Welcome to my Jaguar Eyes Blog

This is the place to comment on the book. If you liked it or didn't, I would appreciate any comments. If you'd like to know more about the characters or the places in the book, this is the place to find out about them

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Los Pinos


"So it was that we found ourselves back in the enormous parkland that night. We were all wearing black, which was Dominica's idea, but the cloudless night seemed to make us more than visible. It was easy to see the large ornate building glowing in the dark. Lit up both by the moon and the enormous amount of in-ground lighting, there was simply no way that we were going to sneak in unnoticed.

"Why is it called Los Pinos?" I whispered to Dominica as we crouched down in the bushy shadows."



Los Pinos is the official residence and office of the President of Mexico. Located in the Bosque de Chapultepec, the large park in central Mexico City, it became the presidential seat in 1934.



In 1934, President Lázaro Cárdenas was offered use of Rancho la Hormiga (English: The Ant Ranch) as his official residence, which he accepted. He changed its name to "Los Pinos" (The Pines) in honor of the ranch where he met his wife. However, as Bakky found out to his cost, ants still rather like to inhabit Los Pinos.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

British Museum


"Still, two days later, they were standing in the light drizzle of a chilly London evening, outside the magnificent creamy marble pillars of The British Museum. It had already been closed to the public for an hour and she was meant to be meeting her father-in-law here twenty minutes ago. The air was crisp and clean compared to the dusty, barren Jordanian desert. Although dusk had arrived, the lights of the city avoided darkness. Cars, buses and taxis vibrated their way down the high street, a constant background buzz of noise. High-pitched squeals of disc brakes being squeezed accompanied each change in traffic lights."



The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.






The British Museum houses the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. A collection of immense importance for its range and quality, it includes objects of all periods from virtually every site of importance in Egypt and the Sudan. Together they illustrate every aspect of the cultures of the Nile Valley (including Nubia), from the Predynastic Neolithic period (c. 10,000 BC) through to the Coptic (Christian) times (12th century AD), a time-span over 11,000 years.

Sukhumi


"Their city was called Sukhumi, a port town on the Black Sea. But when the boys were only eight years old, their parents moved to Australia. About as far as you can go from Georgia, without starting to come back the other side again. This should have been a massive disruption for the twins. But since they had each other, they took it in their stride and rapidly assimilated into the relaxed, down under lifestyle. Ironically, it was their parents who struggled with the move and were mostly miserable. They both had to work long hours to survive and hence the twins were sent away to boarding school."



Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast of Georgia. 







It is located on a wide bay of the eastern coast of the Black Sea and serves as a port, rail junction and a holiday resort. It is known for its beaches, sanatoriums, mineral-water spas and semitropical climate.

Georgia


"The Kapanadze's originally came from Georgia. A small country on the edge of Europe, which used to be part of the Soviet Union. When this huge Russian empire fell apart, Georgia became independent. It is somewhat ironic that the worst tyrant of the Soviet Union, Stalin, who murdered countless millions of people all over both Russia and its many smaller vassals, actually came from Georgia and wasn't Russian at all."




Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 km² and its population is almost 4.7 million.




Dengue fever



"The air was hot, sweaty and close. I was dripping in perspiration and I could smell I wasn't the only one. I wished I were taller and able to breathe the surely fresher air above. I was feeling nauseas and faint. I briefly caught Arthur's eye, before heads cut off the view. Hopefully my look was enough for Arthur to know I was in trouble."


Dengue fever also known as breakbone fever, is an infectioustropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.
Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito within the Aedes genus.

The mosquito Aedes aegypti feeding off a human host


Treatment of acute dengue is supportive, using either oral or intravenous rehydration for mild or moderate disease, and intravenous fluids and blood transfusion for more severe cases. The incidence of dengue fever has increased dramatically since the 1960s, with around 50–100 million people infected yearly, as poor Bakky will attest to.

Teotihuacan


"Already well behind the other three, I finally reached the top. Despite his age, The Professor was surprisingly fit and agile and only Arthur had beaten him to the top. As I arrived, panting and sweating, he welcomed me to the The Pyramid of the Moon and then told me to turn around and look. And what a view it was too. Straight down the Avenue of the Dead. It ran straight, from the base of our pyramid and seemed to disappear in the distance, its direction running into the brown hills. The land around was tanned and dusty, but green trees seemed rather randomly scattered over the area. The smaller pyramids, temples and other buildings made a procession down either side of the avenue, with the huge Temple of the Sun dominating to our left."


Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramidal structures, Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous colorful, well-preserved murals. Additionally, Teotihuacan produced a thin orange pottery style that spread through Mesoamerica.

View of the Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramid of the Sun, from the Pyramid of the Moon

The city is thought to have been established around 100 BCE and continued to be built until about 250 CE. It may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries CE. At its zenith, perhaps in the first half of the 1st millennium CE, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. At this time it may have had more than 200,000 inhabitants, placing it among the largest cities of the world in this period. Teotihuacan was even home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate this large population. The civilization and cultural complex associated with the site is also referred to as Teotihuacan or Teotihuacano.

The view from the Pyramid of the Sun

The city and the archaeological site are located in what is now the San Juan Teotihuacán municipality in the State of México, Mexico, approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) northeast of Mexico City. The site covers a total surface area of 83 km² and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bosque de Chapultepec


"I love Bosque de Chapultepec," said Dominica, looking around her. "Come, we can wash in the Lago Mayor" and she immediately set off to her right. I looked at Arthur who was still puffing from his climb, shrugged my shoulders and followed her, past bushes and grassy lawns, until we came to a large lake. It must have been quite early in the morning, for the park was mostly empty, but the few people who did see us, took one look at us and managed to rapidly find a path heading in a different direction. We must have looked a right sight, not to mention the smell."



Chapultepec Park, more commonly called the “Bosque de Chapultepec” (Chapultepec Forest) in Mexico City, is the largest city park in Latin America measuring in total just over 686 hectares. Centered on a rock formation called Chapultepec Hill, one of the park’s main functions is to be an ecological space in the vast megalopolis. It is considered the first and most important of Mexico City’s “lungs,” with trees that replenished oxygen to the Valley of Mexico. The park area has been inhabited and held as special since the pre-Hispanic period, when it became a retreat for Aztec rulers.


The park received an estimated 15 million visitors each year, and daily visits have exceeded 250,000. Sunday is the most popular day to visit as the museums are free, and many Mexican families will spend the entire day in one or more sections, walking, seeing the attractions and picnicking or grilling. Despite its local popularity, however, foreign visitors usually only see the small fraction near the museums.


Overlooking the Lago Menor




General scheme of the three sections Chapultepec

Ahuizotl



"Dominica's scream was sudden and unexpected. It took a lot to scare Dominica, so I was doubly concerned. I reached her just in time to see a creature attacking her. It was large, smooth and black and looked a bit like a very big dog. Its pointed ears sat upright and alert and it had a large, black nose with twitching whiskers on either side. Its black eyes were staring at me and it hissed in my direction as I approached. It had surprisingly small paws that looked more like monkeys hands than paws. And it stank. The smell of the sewer was nothing compared to the stench coming from this creature. Its tail was long and thick and as I followed the sinewy limb with my eyes, I spotted why Dominica was stuck. On the end of its tail was a large human-like hand and it currently had Dominica's leg in its grip.
"Ahuizotl!!" I said calmly to the creature, which sneered at me, showing its sharp teeth, threatening me with the display."



The ahuizotl (or ahuitzotl) is a legendary creature in Aztec belief.


It was described as dog-like, with hands capable of manipulation and an additional hand on its tail. The ahuizotl was feared due to its liking for human flesh, especially nails, eyes, and teeth. It was said to live in or near the water and uses the hand on the end of its tail to snatch its prey.


An ahuizotl glyph, from Tepoztlan.

Catedral Metropolitana, Mexico City

"With much fuller stomachs, we headed to the Grand Catedral. Its grand orange facade stood out, even in this huge square with other ornate and stunning buildings. A lofty tower sat on either end and three large archways marked the entrances, although only one was open. There was a long queue to get in, but as always, there was no way Dominica was going to do things the conventional way."


The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City(Spanish: Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María) is the largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. It is situated atop the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor on the northern side of the Zocalo in downtown Mexico City.


After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the conquistadors decided to build their church on the site of the Templo Mayor of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan to consolidate Spanish power over the newly-conquered domain.Hernán Cortés and the other conquistadors used the stones from the destroyed temple of the Aztec god of war Huitzilopochtli, principal deity of the Aztecs, to build the church.


