National Geographic : 1934 Dec
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE IT COST HIM SIX DOLLARS TO BUILD HIS HOME No housing problem exists in San Luis Acatlin (see text, page 788). One family told the author that as soon as their son reached school age they would tear down their abode, pack it on a donkey's back, and move in "near town." Map makers find it difficult to keep up with villages that rise and disappear in two or three years. This dwelling has an open detached kitchen and sun porch. we could well believe them to be the "bad people" with which the Indians stigmatize their name. The Indians here cautioned us never to march at night, never to light a cigarette in open country after sunset, and never to sleep in a black village. No doubt their fears were greatly exaggerated. However, being unarmed, we heeded this latter warn ing, though it cost us several excessively long marches. We covered the 60 miles to Ometepec, all of it through "black country," in two days. From Pinotepa we actually set out at 3 a. m., walked for 10 hours without a halt, and after a brief respite continued for an other four hours. A STRANGE FUNERAL That night we reached a large village named Llano Grande, half Indian, half Negro, and despite doleful prophecies of robbery, we slept in a street porch. As it turned out, we were robbed, not by men, but by marauding dogs, which carried off all our provisions for the coming day. Collecting food at 4 a. m. is a difficult task anywhere, and with deep misgivings I searched the village. From one hut strange music floated gently into the night. Peep ing in, I saw four peasants, Negro-Indians, seated at a wooden bench-two with harps, one with a guitar, one with a drum. To a soft accompaniment they were singing a pretty little repetitive air of pre-Spanish type. In the center of the hut, upon a table draped with hangings and with lighted candles at each corner, lay what seemed to be a small image. It was dressed entirely in blue and white paper and wore a crown painted gold and silver. At the back of the hut hung a white curtain with bunches of pink fruit blossoms. Outside, several persons lay dozing, while an old woman stirred a caldron of boiling corn called pozole. "Is this a funeral? Who is dead?" I asked cautiously. One of the harp players pointed to the "image" on the table. "This little angel," he replied softly. Only then did I realize that the figure dressed in colored paper was a baby.