Our final activity of orientation was a tour of Cholula on Friday morning.  We went on a guided tour that began in the museum, and culminated at an old convent.

Pyramid model in the museum at the base

We were shown many of the ruins, including sacrificial altars that were used to decapitate children on in order to bring the rain that the community needed.

Sacrificial altar

Sculpture of the god of rain

Inside the base of the smaller pyramid

One of the most interesting parts of the ruins was when our guide showed us the acoustics of this ancient worship area.  When you clap from different areas in the middle of the open area, different sounds reverberate back to you, creating an almost musical production when enough claps are combined.  We also climbed incredibly steep stairs that would have been used to reach the top of the pyramid during that time period.  Getting up to the top wasn’t bad, but descending at such an intense angle was slightly terrifying!

Side view of the stairs

From the bottom

We ascended to the top of the pyramid, and took a full tour of the cathedral at the top, and then walked a few blocks to the convent.

The church on top

The convent was basically two churches and an enclosed court yard.  Our guide explained to us that convents were constructed in order to teach the native people the Catholic ways of the Spanish who invaded and conquered them.  At first, the native people were resistent to the large cathedrals that the Spanish used to worship, so the courtyard was used as a place to teach until they could convince the natives to come inside.  The natives were then forced into slavery and made to build the second and larger church.  We walked through the second church, however there was a funeral occuring in the second church so we only saw it from the outside.  The entire experience was incredible and I enjoyed learning so much about the native culture of this area before Spain became involved.

The first cathedral in the convent

The second cathedral in the convent

Now I have the whole weekend ahead of me! This afternoon I will be joining my family in celebrating a wedding and tomorrow I will be helping the other student from Fredonia find her host family and move in. Then on to classes, classes, classes, how interesting it will be to compare a university experience here in Mexico to my usual experience at home in Fredonia.

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