Friday, May 29, 2009

The Languages of the Swiss

Switzerland lies at the crossroads of several major European cultures that have heavily influenced the country's languages and culture. Switzerland has four official languages: German (63.7% total population share) in the north, east and center of the country; French (20.4%; 21.0%) to the west; Italian (6.5%; 4.3%) in the south. Romansch, a Romance Language spoken locally by a small minority (0.5%; 0.6%) in the southeastern canton of Graubunden, is designated by the Federal Constitution as a national language along with German, French and Italian.

The German spoken in Switzerland is collectively known as Swiss German. Similarly, there are some dialects of Franco Provencal (a French Dialect) in rural communities in the French speaking part, known as "Suisse Romande." Also the official languages (German, French and Italian) borrow some terms not understood outside of Switzerland, i.e. terms from other languages. Learning one of the other national languages at school is obligatory for all Swiss, so most Swiss are supposed to be at least bilingual.
-Teacher Karl

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Economy of Mexico

The economy of Mexico is 10th to 12th largest in the world. Since the 1994 crisis, administrations have improved the country's macroeconomic fundamentals. Mexico was not significantly influenced by the recent 2002 South American crisis, and has maintained positive, although low, rates of growth after a brief period of stagnation in 2001. Moody's (in March 2000) and Fitch IBCA (in January 2002) issued investment-grade ratings for Mexico's sovereign debt. In spite of its unprecedented macroeconomic stability, which has reduced inflation and interest rates to record lows and has increased per capita income, enormous gaps remain between the urban and the rural population, the northern and southern states, and the rich and the poor.[3] Some of the government's challenges include the upgrade of infrastructure, the modernization of the tax system and labor laws, and the reduction of income inequality.


Monday, May 11, 2009


Aztec is a term used to refer to certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who achieved political and military dominance over large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the Late post-Classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.
Often the term "Aztec" refers exclusively to the people of Tenochtitlan, situated on an island in Lake Texcoco, who called themselves Mexica Tenochca or Colhua-Mexica.
Sometimes also includes the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan's two principal allied city-states, the Acolhuas of Texcoco and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan, who together with the Mexica formed the Aztec Triple Alliance which has also become known as the "Aztec Empire". In other contexts it may refer to all the various city states and their peoples, who shared large parts of their ethnic history as well as many important cultural traits with the Mexica, Acolhua and Tepanecs, and who like them, also spoke the Nahuatl language. In this meaning it is possible to talk about an Aztec civilization including all the particular cultural patterns common for the Nahuatl speaking peoples of the late postclassic period in Mesoamerica.
From the 12th century Valley of Mexico was the nucleus of Aztec civilization: here the capital of the Aztec Triple Alliance, the city of Tenochtitlan, was built upon raised islets in Lake Texcoco. The Triple Alliance formed its tributary empire expanding its political hegemony far beyond the Valley of Mexico, conquering other city states throughout Mesoamerica.
At its pinnacle Aztec culture had rich and complex mythological and religious traditions, as well as reaching remarkable architectural and artistic accomplishments. A particularly gruesome element of Aztec culture to many was the practice of human sacrifice.
In 1521, in what is probably the most widely known episode in the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Hernán Cortés, along with a large number of Nahuatl speaking indigenous allies, conquered Tenochtitlan and defeated the Aztec Triple Alliance under the leadership of Hueyi Tlatoani Moctezuma II; In the series of events often referred to as "The Fall of the Aztec Empire". Subsequently the Spanish founded the new settlement of Mexico City on the site of the ruined Aztec capital.

- Teresa -

Human sacrifice in Aztec culture

Sacrifices to specific gods

Huitzilopochtli was the tribal deity of the Mexica and, as such, he represented the character of the Mexica people and was often identified with the sun at the zenith, and with warfare.
When the Aztecs sacrificed people to Huitzilopochtli ( the god with war like aspects ) the victim would be placed on a sacrificial stone.[18] Then the priest would cut through the abdomen with an obsidian or flint blade.[19] The heart would be torn out still beating and held towards the sky in honor to the Sun-God; the body would be carried away and either cremated or given to the warrior responsible for the capture of the victim. He would either cut the body in pieces and send them to important people as an offering, or use the pieces for ritual cannibalism. The warrior would thus ascend one step in the hierarchy of the Aztec social classes, a system that rewarded successful warriors .[20]
Tezcatlipoca was generally considered the most powerful god, the god of night, sorcery and destiny (the name tezcatlipoca means "smoking mirror", or "obsidian"). The Aztecs believed that Tezcatlipoca created war to provide food and drink to the gods. Tezcatlipoca was known by several epithets including "the Enemy" and "the Enemy of Both Sides", which stress his affinity for discord. Tezcatlipoca had the power to forgive sins and to relieve disease, or to release a man from the fate assigned to him by his date of birth; however, nothing in Tezcatlipoca's nature compelled him to do so. He was capricious and often brought about reversals of fortune. To the Aztecs, he was an all-knowing, all-seeing nearly all-powerful god. One of his names can be translated as "We Who Are His Slaves".
Some captives were sacrificed to Tezcatlipoca in ritual gladiatorial combat. The victim was tethered in place and given a mock weapon. He died fighting against up to four fully armed jaguar knights and eagle warriors.
During the 20-day month of Toxcatl, a young impersonator of Tezcatlipoca would be sacrificed. Throughout a year, this youth would be dressed as Tezcatlipoca and treated as a living incarnation of the God. The youth would represent Tezcatlipoca on earth; he would get four beautiful women as his companions until he met his destiny, in the meantime he walked through the streets of Tenochtitlan playing a flute. On the day of the sacrifice a feast would be held in Tezcatlipoca's honor. The young man would climb the pyramid, break his flute and surrender his body to the priests. Sahagún compared it to the Christian Easter.[21]

