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Twisting by the pool

One of the most certain perks of this academic scientist profession caper is the ability to travel to lovely places and big-note yourself to your peers, and then get rolling drunk with those you like (i.e. those who don't can you). That is, of course, unless you are a Cuban scientist (Is he employing the literary technique of foreshadowing? Maybe he is). These academic conferences are unlike corporate conferences, especially those for marketing, in that sometimes the speaker has the added virtue of not being full of crap.

So, the annual Symposium on Nuclear Physics of the Mexican Physical Society is held these days in the small town of Cocoyoc (although the gray-beards still talk of the dark days some twenty odd years ago when it was held somewhere else, but then they got shunted for a government function. I must have heard that ten times) at the Hotel Hacienda, the later word being Spanish for “most efficient location lay-out for crushing the locals and bending them to our iron-fisted will” This reminds me of the history of the name Moomba, the Melbourne festival; it was sold to the touchy-feely Melbourne City Council in 1955 as "let's get together and have fun" in the local Aboriginal language. One might find it a stretch that this much sacarin can be pumped into 2-syllables, and one would be right. In 1981, author Barry Blake pointed out it's more like “Up yer arse”. But, I digress, as is my wont. Haciendas are large estates, and in the Americas the local waterways were diverted into aqueducts that led to these land holdings, usually terminating in a font inside a church so as the natives would have to come inside. Thus, the venue's buildings are gorgeous colonial gems. This particular land was first owned by Moctazuma the First, and then was made into a Hacienda by its next owner, Hernan Cortes, whose family inherited it, pissed it away after a couple of generations (to Germans, if I recall), and after a few more swaps, Zapata and his army seized it during the revolution. That is to say, anyone who was anyone in Mexico has owned this chunk of dirt at one time or another.

Naomi and I spent a lovely week there, but work doesn't make for good stories, so all that is left to disclose is the activities of the traditional conference afternoon excursion, or in the case of the small conference, such as this, afternoon off. Thus, Naomi, my good self, by boss' youngest son Christopher, and fellow post-doc Pavel the Czech (it's profoundly hard not to call him Chekov) departed for a nearby, uniquely Mexican, locale. Given that there are pyramids everywhere in Mexico, they tend to pop up in weird places (so much so that, as the government can legally seize any pyramids, many people never speak about what they find in their back yards), and the local water park, Balneario Ejidal El Bosque, is on an Aztec archaeological site: the swimming pool being next to the pyramid, next to the water slide, next to the sacrificial altar, next to the kiosk, next to the Quetzalcoatl statue, next to the camping ground, next to the sacred pool.

The pyramid is a small affair at the top of a hill, surrounded by forest, and it seems the local kids hop the fence and come here to drink beer and have a fire. The Quetzalcoatl statue was a mix between him and the earth god, so there were no plumes and thus it looks like a fossilised coiled dinosaur dump. The sacred pool, which Moctazuma himself used to bathe in, is called the Poza Azul, and it is indeed a blue well, with ferns growing around the edge at the waterline, and the water comes from a spring under the rock ledge at one side. It is astounding. The sacrificial alter is a poxy rock.

This lunar cycle

April 2015
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