Once again, we’re home and in the cold weather!
We left Guatemala, crossed the border into Mexico and stopped overnight at San Cristobal de las Casas. Here we began to see some of the feelings of the locals expressed in grafitti. “Death to the Yankee Government” did not seem at all friendly. However, we really didn’t notice any animosity directed toward us on a personal level. Well, OK, there was one lady who gave Burt a light slap because she thought I had taken her picture (I hadn’t) and should pay her.
On the way to Oaxaca, we encountered many bucolic scenes, which we all enjoyed.
Once in Oaxaca, we visited Monte Alban, that great Zopotec City that was begun in about 500 BCE. What we see now is mostly from 300 to 700 AD, when the city reached a population of about 25,000. There is the traditional ball court which involved a game somewhat like soccer where the players tried to make the ball go through stone hoops, using only their legs, hips and head.
The ends of the Gran Plaza are dominated by the North Platform, and the South Platform. Burt and Alan climbed the South Platform, photographing some of us looking very small from their position. The Gran Plaza is a huge open area lined with foundations of temples and buildings on all sides. We all climbed up the North Platform, which also gave a lovely view of the Gran Plaza.
Moving on, we went to the village of El Tule to see the Tule tree. This ahuehuete tree is thought to be from 2,000 to 3,000 years old, and is said to be the largest single biomass in the world. It certainly is nothing like any other trees that I’ve seen before.
A stop at Mitla rounded out our sightseeing around Oaxaca. This site is Zapotec, also, but from a much later period than Monte Alban. Mitla’s heyday was in about the 14th century. The buildings are unusual in that they have decorations featuring various forms of geographic patterns of stones.
That evening we had a very good Oaxacan meal in a casual restaurant that, again, featured a mouse! This time it was being played with by a cat, who was lolling about right in the way where the swinging doors opened for the waitresses to bring food. Every time the door swung open, we could see the cat still playing ‘cat and mouse!’ It added to the luster of our dinner!
From Oaxaca we drove back to Mexico City where we took one more last excursion. We drove to Xochimilco on the outskirts of Mexico City to ride on the boats on the canals. Mexico City was a city of canals at the time of the conquest. This area was once part of a lake, but in Aztec times they had mud rafts floating in the lake on which they raised produce. In time the ‘rafts’ grew roots to the shallow lake bottom and the lake turned into a series of canals. We had a ride on a boat on the canals, which was most pleasant, even though we were pretty tired from our demanding trip.
The following day, Peter and Cindy flew home to Minnesota and the rest of us rode in the van, which took four more days! One night at a motel, the manager woke up Burt, telling him that his van was being burgled. Bob and Burt ran out and chased the robber away, but not before he got a garment bag with coats in it, including Cookie’s leather jacket to which she had attached her motorcycle key, as well as two bolsas containing many beautiful Guatemalen fabric pieces that Jeanne and I had bought. Worse yet, my two cameras were stolen. How horrid! Well, I suppose we should have taken EVERYTHING into the motel that night. A lesson!
When we got to my aunt’s house in Harlingen, Texas, Burt had to get a new key made for the motorcycle. Cookie stayed over a couple of days and then left on her motorcycle for California, again.
Before heading off to Minnesota, on our last night at Aunty Helen’s we celebrated Cookie’s birthday (January 3rd) with some cards and a special dinner. It was a capstone to a wonderful, if strenuous trip!