". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, October 23, 2017

Xalapa Tres

     . . . . The artists for the jazz festival started coming in last night.  But too many had horrible journeys here, due to Houston shutting down the airport and canceling flights yesterday due to intense rain.  The guys coming from New Orleans began at 3:30 AM, and didn't get into their beds until 2 AM today.

I began learning all this at lunch, which began sometime after three PM.  And soon I'll have to get ready for tonight's inaugural dinner and party.  I have no appetite . . . .

Because of the theater performance of the translated Slave Coast text with Donald Harrison and his group doing the music, I am in with those classified by the festival as "artist."  So far it seems I am the only woman!  Anyway, I was the only woman sitting at lunch.  (In Xalapa I am not only taller than everyone else, I am the only blonde I've seen.)


As mentioned this part of Mexico feels more like Spain than some other places.  Yesterday, duh! ya, figured out why, duh!

Veracruz is where Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, set up the first Spanish shop in New Spain - Mexico.  He'd already helped do so for Cuba back in 1519, but he and the Cuban governor didn't get along, so into the Gulf of Mexico and to the mainland he sailed, despite the Cuban governor telling him to stay put.

Rio Huitzilapan (Hummingbird River) down a bit from Cortés's compound.

Horses are honored here, at the spot where they were landed to conquer the Aztec Empire for Spain.

Ceiba trees and their roots are everywhere in Cortés's palace compound ruins.

Coral from the Gulf was used with the basalt and mortar to make the walls of Cortés's compound, as well as the walls of fortification at San Juan de Ulúa.
Perhaps this is the oldest church on the mainland, built originally almost 500 years ago, part of Cortés's compound.  Nothing original remains, but this church in Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz still has congregants (little girls in their Sunday dresses were everywhere around it yesterday) and holds services.

It was in la Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz where Hernán Cortés first landed his armaments and men via the small barcos from his ships anchored in the Veracruz bay, up the Rio Huitzilapan.  We saw it!  and the ruins of his personal palace compound.

The prison at San Juan de Ulúa, reached by a bridge called the Bridge of Sighs, just like the bridge in Venice that prisoners walked to their incarceration, from which very few ever emerged.  Note the contemporary port machinery and technology everywhere.

The official administrative and military center was at what became the port of Veracruz -- begun 498 years ago at San Juan de Ulúa, a small island in the Gulf there.  We toured that fortress as well, which compound is enormous -- and now entirely surrounded by the present day port facilities (petroleum and petroleum products from the fields here, as well as many many other goods manufactured in this state including automobiles) and contemporary Mexico's naval yards and other military facilities. It's so extensive and complex that it is impossible to show it in an entire spread with any kind of camera.  Keep in mind, it was from this fortress that the Spanish beat the butts of Hawkins and Drake in the 1568  Battle of San Juan de Ulúa -- much to their shock and surprise.

So this is why the state of Veracruz feels so intensely Spanish-Spanish -- there's even Arabic language elements in signage and naming of places and things and people here. This is where the conquistadores came first to the southern hemisphere mainland, which soon they'd claim all of for Spain.  This is part of the great colonial territory that made the Spanish Empire an empire.  So many of the men who did this had little prospect of advancement, riches and prestige back in Spain, particularly since the conclusion of the Reconquista -- so to the New World they came, searching for fame and particularly fortune.  And it is the Caribbean and Mexico where they first found both.  Cortés died happy and rich, at home, in Spain, with a Spanish wife and children -- while historians continue to debate what happened to Malinche, his Azteca translator-concubine and the son he had by her, in his palace compound by the Hummingbird River.

As the festival begins now, maybe the sightseeing is over.

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