Mexico City Cathedral, with the Metropolitan Tabernacle to the right.

Interior of Mexico City Cathedral

Alter of Forgiveness

The Taniwha


"Suddenly below us, I spotted a dragon! Well, I knew it couldn't be a dragon as dragons aren’t real. But it certainly looked sort of like a dragon. It had a large whale-like body, but its head was more that of a lizard. We must have only been a hundred metres off the ground when I spotted it. It was floating on the surface of the water and staring up at us. I could see one of its lizard eyes staring up and our eyes seemed to be looking straight into each other’s. I could feel its magnificence, this creature of legends. I knew it was a Taniwha (pronounced Tunifar), a mythological Maori creature that lives in rivers, lakes and the oceans. I had learnt about them at school, but no one thought that they were real. I could feel its thoughts. Either that or I was going completely mad and would soon be looked after by Arthur’s parents. It wasn’t so much words that I could feel. No, it was rather feelings. The Taniwha was taking care of me. It was sending me its protection; it was my guardian and now I was leaving its protective embrace, it was wishing me well."



In Māori mythology, taniwha (pronounced [ˈtanifa]) are beings that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers. They may be considered highly respected kaitiaki (protective guardians) of people and places, or in some traditions as dangerous, predatory beings, which for example would kidnap women to have as wives.


At sea, a taniwha often appears as a whale or as a large shark; compare the Māori name for the Great white shark: mangō-taniwha. In inland waters, they may still be of whale-like dimensions, but look more like a gecko or a tuatara, having a row of spines along the back. Other taniwha appear as a floating log, which behaves in a disconcerting way. Some can tunnel through the earth, uprooting trees in the process.


Most taniwha are associated with tribal groups; each may have a taniwha of its own.


Many well-known taniwha arrived from Hawaiki, often as guardians of a particular ancestral canoe. Once arrived in New Zealand, they took on a protective role over the descendants of the crew of the canoe they had accompanied. Bakky would agree with this as he left New Zealand's shores and the protection of the Taniwha.


When taniwha were accorded the appropriate respect, they usually acted well towards their people and acted as guardians by warning of the approach of enemies.






Ureia, guardian taniwha of theHauraki people. Carving from the meeting house Hotunui, 1878

WE ARE PUBLISHED

As of yesterday, The Eyes of the Jaguar God is now fully e-published in all recognized formats at

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/71324

Just to help, there is a 25% off special on at present

cheers

Jamie B. Ernstein

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Zocalo



"And then we were there. The Zocalo. Otherwise known as The Plaza de la Constitution, it is one of the world's largest squares. A huge open area, surrounded by majestic and magnificent looking old buildings. Many of these buildings were rich shades of yellows and orange, warming the drab grey of the paving stones beneath our feet. Bright red awnings sat over many windows, the contrast startling. A large and busy road circumnavigated part of the square, rather ruining what could be a very peaceful scene. The hard, stoniness was only broken by the strange, perfectly manicured, mushroom shaped trees at various intervals, edging around the square."


The Zócalo is the main plaza or square in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City. It used to be known simply as the "Main Square" or "Arms Square," and today its formal name is Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square). However, it is almost always called the Zócalo today. Many other Mexican towns and cities, have adopted the word zócalo to refer to their main plazas, but not all.
It has been a gathering place for Mexicans since Aztec times, having been the site of Mexica ceremonies, the swearing in of viceroys, royal proclamations, military parades, Independence ceremonies and modern religious events such as the festivals of Holy Week and Corpus Christi. 
The modern Zócalo in Mexico City is 57,600 metres² (240 m × 240 m), making it one of the largest city squares in the world. It is bordered by the Cathedral to the north, the National Palace to the east, the Federal District buildings to the south and the Old Portal de Mercaderes to the west, the Nacional Monte de Piedad building at the north-west corner, with the Templo Mayor site to the northeast, just outside of view. In the center is a flagpole with an enormous Mexican flag ceremoniously raised and lowered each day and carried into the National Palace. There is an entrance to the Metro station "Zócalo" located at the northeast corner of the square but no sign above ground indicates its presence.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico)

"Our arrival in Mexico City was a bit of a blur. As soon as we had our luggage, we caught a taxi to Casa Paulo Hotel. It was nighttime and all we could see was a vague impression of a myriad of lights. The drive seemed to take ages, but finally our taxi pulled up at our hotel."


