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VIII IX

N O T E S

When writing about the old Mexico, I came across the dilemma of using the native names in an English text. The choice is daunting: either have readers twist their tongues with phrases like “Citlalpopocatzin, the elder from Quiahuixtlan, suspected Temilotecatl of Tepeticpac…”, or risk producing a fantasy-sounding text with dreamy names like Scarlet Mist and Broken Plume.

I opted for the latter, and I hope the readers will appreciate the read-ability. What follows is a guide to the places and names mentioned in the text, for those who prefer to be grounded in reality.

Quick Pronunciation Guide

The Aztec tribes spoke Nahuatl. Most Nahuatl words are stressed on the next to last syllable.

“Tl” sounds just as it is written (e.g. “Atlanta”), unless it occurs at the end of a word. Then the “l” all but disappears.

“X” sounds like “sh” in English, as in “show”.

“H” in the beginning of a word is similar to the English “w”, as in “well”.

N O T E S

Places and Tribes

Ant Hill: Azcapotzalco, from Azcatl (ant), potzalli (mound) and the suffix –co that indicates “place”. It was the capital of the Tepanec people on the western shore of lake Texcoco.

Blue Cloak Mountain: Matlalcueyetl mountain, meaning Lady of the Blue Cloak, or Jade Skirt. It’s now also known as La Malinche, or Malintzin, volcano.

Cactus Rock: Tenochtitlan, from tetl (stone), nochtli (prickly pear fruit), and the suffix -(ti)tlan that indicates “place of ”.

Chalk Place: Tizatlan, from tizatl (chalk, white earth) and -tlan that indicates “place of ”. One of the four allied clans of Tlaxcala.

Crescent City: Metztitlan, from metztli (moon), and the suffix -(ti) tlan that indicates “place of ”. It was a relatively large Otomí town. I used the word “crescent” to set it apart from the “Moonwalk people”.

Dahlias Hill: Texcoco. I used my artistic license for this translation. The name is usually taken to mean “the place where f lowers grow on rocks”. Texcoco was a beautiful center of culture and learning famous, among other things, for its gardens. I tried to translate the spirit of the place, rather than give you a mouthful of precise words.

Fish Catchers: Purepecha, or Tarascans. I used the Nahuatl name for that tribe, because that was the language of my protagonists, “Michhuaque” (those who have fish), referring to their fishing in lake Pátzcuaro.

Grasshopper Hill: Chapultepec, from chapul (cricket) and tepetl (hill).

Hideaway Springs: Cholula. The original name in Nahuatl was (A) Cholollan, from either chololli (refugee, runaway) or chololoa (to

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