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Week 1 May 14, 2010

Posted by wjewell3 in Uncategorized.

Hola desde el Distrito Federal de Mexico! I am finishing my first week here this summer, and am so excited to be here another 5 weeks! I’ll give you a quick rundown of what we’ve been up to:

Sat: We arrived at San Juan airport, and met our host families at La Universidad de Communicacion. It takes 15 minutes to walk there from my house.

Sun: We visited Teotihuacan, the ruins of a native people who settled nearby from 500 BC to 750 AD. They built massive pyramids for their gods of the sun and moon, and maintained an incredibly complex culture. Today, we were also introduced to the famous Mague plant. I have never seen something with so many uses! It looks like a cactus bush, and inside is a sweet liguid that you can drink. If you leave it out, it ferments; so now you have an alcoholic drink. Its leaves, if you want to call them leaves, can be peeled to get paper. It has a spike on the end that is used as a needle for sewing, and the fabric that you need is built into the needle – just pluck off the needle, and the thread follows! The leaves also serve as a cleaning agent – they foam up when you rub them! This plant is incredible!

Mon: We learned about world views, stereotypes, and the importance of Mexico today. Also, we got a nice intro to Mexican history, and the family oriented society.

Tues: This day I didn’t feel well, so I returned home shortly after arriving at the Centro, the center of the city – Zocalo, and walking around in a big church.

Wed: Each student researched an aspect of Mexica (Me-shee-kuh) life in order to act as tour guides inside el Templo Mayor, the ruins of Tenochtitlan. I really love learning about this people. It had an astute respect for the earth.  Nothing was wasted; it was a much cleaner place then Europe back then. Death was not something to fear – it was part of the greater cycle. Land was communal – it was not owned by man. Also, the hoe was a sacred tool – not something menial. The act of planting seeds in the earth was of symbolic importance. There were no labor animals.

Everything has a spirit, even rocks and dirt. The spirit of man is focused in the head, heart, and liver. When someone is about to die, the spirit concentrates in the head. This is why warriors were decapitated – so the spirit could be shared. Also, the heart was removed during sacrifice for the god Quetzalcoatl, the god of the Sun. The heart was a symbol of the sun – it was symbolically represented by fire. The blood is like water, the body like earth, and the air like the air you breathe.

There are many gods, but many are called by the same name (e.g. Tlaloc = Tezcatlipoca azul and Quetzalcuatl = Tezcatlipoca blanco). Thus, the Mexicans were really neither Monotheists nor Polytheists . . . nor Pantheists for that matter. The Mexicans lived in the 5th sun. The number 5 was important to them, b/c that was the number of fingers and toes they had. Moreover, the 4 major elements are included in the 5 great disasters that overcame the earth once, and would come to take down the humans. (1. Jaguars?, 2. hurricanes = wind, 3. volcanoes = fire, 4. floods = water, 5 .earthquakes = earth)

There is major symbolism everywhere regarding the following principles: 1. The universe has a sacred structure, 2. The earthly life replicates the structure of the universe, 3. Duality, 4. Nahualism – the spirit in everything – and its constant transformation (astral, mineral, vegetal, animal), 5. Self sacrifice, 6.Tonalismo (energy w/i everything), 7. Cyclic time, 8. Collectivism, 9. Codification of the world (I think this had to do w/the language, which was comprised of sacred symbols), 10. Creation – Destruction – Creation.

If you want to look at the national flag, it has some serious symbolism. The eagle, which represents the sun/Godly realm has in its beak a snake, which represents the humans, and on its foot is the nopal cactus, a vegetation symbol, which is on a rock – land obviously, which is above water. The original temple of Tenochtitlan was on an island. They had floating gardens! But isn’t that cool?! It’s like the humans, as they are being eaten by the godly eagle, are being lifted away from the earthly realm!

Besides all this, there was serious medicinal and commercial prestige in the Mexicas (subset tribe of the Aztecs). If you want to know about it, let me know. Hmm . . . seems like I got off on a tangent.

Thurs: We went to class again today. Last night we went to a karaoke bar. I didn’t quite know how to get there, but was proud to make it asking directions along the way.



1. Mary Jean Jewell - May 18, 2010

Hey – it was great reading about Week #1! Barbara sent me the link for your blog. Small world . . . hearing the news indirectly from out west. Glad you’re happy and learning a lot!

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