the forest by the roaring of the falls. That's one of the old humbugs they used to teach us, and call it giving us an education. There's no more roar there than there is at the falls of the Passaic.
It was in the midst of this world of green leaves and bright flowers that these three habitations stood. They were only samples of hundreds more we saw just like them, and they had the most delightful Robinson Crusoe air about them.
They were built of twigs or small sticks about six feet long and from half an inch to an inch in diameter. These were bound together and fastened to a framework of four posts driven into the ground, with cross-pieces. The roofs were of the same, and sometimes covered with big leaves that looked like tobacco spreat out to dry. Somtimes the interstices between the twigs were filled in with a muddy plaster, but generally they were not, and the air was left to circulate.
There was no floor in any of the houses except the hard-packed earth, and this was generally pretty hilly and uneven, and hard to walk on. A little raised place made out of poles, and covered with such old clothing as they could raise, was the bed, which must have served the whole family, for there was only one in each home.
An iron kettle, and two forked sticks to hang it over the fire with, completed the furniture. There was generally a rough bench across the front of the house, shaded by a twig awning, where the family sat in the heat of the day. There were no windows, the only opening into the house being the doorway, with no door. The interior was always very dark, but cool.
This is not to be regarded as the dwelling-place of some outcast, away on the mountains. It is a sample of the ordinary residence of the rural Mexican of the lowlands. On the lowlands it is hot all the year round, and protection against the sun is needed more than anything else.
It is not necessary to work for a living. With lemons and oranges and bananas and all sorts of tropical fruits growing around you till the leaves of the trees fan the roofs of the huts, the fruit to be had for the picking, plenty of game to be had for the killing, the less clothing the more comfort, and wages at 25 cents a day, what an awful guy any man would make of himself who went to work. Half an hours exertion would provide the family with delicious provisions enough for a week. Nothing is lacking but fire-water.
Pulque is not used in the lowlands. Nature was unkind not to make the brooks run with champagne, where she provided everything else. But the native is patient about it. When the Virgin throws a copper in his way, he goes to the nearest town and drinks it up. When she doesn't, he stays sober. When by any stroke of fortune a little money does fall into his hands, he has only to put his rope bridle on the first horse or donkey he meets (and he will not have to look far for one,) and ride away.
The people who live in these houses are just about suitable matches for their dwellings. If it is possible for human beings not to know anything at all, these people are in that happy condition. They loll away most of their time in the most convenient shade, and shade is plenty.
There are generally one or two old people in the house, and the head of the family and his wife, and a great troop of children. Children seem to grow on the trees, they are so plenty...
These people cannot read or write, and have no idea of anything in the world beyond the hut they live in and the neighboring town they sometimes visit. Their whole earthly possessions would not sell for a dollar, and they lead as simple lives as Adam and Eve in Eden, except that there is no tree they dare not eat of without getting into trouble. No newspaper ever comes to them with the latest dispatches from the other end of creation. Occasionally a few soldiers swoop down on them and capture a man for the Army, but they generally manage to hear of their coming, and keep out of the way.
see also: Guatemala News - Belize News - Honduras News - Nicaragua|
see also: Coffee Culture in Mexico, 1898
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