Sunday, October 26, 2014
We are going to tour the archaeological site of Monte Alban, the sacred place of the Zapotec people. Our guide is Juan Montes-Lara and he is the same guide we had two years ago on this tour. He is a true gentleman, a charismatic presenter and a scholar. My favorite Juan line of the day is after he told the height of a monument in meters he was asked how many feet that would be. He said, "I do not know in feet because I come from the civilized world."
Juan told us that the excavated area we are viewing is about 1% of the area that this city encompassed. Monte Alban (now) is a mountain top that was leveled by the Zapotecs around 500 B.C. It is sad that even then the whole excavated area is an engineering marvel of environmental interference by man. However, it is amazing that humans could do all this physical work (level a mountain top and build huge stone monuments with materials brought up from the valley far below). Monte Alban was a Zapotec center for 1,000 years. It was eventually taken over by the Mixtec and then abandoned.
The excavated area we visited is the religious ceremonial center of the site. The Zapotecs built terraced structures out of stone by using masonry. Most of the current structures are restored. The vista from the structures is breathing taking in more than one sense as we are at an altitude of 6,400 feet. The museum is filled with cool images for future use in our art:
After the visit to the site we were free for the afternoon. KD, Theresa, Sue and I went to lunch at Ma Bonita. I had chicken soup which was great. We were on a mission today to get to the Las Artes del Libro in order to take a linoleum stamp carving lesson and make a stamp.
We were taught by a young student named Gabriela Chinas who provided us with the linoleum block, carving tools and some books for inspiration.
The students printed then inked and printed the stamp. We received a print of our stamp and they kept the stamp. Here is what I made:
On the walked back from the book center, we met an artist named Rayas Gomez.
He is a print maker and was fluent in English so we got a history lesson as well. The print I bought is called Musico au la Calle and was done to honor Rayas' friend who was let go as the guitarist for the Oaxaca Symphony and had to perform in the streets. It is an etching which is then printed and hand-dyed.
This evening the scheduled event was the official welcome dinner at Azucena Zapoteca which is owned by the alebrijes artists Jacobo and Maria Angeles from San Martín Tilcajete whose restaurant we had visited earlier in the trip.
I had a very gourmet version of chorizo. After the meal, some of the group was heading to the Zocalo but I could tell something was off. I went back to my room and sure enough--got real sick. Real sick.
View all the photos from this trip at