Monday, October 27, 2008
Halloween in Mexico: Mystic Tepoztlan
Spirits, UFOs and Ancient Aztec Brews Await
Teaching English as a foreign language in Mexico offers many unique, surprising places to see and visit. There are witches conventions, giant Olmec heads, enactments of ancient rituals and frequent UFO sightings, just to name a few options. The mystic town of Tepoztlan is one such place, and thinking of Halloween, this town is one of a few which almost automatically come to mind. This city of about 28,000 Nahuatl-speaking Indians and mixed Spanish blood inhabitants is one of the most unique in all of Mexico. The traditions of the Aztec are continued strongly through the native inhabitants. Nahuatl names abound in restaurants, stores, shops, names of streets and "hospedajes". Nahuatl is also taught in the schools here to enable future generations to uphold the traditions of their ancestors. English isn't widely spoken yet but is catching on in the more tourist-oriented spots like restaurants, souvenir shops and discos. A brisk walk around town will take less than three hours. Flowers bloom everywhere and there seems to be a cathedral on every corner.
Getting Around Tepoztlan
Getting around the town of Tepoztlan couldn't be easier. Taxis are readily available and very cheap, fares are only a few pesos from anywhere to anywhere in town. The cheapest way to get around, of course, is to walk and you shouldn't deprive yourself of the pleasure of the many interesting strolls the town offers. Just pick a direction and light out, stopping often along the way to ogle, chat or gasp in astonishment. It's the only true way to get to know the town and its heavy mix of indigenous folk. The compact size of the town allows you to stroll casually between many locations in a matter of minutes, especially in and around downtown.
Speaking of Spirits: Your First Taste of the Ancient, Royal Drink "Pulque" Awaits
Tepoztlan, the reputed place of origin of "Pulque", the royal drink of the Aztecs, is the perfect place to try some for yourself. There are only a few sites to do so, one of which is conveniently located on the Avenida Del Tepozteco just beyond the pink-fronted Los Colorines Restaurant. Look for someone seated at a small table and the "Pulque" sign. Up to three liters of "agua de miel" can be scooped from the heart of a Maguey plant each day. Allowed to ferment, it becomes the pungent "pulque". Even in its "mild" stage, three to five liters (depending on your size and alcohol tolerance) will have you blind drunk. The Pulque, which has a rather pungent, somewhat unpleasant smell, is also mixed with dark red sangria, or with grosella, which is a bright pink, to make it sweeter and more palatable. A liter will cost you 15 pesos, a half-liter cup is 10 pesos and a glassful is 5 pesos. You can taste a shot glass full of each form at no charge to determine your preferred form of the Aztec's royal drink. Be careful with this drink though, or you might wind up seeing "ghosts". Salud!
A “STAR TREK” You Shouldn’t Miss
Get out your hiking boots - we're headed seriously "Uptown". That is to say, up to the 30 ft. plus high Pyramid of Tepozteco situated nearly a thousand ft. above the town of Tepoztlan on top of a sheer cliff overlooking the town from the rugged northern skyline. The pyramid honors Tepoztecatl, who among other things, was the Aztec god of, you guessed it - Pulque. For the best views and to beat the heat, go early in the morning. You'll also beat the crowds that make the pilgrimage up the near vertical path that starts near the foot of the cliffs at the end of the Avenida Del Tepozteco. Be prepared for a pulse-pounding climb of an hour or more, although the panorama of Tepoztlan and environs is more than worth the effort. The Pyramid ruins are interesting too. Tuck at least 40 pesos or so in your pocket to pay the pyramid site admission fee. Don't forget to carry some water and a camera to capture those mystic moments.
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 125 countries worldwide. Get your FREE, pdf format report on CD or via e-mail, "Creative, Dynamic Ways to Motivate and Teach English as a Foreign Language to Diverse Groups of Reluctant Learners" by requesting the title at: firstname.lastname@example.org