Monday, December 31, 2012

Deming, New Mexico

We're taking a break here from our past Mexico adventures to catch up on our present travels.

We spent Christmas this year in Deming, New Mexico at an Escapees park. 

There we met our good friends Jim and Lynnae and visited the western museum in town.

It's a large museum and is nicely done.

It shows the history of the area and is impressive for a town of this size.

                         There is so much culture to explore in the Southwest.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Which Craft in Veracruse

After three days of helping our local contact deliver supplies to very remote villages, he asked us to accompany him to a Purification Ceremony with his personal Bruja.
We drove to the end of this two lane road and took the path to the right for a short walk to these two houses overlooking a beautiful valley.

              This is the home of his Bruja, complete with an outside oven.

Shamans or Curanderas, as they are also called, practice a form of witchcraft, using green plants and the spiritual world to heal mental and physical illnesses.

This was the first Friday in March, the most important day of the year for them.

We are in a very remote area North of the city of Catamaco, in the state of Veracruse.
According to the Mayan calendar, this is the land of magic, where high electrical energy bounces off the mountains and three nearby volcanoes.
                       Visitors from the outside are unheard of here.
            This was an extremely rare opportunity for us to experience.
On the first Friday in March every year the earth, sun, moon, water and heavens are blessed.

                Gods are asked to watch over the spring planting season and provide for a good harvest.

             Incense was spread around the site in an elaborate ceremony.

After the blessing of the planting season, the Bruja put on her white top, traditionally worn for the Purification or Cleansing Ceremony.

She began chanting in a pre-Hispanic dialect, possibly Totanic, as that is indigenous to this area.

The Purification Ceremony was preformed with us in a circle.
Green leaves were run over our heads and faces--

--up and down our arms --

                                                        --and legs--

--and under our feet to cleanse us and rid us of evil spirits that may have invaded our body.

After this was done, we all circled the kneeling Bruja while she chanted prayers and blessings in the indigenous language.  As we clapped to the rhythm of her chant, she faced the four directions; North, South, East and West.

This pyramid looks small, but that is because it is an unexcavated site.
Abandoned hundreds of years ago, the site has filled in with dirt from a nearby hillside.

This is only the very tip of the structures.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

El Tajin

The archaeological site of El Tajin is located near the Gulf Coast towns of Poza Rica and Papantla.

                    We have explored this pre-Columbian site in north-central Veracruse state several times.

It developed between AD 800--1200, and at it's height with 30,000 inhabitants, was the most important center in north-east Mesoamerica.

Begun largely as an agricultural center, it later developed into the areas most important trade center.

This UNESCO World Heritage site is the best preserved and most thoroughly excavated example of a pre-Hispanic town from it's time period.

      Original coloring of red and blue can still be found on some buildings.

           There are far less tourists here than at Tulum or Chicken Itza near Cancun.

This site is so large it was able to support 17 ball courts.

There are many inscriptions along the ball court walls.

El Tajin means "God of Thunder or Lightning", and this triangle stonework is thought to represent this Diety.