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Latin America Team Dispatch


Mexico City - Then and Now
January 23, 1999


For more information about the Aztecs, check out these pages from our Mexico Trek!

August 20, 1998
"Day One in Mexico City" Read about the Trekkers' first day in Mexico City. Also, learn about Aztec dancing, Aztec ruins, and the city's modern-day cops.

August 25, 1998
"Check it out!" Find out about what it's like to travel to and from work by bus in Mexico, and what sort of people you may meet along the way.

August 26, 1998
"What's bigger than Godzilla...?" Join Monica and Shawn as they take a tour of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, which is a gigantic school considered to be the best in Mexico.

August 30, 1998
"Battle of the Gods" Learn about the violent feud between Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl, who were not only brothers, but also great Aztec gods.

"Sacrifices" Monica recounts the many sacrifices made to the Aztec gods as well as those the trekkers made trying to reach Teotihuacan.

"Hangin' with the Gods" Shawn tells us what it's like to make the long upward climb to the top of a gigantic pyramid, and gives us insight into the people and times that brought about its creation.

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Mexico
Binni Gulaza

Before our Mexico Trek in the 20th Century and even before the 16th Century trek by the Spanish, there were great civilizations which ruled for hundreds of years on the land that is now modern-day Mexico. We certainly plan to cover the Mayan culture extensively as we journey through the southern parts of Mexico into Guatemala. However, many of you have written us that you want to learn more about the Aztecs as well, especially you students from the International School of Brussels (Hi!).

The Aztecs dominated this entire region before the Spanish conquered them in 1521. During our Mexico Trek we learned that Mexico City now sits on the former Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán. In the first half of the 14th Century, the Valle de México was comprised of several lakes, and Tenochtitlán was founded on one of its islands. The Aztecs considered themselves the chosen people of their god of war, Huizilopochtli, in accordance with their tribal legends. They were originally nomads that were led from the northern and western parts of Mexico to the islands in the valley by their priests. Soon after their arrival, they rose to become the most powerful people of the region.

The Aztecs joined forces with the two other valley states of Texcoco and Tlacopan, forming the Triple Alliance, which was created to combat the Tlaxcala and Huejotzingo living just east of the valley. The Aztecs were famous for sacrificing the lives of their captured prisoners to "help keep the sun alive" and honor their gods. While some people argue this didn't really happen, the largest rumored sacrifice was for the dedication of the Templo Mayor (Great Temple) in Tenochtitlán, where the Aztec king sacrificed 20,000 prisoners.

The Aztec kings held absolute power over more than a million people. Many of these people were excellent farmers who utilized stone and wooden tools along with advanced irrigation systems. Others were professional soldiers or merchants who extended the empire and brought their acquired goods back to the capital. The Aztecs worshiped many gods and built hundreds of temples in their honor. This devotion proved fatal for the empire when King Ahuizotl's successor Montezuma II mistook Spaniard Hernán Cortés for the feathered serpent god Quetzalcóatl as Cortés landed on the shore of the Gulf Coast in 1519. Montezuma then allowed himself to be captured by Cortés, and soon thereafter the empire fell before the invading Spanish, who ruled for hundreds of years thereafter.

 

Our Favorite 44-Hour Bus Ride Ever!
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Mexico City
Kidz in La Paz
Plaza of Three Cultures, Much Pain
Abeja and Kavitha...Soap Opera Divas
Mamá Rumba - The Next Best Thing
Tacos al pastor, por favor
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