Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cañada de la Virgen

Last week we had the opportunity to go to Cañada de la Virgen a newly opened archaeology site near San Miguel. The parking area isn't too far off the old highway to Guanajuato. You buy your tickets there and then are transported by bus to the trail where you walk up hill about 1/2 mile to the ruins. The views from the bus and from the walk are stunning even now during the dry season. The hills are cut by several canyons and the rock formations are beautiful.
The archaeologists who worked on the dig were surprised to find that the ceremonial site dates from 540 to 1050 BCE. This site is different from most other sites in Mexico in that it is oriented to the path of the sun. There are four complexes that have been uncovered. The site is layed out with paths and plantings of native plants with name tags. There are signs in both English and Spanish that explain the structures and some information about the cultures who used the site. The signage was good but no substitute for a knowledgeable guide who can give you a much broader picture of the culture and site and even compare it to today.

This site reminded me of Tingambato which is between Uruapan and Patzcauro. It was also a ceremonial site but it flourished between 450 to 900 ACE. It too has a stepped pyramid and several lower plazas that surround it. The main pyramid at Tingambato is about 8 meters tall while the Canada de la Virgen is 15 meters tall. I tried to find some more information about Tingambato to see if it was also oriented to the sun but I found very little information.

If you go to Cañada de la Virgen, get there when it opens, especially now when it is getting hotter in the middle of the day. Wear a hat and good walking shoes and be able to walk uphill for about 1/2 mile. They say it is 1/2 mile but it seemed longer! Take water. And enjoy another great spot in San Miguel.

6 comments:

Steve Cotton said...

Do you know which group of Indians built it? It does not look like P'urhépecha work, but it is certainly in the correct area. I need to add this one to my list.

Billie said...

Steve, my knowledge of the cultures is limited to what I read in Atencion and that is very little information. As soon as I hear that they have official INAH guides at the site, I will go again and hire a guide. But the paper said that the original pre-Hispanic site Hnahnu (Otomi) was inhabited between 540 and 1050 BCE. The archaeologists had thought that the people who lived there were Nahuatl groups who had moved after the fall of Teotihuacan. But their investigations indicated that it was Otomi which would make the site much older. The remains of one burial have been carbon-14 dated at approximately 700 BCE. If you go back to Patz, do try to go see the other site in Tingambato. I think you also will find it an interesting comparison to Canada de la Virgen when you finally get to have a long visit to SMA.

Alfredo said...

Billie,

Even though I don't post as frequently as I would like to, I still read your interesting posts on your blog and amazing pictures only you, know how to take.

The tittle of this post, sounds like you are talking about Canada, lol. I'l teach you how to do our eñe ñ

for mac:

option n, then n

for windows,

holding alt then press 164 for lower case ñ,
holding alt then press 165 for capital EÑE.

I love the picture of Nuestro Señor de la Conquista Post and it truly is interesting how mexicans interpret the meaning of our history.

Last time I was in San Miguel, (2010) I saw a "war or military band in front of a peregrinación then, many people dressed up as indians of some sort wearing pheasant feathers and dancing, after them, a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then, many people singing religious chants and at the end, a wind music band. I thought to myself, what is this? Syncretism? An attempted amalgamation of different beliefs and cultures? I don't know but, truly, made wonder what is in peoples minds and me with a bunch of gringos, taking pictures to add to the amalgamation, lol go figure.

Anyway, love your blog, love your posts, love your pictures, spring is almost here, enjoy the jacarandas blooming in San Miguel as well as the blooming mezquites. Bees produce the best honey, from mezquite bloosoms.

Saludos cordiales,

Alfredo.

Billie said...

Alfredo, I was wondering if you were still reading the blog since I had not heard from you for a while. Thanks for all the nice things you said. I've been lazy about learning the accents but I'll work on it.

BTW, I'm glad to hear a Mexican say that they don't always understand some of the ways Mexican history is celebrated. LOL

Alfredo said...

Billie,

Of course I read your posts, I am just a bit lazy and don't post. I read frequently Bob's blog also even though I don't post on his either. You guys keep my mind open for your different ways of seeing México and it is truly fascinating.

... and to add to my story, my mother went to Pátzcuaro with my brother to see the day of the death celebration and, get this. She thought those ladies at the cemetery were a bunch of liars that only wanted money from tourists, lol, she said, they have us all there like "their idiots" looking at them celebrate how to cry or something she thought was invented for tourist reasons. I laugh hard when she told me that but, if you think about it, it is estrange how people tend to celebrate and other don't even look at it with please. That is how the world turns in other parts of the world.

Anyway, hope Ned is completely recuperated and enjoying life to the fullest and you again, you two are truly troopers,

Saludos cordiales,

Alfredo.

Alfredo said...

I did notice how fast you corrected the post, "Cañada de la Virgen", sounds and looks... beautiful!

Alfredo again.