Tuesday, August 05, 2008

all things bright and shiny

Factor #2 -- archaeological sites within driving distance
Factor #3 -- central location for other archaeological sites

"Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?" One of the classic lines from film.

If I had played the role of Joey, my answer would have been: "You bet, Captain Oveur!"

And I always have. Costume dramas fascinated me as long ago as I can recall. Egyptian. Babylonian. Greek. Roman. It did not matter. I wanted to learn about all of them. In high school, my bedroom looked as if Julius Caesar was moving in. That may be one reason why I grabbed the offer when Uncle Sam offered to send me to Greece as a cold warrior.

I learned to love several things in Greece, but primarily archaeology. I still remember my first sightings of the Parthenon and Acrocorinth. I felt as if I had come home.

Mexico gives me an opportunity to trowel through other layers of civilization. That is why being near archaeological sites is important to me.

Is this factor still important to me?

Apparently, I was not listening to me. Yes. Very important.

Grade for Melaque:


OK. I can hear all of those atlases opening up. If you find Melaque on the west coast and compare it with the archaeological sites everyone seems to visit, you will immediately notice: they are not close to Melaque.

The pyramid of the sun is what most people think of when visiting Mexico -- or any of the other big sites in Oxaca or on the Yucatan. But those places are the Disneylands of archaeology. Big. Bombastic. Reconstructed. And as sterile as my aunt's bathroom.

Now take a look at this map.

You will find no great pyramids. But each dot represents an archaeological site of importance. Some explored. Some not. Some are petroglyphs. Some are small platforms. But they all tell interesting tales of people who lived where I want to live. I suspect I could spend years studying each of these sites.

And recall from my earlier posts. I have already met a retired archaeologist, who lives in Mealque, and who is willing to show me several of these sites.

On this point, Melaque is a winner. I would have awarded an A here, except for the fact that size sometimes matters to me. I like the big sites now and then.

Next post: "warm, sunny days; cool nights" -- I feel another marginal grade on the way.


islagringo said...

I giggled my way through most of this post! You are moving to Melaque. You know it. We know it. Embrace it. (can you just imagine the photo ops at all those little sites?? some of my best shots, and times, are from the little known sites here in the Yucatan)

Babs said...

"As sterile as my aunt's bathroom"? Surely you jest.....Palenque is phenomenal as is El Tajin near Jalapa........not many tourists and certainly not "reconstructed" except to remove the mounds of dirt and tree roots from them as they excavated them.........BUT not in Mexico but Guatemala is Tikal which I'll never get over. You have LOTS of exploring to do.

Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- You are correct that there are a lot of smaller magnificent archaeological sites in Mexico. But your examples prove my point. Even though El Tajin was a known site in the 1700s, most of the work was not completed until the last century -- and then with some unfortunate reconstruction work. The recently-uncovered Mayan cities are amazing. However, the big tourist sites in the highlands suffer from the Crete effect.

Wayne -- Yeah. I can see where I am heading. You can see where I am heading. But it gives me an opportunity to write a little more on why I am doing what I am doing.

Calypso said...

I'm with Wayne - This is a fun exercise but the handwriting is on the wall.

Thanks Babs - there is also the Cempoala ruins and museum. Antigua as well as the famous Veracruz Museum of Anthropology and much more - Xalapa area gets an A (I went ahead and graded it for you ;-)

So lets break out the tequila and toast Melaque.

Islaholic Trixie said...

Looks like you have thought it all out very well. Can't wait to find out how your new class goes at the University...in Spanish. LOL

Steve Cotton said...

John -- Well, so much for my idea of the big cliff-hanger. But I guess the first rule of serial writing is to add suspense in each episode -- not to telegraph the eding in each episode.

Brenda -- Attending? With my language skills, I will be giving lectures on Cervantes. Right after I finish with my peace mission in the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

hi steve,

i went to the one in ixtlan as it is only a few hours from chacala. i thoroughly enjoyed the visit, it is small but very interesting. the funny thing is that i was interpreting for the group i was with and the man that told us about the site used the word monos, saying there were many in that area when they discovered it. well, i later had to laugh at myself and reinterpret when i realized that the word mono doesn't only mean monkey, it also means masks. luckily this was not a paid interpreting job, i just did it because i was the only one in the group who spoke spanish.

every time i read your blog i daydream about moving to mexico. hey, maybe i should come down as your interpreter ;-) then again, i might missinterpret like i did on that trip.

take care steve.


glorv1 said...

I think that wherever you go Steve, you will be happy as you seem to be at peace with yourself. Good luck and hug your best friend Jiggs for me.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Here is the deal,you can take trips to visit other sites. Palenque is increidable, so is Uxmal, you can go see them much more easily from Malenque than from Oregon. Once you are settled there is no reason for you not to go exploring the rest of Mexico. You aren't going to be chained to the beach.

Steve Cotton said...

teresa -- Great story about the monkeys/masks.

Gloria -- Thank you for the kind comments. I was dreading the possibility this week that Jiggs appeared to be declining fast. He refused his walk last night and this morning. But he is in the back yard right now patrolling his fence and letting other dogs know he is still in charge.

theresa -- You are correct. Being anywhere in Mexico opens up a world of travel opportunities. That is one reason I want to live somewhere else for 6 months after I spend my 6 months at the beach -- if that is what I am going to do.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

I really like reading the evalution of each point.

And I am going to look much, much closer at that map you posted - I would like to explore the archeolical sites with my kids while living here.Do you mind giving the reference link?

Steve Cotton said...

The map is included in an article about Western Mexico shaft tombs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Mexico_shaft_tomb_tradition. I am going to use it to build my own exploration list. I suspect most are not open sites. I am going to check with my archaeologist friend to see which ones are open for visits on my next trip down.

Babs said...

Well Steve, I have no idea what the Crete effect is, but I'll take your word for it! Ha........

Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- When Arthur Evans uncovered the ruins at Knossos, he decided to reconstruct them in a manner that he thought was correct -- as a Victorian gentleman. He was wrong. Even though the reconstructions look impressive, the Minoans, most likely, would not have recognized them. There are plenty of examples over the years of heads being stuck on wrong torsos and capitals stuck on inappropriate columns. The highland ruins in Mexico have a lot of reconstruction errors. The Mayan cities where the jungle was peeled off are far more authentic -- even though errors have happened there, as well. Far too many governments attempt to maximize tourist dollars by tarting up sites that should be left as discovered. But, I guess, that is my taste.