Good Friday

Click the following link which should bring you to a rolling list of pictures and video clips of how the occasion is celebrated here in Puebla, Mexico by the Catholic followers. I’ll withhold commentary and just encourage you to watch, observe, and contemplate biblically.

https://www.elsoldepuebla.com.mx/local/pasion-de-cristo-la-expresion-de-fe-para-los-poblanos-3342902.html

It is indeed Friday.

But Sunday is coming!

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St. Patrick’s Day, Irish, and the Mc’s

We’re enjoying our annual visit from Cameron who can’t visit any other time than spring break (which at MBI is two weeks long, thankfully!). Since I gave up my office to become a guest room as it does when we have guests, I’m sitting at my laptop which is now located on the dining room/living room table downstairs.

Cameron is very good about calling his GF most every evening/night. Some evenings like this evening, he stayed downstairs for this phone call during which I heard him explaining our family coat of arms and meaning of our last name since I have temporarily changed my Facebook profile picture with our family coat of arms…or one of them, as I’ve seen more than one version of it. Here is the full version of the picture I used for that:

Pretty cool, eh laddie? (Whoops…that’s a Scottish term. This forced me to look up Irish slang for men and women. After perusing a list of Irish slang for men and women, let’s just stick with the Scottish. Don’t ask me why. Let’s just say, it isn’t pretty.)

So, since the Internet is our all-knowing source for information, I decided to do electronically explore the great unknown to find out the true meaning of our surname, McManus. What I found out will shock you! (warning: *clickbait* although without anything to click)

Here’s the first thing I discovered about the meaning of our last name:

Origin and Meaning of Mcmanus

User Submitted Meanings

  • A submission from Illinois, United States says the name Mcmanus means “Radiation” and is of Dominican Republic origin.

Other origins: Irish

Ummmm…ok.

Well then. OK. I guess we have the meaning fairly fixed. I’m glad to say that I’m fairly certain that “Radiation” and Dominican Republic appear to be outliers. Someone from Illinois apparently has the right idea as far as islands are concerned, but has not figured out the difference between “Ireland” and the “Dominican Republic” nor between “Radiation” and “Great.” Other than that, it was relatively close…”close” as in, “I think I will swim from Ireland to the Dominican Republic because they’re both in the same ocean, thus, they must be ‘close.'” That kind of “close.”

I guess not EVERYTHING on the Internet is all that all-knowing, nor all that helpful. So, STRIKE ONE! Let’s try another source:

In Irish Mac Maghnuis (son of Magnus) from the Latin word for ‘great’.

“Great.” I like the sound of that. Maybe we’ll go with that one, but I should try at least one more to be sure I’ve come up with the best answer possible (what could be better than “great”?).

Next:

There are many Irish surnames being used today in forms that are quite different than their original, ancient forms. McManus originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Maghnuis, which means son of Manus. The personal name Manus, imported into Ireland by the Norse, is ultimately derived from the Latin forename Magnus.


The surname McManus was first found in County
Roscommon (Irish: Ros Comáin) located in central Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

“Magnus.” Interesting.

Next:

This distinguished Irish surname is an Anglicized form of the old Gaelic Mac Maghnuis or Mac Manus. The Gaelic prefix “mac” meaning “son of”, plus the personal name Manus, ultimately from the Latin “magnus” meaning “great”, and popular with the Normans who had adopted it in honour of the Emperor Charlemange (742 – 814); Latin name Carolus Magnus i.e. Charles the Great. Magnus was also a popular Scandinavian personal name, and Magnus the Good, King of Norway, (deceased 1047), was named after the Emperor Charlemange. It was the Norsemen who introduced this personal name to Ireland where it later took the form Manus. Two main septs of M(a)cManus exist in Ireland. The first is descended from one Maghnus (deceased 1181), son of Turlough O’ Connor, High King of Ireland, (1119 – 1156). They belonged to Kilronan in the Connacht county of Roscommon. The second family, a branch of the Maguires, descend from Magnus, son of Donn Maguire, Chief of Fermanagh, who died in 1302. This family lived on the shores of Lough Erne, COunty Fermanagh, and Belle Isle in that lake was formerly called Ballymacmanus in their honour. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh Mcmanus, (marriage to Mary Gawin), which was dated 1662, Derry Cathedral, Templemore, Derry, during the reign of King Charles 11, of England, 1660 – 1685. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

So, there we go. McManus/MacManus…Maghnuis…Magnus…Manus. It all makes sense now. This has been a great use of my time. I’m glad you were here to waste yours too! Thanks for the company.