To appease Huehueteotl, the fire god and a senior deity, the Aztecs had a ceremony where they prepared a large feast at the end of which they would burn captives and before they died they would be taken from the fire and their hearts would be cut out. Motolinía and Sahagún reported that the Aztecs believed that if they did not placate Huehueteotl a plague of fire would strike their city. The sacrifice was considered an offering to the deity.[22]
Main article: Child sacrifice in pre-Columbian cultures
Tláloc was the god of rain. The Aztecs believed that if sacrifices weren't supplied for Tláloc, rain wouldn't come and their crops wouldn't flourish. Leprosy and rheumatism, diseases caused by Tláloc, would infest the village. Tláloc required the tears of the young as part of the sacrifice. The priests made the children cry during their way to immolation: a good omen that Tláloc would wet the earth in the raining season. In the Florentine Codex, also known as General History of the Things of New Spain, Sahagún wrote:

They offered them as sacrifices to [Tlaloc and Chalchiuhtlicue] so that they would give them water.[23]

info. from:


Friday, May 8, 2009

Spicy Mexican Food

Does mexican food have to be so spicy and are there any mild options?

There are many Mexican dishes that do not have to be spicy such as tacos, burritos and enchiladas. However, Mexicans use a lot of chiles in their dishes and that is where the spiciness comes from. Most people don't mind a little heat because it is worth the flavor you get from the chile. Some people just think hotter is better.
Most recipes do call for chiles in some form or another and most chiles are hot. You can't leave them out because the whole dish may rely on the flavor of the chile too. So if your recipe calls for chiles, try reducing the amount. The less chile you have, the less heat. Canned and jarred chiles and sauces are usually less potent than the fresher versions. Also there are some techniques you can try to reduce a chiles heat.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Nazca city

Archaeological places to south of Nazca City
CahuachiCahuachi was a ceremonial center, a sacred destination of Nazca pilgrims between 100 and 500 AD. The ceremonies in the place included the construction of temples using thousands ofconical or wedge adobe bricks. Each participating community demonstrated their true belonging to their religious community by singing, dancing and banqueting, thus explaining why in Cahuachi there is little garbage, while offerings abound (pan flutes and musical drums, sacrificed llamas and guinea pigs, fine textiles, human burials and pottery representing deities). Main cultural-urban center, built with great urban sense. The ancient Nazca people built their pyramidal temples by terracing the fossil sand dunes. In the lowers parts, smaller architectural mounds, streets and squares give the site a general city aspect. Attached to this town were also discovered (1980) a group of lines traced on the floor in form of trapezes and serpentines that embrace 1 square km. It is located at 27 km (16.77 miles) to south of Nazca.
EstaqueríaArchaeological complex of the Nazca culture, solar observatory, on platforms made of adobes and columns of "huarangos" trunks (variety of tree). This archaeological complex is near to Cahuachi.
ChauchillaPre-Inca cemetery, in which the profanation of tombs by the huaqueros, have left open some tombs in which you can appreciate the old inhabitants' remains. It is located at 28 km (17.4 miles) to the south of Nazca.
SacacoLocated at 100 km (62 miles) to the S of Nazca, it is a rich location of fossil remains, especially of whales and primitive sharks of the Tertiary Era. Small paleontological museum. To arrive to this area, you should take the Pan-American South Highway until kilometer 539 and take a detour of 1.5 km to the museum site.
Planetarium Maria ReichVenturing into boundaries of the world archae-astronomy, the Nazca Lines show present Maria Reiche's theory, and the connection she found between the Nazca Lines and some astronomical events. She theorized the lines were oriented towards the places on the horizon where different celestial objects appeared and disappeared. After the show, weather permitting in a backyard exploration of the night sky, have a naked-eye view of the constellations and bright stars of the season along with telescope, observation of the moon, planets, and other celestial marvels. Located in Jr. Bolognesi Nº 300 - Hotel Nazca Lines.
Punta San Juan de Marcona Reserved AreaLocated in the coast area, to the west of the Nazca city, it is an extraordinary marine ecosystem of great biodiversity; it has a little extension of 54 hectares and has the biggest population of sea lions (seals) of the Peru concentrates. The peninsula is characterized by its abrupt cliffs 30 meters high that hinder the access, from the high part, to the eighteen beaches that are formed at level of the reef. Besides the sea lions, in this Reserved Area inhabits the biggest colony of penguins of Humboldt (Spheniscus humboldtii) (it is considered that concentrates more than 50% of the total population of this species on the Peru), as well as zarcillos (Larosterna inca) and the three main species of dung birds (guaneras). While the sea lions are located in the beaches and salient rocky, the penguins look for the protection of the cavities that they are formed in the walls of the cliffs and the birds rest and they nest in the sharp hillsides and in the plateau that extends in their higher area. (UNMSM)