Ciudad de Mexico y El DF: Teotihuacan & The 2nd Largest Pyramid Known to Man

Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal

6.23.05 Day Two: (Part 7) Teotihuacan: Pyramid of the Sun

After checkin’ out the Plaza at Teotihuacan we deicded to climb (The Pyramid of The Sun) which is the 2nd largest pyramid on earth known to mankind and the largest climable Pyramid on earth. It was actually easier to climb then I thought it would be, but of course we took time to breate as I took pictures at each level.

Originally anthropologists believed that the Pyramid of the Sun was of course a Pyramid as a monument to the Sun God, but it is now believed that it was a Pyramid for the Rain Goddess. The Pyramid contains a system of small tunnels that channels water thru ducts and into massive resivouirs for later use and their are rocks stick out the side of the Pyramid to slow water that travels down the sides of the Pyramid.

Here are some pictures of the description stone, which has yet to be updated with new ideas on the purpose of the Pyramid.

The climb begins…

The view from Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5 (The Top)

Ciudad de Mexico y El DF: Teotihuacan Intro

Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal

6.23.05 Day Two: (Part 6) The City and Ruins of Teotihuacan

After the Basilica de La Virgen de Guadalupe we decided we should head just north of Mexico City to the Pre-Hispanic ruins of Teotihuacan. The rain was starting to come over Mexico City and if we were going to see Teotihuacan, we had to do it now. As we drove into the Park of Teotihuacan I noticed many many Agavi plants (sometimes known as the Century Plant).

Before we got to the ruins we stopped in a small store just outside the parking lot that sold Onyx sculptures of Teotihuacan, Aztec & Mayan culture as well as make blankets of the cloth made from the Agavi among other things. They of course sold the liquor products of the Agave…tequila, pulque and mescal. Me and Dan took some shots of Pulque and I gotta say it was pretty good. Pulque was made by the Teotihuacanes and was their only liquor. Luckaly it takes only 24 hours to ferment so making some was not a problem. If you have one liquor in your society, Pulque is not a bad way to go.

In the heart of the Agavi is where you find the juice and water of the plant which is what is used in tequila, pulque and mescal for liquor. If you cut off a leaf of the Agavi you can find its many uses, the inside skin can be pealed off resulting in a somewhat translucent paper like material. I got to pull some off and it was thick and could withold a hard pressing of a modern ball point pen and was used by the people of Teotihucan and likely other Mesoamerican and Native American peoples as paper. After peeling off the paper like skin you can pull out the meat of the leaf which comes out in fiber stips that feel like cotton and is actually used to make clothes, blankets and other cloth based items for the last few hundred years. The needle sharp tip of the Agavi leaf is used naturally for a neddle to sow the cloth inner of the plant, as a needle for medical uses, and eve for arrow tips and other weapons. On top of all those uses, if you rub the inside of the leaf with water you find that it can be used for soap. Needless to say the people of Teotihuacan and the North American Continent (Canada, United States of America, Estados Unidos de Mexico) lived off the Agave.

Seeing as all the scultures and blankets were gorgeous but incredibly out of my budget we moved on to the ruins themselves. The first part of the ruins we saw was a high fence with steps built at one end oppisite a pyramid, with a stange in the center and 2 stages built into the other walls. It was believe that this plaza was used for religious ceremonies. The architecture and acoustics of the plaza is amazing, and acheived feats that I think extremly few architects could achieve today. One of the most impressive features was that you could sit on the center stage or stand anywhere in the plaza and hear what somebody at the top of the pyramid was saying even when they spoke at a regular speaking volume. This was ideal for religouse events because they didn’t have gigantic speakers and microphones so the entire city could here them. There is no proof of a writen language in Teotihuacan that we have yet to find, but advancements in science, math, and architecture so great to achieve something like that to me would lead me to believe they wrote things down at least for use of engineering and building to achieve their goals when building. You could also stand from anywhere in the plaza and clap you hands and you would here a sound that I would describe as that of a bird “cawwing”. It is believed that this noise was used to call people to the plaza. I tested this out, and clapped my hands, it worked and it was alot of fun.

Side stages like this were thought to be used as platforms for other priests to observes whatever took place in the plaza.

Below we see the pyramid at one end of the plaza, and in front of that we see the center stage. It was actually a pyramid built over another pyramid that was believed to be built for the god Quetzalcoatl (did I spell that right?). The priests were rumored to be unhappy with the old pyramid so they simply built this one over the top. This was a trend in Mesoamerica. If you wanted to build in your city, you didn’t tear things down, but rather used them as a foundation for the new building. This even carried over as a practice between conqering Mesoamerican peoples, rather then tear down the conquored peoples temples and structures, simply build over them. The idea of destroying the buildings and materials of Conquored people didn’t come about in Mesoamerica until the Spanish arrived in Mexico.

uncovering the pyramid underneath…

A view from the top of the pyramid in the plaza.

Much more on Teotihuacan Tommorow.

Ciudad de Mexico y El DF: La Basilica de La Virgen de Guadalupe

Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal

6.23.05 Day Two: (Part 5) La Basilicas de La Virgen de Guadalupe y La Plaza de Las Americas

For hundreds of years, in the exact spot in Mexico City, that now houses the Plaze of the Americas and the 2 Basilicas of the Virgen of Guadalupe, there was a temple built for worship of an indeginous earth godess. In the 1500s that temple was torn down to build a Catholic church. Sometime later that Catholic church was torn down to build a church dedicated to La Virgen de Guadalupe. For those of you who don’t know who La Virgen de Guadalupe is, I will hit you with a short history.

Cortez arrived in Mexico in 1519. In 1521 Cortez defeats the Capital City of the Aztecs. 1524 12 Franciscans arrive in Mexico City. In 1525 a man named Quauhtlatoatzin, born in Cuautitlan, was baptized as an adult in a church (thought to be the church in the Plaza de Tres Culturas) and given the “Christian name” of Juan Diego. In 1531 it is said that that same Juan Diego, then 57 years old, had apparitions seeing a woman who identified herself as “La Virgen de Guadalupe” and spoke to him in Nauathul, build me a church here so I can show myself as a mother to the people and told him to relay the message to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga. It is important to note that Juan Diego was 57 because at this time the average life expectancy was about 40 years old. Juan went to the Bishop, told him what happend, and the Bishop did not believe him.

So once agian the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego and he told her that he didnt believe him. So she told him to go back and not to worry and to have faith in her and to tell the Bishop to build the church for her so she can be a mother to her people and the people can come and worship her and he did. Once agian the Bishop didn’t believe him, so then the Virgen appeard to him and said something like, whats the deal with this guy, and Juan Diego said, I dunno…he wants proof, so she said something like, here you go, and in Juan Diego’s Tilma (a cloth that Indian men wore back in the day like a Cloak) she placed a bundle of Roses for him to take to the Bishop as proof of their communication. So Juan does as instructed and as he dropped the roses at the feet of the Bishop an image of the Virgen de Guadlupe was on Juan Diego’s tilma. So the Bishop said, well okay then, and the church was said to be built.

There are some loop holes in the story though. The legend supposedly did not become known of untill a couple hundread years later when it was said to have been translated from nahuatl to Spanish by the historian Juan de Tovar who called the story the “Primitive Relation”. He claimed the original document had been destroyed.

I kind of think if an Indian man had seen la Virgen de Guadalupe the word would spread in the indian community not to mention the whole of Mexico city a few weeks after it happend, not a few centuries. There also is no proof that Juan Diego ever existed, many Juan Diegos were baptized in many Catholic churches in Mexico city, so placing him is tough. Also the tilma supposedly hangs in the Basilica, but the tilma had not been put in glass till 1647, over 100 years later. What were they doing with the Tilma during all that time? The Catholic church didn’t officially approve the tale till 1666 and it wasn’t till 1695 that the chuch, supposedly the first of many churches dedicated to La Virgen de Guadalupe all built on the same sight, started construction.

The biggest problem I have with the story is that it is a woman who claims to be La Virgen de Guadalupe, she never calimed to be the Virgin Mary or the Mother of Jesus, asks a man to build her a church in her honor. The Bible specifically says not to worship anybody or anything other then Jesus Christ and God and it says to be extremley weary of those who tell you otherwise. Throughout the bible Mary the mother of Jesus directs people to Jesus when they have questions of God and worship, sort of to say, he’s the man…axe him. There is no reason to believe that Mary would be into making herself into an Idol to be worshiped…but hey it did get millions of Mexicans to convert centuries ago.

Many people do claim that La Virgen de Guadalupe is Mary the Mother of God. I personally find this to be a stretch. But hey, thats me. If your interested or disagree with me, please research the topic. I have done minimal research, just spoke to a tour guide, heard the story told in my Mexican-American studies classes, heard the story from family members, and looked at some websites as well as talk to people in the Basilica itself, and read the supposed words of Guadalupe and Juan Diego on the walls of the Basilica itself in raised metal letters (even there she never claims to be Jesus’ mother and tells Juan to build her a church so she can be worshiped)…so do some research, and find your own truth. Further investigation is needed on my part.

So, on to pictures and cool stuff, the Basilicas are gorgeous.

The building with the gold dome roof is the old Basilica, like much of Mexico City, it is sinking into the unstable ground below it, and it acutally held together by a series a building columns held together by a series metal cables running through the building. Alot of the structural damge was done during the earthquake. The old Basilica is still used today and holds roughly about 2000 people. The old Basilica was finished 1709.

The building next to the old Basilica, with the red roof is an old convent for nuns and is still used today.

This Cross/Clock also contains a series of bells and can play alot of songs, I forgot how many but it was around 300 or something. December 12th in Mexico, is the Day of the Virgin de Gudalupe and the plaza known as “The Plaza of the Americas” gets filled with thousands of people and the bells play music and people worship the “miracle” of the Virgen de Guadalupe.

As soon as you enter the Old Basilica, you are greeted by a statue of Juan Diego, this being a more modern statue of him we see he is taller, more muscular, and more european then indeginous in the features as well as having even more facial hair now having a full goatee.

El Conversion de Los Indios. (The Conversion of the Indians.)

Primer Milagro Diciembre 1531. This painting depected the first miracle of the Virgen de Guadalupe (which if Juan Diegos cloack is supposedly true then this would actually be the second miracle). As the story goes an Indian who had to convert to Christianity got shot with an arrow that went right thru his neck. Fearing death with nowhere else to go for help since most people were in a celebration of La Virgen de Guadalupe on December 12th back in the 1700s, and a priest (priests were usually the doctors in those days) pulled the arrow from his neck and it came out clean with no blood and he lived. This was a major marketing point for the conversion of many indeginous people in Mexico City at this time.

Metal Cables holding the building together.

Gorgeous Sculpture of the seal of Mexico.

More views of the old church.

Ginormous statue of Pope John Paul II next to the old Basilica.

When I see and hear of large statues next to what was thought to be a religous site with bodies barried underneath it in indeginous ruins anywhere in the world, anthropologists seemingly always assume the bodies were sacrifices to the gods. I can just hear an anthropologist in another 1,500 years from now dig up the ruins of mexico city and say, “ahh…here they had practices of worship to their God, and this statue of this pope guy and the mass graves under the church lead us to believe that hundreds of people were killed during his visit to Mexico as a sacrifce to God. Savages.”

La Nueva Basilica was built between 1974-1976 and was designed to hold many many more people, can’t remember the number, and it now houses the Tilma of Juan Diego.

Inside of the new Basilica the tilma of Santo Juan Diego is visible from any angle due to the circular architecture of the building. The architecutre is gorgeous and supposedly all the wood is fine canadian pine wood with Italian marble floors. There are three moving walkways below the tilma so people can at all times pass by the tilma and see it. The walkways are located behind the steps of the pulpit so people can view it even when a service is going on with out interrupting the service itself.

El Milagro de La Virgen de Guadalupe.

This Candle holder is supremley interesting, the reason it is bent is from the close range blast of an explosion. The explosion was an attempt was made in the Old Basilica to blow up the Tilma of Juan Diego during in 1921 and this candleholder was was bent, much of the altar was blown up, but the image of la Virdgen de Guadalupe remained intact and unharmed thus propetuating the belief of the holyness of the tilma.

Ciudad de Mexico y El DF: Mas Graffiti en MX

Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal

6.23.05 Day Two: (Part 4) Mas Graffiti en MX

El DF y El Ciudad de Mexico could possibly been one of the most Graf laiden cities on earth. The high amount of Graffiti, and more then average quality work, is I’m sure helped by the fact that this is the most populated city on earth. I wish I had an entire week or two devoted to just walking around taking pictures, or take a month and get to know some of the writers and crews. There is alot goin’ on here folks.

Driving down a freeway in Mexico City.

The dotted shade of the rear window of the late model Chevy Cavalier we took our tour in insipred me to be artsy for a moment, can you dig it?

Any open wall is a canvas.

Art Criminals Commiting Art Crimes.

On a stand alone wall in an open field next to a Pemex station I find an open-air art gallery.

Ciudad de Mexicoy El DF: Mobbin’ in tha City

Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal

6.23.05 Day Two: (Part 3) Mobbin’ in tha City

Basically after La Plaza de Tres Culturas we headed to La Bisillica pero, we made some stops in the Chauatemoc part of Mexico City first. I spotted a little Graf I wanted to take a pic of, a little sloppy and pieces that had been tagged over and over (possibly by rivals?) but not bad, and then we hit up a Jewlery Store and saw a man named Raphel hand sculpt many designs incorporating indigineous and religious themes. Raphel was a buddy of our guide and Dan was lookin’ to pick up a couple things for his wife and daughter and it was all good.

Bling Bling Suckas.

He gave me this little thing for free. Kinda cool but I dunno what I’ma do with it…it will be a nice dust collector in Tucson.

Ciudad de Mexico y El DF: La Plaza de Tres Culturas

Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal

6.23.05 Day Two: (Part 2) La Plaza de Tres Culturas (The Plaza of Three Cultures)

After checkin’ out El Zocalo, Dan and I headed for some breakfast and found a superb restaurant named Mercaderes. It was incredibly nice looking and since Dan and I are balling on a budget we sat down and took a look at the menu and as it turned out the place was perfect for us and priced at about $90 pesos ($9 us dollars) a plate average.

Mercaderes was right of the Zocalo and had a live pianist and great food. It was farely early in the AM so it was us, one couple at a table and then a group of about 8 at one table celebrating something. The place had marble floors in some spots, carpets in the others and great artwork on the walls.

Before the food came Dan prayed that we would see Mexico City in one day as it should be seen and thanked God for the provision. I ordered something I couldn’t understand off the menu but sound interesting and it ended up being a great choice. It was a plate of 2 corn tortillas topped with refried pinto beans (that were so awesome) topped with two sunny side up eggs, on top of that was corn, a little bit of diced onion, and cilantro and then the whole thing was covered in white cheese then the whole plate was covered in a white mushroom cream sauce. I got all that with some hot chocolate to drink and I was a happy man.

On the way out I picked up a card of the restaurant (see above pictures) that showed every Jueves y Viernes was live Jazz! I am a bit a of Jazz guy, so this made the place even better.

As we made our way down the street a man in a sharp navy suite about four doors down from Mercaderes, where we just ate, was on the sidewalk pitching something. As I thought him to be some guy tryin’ to make a buck I kept on waliking but my Tio stopped to talk to him. I turned around to tell Dan not to buy whatever he was selling, then Dan told me he could take us on a tour of DF and Mexico City. I looked at him and he said he would take us to La Plaza de Tres Culturas, La Basillica de Guadalupe, Los Piramides te Teotihuacan and anywhere else we wanted to go. We asked how much it would cost (Cuanto Cuesta?) and he replied “Seis Cientos Pesos” which equates to about $60 usa dollars.

We would have spent more then that on Taxi fair to all those places and I talked to Dan about it and if this was a farce and they took us out of the city limits and robbed us then we figured we could handle it and it would make for a good letter home anyways, so we said, sure lets do it. The man in the sharp navy suite then directed to his associate in a silver 2002-2003 Chevrolet Cavalier sedan and we hopped in and he took us on our way.

As it turns out it wasn’t a frace, it was legit and he took us everywhere promised, spent the whole day with us, gave us legit info. and made it so pleasurable that it was like running around DF with a homie and not a tour guide. The prayer was answered.

First stop was La Plaza de Tres Culturas, and it mos def lived up to its name. Inside urban Mexico City we found ruins from Mexica peoples, and people before them that were still being excavated, next to that was a church built of the same stone as the ruins, which was surrounded by modern buildings such as a government building to one side and across the street a few apartment complexes sagging into the water below the city. The Plaza was beautiful and was quite a sight to see.

It was interesting to see the 3 cultures, ways of life, ways of thought, and focuses all in one spot. We have the native ruins focused on worship and order. Here lived people who took slaves, sacrificed people to their gods and were rich in science, math, health care,astronomy, architecture, knowlege, agriculture. Then we had the Spanish church bringing “Civilization” to the indigenous and totally disregarding thier acheivements, their knowelge their life in favor of their own. Oddly, the Spanish were just as barbaric and just as civilized as those they sought to conquer, but both parties were to blind to see it. Then we have our modern day surrounding dwarfing the past in shadows of steel and modern life more focused on what movie start is banging what movie start, if Chiapas beat the Pumas, or maybe even concerned with CNN and Tele Azteca fed news of Politics. Yet it seems as though each culture really hasn’t learnd from the other.

This is the church right beside the ruins. This church was built by Indian slaves by order of the Catholic Franciscan Monks of the same stone as the ruins were built of, which is the reason why the ruins are what they are today.

During the Juarez era, this church was raided and statues, paintings and other things were stolen from the church fueld by the movement agianst the then power of the Catholic Chuch in Mexico. There used to be a statue of Saint Peter on the front of the church and even that was stolen. Across Mexico people stole from churches and this as well as a loss of land ownership and political influence in Mexico led to the “Chirstero Revolution”. Priests would preach that Jesus was King of Mexico and Mary was Queen of Mexico and that an action agianst the Catholic church was an action agianst God himself. Priests would enlist church go-ers to fight agianst the Mexican Amry to gain land and in attempts to overthrow political offices but they weren’t strong enough and eventually it died out. The Mexican Government won and all land for churches is now donated tax free by the government. Before, the Catholic Church owned more then 70 percent of the land in Mexico.

Here we see pictures of a statue of Juan Diego (now a saint) and the big cup (I don’t know what else to call it) that he was baptized in. Juan Diego supposedly was baptized in this very church. Notice here we see Juan Diego (who was said to be Indian with no Spanish blood) and yet he has light skin and facial hair…two traits that Indeginous people didn’t have. Over the course of the day every picture and statue of Juan Diego has him more European looking, taller, stronger, and with more dramatic facial hair. The crazy part about Juan Diego is that there is no proof he ever even existed and since there was no proof he was denied sainthood about 4 times until finally John Paul the 2nd granted him saint hood anyways.

I took three pictures of this sculpture and for some reason none of them came out the way I wanted. It depicts Christ leading an army of Spaniards killing Indeginous people…(shakes head in disgust).

This is a gorgeous statue of Jesus that is held up by metal cables and gives a floating effect…and this picture came out blurry as well. My bad.

I’ll post the rest of my DF trip within the next 24 hours…next up A Barrio in DF, La Basillica de Guadalupe, Los Piramides te Teotihuacan, El Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Barrio Chino y Walking an Hour Across DF in the rain, Graffiti in DF, and Random Artsy Pictures of DF and Mexico City.

MUCHA PAZ

Ciudad de Mexico y El DF: El Zocalo

Ciudad de Mexico y El Distrito Federal

6.22.05 Day One: Traveling

Well last Wednesday through Saturday (about a week ago now, I know I’m slackin’ on the bloggin’) my Uncled Daniel and I took a trip to see Mexico City. About 9 to 10 hours of the first day were spent riding a bus from Jerez to Zacatecas and from Zac to Mexico City.

The bus service wasn’t half bad but I did notice there was no basic security at all. The bus stations had metal detectors but everytime a person walked threw at it would beep becuase of some mettalic object, the man standing by the metal detector in uniform wouldn’t even flinch. This I belive is due to a lack of training about the purpose and use of a metal detector. Then when getting on the buses about half the companys have a uniformed man with a metal detector wand and would run it by your arms and legs and it would beep and they would do nothing. Who knows, maybe they thought it was suppoesd to beep as they wisked it around. Add to that that most bus drivers made random stops to pick up people along the way and would pocket the money for these passengers and it wouldn’t be all that hard to hijack a bus in Mexico.

I did how ever get to see Captain Corellis Mandolin on the bus ride down and it was a great movie (I tought it would suck) but the other movies sucked alot and seemed to run on a theme of historical revisionism with titles such as the most recent King Arthur which had him dealing with Roman catholic bishops in 300 ad when Roman Catholic Bishops didn’t exist, they never explained Excaliber and they pitted him agianst Merlin rather then as his allie. Next up was the overly homo-erotic Scorceses film Alexander. I’m sorry but Alexander the great did not wear mascare, have frosted eyebrows and hair, make out with his entire army and a transvestite and cry every 15 minutes. There also was maybe 2 actual battle senes. For a man whose legacy was war and conquest they deviated from that point of his life for nearly the whole film. They made Collin Farrel into the softest conquer ever to see film. Most insultingly was the fact that they had Rosario Dawson, one of the most beautiful actress in hollywood and resulted her to a four line character who was only useful for walking in on Alexanders awkward embraces with his best friend, thankfully they did at least get her naked in the film, but even that didn’t save this one from being a failure.

6.23.05 Day Two: (Part1) El Zocalo

El Zocalo in DF is basically all the government buildings and is a very interesting spot, I suppose you could liken it to DC’s “Mall”. Alot of the buildings in El Zocalo, the rest of el DF and Mexico City for that matter, are sinking because it all is built on water. What is now Mexico City was once an island with native people on it and as the Aztecs came in and saw the eage with snake in its mouth perched on a cactus and made it their home they filled the Island up quickly. How do you solve the problem of a full holy land? They added more dirt to the island right over the top of the water and the land mass grew. As the Spanish came in to town this continued and more and more dirt was added to the island until we got to where we are today, no more lake and an entire city built on water. So the entire city is floating on water in a very real sense and all is sinking slowly. The Government owns all the land and won’t let you build on it unless you can dig thru the dirt, past the water and into the dirt below it. Kinda nuts.

Not Quite sure what was going on here, but inside the tent was a group protesting something…from what I could figure out they had been there for a few days.

Cathedral.

El Palacio Nacional. Benito Juarez, former Mexican President and Mexican Hero used to live here and now part of this building is a museo to his life and legacy. We really wanted to get in here but it was closed for what the guards said was a “state visit”. There is also a gigantic statue of Benito Juarez whose granduer is exemplified by overpasses cradeling the background of the statue that you can see while entering Mexico City from the north. If you don’t know who Benito Juarez is…please look him up. He is the man. He was an Indito Mexicano and wanted to become a Catholic Priest at a young age and was on track to that profession when he learned that the Catholic Church at that time would not allow Indeginous and Mestizo peoples to become men of the cloth only Spanish people and Spanish people born in Mexico of “pure” Spanish blood who were known in Mexico as Criollyos (Cree-Yoy-Yos). Disgusted with the ways of the Catholic Church he devoted his life to education and met some Free Masons in Mexico. The Free Masons took him in and paid for his education and groomed him into an educated man. He then pursued politics and eventually became President of Mexico and falling in line with the Masons belief of freedom of religion and his developed hatred of the Catholic church he led a political and social movement to regain power over land and politics from the Catholic Church. Outraged, the Spanish and conservative Catholic Elite contacted Nepolian with plans to colonize Mexico to the French. Nepolian declaired his brother emporer of Mexico and he rolled in and set up shop and Juarez had to flee for his life. Juarez fled but remained in contact with friends in Mexico and about 7 years later returned with an arm of Mestizos, Indians, and even some Spainsh born in Mexico and overthrew the French rule of Mexico and took back the country and his seat as President. Very interesting story.

La Bellas Artes