After a very busy morning seeing Teotihuacán and the Zócalo followed by a much-needed lunch, we headed off to the National Museum of Archeology. It is in Chapultepec Park between Paseo de la Reforma and Mahatma Gandhi Street. Mention of that name caught my attention. We got off the bus and made our way to the museum entrance.
We passed the gigantic Monolith of Tlaloc, the Aztec Rain God. In Nahuatl (the language spoken by the Aztecs and other natives of Central America), it means: “He who makes things sprout”, a fitting description of the God of rain. It was brought here from Coatlinchen where it was unearthed, on a specially designed tractor-trailer that traveled very, very slowly over the distance of 29 miles carrying the 168-ton, 25 feet high stone statue. We were told that on the day the monolith arrived at that very spot, the skies opened up with a spectacular thunderstorm during an especially dry, winter season. it poured for days. Some thought it was a supernatural event—Tlaloc’s blessings raining down (pun intended). Others interpreted the storm as Tlaloc expressing anger at being moved. Who knows! It is hard to divine ‘Divine Intentions’.
After the visual splendor and history of Teotihuacán, we started on the drive back to Mexico City. En route, our guide told us the history of the places we were about to see; Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo), the Metropolitan Cathedral and numerous sumptuous office buildings surrounding the vast rectangular plaza.
Bright warm sun in January, rare Mezcal and a chance to explore ancient ruins—does that make you want “to rise and go”? It certainly did to me.
It was December 2022. My son Jeet was visiting just before Christmas. One day as I picked up the mail, I saw a bright, colorful brochure from Caravan Tours advertising their very affordable tours to Mexico and other Central American countries. It had a large picture of a toucan on the cover. That brought back fond memories when, years ago, we had taken a Caravan led trip to Costa Rica and liked it. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to some place sunny and warm, a nice change of scenery and climate from the cold, grey winter of northeastern USA? And so, the plan gradually took shape.
I asked Jeet if any of the trips in the brochure interested him. He chose ‘The Ancient Civilizations of Mexico’. I am interested in history, especially the rise and fall of civilizations. In particular, what causes ancient, well established, powerful empires to suddenly and unexpectedly crumble at the onslaught of a few upstart adventurers and conquistadors. So, I jumped at the opportunity to visit the land of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans.