Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Mexico: Day 3

by Kathy 8. May 2009 14:39

<< Days 1 and 2: Finding Our Groove in the City of Oaxaca | Day 4: Oaxaca; San Martin Tilcajete >>


Oaxaca; Monte Alban in the Heat


We had a late breakfast this morning and then walked to the Hertz rental car office to pick up a car that we had reserved two months ago. We had heard quite a few horror stories about renting a car in Mexico (hidden costs, charges for almost invisible chips in the windshield that probably existed before the rental, higher prices than quoted, only "expensive" cars left to rent, etc.). Although we hoped that the rental would go smoothly, we were not surprised when we were told that despite our reservation, there was no car for us. Our minds were zooming into "Plan B" mode, when the man behind the counter said that the office was holding a car for another client; since we wanted a nine-day rental, and the other client only wanted the car for one day, he would let us have the car.

The rental car arrived (a nice little compact), and we checked it over carefully, noting every little ding or scratch on the body and windshield. Then off we drove to see the Monte Alban, which was the Zapotec capital for over 1000 years before it was abandoned in the 8th century.   

But first, we had to get out of the city. We drove around, making turns to avoid roads that were either closed due to construction or blocked by crowds of people in Good Friday processions. Here you can see a procession blocking off the road ahead.

After 10 minutes, we ended up at the same exact place that we started! After a good laugh, we consulted a map and came up with a different route.

We arrived at Monte Alban and discovered it was a very popular place today. The traffic police directed us to park on the side of the road, about a mile away from the entrance.

We walked up the hill; it was a hot day (April is the hottest month in Oaxaca, with temperatures in the ‘90’s). By the time we arrived at the entrance gates, Sebastian was a bit overheated and tired. We bought more water and sun hats from the vendors.

We cooled down with a light lunch in the museum restaurant and then went to explore the ruins.

The ruins covered a large area.

The children were searching for tombs and found some shady spots to rest.

Why take the stairs when you can climb rocks?

Ben and I:

We had a great view of the Oaxaca valley.

While Ben and I were admiring the view, we watched several groups of people walk over to a low rock between pillars, stand on the rock, stretch out their hands and pose for a photo. Hmmm . . . we didn’t have a guide book; maybe this was a special ritual that brings good luck to those who pose like that . . . or maybe not. In any event, I had to experience it for myself; I felt a little silly, but bring on that good luck!

Here are Sebastian and Ben before they walked the length of that long field behind them . . .

. . . and climbed the tallest pyramid structure:

The children keep daily journals when we travel. Sebastian’s entry for today read: "Today we went to Monte Alban. It was built by the Zapotec 500 B.C. It was very, very, very, very, very hot. I climbed the pyramid and went back." The heat was overwhelming. Ben and Sebastian decided that they were finished exploring. Genevieve and I hung in there for another 10 minutes and then joined them for a rest in the shade. Here is Genevieve at the top of the pyramid:

We stopped briefly in the museum to see some of the stone carvings. Here is a figure that early archeologists initially called a "dancer"; however, some now believe that the body was placed in a distorted position to show that it was tortured, and that the carving served as a warning to enemies. We may never know for certain . . . "dancing" or "torture" . . . .

When we finally reached our car, we noticed that the front tires (which were curbed due to the hill) were completely bald, with wires from the steel belt poking through on the outside edges. Yikes! Unfortunately, the spare tire was in the same condition. We carefully drove back to the hotel, and then Ben continued on to the Hertz office to try and get the tires replaced. (Hertz ended up providing us with another car the next day.)

The kids and I enjoyed the hotel pool for about 20 minutes, until the thunder started booming and the showers came. Then we stood on our patio and watched the raindrops make beautiful circular patterns on the pool water. Oh, the simple pleasures in life.

After a brief siesta, we headed back out:

Today was Good Friday, and we planned to watch the Procession of Silence, which is an annual holy parade in which various religious groups carry figures/statues of Jesus and other religious items through the streets in silence. The procession was supposed to start any time between 6 and 7 p.m. We found really good viewing spots directly across from the Santo Domingo church.

Soon, these hooded men came out of the church, along with the wounded Jesus figure in the background.

Having been born and raised in the South, I was a bit shocked at first when I saw the pointy hoods—but then I recalled that they have historically been used by the Spanish in religious ceremonies.

This woman was promoting a restaurant that offered traditional Mexican dances for entertainment.

Here are some pictures of the procession:

We ate at a restaurant, La Biznaga, that came highly recommended—lively atmosphere with an innovative chef . . . we admired the creative combination of flavors, even if some of them were too unusual for our tastes.

After dinner, we saw some of the procession participants heading home. Genevieve was excited to discover that this group of purple-hooded people, carrying the heavy display, consisted of women.

Sebastian enjoyed ice cream, while walking around the outdoor markets.

Genevieve was thrilled to add this colorful headband to her wardrobe.

<< Days 1 and 2: Finding Our Groove in the City of Oaxaca | Day 4: Oaxaca; San Martin Tilcajete >>

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin