Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mexico City

Our bookshelves are installed! I think every bibliophile in the world has a dream of real bookshelves, floor to ceiling, made of oak or walnut or maple. So did we. And now we have them. They take up most of the longest wall in our living room, a medium golden oak (to match our furniture), adjustable shelves, a little ornamental strip along the top. The workmen arrived as we were packing to go on vacation, so we didn’t have time to load the shelves before we left, but oh, what a pleasure it will be to come back home and see them! The only thing better would be to have a whole room lined with bookshelves, a for-real library. But this will do, it will do.

We are in Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world. We were picked up at the airport by local friends who were to be our guides during this five-day stay (technically six, but since we arrived after nine p.m. on Friday, I don’t think the first day counts. Saturday we went to Teotehuacan, a very ancient pyramid complex, older than the Aztecs (it was overgrown and abandoned when they came into the area, the name is Aztec for City of the Gods). The builders left no written record of themselves so we know almost nothing about them, yet the complex is enormous, tens of thousands of people once lived here and they built two gigantic pyramids -- the larger has about the same circumference as the Great Pyramid in Egypt!

We visited the little museum on the site and found they had uncovered some more items from when I was there last. There was this set of six or eight braziers made of pottery, for example, very strange and exotic and I'd adore to see them with burning coals. There is a round base about the size of a medium-size flower pot, set on three short legs. On top of the pot is an elaborate arrangement of deeply carved flat pieces – think Aztec style feathers or scrolls – with open spaces, and peering out from near the bottom of them is a pale face. Just the part from the eyebrows to mouth is visible. Now imagine that brazier in the evening, a little before dark, when the shape of it can be seen, and the glowing, gleaming, flickering coals dance over that mysterious face. Wouldn't that be very, very cool in Leona's garden? (Leona is the Wiccan I am going to write about in Blackwork.)

I'm thinking, since I'm establishing that Leona's into herbalism, that she might be experimenting with that very extensive "book" left by the Aztecs, describing the use of herbs in healing. And, in honor of her experimentation, she bought (or made) a copy of the brazier. Perhaps she also wears around her neck on occasion the twisted rope with a bead (small or elaborate) that marks the "bruja," or witch or sorceress or shaman in Aztec mythology. Perhaps she picks a bead shaped like a bat in honor of the piece of Aztec pottery that depicts a bruja who has taken on the shape of a bat still wearing the rope and bead.

Maybe I’m learning too much Aztec lore.

The next day, Sunday, we went to the Museum of Anthropology, a huge, magnificent complex full of statues and other artifacts of the several cultures that grew up in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. One thing that struck me forcibly on this visit (this is my second to this Museum) were the very tiny figures (two and three inches high) of individual Mayans. And “individual” is the word, each has its own face, different from all the others. It was like looking at real people at a distance of a thousand years – which is just what I was doing, of course.

Monday we went to a market. In this one many, many, MANY booths were joined and then the aisles were roofed to make a single building in which pottery replicas of pottery gods, silver and abalone earrings, copper vases and pots and pans (miniatures to washtub size), wool serapes, wooden toys and pipes and drums, baskets, paintings, nativity sets, silver crucifixes and an incredible variety of Our Lady of Guadalupe replicas were sold. And yes, we bought some stuff.

Oh, and a young man who works behind the desk at our hotel is going to be the model for Godwin's new boyfriend. Strangely, I had decided to name him Rafael -- and that is this young man's name! He seemed flattered, and I hope he is. He's also incredibly handsome. Goddy will be pleased.

Today, Tuesday, we went to a museum of science and technology. Tonight we are packing for home, and since we have to be at the airport early in the morning, I am posting my Wednesday blog entry now.

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