The word Mexcaltitán means in náhualt “in the house of the Mexicans or of the moon” and it’s the name of this small oval island, which rises in the middle of the lagoon of the same name, where it seems that time stopped centuries ago.
The island of Mexcaltitán, which is a town full of magic, has a perimeter of one thousand meters and a diameter of 400 meters long from north to south and 350 meters wide from east to west. The streets Hidalgo and Juarez cross those of Morelos and Porfirio Diaz, while the Iturbide Avenue culminates in the center of town.
Funny enough, there is a street named Venice (Venecia), and it acts as a bypass. These are the streets of the island that rather small, has a great significance for the history of our country.
These streets have high sidewalks that often serve as channels when the water level rises, which is why some call Mexcaltitán “the Mexican Venice”. On the other hand, these houses have endured the force of nature on many occasions, and despite all its traditional appearance is preserved, many with mangrove walls covered in mud and wooden roofs and tiles. Others are more resistant and modern, but with that old touch, so peculiar to the place.
THE LEGEND OF AZTLAN
Is Aztlan the ancient homeland of the great Aztec civilization, or is it just a mythical land described in legends? Many experts say that Mexcaltitlán is indeed the sacred island of Aztlán, cradle of the Aztec civilization.
The Aztec people of Mexico created one of the greatest empires of the ancient Americas. While much is known about their empire located where today’s Mexico City can be found, less is known about the very start of the Aztec culture. Many consider the missing island of Aztlan to be the ancient homeland where the Aztec people began to form as a civilization prior to their migration to the Valley of Mexico.
Some believe it is a mythical land, similar to Atlantis or Camelot, which will live on through legend but will never be found in physical existence. Others believe it to be a true, physical location that will someday be identified. Searches for the land of Aztlan have spanned from Western Mexico, all the way to the deserts of Utah, in hopes of finding the legendary island. However, these searches have been fruitless, as the location – and existence – of Aztlan remain a mystery.
The formation of civilization at Aztlan comes from legend. According to Nahuatl legend, there were seven tribes that once lived at Chicomoztoc – “the place of the seven caves.” These tribes represented the seven Nahua groups: Acolhua, Chalca, Mexica, Tepaneca, Tlahuica, Tlaxcalan, and Xochimilca (different sources provide variations on the names of the seven groups).
The seven groups, being of similar linguistic groups, left their respective caves and settled as one group near Aztlan. According to some accounts, the seven groups’ arrival at Aztlan was preceded by the arrival of a group known as the Chichimecas, who were considered to be less civilized than the seven Nahua groups. The Mexica were the last group to travel to Aztlan, and may have been slowed down due to a lengthy drought between 1100 and 1300 AD.