Friday, September 09, 2005

More Mexico!

Recepción a la instalación siguiente de mi viaje a México! (Welcome to the next installment of my trip to Mexico). Please keep your valuables near you at all times. No flash photography. And feel free to tip the tour guide. ;-)

And... we're walking, we're walking...

Our first stop? Zocalo, the giant square in Mexico City. It is marked by a giant flag.

A major point of interest in Zocalo is the Cathedral, which houses numerous religious icons, five naves, and several side chapels. A golden organ dominates the center of the room, which is constructed in such a way that a main mass can be held away from the smaller chapels that line both sides of the vast church. We wandered inside and were transported into another world, another time.

The west side of the square was once a merchants' arcade. Today it has little restaurants, shops and cafes. The eastern side of Zocalo is the Palacio Nacional (National Palace), a series of stately buildings that house the seat of political power in the country.

Image hosted by
Mexican National Pride in full display at Zocalo

The murals of national artist Diego Rivera line the great hallways of the Palacio Nacional buildings. In his work, Rivera captuted key moment in the tumultuous history of his native Mexico. Heavily influenced by his trips to Russia and meetings with Socialists, Rivera had a leftist view of the world. Casting political leanings aside, he was a monumentally talented artist. And his works continue to be evocative and moving. There was magic at the end of his paintbrushes. To see one of his works proves that.

The bulk of his displayed work in Zocalo can be found at the top of one of the buildings' stairways. If you, like we, find yourself short on time to visit the official Museo de Diego Rivero, a short trip through Zocalo's buildings should suffice. It will, at the very least give you an idea of the genius that has been credited for single-handedly changing the course of one nation's art.

Image hosted by
A section of Diego Rivera's mural at the Palacio Nacional.

And we're walking... we're walking... Actually we're taking the van... all the way to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The whole reason for the trip to Mexico was that my grandmother wanted to do a pilgrimage to see the Lady of Guadalupe. She is not alone in this, as an estimated 10 million people flock to the Basilica every year to gaze at the tilma that bears the sacred image of the Virgin Mary. The sheer number of petitioners and supplicants that come to the shrine makes it the second most visited Catholic church in the world, second only to the Vatican.

It is said that this image miraculously appeared on the garment of Juan Diego ... as proof that all her apparitions to him were real. The tilma, a cloth known to deteriorate at a rapid rate, remains intact. And it continues to bear the image of Our Lady to this day, defying all attempts at scientific explanation. I suppose it boils down to a matter of faith: you have believe that it happened ... without asking for an empirical breakdown.

The Basilica stands on sprawling grounds that also house other chapels and churches. Recently, a large statue of the recently departed Pope John Paul II was erected on the grounds.

The doors of the shrine itself are decorated with stained glass depicting symbols of religious significance: fish, doves, flowers and of course, the Cross. Inside, high ceilings and subtle lighting give the aura of solemnity. Through the left is an entrance that leads you to the framed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Image hosted by
Juan Diego's tilma with the image Our Lady of Guadalupe

That's it for today folks. Please join me again on the next portion of my Mexican Tour. The souvenir shop is right around the corner.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Teotihuacan, Mexico

This is an attempt to get the Mexico trip into bite-sized pieces.

We took the trip down to Teotihuacan. The 2,000-year-old city that the Aztecs named but did not build. The ancient site of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the Piramide del Sol and, of course, the Piramide dela Luna.

A city filled with whispers of the past, existing in a country moving towards the future. (From one of the pyramids, you can see a shopping center)

The vastness of Teotihuacan is best appreciated from up high. And so we climbed to the peak of the Piramide dela Luna, where legends (and countless tour guides) dictate that one must raise one's hands to the sun to gather its energy.

Wanting not to disappointed tradition (or any tour guides) I raised my hands skyward.

I closed my eyes. The wind was cool against my skin. The sun, warm against my face. And, truly feeling deeply connected to the earth… I pulled out my zips and let the energy flow through me.

Image hosted by

I live my life in growing orbits,
which move out over the things of this world.
Perhaps I never can achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God,
around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years.

And I still do not know,
if I am a Falcon,
or a storm,
or a great song.

--Rainier Maria Rilke