Jan. 25 to Feb. 6, 2010
Today I’m going to be a slacker and use short descriptions and photos to describe our two weeks in Oaxaca City. Thanks for understanding the ways of a lazy man.
The drive from the coast to Oaxaca was a twisty one.
While in Oaxaca, Roz and I lived in two apartments – a bowling alley and a shoe box. Moderation is for suckers.
Oaxaca is a charming city nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, full of churches, art galleries and coffee shops. I liked the coffee shops.
Revolution is in the air. In 2006, a teachers’ union demonstration turned ugly when soldiers attacked. A war in the streets ensued. Many died. An uneasy truce exists now. One night, we stumbled upon another teachers’ demonstration in the main square. On our way to the zocalo we saw a truck full of soldiers pile out and enter a government building – I think they were standing by (out of sight) in case things got interesting again. Luckily, we didn’t witness any incidents. But it made me realize that anything can happen anytime in these fragile democracies.
We spent an afternoon at Monte Alban, about 9 km outside of Oaxaca. (ROZ: Monte Alban is a pre-Columbian archaeological site high on a mountain top overlooking the Oaxaca valley. Apparently it’s one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica and was the pre-eminent Zapotec socio-political and economic center for close to a thousand years.) Now there are only the remains of stone buildings and stone carvings of castrated men. Ouch.
Santa Domingo de Guzman is a huge church, over 400-years-old, whose ceilings are resplendent with 3D relief paintings. Inside the doorway of the elaborate gold-leafed church, a tiny Mayan woman begged for coins. Hmmm…
Adjacent to the church is the former Dominican monastery, a labyrinth of rooms that now houses the Cultural Centre of Oaxaca. It was filled with very cool pre-Hispanic artifacts – and the usual post-contact colonial tools like Spanish armour, muskets and statues of Christ.
The governor’s palace has been converted into a museum and art gallery. (ROZ: It was a beautiful old building (love those arches) with a huge mural by Arturo García Bustos. A big piece of the mural portrays native son Benito Juárez, a Zapotec Indian who was governor of Oaxaca and served five terms as President of Mexico in the 1800s. As I told Trond, Juarez is “the dude” in these parts – Mexico’s greatest and most beloved leader and probably the only Mexican hero whose reputation still stands. Just about every other street, park or store in Oaxaca was named “Juarez”.)
One day, we went to a mall that someone referred to as gringoland. We watched Avatar in 3D there and indulged in a Domino’a pizza. I enjoyed both experiences. They both felt like the real thing.
Well, that’s all folks. Thanks for letting me be like my underpants – brief.
(ROZ: When did you start wearing underwear?)
END OF PART 11