Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Magic Pueblo of Tequisquiapan

Templo Santa María de la Asunción, seen through Plaza Hidalgo's arches. In April of this year, Carole and I set off to explore the area east of Mexico City and north of Puebla, about eight-hours by car from our home in Ajijic. We don't like to drive more than 4-5 hours in a day, so we picked Tequisquiapan as a stopover to break up the journey each way. We had visited once before, briefly, during our 2009 trip to Querétaro. The blog posting that I did then focused mostly on Tequisquiapan's lively folk art markets. This time, I will show the lovely plaza and the narrow, winding, colonial-era streets surrounding it. This Magic Pueblo is worth more of a visit than the short time we had allowed. I encourage you to check it out for yourself. To locate Tequisquiapan on a Google map, click here.


Posada del Virrey

We stayed at Hotel Posada del Virrey, a comfortable, mid-range hotel. It is located about 1.5 blocks from Plaza Hidalgo. The hotel offers free parking, which is a good thing considering the narrow streets and limited number of public parking areas. Tequisquiapan is definitely not laid out in the standard Spanish colonial grid pattern. The streets wind and twist and are often one-way only.  This makes for a great walking town, but is a headache to drive. I had to study Google maps carefully to find the best route to the hotel and back out of town again. Should you visit, I advise you to do the same. Here is a Google map showing our hotel and the Plaza Hidalgo area. You will notice that there are a large number of other hotels, since Tequisquiapan has become a week-end getaway for people from Querétaro and Mexico City.


The Posada's central courtyard. The two-story Posada del Virrey is built Mexican-style, with lovely gardens and atriums surrounded by open-air walk-ways with pillared arches called portales. The vivid purple flowers climbing up the pillars are bougainvillea. The windows on the right look into a small dining room that serves free continental breakfasts to guests. Full breakfasts are available but cost extra.


The rooms are named, rather than numbered. Ours (seen above) was called La Cueva (the Cave). This is probably because the only window looks into the interior atrium. Still, it was roomy, comfortable and contained all the amenities of a normal hotel room. Everything worked properly, which is not always the case in Mexican hotels. We have learned to always check for hot water and whether the TV remote is funcional. It's a good thing to test the bed too, lest you wind up with one of the dreaded Mexican mattresses that I swear they make out of concrete slabs. Having recently acquired an iPad, I have also learned to check the strength of the WiFi signal and to ask for a room closer to the hotel router, if necessary.


Plaza Hidalgo

Templo Santa Maria de la Asunción occupies the west side of Plaza Hidalgo. The original church was built in the 16th century, but its Neo-Classical replacement was constructed in the 19th. Templo Santa Maria was built from pink sandstone and its clock tower dates to 1897. Tequisquiapan, is pronounced tay-kees-kee-ya-pan. It comes from the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs and means "place of tequesquite" (potassium nitrate). This natural salt was used to flavor food in pre-hispanic times. The area has seen human occupation since 2500 BC. At the time the Spanish arrived, the Otomi people were dominant. However, there was a Chichamec presence and those fierce warriors resisted the Spanish incursion until they were finally defeated in the Battle of Media Luna (Half Moon) in the mid-16th century.


A street musician and his son play for restaurant patrons at the Plaza. The little boy carried a tambourine to accompany his dad, but also as a container to collect tips. Carole and I always support street musicians because the musicians can certainly use the money. Besides, we like having a live sound track for our lives.


The kiosco in the center of the Plaza is made from metal and grey sandstone. We understand that bands sometimes play jazz and rock music here, but none were performing when we visited. The Plaza's borders are lined with cast-iron benches, a favorite place for families, the elderly, and those (like ourselves) who enjoy people-watching.


A Mexican family enjoys the late-afternoon sun as a children's trolly passes. Notice nearly all of them are totally focused on their smart phones. The young man on the left is the only exception. He has a phone too, but has stopped his texting to watch the trolly pass. The internet revolution is in full swing in Mexico. I wonder how all this will affect Mexico's traditionally strong family ties.

