18 June 2011

Finally! My Own Pyramid

After crossing the border in early June two years ago, feeling as if I had dropped off the edge of the world in that hell hole called Reynosa, I drove nonstop to this city, napping in the truck along the side of the road when necessary. The plan was firm at that point. I was heading toward the deep south, Oaxaca and then San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the state of Chiapas. My only reason for visiting this city was that I had promised some friends, a couple who had visited this city and loved it, that I would.

I set up the camper on the edge of town in the old Hotel Siesta's RV park and slept. When I awoke, I took a walk toward the downtown. Without going into that spiritual epiphany and related hoohaw, I will simply say that on the walk back I knew I was not driving any further. This place was it.The last two years has only proven me correct.

The only little problem, I thought, was that there are no pyramids here in central Mexico. Many of you have visited some of the amazing pyramids elsewhere in this country. The Great Pyramid of Cholula in the Mexican state of Puebla, for example, is the biggest pyramid by volume in the world. Many of you also know that pyramids are powerful medicine.

Then as time wore on I started to hear vague talk of an archeological dig purportedly involving a pyramid near here. The name of the site is La Cañada de la Virgen. I had low, low expectations concerning the place and was not much interested.

The excavation and exploration of the site had been long delayed for the reason that the site was land-locked within a vast swatch of private property owned by a little old lady with no access. You know how little old ladies can be. Finally, the right to construct an access road was acquired from her. The site has been being excavated and catalogued now since 2000 but has not been open to the public. In the middle of this past February, it was opened to the public. Still with low expectations, I made it out there finally last Tuesday with La Mexicana.

The site is about 30 kilometers down the highway toward Celaya. You park at a reception center near the highway. A shuttle bus takes you two kilometers to a bus stop. Then you walk another kilometer up the side of the mountain to the site. I was pleasantly surprised. Not big. Not big. But very cool. As always, you can right click on any photo that interests you in order to see a larger version in a separate tab.

This is what I saw upon approaching the complex. I say complex because it is comprised of several installations. It was constructed over the period 540 A.D. to 1040 A.D. primarily by the Otomí people who inhabited a wide swath of central Mexico at the time. The site had been abandoned for 900 years.

There is a garden there that features the indigenous plants that the Otomi people used for a myriad purposes.

This is one of the smaller and more mysterious installations with the big pyramid in the background. It is difficult to discern it in a photograph, but this is a circular, spiral walkway constructed of stone and mortar. Their mortar was made with dirt and the juice of the nopal cactus. It worked.

The large central pyramid is beautiful. There were no human sacrifices here. Rather, it was used for the worship of the Sun, the Moon, and the planet Venus. The Sun lines up in the groove at the top on 17 April and 25 August, traditionally regarded as the beginning and end of the rainy season.

This is a smaller pyramid and installation as seen from the top of the large pyramid. The excavators encountered two cadavers as they did their work. One was of a small boy surrounded by offerings and accessories. The other was of a chief. However, tests revealed that the chief had died many years before his interment here. His corpse was moved here for some reason long after his death. In any event, these were the only human remains discovered.

This is a view of the huge courtyard or ampitheater in front of the large pyramid. The lay citizenry made pilgrimages to this site for ceremonies. Priests inhabited the site.

I am quite happy with my new pyramid regardless of its modest size. My pyramid may not be among the biggest, but it works just fine for me. Size of course does matter, but pretty counts, too.

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