South Side: Buildings 2, 3 & Altar of Sacrifices
Escher's works, the stairs and passageways of these buildings seemed to start from nowhere and end in blank walls. Above, a substantial stairway leads to a miniscule courtyard, surrounded by giant walls. This effect was created by the Mesoamerican practice of covering over existing buildings in order to create new structures. This practice was used extensively at the Great Pyramid and its associated temples and plazas. In the photo above, the high walls encroach upon a courtyard that was much larger at one time. These newer walls are of a style inferior to the work of the architects of Cholula's Classic Era. A Golden Age had passed.
West Side: Stairway to Heaven
Voladores climb a very tall pole where four of them hang by their feet from ropes and swing around the pole as they are gradually lowered to the ground. The fifth man remains on top, playing a flute and beating on a drum. The performance is awesome, particularly since the ropes connecting them to the top of the pole are only loosely looped around their bodies. This ceremony, done now mostly for tourists, was performed for religious reasons in the ancient city of El Tajin. The voladores support themselves mostly from donations, and this fellow climbed to the top of the Building F structure to seek whatever people would give. I gave generously, as I usually do to street performers and muscians. It's a hard way to make a living.
Beneath the Great Pyramid
pulque, a mildly intoxicating drink that can still be purchased in many areas of rural Mexico. Before the introduction of beer in the late 19th Century, pulque was the most popular alcoholic drink in Mexico for the poorer classes. In the Nahuatl language it is called octli. The ancients reserved its use for the priests and nobles, considering it sacred. Pulque is made from maguey plant, a relative of agave, from which tequila is produced.