National Geographic : 1984 Oct
up our tents inside for further warmth. I thought our gear had nearly filled the space, but then the guardian came in and found a niche. Then the Saint Bernards. Then, somehow, three other dogs. And two more men. In the morning Vicki found a Saint Bernard firmly lodged in one of the tents. IT WAS ONLY A SHORT WAY now to the Pass of Cortes. Crossing meadows fringed by snow, we stood more than 12,000 feet above the sea. Mexico's highest pass is flanked by the great volcanoes Popocatepetl ("smoking mountain") and Iztaccihuatl ("white wom an"). One would like to think that Cortes looked down from here on the great valley and its lakes, upon satellite cities, and great Tenochtitlan in the center. I believe inter vening peaks denied him the sight of Te nochtitlan, 40 miles distant. It is hard to know now, because smog usually envelops Mexico City and its 16 million inhabitants.* In any case Bernal Diaz said it was snowing when the army, now augmented by 4,000 Indians, crossed the pass. We did it in an icy rain. Cortes proceeded cautiously to towns in the valley. We followed him through pine forests to Amecameca, then over lava flows to Tlalmanalco and to Ayotzingo by the for mer lake margin. It was in Ayotzingo that Cortes received Moctezuma's nephew, *Bart McDowell reported on the growing pains of this Mexican megalopolis in the August 1984 GEOGRAPHIC.