Saturday, January 19, 2008

Just when we thought we had seen it all!

Mexico City is truly an amazing city: incredibly huge, full of noise from combis (small VW vans used as buses), roosters, dogs and Mexican music, and filled with amazing things to see and do. With only 7 days of tourist time at our disposal, Lois, Susan and I sat down and made a plan on Sunday night, and with one major (and I mean major as you will see in a moment) change, we have stuck to our plan.

Here is what we have all seen and done:

Monday: The Pyramids at Teotihucan (pronounced Tayotewahcan)

(Before I talk about the amazing pyramids, please allow me this little announcement)

Attention all Hungry Travellers! After travelling thousands of miles, and searching the highways and byways, the Dueck 6 finally reached their much sought after destination of choice . . . Krispy Kreme Doughnuts!

Seriously, we been trying to find a Krispy Kreme for months! After finding none down the coast, discovering that the one in Phoenix was closed, finally seeing one in San Antionio and Laredo (on the other side of the freeway!), we were delighted to discover that KK has made it to Mexico City. So our first stop on Monday was to buy a dozen to fortify ourselves for the long walk, and of course, to get those great little hats, with Spanish writing on them naturally.

That aside, the real focus for the day was the archeological city of Teotihucan (TT for short), located some 40 km NE of Mexico city. The city was inhabited from 100 B.C. until about 700 A.D., and its name is a Nahuatl word meaing "place of the gods."

No one knows for sure who the original inhabitants were, but they were likely an early Nahau Indian tribe. People lived in this complex city, which had underwater drainage, temples, marketplaces, and streets until just before the first millenium, but by the time the Spaniards arrived in the 1500's, it had been abandoned for centuries.

Religion was a huge part of life at TT, and the first area we saw and climbed on was the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which not only introduced us to the really steep steps we would be climbing all day and the specific building techniques used by the inhabitants, but also contained some amazing serpent heads. The symbols around the head represent the splashing water as feather garlands. The open mouths were used to contain the hearts of the human sacrifices, which were sadly a large part of the belief system of the time. Both the stone work and later murals we saw were very well preserved for being over 1000 years old, and the artistry of the people is quite amazing.

The big draw at TT are obviously the the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest of the two, measuring 200m along each side, with a height of 60 m. There are 5 tiers on the Pyramid, and an almost total lack of any kind of railings or safety features, which made the climb that much more fun! It took some serious huffing and puffing to reach the top, but the view was truly breathtaking. A temple used to stand on top, but for now it is just flat, so it made a great spot for us to have lunch! The Pyramid of the Moon was at the very end of the main street know as the "Avenue of the Dead" and is surrounded by large courtyard with many smaller pyramids (the first photo of TT was taken from first tier of the Moon Pyramid). Lots more could be said, and more pictures could be shown, so just ask us when we get home if you want to see them.

(I have to show you these two though. First, the kids "falling" off and then Mom and Dad looking like happy tourists.)

Tuesday: The Zocalo- the Heart of Mexico City
We braved downtown traffic and headed to the historic heart of MC, which contained buildings not 1000's of years old, but hundreds. The Spaniards "converted" the Aztec Indians to Catholocism through various means, most of them brutal. The National Cathedral is the largest in the city, and is actually sinking every year! MC is built on a drained lake bed, so the ground is very soft. The Cathedral is seriously sloped inside, and actually has a plumbline hanging from the ceiling to show how much the building has shifted.

While we were all impressed by the size and granduer of the place, the kids especially thought the excessive worship of the saints and of Mary was very sad. Much of what Mexican Catholics worship today has very little to do with scripture or Christ, and a lot to do with the worship of the dead, and ritualism.

If you look at this picture of the church, you might notice that the stones are very similar to those of the Pyramids. That is because when the Spanish came, they forced the natives to tear down their old temples and use the stones to build new Catholic churches, a technique which seems so wrong, yet was very effective in helping to achieve the goal of having the Aztecs worship the Catholic God, or better said "gods."

The next stop was right around the corner, some old Aztec ruins discoverd in the city during excavating for new construction in the 1960's. These ruins were located right next to the Palacio Nacional, the Presidential Palace of Mexico. This was the former home of the House of Represenstives, and was where the Mexican Constitution was drafted in 1857. It is most well known today for the murals of Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican painter. His take on the history of the Mexican society, from the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, to the War for Conquest, the Independence Revolution and wars against the States, was both beautiful, and demonstrated pride in the nation of Mexico.

In the midst of all the unfamiliar and new, it has been fun to see things that we recognize. The typical fast food places, pizza joints, Starbucks and more. But this was something that I couldn't pass up taking a picture of. Sadly, Radio Shack is no more (don't you just miss those red batteries!) and doubly sad is the fact that 7-11 in Mexico doesn't sell slurpees!

Wednesday: Relax Day!
We all needed a rest, so while Susan went and taught a class at seminary, we hung out at her place and went for a walk. As you can see, Susan has a great apartment, and we have all enjoyed playing Stephen's new video game he got for Christmas (even Lois played once!). After staying inside for a while, we went for our daily walk in the neighborhood.

