You are currently viewing Mixco Viejo (Jilotepeque Viejo)

Mixco Viejo (Jilotepeque Viejo)

Sometime around 1450, the Chajoma Maya moved their capital to Jilotepeque Viejo in order to make it inaccessible to their hostile neighbors. The city itself had been built a few hundred years earlier and they hoped moving their capital here would help them keep their warring neighbors out. It didn’t work. They were captured and ruled by the Kaqchikel Maya and eventually removed from the site shortly after the Spanish conquest of 1524. The site was never used again.

Scientists didn’t have enough information when they named the site Mixco Viejo. At that time, they believed it had a different history and they named it according to the history they believed at the time. Since then, much more information has come to light and they no longer believe it was related to the Mixco people, but the name remains. So the history and naming of the site are a little confusing, but it’s still a very interesting place to visit.

Google Short Cut

We left Antigua around 9:45 in the morning. Traffic wasn’t bad and we were making good time. Google, in its wisdom, directed us to take a short-cut on a very nicely paved cement road with bike lanes and everything you would expect to see in the United States. It was so nice that I commented about how expensive it must have been to build and how long it would probably last. We started to notice we were the only cars on the road. All the other vehicles were big slow trucks. It wasn’t that big of a deal, because it was a nice road and we knew it was much shorter than the usual road. Eventually we got to a guard gate. The guards told us we had to turn around. The road is a private road for the cement company. I’m not sure what company it was or which country bankrolled it, but it cost us at least 20-30 minutes because of the detour.

Around 12:30 we arrived at the ruins. It was hot. It was 36 degrees C, which Jack converted to 96 degrees F. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast. But we decided to explore the archaeological site before getting lunch. It was dry, so any sweat we made quickly evaporated and cooled us. It didn’t feel nearly as hot as I expected it to feel. I did really well. But by the time we were done exploring, we were all very thirsty and hungry. We basically had the entire site to ourselves, so it was easy to see all the things we wanted without having to wait for other groups.

Exploring the site

The site is broken up into several groups of structures, with each group being atop a different hill. Many of the structures have been restored/rebuilt so you can see what they looked like and even climb to the top of most of them. Some of the structures are in ruin, buried under dirt and grass. It’s a very interesting juxtaposition.

I really liked Group B, which has two identical towers and two Mayan ball courts. We climbed both towers and walked through the ball courts. Some of the other locations had huge trees providing shade and there was always a cool breeze keeping us just the right temperature. The sun was directly overhead, so the pictures of people had really harsh shadows, but we all had a great time exploring.

By the time we got back to Antigua, it was 4:30 and everyone was starving. We dropped Nate off in town with 200 Quetz and told him to buy as much pizza as he could and bring it back home. I think that was one of the first times nearly everyone was looking forward to eating Little Caesar’s Pizza instead of a more typical Guatemalan meal.

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