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Converging Diverging Roads

Cortes and Montezuma meet: Tenochtitlan. 1519


Across the long land-bridge, the Istapalapa Causeway, came the strange, large dogs.  Hundreds of these larger-than-ever-seen-before dogs came, bearing even stranger men with yellow hair all over their faces.

Moctezoma stood at the top of his pyramid in the humid but clear morning. He was carefully arrayed in his finest feathered headdress set with turquoise and centered with the Quetzal Precious-Twin emeralds given in trust by his father for Quetzal Coatl’s return.

His mouth felt dry. He shifted his royal, sandalled feet, and called for a drink.

Three cousins handed to cousins their standards of Quetzal plumes and went inside.  Tizoc returned with a silver pitcher and poured into a gold beaker held by another cousin.

Sunlight caught the reflection.  Far down the causeway Cortes saw and made note of the momentarily blinding light of gold.

Moctezoma’s God was returning. The responsibility for His care was now Moctezoma’s.  With pride and much fear, he squared his shoulders and waited.

Behind him his remaining cousins, in carefully jockeyed-for positions, eyed each other. Most hotly contested Mochtezoma’s ideas, declaring this man arriving on a large dog was not the Quetzal Sun God, but a smelly barbarian. For this, one brother had his heart ripped out.

Cortes jumped from his horse and gazed up and up the steps of the pyramid to where stood the Head Savage. Cortes saw in back of the Head Savage the movement of many men in a pavilion which seemed made of gold. Gold. This is what he had ridden through those dangers for. All for his Emperor Charles V of Spain, and a little for Cortes too. 

The humidity of the jungle was working against Cortes’s men.  “I’d better get in and out as quickly as possible,” Cortes realized.

“We have enough firearms to protect us,” Cortes said to the men. “But it is better to use the lucky ideas of this savage, that I am his God, to get all the gems and gold. Then we get out fast.” 

His men were hot in their armor.  They wiped hands on baggy trousers, and they were ready.

Above, Moctexoma was transfixed. He could not stop looking down at God Returned. At his gesture, two Aztec-Mexicas scurried down toward Cortez.

At the side of the large dog, each escort offered Cortes an arm. 

Cortes reminded his men to follow. 

The Aztecs picked him up by the elbows and raced him to Moctezoma.

“My Lord, my God, you are weary. You have returned to your city, Mexico.  Come beneath your canopy to your throne.  We have preserved all for you, your Precious Green Stone, Twin of Unity.  It is now well you have returned for all your treasures and for us.”

The following day Moctezoma led his God, the returned Quetzal Coatl, out of the palace and brought him to see his storerooms of treasures.  Two more of Moctezoma’s brothers had been slain at dawn: in the night they demanded he ambush and destroy God Coatl and followers. Such blasphemy was punished: now their hearts’ blood was feeding the Sun itself.

It was time God Quetzal Coatl returned: Peace was not sure anymore.

Tenochtitlan as it was before Cortez: hydroponic gardens in the middle of the lake.

After Cortez pillaged and destroyed most of this gorgeous Aztec City, today what remains is the heart of Mexico City.

M.S. de Jean


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