Road Trips….Teuchitlan

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: 

A reconstruction of 'Circle 2' (in foreground)...

Image via Wikipedia

 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. 





About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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4 Responses to Road Trips….Teuchitlan

  1. Kathi says:

    Well, usually by mid June, after months and months of no rain and hot weather I’m willing to fasten a rope around my feet and sail around a pole if it really will bring rain.

    • Barbara says:

      oooh, we should do that to you! surely there’s some big pole down by the malecon that we can use….and sell tickets!

  2. Gigi says:

    I’d pay to see that….maybe we should visit in the rainy season, it sure looks different when it’s dry! Keep exploring!

  3. Very interesting article and photos. Thanks, Patricia Walker

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