Karen recently wrote about road trips and how much she enjoys them. So do I. Since I moved to the central highlands of Mexico three years ago, I’ve taken a number of them. And if any of you ever get down to visit me, I”ll be taking you on some, too. The places I’ll be posting about are all within an easy drive of Lake Chapala, so they make for great daytrips.
We’ll start out with my trip to Teuchitlan in the state of Jalisco. Teuchitlan is about a ninety minute drive from Lake Chapala and is the nearest pueblo to the Guachimontones pyramids. It’s a relatively midsize pueblo with about 8200 inhabitants.
And, like most Mexican pueblos, is comprised of buildings old and new:
While there is a nice little water park and picnic area in Teuchitlan,
the thing that draws most visitors to the area are the pyramids.
For about 700 years, starting in 200CE, the native people of the area erected pyramids in what is known as the Teuchitlan tradition. That is, circular central plazas and conical step pyramid architecture, believed to have looked something like this:
The structures, of course, are long gone, but the pyramids remain. However, they weren’t “discovered” by archaeologists until about 50 years ago. In the approximately 1000 year interim between the end of the Teuchitlan tradition and the discovery by modern day archaeologists, the local folks had been dragging away stones from the pyramids and using them to make fences to demarcate their private lands. [Just another example of repurposing in Mexico!]
Around the largest of the remaining pyramids, shown at the top of this post, are numerous smaller ones. The “chapels” to the “cathedral” as it were.
Because the pyramids almost certainly were part of the religious beliefs of the Nahuatl peoples, possibly built to honor their Wind God. Although I, without any evidence other than the fact that there is a large dry [except during rainy season] lakebed within sight of the area, think that they were perhaps honoring the Rain God instead.
The largest of the pyramids has 13 large terraced steps, topped by four smaller and steeper steps, as shown in this photo, courtesy of Wikipedia [you can see the “wet” lakebed on the left, which is dry for most of the year and, of course, year round during droughts]:
And coming through the top of the pyramid, archaeologists tell us there was a large pole, as shown in the model above. They also posit that upon that large pole priests or their acolytes “flew,” much as do the voladores in present day Veracruz state in Mexico, perhaps to honor or appease the rain god.
So if … no, let’s say WHEN … you come down to visit me, we’ll take one of those great road trips to Teuchitlan and the Guachimontones pyramids.