The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 22, July 1918 - April, 1919 Page: 22
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
outside of Acapulco as "Chinos."o Few Spaniards remained in
the town beyond the term of the feria, at which time the perma-
nent population of the place was greatly increased by the influx
of thousands from Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines.20
The natural environment of the place was not favorable to the
growth of a flourishing population of whites. Not only was the
country to the rear of the town so sterile and waterless that pro-
visions had to be brought from a distance, but the climate was
most noxious to any but the mongrel inhabitants who had become
inured to its intemperate heat and immune to its "Distempers."2
The extreme heat of the tierra calienle was little mitigated by the
circumstances which sometimes favorably modified the weather in
other places in the same climatic zone, but it was aggravated by
peculiar local conditions. Thus, the rock walls behind the town
not only reflected the heat into the basin, until the air was stifling,
but this very enclosure kept out the sea-breezes and prevented the
circulation of air within the harbor. HIowever, in the latter part
of the eighteenth century Don Josef Barreiro, the castellan of the
port, had a gap cut through the hill which intervenes between the
town and the sea in order to admit the cooling breezes from off
the ocean. IHumboldt declares that he experienced the salutary
effects of this "bold undertaking."22 "Acapulco is one of the most
unhealthy places of the New Continent," he said. "The unfor-
tunate inhabitants . . . breathe a burning air, full of in-
sects, and vitiated by putrid emanations. For a great part of the
year they perceive the sun only through a bed of vapours of an
olive hue. . . . The heat must be still more oppressive, the
"Pedro Calder6n Henrfquez to the King, n. d., A. de I., 108-4-17. Hum-
boldt lumps them together as "people of colour." Op. cit., II, 187.
"Juan Dfez de la Calle said that in his day there were about 150 citi-
zens [Spaniards,?] in the place, including the garrison, which generally
consisted of a company of infantry. Memorial, y noticias y reales del
imperio de las Indias Occidentales (Madrid, 1646), f. 60. Humboldt gives
the stable population at the beginning of the nineteenth century as about
4000, which was swelled to over 9000 at the time of the fair. Op. cit.
21"This ill Temper of the Air, and the Mountainous Soil, are the cause
that Acapulco must be supiply'd with Provisions from other Parts; and
therefore it is dear living there, because a Man cannot eat well under a
piece of Eight a Day; the place besides being dear, is dirty, and incon-
venient. For these reasons, it is inhabited by none but Blacks and Mulat-
toes." Gemelli, op. cit., p. 503.
220p. cit., IV, 145.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 22, July 1918 - April, 1919, periodical, 1919; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117156/m1/30/: accessed March 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.