Tag Archives: nature photography

Nature still stands

Photo I shot at the ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacan.

Recently named the 5th largest city of olden times, the city’s gigantic downtown has been deserted for the last 1400 years. Everything about this city has faded into oblivion — even its original name. Only buldings, streets, and water works remain. All has withered, even its own memory. The little we know was written from ancient Maya nations far away in Central American jungles. And still only the tall pyramid-like temples remain. Why do ancient Mexican cities remain intact, when moden-day buildings tend to crumble when left unattended?

The reason is as simple as nature itself. Native peoples of Mexico and Central America discovered that following nature’s blueprints gave them extraordinary benefits in architecture as well as in other scientific areas. Instead of fighting off nature when building cities, they imitated it. So tall buildings, the first real skyscrappers way before New York’s, were erected in the form of mountains.

Man-made mountains towered ancient Mexican cities. We call them nowadays “pyramids” when in fact they’re not. Pyramids were those built by ancient Egyptians. But even they may be visually similar to a pyramid, the tall temples were actually mounds, mountains, or hills made by the hands of man… with stairs. A mountain is difficult to come down by earthquakes or hurricanes. Even ill-intended warring actions may leave scars on such buldings, but never dissipate the form of it (i.e. Mexico City’s Tenochtitlan).

And just like nature still stands amid the political chaos of people around the world, also these ancient structures. I shot this photo off the tourist path.

If you like ancient native Mexican history, you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

At the Empire nature still stands. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña. At the Empire nature still stands. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.


Mamulique mountains.

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

Located in Northeastern Mexico, the small Mamulique mounatins, part of the Picachos mountain range, is the last elevation one leaves behind when going northward. As the hills and slopes of these mountains fade, the vastness of the plains make its presence covering a huge land area — the rest of Northeastern Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

It housed one of the most dangerous curves of the Panamerican highway.

Between the industrial city of Monterrey and the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mamulique stands in the way. Long ago the highway communicating Mexico City to Laredo, Texas — the famed Panamerican Road — housed its most dangerous curves on these range, making it the stuff of legends amongst truck drivers and travelers. During the 1990’s a new high highway toll system was built here, in a time were the country did not have (but needed) a highway system.

In the state of Nuevo Leon, it is about 2 hours driving (or less) from Laredo, Texas.

Mamulique mountains. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Mamulique mountains. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Forest at Mexican volcanoes

Photo I shot in one of the valleys of the western flank of the Iztaccihuatl volcano.

Iztaccihuatl means White Lady in Nahuatl native language. Ancient indigenous people named her like that because of the feminine silhouette created by the snowy glaciers on the top, resembling a sleeping woman.

If you enjoy Mexican scenery and history you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Forest at Mexican volcaones. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Forest at Mexican volcaones. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

At the keep of the wicked.

At the keep of the wicked,
snarling to face it,
rise and rise, not once but thrice!
Amid the darkness and its skid,
Lies the night of this land dry.

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

Photo I shot at the Northern Mexican border.

At the keep of the wicked. Copyright 2010 Miguel Omaña. At the keep of the wicked. Copyright 2010 Miguel Omaña.

Bee on a flower.

Photo I shot of a gorgeous model I found in a lake in northwestern Mexico City metro area.

Not only are bees pretty, but of paramount importance for the balance of the planet’s ecosystem (and not because Doctor Who says so, by the way).

Illustrator Brooke Barker suggests in a joking way that if a bee is to be paid minimum wage, a jar of honey would cost $ 182,000! These little friends are so important!

Bee on a flower. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Bee on a flower. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Tulum, the port city of the Maya world.

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

Once the Maya golden age crumbled, Tulum rose as the main port city of the Protectorate of Cobá.

Once a Maya port and trading city which rose after the fall of the great superpowers of the South, Tikal (today Guatemala) and Calakmul. As the golden age crumbled, Maya nations sprinkled the land with tiny nations. This continued until a nation emerged in the Yucatan Peninsula as the heir of the superpowers of old by means of conquest and trade. So the Protectorate of Cobá was born, encompassing much territory. From the vast lands it had, it heavily relied on a port city for trading, Tulum.

Through Tulum, goods were imported and exported in the region.

As this protectorate was enlarged, Cobá achieved great power through trade. Through ports like Tulum goods were imported and exported with other small Maya nations, as well as the rest of Central America and the Caribbean. Tulum must have functioned like an independent Free Zone (a place with few or no taxation), but its importance relied more on it utilitarian purpose.

