Diary/Photo Journal

Week of November 16, 2003

We have wandered back to the Pacific Ocean via Oaxaca (Whaw-hawka) with a stop to peruse even more ruins - the ruins of Monte Alban. 

A cool, yet still steaming volcano.  Those are not clouds per se, but rather
steam forming clouds - yes! it is an active volcano called Orizaba (O-ree-zaba)

Monte Alban rises from the middle of the floor at the convergence of two valleys.  To say the Zapotecs had a view is a terrific understatement.  Since 2000 BCE, village-dwelling peoples of unknown origins inhabited the Oaxaca valleys.  Around 500 BCE, the Zapotec culture appeared and these peoples began the monumental task of leveling the top of a mountain, where they would build Monte Alban.  The more recent excavations have revealed more than 170 tombs, numerous ceremonial altars, stelae, pyramids and palaces.

Monte Alban is similar to Teotihuacán and was occupied by several cultures over 1500+ years, thereby incurring construction over original buildings.  One building or "edificio" that is unique to Monte Alban is a building located in the middle of the "Gran Plaza".  This building is not aligned in a north-south axis as all of the other buildings are, and it is speculated that it was an observatory as it is aligned with heavenly bodies that were present in the skies at that time.

1) View from Monticulo Sur
across the "Observatorio" and
the Gran Plaza
2&3) same to right and left
4) View from Patio Hundido
across the Gran Plaza to
the Monticulo Sur

Gerson overlooking the Patio

Example of the "I" playing
field.  The sloped walls were
smoothed with lime so the ball
would slide down


Interesting carving of
what is thought
to be a swimmer
The views from Monte Alban
Quite an extraordinary place
to build a city

We were dreading leaving Oaxaca, not because of the beauty we found there, but rather because we knew we were in for a treacherous eight hour drive through the Sierra Madre del Sur.  To give you an idea of our plight, we traveled a whopping 200 miles in eight hours.  Cindy counted well over 5,000 potholes in which we tripped, 400 mules that we drove around, 20 road repairs in which we had to stop, 300 dogs we had to honk at, and an annoying 200 "topes" or speed bumps we had to negotiate over.  It was gorgeous country though - unspoiled and untamed.

Just a nice
Just a little taste of what we saw
Imagine starting at the farthest range
and driving all the way across to
where we took the picture - and still
going around to the other side and then down,
down, down.  Cindy was not a happy camper,
but she did not complain.

We now have zagged another zig and are back on the Pacific coast at Puerto Escondido.  A well known surf spot, this town is seemingly undiscovered.  Inasmuch as we would have preferred a better road to get here, there is part of us that would like to see this area remain difficult to access.  The surf break is consistently excellent and the beaches are expansive and uncrowded.  Not much to do here but relax, surf, swim, bike, sun, eat, drink, walk, sleep...very boring indeed!

View of the
beaches around
Puerto Escondido
Sunset from near
where we stayed
above the beach



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