Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: September 2 Team Log

The Return of Quetzalcoatl

When the god of learning, Quetzalcoatl, left the people of Tollan over a thousand years ago, he promised he would return. He promised he would return young and strong from the ocean. He promised he would defeat his brother who caused the sickness and sadness among people.

For hundreds of years the Aztecs told of how he would return. Some say they even told what it would be like and what year it would be.

Aztec drawing of the When that year came, the Aztecs were stunned when reports came to them of pyramids floating across the ocean far from their capital city of Tenochtitlan. They were filled with people whose skin was very light and whose faces were covered with hair. Could it be their god had returned? The Aztec Emperor, Motecuzoma decided to send gifts to them in case it was Quetzalcoatl.

The gifts made the people in the floating pyramids very happy, and they began to come towards the Aztec capital. They came riding enormous beasts with manes and tails, and with fire in their hands that could kill a person.

Aztec drawing of the Spaniards abusing the AztecsWhat the Aztecs did not know is that there were people very different from them that lived in lands far away. And these people who came were not gods. They were actually very cruel people who wanted only to conquer the Aztecs to make themselves rich and famous. Led by a man named Hernan Cortes, these people, only a few hundred Spaniards, took over the capital with 500,000 Aztecs thanks in part to the Aztec’s confusion about who Cortes was and the legends the elders had told them. Forty years later the population of Tenochtitlan was reduced to only 22,000. The Aztec’s buildings were destroyed, and their stories and history and even their language was looked down on and no longer taught to the young Aztecs.

So what is your opinion of the Aztec emperor Motecuzoma? Was he dumb to let Cortes come to his city and defeat him? Was he smart to show respect for the person he thought was a powerful ancient god? Share your opinion on the Message Board of the Trek Connect page!

Related Dispatches: 
Monica - Tlatelolco, the death of the Aztec Empire & the Birth of Mexico
Silvia - Meet Liliana, soccer player, Aztec expert, 14 years old!
Shawn - A Report from the Battlefield
Team - Three Conquest Stories - You decide how they end!

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