Location, location… and a reef in the Caribbean.

Tulum’s geographic position was important, so much that a beacon was built to signal trading and traveling vessels. The reef constituted a physical obstacle in front of Mayan coasts. Yet, in front of Tulum’s shores there was (and still is) a safe passage through the reef. The beacon from the high point of Tulum would directly point to the safe route in the sea.

As cities like Chichen Itza grew prominent, Cobá and its port Tulum diminished.

Commercial routes that existed prior to the fall of the superpowers were reestablished. Even trading routes of Maya powers such as Palenque, Yaxchilan, Caracol, Naranjo and Copan were used again, only this time new political players in the Maya world used them. That is how Uxmal, the Mayapan League, and ultimately the now famous city of Chichen Itza (home of one of the seven wonders of the modern world) grew their prestige and political role. The Protectorate of Cobá dwindled, its government collapsed, and ideas and writing from the Maya golden age was silenced.

Then the new era catched up to a changing world.

The realm of trade and navigation yielded to a new era, to a highly militarized changing world. The Maya world would never be the same.

If you enjoy Ancient Mexican history, you might enjoy my ebook novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes. Available at online retail bookstores or follow the links in the official page

Photograph I shot at Tulum in December 23, 1998 with an analog Cosina CT-3 analog camera using 35 mm film.

Tulum, Mexico. Copyright 1998 Miguel Omaña. Tulum, Mexico. Copyright 1998 Miguel Omaña.

Popocatepetl volcano, Mexico.

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

Photo I took of the active volcano located in the central Mexican plateau.

Popocatepetl volcano divides the Valley of Mexico, where Mexico City is located, and Puebla metro area.

Quite near to big, dense cities like Mexico City (third biggest Urban Agglomeration in the world), and Puebla city. Although active, it does not pose a threat to the largest urban sprawl in the Western Hemisphere — as long as it doesn’t form a so-called dome.

Popocatepetl means in Nahuatl language Smoking Mountain.

During the time of the Mexica Aztec, this volcano went active as well, so it was called Popocatepetl which means Smoking Mountain. The name prevailed even though when the Hispanics called it Sierra Nevada or Snowy Mountain Range. More recently it is called Don Gregorio or just Don Goyo by locals living at the base of the volcano to confer it human personality (after all this volcano has quite the mood swings). Of course for a foreigner trying to pronounce Popocatepetl may be daunting, to the degree of bringing you to the brink of mood outbursts as well.

Photo was taken at San Andres Cholula (part of the Puebla metro area), almost 20 min drive from Puebla city — capital of Puebla state.

Tip: There are three Cholula towns. Be sure to know where you want to visit. The area receives thousands of foreign tourists who visit the Cholula pyramid and colonial buildings.

Popocatepetl volcano, Mexico. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Popocatepetl volcano, Mexico. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Zumpango Lake nowadays.

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

Sunset at Zumpango Lake, which once connected the cities of old.

Photograph I took at the once capital of Zumpango, or Tzompanco in its original name in Nahuatl language. The lake was part of the super lake of Texcoco, it communicated all major powers and capitals of Ancient Mexico, the Anahuac. This lake once connected the realm of Zumpango with Mexico Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), Xaltocan (Jaltocan), Tlacopan (Tacuba), Cuitlahuac Tizic (Tlahuac), the Chalco Confederacy (Chalco), Tetzcoco (Texcoco), Huitzilopochco (Churubusco), Chapoltepec (Chapultepec), Mexico Tlatilulco (Tlatelolco), Tepeyacac (Tepeyac), Xochimilco, and Ehecatepec (Ecatepec).

Bridge-streets criss-crossed the lakes.

Native people back then traveled by water using an acalli, a boat similar to a canoe much wider and sturdier. Acalli literally means “water house”. Many cities connected each other with long and wide bridge-streets which at some point they criss-crossed the lakes. Many survived still today as modern-day avenues called calzadas. If you’re ever in Mexico City and encounter a street that instead of the habitual avenue or street designation begins with the word calzada, chances are you are cruising on ancient water avenues.

These waters saw wars of old, commerce unfold, and even the rise and fall of the earth spirits.

Zumpango lake, Mexico. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.
Zumpango lake, Mexico. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.