National Geographic : 1930 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by Clifton Adams HERE COUNTLESS LOVE LETTERS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN FOR ILLITERATE SWAINS In the long, arched corridor near the Church of the Inquisition, professional scribes do a thriving business (see text, page 55). To-day most of them use typewriters, but formerly they plied quill pens. Legal papers and communications of every sort are turned out for small fees. ing cheap calling cards and stationery, and other indolent artisans who mend clocks, guitars, tell fortunes with canary birds, and peddle lottery tickets. And here, too, is the beggar known in Mexican slang as the pordiosero, or, literally, the "for God's-saker." THE MARKET SPIRIT REMAINS UNCHANGED On the south side of the plaza is a sec tion known as the Portal de las Flores. This was the old flower market in days when canals still led to the plaza and Indians landed their canoes here. Radio squawks into the sunny streets now and airplanes purr overhead. Lux urious motors roll by, carrying gold-laced diplomats to call at the President's office. But to peddlers, traders, and haggling shoppers the market spirit is unchanged since the Spaniards saw it first, so many centuries ago. To Diaz and his men the number of people in the market place and the quan tity of wares on display proved an amaz- ing sight. As in European fairs, each kind of merchandise had its particular booth. In one section great numbers of Indian slaves, both men and women, were for sale. Some were tied to long poles with collars around their necks to prevent escape, while others, more tractable, were left free. Here were dealers in gold, silver, pre cious stones, feathers, mantles, and em broidered goods of all kinds. In another booth were shown great pieces of cotton and cloth, various articles of twisted thread, and ropes and sandals. And the foods for sale here-chocolate, vegetables of many sorts, and herbs, as well as rab bits, deer, mallards, young dogs, and other such things! Fruiterers flourished; and many women were busy selling sweet cooked roots, dough, honey, tripe, nut paste, and salt. There were innumerable skins, both dressed and undressed, in conspicuous places. Pumas, ocelots, otters, deer, badg ers, and mountain cats-all had contrib uted their skins to swell the merchandise traded in by the Indians.