Mexican Water Carriers by Anonymous

A Mexican water-carrier is always an oddly, dressed fellow. He looks something like the man some one met "one misty, moisty morning," who was all clothed in leather. He has a leather cap, jacket and trousers, the last reaching only to his knees, and held aside with bright buttons of silver, so as to show the white cotton drawers beneath. Down the front of his jacket, too, and around the rim of his cap, are bright buttons. Fastened at his side is a leather wallet holding his money. On his feet are leather sandals. Over his head are two stout leather straps, holding two jugs of earthernware, one resting on his back and the other hanging in front.

He begins work early in the morning. If you go into any of the public squares in the city of Mexico, you will then see a great many of them all seated around the stone basin and busy preparing for the day's work. They reach far over the edge and, dipping up the water, fill their large jug. Throwing that on their backs they reach down once more and fill the smaller one, and then trot off and visit the different houses of the city, and sell the families what water they want.

You would say, perhaps, it was a heavy load to carry by the head and neck, but the carrier does not seem to mind it, for he is very strong, and the jugs just balance each other. It is said an Englishman was once told of this balance, and, to see if it were so, he waited until a carrier came along and then, with his cane, broke one of the jugs. Alas! down came the man, jugs and all; his balance surely was gone.

Water has to be brought about in this manner because none runs into the houses by lead pipes, as with us. It all comes from near the old castle of Chapultepec, three or four miles from the city.

It runs over great stone aqueducts, built by Cortes, and when it reaches the public square falls into the stone basins of the city. So, you see, it makes these carriers almost like our milkmen, only they do not come with a fine horse and carriage, and do not make nearly as much money. They only get a few cents each day. How hard they work, too! Busy from morn till eve, always earnest, hardly ever smiling, always on a little Indian trot, they go about from house to house, and then, when the day's work is over, what a life they lead!

They have no home to go to, either; they live in the streets, sleep in the gutter or on the cathedral stone steps, and often, I fear, get so befogged on "pulque," the national drink, that they care not whether they have a home and good bed or not.

Think what a miserable existence, not knowing how to read, dressing as those before them did three hundred years ago, and doing nothing but carrying water about the city. Every day they will go into the great cathedral and say their prayers. They put their jugs down beside them, clasp their hands, raise their eyes to the image of their patron saint, and mumble their requests or their thanks, and then, taking a last look at the gold candlesticks and rich ornaments, will hurry away, and continue their hard, uninteresting daily labors.