Mounting a town's name in large colorful letters is popular in Mexico. The townspeople here have nicknamed their pueblo "Tequis" for short. Chapala, a few miles east of Ajijic on Lake Chapala, has a similar sign along its lakefront. Tequis was officially founded by the Spanish in 1551. Its first official name was Santa María de la Asunción de las Aguas Calientes. Once the Chichimecs were pacified, their lands were divided between the Otomi--who had allied with the Spanish against the Chichimecs--and Spanish settlers. The Otomi chief, whom the Spanish had re-named Nicolás de San Luis Montañez, received the title to the town. However, over the next 300 years, the Spanish acquired most of the Otomis lands, by fair means and foul.


Nearly always, one can get a good shoe shine in a Mexican plaza. Tequis is no exception. By 1656, the town had dropped its somewhat clumsy Spanish name. It had become known as Tequisquiapan. In spite of the increasing consolidation of land ownership in Spanish hands, the area remained mostly indigenous. As a result, Tequis never refashioned its town layout in the Spanish grid pattern and still retains the winding, indigenous character of its streets.


The south side of the Plaza is one long set of arched portales. The covered walkway runs in front of restaurants, galleries, and cafés. Second floor restaurants can be seen in the upper right, as well as at the far end of the portales. This shot provides a sense of the large size of the Plaza. During the period leading up to the 1810 War of Independence, impoverishment of the Otomis due to land ownership concentration resulted in numerous small rebellions on area haciendas. Even so, during the war itself, there were no major battles fought in the area.


Plazas are for lovers, too. This pair were unselfconsciously smooching just across from the restaurant table where I was sitting. Naturally, it called for a photo. During the 1910 Revolution, violence largely bypassed the area. However, Revolutionary armies did sack some of the haciendas, looking for supplies. Otomis may have felt grim satisfaction as those who had historically dispossessed them were in turn dispossessed. Revolutionary leader Venustiano Carranza briefly stopped at Tequisquiapan, on his way to sign the 1917 Constitution. At the time, he declared the town to be the "geographical center of Mexico." A monument marking that spot still exists, but the actual center of the country was later determined to be Zacatecas, far to the north.


Los Andadores

Several andadores radiate from the Plaza. An andador is a pedestrian-only street, often filled with cafés, restaurants, and street vendors. The orange building at the end of the street forms the southeast corner of the Plaza.


Vendors along the andador. They are selling baskets, handbags, clothes, food and nicknacks. Notice how their carts are on wheels so that they can be safely stored at night.


Restaurant La Quercia extends out into the andador. This is one of many we found in the area of the Plaza. Hanging out, sipping a beverage, chatting with table mates, and hailing passing friends all seem to be favorite pastimes in this town.


Portales at the southeast corner of the Plaza. Hidalgo Plaza can be seen between the pillars. When I reviewed my 2009 posting, I noticed how down-at-the-heel and crumbling the town looked then. Clearly, things are on the upswing because, during our 2017 visit, everything was well-kept and freshly painted.


Rambling 'round town

One of the narrow streets which radiate out from the plaza. These streets were clearly intended for horses, carriages, and foot traffic. As a result, most of them must be one-way to accommodate modern automobiles. I would suggest avoiding a weekend visit because the traffic then is reputed to be terrible.


The steeple and dome of the church are visible nearly everywhere. This helps in keeping one's bearings while moving about town.


Parque de la Pila is a couple of blocks north of Plaza Hidalgo. The large park is filled with huge old trees that provide welcome shade. There are fresh water springs here and, in 1567, a water mill and reservoir were built here. The mill is gone, but the reservoir and its water channels still exist.


A winding, tree-shaded andador provides a secluded spot for lovers. Except for us, this young couple had the whole place to themselves.


Colonial-era moon-landing vehicle? This odd structure caught our eyes as we wandered the back streets. After inspecting it, I came to the conclusion that it is a rather elaborate old well, possibly part of Parque La Pila's original water system.


Colonial-era house, across the street from Hotel Posada Virrey. The entrance door is framed by two large barred windows. The old carriage entrance is the large door to the right of the right-hand window. There is almost certainly a lush courtyard garden, probably with a fountain, just beyond the entrance doorway.


Music for sale. These two guys were in search of customers for their guitars and other stringed instruments. Not musically inclined? The fellow on the left has several rope hammocks slung over his shoulder.

This concludes my posting on the Magic Pueblo of Tequisquiapan. I hope you have enjoyed it and, if so, please leave any comments or questions in the Comments section below or email me directly.

