A Very Busy Oaxaca Weekend

glyph at Monte Albán
My brother is only visiting for one weekend so it was a very busy one. He has never been to Mexico before and he has a passion for photography so we decided to visit Monte Albán, a nearby archeological site. Monte Albán was inhabited by Zapotecs in the 7th century B.C., abandoned and then taken over by the Mixtecs who were conquered by the Aztecs. When Cortez arrived in 1519, the Mixtecs were vassals and paid tribute to the Aztecs. Monte Albán was discovered in the early part of the 20th century and is an important early MesoAmerican site.
The Zapotecs were one of the earliest civilizations in the Americas.
This is the third time that I have visited Monte Albán.  The other times, I have taken a tourist bus that costs about 200 pesos and visits  the artisan workshops. Saturday, we chose to go directly to Monte Albán to take advantage of the early light. We paid 35 pesos return and travelled up with the guides and the vendors.
The Fería del Tejate at Huyapam
On Sunday, we were invited for tamales at the home of some American ex-pats who living in the nearby village of Huayapam. The young woman that we sponsored lives in their guest-house when she returns from her teaching job in the mountains. Sunday was the Fería del Tejate when the village population more than doubles as vendors come from all over the state to sell their special tejate, a pre-hispanic drink made of flowers, cornmeal and fruit.

It was so fascinating to see all the different tejates and the colourful costumes of the vendors. Unfortunately, I have tried tejate before and I'm really not that much of a fan.
Beto, Mari and me
We were fortunate to have a visit in a beautiful home in Huayapam. The couple that we visited left their life in New York to live in Oaxaca. They travel for a few months of the year but Oaxaca is their home now. Mari, who is from a small pueblo in the mountains, was introduced to this couple through the
Oaxaca Learning Center who coordinated the funding and support that enabled her to attend Teachers'
College. The state of Oaxaca struggles with a shortage of trained teachers, as in the past, teaching jobs 
were passed down through families. Very powerful unions protect the teachers' positions but it is truly 
the students who suffer. With trained indigenous teachers, the rural students stand a better chance at success. My sister and I, who provided  money for  living stipend and school supplies, received a letter 
each month during Mari's studies. It was interesting to compare teacher training in Mexico with that in Canada.
palm crucifix
Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The last three years, I have spent Holy Week in Paris. There are processions and free music in many churches. In Oaxaca, everyone was selling ramas, palm decorations.  I resisted for a while but finally, I bought this palm of Jesus on the cross. 

It was such a busy weekend that I am very slow getting started this Monday morning but the
bookshelves are calling and brother only has a few days.


  1. The glyph in the first photograph is intriguing Madame. What an extraordinary wealth of history Oaxaca has.

  2. Oaxaca is exceptionally rich in history and art. For a smaller colonial city, there are so many art galleries and museums.


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