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Descriptions by the first European visitors defy the imagination. Bernal Diaz was in the company of Hernan Cortes, in 1519, when they first laid eyes on the Aztec cities, he wrote:  “When we saw so many cities and villages built on the water, and other great towns on dry land, plus that straight and level causeway going towards Mexico [Tenochtitlan, the capital city], we were amazed…And some of our soldiers even asked whether the things that we saw were not a dream.”
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In a letter that Cortes wrote to Charles V in 1520 give a detailed description of a setting they experienced in Ixtapalapan, where he and his staff were quartered on their way to Tenochtitlan.  “…It's Lord or Chief has some new houses which, though still unfinished, are as good as the best in Spain; I mean as large and well constructed, not only in stonework but also in woodwork, and all arrangements for every kind of household service, all except the carved relief work and other rich details which are used in Spanish houses but not found here. There are both upper and lower rooms and very refreshing gardens with many trees and sweet scented flowers, and bathing places of fresh water, well constructed and having steps leading to the bottom. He also has a large orchard near the house, overlooked by a high terrace with many beautiful corridors and rooms. Within the orchard is a great square pool of fresh water, very well constructed, with sides of handsome masonry, around which runs a walk with well-laid pavement of tiles, so wide that four persons can walk abreast on it, and 400 paces square, making in all 600 paces. On the other side of the promenade toward the wall of the garden are hedges of lattice work made of cane, behind which are all sorts of plantations of trees and aromatic herbs. The pool contained many fish and different kinds of waterfowl.”
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Bernal Diaz, the Conquistador noted in his journal a remarkable find at the pueblo of Oaxtepac; “When Captain Sandoval found himself free from that struggle, he gave thanks to God and went to rest and sleep at an orchard within the town, which was so beautiful and contained so many fine buildings that it was the best worth beholding of anything we had seen in New Spain. There were so many things in it to look at that was really wonderful and was certainly the orchard of a great prince, and they could not go all through it then, for it was more than a quarter of a league in length.”
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While researching the Aztec Calendar, the quality of life on this continent prior to the European invasion tempts the authors to describe a Native American cultural utopia. In 1537AD, Friar Toribio Motolina began to realize a certain irony:  “Of the two occasions on which I was on the estuary that I speak of, one was in the afternoon of a clear, calm day, and in truth I went along open mouthed looking at that ‘pool of God’. I saw how trifling are man’s affairs and the buildings and pools of the great princes and lords of Spain, and how everything is counterfeit, ...and on this they base their happiness. Let them consider, and come here, for here they will find it all together, made by the hand of God, without toil or trouble; all of which invites one to give thanks to Him who made the springs and brooks and everything else in the world, created with such beauty, and for the service of man.”   
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