An 1880’s Sojourn in Saltillo, Mexico

Above: My family visits Mexico, 1953; bridges not yet built

Fanny Chambers Gooch (1842–1913)
Face to Face With the Mexicans, 1887

Merry-go-round, Mexico, 1953

Merry-go-round, Mexico, 1953

The descriptions of Mexican life, customs and character…are drawn from a close and interested scrutiny of the people of our neighboring Republic during a residence and visits among them including in all a period of about seven years…

We were a party of Americans on business, health, and pleasure bent. As the hotel accommodations were meager and uncomfortable, and it not being the custom of the country for families to live in hotels, we concluded to go to housekeeping… The house selected for our Bohemian abode, we were assured was almost one hundred years old… it was of startling dimensions, capable of quartering a regiment of soldiers with all their equipments. It was one story in height, with a handsome orchard and garden in the rear, extensive corrals for horses, the whole extending from street to street…

This was before the time of railways in Mexico… The native who enjoyed the luxury of furniture…had also the romantic recollection that great old two-wheeled carts, towering almost above the house-tops, had brought it from the capital, nearly a thousand miles, or it was manufactured by the carpenters of the town…

Every day the strange enigma unfolded itself before me, with accrued interest. My lot had been cast among these people, when in total ignorance of their habits and customs. My aim and purpose, above all things, was to establish a home among them on the basis of the one left behind. The sequel will show how well I succeeded…        Fanny Chambers Gooch, 1887