I Moved To Oaxaca

Friday, August 22, 2003

Hey, we went to Mitla today! And I still don't know how to upload my photos. Is that lame, or what? I mean, I was a tech professional ... okay, I just sent my ISP another whiney e-mail asking them how to upload using an Internet cafe PC. In any case, we made the short drive out to Mitla (30 km? not far) intending to stop to see the gigantic Tule tree, then the village of Tlacochahuaya, then Mitla and back. Only we missed the turn-off for the Tule tree, so it was on to Mitla. The ruins are surrounded by the town; it was nice to drive through town, park, then walk down through the tourist market to the ruins. Most of the stuff was woven goods: embroidered shirts, skirts, and dresses, tapestries, tablecloths and napkins, rebozos. But we saw a smattering of Oaxaca crafts from other villages, too: carved and painted wood animals, bobble-heads, pottery, clay and wood geegaws. The usual. We got our tickets and went into the ruins, which aren't as large as Monte Alban. As we were getting our tickets punched, a guy offered his services as a guide. We first said no, but then Greg changed his mind and went back to talk to the guy. They came back over to where I was standing and the guy introduced himself as Ivan, or Evan, and took us around the main part of the ruins. (Later, Greg told me he'd asked Ivan how much, and he'd said $145, so Greg said, how about $100? to which Ivan replied, even the Mexicans pay $130. So they agreed on M$130.) Well, I am glad we got the guide. The site doesn't sell any guidebooks, and the signage is typically brief and/or inaccurate. And I think Ivan was glad to get a couple of tourists that actually knew something about Meso-American history. We were there for about an hour and a half, and Ivan explained how Mitla is different from Monte Alban: civic versus religious orientation, post- versus pre-classical, way different artistic styles (even we noticed that right away). Mitla is decorated with this wonderful, geometric work, with traces of the original red and white stuccowork still visible. Ivan also pointed out some construction features and explained how sturdily the buildings are, using dovetail-jointed corners, slanted stones, and big-ass lintels to squish smaller blocks into place. The city was buillt around 500 AD, and hasn't fallen down yet. (Here's the church, built on and with the stones of the old Zapotec buildings. The stuff on the bottom is the most recent -- you can see all the mortar between the stones. The layer with the geometric design is old stuff, and the pink stone in the church behind is Conquest era.)

After the tour, we asked him for the name of a place to eat in town, then went through one more stroll through the tourist market -- Greg got it into his head to find a painted wood ant and frog for some friends of ours. So we stopped at a likely place and asked with the help of our dictionary for ants and frogs. None, and none. So we wandered off, and about 10 minutes later the vendor came up to us and showed us a painted ant! So we bought it without dickering over the price, just glad to have it and tickeled that she'd tracked us down. We drove back through town to the restaurant, La Zapoteca, stopping and buying a kilo of tortillas en route for M$6. Well, the lunch at La Zapoteca was good -- greg had some home-made vegetable and pasta soup, and >I had a plate of chile rellenos with rice -- but when Greg asked, how much, they said in all innocence, cien pesos. One hundred presos for lunch! Geez, that is some gringo markup. But there you go, gotta ask the price beforehand, not afterwards.

And here's part of an e-mail I sent to my friend Wendy elaborating on the Berlitz Method of nutrition:

"cookies, juice, and chicharones (Mexican cheetos -- with salsa!) for snacks. Fortunately, they also have herbal tea and water, but the kids of course don't touch that."

Hey, nothing like feeding kids sugar, running them around on the patio, then insisting they sit in their seats and learn, dammit! My Shirts group yesterday? I was literally scooting one kid in their chair out the classroom door on a short trip to the director's office.

Crap, my hour's up at the Internet cafe. More later.


Post a Comment

<< Home