Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: August 30 Shawn's Log

Hangin' with the Gods.

From the top of the pyramidI am sitting at the top of the third largest pyramid on earth. I am overlooking the land where the Aztec gods gathered to create the sun. I’m at the center of what used to be home to over 200,000 people when this city was the sixth largest city in the world, bigger than Rome.

I am at the "Piramide del sol," the Sun Pyramid, in what remains of the ancient city of Teotihuacan ("tay-oh-tea-wha-con").

These ruins date back nearly 2000 years, to the time of Christ, when the pyramids were constructed entirely by human hands without the use of pack animals or the wheel. The "Avenue of the Dead" is a mile and a half stretch of stone terraces and alters which lead up to the magnificent pyramids and which were the center of religion and government in central Mexico from around 100 to 800 AD.

Temple of the MoonThe people who lived here should not be confused with the Aztecs. These people lived here when the Aztecs had not yet migrated from the north. But most of the Aztec culture is directly related to these people.. The Aztec’s belief in Quetzalcoatl ((kay-it’s all-co-awtul"), the god of knowledge came from here. So did their beliefs about the creation of the sun. The Aztecs believed it was here that the gods gathered to decide who would become the fifth sun — our sun today. After four gods had tried and failed to be the sun, the gods took a very proud and handsome god, decorated him with beautiful clothes and jewels, and tried to make him become the sun. But he was scared. While he stood before the great fire not knowing what to do, a small, limping god jumped in. He was so brave and strong of heart that he became the sun. The other god, ashamed, jumped in after, but only became the moon.

Detail of CarvingSylvia, Monica and I began our tour of the ancient city of Teotihuacan on the far end of the Avenue of the Dead at the Templo de Quetzalcoatl. This ancient temple was discovered beneath a more recent structure that had been built on top of it. Although much smaller than the great pyramids which overlook it, venturing into the folds of this temple reveals a variety of sculptures of serpents whose details are surprisingly intact, considering they were carved over 1500 years ago.

Temple of the SunMarching the mile up the Avenue of the Dead toward the Pyramid of the Sun was like travelling back in time. It is hard to imagine how all the millions of stones were carried here on the backs of people and carefully arranged into these hundreds of terraces and altars, not to mention the mammoth monuments themselves.

As we slowly climbed to the top of the great pyramid amidst the sea of curious tourists, I imagined this valley as it once was, overflowing with the commerce and activity of ancient life. From the top we could see Shawn contemplates the Aztec lifethe entire Teotihuacan valley - a wide circular plain surrounded by rolling mountains and sharp plateaus. The land itself is dry, although quite green and sparsely inhabited by trees. This valley has remained densely populated, and the pyramids are surrounded on all sides by houses, roads and factories.

Somehow I feel a strong connection with this place and I like to imagine myself living here in some other time, before the skies were darkened by human industry, when the sun and the moon were truly masters of creation.



Related Dispatches: 
Monica - Por fin! Meeting with Silvia and Shawn
Monica - SACRIFICES!!!
Team - Battle of the Gods!
Hangin' with the Gods.
Silvia - Letter Home

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