Colima, Mexico doesn't seem to have a shortage of things to do. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of great sights, old architecture, fantastic food, and great company (even with my limited knowledge of Spanish).

Fernando's family was extremely gracious in opening their home to us and making sure we experienced the most we could during our visit. ChaCha took Fernando, his mom, and I to Comala to see the museum, studio, and hacienda (plantation factory) of Alejandro Rangel Hildago. Alejandro was a famous artist who painted with the smallest paintbrush, the width of a horses hair. He made every stroke with intention and the images he painted are nothing short of spectacular. You're not allowed to take photos of his works inside the museum, so you will have to check his work on Google, but it is worth the detour - click here. In the museum there are magnifying glasses so that you can truly appreciate the work out into each image. The paintings are wonderful. my favourites are the ones with nature. If you check out his Mexican artwork paintings featuring birds, take a moment to appreciate the absolute symmetry in the images. There are duplicate images in different colours that he painted so exactly you wouldn't know they aren't machine copies of a print to look at them. Not only did he paint, he made furniture and it is beautifully crafted. Also in the museum are old artifacts. Locals would bring artifacts to Alejandro and no one really knows how old they are. The history of this region is a bit of a mystery still. Those are pictured below but they lighting is horrible in the museum so forgive the image quality.

From there we toured the studio, again no photos were allowed. His artwork over the years was displayed, along with the age he painted the images at. You can watch his progress and talent grow and appreciate the time and dedication it must have taken to continue to improve in his craft.

After the studio we entered the house and hacienda. The hacienda was a sugar cane plantation and is now conserved as botanical gardens. The house is massive and beautiful, as one would expect. The gardens are incredible and so vibrant. I absolutely love the colours of the flowers and the vibrancy of the greens, even in the drought. not all of the grounds are accessible but those that are are worth a walkthrough. There are turtles being hatched there, a lookout that you can see where the hacienda meets the town, bits of an old tower that loom in the distance of the hacienda, and outbuildings.

Next up, El Chanal!

El Chanal is an archaeological site just north of Colima. The ruins are small but impressive none the less. Remembering that the history of the region is still a mystery, archaeologists have ideas on what the different ruins were used for and insights into the lives they lived. Some of those explanations are included in the photos. I love walking through historic ruins. It makes me consider how life has changed, from the ease we live with now to the values we held. There is a section of this site that was the playing field of the ball game. Modern interpretation of . There are a few varieties of the mesoamerican game, though its origins are unknown. The description provided at El Chanal is that the Juego de Pelota, as "part of the ceremonial space indicates to us that it was deeply rooted in the religious image of the people. The cosmic sense of the game permitted that battles be culminated in the court in which the gods struggled over what they confronted day after day and permitted the deign of the day and of the night. Thus, the patron of the ball game was Xolotl, the god who accompanied the Sun in its passage through the underwold and announced, by way of Venus - the Morning Star - its triumph over darkness. The mechanics of the game developed by men took on in this way, a fundamental character for the functioning of the world. It is very probably that human sacrifice complemented the magic which would permit supporting the struggle of light against darkness."

I did some digging and it doesn't seem that there is hard evidence that human sacrifice always occurred, and some speculate the sacrifices were ones that would have occurred with or without the game. Other's say that the leader of the losing team would be sacrificed. I suppose we will likely never know for sure, but thoughts of how human sacrifice was common, and the prevelance of the various Gods occupied my mind while we toured around the site.

After El Chanal we headed to the Magic Zone! The magic zone is a small area where gravity seems to work in reverse. Fernando can likely explain it better as he was in the front seat, but when going along what appears to be a downhill section, if you take your foot off the gas you won't just slow down, you'll come to a complete stop. Going the other way, it looks like you're going up the hill. If you take your foot off the gas, you will speed up! It's a neat little attraction north of Colima, near Suchitlan.

That evening, Fernando's aunt and mom dropped us off in Comala so we could hike. Check out the blog post about the volcano hike for those photos and the story.