If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim


Friday, April 28, 2017

The Sonajero & Chayacate dancers of Tuxpan's Candelaria Fiesta

Sonajero dancers enter the atrium of Tuxpan's church. Each colonia  (neighborhood) fields its own troupe of dancers. The group above was one of many approaching from all parts of town as the Fiesta de Candelaria got under way. Last February 2, Carole and I brought two car-loads of friends to witness this extraordinary event. We first came to this fiesta in 2012 and the experience was stunning. When I described the fiesta to some friends last winter, they were eager to attend. Tuxpan's event combines multiple traditions, with roots dating back to the colonial and even pre-hispanic periods. The townspeople are wonderfully friendly and hospitable, particularly to foreign visitors. Tuxpan is a two-hour drive south of Lake Chapala, off Cuota #54, the toll road that leads from Guadalajara to Colima. For a Google map, click here.

Overview

Dancers packed the atrium in front of the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista. This broad, open plaza has a stand-alone cross in its middle (visible on the right). The Franciscans built the original church in 1536 and erected the cross not long after. While the church was rebuilt in later centuries, the original eight-sided cross remains and is the oldest colonial monument in Jalisco. The town's name comes from the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs and means "Place of the Rabbits."


These Tourist Police were all smiles when I asked to take their photo. Their attitude was typical of the local folks we met. Everywhere, people smiled at us and those that spoke English (a surprising number) asked if we'd like them to explain anything about the fiesta. While some of Mexico's fiestas are thronged with foreigners, Tuxpan's is different. Because it is somewhat off the beaten tourist track, almost all the spectators are from the local area. A significant portion of Tuxpan's population participates in one or another of the dance troupes.


Detail from a large mural at the Centro Cultural. There are multiple panels showing Tuxpan's history from pre-hispanic times to modernity. This one highlights the variety of dancers. We visited the Centro Cultural while waiting for the show to begin. The attached museum was closed and, seeking information about its hours, I stuck my head in an open door. A woman inside immediately invited us to sample some specially prepared pre-hispanic food. In the blink of an eye, we became honored guests at a banquet that included officials from Mexico City. While we tasted the various delicious dishes, a local poet recited his work and the officials gave speeches (all in Spanish, of course). The din of the fiesta was growing, so we thanked our hosts and joined the festivities outside. Mexico's famous hospitality is no myth.


People carrying gaily dressed dolls began to gather in front of the church. The dolls represent one of the fiesta's multiple threads of historical tradition. While the doll on the right is attired as a Sonajero dancer, most of the others were dressed like the one on the left. People of all ages and both sexes carried dolls--even teenage boys! According to the Bible, Jesus was presented by his parents at the Jewish Temple 40 days after his birth. Jewish religious law in the 1st Century AD forbade a woman to go to the temple for 40 days after giving birth because she was "unclean". February 2 occurs 40 days after December 25 and the occasion has come to be celebrated as Candelaria or Candlemass.


Sonajeros

The Sonajeros represent a tradition with deep pre-hispanic roots. The dancers perform in massed ranks, to the rhythm of the sonajeros (rattles) they each carry. The name can be applied either to the rattle or the dancer. When I first saw these dancers perform, I was reminded of the close-order drill that I learned during my military service. In fact, this is called the Dance of the Warriors and honors Xipe Tótec, the Aztec god who invented war. The rattle closely resembles the macuahuitl, a fearsome hand weapon the Aztec soldiers carried into battle. In ancient times, these were edged with razor-sharp obsidian. Today, instead of obsidian, a sonajero contains three sets of metal disks set in notches along the length of the instrument, with a handgrip at one end. When the instrument is shaken, the disks clash together, sounding somewhat like a tambourine. Hundreds of sonajeros, shaken in unison, create a rhythmic din.


The dancers wear vests of multi-colored ribbons. The vests mimic the cotton armor worn by the Aztec warriors. It provided some protection from arrows and other pre-hispanic weapons but was of little help against Spanish steel. Notice that these dancers have removed their sombreros and are holding them close to their sides. They did this just before entering the atrium, apparently a gesture of respect toward the church.


Women and girls danced as Sonajeros too. In fact, there didn't seem to be any gender or age bar to participation. It was a clear and sunny day in early February and the dancers' costumes covered them from head to toe. By noon, it had become pretty warm and I marveled at their stamina as they danced and twirled.


