Saturday, January 5, 2008

Oaxaca is beautiful

After our all day bus ride from Huatulco, we were delighted to see Oaxaca. It’s much cooler here (I’ve added its weather to our home page), and this is the most beautiful city we’ve seen in Mexico. The buildings in the old city are monumental and everything is very clean, including the air.

The first evening Jan and Joan left a message to meet them at the cathedral at 7:30. Our bus was late, though, and we missed them. Nonetheless, we had a very nice dinner on a balcony overlooking the zócalo, the city square, which was decorated with white lights from the holidays and filled with poinsettias.

Our bus delay was caused by a roadblock at which we were boarded by the Mexican army and forced to disembark. Thanks to a German woman on the bus who spoke Spanish as well as English, we learned that they were searching for drugs but found turtle eggs. The women smuggling the eggs were in the back of the bus, and we watched as the army removed one of their bags and tried to get them off the bus. The soldiers were extremely polite, as were the women, but the women refused to leave until they made everyone get off. While we were standing outside, we experienced the Tehuantepec winds, which rocked the bus and nearly blew us off our feet. The water in the gulf was white with spray. It was an exciting trip, and the scenery was impressive too.

Yesterday was very busy. We met Jan and Joan for breakfast and then visited Monte Albán, an active archeological site. The sites in the ruins date from 650 BC to about 800 AD, and the Zapotec civilization that built the city pre-dates the Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs that we’re more familiar with. We splurged on a guide, and it was worth it. Clemente is part Zapotec and federally licensed as a guide. It was fascinating, and there will be photos on the website. Meanwhile, you can learn more about it by searching in Google for “Monte Alban.”

For dinner we went to a dinner/show called the La Guelaguetza. It was a buffet at the most expensive hotel in town with dancers performing folk dances from the eight cultural regions of Oaxaca to authenticate music. It was a very festive and colorful show. The actual guelguetza is a festival in July, so this was just a sample.

Today we’re off to the museums, cultural and art. There’s lots to do here, and we’re keeping our room another night. To any cruisers out there who are in the area, we highly recommend a side trip to Oaxaca.

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