Sunday, July 22, 2007

Finally, Oaxaca

I'm going to have to start trying a different method for posting, as our days have become packed with activities since we've been in Oaxaca, making daily updates pretty much impossible. I've been here for a full week now and I can't believe how quickly the time has flown.


We started off the class by heading over to Monte Alban on Monday morning, the site of some ancient Zapotec ruins. Zapotecs are a pre-Columbioan civilization, and along with the Mixtecs, they make up the largest ethnic groups in the Oaxacan state. Once again, we had an excellent tour guide (Raul) who filled our brains with fascinating facts. I've found that tour guides in Mexico are very well educated (usually they are graduate students or former anthropologists), which differs quite a bit from the situation in the US. Raul filled our heads with tons of interesting facts about the ancient ruins. For example, we learned that many of the structures on teh outer edges of the city had curved corners so that the god of wind can travel around the structure without breaking. I thought this was a really lovely sentiment. We also learned that the each Mexican ethnic group believes that they descend from and animal, and the Zapotecs believe that they descended from the jaguar. Here is a photo of a jaguar carving. You can see its paws and tail, though the head has been chipped off:


We also learned that the Zapotecs would ritually castrate and then sacrifice people with birth defects. Kinda sucks! Though, I guess it kind of makes would essentially prevent anyone from passing on these genetic mutations. You know, survival of the fittest and all that. We learned that these people usually had malformed hands and feet, which would be represented in stone carvings by showing a figure with an elongated thumb or toe. You can see this in the figure below. Also, you can see that this person was castrated by the flower near his loins.


After we returned from Monte Alban, Adrien and I headed out to buy some mosquito nets. The mosquitos are pretty viscous around here and I didn't want to take any chances at night. We learned that the Spanish word for "mosquito nets" is pavillones. I think we figured this out after we asked the lady at the store for "circulos...para mosquitos". Luckily, she figured out what we were looking for. The mosquito nets come in all different colors, and I ended up with a mango color. Everyone calls them our princess nets. I sure feel like a princess sleeping in it!

View of our room from the bathroom. My bed is the one with the mango colored net:


When we returned from our outing, the house was empty, as everyone else had left on a walking tour with Raul. Adrien called her friend Eberth, a guy she met last time she was in Oaxaca. He took us out to a soccer game (it was a local leagure soccer game that he played in). They play on cement! It was pretty hard core.

Eberth, Juan Angel, and Leo play soccer on cement in the rain:

We met his friends Leo and Juan Angel and drank a couple of beers with them after the game (they lost). This quickly devolved into several rounds of calimochos, a drink consisting of cheap red wine and coca cola. As strange as it sounds, it's actually kind of good. :)

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