Last week I joined a small group led by April from Wave House, a gringa who splits her time between the US and Mexico and holds dual citizenship. April has a tour guide license here in Mexico and organizes several different hikes in the area. She picks up the group (max of 7 to fit in her van) here in La Cruz and carts the group to the start of the hike. While driving and leading the hike, she relayed tons of history and information about the area we were visiting, too much for me to remember. Especially since I can barely remember what day of the week it is.
April relayed that the name of the Mexican state we are in – Nayarit – is more or less “altered consciousness”. Apparently the beliefs of the Tecoxquines Indians, a tribe of the Aztecs, were based on shamanism. The shamans would spend time in the area we hiked with whatever their drug of choice was and carve these images, sometimes for months at a time.
The area is still visited today by the native Huichols, who leave offerings.
If you are interested in reading more, start by clicking here, or Google “altavista petroglyphs Nayarit”. Following is an excerpt from the website I found and my own pics.
After the hike, which was all of a little over two miles, we unwound at the Jamurca Hot Springs. Click here for a separate description.
More than two thousand years ago an Aztecan tribe, the Tecoxquines, chipped images into the volcanic rock along the arroyo (seasonal stream) Las Piletas. The petroglyphs are believed to be symbolic of the concerns and the yearnings of the people, for health and fertility, the return of the rains, and successful crops. The rock carvings might have been meant as prayers or offerings to the gods responsible for these things.
After the arrival of the Conquistadors in the early 16th century, the twin scourges of disease and forced servitude led to the extinction of the Tecoxquin. Today the site of the petroglyphs holds religious significance for the native Huichol.
Archeologists have located more than 2000 carvings in an area of more than 80 hectares (200 acres); the casual visitor can see seventy or more without too much effort. A series of fifteen signs in Spanish and English are posted along the path, giving some explanation and historical context to the site.
More offerings hanging from the trees and around a firepit: