Saturday, May 7, 2016

[MEXICO CITY] That Ancient Aztec Soap Opera

Hello, children. Today I’m going to tell you the tragic tale of the Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui, also known as Blue Tits. Once upon a time, her mommy, the goddess Coatlicue, found out that she’s pregnant. Not wanting to tell her children that their neighbor’s gardener mowed her lawn, she invented this cock and bull story about how she found a ball of cotton on her chest when she woke up that morning, and then blamed it for the pregnancy. Blue Tits wasn’t convinced, children. Oh no, she wasn’t. She wanted mommy dead.

Remember this, children. Your parents are not obliged to explain their sexcapades to you. But let’s give Blue Tits the benefit of the doubt. Imagine her as that sibling who would dye her hair jet black, lock herself in her room, and listen to My Chemical Romance 24/7. Because nobody understands her. To cut the story short, our heroine rallied her brothers, all 400 of them (Jesus Christ, do they own a cotton ball factory?) to kill mommy because she dishonored the family name. Wow, that escalated quickly.

But don’t be afraid, children, for mommy was not alone in her battle. You see, her then unborn child, Huitzilopochtli (say that fast ten times), god of war, said hello from the other side... of mommy’s womb. She told her that even though he is the bastard child of a cotton ball, he is totally capable of defending mother dear from the wrath of his emo sister. She just has to tell him when they are about to attack, and he will take care of the rest. And so the grand battle begins, but there are different versions, children.

On one hand, it is said that mommy was successfully butchered by her kids, and in that very instant, cotton ball’s baby emerged from her womb and killed all of his siblings on the spot (God of war, represent!) including Blue Tits, whose head he decapitated and threw towards the sky. It later became the moon so that mommy won’t be sad and would remember her emo daughter when she looked up above. Yes, children. In one version, mommy actually survived because cotton ball’s bastard came out just in time.

Blue Tits’ dismembered body was then thrown away, on a little mountain believed to be the very location of the Templo Mayor today. In fact, it is under this structure where construction workers unearthed our heroine’s huge stone disk. As for hers being naturally blue, there are no accounts to confirm its veracity. But I guess we shouldn’t be concerned about innocent infants dying from food poisoning, because our goddess didn’t seem to have seen the light of day to impregnate herself with a cotton ball.

I know, children. Tragic, right? Now is the time to shake it off and see what the Templo Mayor has to offer! Located on the northeastern side of the Zócalo, this tourist attraction is open until 5 PM, but I am not sure. You have to pay MXN 65 (~PHP 178.75) for admission and it is stated at the entrance that you have to pay extra for photography, although the guy at the cashier said I didn’t have to when I asked him about it. The place itself is not huge, although it might take a lot of your time if you are that keen on the little details.

The path is barricaded but there are spots where you are close enough to the pyramids to actually touch them, and there are no signs saying that you are forbidden to do so. I understand that some of you might want to play roughhouse or just take a selfie on top of one of the pyramids. I don’t think that’s allowed, but I dare you to try if you have no qualms about being arrested. And then you can tell everyone back home that you got arrested in Mexico. That’s badass, dude, and it will give you a lot of street cred.

You can opt for an audio guide, which I think is available for an additional fee. Or you can just read the info boards because there are plenty of them along the route. Some of them don’t have English translations, though. Oh, you don’t speak Spanish? Whose fault is that? When all else fails, maybe you have enough data on your phone to consult Wikipedia on the spot. Moving on, what makes those pyramids unique, then? Well, I’ve seen several Roman ruins in this lifetime, but Aztec ruins are one of a kind.

The structure is just different, in that they seem to prefer stones of uneven dimensions. You might think that this would be detrimental to overall aesthetics, but not really. If anything, it contributes a lot in making them stand out, a similar effect you see in children’s’ pop-up books. The Aztecs are also fond of reptiles such as frogs and serpents. Most of the structures they left behind are dotted with sculptures of such theme. If the Romans were luxuriously grand, I’d say that the Aztecs were luxuriously weird.

Most of what you’ll see outside are the ruins of a grand plaza. If you want artifacts, you go inside the museum. The admission fee is included in the MXN 65 ticket that you paid earlier, so make sure you don’t lose it. As with any other museum, this one is full of useful anthropological and archaeological tidbits that would bore some but enlighten others. You know, not all of us are interested in the past. If the ancient world fascinates you, though, then you’re going to have one hell of a good time in this museum.

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