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Come wid meeee into da treeees

This writing business is a habit, and one I've gotten out of. Must. Find. Discipline.

The bus moved to Mitla, the remarkably well preserved ruins of a Zapotec city that was occupied until the Spanish arrived. It's continued habitation, and the dry climate, and the seemingly light hand of destruction of the particular Spanish that were there account for its intact state, and the latter is even more strange than usual, as this was a religious city. Porfirio Diaz also took an interest, and given his explosives work at Teotihuacan and his drilling of a sewer through the Aztec Templo Mayor, the preservation is no less than astounding. This site has survived all the douche-baggery in Mexican history. That is, except one small part, which was razed to build a church and its out buildings. I did say light hand of destruction.

Mitla didn't so much have 'temple bases', as pyramids actually are, but rather a series of palace and tomb complexes, which one can still walk through the rooms of (including 2 underground vaults), making imagining life there simpler. The walls have stones laid in such a way to form intricate geometric patterns in a non-carved kind of relief. That this culture was interested in mathematics of space in the way the ancient Greek and Islamic Empires were is clear. As I recall, the exact technique by which these tessellations were built into the walls is unclear. The guide attempted to convince us the the nine edges in the steps of the most famous of Mesoamerican patterns, adopted by the Aztecs and seen on their shields, was in fact symbolic of the nine months of pregnancy. This is a fine historical revision, as months as in the western calendar were not part of the Mesoamerica calendars.

The next stop this day (it was a big day) was at a mezcal refinery. I have said earlier that mezcal is the slutty, rough little sister of tequila, and accordingly it is distilled in (comparatively) roughshod roadhouses where tequila is made in fancy haciendas. The open-air method of distillation is the same. The place we went served us lunch, and Mother ordered the stew, but got soup, even though she ordered the stew. Then they brought the stew out, but they had also brought her soup, which she didn't order. She ordered the stew. But they bought her soup. But she ordered the stew. In any case, the guide told me something interesting about the people in the hills near the distillery growing loads of marijuana, but for making spirits out of, rather than smoking, an the over-drinking of this to fend off the cold has led to much by way of social problems.

Finally, as the sun was setting, the bus stopped at the average Mexican village (i.e., lots of stucco, lots of white and yellow paint, lots of no front yards) of Santa María del Tule. Average, except for housing the Arbol del Tule – the 'stoutest', and allegedly oldest, tree on Earth. The scientific consensus on age is 1,433-1,600 years, though the plaque at the site says more than 2000. It is home to some poxy feral cat, and stands a few dozen metres from another tree of the same species that is younger, but of the same order of magnitude in age. The aquifers of the trees have been tapped by the local town, causing them to look like going roots-up, but a new aquifer has supposedly been built into the water system just for them. I can't recall the number, but they drink a ridiculous number of litres of water each day. What do you do if you have two ancient trees standing more than a building's width apart? If you are Mexican, you build another church.

Mirshod returned to Mexico City at this point, having not seen the sea; being that Uzbekistan is doubly land-locked, he had never seen the sea, and we had made it a mission to rectify this, but failed on this attempt.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 15th, 2012 02:44 am (UTC)
Culinary lack-of-delights
I feel I am missing so many higher levels of appreciation for this entire piece by my lack of cultural bagg-er, awareness of the particular food ordering sketch.

Also, I am curious as to the dating of living objects that need to keep living. Carbon dating requires detritus that is no longer alive, right? And no tree rings, so how's the dating work?
Oct. 15th, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Culinary lack-of-delights
Nah, you didn't miss any skit. It was an in-joke shared with Nae, primarily. I promise not to do it again.

I believe the ageing is an extrapolation (which is probably dodgy) from observing (i.e. cutting down) others of the same species.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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