Until next St. Patrick’s Day (I didn’t wear green today though no one pinched me…yet), have a GREAT…I mean…(Mc)MANUS year.

SOURCES:

  1. https://www.names.org/n/mcmanus/about
  2. https://www.answers.com/Q/What_does_the_name_McManus_mean
  3. https://www.houseofnames.com/mcmanus-family-crest
  4. https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/McManus
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Mexican Driving Adventures

I finally took my dashcam memory chip out and up to my laptop to see what interesting video clips I might be able to share with you from the past few months. So, buckle up and take a ride with us in the van and enjoy a variety of international driving experiences that are relatively normal for us here.

Enjoy!

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The Diet

So, to follow-up on the last post concerning health issues, I presumed that I would be needing to make a few dietary changes. That was an understatement.

The cardiologist had ordered some blood work done. Of the page and a half of results, everything looked good. Except for one thing. There was one reading for an enzyme that changed everything. He said this way-too-high number was indication that the Lipitor was affecting my kidneys and would eventually cause them to fail. The increase in that enzyme is also causing fatigue because it was attacking muscle.

The solution to this is to ditch the Lipitor in order to save my kidneys and to diminish the fatigue. However, with my carefree diet, this would lead to problems with cholesterol, fats, and further heart issues as well as withholding healing to the kidneys. So, the obvious solution then is a diet. A very strict diet. Plus, exercise. I’m aiming to walk a mile a day if I can get myself moving.

I’m still trying to figure out on the practical side of what it all means in real-life eating, but basically, I am good with unlimited vegetables and healthy portions of fruits. I can eat small amounts (120 grams in one meal daily) of lean meats (fish, skinless chicken, and very lean beef) each day.

I cannot eat anything from a can or processed foods. No breads with the exception of one particular kind that is supposedly available at a certain supermarket here, but it’s a very dark, hard-as-a-rock kind of bread, and then the portion for a day would be one slice, and the slice is very thin. It’s a lot of work to go find it, so I haven’t tried to find it yet. No corn. No sugar. No margarine. No orange or tomato or vegetable or carrot juices (presumably because the canned version of the latter juices have a lot of sodium in them because they do; I suspect I could juice my own and be ok, but I’d have to ask; I’d rather just eat the veggies raw or cooked). No added salt (we probably will cheat on this if my sodium level is too low). No more than 2 g of sodium per day. 1600 calories a day is max. 2 liters of water daily.

Also on the positive side, I can eat some whole grain rice, oats, nuts (small handful), a teaspoon of vegetable oil when cooking (once a day), a cup of coffee (I make it a “venti” size), balsamic vinegar, egg whites (haven’t stooped to this travesty yet), one whole egg per week (haven’t splurged yet since I only started just Saturday), nuts, panela or fresco cheese (low-fat white cheeses), a bit of legumes (not from a can or store processed, i.e. no pre-made hummus, but we’ll be making our own very soon), and there is an exception for an occasional corn tortilla (just one) or tostada (fat free…i.e. baked, just one), or the same made of nopal cactus (I found they are made mixed with corn).

This is similar to the diet I was originally on after the heart attack, so I’m faintly familiar with it. If you are desperate to lose weight or just improve your health and to feel better, I think this may be the diet for you. You probably could hedge a bit on the dairy and add more than I have so far, but with any “hedging” (a.k.a. “cheating”), you need to remember to keep it to a minimal amount so that you don’t blow the entire diet by gorging on one or two particular things (i.e. yogurt, milk, cheese, etc).

Like I said, I’ve only been on this diet for 2 full days and since today is a holiday and we slept-in very late, I’ve only had my morning oatmeal with a bit of melon and papaya and coffee so far today. My bathroom scale appears to indicate that I’ve descended 2 pounds (i.e. a pound or so a day). I started at around 212 lbs. The nutritionist is aiming for 198 lbs to get my body fat ratio lower. From what I’ve read of height and weight charts, I probably should be shooting for under 185 lbs. At this rate (if I’m really losing this kind of weight), I may actually hit that by, if not before, my next appointment in just over 2 weeks. Never trust a bathroom scale though, so I’m not going to be consumed by the weight loss (pun intended). It will come eventually on this diet. If it doesn’t, I’d have to say there is some other problem lurking under the surface because this diet is lean and mean and I need to get lean…and I mean it.

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know it’s not starting a diet that is difficult. It’s sticking with it. I was down to 180 lbs three years ago (in about 3 months having started from about the same body weight that I am starting from this time). It needs to be a lifestyle rather than an event, so it’s a matter of reprogramming my thinking, decisions, and habits. I need to stick with this not just to maintain health, but to keep various organs from failing. It’s important. I think this will be a positive motivation to stick to it and keep sticking to it.

I like having kidneys and a functioning heart. How about you?

Diet Chart Page 1 of 2
Diet Chart Page 2 of 2
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Say “Ahhhh”

Welcome to the new year. 2019 is already kicking us in the behind. That’s OK. We all need that from time to time.

Our health insurance through Camino changed to a different provider and policy this year, and for the first time since we’ve had it through Camino, our policy is an “expatriate” policy which means the coverage is designed to meet our needs overseas more so than in the USA. That is fine, but it basically means if we want medical attention in the USA, the deductible and out-of-pocket is somewhere in the high-rent district, whereas we are basically covered at 100% and no deductible here in Mexico which is great. We still have to pay up-front for our medical expenses, but supposedly we will be reimbursed after submitting it. We will see.

So, given I haven’t been feeling well for awhile it seemed like a good excuse to go ahead and find a new cardiologist and see if I can also locate a sleep specialist since I’ve had some problems sleeping and also with my ASV machine lately.

Last week, I had my first cardiologist visit. He did a thorough job of checking me out. My EKG looked completely abnormal which is exactly how it always looks.

The ECG though showed some issues unseen before. He said I have a “heavy heart.” For a moment I thought he was getting spiritual on me, but then he explained that my heart is literally too heavy. This means it is holding blood when it should be pumping it. It isn’t pumping all of it out, and thus when one of the chambers should be empty, it isn’t empty. It still has blood in it. He said this also means that some of the blood is then flowing backward out of the heart and into the lungs. In medical terms this is what is known as “no good.”

So, he changed up some my betablocker medications, and he is hopeful that this will help the heart do a better job of pumping. If so, then I guess all will be well again.

Almost all. He also said that he believes my heart is not pumping correctly mostly at night. This would indicate that I am probably not sleeping well. That is something I already knew. It could mean the central sleep apnea has changed and/or my ASV machine is not working correctly. In either case, I need to have my sleep situation and machine checked out. He gave me a referral to a specialist who is actually a pneumologist but apparently is good with sleep apnea as well. I have no idea if that is the case, but tomorrow I will find out.

At least at this point, I now know why I have not been feeling well. Hopefully, I will notice improvement as the new medication regiment kicks in. I hate to say anything definitive at this point, but I do think I might already be feeling somewhat better though I am noticing an increase in chest pains which is probably to be expected.

In the meantime, Bethie has to establish herself with a new neurologist for her essential tremors. She is in that appointment right now as I thumb-type this post on my phone in the hospital lobby. Hopefully, this doctor will not try to mess with her medications as a neurologist once did in San Juan del Río. That one put her on a medication that set off something in her body to begin becoming allergic to a growing list of things that she was never allergic to before, such as, all citrus, strawberries, bananas and plantains, all sorts of flowers, trees, and plants. And the list just continues to grow as the years go by even though she hasn’t taken that medicine for years now. Crazy.

That’s pretty much the state of our union at this point, physically-speaking, and I guess it is none too exciting for a blog post.

Ironically, our younger teammates from Michigan are somewhere above me in this same hospital trying to induce their first-born to want to be born. Sounds like the doctor is aiming for a delivery around 10 pm (4 hours from now).

So, you can pray for my heart and sleep to improve, Beth’s tremors and allergies to not got any worse if not improve, and for Chris and Sarah Collins and their bambino Michael (aka Mikey, Miguelcito, and any other cute and/or annoying name or nickname we can come up with) to end the day happy, healthy, and together all on the outside.

Oh yes, when the cardiologist tried to gag me with a wooden tongue depressor and have me say “Ahhhh,” he eventually was able to note that my uvula is swollen. He concluded that I am consuming too much sodium. So, I gotta go back to paying attention to such things and my diet in general. My friends can tell you, I’ve been a little salty lately. I will work on that.

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Stuff That Happens in Mexico

I have a growing list of things to do as we get moving into 2019. Probably all of these things are rather mundane, but they can be rather important. Having a vehicle that is legal to drive or being able to legally drive it is something sorta important if you think you might ever need to drive somewhere, and I certainly do.

So today, I surprisingly found myself knocking out one of the things on this list: driver’s license. I have a DL from our previous state of Querétaro that has served me well for the past 5 years, but in 7 days it expires. I had brief thoughts of going back over there to renew it, but realized that would be a pretty expensive trip and I was 99.9% sure that I wouldn’t have the required paperwork that would probably be needed in order to renew it. So, I had one week to figure out the process here, and I needed to get onto it quickly.

Fortunately, we have a great group of missionaries around us here who were quick to respond to my questions in Whatsapp, and that set me onto a few websites that eventually yielded a list of items needed for getting a Puebla DL. Stuff like U.S. Passport (and a copy), Mexico visa (and a copy), a utility bill from the last 3 months (and a copy), a printout of a government identification number called a CURP but not the original one given to me in 2005, it must be a copy printed out in the past 3 months from some unnamed government website (two copies), possibly my birth certificate (and a copy), possibly my Querétaro DL (and a copy), an online appointment with a printout of it. And money. Lots of money.

Simple enough. I threw in a copy of my last house rental receipt too (and a copy).

I discovered there are several area government buildings that can handle the DL procedures, so I went with one that is near the seminary and I could walk there in about 10 minutes (after making copies of everything on the list and I made two copies of everything rather than one…experience with government offices is a plus; expect the unexpected and be sure to bring way more documentation than you think you’ll need because then you won’t need it, but if you don’t bring it, you’ll need twice the amount of documentation than you could have possibly imagined beforehand; trust me, that’s the way it works).

Funny thing. There wasn’t any information available as to the DL test. Nothing offered that I saw that says, “Study this info. You’ll need to know this stuff.” It may have been there. Come to think of it, I didn’t actually look for it. I presumed that with my current DL from Querétaro (basiscally having taken a national standardized driving exam to get it), I would not need to take an exam.

So, I walk over with about an hour until closing time and found myself in a relatively short line. I hadn’t made an appointment because when I first went online to that website, I checked out the long list of stuff I needed to take with me. So, I went over to PCS to make copies of everything first before making the appointment just in case it took me awhile to get it all together. When I made it back home with my copies and tried to make the online appointment, at that point the website said it was temporarily down and unable to make appointments!

Oh well. I walked over anyway and no one asked about having an appointment or even acted like anyone needed one, and apparently no one in line had one. Go figure. Mexico.

When it was my turn, I began offering documents and copies and the gal seemed impressed that a gringo might walk in and actually have everything on the first shot. I was feeling pretty good about it all.

Until.

There’s always an “Until.” You have to expect that. This is Mexico and nothing goes right in a government procedure. Ever. There is always something to unexpect and I was expecting it. I just didn’t know what it would be.

My CURP. This is a number that was handed to me on a document back in the spring of 2005 when we got past our FM-T (tourist visa) that we came down on and were issued the all-important (at that time) FM-3. I remember the joy of getting that. Of course, the system has been changed a time or two since then. FM-3’s don’t exist anymore. But we got our CURP. Our immigration lawyer gave it to us. I had no idea what it was or why it might ever be important since no one ever said what it was or why we might ever need it. Each of us got one though. I filed it in a ream of other immigration documents from that time period. About 5 pounds worth of papers.

Since then, we have discovered that the government (for awhile, at least) required that we give the CURP number when buying a cell phone. It would identify the purchaser back to our names just in case we should ever use the phone for nefarious activities and should the government manage to track the signal back to our phones. Of course, we didn’t know at that time which was a couple years after receiving our CURP that we couldn’t just waltz into a phone store and buy a cell phone unless we had our CURP number. We could be terrorists or drug dealers or kidnappers…and NOT EVEN KNOW IT! So, we had to have our CURP number.

Well, at that point, we didn’t even remember being given a document that said CURP # on it and had no idea we even had such a number. I remember that being such a stressful thing at the time because we really needed a cell phone. Not to worry. This is Mexico. The teenager selling us the phone said, “Oh that’s ok. I’ll just use mine. I do it all the time.” I have no idea what that could have meant at the time (those phones are long dead and gone), but the good news is, I don’t recall anyone asking for our CURP the last time or two that we’ve had to buy phones here. I wonder how many years that gal has been in prison for stuff she never did.