Mexico City was originally built on the island of Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, which was almost completely destroyed in the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlan , and subsequently redesigned and rebuilt in accordance with the Spanish urban standards. In 1524, the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenochtitlán, and as of 1585 it was officially known as La Ciudad de México (Mexico City). Mexico City served as the political, administrative and financial centre of a major part of the Spanish colonial empire. After independence from Spain was achieved, the Federal District was created in 1824. It remains the capital city of Mexico and is one of the world's largest and most polluted cities.

Mexico City and Mexico




Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lochbuie

"There were eight grey, rectangular stones, standing on end, set in a rough circle. A ninth stone looked more like a rounded boulder which, although completing the circle, seemed rather out of place. Moss and lichens were slowly munching away on the stones and tiny puddles filled each and every nook and crack. The sky remained a dull grey but a tiny patch of sunlight appeared above us, giving the circle a sense of theatre. There were no signs of life around us; the only movement was the dripping from the leaves behind."


Lochbuie is a settlement on the island of Mull in Scotland about 22 kilometres west of Craignure. The name is from the Scottish Gaelic Locha Buidhe, meaning "yellow loch". The highest hill in the area is Ben Buie whose summit is 747 metres (2,451 ft) above sea level. There is a fine stone circle at Lochbuie with rhododendrons growing behind it. The stone circle has been known to mist up occasionally. An ideal place for mischievous deities to haunt.


Attribution: David Wyatt

Saint Columba



“The first Bakbakkar that I know about grew up in Ireland. He was born on December the twenty-fifth in the year 518. He became a monk and lived in what we now call Ulster, in Northern Ireland. He studied under a priest called Colum Cille, who, after his death, became known as St. Columba.
In the year 560, there was a huge battle that Colum Cille lost and he was exiled from Ireland. No one knows what the reason for the battle was, although there are several theories. Both he and his 12 companions fled to Scotland or in particular, to Iona and brought Christianity to this region. They built the original church on Iona. One of his followers was the monk, Bakbakkar.
But something happened to Bakbakkar that changed his life. That is what we are going to see today. It is called The Cauldron of Regeneration and once you have experienced the cauldron, many of your questions will be answered."



Saint Columba (7 December 521 – 9 June 597 AD)—also known as Colum Cille (Old Irish, meaning "dove of the church"), was an Irish monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period. He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. He became a monk and was ordained as a priest. Tradition asserts that, sometime around 560, he became involved in a quarrel with Saint Finian of Movilla Abbey. The dispute eventually led to the pitched Battle of Cúl Dreimhne in 561, during which many men were killed. Columba suggested that he would work as a missionary in Scotland to help convert as many people as had been killed in the battle. He exiled himself from Ireland, to return only once again, several years later.


In 563 he travelled to Scotland with twelve companions, where according to his legend he first landed at the southern tip of the Kintyre peninsula, near Southend. However, being still in sight of his native land he moved further north up the west coast of Scotland. In 563 he was granted land on the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland which became the centre of his evangelising mission to the Picts. Columba died on Iona and was buried by his monks in the abbey he created.


St. Columba at Bridei' fort, before battle

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Selkie

"The deck was surprisingly small and Spartan. At the rear, holding onto the rudder handle was a beautiful maiden dressed all in white. Her golden hair tumbled down her back onto the well-used wooden handle, her bright green eyes shining against her white skin. As she smiled, I noticed her fingers had webs between them like ducks’ feet and I became curious. Her beauty was undeniable and I found it almost impossible to tear my eyes away from her. Arthur, likewise, was staring, mouth gaping open in admiration."






Selkies (also known as silkies or selchies) are mythological shapeshifting creatures that are found in Irish, and Scottish folklore. They
 are seals that can shed their skin to become humans. Stories concerning selkies are generally romantic tragedies. Sometimes the human will not know that their lover is a selkie, and wakes to find them gone. Some stories from Shetland have selkies luring islanders into the sea at midsummer, the lovelorn humans never returning to dry land.

