“Forbidden Mexico: A Chronicle of UFO and Paranormal Lore” was originally issued by Fatbrain.com in 1999.

Reissued © 2013 The Institute of Hispanic Ufology (IHU)

FORBIDDEN MEXICO: A Chronicle of UFO and Paranormal Lore by Scott Corrales
Institute of Hispanic Ufology (IHU)

© 1997,2013


In his book Mexico Today (1957), author John A. Crow characterized the two million square kilometer land south of the Rio Grande as follows: "You cross the border and enter another world, more foreign than Europe. The visitor to Europe, beneath the quality of strangeness, will feel that he is at the source of a culture that belongs to him...the visitor to Mexico will feel no such bond: he will stand perplexed." This thought, which may be considered politically incorrect in our age of heightened sensitivty, is often expressed by Mexicans themselves when describing their country. The fact that the Sierra Madres -- both eastern and western ranges -- remain largely unexplored is a source of pride to many. Mexico is a well at which the seeker of mysteries can drink a long and satisfying draught of everything from pre-European puzzlement, colonial-era mysteries, unexplained creatures and modern UFO sightings.

Chapter One: Anáhuac
A Land of Alien Gods Modern tourists, like the Spanish conquistadores who preceded them by half a millenium, look upon the stone deities of the Aztecs with a combination of wonder and dread. Frightening statues of brown and black stone which once demanded human sacrifice now rest peacefully in the marbled halls of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. These cthonic images are mute yet eloquent testimony to a civilization which worshipped the forces that H.P. Lovecraft characterized as the "Old Ones" in his writings. While the statue of Coatlicue -- the mother goddess -- may have sent chills down the spines of 16th century Spanish priests, they had no idea that they were facing one of the more benign deities of the vanquished Aztecs' pantheon: Coatlicue's statue, standing over eight feet tall, is a monstrous depiction of the cyclical nature of existence, the devourer who is in turn devoured. The statue holds human hearts in its uplifted hands, is girdled with serpents, and is crowned with twin snake heads, one representing Quetzalcoatl and the other his twin brother, Xolotl. Few statues have survived down to our day of the idols which struck fear into the hearts of the bravest warrior or most stolid priest: Iztlacoliuhqui, lord of snow, cold and misery (perhaps the ultimate embodiment of the force of entropy--a real-life version of the Chaos Lords created by British fantasist Michael Moorcock). Expelled from heaven by the other gods, much like the Judeo-Christian Lucifer, this chaotic deity roams the earth, striking blindly at mortals; Tlacolotl, the owl deity personifying the ultimate, blackest evil imaginable; the awful goddess Ciuacoatl, "the crier in darkness" who dressed in white, forecasted wars and destruction, probably the most horrfying depiction in the Aztec pantheon, variously known as

"snake woman" or "eagle woman" ; Tlacoteutl, mistress of vice and coprophilia -- all of them raw, basic forces too terrible to invoke, even in this land of earthquakes and volcanoes. When writing about Huitzilopotchli, the tutelary Aztec deity, whose statue did not survive the wreck of Tenochtitlán, much mention is made of the horror caused by those who looked upon its statue. "Those who beheld it were rendered speechless and were stunned by its crude and horrifying figure; descriptions fell short when it came to describe its ghastly ugliness. Its abominable visage and broad jewel-covered body, caked in rotten blood, filled the air with a pestilent reek." The conquistadores and their chroniclers were particularly taken aback by one of Emperor Moctezuma's many palaces -- the Tlillancalco or "house of darkness", to which the Aztec prince would withdraw whenever he needed to meditate or recieve supernatural assistance. The chroniclers make mention of the blackened walls and veiled windows in chambers where "the Devil would appear, or he [Moctezuma] would hear his advice." It was in this palace that the monstrous prodigies of the Spanish conquest were brought to be witnessed by the native lord and his frightened courtiers. Whether the grip of such deities was dispelled by the coming of Christianity and the brutal imposition of a foreign civilization remains open to debate. An example of this can be seen in the veneration of the benign mother-goddess Tonantzin continued in the form of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose basilica was built precisely where Tonantzin's temple once stood. In the Yucatan Peninsula, the Mayas may have submitted to the Cross and the Sword, but remained firm in the belief that far from the cities, in the dark of the jungles, the ancient deities still held sway, and consequently had to be venerated. The Shadows of Giants

In 1975, Mexico's premier ufologist, Pedro Ferriz, visited the town of Calvillo, Aguascalientes (on the Pacific coast, famous for its intricate mazes of unexplored manmade caves) to inspect some ancient petroglyphs on the property of Víctor Martínez, a local landowner. Martínez told the ufologist that he was ambivalent about the petroglyphs, which he considered unlucky, particularly since "that affair with the giants". When asked to elaborate on what he meant, Martínez explained that he had stumbled upon the ancient skeletons of two extraordinarily large men while tilling the soil. Martínez went into Calvillo to notify the authorities about his find, only to discover that the local police believed him to have killed both giants and wanted to incarcerate him! The farmer finessed his way out of the predicament, returned to his farm, and set fire to the bones. The reader may well shake his or her head and mourn the loss of what could have well been the evidence needed to build a watertight case for the existence of giants, but had the bones been delivered to a competent authority, it would not have availed much since human skeletons of larger-than-human size have been disinterred for centuries. The town of Soyopa, in the Mexican state of Sonora, has also yielded evidence of giants. In 1930, a group of laborers clearing out a parcel of land not far from the Yaqui River, allegedly dug up an ancient cemetery that yielded the remains of men with a height in excess of eight feet "buried tier by tier." (New

York Times, Dec.2, 1930). Four years later, archaeologist Paxton Hayes would disinter the
remains of "a race of giants" in a cave located near Barranca de Cobre (today a national park), only a few hours away from the bustling ports of Los Mochis and Culiacán. Latin American sources are quite prolix on the subject of giants, to the extent that a number of anthropologists are tempted to consider them the original civilization of

Mesoamerica, much to the dismay of their colleagues. Fernando Alva Ixtlilxóchitl, one of the early chroniclers of Mexico's history, mentions in his book Obras Históricas the widespread belief that the Chichimecs, the earliest occupants of what is now Mexico, had to displace an old race of giants that lived there (echoes not only of the Bible, but of early legends surrounding the elimination of giants from Britain by a Trojan warrior named Brutus), thus accounting for the persistent discovery of abnormally large remains. Ixtlilxóchitl mentions the strife between the giants known as Quinametzin and normal-sixed humans. Memory of the Quinametzin was widespread throughout Mesoamerica, as evidenced by information gleaned by Spanish explorers and colonizers. Bernal Diaz del Castillo, who accompanied Cortez on his conquest of the Aztec Empire, wrote of a belief among the Tlaxcalan people that "...their ancestors had shared the land with men and women of very tall bodies and large bones, and since they were very wicked and ill mannered, [the ancestors] slew them in combat, and what remained of them died out...". The information turned up by early missionaries is also quite intriguing. Fray Diego Durán claimed to have seen the bones "of immense giants" excavated "out of rough places". Fray Gerónimo de Mendieta was told by the older natives that their predecessors had been forced to struggle against giants, "and after this land was won, the bones of many tall men were found." Bernardo de Sahagún, the great Franciscan missionary, would be the first to suggest that the pyramids of Teothihuacan and Cholula were the handiwork of the vanished giant race. Wherever the conquistadors went, more stories were added to the body of information concerning these creatures. When the rapacious Nuno de Guzman reached what is today Jalisco, he demanded to know from the natives why a number of towns had been

abandoned. They informed him that the towns had been inhabited by a band of giants who had come up from the south. Eighteenth century scholars such as Francisco Javier Clavijero were convinced that Mexico's early occupants had indeed been creatures of above average height, judging by the sheer number of remains found (which have apparently not survived to our time). There was to be no peaceful co-existence between the Quinametzin and the newly-arrived humans, who called them quinametzin hueytlacame ("huge deformed men" or "monstrous giants"). The advancing human tribes (tentatively identified as Olmecs and Toltecs) drove the giants out of their ancestral domain, causing some of them to flee to the north and others to the south, following the Pacific coastline down to Central America. Fray José Mariano Rothea, a Jesuit, sums up this belief as follows: "...in very ancient times there came men and women of extraordinary height, seemingly in flight from the North. Some of them went along the coast of the Southern Sea, while others took to the rough mountainsides..." Fray Andrés de Olmos, writing in the 16th century, mentions a curious detail: the Mexican giants nourished themselves on oak acorns and a variety of weeds. This detail contained in the codexes enables us to contemplate a strange possibility: could the Quinametzin have survived into our present age under the guise of the tall, hirsute simian beings known as Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch and myriad other denominations? Those interviewed by the Colonial-era chroniclers explained that tradition held that those giants who were not exterminated by normal-sized humans were chased into the wilderness, where remnants of their race still endure. Marc Dem, the French author of a number of works on the paranormal, has identified the Biblical "Anakim" with giant beings such as the Asian Yeti. French author and occultist Michel Cargese has explored this aspect of the giants as

master builders in his own works. He provides the example of a prehistoric tool kit found in Agadir, Morocco: the 300,000 year old set of tools was designed to be used by someone with hands corresponding to those of a 16-foot tall giant. He adds that other cyclopean works found in other parts of the globe have also been the handiwork of these giants. Aztec religious texts such as the Annals of Cuautitlán, which contains the now-famous "Legend of the Five Suns", make mention of the giants, who lived in a distant age of mankind ruled by the second of the five suns ("Taltonatiuh"). The destruction of the giants came about when "jaguars" swept out of the night to devour them all out of existence. Contemporary scholarship tells us that there was nothing at all paranormal about the rampaging felines that destroyed the giants -- the were merely Olmec warriors bearing the jaguar motif on their weapons. Establishment scientist and academics look upon these anomalies with considerable irritation, charging that the giant bones found often belong to early mammals (which is true in many cases) and that the dating methods used were either improperly applied or not used at all -- which puts paid, in their viewpoint, to any discrepancies in age. But the dating methods employed by anthropology and archaeology are hardly foolproof: fluorine dating, for example, provides only a relative age and does not operate in tropical regions of the planet or regions which were once upon a time tropical (such as Antarctica); Carbon-14 dating, which has been the workhorse of field since its inception, is useful in dating organic items for no period earlier than eleven thousand years ago; uranium series dating, amino-acid racemigation (which is subject to contamination, as with all organic dating procedures) and thermoluminesence have in many cases yielded dates much older than expected. The Circular Ruins

Jorge Luis Borges, one of South America's most distinguished authors and a pillar of modern literature, described a timeless circular pyramid surmounted by a temple to the fire god in his short story The Circular Ruins. As if dealing with an onyric experience, Borges leads the reader through a surreal, metaphysical adventure. Does this well-known story describe the mysterious Mexican ruins known as the Cuicuilco pyramid? Archaeologists do not like to be reminded of Cuicuilco: the massive, circular pyramid complex that straddles an ancient lava bed to the south of Mexico City is "a blow in the face of history," as one Mexican investigator called it. Even now, many scholars are silent accomplices to its destruction-- shopping malls, multi-family dwellings and industrial parks encroach upon the ancient ruins. The city's formidable pollution problem, coupled with the threat of acid rain, will surely take care of this archaeological embarrassment if no action is taken. The embarrassing controversy has been swept under the carpet and discussion of the subject is discouraged. Tourists will find no postcards of the circular ruins and only passing mention is made of them in most tourist literature. All experts agree that the Cuicuilco pyramid is the oldest structure in the Anahuac Valley, which houses modern Mexico, and the very first monumental construction in the Americas. Disagreements as to its antiquity and the people who built it continue to this very day. Official records state that the Cuicuilco structures can be no older than 600 B.C., but revisionist figures claim the structure was built between 8000 to 10,000 years ago, thus making it almost as old as the "Tepexpan Man" -- the earliest prehistoric dweller found in Mesoamerica (human remains along with those of a wooly mammoth were found at this site). Cuicuilco measures some 17 meters in height and has a diameter of 115 meters. A series

of ramps provided access to its uppermost tier, which housed a temple with a statue of Huehueteótl -- the "Old God of Fire", the very first deity worshipped in this continent. The mighty circular pyramid is surrounded by smaller structures and rectangular buildings with well-finished floors which must may been homes. When viewed from the roadside, or from the slight vantage point provided by the Perisur shopping mall, the visitor may well think he or she is looking upon a colossal Celtic hill-fort. The Cuicuilco site has yielded clay figurines depicting a series of dancers, acrobats and entertainers; ceremonial masks probably employed by shamans and actors engaged in recreating ritual ceremonies. There is reason to believe that this lost culture was highly specialized and had its full complement of bricklayers, masons, administrators, priests and bureaucrats. The contented lives of the prosperous, unwarlike Cuicuilcans came to an end when the Ajusco, a 4000-foot tall peak located on the same mountain range as the Popocatepetl volcano, began to exhibit volcanic activity. The earthquakes which rocked Anahuac Valley caused an enormous hole to open in the ground -- a smaller volcano called Xitle, which poured a torrent of lava that destroyed nearby Copilco before engulfing Cuicuilco itself. The Cuicuilcans fled before the destruction, and all that was left behind was an eighty square mile lava field known today as El Pedregal. Debate has raged on and off regarding the date of the Xitle's eruption. Scholars of the "Pre-Classic" period of Mexican history believe that the eruption took place between 500 and 200 A.D., while geologists have placed the volcanic event as far back as 7000 B.C. -- clearly a wildly divergent figure. The circular pyramid's base, twice the length of a soccer field, has also yielded its share

of mysteries. The Spanish physician Hernández, sent to Mexico by order of Philip II, visited Cuicuilco and wrote his sovereign about having found the bones of large beasts along with those of "men" in excess of five meters tall. Natives expressed a belief that Cuicuilco's enigmatic structure had been built by giants. Efforts at "restoring" Cuicuilco in 1906-1910 led to the removal of a considerable number of huge adobe blocks from the upper tiers. Serious archaeological work, however, was not undertaken until 1922, when a team led by Dr. Byron Cummings of the University of Arizona began digging what could well be the oldest pyramid on Earth. The site was apparently visited one night by an unidentified flying light which hovered over the ruins before speeding off into the distance. While this UFO event did not put a halt to the excavation of the Cuicuilco pyramid, the expense of digging through solid lava eventually did. The pyramid remains only partially uncovered, and the bulk of the Cuicuilco site is covered by a thirty square mile lava field with an average thickness of some twenty feet. The rapid growth of Mexico City now makes further excavations impossible, and we will never know what other artifacts might have given us a better clue as to the origin of the circular pyramid, its purpose and its builders. Scientists insist that its one-of-a-kind shape is a representation of the volcano beside it, but a reconstruction of the pyramid -- found in Mexico's National Anthropology Museum -- would cause even the most disinterested party to wonder: why was it shaped like a flying saucer? From its silent vantage point at the southern entrance to Mexico City, Cuicuilco is as good a starting point as any for a journey through Mexico's perplexing archaeological past. Trudging through fields of maguey and scrub vegetation toward the pyramid complex of Teotihuacán is the closest that the casual tourist can come to being on another planet. Even

on a fine sunny day, there is a certain alienness to the landscape which makes the enormous pyramids of the Sun and Moon seem a trifle frightening. On a cloudy day, the entire region and its surrounding mountains appear to have been designed according to the descriptions of the terrifying otherworldly realms imagined by H.P. Lovecraft. Thousands of tourists visit Teotihuacán every year; tens of thousands of postcards and books depicting the complex are sold throughout the country and overseas, but we still do not know who built the stone metropolis. The Aztecs treated the site with awe and reverence, naming it "the city of the gods" when they could not imagine who else but gods could have built such a place. Superstition kept the Aztecs from ever occupying Teotihuacán, and when the conquering Spaniards first reached the location, it was covered by dense layers of alluvial mud. Historians tell us that the monumental complex was built around 200 A.D. and was sacked by the Toltecs in 856 A.D.There is evidence that the Mexican pyramids are far older than the ultraconservative figures given by scholars. According to British archaeologist H.S. Bellamy, the excavations at Teotihuacán required the removal of layers of earth measuring up to one meter in thickness. Bellamy himself reckoned the pyramid to have been built around 5000 B.C.. In the mid-1930's, General Langlois, a French researcher, looked into the evidence of a strange unknown civilization predating the arrival of the Olmecs and the Toltecs on the Mesoamerican scene. This enigmatic culture was one of formidable mathematicians and engineers who may have been imitating older monuments still. The memory of their existence and the magnitude of their undertakings may have led successive cultures to regard them as giants who were swept away by floods, earthquakes and other disasters. Langlois believed that certain Egyptian pyramids were copies of the earlier Mexican ones. Pedro Ferriz and his French colleague Christian Siruget went on to discover a hitherto

unknown property of the Mexican pyramids -- their ability to store electrical energy like batteries. Experiments conducted at a number of separate pyramids throughout the country led researchers to believe that these structures were designed to collect energy for later distribution. Ferriz and Siruget expressed a belief that ancient builders expressly painted red and blue sides on the pyramids to indicate the positive and negative poles of the battery. Ferriz notes in his book Los OVNI y la arqueología de México (Diana, 1976) that the pyramid of Cholula is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The Cholula pyramid, which is buried under a hillside and is surmounted by a church from the colonial period, was the single largest structure in the world until the building of the Boulder Dam in the U.S. Ferriz and Siruget suggest that the alignment of an artificial hill known as the Teotón with the extinct Tecajete volcano and the Cholula pyramid itself is repeated in other pyramid sites throughout the country. This concept is not quite as far-fetched as it may seem: radioactive pyramids are discussed in French author Robert Charroux's The Gods Unknown. The hundred-foot tall pyramid found in Couhard, Brittany was built with radioactive phyllite rock. Charroux writes that the Couhard Pyramid is well oriented horizontally and aligned to a shaft which led to a deep geological rift which apparently served to provide negative Coulombian waves. The structure emits K41 gamma radiation -- a fact which leads the French writer to speculate that the pyramids were employed as beacons for guiding spacecraft to safe harbor within Earth's atmosphere. He goes even farther out on a limb to speculate that the radioactive energy was used to recharge the propulsion systems of his hypothetical spaceships. While the concept of "ancient astronauts" -- alien visitors during Earth's prehistory -enjoyed considerable success in the early 1970's, it gradually fell out of favor with ufologists

and with the public at large, as they became tired of having every single piece of ancient pottery ascribed an extraplanetary origin. The success of Zechariah Sitchin's books in the early 1990's, however, brought about a rekindling of interest in the subject. Ever since Erich Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods? appeared almost thirty years ago, a considerable amount of attention has been paid to the massive slab --- depicting the so-called "Palenque Astronaut" -- which covers the tomb of the Mayan god Pakal, whose replica is on display in Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology. The slab, which ostensibly shows the reincarnation of man into corn, resembles more closely the presence of an astronaut within a space capsule. Experts have pointed out a number of features -- from the depiction of throttles and exhaust ports to the fact that the Mayan figure's hair appears to be suspended in weightlessness -- which indicate that Pakal is traveling aboard a spacecraft of some sort. The slab was discovered on June 15, 1952 in the depths of the Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque. While the temple itself had been known since 1787, it wasn't until 1934 that Mexican archaeologist Miguel Angel Fernández became aware of the existence of a rectangular slab with twelve holes on its surface; some years later, Alberto Ruz Lhuiller would begin the actual excavation, which necessitated the removal of some three hundred tons of limestone. Their efforts were rewarded with the discovery of the funeral chamber of the god Pakal-Kin. In spite of the jade mask and jewelry covering the bones contained within the massive sarcophagus, nothing was known about the personage within. Was the "god" Pakal a being from another world or merely a human ruler gifted with above average height and talents? But Pakal and his famous slab (which has even been featured in National Geographic) are hardly the only pieces of evidence seized by the paleoufologist in his quest to prove

extraterrestrial involvement in ancient Mexico. The Summer 1995 issue of Terra Incognita, the newsletter of Mexico's CEFP (Centro de Estudios de Fenomenos Paranormales) featured an article by noted investigator Gustavo Nelin, a chemical engineer devoted to unravelling the ancient mysteries of his country along with the more recent enigma posed by the UFO phenomenon. Chalcaltzingo (state of Morelos) boasts a four thousand year old rock carving known officially as the "The King" but whose description matches more closely that of a nearly-horizontal figure giving the appearance of floating in space while holding a torch-like object in an outstreched arm. A "space vehicle" appears suspended above the figure, who is clearly meant to be flying in mid-air as the artist has surrounded him with birds. "To me his helmet looks like a real modern helmet, like the ones used by modern fliers," Nelín observes in his article. "He is dressed in a one-piece jumpsuit with thick belts and is also wearing boots on his feet." The "Olmec Astronaut" is not unique: two other depictions, found on a jade object and on a stelae in La Venta, Veracruz, respectively, show flying humans in the same pose as the one in Chalcatzingo. The author has observed that there are sufficient elements present in all three to safely state that the art of flight had been known to the sculptors depicting the images. Nelín has also investigated other archaeological sites overlooked by contemporary visitors, such as Cacaxtla in the state of Tlaxcala (N.E. of Mexico City). Flanked by the towering peaks of Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl, Cacaxtla is a citadel 2 1/2 miles wide by 1 mile wide, boasting the ruins of palaces, dwelling places, religious structures and other edifices. The site features vivid murals depicting half-animal, half-human males and females. While much attention has been lavished upon the enigmatic petroglyphs found at the

Canyonlands site in Utah, a possibly more significant one has been completely overlooked at Mexico's Tlatilco site. This particular petroglyph clearly represents a being whose circular head is depicted as being contained within a square helmet and its feet give the impression of being covered by boots. An ancient astronaut, or an ancient tribesman wearing a box over his head? Archaeology leans toward the latter option, although the ancients had not yet manufactured the box. Dozens of books about ancient astronauts -- or paleoufology -- have filled bookshelves since the 1970's and their conclusions leave the reader none the wiser for the experience. The archaeological world is crawling with anomalies that hint at advanced civilizations which existed centuries earlier than modern scholarship is prepared to accept. To invoke the participation of aliens from another planet in the achievements of these forgotten peoples is premature and unnecessary: human beings of past millennia were certainly as resourceful as they are today, and were perfectly equipped to make the best use of the materials at their disposal. It is another matter entirely to say that these cultures represented the visits of interplanetary/interdimensional creatures in their artwork, architecture and even in their language: Quetzalcoatl, the "Venusian" deity worshipped as the embodiment of the force of spirituality and good in ancient Mexico, was the son of Chimalma, the "mirrored shield". Could this mean that the deity emerged from a brilliant disk that landed on the ground, a shield-shaped vehicle? Who can say? The mystery is as disturbing to us today as it was to the Aztecs five hundred years ago; disturbing enough to prompt Netzahualcoyotl, the Poet-King, to write the following line of verse: "There is above us a bursting of rays, spying upon us and always watching..." Forgotten Paquimé

Northwestern Mexico's topography is markedly different from that of the rest of the country. The western Sierra Madre represents a challenging barrier to human occupation that defies the best efforts of modern man. To date, a single road and railway cross this mountainous fence, which soars to nine thousand foot elevations in some areas and plummets to depths greater than the Grand Canyon in others. The ancient occupants of these lands, however, were not thwarted by these physical barriers. In fact, they thrived at place known as Paquimé, one of the most perplexing ancient structures in the Americas. There are no ruins like it anywhere in Mexico, or in all of Mesoamerica, for that matter. Compared to them, the angular structures of Monte Albán and Uxmal might as well be softly rounded structures, and Teotihuacán merely a terraced hill. The initial glance of Paquimé will give the viewer the sensation of having seen these ruins before, but in a different place and context. Scanning the brain for memories will eventually conjure up the legend of King Minos, and the labyrinth built by Daedalus to conceal the dreaded Minotaur -- a legend from a Mediterranean culture thousands of miles from the Mexican sands. To a certain extent, Paquimé even has echoes of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, the dead cities of the Indus Valley. Since the early 1890's, when archaeologist began serious work in northern Chihuahua, their verdicts on the Paquimé site have varied from researcher to researcher and generation to generation. Archaeologist Charles DiPeso, who conducted extensive work at the Paquimé site, supports the choice of this surreal labyrinthine community as a trading post between vastly different cultures -- refined Mesoamerica and the less refined tribes to the north. Lecturer Curt Schaafsma has expressed a belief that far from being an outpost, Paquimé and the "Casas Grandes Culture" was an autonomous microcosm that provided a link between the Pueblo

Indians and southern Mexico. Most researchers agree, however, that the area was occupied as long ago as 7000 BCE, but only by unsophisticated hunter/gatherers collectively known as the "Desert Peoples." Content with the prima facie evidence confronting them, scholars comfortably place Paquimé within the context of very recent human habitation. Paquimé's heyday was between 1250 and 1350 A.D., and its labyrinthine walls and passages never sheltered more than four thousand people. Paquimé originally featured Anasazi-like "apartment buildings" standing between three and five storeys tall, made of hardened mud rather than baked adobe and with wooden ladders placed outside. The city featured a network of flagstone-covered canals which brought water to the buildings from a spring located almost a mile away. Careful archaeological work has shown that the city's occupants were largely devoted to polishing turquoise and other stones brought from nearby mines or from modern Arizona and New Mexico. Paquimé appears to have become a powerful trans-shipment point of turquoise from the north, bound southward, and for bird feathers and conch shells destined for the chieftains of the Pueblo communities. The level of sophistication has startled modern researchers, who discovered the existence of ancient heating systems employed to supply warmth to the areas in which the exotic bird cages were kept. The labyrinthine city was surrounded by smaller villages holding a few hundred inhabitants each. Excavations point to the existence of a defensive perimeter of watchtowers, perhaps aimed at defending the site against raiders from the north. But its earthworks appeared to avail Paquimé little against northern invaders: One of the fiercest tribe of pillagers and raiders to ever emerge out of the modern American southwest plundered as far south as the Anahuac Valley during the 13th century. As indicated in the

Crónica Mexicana, they indeed dressed in leather outfits and were armed with bows and
arrows. These nameless marauders were led by Xolotl, the "Mesoamerican Alaric", who finally settled his people in the vicinity of Tenayuca. It is possible that this barbarian tide was responsible for the destruction of Paquimé sometime during the 13th and 14th centuries, leaving the city abandoned before the first Spanish galleon ever set sail toward America. But a daring number of revisionists are beginning to feel that there is more to the story and that recently revised chronologies are incorrect. Could Paquimé have even been the mythical place known as "Aztlán"? Nahuatl tradition maintains that the Mexican tribes all emerged from a mythical place in the northlands known as "Aztlán". Archaeologists have variously placed this location as far north as Colorado and Utah, associating it with the Anasazi culture, particularly with the Mesa Verde, Colorado, settlement. Colonial age chroniclers held various opinions as to the location of this fabled place. Fray Diego Durán, writing in the 16th century, ventured that the Nahuatl-speaking tribes of which the Aztecs formed part had come from "a series of caves in Teoculuacán, which is also

known as Aztlán, a land which we have been told lies toward the north on firm land, along with Florida." The Spanish priest's native informants must surely have advised him about what their
own traditions held to be the truth--that the seven tribes emerged from "seven caves" to find the lands of the south. The good friar would have been startled to know that the Aztecs' curiosity about their own origins had been sufficiently piqued under the reign of Moctezuma Ihuilcamina that this monarch had ordered his courtiers to engage in what we would call today a "fact-finding mission" concerning the provenance of their race. It fell to Cuauhcoatl, the royal historian, to

inform the Aztec prince that Aztlán meant "whiteness" and had been a land filled with waterfowl of all descriptions, fish and riverine vegetation. However, the Crónica Mexicana, written in Nahuatl by Don Fernando Tezozomoc, indicates that "the Aztlán of the old Mexicans is the place now called New Mexico...there were forests, ridges, canyons, plantations of sweet magüey plants (agave)...when they came here, they did so on foot; spearing and eating deer, hares, beasts, snakes and birds. They travelled with their leather sackcloths, eating anything that they found in their path..." Obviously, the chroniclers are in disagreement as to the physical characteristics of the locations given. By the late 19th century, Alfredo Chavero's México a través de los siglos (Mexico Throughout the Centuries) posited the idea that the Nahuatl peoples wer among the oldest races on earth, and that Aztlán was their original domain, with Paquimé as its capital. This Nahuatl empire, for want of a better term, broke up when part of its inhabitants headed southward toward the Mexican altiplano. Rumor of this strange geometrical city soon reached the ears of the gold-crazed

conquistadores no sooner than they had overpowered and destroyed the Aztec civilization.
Spanish attempts to conquer northern Mexico had halted after the founding of Culiacán (Sinaloa) in 1531, given the ferocity of the native inhabitants of those desertic climates. But the weird and wonderful stories of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca would serve as the catalyst to propel the Spanish warriors northward once more. Cabeza de Vaca was the survivor of a storm-wrecked expedition destined to conquer Florida. As fate would have it, the hapless soldier and three companions escaped the disaster and were befriended by the native tribes they encountered along the way. Clad in buckskins given to them by their hosts, the castaways spent eight years wandering the vast expanse of

terrain between the Mississippi River and the Gulf of California. They eventually reached the part of northern Mexico (New Galicia) ruled by the fearsome Nuño de Guzmán, who scorned them and sent them back to Mexico City in irons. Yet word of the wealthy realms of Cibola and Quiviria, made even more wonderful by Cabeza de Vaca's alluring narratives, prompted the newly appointed viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, to outfit an expedition in 1540 in hopes of subduing the "Cibolans" and seizing their treasury. The disappointment suffered by the would-be conquerors has since become the stuff of legend, and the Seven Cities of Cibola joined the ranks of other kingdoms such as that of Prester John and El Dorado, fit to thrive only in men's minds. However, the failed expedition gave rise to a subsequent visit in 1565 by Francisco de Ibarra, who furnished posterity with one of the best descriptions of Paquimé, a city which looked "as if it had been founded by the Romans...filled with lordly houses having great height and strength, with six or seven stories and turrets, and walled like fortresses." Ibarra waxed eloquent with other pictorial descriptions: "The city has large and beautiful courtyards, tiled with fine flagstones resembling jade and...walls painted with colors of various hues." Most importantly, the city had been abandoned as long as the local tribespeople could remember. They told the explorer that they were in no way related to the strange people who had lived within its precise symmetry. During the rise of interest in cryptoarchaeology during the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies, a number of authors inspired a belief thought-provoking hypotheses concerning the origins of the mysterious Toltecs, Olmecs and even the Mayas. Some of these theories went as far as to claim an extraplanetary origin for these poorly understood cultures. According to Manuel Amabilis, author of Los Atlantes en Yucatán (Atlanteans in the

Yucatan), the Toltecs were the survivors of the downfall of Atlantis who established themselves in Mexico. From their capital city, Tula, these post-Atlanteans fanned out across the land, spreading their influence as far north as Chihuahua. Paquimé, whose odd architecture presents certain Toltec characteristics, would have been one of their outposts, thus making it a city far older than any other in North America. Orthodox researchers, clinging to their chronologies, indicate that the Casas Grandes culture flourished during the interregnum between the Toltec and Aztec cultures. When pursuing such a trajectory, there are only a few degrees of separation between the belief in Atlantis and the belief in UFOs. While archaeology frowns at such suggestions, the deserts of northern Mexico are filled with suggestions of life other than human. Chihuahua and Sonora are the ancestral home of the enigmatic Tarahumara people, whose unusual beliefs were chronicled by 19th century explorer Carl Lumholtz, who braved the almost lunar desolation of the Altar Desert and the tortuous depth of Barranca del Cobre to live among this culture. The Tarahumara expressed the notion that humans had not always been the chief inhabitants of this region. The Cocoyomes, as the Tarahumara tradition called them, were short, large-headed creatures who refrained from eating corn, the staple food of the Americas, and only fed off the Agave plant. These creatures occupied the caves on the upper reaches of the canyons and would descend to the river to drink during the evenings, since they could not withstand the sun's light. The native tradition goes on to add that the large-headed Cocoyomes "became unbearable" and that the Sun descended to earth to destroy them. Those who survived fled to the deepest reaches of the caves found in the region. Could such alien entities have been the original architects of Paquimé, thus accounting for its strange

configuration? Francisco Ochoa, a journalist and UFO researcher, believes that this solar destruction legend might refer to the arrival of a UFO which for some unimaginable reason either retrieved or destroyed the Cocoyomes. To this day, when unexplained lights are seen over the area, the natives automatically associate them with these enigmatic beings. Interest in the Casas Grandes Interaction Sphere, as it is properly known, as increased in recent decades, together with the accessibility to remote locations such as Copper Canyon, La Quemada, and other sites of interest. Is Paquimé, like the forgotten pyramid of Cuicuilco in the suburbs of Mexico City, proof that advanced cultures existed in what we have come to term "prehistoric" times? Are the chronological tables used by modern science--bent on compressing antiquity into an overly recent time frame--grossly incorrect, leading us to live in a historical "amnesia", as Immanuel Velikovsky so eloquently argued? Perhaps the alien geometry of Paquimé holds the potion that will help us remember.

Chapter Two: A Haunted Viceroyalty

Perhaps no period of Mexican history is richer in paranormal lore than the colonial period, covering three hundred years of history between the 16th and the 19th centuries. The Viceregal age -- El virreinato, in Spanish -- is full of ghost stories, apparitions of mystery lights and odd creatures. Foremost among these colonial enigmas is the belief in La Llorona, "the weeping one". Anthropologist have identified La Llorona -- a Mexican version of the Celtic banshee -with the dark Aztec goddess Ciuacoatl, whose mournful cry: "Oh, my children! Where can I hide

you?" terrified prehispanic Mexico and was one of the most chilling omens of the European
arrival. The demonic qualities of this deity, discussed earlier, were greatly emphasized by Torquemada the Inquisitor, who refers to her as "Tzitzimicihuatl" -- the infernal woman. But not all sources are in agreement with this possible origin: folklorist José María Roa Bárcenas insisted that La Llorona had been a young bride who died tragically before her wedding, and bore with her the veil which she never managed to wear in life, endlessly seeking her groom. Other sources say the ghostly female presence was a widow mourning her lost children; still other stories ascribed a more violent origin to the legend, one involving a hapless wife wrongly murdered by her jealous husband, and who now wandered through the night protesting her innocence. Many were persuaded to believe that La Llorona was none other than Hernán Cortez's mistress, Malitzin or "La Malinche", who was allowed to return from the

hereafter to mourn her repentance at having betrayed her people to the Spanish invaders. The fact remains that during the late 16th century, when the Viceroyality of New Spain (as Mexico was then known) was the jewel of Spain's transoceanic crown, colonial lords and ladies would be frightened out of their slumber by a woman's moans and cries, which echoed through the narrow streets of the city. Those brave enough to leave their homes in search of the source of the anguished wails reported seeing a woman clad in a white dress, her face covered by a heavy veil, walking with stately slowness toward the Main Square or zócalo, where she would drop to her knees before issuing a prolonged moan of anguish, then rising and walking into the waters of the vast lake which still surrounded Mexico three centuries ago. Artemio del Valle-Arizpe, one of Mexico's foremost authors and chroniclers, noted that the entity "would leave the bravest veterans of the Conquest speechless, pale and cold". But the entity did not circumscribe itself to Mexico City: it appeared in the lonely wilderness of the Mexican plateau, wandering along rural roads, walking through the center of terrified small towns and across farming homesteads. Unlike the bogeymen of most cultures, who have appeared to lose their place among the palpable terrors of the twentieth century, La Llorona remains as active as ever. Newscaster and journalist Luis Ramírez Reyes, who has added superb books on ufology and the paranormal to the corpus of literature on the subject, discusses teh case of one Emilio Contreras, who had an experience with La Llorona on October 31, 1950 in the town of Carmen Texquixquitla in the state of Tlaxcala. Contreras' widow, who discussed the event with Ramírez in 1992, indicated that her late husband was out at eleven thirty at night cutting magüey plants by moonlight to get a head start on this arduous task. He suddenly found himself in the midst of a dust whirlwind that was powerful enough to create a sudden depression in the ground,

which was wet from the day's rain. Investigating the matter, he was startled to find a beautiful woman in a long blue and white dressed sitting on a rock in the middle of the clearing. Contreras greeted the woman, but she allegedly did not acknowledge him, rising instead from the rock and wandering into a nearby cactus field. Mesmerized, the man followed the beautiful woman into the dense growth, ignoring the sting of the long cactus thorns. She made a sudden about face, issuing terrifying shrieks which made the Contreras realize that he was in the presence of none other than the dreded Llorona. According to his wife, Contreras ran home shouting curses, bursting into the house to recover from the frightful experience. Regaining his composure after smoking a few cigarettes (a veritable tribute to the powers of nicotine!), he charged out into the darkness again, intending to avenge himself on the woman who caused him to flee so unmanfully from the scene. She was nowhere to be found. Viceregal Mexico was also tormented by a variety of ghosts, perhaps the grim shades raised by centuries of black magical practices. One of them was the phosphorescent figure of a woman that would haunt a nameless alleyway in the neighborhood of San Sebastián. It was described as a strange, floating figure that produced miniuscule multicolored lights and whose face and hands were invisible. The multicolored lights would fall off the figure, roll along the ground, and then vanish--only to reappear and drift off in the air. Historian Artemio del Valle Arizpe, who includes this particular story in his folkloric work Obras Completas, indicates that a foolhardy Spanish captain, Alvaro de Viveros, decided to confront the specter and put an end to the matter, boasting that he would whoever had been spreading panic among the dwellers of Mexico City in such a manner "to the Courts, if not the

Inquisition." Viveros and two of his retainers allegedly faced the specter one night in the alleyway where it habitually appeared. One retainer fainted while the other knelt in feverish prayer at the sight of the approaching entity; Viveros, sword drawn, ordered the ghost to halt. When the apparition refused to obey, the angry Spanish captain ran it through with his blade, to no effect: the black shadow and its polychromatic lights simply moved forward along the steel weapon until the captain's arm was deep into the apparition. Issuing a cry, Viveros jumped aside and dropped the fine Toledo sword, on whose tip "trembled a blue light, sparkling as brightly as a star". Captain Viveros would have been even more perplexed to learn that 400 years later, people would still be facing apparitions. Television personality Nino Canún hosted a program dedicated exclusively to the problem of ghosts in Mexico in December 1993. Audience members were able to relate their brushes with the paranormal to a nationwide viewership of millions. Their accounts were collected by Luis Ramirez Reyes in his book Contacto: Mexico (1996): Octavio García (Tlalnepantla, Mexico) indicated that the ghost of an old woman with a corpselike face and 20 centimeter-long nails regularly appeared at his home, "growling and gesturing at the occupants", and on one occasion even scratching his sister; Graciela Calderón (Coyoacan, Mexico) told the story of how as a child she was driving past a cemetery with her family when a skeleton appeared suddenly in front of their vehicle, "dancing" around it until the family was forced to return to the cemetery, whence it disappeared; Rivera Sosa (Chalco, Mexico) narrated his experiences with the ghost of Tenamascuicuitl, an Aztec lord who materialized 52 years earlier when Sosa was a boy and told him not to be afraid before

vanishing through a door. The entity reappeared once more, this time to Sosa's brother, to point out the location of a hidden treasure. The brothers "were too frightened to look for it." Perhaps the most interesting of these "adventures in the supernormal" (to quote the title of an old book by spiritist Maurice Barbanell) was told by Moisés Martínez Mendoza of Veracruz: "This region of Veracruz," he said, "has a cave known as La Malinche, in which it is said that a treasure was hidden. It is also said that La Malinche herself appears once a year to offer the treasure to anyone bold enough to enter, warning them, though, that if they fail to find it they will remain trapped within the cave...and in Chavarrillo, not far from Xalapa, some old men appear every full moon to lure people into caves with the promise of finding gold." These are only a few samples from the four-hour long broadcast. Ghosts and things that go bump in the night aside, the skies over colonial Mexico were also filled with strange apparitions. During the early years of the 17th century, long after the bloody days of the Conquest and well into the viceregal period, the residents of Mexico City took up the custom of taking long constitutionals in the then heavily forested surroundings of the former Aztec city. Well south of the city, many of those evening strollers reported seeing "a giant light much greater than the Moon" which would roll along the slopes of snow-covered Mount Ajusco, sometimes upward, others downward, apparently under intelligent control. Word of the "light that moves in the night" spread throughout the the region, causing panic among some and inciting others to climb Ajusco in search of buried treasure (it is believed to this day throughout Latin America that such enigmatic lights often appear where treasure has been buried in the past. Brazilians have even coined the term maes d'ouro -- "mothers of gold" -- to describe them). However, even those hardy souls would not venture beyond a safe distance, and the

story of the "light that moves in the night" became another addition to the folkloric tradition of Mexico City and its surrounding valley. The earliest UFO wave recorded on the continent took place in Mexico, and although the Aztec scribes who carefully kept record of all activities in the heavens saw these strange goings-on as religious rather than paranormal activity, we can interpret their records in the light of our own knowledge. A chronicle of portents known to historians as "Los presagios de la conquista" (the Omens of the Conquest) has survived down to our time through the efforts of the Spanish priests who learned Nahuatl, the Aztec tongue, which is still spoken in parts of the country. These priests dedicated themselves to rescuing what their colleagues were consigning to the bonfire as "diabolic machinations". The occurences gathered in the Aztec chronicles center around seven portents which heralded the return of Quetzalcoatl, the priest-king of Tula who had lost his kingdom and sailed off into the East, vowing to return someday to reclaim his realm. The arrival of Hernán Cortés and band of five hundred soldiers was erroneously interpreted as Quetzalcoatl's return. In order of appearance, they begin with the "comet" of 1509, the "Pillar of Fire" seen over the Matlacueye Sierra; the fire that destroyed the teocalli or high temple of Tenochtitlan, and a number other events, no less important. Historians have glossed over these curious incidents as purely symbolic or poetic license on the part of the Aztec scribes, or an inability to understand certain natural phenomena. Closer inspection, coupled with what we have learned since 1947, reveals that something very odd was going on in the skies over Tenochtitlan in 1509 A.D. In the History of Tlaxcala by Muñoz Camargo, we find an rephrased account of the events

initially recorded in the Codex Florentino by the native informants of Franciscan priest Bernardino de Sahagun: Ten years prior to the conquest, a great pillar of flame was seen in the horizon all day and night, causing much consternation among the indians. This pillar, we are told, "seemed to be anchored in the sky", and assumed a roughly triangular shape. This omen lasted for an entire year. This is reminiscent of the Biblical pillar of flame that accompanied the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. The second omen was the sudden fire which levelled the temple of Huitzchilopotchli. This "fire of unknown origin" consumed the entire straw-toppd edifice with the intensity of one of our contemporary incendiary devices. The third omen, the destruction of the temple of Xihutechutli, was produced by a "ray" from above falling during a fine mist. This temple was levelled as well. The fourth omen is perhaps the most important: "...during the day and in full sunshine,

comets from heaven sallied forth in threes, from East to West, full of force and violence, issuing sparks in their flight..."
An earlier account describes it this way:"...While the sun still shone, a fire fell from above.

It split into three. It came from where the sun sets, heading toward where it rises, like an ember, showering sparks. Long was its head, and far-reaching its tail. When it was seen there was great commotion, as if bells were ringing".
While it may well have been a bolide or fireball, the impression that it was a guided device permeates both passages. UFO's splitting into three and then reforming, or throwing sparks, or accompanied by a buzzing or tintinabulation are certainly nothing new, and researchers have documented a wealth of cases along these lines. A Land of Unearthly Entities

Do contemporary UFO abduction experiences and bedroom visitations have anything in common with the ages-old tradition of playful dwarves and elves disrupting the nocturnal slumber of humans? In 1980, Luis Ramírez Reyes had an experience of this nature during a stay at his friend Dr. Paco Medina's country house in Moyotepec, Morelos state. He had originally accepted the invitation to the country retreat to investigate a tree on the property which had allegedly been zapped by a passing UFO for no apparent reason. Upon reaching the site, Ramírez was able to confirm the unusual damage to the tree. Since the hour was late, both he and his host turned in for the night. It was to prove one of the most frightening nights in the ufologist's life. As he drifted off to sleep, a heavy weight dropped beside him in the guest room bed. Ramírez awoke with a start, thinking a snake may have dropped onto the bed from the rafters. Frozen in place, he managed to extend a hand to feel what it was had fallen into the bed. To his complete astonishment, the bed was empty. The following day, he had the opportunity to speak with the children who performed housekeeping duties for his host, and was startled when they calmly told him that he had been visited by dwarves. "They are like children, but we call them chaneques here," he was informed. "They play with us when we sweep and mop the house." Unwilling to be the victim of childish pranks, the investigator subjected the youngsters to a cross-examination in Dr. Medina's . They indicated that the entities would chase the children around whenever they arrived; allegedly out of fear of being harmed by adult humans, the entities remained invisible, but could be clearly seen by young humans, who described them as being large-headed, bald, slender, and for modesty's sake, clad in "cloth shorts". Ramírez's host later informed him that both he and his family had been subjected to the

nocturnal antics of these chaneques more than once, to the extent that his wife refused to return to the country house. The creatures could be persuaded to desist by asking them to do so "using kind words." This experience convinced Ramírez of the interdimensional origin of these and other similar entities, which in spite of their playfulness can be outright frightening. While the descriptions of the creatures given by the young housekeepers of the Medina estate may be troubling, it must be observed that beings with similar descriptions and wearing similar items of clothing have been reported in a number of cases in Puerto Rico and in the Canary Islands. Maria Luz Bernal, a Mexican journalist researching her country's magical practices, came across a faith healer known as "cuate Chagala" in the region of Mexico known as Los Tuxtlas. Chagala informed the journalist that he had obtained his healing powers at the age of twelve while fishing for mojarras at a lagoon near his village. His deceased grandfather, who had drowned in the lagoon in years past, allegedly appeared before him to grant him special powers that would turn him into a healer. Chagala believed that his grandfather had been turned into a chaneque, described in this context as a "water gnome/elemental", having been lured to a watery death by similar creatures. When prompted by the reporter, the faith healer explained that when these water gnomes appear at night, their purpose is to ensnare the intended victim to drown them and turn them into water gnomes. When they appear by day, however, they do so to confer "gifts" upon unsuspecting mortals. While traveling throughout Mexico, paranormal researcher Salvador Freixedo was able to document a similar belief. Interviewing peasant women, he learned that they were terribly afraid of the little creatures -- chaneques --who played restlessly every night in the water basin

located on the rear of their property. The dwarves considered it a great sport to rattle the family's pots and pans, placed in the basin to be washed by the children. The women added that the creatures would appear and disappear through the culvert that fed the water basin.

Mexico's "Incredible Decade" Astronomer Morris K. Jessup, whose study of strange crater-like formations in Mexico formed part of his interest in the UFO phenomenon, characterized the final decades of the 19th century as the "Incredible Decade" due to the heightened amount of UFO activity world-wide during this point in time. Renowned Mexican fortean resercher Dr. Rafael A. Lara has carefully chronicled some of the strange phenomena which occurred in Mexico during the same period of time chronicled by Jessup. On March 5, 1871, the state of Oaxaca, was puzzled by the appearance of "a burst of light followed by a clap of thunder." Since it occurred in the early morning hours (11:30 a.m.), the sun should have outshone it, yet it was so readily visible that its size was calculated at two and a half rods long by one rod in diameter. "The frequency with which these incidents have taken place in the past year is truly remarkable," reads the entry in the almanac known as Calendario Galván del Más Antiguo. In the wake of a heavy rainstorm on January 19, 1873, red stains were found both on the grass and rocks in Papantla, Veracruz. This has been attributed to the fact that water raining down was actually red in color. Ten days later, on January 29, there was a shower of mercury over the village of San Ignacio in Sinaloa. Samples of the material, allegedly collected for posterity, were lost in the turmoil of the revolutionary war. Three months later, on March 27, 1873, a meteor passed over the city of Querétaro

between 6 and 7 p.m., leaving a glowing wake that issued sparks and roiled into twin clouds which later exploded like a bomb, scattering fiery fragments in every direction. An entry for November 7, 1878 states that for ten days, the town of Tula de Taumalipas has witnessed "the passage of an infinite number of flies from noon until five o'clock in the evening." According to the almanac, the flies' shape was very strange and they dropped strands of material resembling gossamer. More strange phenomena troubled Mexico as it entered into the 1880's. On September 2, 1881, a brilliant meteor crossed the skies from one end to another, traversing the Veracruz meridian. Its light was greenish and its wake formed a white "head". Green meteors or fireballs would fall in the American Southwest during the 1950's leading many to associate them with the UFO phenomenon. Three different kinds of hailstone fell over Zongolica, Veracruz on May 9, 1883: one shaped like stars, others square, still other rounded like peaches and with a hole in the middle...the hailstorm over Oaxaca was notable for the fall of several chunks of extraordinary shapes, larger than has ever been seen before. On November 9, 1894, the townsfolk of Zacatlán, Puebla were distressed by the appearance of a tremendously large bird that which had been reported elsewhere in the area. The almanac further indicates that "a hurricane blew a multitude of never-seen-before birds from the unexplored Chilá Mountains, it is not impossible that some monster, such as the one being seen these days, should figure among their number."

A Region Unknown Northwestern Mexico, a Great Britain-sized region bordering California, Arizona and

New Mexico, is a geographically rough and uneven succession of mountain ranges, canyons and deserts. Peaks soar to ten thousand-foot elevations and chasms plummet to depths far greater than the Grand Canyon. This brutal landscape, which posed a challenge to colonization efforts in Spanish times, defies modern technology, remaining accessible by a single highway and one railway line. It is the ancestral homeland of the enigmatic, dwindling Tarahumara people, whose beliefs were chronicled by 19th century explorer Carl Lumholtz, who braved the almost lunar desolation of the Altar Desert and the tortuous depth of Barranca del Cobre to live among this culture. The Tarahumara expressed the belief that humans had not always been the chief inhabitants of this region. The Cocoyomes, as the Tarahumara tradition called them, were short, large-headed creatures who refrained from eating corn, the staple food of the Americas, and only fed off the Agave plant. These creatures occupied the caves on the upper reaches of the canyons and would descend to the river to drink during the evenings, since they could not withstand the sun's light. The native tradition goes on to add that the large-headed Cocoyomes "became unbearable" and that the Sun descended to earth to destroy them. Those who survived fled to the deepest reaches of the caves found in the region. Francisco Ochoa, a journalist and UFO researcher, believes that this solar destruction legend might refer to the arrival of a UFO which for some unimaginable reason either retrieved or destroyed the Cocoyomes. To this day, when unexplained lights are seen over the area, the natives automatically associate them with these enigmatic beings. Meandering lights and ancient traditions do not constitute the only proof of the region's strangeness. Numerous UFO sightings have been made in these northwestern lands, which also include the enigmatic Zone of Silence near Ceballos, Durango.

Ing. Marco Antonio Reynoso, director of the organization known as "Fundación Cosmos A.C." led a number of partially successful forays into this twilight zone in hopes of collecting substantial information on UFO manifestations. During the course of his organization's research in the environs of Villa de García, Icamole, Paredón and the community farms ("ejidos") of La Azufrosa, El Delgado, El Milagro and Mesillas in the state of Coahuila between 1993 and 1997, the group interviewed a number of local residents and collected UFO sightings. Many claimed having been pursued by unknown vehicles and that their cattle had been stolen from by these nocturnal intruders. All of these reports led Reynoso and the members of Fundación Cosmos A.C. ever deeper into the wilderness, to an isolated plateau, encircled by foothills that appear to be protecting it. Reyoso describes the plateau as being "similar in appearance to Masada in Israel and Devil's Tower in Wyoming. This upland area is known as La Mesilla." At some point in the geologic past, the formation was a marine volcano. The entire region was once underwater, covered by an ancient sea known as the Sea of Thetys -- a fact confirmed byu the myriad fossils of marine life, left behind when the seabed turned into dry land. Erosion and time have carved out the location's current appearance. Reynoso's hypothesis concerning these mysterious geological formations is that they perhaps constitute "an exit point for the planet's geomagnetic energy, which is employed by unidentified flying objects as a power source or possibly even to cross some dimensional vortex formed as these energy escape points, which cause a deformation of the planet's magnetic flow lines, causing "portals" to open." Fundación Cosmos has allegedly managed to obtain confirmation of this when they detected a disk approximately three hundred meters in diameter, arrayed with red and yellow lights, penetratating an apparent"doorway" with a burst

of white light that lit up the plateau's entire outline in the dark desert night. "We also saw it re-emerge and move away at considerable speed," Reynoso adds. Efforts were made to capture this mind-bending phenomenont on videotape, but there were problems which affected the tape itself. These anomalous events transpire frequently: on the five times that the group has visited the area, they have been able to make successful recordings at a distance of approximately twelve miles from the mystery plateau itself. Reaching its base poses considerable hardship due to the nature of the terrain: during only such effort, they came within five kilometers of their goal before having to turn back to our observation point fifteen kilometers back. It was when the disheartened members of the expedition retreated that they were able to witness the arrival of the enormous discoidal object The members of Fundación A.C. are sure to persist in their efforts to ascertain if there is a base located within the plateau or if there is an opening to another world. There are apparently petroglyphs not far from La Mesilla which show disks, their trajectories, and even rockets, carved by the early inhabitants of this region, who perhaps worshipped them as gods and immortalized them in stone.

Chapter Three: In The Grip of High Strangeness
The Zone of Silence A place of mystery now featured on the roadmaps: pick up any Rand Mc Nally or Michelin map and you'll find the telltale little black box with the Spanish words ZONA DEL SILENCIO at the end of an unimproved highway near the vertex of three Mexican states--Durango, Sonora and Coahuila. Perhaps there are convenience stores there now, too. But the Zone of Silence will forever remain a place where unexplained activity occurs on a daily basis, and is anomalous by its very nature: what nameless forces are at work here that can attract meteorites clear out of space, cause plants to acquire colorations that defy the most learned botanists, and cause mutations in the local fauna? Add to that the presence of monstrous creatures and the ever-present UFO phenomenon. Whether the primitive tribes that occupied that part of Mexico before the Spanish conquest were aware of the haunted nature of this location remains unknown to us. We do know, however, that the Mescalero indians left settlements in the area and even what appears to have been an ancient astronomical observatory at a location dubbed "El Ojito, which is thousands of years old. In the 1930's the famous Mexican aviator, Francisco Sarabia, known as "El Aguilucho" (The Eaglet) flew over the region and complained that his radio would not operate, but that normal communications were possible after having flown a certain distance away from the area. Sarabia apparently paid no further attention to the phenomenon.

It wasn't until Harry de la Peña, an engineer for Mexico's state-owned PEMEX oil company, visited the area in 1966 that the area would be given a name. Spearheading a team of geologists in search of oil, De la Peña realized that the area they were prospecting had the peculiarity of absorbing radio waves, or of rendering the communications equipment they had brought along with them--CB radios and handheld transceivers--inoperative. The discovery would give the region its name and would catapult its unwitting discoverer into the pages of paranormal history. Most people did not get to know about this anomalous area until the night of February 8, 1969, when the velvet blackness of the desert sky was violated by the blinding whiteness of a celestial visitor that crossed the southern United States before plummeting toward the enigmatic area north of Ceballos, Durango, where residents of the small community thought the end of the world was finally at hand. Perhaps their hurried prayers spared Ceballos, for the actinic-white meteorite exploded over nearby Parral de Allende, sending out shockwaves that tumbled homes to the ground. The Allende Meteorite, as it would become known to science, opened the door to further research on the Zone of Silence. In the summer of 1970, an American missile-- a four-stage Athena rocket fired from the Green River Range and targeted to land in the White Sands Missile Base-- went off course inexplicably, heading for the Zone of Silence, where it ultimately crashed. A few years later, an upper stage from one of the Saturn boosters used on the Apollo project broke up over the very same area. The U.S, military sent a team down to the region to investigate its surprising natural properties. UFO activity has always been prominent in the area. On February 26, 1975, a number of

women told a reporter from the nearby town of Parral that a "flying saucer" had made a furtive appearance over Cerro de la Mesa at around 6:30 a.m.. The newspaper article quoted one of the women as saying: "It was shaped like a dinner plate, emitting lights of an intense reddish color as it flew slowly over the hill and not very far from a T.V. station antenna." The item also indicated that many UFOs had been seen on that same evening over the towns of Chihuahua, Parral, Valle de Allende and Ceballos itself. Apparently not content with flying over the area, UFOs soon began to land. Jesús Berlanga Sr. managed to photograph a UFO on February 21, 1976 (the prominence of the month of Februrary in these localized events remains a constant) on the ground next to Cerro del Imán (Magnet Hill). The photographs show the supposedly non-manmade craft as a silvery device shaped like "a gigantic stewpot". Berlanga had used a Polaroid Color-Pak 20 to take the surprising and highly important photo of the landed saucer. Lacking a negative, no serious photographic analysis was ever conducted beyond the usual trigonometric studies showing that the object was at least one hundred meters away from the photographer. In September 1976, a colossal UFO flew over the Zone of Silence, leading many residents from the surrounding villages to think it landed somewhere within it. According to eyewitness testimony, the heavenly behemoth was a frighteningly silent rectangle which measured some 400 feet in length. The slab-shaped craft sported green and blue lights which cast a powerful glow in the nocturnal skies. Some witnesses to this event indicated that the rectangle may have been surmounted by an oval-shaped roof or a glowing halo of some kind. As it flew directly overhead, some residents of Ceballos claimed to have heard a soft "humming" sound that caused the town's dogs to howl. By all accounts, the UFO was no more than 50 feet overhead. It lazily continued its flight into the Zone before disappearing from view.

The UFO activity persisted throughout the remaining months of 1976 and well into the following year. In January 1977, a 18 year old woman known only as "Alicia" happened to witness a UFO resembling "a ceiling lamp" along with her father in a small town in Durango, Mexico. Father and daughter had been walking along a trail since their van had inexplicably broken down prior to the sighting. According to the teenager, they both heard a sound similar to "a blender at very high speed", after which they experienced burns on the exposed parts of their bodies. Both witnesses were treated at a local hospital and refused to comment their experience in detail. Aside from Harry de la Peña, probably no one has more knowledge about the Zone of Silence than Prof. Santiago García, a Mexican ufologist who achieved pre-eminence during the 1970's for his popular books on the UFO phenomenon. García, who resides in the city of Torreón (not far from the Zone itself), has been a witness to numerous unexplained phenomena in the deserts of northern Mexico and has chronicled his discoveries in a number of works. "My first UFO sighting," García said in an interview with Carlos Guzmán Rojas, General Director of the CIFEEAAC group, "took place in the classroom with myself and my students as onlookers. Suddenly one of my pupils...shouted. I was grading papers while the students worked, and she said, "Maestro, maestro, look out the window! There are circular objects over the clouds". In those days, me and my photo camera were inseparable--it was either hanging around my neck or in my desk, and I had another one at home. We all turned to look at the objects. I loaded my camera immediately and began pressing the shutter at random. The UFOs appeared on the snapshots. Can you imagine sixty students, some teachers, and a few others witnessing such an extraordinary event?"

His next sighting occured within the confines of the Zone of Silence itself and was more spectacular. "[On this occasion] we saw a number of UFOs, including a large one which landed on San Ignacio hill. At that time we were part of a group of explorers and journalists from the state of Chihuahua. We managed to take photos of the UFO at the moment it landed." When asked by his interviewer if the group considered approaching the landed craft, García replied: "Yes, although as you know, with the experience one has in these matters, it is unwise to approach the magnetic fields generated by the UFO's energy source, since there could be radiation involved. So we remained at a distance of some 100 to 150 meters, from where we could take photos. I must add that at the moment I pressed the shutter, the UFO took off like a rocket. A friend named Jesús told me: "Don't worry about it, I photographed it as it flew off." It was a truly extraordinary event." García also had the opportunity to investigate some of the extreme "high strangeness" events that have played out in the enigmatic desert region. One of these cases involved a woman named Lupita Hernández, who on one occasion claimed to have been teleported to a UFO site, but had been left completely amnesic regarding this event. Hernández, who died in the late 80's, told Prof. García that she would receive regular visits from two tall, handsome, green-eyed men -- sometimes accompanied by an equally green-eyed woman -- who customarily asked her to fill a large aluminum canteen with water. Hernández noted that whenever these startling visitors departed, they would leave in their wake "a very pretty odor, like perfume or incense." On one occasion, Hernández asked to come along with the trio. They complied, and she felt herself being transported to the landing site of their vehicle; Hernández allegedly "did not feel a sense of speed as she flew through the air to the site".

As perplexing as this case may sound at first blush, there are numerous parallels to it in the annals of the supernatural. The earliest and best-documented of these involved a 16th century physician named Doctor Torralba, who had a fair-haired, green-eyed familiar known only as "Zekiel". According to the chronicles and records of the case kept by the dreaded Inquisition, Zekiel was supposedly capable of transporting his master through the air across vast distances -- on one occasion bearing him from Spain to Rome. Spanish ufologist Salvador Friexedo has conducted in depth investigations into this paranormal phenomenon. García also makes note of the fact that the residents of Ceballos and the surrounding desert hamlets had been seeing enigmatic lights for decades prior to the onset of the contemporary UFO phenomenon. Around 1920, a number of Spanish migrants to Mexico purchased enormous tractors in the U.S. for use in their cotton, wheat and maize fields in the northern regions they'd occupied. The tractors spent a considerable time clearing away desert scrub and brush, preparing the soil to be used as pastureland for cattle. In order to perform nocturnal work, the Spanish farmers outfitted these tractors with extremely powerful searchlights that could be seen at great distances. The superstitious desert-dwellers soon came to regard the bright sources of light in the darkness as the devil's own handiwork. When the Spaniards left the area, they took their vehicles with them, but strange lights could still be seen bobbing around in the desert darkness. The locals adjusted their mythology to explain them as the souls of the deceased operators of the tractors, still driving their hellspawn vehicles in the dark. García speculates that the return of the lights coincides with the aftermath of the Athena rocket's collision, and may represent an American-made autonomous roving vehicle (similar to the Soviet Lunakhod series) that charges its batteries by daylight and roams the night conducting research activity.

Prof. García's files also include the remarkable story of a truck driver known only as "Mr. Wong", a resident of the city of Torreón, Coahuila. On one occasion, while travelling to a certain destination aboard his truck and accompanied by his wife, they became aware of a number of stunningly bright lights headed toward them. Mr. Wong told his wife to please roll up her window, since he had had numerous experiences with this bizarre phenomenon which had often crossed his path while driving throught the desert. The lights then flew over the truck, and the couple was able to make out a disk-shaped object which made a sound "like that of a blender." Almost immediately, the light doubled back and passed the truck again, vanishing into the darkness. Wong told García that in daylight hours, he had been able to see numerous circular burn-marks in the scrub vegetation on the road to the town of Cuatro Ciénegas, and that a goodly portion of the plant life in the region is burned out. "Mr. Wong also notes," states Professor García, "that very strange footprints can be seen near the circular burn marks, resembling those of a giant duck, since they have three toes, with the middle toe being longer and pointed."

The Perils of Alien Contact Books and magazine articles dealing with the very real perils, both mental and physical, suffered by experiencers of the UFO phenomenon are commonplace today. Distinguished ufologists like David Jacobs openly state that the involvement of non-human intelligences in human events may not be so sanguine as many had firmly believed in earlier decades--that UFO occupants were here to help us take the next evolutionary step or eventually render assistance in solving humanity's most pressing problems. The downright eerie experience of a hapless Mexican ceramics technician should have served as an early warning to investigators

when it occurred over twenty years ago. In 1972, researchers Jorge Reichert and Salvador Freixedo looked into the experiences of Heriberto Garza, who had allegedly had repeated encounters with otherworldly entities. Garza, a tall slender man who lived in the city of Puebla with his only son, had been unwilling to go public with his paranormal experiences out of fear of being ostracized by the conservative residents of his community. His experience began when he was getting ready to go to bed on a given night. After turning off the light and getting between the sheets, he heard an unusual noise in the living room. Fearing that a break-in was in progress, he promptly went to investigate and was surprised to find a tall man with distinguished, almost femenine facial features. Taken aback, Garza demanded to know how the figure had entered his apartment. The entity told him in perfect Spanish that it could obviate physical obstacles and go where it pleased--but the reason for its visit was to grant Heriberto Garza "an experience that many would wish to have." His involvement with creatures from an improbable world known as Auko was about to begin. Garza claimed to have subsequently been taken aboard a spacecraft where he met other beings similar in appearance to his original contact. One alien took his left hand and drew blood from his ring finger before returning him to his apartment, a return trip which he did not remember. He suddenly found himself sitting on an easy chair back home, with the door to the outside hallway open. Strange phenomena began to occur soon after this experience. One morning, while shaving in front of the bathroom mirror, Garza saw his reflection vanish, only to reappear as he heard alien voices ringing in his ears, bearing a message that he was unable to understand. He would soon be subjected to intense telepathic communication with his non-human "friends",

the consequences of which led him to seek psychiatric advice. During a follow-up visit with researcher Ian Norris, Reichert was perplexed by the change in Heriberto Garza's demeanor. The once-articulate man spoke sluggishly and did not appear to be himself. At one point, Garza said: "I want to show you what is happening to me" and proceeded to unbutton his shirt. The researchers were astounded to see a number of nipples growing randomly across Garza's abdomen, some of them small, others larger and with abundant hair. Reichert and Freixedo concluded that something had been injected into Garza which tampered with his DNA. Detailed study of the case became impossible when the experiencer "disappeared". Vistors to the humble apartment building in Puebla were angrily turned away by Garza's son, whose father appears to have become an early casualty of tampering by uncaring non-human forces. Salvador Freixedo also describes another case, a particularly ghastly one, at that, which attained international renown through his book La Granja Humana (The Human Farm). The case, which involves human mutilations, is nothing if not compelling. On the evening of January 9 1978, the upper half of a human torso crashed through the windshield of an AMC Gremlin driven by a group of workers from the PEMEX oil refinery in the Mexican state of Tabasco, who happened to be on their way to a party. The terrified driver of the vehicle did not stop the vehicle until almost a mile past the impact point, while the three passengers in the back seat screamed that something had fallen on their laps: the torso of a man who had been cleanly sliced in half at the waist. Not knowing what to do, the badly frightened workers abandoned the torso on the roadside near the village of Loma de Caballo and return home. The driver was later accused of vehicular homicide and sent to jail. Oddly enough, the dead man's lower half was found not on

the road's shoulder, as would have been logical, but in a nearby field, not too far from the highway. When the authorities realized that there was no way that the vehicle could have sliced anyone in half, much less deposit their legs at a distance, the driver was exonerated and released. When interviewed, the dead man's son stated his belief that his father's death had not been brought about by any kind of vehicle. His father, he stated, was a quiet family man who would never walk around such desolate countryside at night, and that his body did not present any of the signs expected in someone run over by a car. "My father was sawed off at the waist. I don't know by whom, but he wasn't hit by any car." The details of the forensic examination were equally bizarre. There had been no tearing or rending of any kind on the flesh or garments, in spite of the fact that the cut had taken place in an area where there would perforce be dangling tissue, whether from the stomach or the intestines. Clothing and flesh had been cleanly sliced as if by a colossal guillotine, and there was a marked absence of blood. Nor had any bones been shattered: the dead peasant's spinal column had been sliced off without fracturing a single vertebra. Freixedo concluded, after analyzing the case, that the forces behind this evil event deliberately dropped the torso from above onto the windshield of a moving car in order to shatter it and frighten the vehicle's occupants.

Chapter Four: An Unquiet Century
The Dawn of the UFO Age The UFO cognoscenti will roll their eyes at yet another mention of the historic sighting of over a hundred unidentified flying objects made by a Mexican astronomer in the late 19th century. The story of Professor José A.Y. Bonilla's startling find and subsequent photographs has become the stuff of myth, and many have jokingly suggested that he should be made the "patron saint" of Latin American ufology (a thought that would have disgusted the good prof no end). But for the sake of maintaining the integrity of this chronicle, and begging the reader's indulgence, the Bonilla story will undergo yet another retelling... Between August 12 and 13, 1883, Professor Bonilla, who was the director of the Zacatecas Astronomical Observatory, situated at a dizzying 7000-foot height, was engaged with pure fin-de-siécle concentration on studying solar flares, when in the early morning hours of August 12th he noticed a small celestial body crossing the solar disc. As if one anomaly wasn't bad enough, the perplexed Bonilla would find himself counting two hundred and eighty three similar objects engaged in their procession across the face of the sun before the mighty star became hidden by the mist rising from the surrounding countryside. Bonilla's report indicated that the objects moved in an east to west direction, while tilting slightly toward the north and south of the solar disc. The enigmatic bodies were dark in color; some of them were perfectly circular while others had a slightly more elongated shape, moving singly or in pairs. The dark objects would turn luminous after their transit across the sun. At one given moment, Bonilla reported, fifteen or twenty such objects crossed the face of the sun in a single wave.

"I was able to photograph," Bonilla wrote, "nearly all those strange bodies in projection and in profile. Some of them seem round or spherical, but the photograph shows them to be irregular rather than spherical. Before crossing the solar disc, these bodies shed bright flashes, but when crossing the Sun they appeared to become opaque and dark against such a bright background. The negatives of the photographs in question show a body surrounded by a nebulous halo and black lines." Between 8 and 9:45 a.m. on August 13th, the astronomer would count 116 of these objects engaged in the same activity. He telegraphed his colleagues at the observatories of Puebla and Tacubaya (Mexico City), but their response across the wire was that no such objects could be seen from their location. Without independent confirmation, the Zacatecas sighting would remain little more than an odd anomaly that would soon be forgotten by astronomy, which at the time was more interested in naming the lunar craters or confirming Schiaparelli and Lowell's speculations on the Martian canals. The usual suspects--bugs, birds, meteorites--were rounded up and blamed for the curious objects photographed by Bonilla. But the astronomer himself believed that the objects were physical bodies hurriedly crossing the space between the Earth and the Moon.

A Mexican Beats Kenneth Arnold to the Punch? Is it possible that a Mexican miner, far from home and completely ignorant of the phenomena he was witness to, could have beaten Kenneth Arnold to the title of first witness of the modern UFO explosion? An intriguing affidavit, dated July 18, 1957 and featured in the appendix section of Trevor James Constable's They Live in The Sky (New Age Press, 1958), sworn by Pierre Perry,

president of Arizona's Copper Mountain Mining Corporation, tells the story of how Mr. Perry was on his way to inspect a certain mineral deposit to the north of Prescott, PA on a broiling hot summer day in 1943. Journeying along with Perry were an anonymous prospector and Isidro Montoya, a Mexican miner. The story that follows should by all accounts be a classic in the annals of ufology: While fording the Agua Fría River on horseback around 5 p.m., Montoya, who was in the lead, shouted: "¡El diablo, el diablo!" (The Devil) "Overhead," states Perry in his affidavit. "a most terrifc drama was unfolding that lasted only a few minutes. A military plane was in sight, so where the two large unidentified flying objects that looked like balloons without baskets. They were luminous and bright as the sun. The UFO's stood still as if waiting for the plane to approach, the pounced towards it. At the same time, they projected a violent luminous ray that could be compared with the large beam of a lighthouse." What followed was no less spectacular. The cohered energy beam hit its target and brought it down. The three onlookers saw the pilots eject from the plane, but another beam from the unknown craft caused the parachutes to catch fire and the men plummeted to their deaths. "The two bodies were later found," adds Perry. While unnerved and muttering orisions, Isidro Montoya was by no means a stranger to such visions. After crossing himself, he reportedly told Perry: "El diablo, señor...I have seen the same thing many times, señor..." The affidavit goes on to indicate that a third spherical intruder joined the two existing UFOs and the trio vanished south toward Mexico at breathtaking speed. The men on horseback turned back to notify the authorities, but military vehicles had already been dispatched. Perry's

party guided the recovery team to where they had seen the stricken aircraft crash. "Parts were scattered all over the mountainside." It is interesting to note, among the cases of these early days of Mexican ufology, the collision of an experimental V-2 rocket on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez on May 29, 1947. The liberated German projectile was launched from the White Sands Missile Facilty and four seconds into the launch, due to a defective gyroscope, headed southward over El Paso and fell in the Ciudad Juarez cemetery. Ironically, this would prove to be but the first of many rocket launches gone astray into Mexican territory. By 1949, stories about a "flying saucer" collision in Mexico had become widespread. A man named Ray Dimmick told Californian newspapermen that "a shining disk" had collided against a mountain on the outskirts of Mexico City and that he himself had seen the wreckage of a "space craft" some sixty feet across. To add spice to his account, Dimmick alleged that the hapless saucer's dwarfish pilot's remains had been collected and preserved for future study. This Mexican crash would go on to be come part of the vast corpus of such events collected by other UFO researchers such as Kevin Randle. The 1950's dawned upon a world terrified by the seemingly ubiquitous presence of Communism, the very real possibility of atomic annihilation, and the persistent reports of strange vehicles seen in the skies over the northern hemisphere. On March 3, 1950, a Mexican aviation official engaged in a routine tour of inspection of the airports in the northern regions of the country when he saw a curious yellowish disk suspended at an estimated altitude of15,000 over the city of Chihuahua's airport. A press report indicated that two airplanes--whether military or civillian--tried to intercept the object but were unable to reach it.

By mid-March, the saucers were over Mexico City itself. On the 14th, many hundreds of witnesses reported seeing four flying saucers over Mexico's interantional airport, creating a sensation across the city. Activity reached its peak on March 21, when the El Nacional newspaper reportd that an unidenfied object was seen so clearly over Mexico City that movie camera operators were allegedly able to capture it on film. Sensational claims continued to emerge, such as the supposed collision of a saucer in the Sierra de Moronesa mountains of Zacatecas--an impact that caused the earth to shake. People from all walks of life were beginning to report strange objects during this period. A professional wrestler known by his stage name, Aguila Blanca ("White Eagle"), was in his hometown of Querétaro one evening in 1956 when he decided to go to the movies. As he walked across a public park toward his destination, he became aware of a strange light hanging motionless in mid-air, which almost immediately descended upon the city to remain suspended at 200 meters over the ground. According to the wrestler, he was able to make out a series of lights resembling portholes around the structure, which he estimated to be some 50 meters in diameter and made of metal. The object remained motionless for approximately 10 minutes before heading away. In 1957, when most ufologists were still debating the wisdom of publishing reports indicating that UFOs could in fact land and leave ground traces, Mexican newspaper El

Universal Gráfico published a comprehensive account on the alleged landing of a discoidal
object in the community farms of San Juan de Aragón, an event witnessed by farmer Gilberto Espinoza. Although the incident had taken place in November of the preceding year, the newspaper ran its story in January 1958. An early UFO pursuit occured on December 12, 1957, when a Douglas DC-3 belonging to Aerolíneas Mexicanas was intercepted by a "speeding

saucer" over San Luis Potosí. Passengers aboard the aircraft were apparently petrified with fright as the pilot, Capt. Gilberto Alba, cooly put the DC-3 through a series of evasive manuevers.

The Sixties: A UFO High-Water Mark In spite of the considerable number of UFO sightings during this time period, it wasn't until the following decade that the UFO phenomenon would add itself to the other events which stirred the national consciousness, such as increased political radicalism among the young, the massacre of innocents at Tlatelolco in 1968 and the troubled '68 Olympics -- events which mirrored similar developments in France and in the United States. One of the most impressive photographs of a UFO during this period was the 1965 snapshot taken by Juan David Mateos. According to the photographer's testimony, he was driving along the road from Villa Ahumada to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, when he saw a dark, oval shaped craft approaching at an altitude of less than twenty meters and a distance of only sixty meters. Mateos stopped the car and clicked away at the unknown object, earning himself a place in saucer history. On July 10, six residents of the city of Chilpancingo, capital of the state of Guerrero, were left spellbound by the maneuvers of two large, glowing objects in the darkened skies over their community--a two-hour performance which would be replayed later that month over Mexico City, where another pair of brilliant objects remained suspended at treetop level before shooting off into the sky. Two students at Mexico City's Instituto Nacional Politécnico would become the protagonists of a still-debated "close encounter of the 3rd kind" which would be among the

first of its kind in the country. The brothers Yayo and Payo Rodríguez achieved national prominence when on the morning of August 19, 1965, at eight o'clock in the morning, they claimed having witnessed the landing of a sizeable glowing disk on an open field near the Politécnico's campus. The otherworldly vehicle allegedly charred vegetation as it settled to the ground on its tripodal landing gear. As if the landing of this spaceship, drawn straight

from My Favorite Martian, wasn't enough, the Brothers Rodríguez also claimed that a pair of diminutive beings wearing respirators of some kind emerged from the craft and walked up to the terrified students, depositing at their feet a metallic object. The dwarfish "away team" returned silently to their conveyance, which took to the air in a matter of seconds. The Rodríguezes delivered the putative extraterrestrial fragment to the campus laboratory, where it was apparently subjected to analysis by investigators. According to an article in Mexico's El Gráfico newspaper (defunct) a few days later, a number of journalists and photgraphers from different media organizations visited the site, where burn marks were plainly visible and where traces of a curious liquid, characterized as "fuel" (leaded? unleaded?) were found. Despite the good physical evidence, Yayo and Payo were not considered credible witnesses. Even Dr. Santiago García, in his landmark book OVNIS Sobre México, would headline his chapter on the Rodríguez case as "¿de cual fumarían?" ("which did they smoke?"). The age of the great UFO-induced blackouts was about to begin during these troubled years. As a foretaste, perhaps, of what would happen later on across the northeastern U.S., the city of Cuernavaca, some fifty miles south of Mexico City, would suffer three separate power failures on the night of September 23, 1965. The Ultima Hora newspaper indicated that the blackout had been caused by a large luminous flying saucer which crossed the heavens over the city--an inverted soup-bowl device which was seen not only by thousands of citizens but

by city mayor Emilio Riva Palacios, who was attending the opening of a film festival with members of his cabinet. The lights went out during the showing, and upon going outside, the city fathers were treated to the sight of the massive object's glow, which reportedly filled all of Cuernavaca valley. But the force behind all these aerial phenomena appeared to be enamoured of la

capital, Mexico City, with its juxtaposition of massive colonial structures, modern skyscrapers
and ancient ruins: it chose the 16th of September, the one hundred fifty-fifth anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain, to manifest half a dozen luminous objects over the city's skies, casting downtown Mexico City into unbreakable gridlock as drivers left their vehicles to take a better look at the phenomenon. Newspapers reported that aviation authorities had received in excess of five thousand telephone calls from people asking if they had also seen

platillos voladores. On September 25, a citizenry weary of craning their necks skyward endured
another leisurely display of the unknown as a vast luminous body passed overhead, remaning motionless for a while before shooting out of sight at a terrific speed. Only days later, two smaller objects would buzz the gilded dome of Mexico's Palacio de Bellas Artes, a turn of the century structure that dominates La Alameda park. The early evening sighting was witnessed by a few dozen people waiting at a bus stop; they described the objects as "enormous luminous bodies with intermittent sparkling lights." By this point in time, some of the world's major newspapers had picked up on Mexico's saucer situation. Paris's Le Figaro reprinted an editorial from Italy's Corriere della Sera on the subject: "Mexico City International Airport has officially recorded, of late, some three thousand cases of mysterious apparitions described in detail. At nightfall, people gather on the terraces and balconies of their homes to search the skies...a clamor of voices can occasionally be heard,

saying: "There goes one! Can you see it?" Invariably, what follows is this: traffic is paralyzed on neighoring streets, since drivers also want to partake of the spectacle. The roadways grind to a halt, leading to monstrous traffic jams. After a while, witnesses to tho the event are willing to swear that the presence of platillos voladores causes engines to stall and plunges homes into darkness. Throughout Mexico, the number of blackouts has been inexplicably high..." [At this point, the reader will allow me to insert a personal note. These mysterious blackouts continued well into the Seventies when I lived in Mexico City. My family's apartment overlooked busy Avenida Insurgentes--the artery that sections the city from north to south--and every room had a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to floor window offering an unlimited view of the avenue, the houses and buildings on the other side, and the mountains in the distance. It was not at all uncommon for the light to brown out and then black out completely, leaving people stuck in elevators and snarling traffic for hours at intersections. But the common denominator to all these blackouts, in my eight-year-old mind, was the bright yellow light that could be seen without fail crossing the sky in the horizon. Was it indeed a UFO? Who can say?] Spanish ufologist Antonio Ribera, who kept careful tabs on the Mexican scenario, indicates in his book América y los OVNIS (Posada, 1977) that foreign sources as unlikely as Kenya's Mombasa Times were carrying stories about the situation: On October 2, 1965, a fourteen year old girl in the city of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, ran away screaming in fright when a flying disk some twenty feet in diameter dropped out the heavens to hover directly over while issuing a soft, whistling sound. The object was surrounded by multicolored lights which appeared to dangle from it. After this daytime apparition, the object was seen over the same city again at night. The coming of 1966 gave Mexico a respite from its ufological experiences, but it was to

be a brief one. 1967 would rekindle the frenzied activity of the preceding year. On Saturday, February 11, 1967, a Guatemalan Aviateca airliner managed to avoid a near-collision with a UFO as the airliner prepared its final approach to Mexico City's saucer-plagued airport. The airliner's pilot, Col. Alfredo Castañeda, radioed the tower that a silvery round object, with what appeared to be "a reddish ball" on top of it, had suddenly crossed the airliner's path as it flew over Oaxaca. His co-pilot, the flight attendants and many of the passengers had also been witnesses to the unusual and possibly hazardous phenomenon. Mexico's airport limited itself to saying that the intruder "could not have been a weather balloon." Stories began to circulate on March 30, 1967 regarding the collision of a spindle-shaped object against a hillside near Mezcala, state of Guerrero. A reporter for Ultima Hora indicated that at least a thousand residents of the village of Xochilapa had seen the object plummet earthward and heard the deafening explosion which inevitably followed. Many of the villagers agreed that the heavenly bullet had been roughly cigar-shaped and emitted a blinding light, "making it impossible to confuse with a meteorite." An infantry unit of the Mexican Army was allegedly dispatched to collect the object's remains, but nothing else was heard about the event. Between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. on May 7, 1967, the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Veracruz were visited by a veritable celestial armada of UFOs: at least twenty individual blue, yellow and red lights flew in formation over the heads of thousands of bewildered onlookers. The formation was spearheaded by a colossal red saucer and leisurely appeared to be following a northwesterly course. Newspapers in these four states carried the story but no photographs of the formation. A similar occurence took place on August 6, 1967,

when the citizens of Poza Rica, Veracruz, were treated to the sight of several "waves" of unidentified flying objects -- each wave having its own color -- as they flew overhead to become lost over the Gulf of Mexico. While the Poza Ricans gawked at the spectacle, Captain Angel Fojo of Aeromexico Flight 145 was facing a similar prospect: at an altitude of twenty thousand feet over the state of Guanajuato, his DC-9 was running into a formation of three glowing disks an estimated 30 miles away from the airliner. Captain Fojo's best estimate was that the speeding objects crossed the horizon in a matter of thirty to forty seconds. The late Jim and Coral Lorenzen of APRO documented a considerable number of cases occuring in Central and South America in '67, and while Mexico's UFO activity during this particular year was by no means as significant as the "fleets" (to use the Lorenzen's own expression) that were engaged in a show of force over Argentina and Uruguay, APRO's files nonetheless contained a few cases of great interest regarding our southern neighbor. As indicated in their book UFOs Over the Americas (Signet, 1968), APRO's founders were on their way to visit a number of South American locations and took advantage of a layover in Mexico City to meet with their correspondent, Jesús H. Garibay, who briefed them on the most important cases at the time. One of them involved two witnesses (a father and daughter) to the landing and takeoff of a UFO, with the added benefit of the photographs taken of the event. "The principal witness," wrote Coral Lorenzen, "is a mechanical engineer, and the other is his daughter. On May 6, 1967, the two were driving between Durango and Mazatlán. At 11:00 a.m., they spotted a disc-shaped object on the ground off the highway. They stopped the car and took three photos as the object was taking off. The first shows the object at the level of the

treetops, partially hidden by a tree. Two parts of its landing gear are clearly shown. The second shows the object apparently in flight against the clear sky: no landing gear are visible in this exposure. The third photo showed nothing. APRO is still on the track of this set of photos, and not knowing if the principals want publicity or not, we have decided not to release any names at this time." (p.65) The remainder of the year and the beginning of the following one would simply be a repetition of sightings until December 30, 1968, when a mountain rescue team on the slopes of the Popocatepetl volcano witnessed the maneuvers of a strange object conducting maneuvers over the summit of the nearby Iztaccíhuatl volcano. The artifact moved deliberately toward the mountain's eastern glaciers before flying toward Puebla, vanishing from sight. The object would come into view once more during its return trip to the mountains at 8:00 p.m. Carlos A. Guzmán of Mexico's CIFEEAAC, happened to be one of the researchers in this early case. His group's findings indicated that the mountain rescue team's sighting was corroborated by a number of reports from the city of Puebla at the time: the newsroom of the city's El Sol de Puebla was swamped with phone calls from all over the city, reporting the maneuvers of "a strange white object, as bright as the planet Venus, flying noiselessly over the city." One witness, Francisco Martínez, claimed to have seen not only the object itself, but the various lights which composed it; Reynaldo Ponce, a student at Puebla's distinguished school of architecture, observed the UFO through a theodolite and was able to make a sketch based on his sighting. The entire report was compiled by APRO correspondent Jesús Hernandez Garibay and forwarded to that organization's Arizona-based headquarters. A year later, on September 18, 1968, Antonio Nieto-- a cab driver plowing the city of Coatepec's main avenue -- thought that an otherwise slow night was coming to an end when

he pulled over to pick up a fare, or so he thought: his would-be passenger turned out to be a black-clad figure with glowing hands and enormous cat-like eyes that glowed eerily in the taxi's lights as it stood on the curb. The terrified cab driver stepped on the gas and put as much distance as he could between himself and the frightful apparition. As chance would have it, he ran into a fellow cabdriver who had also been hailed by the nightmarish apparition. Leaving one cab behind, both men set off in the other vehicle and went in search of a local journalist, who accompanied them to the spot where the improbable creature had last been seen. Their effort was rewarded by a third encounter with the entity, which now held in its glowing hands a crystal wand which emanated a radiance that hurt the eyes. A staff writer for Mexico City's Excelsior noted that in spite of the ufonauts' vaunted ability to cross space, they encountered the same difficulty as Earthlings when it came to hailing a cab. High Strangeness could also be found in the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. On February 17, 1969, an unknown animal washed up on Veracruzan shores at a location known locally as "El Palmar de Susana" between the fishing communities of Tecolutla and Hautla. The authorities were dumbfounded by their find: the creature's head weighed approximately a ton, measuring 6 feet across and 4 feet from top to bottom. Scientists who at first thought they were dealing with a decomposing whale carcass were startled by a 9-foot long "beak" that projected from the skull. The creature's hide was described as "wooly" and resistant to all manner of knives, machetes, axes and saws. Biologists Sergio García, Martín Contreras and Daniel Yutch were entrusted with studying the cryptid without reaching any conclusive results. According to Dr. Rafael Lara Palmeros, the mystery remains were purchased by the University of California, and their final whereabouts are equally enigmatic.

Saucers for A New Decade At two o'clock in the afternoon on August 16, 1972, Raimundo Villegas, a master bricklayer, and his assitant 18-year-old Pancho Torres, were fitting gutters to the side of a house in Ixtapalapa (Mexico City) when their attention was distracted by a loud buzzing sound. Looking up from their work, the construction workers suddenly realized that the strange buzzing sound had caused all other sounds normally heard in the vicinity--the sound of cars, portable radios and barking dogs--to vanish as if on command. Both men returned to their task, only slightly disturbed by the "oppressive" silence that now prevailed over the immediate area, until Raimundo happened to look up and noticed the presence of two weird figures at a distance of fifty meters from the house they were working on. Villegas would subsequently describe the entities as being abnormally tall, in excess of two and a half meters (approximately 8 feet) and clad glowing silvery outfits which had the appearance of fish scales. The construction workers indicated that the beings appeared to be taller than the second floor they happened to be working on. Not being ufologically minded, Torres, the younger man, remarked that the pair were probably on stilts and wearing costumes to provide entertainment for some childrens' party (such sights were in fact quite common: a Kentucky Fried Chicken restarurant in Mexico City had an employee in stilts and dressed as Uncle Sam parading outside their store for hours and hours). However, as the entities grew nearer, both men were able to see that this comforting hypothesis was not the case: "They were very large men, much taller than normal, slender and with well-profiled heads which were long and "flared out" toward the jaw. In place of eyes, they

had two protuberances which distinctly stood out, small ears, no noses or mouths; their hands only had four fingers." Villegas would tell researchers afer the event, adding that "their toes seemed to be joined by webbing similar to that of a duck, and they gave the impression of walking in the air." The construction workers noted that their vantage point on the second storey of a house was the reason for their unobstructed view of the two oddball characters. But people-watching is a two-way street.... At a given moment, the two figures rose into the air and "flew" or levitated toward the construction workers. Torres promptly reached for a shovel and wielded it spear-like against the flying creatures; Villegas could do little more than to hold his trowel defensively against his face, as if hoping to ward off the unknown entities by his actions. But the explosive encounter between terrified humans and the unknown never took place: the entities were distracted by a woman who came around a corner carrying a large milk pail. As they turned around to fly toward her, the entities were engulfed in a cloud of dust that appeared to rise out of the ground, and were never seen again. Villegas and Torres were left extremely disturbed by their brush with high-strangness. The younger man was beset by terrible nightmares and ultimately moved away, vanishing into Mexico's multitudes. Villegas remained at his job and was left with a permanent fear of running into the entities again. This case occured a year before another pair of men --one older, one younger--would have a strange experience in Pascagoula, Mississippi. In January 1975, five residents of the city of San Luis Potosí in north central Mexico witnessed the evolutions of an orange-red UFO flying in a North/South direction over the city late at night. Their description of this phenomenon characterizes the physical description given

of most UFOs seen over this part of the country: the object resembled a ball, giving off an intense shine that resembled fire, as if the object were burning up. Two such fireballs were seen by Jesús Aguiar in Baja California: while the young shepherd looked after some burros on a ranch called El Guayabo, he noticed two fiery-red balls heading toward him nearly at tree-top level, maneuvering as if to avoid hitting the trees. Aguiar added that an intense burning smell filled the air after the objects went past him, A case which caused great consternation among researchers was the strange death in April 1977 of 14-year old Sergio Bayardi Porta, who committed suicide on orders from a small "cloud" that apparently engaged him in conversation. His heart-rending suicide note informed his mother that aliens from the planet Sonolcuclo, "three centuries away from our galaxy" had requested his help on their world. Unfortunately, the only way to reach this improbable destination was by committing suicide. The Bayardi Letter was employed by investigators as proof of the perils involved with contacteeism. On February 29, 1976 a family on its way to inspect a recent snowfall (a rare ocurrence in Mexico due to the high elevations) at a location close to the community of El Chico in the state of Hidalgo. Parking their car by the roadside, the group entered the woods, heading toward an area used for picnics in warmer weather. At around 8:30 a.m., one of the children shouted that a strange object was suspended in mid-air. Having brought along photographic equipment to take snapshots of the elusive snow, the boy's father swung his camera heavenward to take an impressive sequence of photographs, just as the saucer-shaped craft began to exhibit the classic "swinging" motion that has characterized these vehicles. The photographs remain one of the most important documents ever collected on the UFO phenomenon. Activity of this nature has always been common in this part of Mexico, perhaps

owing to the fact that a number of large active mining endeavors in the region. The connection between UFOs and mines has also been observed in Puerto Rico, where the test pits dug for copper near the town of Adjuntas attract their interest. In July 1977, hundreds of awed witnesses were able to behold a number of falling unidentified flying objects, some of which were even captured on film. The mobilization of the Mexican Army over the course of the following days made many realize that something significant had indeed transpired, and rumors spread about a UFO which had collided in the mountains. The town of Jopala, to the east of Puebla and in the vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico, became the target of serious research, mainly by an enterprising Mexican ufologist named Pablo Latapí. The townspeople had allegedly seen a solid craft explode into thousands of sparks: witnesses included not only the local mayor, but also a number of schoolteachers, who had been able to retrieve pieces of a rough metal. The most curious detail to the townspeople's story was that others had beaten them to recover the pieces of the unusual material--a group of persons who arrived by helicopter and were obviously Americans. The newsmedia would later report, as it often does, that "NASA scientists" had visited the area. More likely than not, these were members of the Air Force's secretive Moondust/Bluefly recovery teams. Upon analysis, one of the recovered pieces of UFO debris proved to be an unusually pure alloy, unavailable to earthly technology at the time. U.S. researchers also believed that a subsequent collision had occurred in Tabasco, and that two dead alien pilots had been recovered from the wreckage. Mexican researchers were greatly annoyed at the fact that foreign investigators had obtained access to the available data before their own research

teams. The mining city of Charcas in the state of San Luis Potosí, has also attracted its fair share of UFO sightings. In the summer and winter of 1978, a colossal blue-white ball made a leisurely fly-over of the community, bathing it in its eerie light. While driving along the road leading from Cárdenas to San Luis Potosí, Octavio Rangel was treated to a bewildering spectacle near midnight on October 16, 1977. On the strech of road close to the Tamasopo mountains, he noticed how the dark countryside, the mountains, and the road ahead of him were suddenly bathed in an intense light as bright as day. Rangel tried to find the source of the uncanny illumination, and suddenly became aware of a tremendous fireball moving horizontally toward Charcas. Perhaps terrestrial magnetism generated by iron mines has caused many UFOs to crash. On December 15, 1978 a thirty-foot wide saucer-shaped craft plummetted to the ground in the Sierra Madre, not far from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo León. The collision of the purportedly extraterrestrial craft caused a great deal of consternation among residents throughout Nuevo León, who had witnessed the vehicle flying over their skies, changing colors as it did so. The crash--described as a "muffled explosion" heard for miles around--took place near a community known as El Potosí. The mountainous region was momentarily bathed in light, and a tall plume of smoke rose into the air, marking the site of the impact. Official response to this unusual occurence took the shape of police and emergency rescue crews, dispatched to the remote area by the authorities. Their efforts, according to rumor, were in vain: the Mexican army had cordoned off access to the area a few miles from the site, only allowing the entry of a medical and scientific team two days later. Their findings, if

any, were never made public. The late Leonard Stringfield, who zealously pursued UFO crash/retrieval stories, researched a 1974 incident in which an unknown object was tracked by the U.S. military as it flew over the Gulf of Mexico, passing forty miles to the south of Corpus Christi, Texas. The object, with a speed calculated at nearly 2000 miles an hour, began a descent into Mexican airspace, vanishing from the radar near the town of Coyame, Chihuahua. According to Stringfield, who published this account in his Status Report VII --Search for

Proof in a Hall of Mirrors (1994), the Mexican military initiated a recovery effort prompted by
stories of a "missing airplane" in the vicinity: the Mexican team found a the wreckage of the missing plane a few miles from the mystery object, which was circular and appeared to be intact aside from superficial damage. On August 26, 1974 a CIA-sponsored recovery team consisting of specialists flying unmarked, sand-colored helicopters was dispatched south of the border to recover the saucer with or without the consent of Mexican authorities. Aerial surveillance photographs, in the meanwhile, had revealed an alarming situation--the Mexican convoy with the recovered saucer had stopped in mid-desert. Two dead human bodies were seen lying on the ground next to the vehicles. The American team proceeded with its own recovery effort, successfully ferrying the sixteen-foot wide disk back to the U.S.. Its whereabouts remain a mystery. UFOs have not limited themselves to buzzing small villages and shanty towns in the desert. Thousands of witnesses in Guadalajara were treated to the acrobatics of a zig-zagging UFO in January 1979. The entire city was paralyzed by the uncanny spectacle as onlookers were transfixed by the glowing orange object. The sighting heralded the outbreak of Mexico's UFO wave in the spring of that year--sightings were recorded every day throughout the states of Jalisco and San Luis Potosí, namely in the localities of Ciudad Valles, Cárdenas, Cerritos,

Charcas, and Matehuala. In late March 1979, two boys from Cárdenas reportedly had a close encounter of the third kind involving over two dozen small figures less than three feet in height, "flying" through the air enveloped in a bluish-green haze. According to the boys' uncorroborated testimony, the small creatures "were spinning like tops." That same year, a disc jockey for a San Luis Potosí radio station located atop a skyscraper was startled by the appearance of two fireballs which crossed the night sky almost directly in front of his panoramic windows. According to his testimony, the fireballs, which were "a deep orange color", measured over 10 meters in diameter and appeared to be engaged in a systematic search for something on the ground below. The similarity of this event with the World War II events concerning the ever-elusive "Foo Fighters" led to these two Mexican objects becoming known as los foo fighters de San Luis Potosí. Anomalous activity was not circumscribed to North-Central Mexico, either. On According to an article in the Diario de Xalapa newspaper on December 27, 1978, a man driving on the highway from Villa Aldama to Perote in Veracruz was suddenly confronted by a very intense light and three luminous entities standing in excess of six feet in height. The witness allegedly surrendered his will to these non-human forces and was taken aboard "an apparatus". Whatever glee the man--identified only as "R.H.G."--might have felt at this unexpected celestial joyride was extinguished by the fact that upon returning to Earth he was promptly arrested by police officers who found his "extremely nervous condition" highly suspicious. The same intense UFO activity that occupied 1979 in northern Mexico was also felt in the southern regions: Enrique Atzin, a postal worker in the town of Zamora, told El Zamorano newspaper that he and a group of co-workers had been witnesses to the maneuvers of a

brilliant metallic disk on August 3, 1979. According to his testimony, the daylight disk vanished behind a cloud formation and did not reappear, much to their astonishment. Journalists Jorge Priego and Alvarado Wong of the El Dictamen newspaper were treated to the sight of four UFOs in October of that year. The reporters described the "lead" saucer as having a reddish color and the remaining three were glowing white. In December 1979, the entire city of Jalapa (Veracruz) was awed by a slow-moving lenticular UFO which cruised lazily over the city. Estimates indicate that the event had a fifteen-minute duration. With notable exceptions, the bulk of the events during the Seventies consisted in spectacular aerial displays but very few encounters with alien occupants (the now-legendary CE-3's) or even ground traces, aside from the rumored crash in Puebla and the possible recovery of alien debris. This was a period of intense investigation and dissemination of information on the part of the country's foremost researchers, aided by the fact that Mexican publishers were amenable to the UFO/paranormal subject and few manuscripts were ever turned away. Those interested in the subject could readily find information on their corner newsstands in the pages of "DUDA" magazine (a pulp magazine retelling specific UFO cases in the manner of a graphic novel or adult comic book) and the more conventional "Contactos Extraterrestres". Editorial Posada, publishers of the aforementioned "DUDA", featured a collection of affordable paperbacks that discussed the occult and ufological in depth. This was the decade of important works such as Pedro Ferriz's Un Mundo Nos Vigila (1976), Santiago García's Ovnis Sobre México (1973), Luis Jaspersen's Los Ovnis y las Evidencias Extraterrestres (1978). The success of these homegrown works led to the publication of books by Spain's Antonio Ribera and Andreas Faber-Kaiser within Mexico, as well as translations of important U.S., British and French ufological treatises by Donald Keyhoe, Charles Bowen and Aimé Michel,

respectively. Interest in platillos voladores, aliens and matters extraterrestrial also transcended to television, where broadcaster Jorge Saldaña frequently hosted international celebrities in this exciting and enigmatic field, and it was common for UFO sightings to be discussed during news broadcasts. Certainly, any stigma in evincing interest in the "far out and far away" would not come about until much later. The Eighties Luis Ramírez Reyes may not be one of Mexico's most visible UFO researchers, but he is certainly one of the more thoughtful ones to have emerged from that country's rich ufological tradition. A journalist and radio announcer, Ramírez's non-doctrinaire position has made him accessible to individuals who would have otherwise chosen to remain silent. This was precisely the case with a young man known only as "Pedro", who made an appointment to meet with the distinguished author one day to tell him his story. During a weekend in December 1988, Pedro and a friend had gone to play an early morning game of tennis at the clay courts facing a large auto assembly plant on the outskirts of Mexico City. While waiting for other colleagues to join them, the two men suddenly felt that "the sun was rising behind them." Turning around, the were absolutely floored by the sight of a descending circular vehicle that irradiated formidable amounts of white light, illuminating the entire area. The saucer-shaped craft touched down on a nearby field. Suppressing a strong urge to flee, Pedro and his companion forced themselves to remain and see what further incredible developments would occur. Their courage and patience were rewarded with a glimpse of two creatures, described as clad in tight-fitting grey outfits and standing

some four feet tall. Pedro added that "the creatures didn't look like you ufologists describe them", indicating that their heads had normal proportions, had small mouths and noses and slanted eyes. Pedro estimated that the riveting experience lasted some twenty minutes, after which the diminutive aliens returned to their craft, which rose into the air and disappeared "like they do in the cartoons". The friends decided not to speak further about the matter. The following day, Pedro returned to his job at the car assembly factory feeling confused and dejected. He told investigator Ramírez that he feared that his co-workers would take him for "a lunatic or a drug user" if he related his story. While carrying out his duties, the UFO witness was suddenly gripped by unexplained seizures, convulsing on the assembly line. He was whisked off to a medical facility, where the doctor on duty decided to send him to a psychiatrist, given that Pedro "ranted about aliens during his seizures." The psychiatrist determined that while he could find nothing wrong with Pedro, his disclosures of the sighting and the aliens might indicate schizophrenia. The hapless experiencer was sent to a mental health facility where he claims he was injected with a substance that made him "look like nut", thereby making it easier for everyone around him to dismiss him as hopelessly insane. Despite the drug's influence, Pedro tried telling his parents that he wasn't crazy, but he was not believed. The UFO witness was cast into a insane asylum where he witnessed the most atrocious abuse of the inmates by their keepers. One of the asylum's orderlies suspected that Pedro was clearly not insane, and told him to "behave like a paranoid" to avoid further problems during

his stay at the institution. Fortunately for Pedro, his companion at the tennis court had chosen to disclose the UFO experience in its entirety, despite having promised to conceal it. This ultimately proved to be the key that secured Pedro's release from the mental health facility. "But upon my release," he told Ramírez, who included the harrowing experience in his book Contacto: México (1997). "I was still not free from criticism by my fellows. People clearly did not believe me or my friend, to the extent that I was refused employment in [the car assembly plant] or in other area factories."

Saucers in the Nineties Few countries have attracted such attention for the number of unidentified flying objects seen in their skies, and Mexico is certainly the hottest location of the moment. Crystal-clear video and photographic images of tantalizing objects that just might be interplanetary in nature have been a boon to supporters of the extraterrestrial hypothesis; the Internet is abuzz with enthusiasts discussing the latest word on the Mexican sightings, even the disappointing "Superbowl Sunday" display of 1996 which turned out to be a meteorite. Interaction between U.S. and Mexican researchers is at an all-time high, and vast quantities of information on the elusive UFO phenomenon are being distributed to the world from this particular region of the world. This most recent and dynamic phase of UFO activity, says researcher/author Carlos A. Guzmán, kicked off in the second quarter of 1991, with numerous sightings being reported in the states of Sonora, Sinaloa, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán and perhaps most significantly, in Puebla.

The UFO phenomenon consists of more than sightings of bright lights and discoidal objects: there are mystery explosions and unexplained fires galore which are also closely related to the celestial enigma. The Jojutla Explosion of May 11, 1991, represents a particularly vivid example of these events. The evening of the 11th turned out to be colder than anticipated, prompting local residents to stay indoors. While families tuned in to the late news, the world outside their homes was suddenly turned into daylight: a massive detonation, deeper and more resonant than even the loudest thunderclap, rattled windows and shook homes down to their foundations. The unusual light disappeared seconds after the loud report. Many residents of Jojutla and Puente de Ixtla ran outdoors, convinced that a nearby filling station had exploded. Their surprise upon learning that the PEMEX station was intact can well be imagined; if not the station with its assortment of gas pumps, then what could possibly have caused the terrific sound? Professor José Luis Martínez, a mathematician and physicist, indicated that "either a bona fide UFO or a meteorite" could have been responsible for the extraordinary event of May 11, 1991, but added that he was "more inclined to believe in the first" alternative--the UFO explanation-- since meteorites do not explode noisily in mid-flight. Martínez gathered accounts from twenty-five witnesses to the Jojutla explosion which led him to determine that an object had fallen from the heavens: upon exploding, it scattered debris over a number of communities. Further accounts gleaned from residents of Puente de Ixtla showed that the mystery object in question had made an effort to alight upon a number of homes in the area while issuing a blindingly powerful beam of light.

UFOs over Tula, Hidalgo
As we have shown earlier in this work, UFOs and archaeological sites go hand in glove, and certain sites appear to exert a greater "pull" than others for these unidentified objects. One of these archaeological "magnets" is the ruined city of Tula, whose tall statues of warriors from a forgotten age--alternately known as the Colossi or the Atlanteans -- have always been associated with the legend of Quetzalcoatl and Tula's prominence as the capital city of the far-flung Toltec Empire. The Mexican Wave of UFO sightings could easily be subdivided into a number of localized

On January 2, 1992, at approximately seven forty-five in the evening, a massive blackout plunged twenty-two municipalities in the states of Guerrero and Morelos, as well as the cities of Iguala and Taxco (a well-known tourist destination) into absolute darkness. A local couple, Ignacio and Edith González, thought to take advantage of the blackout to do some star-gazing along with their children and proceeded to climb onto the roof of their home. Turning their eyes up to the cold, clear winter sky, they were startled to see not stars or planets but three unusual objects which appeared to be equipmed with "spotlights". According to the Gonzálezes, the objects appeared to take an interest in a sudden explosion (probably that of a transformer) in a location known as "La Pera" and headed in that direction. Other neighbors of the González family along the same street remarked that the darkness seemed much greater than usual. When they went out to their backyards to investigate, they were startled by a powerful beam of light directed from the darkness above down to the wooded areas adjacent to their home. The father of the family told everyone to go

back inside, frightened by the strange events that were taking place outdoors. Functionaries working late at the government's Executive Building in Taxco went out to the baroque structure's balconies to witness an astonishing sight: a massive black cube-shaped structure appeared to be forming in the skies; directly above it were flashes of green and white light which added an eerie backdrop to the ominous cube. The government workers would latter comment that they had been disturbed by the "supernatural" qualities of what they had witnessed. On January 23, 1992, the Ovaciones tabloid reported that twenty unidentified flying objects had crossed the skies of San Luis Potosí and had been seen over the native settlements in the municipality of Tampamolón Corona at around 9:00 p.m.. According to the printed source, the objects had a silvery sheen and gave off flashes of blue light. Seven days later, an architect surnamed Domínguez was driving long the Mexico-Cuernavaca expressway together with his wife and daughter when they were startled by the appearance of "three red lights" near the town of Topilejo around 10:00 p.m.. To their surprise, the Domínguez family realized that rather than representing a trio of separate objects, the lights appeared to belong a singular triangular vehicle. The object remained motionless and soundless over the twenty minutes that the sighting lasted. There was even enough time for the architect to pull over and exit his car to get a better look. It is not known if he managed to take any photographs of the alleged UFO. Perhaps the most startling and credibility-straining account during this initial phase of the 1990's flap appared in the highly reputable El Universal newspaper on March 13, 1992 regarding an event which transpired on March 6 -- the sudden UFO-induced structural invisibility of an airliner.

"On the night of Friday, March 6, I was travelling to the city of Monterrey on Flight [...] departing at nearly 11:30 p.m.. It was around midnight and some passengers were dozing off after the cabin lights had been dimmed, but others like myself were wide awake when we suddenly noticed that the airliner's fuselage had disappeared--every single item that was a component of its structure. Passengers and luggage remained in place without being in any way affected. We were flying in space, seeing the skies and stars without the barrier of cabin walls, which were still there and detectable to the touch, but completely invisible. We could even see the pilots in the cabin, at the controls of an aircraft that none of us could see, only touch. I shared this experience with fellow passengers in my row of seats, who were also marvelled by the event and searched in vain for an answer." "The event lasted five minutes, by my calculations. We were overwhelmed as we tried to make sense of what was going on when we suddenly became aware of a luminous object shaped like two "inverted bowls" stuck together, flying parallel to the airliner...the broadcast media, one radio station among them, reported that the airliner in question had vanished from the air traffic controllers' screens in both Mexico and Monterrey for ten minutes, when communications with the plane were interrupted."

Multiple Witnesses to a UFO Landing The experts have always insisted that "one witness is no witness", although the bulk of ufology consists of such single-witness encounters and experiences. However, when twenty children and their school teacher see a phenomenon that is at first blush unidentifiable, then the "quality of the witnesses" becomes an issue. In any event, the multiple witness sighting which stirred the residents of Poza Rica, Veracruz on

May 22, 1992 was classified by the local media as a bona-fide encounter with the unknown. Second grade instructor Zita Azuaria described the case to reporters from a the Mexican tabloid INSOLITO, who covered the event. She indicated that it was a very warm, sunny day and that the time was 10:30 a.m., when all the children were enjoying recess by playing in the school's basketball court. According to Ms. Azuaria, a number of children soon approached her, claiming to have seen a bright flash produced by what they held to be a spacecraft. "The children were telling me: "Maestra, its a flying saucer!" but I paid them no attention. They came to find me at least two or three times and event then I paid them no attention. It wasn't until eleven o'clock, when we were heading back to the classroom, that I noticed all of them looking skyward. Once inside the room, I started assigning work, but noticed that a few students were missing." Upon asking their whereabouts, Ms. Azuara was told by the other children that they were outside looking at the flying saucer. Intrigued, she decided to take a look for herself, followed by the students. "It wasn't saucer-shaped," she told journalists. It resembled a wall-like structure, like a highly polished mirror, at least three meters tall. It was at least three kilometers away from our location, and there are small hills and a lot of vegetation in between." Ms. Azuara detailed some of the children to inform one of her colleagues to witness the event. When the colleague arrived, the scintillating structure wobbled and appeared to have been sucked into the ground. It emerged once more to everyone's amazement, then vanished into the ground once more. "Later that afternoon," she continued. "the authorities phoned me at home and asked me to retell my experience for the record. I insisted that it may have been nothing at all anomalous, but an experiment of some sort that was being conducted."

A number of strange circles were found on the soil at a nearby ranch known as "El Edén", which lasted eight days before being engulfed by the local vegetation. Ms. Azuara believed that the circles had been produced by the strange, shining object that her students had seen on May 22nd. Visiting the ranch personally, she complained of feeing a strange sensation within her body, leading her to suspect that there might have been some form of residual radiation in the area which no one had bothered to check. Other visitors to the ranch had indicated that the stones within the scorched circles appear to have melted and bubbled, as would a piece of metal heated to its melting point in a furnace.

The Saucer Flap Continues The events of 1992, as startling as they had been, would be no match for the events that would explode upon the scene the following year. The Mexican Wave--as it was being know overseas--was now a subject of debate at international UFO conferences, television programs, books and magazines. The phenomenon struck again during the first month of 1993, this time in the northern state of Zacatecas: ten unidentified flying craft were seen flying over the the Juchipila Mountains on January 29. The event was, in fact, the continuation of a number of sightings over the course of preceding months: so numerous and frequent were the events, that thousands of people beat a path throught the woods to a natural esplanade that would become a natural "UFOtheater". The residents of Juchipila maintained that the objects were highly luminous and irradiated light. Farmer Rafael Pérez and his son were very nearly blinded by one such "device" which hovered directly above them and bathed them in actinic light. According to the farmer's testimony, night turned into day for a few minutes (such incidents were curiously similar to the

mechanical contraptions known as "chupas" which appeared over the Brazilian Amazon in the late 1970's and early 1980's). Municipal President Jesús Bañuelos complained that a "psychosis" had swept through the citizens of Juchipila. The February 1, 1993 issue of the Diario de Xalapa newspaper quoted the functionary as saying: "Some people even sleep there [at the esplanade] and have made a business of selling foodstuffs there." The stream of outside visitors to the Juchipila "UFOtheatre" had begun as the result of the nationwide screening of a videotape shot at the location by 28 year old Ramón Carrillo Tello, whose image of the unidentified lights was considered the best evidence gathered to date by the national media, despite skeptics' accusations that the images were merely lense flares. The hot-spot of the Zacatecas sightings appeared to be Cerro de las Ventanas, a peak of the Juchipila Mountains which had attracted the attention of domestic and foreign researchers alike. Scholars railed at the fact that the area--one of high archaeological interest due to its caves--had been "ransacked" by outsiders and that the state and federal agencies responsible for such concerns had turned a blind eye. In May 1994, the presence of alleged UFO prints has caused a sensation in the Mexican town of Tlalmanalco. The vehicle landed at a location known as El Tenayo, where two individuals suffered burned hands as a result of touching the site where the object landed. One resident reported having seen a luminous vehicle near the hill known as El Tenayo during the evening, but it wasn't until the following day that anyone went in for a closer look. The sightings were not confined to lights in the sky and curious ground effects: humanoid alien creatures were seen emerging from vehicles, as occured in the town of

Cosolapa, Oaxaca, on the nation's Pacific coast. The main witness in the story, Joaquina Reyes, a local washerwoman, told reporters from the El Universal newspaper that a creature the size of a 10-year old boy descended from glowing UFO. Reyes told reporters that: "He (the ufonaut) was a beautiful creature all in white, with a crown and belt that changed color constantly. When I told him, come here, child, you're so lovely, bright lights issued from the crown and belt, as if he could tell what great emotion I was feeling." A local resident tried to approach the UFO occupant, according to Mrs. Reyes, but the latter withdrew as the human came closer. Other witnesses shouted for him to get back, since she ran the risk of being abducted by the alien. After 30 minutes of looking at the UFO, an unidentified boy threw a stone at it. It was then that the vehicle dimmed its brightness and took off toward the hills, disappearing. On October 7, 1993, hundreds of people attending a fair in honor of St. Francis in the city of Pachuca, state of Hidalgo, were stunned to see a massive fireball streaming across the skies headed in a southerly direction. A group of musicians who were among the entertainers present at the event indicated that they had seen similar fireballs in the town of Valle del Mezquital, not far from the ruins of Tula. The musicians further added that following the event, imprints of the "landing gear" of a strange device were also discovered. The Pachuca incident took place at around three o'clock in the morning. "We thought is was an airplane on fire just about to crash," said another witness. "But imagine our surprise when we saw the bright light speed off rather than fall without perceiving any sound whatsoever." In early 1993, according to author/researcher Luis Ramírez Reyes, an anonymous young woman was driving between Mexico City and Poza Rica, Veracruz, as part of her regular route

as cosmetics saleswoman. Upon reaching the Teotihuacán archaeological site, she became aware of an object she thought to be a UFO in the clear blue skies. The next thing she new, she had arrived at her destination. Perplexed and afraid, she glanced repeatedly at her wristwatch and noticed that it indicated the very same time at which

she'd left Mexico City and was driving along the expressway that runs past the Teotihuacán
pyramids. Pulse racing, she pulled into an alleyway in Poza Rica to steady herself. A passerby informed her that the time was now 2:00 pm -- three hours later than the time on her wristwatch. The mechanics of how she had been able to traverse the 300 kilometer distance without being aware of it eluded her completely. She conducted her business transactions nervously, haunted by the experience she had undergone. In the weeks which followed her "missing time" experience, the cosmetics saleswoman began to experience lassitude and nausea to the extent that she went to see a doctor. The physician dutifully informed her that she was pregnant -- a statement that astonished her, since she was still a virgin and did not even have a boyfriend. Seven months later, at a private clinic whose name and location Ramírez has kept confidential, she gave birth to a strange creature having double-membraned eyes, thick frog-like lips, joined fingers and hard, shell-like features on its skin which were similar to a tortoise's shell. Panic spread among the delivery room doctors and nurses, and only stern admonitions from the clinic's director kept the story from circulating any further. The bizarre newborn remained inside an incubator for three weeks after its birth in September 1993. A physician's report indicated that the "baby" would not drink any formula or dairy products, but appeared to crave herbs. Other peculiarities included its inability to withstand light, preferring "infrared light sources" and the development of scales along its

spine. Photos of the creature were shown to an analyst who has also requested anonymity. His expert opinion was that the newborn belonged to a "saurian or reptilian species" of some sort. The researcher's sources claim that the mother is raising her "child" alone, and that the latter is growing and developing into a full grown amphibian reptile "horrible to behold within our notions of beauty." Is this reptilian infant merely a throwback to the very beginnings of the evolutionary trail? A human child deformed by unknown radiation or toxicity? Or can we actually believe that it is the offspring of a human mother and a clearly non-human father during a "missing time" experience? If so, the case would clearly Exhibit A in the case presented by believers in reptilian aliens from nameless planets in space. This successful hybridization case--if true--represents the furthest possible limit of "high strangeness": beyond it lies only madness, of the kind described in the works of H.P. Lovecraft. By 1995, the action had shifted to the Mexican "new age" mecca of Tepoztlán. During the first week of May that year, hundreds of local residents were frightened by the sudden appearance of a colossal plate-shaped UFO over El Chalchi, one of the hills surrounding the location. Onlookers told the authorities that the the plate-shaped behemoth gave had a powerful white searchlight and was surrounded by lights of various different colors. By sheer coincidence, the object had materialized over El Chalchi while the 1158th anniversary of the ritual feast and celebrations of the god Quetzalcoatl was being re-enacted on the hillside--a fact which overjoyed New Agers in Mexico and abroad. Tepoztlán had achieved prominence due to the repeated UFO sightings over another neighboring peak--La Luz--in 1992 and 1993. During the course of these sightings, hundreds

of assembled onlookers were able to see a number of UFOs firing vermillion-hued lights against the surface, to the extent that many locals thought that a forest fire had been provoked by the unknown quantities. This belief proved to be unfounded, and the UFOs disappeared as mysteriously as they had first appeared.

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