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Crush your head tight in my vice

Catching a bus into the middle of no-where from Campeche, you can get to the site of the Puuc Maya city of Edzná. You have all read about many, many pyramid cities by now, so I'll bypass the details, except to say by this point in the journey Naomi was sick again. One explanation is that Mexico does not agree with her, and that some pendejo on the metro sneezed on her before we left the D.F. Another is that she hears the word 'holiday' and goes and licks a toilet bowl or homeless guy's used tissue collection. So, while I was climbing over pyramids-on-pyramids, she was laying on the central sacrificial alter, next to a dead hawk.

The Mayan cities differ from the other civilisations in Mexico in that their style relied more heavily on arches, and their pyramids sometimes had rooms inside, rather than being an artificial hill with a single room on top. In general, Mesoamerican civilisations were interesting because their developmental path was different than many others; they were, with one exception, pre-Copper Age when the Spanish arrived, and had no domesticated beasts of burden, and thus, outside of toys, had not developed the wheel. However, they had stone masonry and a grasp of the arch not seen in Europe until the Romans in classical antiquity.

From Campeche we moved into Yucatan State, and its capital, Mérida. Crossing the border, I noticed a change in architecture; the oval-shaped adobe-like bungalows with high-pitched palm leaf roofs became far less prevalent.

Mérida was named for Mérida in Spain, because the the Mayan city of T'ho which stood there was beautiful and reminded the Spanish of Mérida in Spain, so they destroyed it utterly so as no trace can be seen and built their Mérida on top. Over the remains of the former Templo Mayor is the grandest cathedral I have seen outside of Italy, internally reminiscent of (though not nearly as big as) the duomo in Florence. Of course, it has some icon which was hit by lightning and burnt for a day and a night or somesuch without suffering more than a bit of blackening. Of maybe some dude held a lighter do it for a while and made up a story. I despair for our species.

Mérida, sadly, is far less appealing than Campeche. It is a land-locked town, with many colonial, but poorly preserved, buildings in streets that are less close and thus less magical than its south western neighbour. Mérida hosts a fantastic anthropology museum, but of course when I got there (Naomi slowly dying of influenza in the hotel), it was closing in 10 minutes, 3 hours before it was supposed to. This is the tip: Yucatan is more Caribbean than Mexico City, and thus far more prone to half-arsery on the part of anyone you might need for any reason. I ran through taking dozens of photos so I might 'experience' the museum at home, and took special note of the part on cranial deformation. Apparently, it made you beautiful, but cross-eyed. There were many illustrations of children looking defeated and dejected with their heads wedged between elaborate wooden plank contraptions.

The names of almost all conquistadors are spat out with loathing in Mexico (I'm sure of previously spoken of Spanish-speaking, Spanish-looking, Spanish-thinking Mexicans talking about 'when [they] were conquered'), but the exception of the three Franciscos de Montejo, father, son and nephew. These guys conquered Yucatan (sort of – there was a Mayan uprising in 1847 called the Caste War that Mexican people don't really talk about, except to mention 'some troubles') and are loved for it. There is Montejo beer, where as a Cortés brewery would go out of business. There is also a big avenue named for them with statues of them in Mérida. I think this is largely because of the Aztec-centric pseudo-nationalism of Chilangos (folks from Mexico City) and their slanted view of history, in which the Mayans don't figure hugely. I also think the people of Yucatan just don't care so much about such things.

Mérida did have somewhere that sells ponchos, the first I've seen in Mexico, so I bought one, hit it with half a can of Baygon, and sent it home to Father. They also have an excellent chain of bookstores called Dante, specialising in anthropological books, model kits, and other general items of fine quality. They don't seem to exist outside of the peninsula. Seek them out.

Happy anniversary Darling! And remember folks, anniversaries mean years. Not months. Not weeks.


This lunar cycle

April 2015
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