on our last day in oaxaca, we ventured out one more time. this one was a short trip up into the hills surrounding the city. we headed to monte alban, the pre-columbian zapotec city. it was a beautiful day, breezy and sunny. and because the ruins are completely exposed to the elements we made our first stop the hat vendors. yes, i’m sure we paid more than we should have, but $2.50 to totally shade our faces (and bob’s head) was a necessary price to pay.
here are our super protective sun hats. they really made a differenence. bob is still holding onto his (though it’s now badly battered from being strapped on top of his pannier). after heading from the beach back into the mountains for the foreseeable future, i decided my hat wasn’t worth the space it was taking up. so, hopefully it found a good home with one of the girls who cleaned our room in juchitan. i thought it’d make for an interesting tip.
once we got into the site we checked on a tour in english so that we could get a little more of the history. the guides waiting at the entrance wanted $30 for the 3 of us. so, we decided to be frugal and navigate on our own. as we meandered up the path at the entrance there was a large group of english speakers listening to a pretty dynamic guide. so, we lingered on the edges til he was done with his description and pete asked how much it would be if the three of us jumped into his group. his price was less than half of the first guy, and he seemed like a good guide.
so, we had a great hour lesson of the native plants on the way in, and what their medicinal/practical uses were for the zapotec people. there were trees for insect repellent and upset stomach, lacquer for preserving their paintings, incense or perfume, and many others. above is our guide, moses, giving us a demonstration of the acoustics of the central area of the ruins. he walked in a square of about 10 feet in each direction, and when he changed location the sound echoed in a completely different place. it was really cool. after his lesson, he dismissed us all to tour around at our leisure.
here’s the ball field. they aren’t sure exactly what the games were like, but the arena is a very similar set up to the more massive one in chichen itza, that i’ve seen. apparently the zapotecs were a little less sacrificial, though, because in chichen itza the winners were sacrificed as a high honor. this was not the practice in monte alban.
here’s a sculpture of a breach birth, which they think came from the hospital building. the others depicted castrated males and deformities. this one was one of the more well preserved so that you can see the detail (did you catch the little dangling legs?)
bob posing in front of the hospital building, which they called edificio L
everything is in bloom in oaxaca right now, and these purple trees are all over the state. their color is something i’ve never seen on a tree before and they were so beautiful, especially when you happened across one in a rural village in the countryside next one of the run down houses.
monte alban was another great addition to our stay in oaxaca. we took in so many things there that we needed a few days to process it all. bob and i both really enjoyed the culture in the city, and i’m pretty sure we’ll make it a priority to get back one day in our traveling future. until next time…
hasta luego, oaxaca!