Friday, September 9, 2011

Mexico City-- Part 2

Probably the most spiritual place we visited on our trip was Teotihuacan, about 25 miles outside of Mexico City.  This is an ancient settlement which was settled between 100 BC to 700 AD.  Its name is Nahuatl meaning "place of the gods."  There is some disagreement about which ancient tribes lived in this area, perhaps the Nahua-Chichimecs or the Otomis.  It is believed that, at its height, up to 200,000 inhabitants lived in Teotihuacan.  Like other Mesoamerican cultures, they worshiped several gods including the god of fire, the god of water, and Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent.  They built structures for living, for trading, and for their religious rites.  The pyramid, 60 meters high, is the largest, and most magnificent: 

  The pyramid of the moon, down the Avenue of the Dead from the Sun pyramid, is smaller but also spectacular.  Below Pixie is calling the spirit of the Goddess in front of the Pyramid of the moon.

 The other major structure, at the south end of the settlement is the Citadel which contains the temple of Quetzalcoatl, pictured below: 

 Here are some of the artifacts archaeologists have found at the Teotihuacan site:

On the way home from the Teotihuacan site, we stopped at the Basilica of Guadalupe.  Guadalupe is the dark-skinned Madonna figure who is revered throughout Latin America, and the Basilica is said to be the most sacred, and most visited Catholic site, second only to St. Peter's in the Vatican.    The legend of Guadalupe is that an Indian peasant, Juan Diego, witnessed the image of Guadalupe in 1531, who told him to build a church for her on this Mexican City site. He told his priest who refused to believe him.  He returned to Guadalupe who burned her image into his serape.  When he returned to the priest with the serape, he finally believed him, and erected a church to honor Guadalupe.  Below is the original church on the hill which was built to Guadalupe: 
Today, a modern, huge, Basilica has been built to accommodate the pilgrims who come, many on their knees to pay tribute to Guadalupe. 

 And finally, what I came to see, Juan Diego's serape, miraculously imprinted with Guadalupe's image, is displayed behind the altar, above a Mexican flag.  I wanted to see this "miracle" for myself, but, I have to say, I remain skeptical.  Here is the framed serape:
Oh well, I don't know what I was expecting.  The serape looks like every other image of Guadalupe, precisely because  every other image is take from the serape!

The site I most wanted to see in Mexico City was the Convent of St.Jerome where Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz lived, wrote her poetry and feminist philosophy, and eventually died.  She  was a prodigal girl who read at age three and wanted more than anything to study and write.  In 17th century New Spain, that was difficult for a young girl, so she eventually entered the convent where she was able to pursue her writing.  She has been hailed as the most important Hispanic poet to have written in the Americas.  She was eventually silenced by a new Archbishop, gave up her writing, and lived out the rest of her 47 years in the convent with he other nuns, but not until she wrote a scathing feminist response, her "Response to Sr. Fioleta."  Here is a link if you're interested in learning more about Sor. Juana:

We visited the ruins of the convent, which is now incorporated in to a university, the Unversidad de Cloister de Sor Juana, a fine tribute to Sor Juana who devoted her life to learning.  Unfortunately, we could not take photos inside the University, but I did take these from outside the wall:

In addition to sight seeing, we enjoyed just walking around Mexico City, seeing the different neighborhoods, and watching the artists, the young people with their contemporary looks and endless energy, and the interesting and eclectic architecture.  Bob brought us to an old hacienda in the San Angel section of the city for drinks, and he found a superb Italian restaurant in the Roma district, and an incredibly good Chinese restaurant adjacent to the small Chinatown area in the Centro area.  It was a memorable trip, especially fun with all our friends. 

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