There we observed:

the dreaded "Tope" speedbumps which are killing our muffler (that is a combi going over it),

and met a Mexican Oma selling our favorite new snack, the churro!

We also talked with Grandma on Skype, and even saw her for the first time in 4 months via a webcam. The kids especially liked this, as they got to do show and tell with all their Mexican purchases, and even played a few songs for Grandma on their new whistles!

Thursday: Sharing with the Children in Cuernavacha
Susan had a connection with a children's home in this city 1 hour south of MC. We wanted to go and visit and bring a gift, so after a few phone calls making arrangements we agreed to provide a special lunch of chicken breasts and rice for the 100 children and 20 volunteer staff at the Casa hogar Amor para compartir (House home love to share). The house was started 5 years ago by a pastor's wife who took two girls who were living on a garbage dump into their home. Obviously God has blessed their ministry, and they are now taking in many children whose parents can not look after them, including some who are brought to them by the Mexican Government (who unfortunately don't give them any money when they drop off the kids).

The home also has a partial school staffed by volunteers, and they are looking to build on a plot of land just outside this city of about 1 million people. Most of our supporting of the home was done in paying for the lunch, but Susan, Lois and Lorianne also helped serve the lunch. The boys played with some of the other boys, while I played a pickup game of basketball with one of the volunteers in the courtyard.

We were blessed by the the patience and love that Lulu had with the children, and how well behaved they were, including the little ones (the home has babies all the way up to 18 year olds). They all waited patiently for their lunch, and when given the opportunity, about half a dozen little boys and girls stood up and thanked us for the meal and for coming out to visit them. They also sang some songs for us at the end of lunch. It was pretty special that we had this opporutnity to share of the resources God has given us.

God also gave us the opportunity to play the role of mail "family", handing out some small "Jesus" bears that were given to another Alliance Missionary in MC by some ladies in B.C. God truly does have his children all over the world, and when we all do what we can with the gifts and talents we have, his kingdom work is done.

As we were leaving a little girl of about 5 years old pressed into my hand a gift of a small bag of cheese puffs, while the Pastor blessed our boys by giving them a brand new Star Wars transformer set of which the home had received a few donations of, and Lorianne received a stuffed animal from his wife. We went to serve, yet felt (as it often is) that we were the ones being blessed.

And now,

announcing the "Major Change"

of plans . . .

Because we didn't want to drive back to MC after the children's home, the plan was to stay at a hotel for night in Cuernavacha. But, because Susan mentioned it was only 300 km away, and because our kids really wanted to swim in the ocean, we left the home and headed for . . .


That's right, rather than drive two hours back to MC we drove a total of 10 extra hours to experience what was likely the most enjoyable 22 hours of our trip. It was 27 above, the sun was shining, the water was warm, God blessed us with a hotel on the beach for only $90 (instead of the posted rate of $180) a room, and we just had fun!!!

I think the pictures speak for themselves.

As we drove back through the majestic mountains of Mexico, we were rested, more tanned, and full of memories that we didn't think we would ever make. Caleb mentioned that we were probably the only car with Manitoba plates in Acapulco, and I am sure he was right! It was special to be in a place that my Omi and Opi used to go to decades earlier, and to just soak up some warmth before we head back to frigid Manitoba starting on Monday. As we had our devotions in the hotel on Friday morning we read the following

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!"
Psalm 98:5,7

I pray that we as a family will always be joyfully praising God, and not just when we are sitting on a warm beach thousands of km from home.

Thanks for all your prayers for our trip. God has been kind and gracious, and we are humbled by his love for us. We ask that you continue to pray as we begin our 4000 km trek home in a few days. The plan is to drive a full day on Monday, overnighting it hopefully in Saltillo,Mexico, where we stopped on the way down. We then plan to travel to San Antonio for two nights stay before entering the snow and ice of the north on the weekend.

We get to camp out for a few more weeks with family in Winnipeg before some of our new friends from Emo come with a big semi truck to move us on Saturday, February 9th (anyone want to help us load up in the morning?!). We are looking forward to being at GMC on February 3rd, and seeing many of you are friends.

If you want to get a hold of us while we are in Winnipeg, please email us at or call us at Lois' mom's place, 667-9696 after Jan 28. And stay tuned to this blog as we will let you know when we arrive safely, and what else is going on in our "Adventure with God!"


Robyn said...

It's been so neat to hear about your adventure...we will pray for a safe (and happy) week of traveling back to Winnipeg. It'll be great to see you in church in a couple of weeks. :)

setstone said...

It has been fun reading your blog, especially about Mexico.

For some reason, I keep hoping you will have time to look around some of the small villages on your way up. On the way to Lake Patzcuaro, we passed through a town where it seemed everyone made guitars, and there were guitars of all sizes and types - another town where everyone worked with copper, and always, there were miniature items for the children.

What a beautiful land and what a rich experience you are having! Thank you for sharing it with whoever pops in.

Looking forward to hearing about your landing in Emo - our toilet was seriously backed up for a few days recently and I thought of you all, hoping your landing would not be too 'bumpy'.

Have a blessed, safe trip.

Rose said...

Never a dull moment with the Ducek 6. Travel safely.

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