And all that leads us no where, but does somehow leads us to today and the “Until.” The gal at the desk today said she needed to check on something. That’s usually not a good thing even in the USA . That happened to me once in Dallas when I got my first Texas DL and the gal disappeared and finally came back with an armed police escort to tell me that they couldn’t accept my US State Department Issued Passport because it had my Passport number punched through the cover in holes that went through about half the book but not through all the pages, and the holes needed to go through all the pages, even though the US State Department never put holes through all the pages when they issued that passport, so they couldn’t accept it, and I was out of luck and I couldn’t get a Texas DL using that passport as an ID (and I had nothing else with me since we lived in Mexico). I went to a different DL office in the area the next day and they accepted that same passport without even blinking at it. Go figure.

So, back to Puebla. She checked on “something.” And she came back. And another lady came back. Fortunately, she wasn’t armed though I do recall that she had two arms. The other lady apparently is a supervisor. She had bad news. My CURP shows my last name with a space as “MC MANUS” rather than without a space as “MCMANUS” as does my passport, my visa, and every other official document I had provided. She proceeded to say that some visas show the CURP on the front of it though my visa does not. Because of that I should get the CURP fixed by some other government agency to get rid of the space that shouldn’t be there, that shouldn’t have been there for the past 13 years and that no other government agency has said was a problem. It could cause a problem for me in the future. She made it sound like she would see to it that it would. Oh, but even with the bad news, I could still get my DL today because the number wasn’t listed on my visa card. Whew! So, that was the best-case scenario.

I doubt I’ll get that fixed after 13+ years, but I wonder at what point it will bite me and for what reason. Maybe within the next week when I try to change my license plates over to this state. We’ll see. I can imagine being carted into an ER about to die and the doctor leans over and says, “You’re having another heart attack. You’ll need to get your CURP fixed before we can help you.” Laugh if you want. It could happen you know.

FINALLY. I figured I was good-to-go and I was ready to pay and get my picture taken.

NOT. SO. FAST.

Yes, there is a DL exam Virginia (though not the same as the DL exam in Virginia). Rats. I’d have to take another one of these.

I took that oneDL exam in San Juan del Río five years ago on a whim. My co-worker Brock had swung by my house one morning and asked if I had time to hang out with him while he ran some errands, and we could maybe get lunch together. That sounded good. So, I hopped into his truck and off we went. We ended up at a government office for a document he needed on a vehicle, and he told me that this was the place I could get my DL and then asked me if I had one (no, I didn’t) and if I wanted to get one (yes, I did). So, we asked a lady if I could get it. She said, yes. She said I would need my visa (I had it on me as always…another lesson learned from a few years before to always carry it), and a utility bill. Ah, I didn’t have a utility bill on me. No problem. Brock had one on him from his house which he had needed for his document there. She said that would work. So, I ended up taking the test and passing, and the driver’s simulation exam (I failed in the first 5 seconds because I hadn’t seen there was a seat belt behind it…but they passed me anyway). And I got my 5 year license for about $40 (USD)…with Brock’s address since it was his utility bill!

Now, I was once again unprepared for a typically odd and almost illogical exam…in Spanish. The gal said, “You’re a foreigner. How is your Spanish?” I replied, “Pues más o menos, pero menos que más.” (“Well, more or less, but less than more.” My standard reply.)

She turned her computer screen toward me a bit and handed over her mouse and said, “OK. Here you go.” I looked at question #1. I suddenly found that I was not sure what in the world I was reading. I looked at the question. I looked at the answers. I looked again at the question. I ran my finger along the words of the question. I was looking at a word or two that I was drawing blanks on. I should know these words. I dunno. OK. I think I know what that question is asking. Why would it ask me this? I have no idea what it’s talking about. What kinds of crossings are there? What do they mean by crossings? Animal crossings? Pedestrian crossings? People doing Catholic crossings? I’ve driven in this country for 14 years and I needed to know this? I never hit a crossing before and haven’t hit too many people in crossings before. And these multiple choice answers? What does the first one even mean? I have no idea. The second one? Maybe. The third one? That answer doesn’t even make sense!

As you can imagine. This is taking some time. The gal reached over and took the mouse. I thought, “Uh-oh. I’ve blown it. She won’t even give me the exam.” I was right. She wouldn’t give me the exam. She proceeded to click “B.” And another question popped up. I began trying to decipher that one but before I could read two words, I heard a “click” and the next question popped up. Again, I couldn’t read more than a word or two before another “click” and another question. The guy working next to her laughed. I tried really hard to refrain from laughing. I am quite sure I smiled while sucking in my cheeks and trying very hard not to belly laugh. In about 40 seconds, I had passed my test with a 100% and I have no idea what the questions or the answers were other than for #1 (btw, there are “regular and irregular crossings…who knew?).

