Tuesday, March 31, 2015

This and That for March 2015

Much to our amazement, someone on a backhoe was cleaning up the lot directly across the street from the entrance to our house. We wondered if someone was going to build something there.
However....a month later all that has happened is that the backhoe work stopped, a fence went up and a "private property" sign was added.  There's an ugly mattress on the side of the heap with weeds making their way to the top.
The sewer line running down 3rd Avenida continues to be replaced.  
The crane had to lower the boom between the wires to get to its load.  
We went to the bank where we have paid our rent for the past 14 months and found that it was seriously closed for a while. 

On Good Friday while walking home we saw these folks lined up and we asked what was happening and they were remembering the Savior's crucifixion. We didn't see the front of the line to know if someone was carrying a cross.
The new sister missionaries in our ward are Hermana Wildung from Round Rock near Austin, Texas and Hermana Hernandez, just starting her mission, from Chiapas, Mexico.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Flat Stanley Came to Visit!

Tyler sent Flat Stanley to Tampico, Mexico to visit with Grandpa and Grandma Crockett for a day.  They did many things and had fun together.  Here are the photos of their day.

#1 – Flat Stanley woke up early and wanted to watch while Grandma cooked some poblano chilies on her stove.  He knew that he had to be very careful and not touch the flames.
#2 -  Grandma told Stanley that they had two banana trees outside and he was excited to go see them.  There were real bananas growing on one of the banana trees.  Flat Stanley could see that they were still too green to eat.  He also saw brand new tiny bananas starting to grow on another banana tree.
#3 – Stanley was so excited to see real bananas on a real banana tree that he woke up Grandpa to come and see them as well.
#4 – Stanley asked Grandpa and Grandma what they do while they are in Mexico.  Grandpa and Grandma and Stanley went for a walk so he could learn some things and meet some people.  When Grandpa and Grandma need a haircut, they go to Ofelia’s shop.  No one needed a haircut today so Stanley met Ofelia.  Stanley is learning a few Spanish words.  He said “Hola, Ofelia.”  She said “Hola, Stanley.”  Ofelia and Stanley are now good friends.
#5 – Stanley and Grandpa and Grandma walked by a big Chinese Restaurant.  Stanley thought it was very interesting that there are places with Chinese food in Mexico.  They didn’t stop to eat there since it was still morning and they weren’t hungry yet.
#6 – Stanley learned that Grandpa and Grandma are missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They are serving at the Tampico Temple and Stanley was excited to see where they serve each day.  Stanley was excited to see the big beautiful temple surrounded by beautiful grass and flowers.
#7 – By that time, Stanley was getting hungry but he didn’t want to eat Chinese food.  He wanted to eat Mexican food.  So they walked to the tortilla shop and Stanley learned how tortillas are made.  The kind lady puts the masa in the big part of the machine pictured behind Stanley and the tortillas are cut and cooked and come out of the machine where the kind lady takes them off the belt and puts them in a basket.  They bought tortillas to take home for lunch.
#8 – Stanley learned that some things in Mexico are very different but some things seem the same.  They walked by the Oxxo store at the corner and Grandpa told Stanley that this store is like a 7-11 in the United States.
#9 – While walking back to where Grandpa and Grandma are staying, they passed by apartments and Stanley liked the brightly painted houses.
#10 – Back at Grandpa and Grandma’s house, Stanley was very excited to see the avocado tree that Grandma had grown from a seed and had put in a pot.  It is growing very tall and is much taller than Stanley.
Stanley had a very good time with Grandpa and Grandma.  He had told them that he could only stay one day before he needed to get in his envelope and travel back to Tyler.  Grandpa and Grandma Crockett thanked Stanley for coming and said they had a very fun time with him.  Stanley is the first person from the United States to visit Grandpa and Grandma’s house while they are serving their mission..

Flat Stanley was sent from Tampico, Mexico on March 30 and arrived in Texas on April 30.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More of El Tajin and the Voladores

The road into the Tajin Archealogical site is lined with booths of vendors peddling their wares.

Below is a small replica of the monument we saw in Papantla.
We saw the Papantla Voladores perform at the Tajin Archealogical Site 
and it is an incredible sight to see.

This flyer collected pesos from those watching before he climbed to his perch 
while one of the voladores played the flute.   

We checked out the museum before going to the ruins and we saw many things of interest.  A king named 13 Rabbit had many columns built to tell his own story.  This is one of them.  They didn't give an interpretation of the story.  The king was named 13 Rabbit because he was born on the 13th day of the month known as Rabbit.  
Another display showed how the people used to tie on their sandals.

Juan told us of a study that was done to measure the callouses of the feet of the Totonac people.  They walk barefoot and have done for centuries.  The callouses on the men's feet are about 1/2 inch thick and the callouses on the women's feet are 3/4 inches thick indicating that the women do more walking.  The men walk less but carry the heavy loads.  Juan said that anciently a bride was chosen by the amount of callouses on the bottom of her feet--indicating that she was a hard worker.  The callouses on the men's hands indicated they were hard workers.  Juan also said that the walls and barriers around Tajin keep out tourists but those from the local tribes just ignore them and go about their business.  

We chatted with this little lady and asked if we could take her photo.  She said the price of everything is going up including food.  So she had come to gather firework to save some pesos.   She ducked under the barriers to keep people out of the forest and began to chop at the branches with her machete.

On the way out of the Tajin ruins, this cute little girl and her mother were selling plastic bottles of vanilla for 35 pesos and vanilla pods to help make things smell nice.  We bought some vanilla and asked if we could take their photo and the mother said we could take her daughter's photo but not hers.
Then it was time to catch a taxi back to the hotel to get our luggage.  Then we caught a local bus to Poza Rica so we could again ride the 5 hour ADO bus back to Tampico.  Now we can say we have seen the ruins at El Tajin. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

El Tajin Archaeological Site

The first two photo's of a photo are someone's idea of how 
the ancient templed city of Tajin might have looked in its day in 700 to 1000 A.D. 

There are murals that explained about their way of life. 

 This is how the ruins are laid out in Tajin.  The "central plaza" surrounded by four huge temples is in the upper right of this photo.  We entered the ruins from the top of this diorama.
We are approaching the ruins and will walk between two of the four pyramids which surround the central plaza.

Juan was our English speaking guide and said the people learned as they built.  At first they piled up dirty which they covered with rocks.  The rains came and the dirt settled and the structure collapsed.  Next, pictured below, they piled up rocks and covered them with layers of rocks but that collapsed as well from all of the weight.

Juan Angel Garcia Gonzales was our guide through the maze of ruins.

The structure below is famously called the Pyramid of the Niches because it has 365 niches (areas to put things) in it and was how the king kept track of when to plant and when the solar calendar of 365 days and lunar calendar of 260 days aligned and it was time to built another temple.  The people thanked their gods for allowing them another 52 year of life by building temples.  The construction of the Niches is very advanced and each layer is not built on the one before but each has its own foundation that goes to the ground. 
The niches were actually rather large.  At times it seemed that we had the pyramids to ourselves.

This stately structure pictured below is simply known as "building 5" with two temples on top.

There is only a little color and design remaining here and there.  

These huge rocks are made of cement mixed with pumice (to lighten the weight) and fell from the roof of a structure.  They are still huge and heavy but not as heavy as they could have been. 
This photo is to show how the ruins could very easily have been covered for centuries and over run by the surrounding forest.
This grassy area is one of the "I" shaped ball courts.  It is one of the 14 ball courts but not the famous "south ball court" with its murals.

Below is a photo of a photo of the south ball court.  
How was it we didn't even take one photo of the court while we were there??

These are two of the 6 murals from the south ball court that explain the rules and purpose of the game that ends with a sacrificed human talking to the rain god to ask for more rain for their crops to grow.   

They had a drainage system and the streets were covered with flat rocks.

 There were designs on their buildings and stairways to other levels where we couldn't go.
Some buildings had columns. 

The elite had serious walls built where they didn't want others to enter. 

The king and the elite lived up above the city center in a place known as Little Tajin where they could look down on the others.  They now cover structures that will later be opened for public display.