Manannan mac Lir

Don’t be afraid. Be very afraid. I’m here to save you. Or maybe to be your executioner. Ha, ha, ha, ha,” laughed the small man, who seemed to appear out of nowhere. He was hopping around from one leg to another, as if the ground was scorching hot. He looked like a clown. Sure, there was no red nose, but his clothing was bright colours, in patches all over; his wild red hair seeming to have a life of its own. Each time he jumped, his whole head would bob from one side to the other. He smelt of fish. Not the revolting smell of rotten fish that is often smelt in fish markets, but the fresh smell of the sea; alive with the creatures of the oceans; the saltiness invading our nostrils."


Manannán mac Lir is the God of the Sea in Irish mythology. In the tale "His Three Calls to Cormac", Manannán tempts the Irish King Cormac mac Airt with treasure in exchange for his family. Cormac is led into the Otherworld and taught a harsh lesson by Manannán, but in the end his wife and children are restored to him. Also, Manannán rewards him with a magic cup, which breaks if three lies are spoken over it and is made whole again if three truths are spoken. Bakky and Arthur mange to repair Cormac's Cup, before using to save Bakky's father's life. However, he eventually returns the cup back to its original mischievous owner. 


Manannán was associated with a "Cauldron of Regeneration". This is also seen in the tale of Cormac mac Airt, among other tales. 


According to the Book of Fermoy, a Manuscript of the 14th to the 15th century, "he was a pagan, a lawgiver among the Tuatha Dé Danann, and a necromancer possessed of power to envelope himself and others in a mist, so that they could not be seen by their enemies.


Manannán had many magical items. He had a ship that did not need sails named "Wave Sweeper"; he owned a cloak of mists that granted him invisibility, a flaming helmet, and a sword named Fragarach ("Answerer" or "Retaliator") that could never miss its target.


If you ever get to visit the standing stones of Lochbuie, be careful. Especially if it's a misty day!

Cu-Sith

"Our decision was somewhat made for us by the loud bark that pierced the air like a dart. It was like a dog’s bark, but much louder and deeper and came from deep in the mist. The creature barked three times and then went silent."


The Cù Sìth of Scottish is an enormous, otherworldly hound firm Scottish Mythology, which is said to haunt the Scottish Highlands. Roughly the size of a cow or large calf, the Cù Sìth was said to be dark green in color with shaggy fur and a long braided or curled tail. In Irish mythology, the Cù Sìth was said to be an immense, coal-black hound with glowing or flaming eyes. Either way, it was feared as a harbinger of death and would appear to bear away the soul of a person to the afterlife (similar to the manner of the Grim Reaper). According to legend, the creature was capable of hunting silently, but would occasionally let out three terrifying barks that could be heard for long distances, including by ships at sea. A terrifying creature that I wouldn't like to meet on a misty day walking in the scottish hills!

The Kelpie

"It was Arthur who heard the horse first. The crashing waves subdued most other sounds, so it must have been quite a loud neigh for Arthur to hear it. He turned around suddenly and then tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see a magnificent stallion standing by the waters edge. Its silky black fur was dripping with water and it was prancing proudly, watching us from afar. It stood out dramatically against the white sand and looked powerful and statuesque. We found our selves wandering slowly towards it, just as we had done with the seals, which had, we now noticed, disappeared from the beach."


The kelpie is a supernatural water horse from Celtic and Scottish legend. It is believed to haunt the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland and indeed, the name may be from Scottish Gaelic cailpeach or colpach. Its appearance is strong, powerful, and breathtaking, while its hide was supposed to be black (though in some stories it was white), and it may appear to be a lost pony. Just like at Fidden Beach, where Arthur and Bakky spot the magnificent creature, it can be identified by its constantly dripping mane. Its skin is like that of a seal, smooth but is as cold as death when touched. 


Kelpie's have been known to transform into beautiful women to lure men into their traps. The song about poor old Robbie McDonald in Fionnphort Inn comes to mind.


It is understood that the nostril of the horse is what creates the illusion of grandeur. The Kelpie creates illusions to keep itself hidden, keeping only its eye above water to scout the surface, much like the illusion of a fish's pupil. 


It is wise to keep away from them. The water horse is a common form of the kelpie, said to lure humans, especially children, into the water to drown and eat them. It performs this act by encouraging children to ride on its back. Once its victims fall into its trap, the kelpie's skin becomes sticky, like glue and it bears them into the water, dragging them to the bottom and devouring them—except the heart or liver.