Hardest test I’ve ever passed but never took!

Then I waited a couple minutes for another lady to print up a paper to take to the cashier. I paid the cashier about $120 USD (in pesos of course) and followed her directions to go to the line for my photo. Got my photo taken after a 5 minute wait and received my “PERMANENT” DL about 5 minutes later.

In theory, I will never have to get another DL in Mexico for as long as I live. I asked the last lady what if I change my address? What will I need to do? She looked a little puzzled at first and then said that I’d have to come in and ask for a change of address and pay the same amount again. What?! Another $120 USD just to change my address?! Oh. I get it. That’s why she looked so puzzled. Nobody would ever ask this or be dumb enough to change their address. Just leave it for life and don’t worry about it. No one will ever ask. No one will ever care.

And such is Mexico:

Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Just survive the system. And all will be well.


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Xochicalco

I’m back! (after 55 days of unintended blogging silence) My apologies!

Sorry to leave the blog hanging once again. I guess the blogging urge has been a little lacking this year. With the tendency to post pics and blurbs on Facebook, putting the same stuff on a blog seems superfluous. I’ll keep trying to juggle them both.

Yesterday, we drove with co-workers Zac and Jen a couple hours over to the Cuernavaca area. We hadn’t been over there since around maybe 2007. We began our Mexico missionary journey over there in 2004 when I began language studies. Dayton was only 3 years-old at the time. He didn’t remember anything of our time there. We were hoping he might get a faint recollection from seeing some places we had been to, but he didn’t.

We started our day off by visiting a pyramid complex called Xochicalco. It is built on top of a mountain and has a fascinating history. The engineering is fabulous. These people had a planetarium built underground. There is a hold that allows light to enter directly from the sun only on one particular date exactly every 365 days. Their calendar accuracy was spectacular considering their era was before 1000 AD.

What has been unearthed and is visible today is only a portion of the full metropolitan area. The upper parts that can be seen are believed to be just the religious and elite ruling class areas. Below these would have been their middle and/or lower class sections. It isn’t known (or disclosed at least) just how far down the mountain those may extend. When the site was initially excavated, the upper portions showed signs of fire. Considering other pieces of evidence, it is postulated that the lower classes revolted against the religious and ruling elites at some point. It is thought that a prolonged drought led to the revolt.

The religion was based on the worship of the rain/water and fertility god, Tlaloc. It is surmised that the drought resulted in a rejection of this worship and the theocratic government that accompanied it. The lower classes would have been responsible for drawing and transporting lake water from the valley far below. They also would have done the bidding of the upper classes. The religious activities included human sacrifices. It is thought that the lower classes offered up many children to appease Tlaloc and to bring the rains which never came. You can imagine how this would lead to a revolt against the ruling class.

Interestingly, sport was a central part of their religion as well. The site has at least 3 “ball fields” that are rectangular in shape with steep walls. The object of the game was to get a small circular object (ball) through a stone ring that would have been installed in the walls. It is thought that the balls were possibly skulls. Originally, the players would have been participating as part of their religious worship. The winner would be promoted to deity status by having the privilege of being beheaded and his head used as the basis for the following religiously-inspired game.

Over centuries the degradation of the societal and religious norms turned the sport from a religious-themed activity to purely an economic activity based on gambling (evidence has been uncovered to support this). Thus, it can be seen that the society was initially a religious one that eventually turned toward the secular.

The city was an economic powerhouse with clear evidence of being a center of trading activities. There are antiquities that have been found on-site that indicate these people received goods (primarily types of stones and shells) that were native to places many hundreds of miles away (both coasts and even down into the central American isthmus)

It is interesting how religion, government, caste/class distinctions and disparities, sports, economic prosperity and trade, astronomy/astrology, architectural and engineering genius, and secularism are intertwined in their history of rising to power, drifting through prosperity, to falling into secularism, religious and societal disillusionment, class warfare and ultimately to the collapse and disappearance of the civilization. It does sound like a familiar cycle in the history (and present state) of human civilizations.

It was a beautiful day with plenty of sun and temps in the upper 70s. I took some pics from our walk-around and will post them below (a few of them I like in B&W as well as color so those will follow the color versions). Enjoy!

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