Friday, October 14, 2011


Heavy rains may have prevented us from taking in the sights of the local ruins during Patrick's visit, but on September 24th TJ and I, accompanied by good pals Pablo and Gus, kicked Mother Nature's booty from Guadalajara all the way to Guachimontones and back. Or maybe she just took pity on us and gave us a sunny day. She owed us. This was our third or fourth attempt, after all (Note to would-be travelers: Guadalajara's rainy season runs May - October).

As has been the case with many other wonderful places that we have had the pleasure of visiting here in Mexico, Guachimontones has been inscribed onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (July 12, 2006). Unfortuantely, heavy looting also placed it on the 2008 World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. I'm not sure what else is being looted, but I did read that stone is being taken from the site to build houses in nearby Teuchitlán.

So what is Guachimontones?

Good question. Nobody's 100% sure.

What is known is that this archaeological site, located about an hour west of Guadalajara, was home to the Teuchitlan society from approximately 300BCE to 900CE. The pyramids here are of a circular nature and are located within circular building complexes. It is believed that Volador ceremonies (rain dances that involve four people launching themselves from the top of a 30 meter pole while a fifth dances and plays the flute or a drum on top of the pole) were conducted here. It's origin can be assigned to the Aztecs, but that's really just a guess at this time.

At the current time, it's definitely not as impressive as Teotihuacan, but we can cut it some slack for being a newbie to the ruins game. The site was only found in 1970, with real research not beginning until1996. The site as it is currently excavated appears to consist of two pyramids and several platforms.

It's small, modest, and beautiful. All told, we probably spent only an hour or two exploring the ruins, asking Gus not to stand on the pyramids (or at least to not do so in such close proximity to the signs asking him not to), and hiking up a giant hill that we all swear is another pyramid waiting to be discovered...and yet it was an hour or two well spent.

If you ever get the opportunity, I'd recommend a visit. And please, do so before it's been ripped apart and used to build somebody's summer home.

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