Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Puebla de los Angeles

After being in Mexico city for a few days visiting with our good friends Rafa and Rita; Jeanette my parents and I took a three day trip to the city of Puebla located in the central Mexican state of the same name. Legend state that the city was founded by the bishop of Tlaxcala who followed the instructions of a group of angels who set the city limits and established its grid. What ever really happened Puebla was founded in 1531 and is now one of the most beautiful and important cities in the country. The city is well known among lovers of Mexican cuisine for being the birthplace of two of the countries most famous dishes (Mole Poblano and Chiles en Nogada). The city is quite large and is by some estimates the fourth largest city in Mexico, however the downtown area is fairly laid-back and chalk-full of  beautiful plazas, churches and great restaurants and shops (many of which specialize in Talavera). Well thats all for now!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl Archaeology Extravaganza!

Well this one was an exciting one for me. Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl reached the apex of their power in the 5th century CE, controlling important trade routes through central Mexico and likely outwards to the coast with an enclave population of no more than 10,000 people. But it is the semingly out of place Mayan influence on the site which makes it so very interesting. You see Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl are located in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala which places them a good 800km away from any Mayan power centre and much closer to pre-hispanic cities such as Cholula, Tula or Tenochtitlan. While the origin of these "Cacaxtlecas" is not know with any certainty it is suspected that they were in fact Mayan migrants from the south as their artistic styling  would seem to suggest. If these people truly were of Maya origin they did a pretty good job of holding on to their cultural identity surrounded by the heavy influence of many other peoples since their art in general and their naturalism in particular is agreed to just ooze mayaness.  But something about this telling just does not sit well with me, I have always liked the idea of some emerging central Mexican power bringing architects, stone masons and painters from some usumacintan Mayan city state and ordering the construction of this grand complex, but alas that is pure fanciful speculation. While both centres where heavily looted, the massive archaeological effort currently underway is doing a fantastic job of rescuing these fantastic sites. Also, the state of Tlaxcala is absolutely gorgeous... I had never been before and I am really happy I talked everyone in to making the trip out! Also, check out those crazy volcanoes! ( Popocatépetl, Matlalcuéyetl and Iztaccíhuatl. Hope you enjoy the photos!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fun times at Xochimilco!

A couple of weeks ago Jeanette, my parents, my friend Rafael and I made our way out to Xochimilco. For those of you who have never been or have never heard of it... it is basically one great big over the top floating  party on a river. Popularized in Mexican culture by way of cinema en the early 20th century, the river system which was previously used for cultivation an transportation (since Aztec times) became a hit with tourists both domestic and international. Now the thing about Xochimilco is that yes, it is extremely over the top... all those stereotypes about Mexicans all dressed in great big sombreros, chugging down tequila and tacos while occasionally pausing for a nap... yea, it all happen in Xochimilco... its kinda like Mexico on steroids. Anyway the whole thing is quite fun; there are tons of food/beverage/toy vendors and musicians which sail down the river offering their goods and services (at extremely inflated prices) to tourists, the music is loud and the barges seem to crash in to one another every couple of minutes which always gives everyone quite a jolt... but alas, it is part of the fun! Anyway I hope you enjoy the photos.