National Geographic : 1914 May
Photo by Shirley C. Hulse THE BURRO-SOMETIMES SPOKEN OF AS THE MEXICAN CANARY This animal is admirably suited to the needs of the Mexican peon. He is the personifi caton of patience. About all that any one ever does for a burro is to make him work or to collect 15 pesos for his remains after he has stolidly permitted himself to be run over on a railroad. The process of making a burro work often entails what might seem to be considerable brutality. If the Mexican has any feeling for animals, he rarely exhibits such feeling in the presence of a foreigner; but the burro never seems to mind. The longer you observe him working or eating, or merely in a trance, the more surely will you wonder whether he is a stoic or whether he, too, is unfeeling as regards animals, until you hear and see him burst forth into song. Then you know that the burro is neither stoic nor clod. He has great feeling-all the feelings. He simply lacks means of expression excepting that of song, and in song he pours out all his joys and hopes, all his suffering and anguish, his longing, his very soul. whose borders are surrounded by tower ing mountains; located where the beauti ful volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Ixtacci huatl, rear their snow-capped heads above the plain and stand eternal guard over it, its situation is one of rare beauty and grandeur. Its climate is mild, the tem perature ranging from 35 to 75 degrees, with a mean of 65 degrees. No man sleeps without a blanket in Mexico City, nor needs an overcoat at midday. Prior to the conquest the lakes of the Mexican Valley were extensive and the barges of the Aztecs sailed uninterrupt edly from the gates of Chapultepec to Ixtapalapa. A large number of canals intersected the ancient metropolis of Ten ochtitlan and connected with the lakes in the suburbs, making it a sort of new world Venice. In 1607 the celebrated Portuguese engi neer Martinez undertook to drain the Valley of Mexico by cutting a canal through the mountains. From 12,ooo to 15,000 Indians were forced to do the work, which was considered complete II months after its inception. The work, however, was largely a failure, since it drained only one small lake and an un important river, leaving lakes Texcoco and Chalco still perpetual menaces to the city. In 1879 a huge drainage canal 30 miles long was begun, which was completed in 1900, at a cost of about $8,ooo,ooo, Amer ican gold. Its completion removed the danger of inundations from Mexico City and solved the problem which occupied the thoughts and engendered the fears of the Aztecs as far back as 1449.