Friday, August 24, 2007

Oaxaca's Monte Alban (I'm Not in Chacala Any More

The area around the city of Oaxaca, called the Valles of Oaxaca, is filled with archaeological ruins. And small towns where Indio families practice crafts like weaving, pottery, and tinwork. Some ofthe ancient sites have been beautifully restored. Monte Alban is about 20 minutes from Oaxaca city as the crow flies, 40 minutes by bus (for 34 pesos or $3US, round trip).

The tourist bus I took up to Monte Alban was filled with European tourists, and two families from the U.S. I got to sit with some very knowledgable English-speaking Italians. We were dropped off about about a 500 feet below the entrance to the site, where a pleasant gauntlet of vendors awaited us. I actually bought some "Oaxaca" tee shirts, 3 for $9US. For gifts. And one for my son.
This gentleman is a tour guide at Monte Alban. A friend of his, another guide, told me he is 91 years old. His friend said this man knows everything about Monte Alban, and trains the other guides.I didn't hire a guide because I got sidetracked visiting with this vendor family. Their little girl approached me with bracelets for 5 pesos, 50 cents, while I was packing my new tee shirts into my bag. I bought one, and within a few minutes her whole family was sitting with me. Visiting and trying to sell me their various items. I ended up sharing my lunch snacks. Oranges, crackers, cookies, and pineapple slices. I really liked them, and ended up actually making a purchase. They invited me to their home in a colonia, a neighborhood, in Oaxaca. And gave me their address, for visiting and for sending photos if I didn't visit this trip. It was very painful to hear about their financial difficulties, until the Mom, Maura, pulled out her cell phone. Felix, the Dad had worked in Monterrey, near the U.S. border for two years. The whole family came with him. Felix said they hated the life there and decided it was better to be poor than live a life in that city. The kids all work after school and on weekends.
There is a lovely, but very dark museum on site, with lovely bathrooms with toilet paper, and toilet seats, and no lady collecting 3 pesos. And a nice restaurants with a view patio. I bought a tourist booklet, and read it on the entrance patio. A family was there, taking Quincenaria(15th birthday fiesta) photos, I think. They thought it was funny I wanted to take photos. They also gave me their address to send photos to them. These people have more faith in the Mexican postal system than I do, but I will give it a try.
The actual archaeological site is sooo beautiful. It's set on a mountain top and you can see forever. I felt like I was in the opening scenes of "The Sound of Music". Which sounds ridiculous, but that's the way I felt. The reconstructed buildings were beautiful. I can't remember the details of the years when they were first built, but it was definitely B.C. The whole site was just amazing. I was really surprised at how strongly I was impacted by seeing these very, very old structures. It's my first experience at being at a place like Monte Alban, and I was really moved. Our bus left after three hours, and I was definitely not ready to leave.

1 comment:

myahspirit said...

I am suprized to see the grass as there was none when we were there in Feburary. It is so cool that you are getting to see the same sites I saw last year and to get your view point about them.