Next time you’re on a jet landing at Mexico City, try to imagine what happened here five centuries ago when Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his 500 soldiers marched into the capital city of the Aztecs – while their emperor and a quarter-million warriors stood by. This is the story of how an odd coincidence paved the way for Cortes’ victory.

For centuries, Aztec emperors got worried when the year 1-Reed rolled around in each “sheaf” of 52 years. 1-Reed, legends had it, would be the year of the return of the god-king Quetzalcoatl – a flying serpent – who’d left the country to do penance for, well, an unspeakable act he’d committed when he ruled the empire. When he got back, the stories said, the ruling powers at the time would (at best) find themselves jobless. (Read More)

Likeness of Quetzalcoatl in a resort on the Riviera Maya. Photo by Bob Schulman.
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