On the other side of the Motagua Valley a series of switchbacks took us up into the mountains of Verapaz. Gradually, the sweltering desert gave way to pine forest and then cool evergreen broad-leaf forest. An hour later we stopped in the little town of Tactic and had lunch.
of “New Spain,” described how the great Montezuma, when he came to meet Cortés, was shaded by a huge canopy of quetzal feathers. But Montezuma made a fatal error. According to ancient texts left by the Mexica, Quetzalcoatl, man or god, had promised to return from the East in the year 1-reed (1519), and this was 1-reed.
along with plundered gold, silver and gems, sent back to the courts of Europe were the exquisite plumes of the quetzal.
Assuming that the Spanish who landed on the coast of Veracruz were the returning gods, the Aztec emperor failed to prepare a defense. Before he knew what had happened, Cortés and his mangy army of 400 had defeated and sacked Tenochtitlán. And
By the 16th Century central Europe had been largely deforested and the Spanish found a ready market for fine tropical hardwoods. And so they began a process of desertification that continues today.
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Before long there was a growing demand for the feathers. No longer would the serpent bird be protected. The new rulers declared them to be free game.
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Published on Oct 31, 2010
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