Although only four or five years old, this niña was a full participant. Even on a break, she continued to dance. There were lots of kids among the dancers, as well as some elderly folks. Participation is clearly a family affair.


Chayacates

Wearing antlers and carved wooden masks, the Chayacates now arrived. All their masks were in "whiteface" with Spanish-style beards and mustaches. The name for these dancers comes from the Nahuatl word chayácatl, which means "man wearing a mask".


An energetic pair of Chayacates led the troupe from the Colonia San Fabian. Each cuadrillo (troupe) carried a banner with the name of their colonia. Like the Sonajeros, all the Chayacates carried rattles which they shook in unison. The Chayacate rattles are made from hollow gourds filled with seeds.


Also like the Sonajeros, there are kids in the Chayacate cuadrillos. The origin of the Chayacate tradition harks back to a great epidemic in 1774. The local priest called upon everyone to pray to San Sebastian, the patron saint of people afflicted with plagues. The epidemic soon ended and the dance was inaugurated to thank the saint for his intervention. Statues of San Sebastian are carried by the faithful in the parade through town that begins when all the cuadrillos are assembled.


A cuadrillo of "blonde" Chayacates approaches the atrium. They are followed by another troupe with red "hair". The Spanish features, and the long blonde or red hair, hark back to another colonial tradition. Since disrespect toward their Spanish overlords could be dangerous, indigenous people sometimes used masks and dances to subtly mock their oppressors.

Güe Gües

A Güe Güe carrying a sword pauses for a breather. I have encountered these figures at indigenous dances all over Mexico, but I have yet to find a translation for the name. They always wear horrific monster masks and often carry a weapon like a wooden sword or a long whip. Güe Gües lead the processions or hover about the edges of the action. Their purpose is to frighten away evil spirits, as well as to entertain the crowd with their antics.


A Güe Güe leads a group of Sonajeros through the streets. Notice the red imitation blood on his sword. While most Güe Gües favor modern masks made of rubber, this one wears a more traditional version made from carved wood with vivid paint.


Kids, especially the young boys, seemed to favor the role. This group immediately began to cavort when they spotted my camera. Unlike the Sonajeros and Chayacates, the Güe Gües are not expected to keep in step with the dancers they accompany. This gives them considerable freedom of action and they take full advantage.


A handsome couple. A fanged devil and his skull-faced companion were eager to pose for me. It would be hard to find a finer pair of evil-spirit chasers.


Moros

A bare-chested Moor scans the area, his bow and arrow at the ready. Los Moros (the Moors) represent still another tradition. The Dance of the Moors and the Spaniards harks back to the 700-year struggle by Christian Spaniards to expel the Moors, who had invaded and seized Spain in 711 AD. The final victory came when the Moorish city of Granada fell in 1492. The Dance of the Moors and Spaniards commemorates this struggle and final victory.


A young Moor pranced about the edge of the crowd. Los Moros always wear hats with crowns of feathers and generally carry bows and arrows. My photo caught him in the act of pelting his friend with a piece of candy.


The littlest Moor. He is dressed in full Moorish regalia, including a bow, with peacock feathers that are nearly as long as he is tall.

Other dancers


The América cuadrillo. These dancers are the key performers at the fiesta to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12. However, it seems that no one wanted to miss out on Candelaria. 


This fellow bore a striking resemblance to Jesus. It wasn't clear to me whether that was his role. However, his costume didn't resemble that of any of the other dancers and he wasn't a Güe Güe. The pretty señorita by his side appears to be his girlfriend.


A violinist who accompanied a Chayacate cuadrillo. This jaunty fellow could have just stepped out of some bizarre orchestra pit.


A clown with a rather sinister smile. Not the sort of jester I'd want to meet in a dark alley. He looks a bit like the Joker in the Batman movies. I assumed he was one of the Güe Gües but, again, who knows? Mexican fiestas often have a surreal quality that defies explanation.

This completes my posting on Tuxpan's Candelaria fiesta. I hope you enjoyed it. If so, please leave any comments or questions in the Comments section below, or email them to me directly. If you leave a question in the Comments section PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim




Sunday, April 16, 2017

Xochicalco Part 9 of 9: The East Ceremonial Complex and its Ball Court

The East Ball Court's Ceremonial Complex, looking northeast. The photo was taken from the top of the Temple of the Three Stelae. In the upper right is a rectangular pyramid overlooking a large grassy plaza surrounded by the remains of colonnaded porticos. Carole is the figure approaching the plaza's southern entrance. The ball court is out of sight behind the rectangular pyramid, running parallel to it on a lower level. A small pyramid stands just to the north of the rectangular pyramid. The North Pyramid's twin stands on the south end, out of sight. The East Ball Court is one of three at Xochicalco. They are different from one another in both structure and function. The South Ball Court (Part 2) was constructed on a lower level some distance from the elite part of the city. It was associated with the sacred 260-day calendar. The high-walled North Ball Court (Part 8) was linked to the underground astronomical observatory and to the worship of Tlaloc, the Rain God. The East Ball Court was the main arena where Xochicalco's elite, along with important visitors from other cities, would gather to watch the players settle political issues according to the favor of the gods.


Satellite view of the East Ball Court Ceremonial Complex. The top of the photo is the north end. Shaped like a capital "I", the court is located in the center of the complex. On its west side is the rectangular pyramid and the grassy plaza with its surrounding porticos. Two smaller pyramids stand to the north and south. On the north end of the playing field are rooms where players prepared before the games and cleaned up afterward. The open area on the south of the "I" was a plaza for post-game ceremonies lauding the winners. The losers were probably sacrificed on the altar in the lower right corner of this open area. On the middle of the east (right) side of the "I" is an additional viewing area for the use of dignitaries, probably from the visiting team's city. (Photo from Uncovered History).


The Ball Court


The East Ball Court, looking north. The shape of this court is similar to that of the South Ball Court. The long narrow playing area is bordered by low, slanting walls, very different from the steep, high walls of the North Ball Court. Like the other two courts, the East Ball Court had two rings through which a ball could be passed to score. They were set into the low walls on either side of the court at the mid-point. The tops of the low walls would have served as viewing areas for lower-status members of the elite. The players' preparation / cleanup rooms can be seen at the far end of the court. The games were sometimes used to settle political or military disputes. At other times, their function was to simulate the on-going struggle to maintain the balance of the cosmos and its astral cycles.


A ball court and pyramid sculpted from volcanic rock.  This carved stone clearly illustrates the sacred nature of the ball game. It is not known for certain whether the sculpture served as a construction model or was used during sacred rituals related to the game, or possibly both.


Ring from the East Ball Court. Unlike the other two courts, the East Ball Court's rings were covered with sacred animals carved in relief. The rectangular arm to the side of the ring was set into the wall to secure it. The hole in this ring appears to be somewhat smaller than the ones on the North and South Ball Courts. It may be that balls of different sizes were used, or perhaps the smaller size in this ring was to make the scoring on this court more difficult.


Drawing of the designs on the East court ring. At the top is a fanciful feline crouching with its claws on either side of the ring hole. The cat, perhaps a jaguar, wears a somewhat sinister smile. To the left of the creature's head are a pair of crossed bones. It may be that a similar pair once appeared on the right, but that area is too worn to tell. The bottom half of the ring is occupied by a pair of birds, one following the other. Given their long drooping tails, they may be quetzals. The highly revered birds were much sought-after for their plumage. Small dots drop from the birds' beaks. A dot in the Zapotec numeric system represented the number one.  If these are numbers, then they can be translated as two and three. Felines and quetzals were considered sacred in ancient Mesoamerica.



Ceremonial stone yokes represented the protective armor of the players.  Player's yokes were normally made from wood, leather, or rubber. They were worn around the mid-section of the body to protect the stomach and lower chest from the impact of the heavy rubber ball. This stone version would obviously have been much too heavy and cumbersome for use in actual play.  Stone yokes like the one above could weigh as much as 20 kg (45 lbs). Instead, they may have been used as trophies for winners or as grave goods for deceased players.


Caiman skull found near the ball court. The caimans is another animal symbolically linked to the ball game. It represents the Earth Monster whose devouring jaws consume the stars at sunset, seeds when planted, and human beings at death. The Earth Monster's entrails represent darkness, cold, and death. On the other hand, the elements are the prelude to the coming day, life, and the sprouting of seeds and fruits. The ancient ball games were reenactments of the cycles of life, conducted to ensure that these cycles continued uninterrupted.

The Ceremonial Complex

The North Pyramid. Below the back of this small pyramid are the players' preparation and cleanup rooms at the north end of the ball court. The function of this structure is unclear. Perhaps the ruler used it to exhort his team--sort of a pre-game pep talk. In addition, it would have been a good viewing once the game started.


The central, rectangular pyramid and part of its grassy plaza. The pyramid and plaza may have been used for pre-game ceremonies. This grassy area, enclosed by colonnaded porticos, would have accommodated one or both teams along with various officials and dignitaries. The ruler and his entourage would have looked down from the platform atop the staircase. Once the preliminaries were complete, and the players took the field, the ruler's group could turn and use their elevated perch to view the action on the playing field behind the pyramid. It would have functioned the same as a "skybox" atop a modern stadium, minus the human sacrifice, of course.


The western side of the grassy plaza, showing its colonnades. Only the stumps remain, but you can visualize the rectangular columns supporting a roof over a narrow arcade around three sides of the grassy plaza. In the distance is the east side of Plaza Principal's high stone wall, with the Temple of the Three Stelae looming above it. I took the first photo of this posting from that point.


The South Pyramid. Behind and below this structure is the small plaza just south of the playing field. At the end of the game, the ruler would have mounted the pyramid's staircase to congratulate the winners and officiate over the decapitation of the losers.


Another ceremonial structure lies to the south of the South Pyramid. It has a sunken patio, surrounded by colonnaded porticos. A small staircase stands on the right side of the sunken patio. The staircase may have led to an altar or perhaps a speaker's podium. Although this structure is clearly a part of the East Ball Court's ceremonial complex, I have not been able to find any information about it. Both its composition and its location indicate a ceremonial purpose. However, its specific function is not clear.


The Animal Ramp

The ramp contains paving stones with relief carvings of animals. A total of 271 stones are embedded in the ramp. They contain the images of birds, snakes, monkeys, butterflies, and other animals. The ramp leads up from the plaza below the South Pyramid and emerges on the south end of the rectangular pyramid. Its path passes between the South Pyramid and the sunken patio enclosure seen in the previous photo. This is obviously a route of considerable ceremonial importance. Many stones appear to be missing from the ramp. However, an additional 492 have been found throughout the area of the East Ball Court.


Carving of a bird with its wings extended and its beak open. The bird's tongue extends forward and its tail is spread. The curve of the beak indicates it may be a raptor such as a hawk or an eagle, both of them powerful animals imbued with great symbolic meaning.


A snake writhes its way across another paver. One theory is that these animal paving stones are the  personal symbols of teams or players. In other words, a pre-hispanic version of medieval coats-of-arms. However, there is another possibility. This relates to the Temple of the Goddess of Fertility, toward which the ramp leads.


Temple of the Goddess of Fertility

A temple entrance can be found in the side of the Plaza Principal's west wall. This opening is directly across from the top of the Animal Ramp. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Fertility, also known as the Earth Goddess. Since the earth is the place where all creatures breed, it is thought that the temple and the ramp are connected.


The Goddess of Fertility, also known as the Earth Goddess. She sits with her knees folded back under her and her hands held at chest level. The goddess wears a short feminine cape and a striped headband. Xochicalco's Goddess of Fertility may be a local version of Teotihuacan's Great Goddess, a powerful deity connected with water, fertility, and militarism. Although the statue is quite worn, it appears to have the nose pendant and protruding teeth that are characteristic of the Great Goddess. While the Great Goddess was very important at Teotihuacán, the level of militarism skyrocketed when that great empire fell in 650 AD. One reflection of this change was that female deities declined in importance. This may be why the Goddess of Fertility has been relegated to a tiny shrine within the outer wall of the Plaza Principal, while male gods like Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl are prominent everywhere else in the city. However, although diminished in status, the Earth Goddess still seems to have been revered for her connection to the animal world.


Just as we finished our visit, an iguana popped out of the rocky debris. These are protected animals within the archaeological site and this one obviously had no fear of humans. On the other had, maybe it was a representative of the Earth Goddess, sent to say "hi!" I thought it was a fitting end to our visit.

This completes Part 9 of my Xochicalco series, and marks the end of the series itself. Congratulations if you have stuck with me through the whole 9-part series. I realize that some folks see these places as just another pile of old rocks. For myself, I remain fascinated by such sites and the incredible civilizations that once thrived in them. If you would like to leave a question or comment, please use the Comments section below or email me directly.

If you leave a question, PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim