More Mysteries of Mexico
Trip Start Jan 02, 2010
17Trip End Mar 17, 2010
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Where I stayed
Poza Rica Hotel RV Park
With much regret we left Teotihuacan the morning of January 19th. We'd met so many good people and had such a great time, it was tempting to stay longer. Out of town on the country roads we passed fields edged with agaves, the succulent plant that looks like aloe vera. The Indians use these agaves to make a beer-like drink called pulque. I’m told that it tastes disgusting. We passed many farms where men and woman were harvesting green alfalfa using horse-drawn wagons and pitchforks. Old people carried bundles of firewood on their backs along the roadsides and there were many thatched- roofed buildings. It looked like a scene from a movie in biblical times.
Soon we were climbing windy mountainous roads with steep drop offs. And, would you believe it, lots of road construction
Locating the RV Park where we were to stay in the town of Poza Rica proved to be a nightmare of narrow uphill streets, and again we unhooked the Toyota and sent two people out to look for it. We stayed in an RV Park outside the very fancy Poza Rica Hotel and had an OK meal at the hotel, again around $10.00 or 100.00 pesos.
In the morning we drove to the El Tajin ruins outside of the city and entered a world shrouded in cool fog and mist, highly unusual for hot, steamy Poza Rica. The Mexican government has built a beautiful park around the ruins of El Tajin and is slowly and carefully excavating, unlike Teotihuacan where earlier archeologists blasted the top off the pyramid of the sun with dynamite in their first attempt to uncover it.
At the park office we were able to hire a tour guide at 90 pesos for three hours
Fernando explained the arrangement of buildings and streets, which had been based on astrological observations. This early civilization used astronomers to study the heavens and inform their priests of the best times to plant croups. Their daily lives were structured around the movement of the planets and city streets were aligned from South to North in imitation of the Milky Way. A precursor to the modern game of soccer was invented and played as a means of communicating with the gods of the sky. Fernando called the game something that sounded like "Kestrol" I’ll have to research that. There were 17 ball courts in the city, most used for the practice of this game, two for the playing of the real game twice a year. Two teams of 3 players each hit a rubber ball weighing 6 or 7 pounds and made from tree resin down the center of the field
After using up all the arable land and resources, which caused a climate change, the people moved on and the jungle reclaimed the deserted buildings. Although the outsides of the pyramids were constructed by the Aztecs, they built their city over deserted temples that were already there when they arrived in the region. El Tajin had been a thriving city of 25,000 inhabitants and a trading center for surrounding cities, dating back to about 100 A.D.
Fernando said, “People create their gods out of necessity and fear.” “When conditions change, the gods are changed.” When the Spanish conquered Mexico in the 1500’s, the fryers and priests replaced each of the gods and their ceremonial spots with Catholic Churches and saints, thus explaining the large number of churches in Mexico. Festivals of the new religion were celebrated on the same days as festivals of the old religion. According to the Aztec calendar the next big earthly change will be on December 22, 2012.
We finished our tour of the ruins by 1:30 so we could watch the amazing Voladores ( Flying Pole dancers) performing in the square outside the Visitor Center.