Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
Trip End Sep 23, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostel Pochon

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hey everyone,

We arrived in Oaxaco (pronounced Wah-ha-ka) after a 4 hour coach journey from Puebla. We met an American girl on the coach who claimed to have visited the city before and knew where we should go to get to the centre of town. She also claimed to be able to speak spanish, the thing is A) she got us lost and B) when she asked a question in "spanish" she didn't understand what they were saying. We both had enough of her stupid ways and decided to ask the locals where the Zocalo was and just followed the way they pointed. To round off her stupidness when we arrived in the Zocalo the American didn't know what side we were on, after saying that we were on the south side, she left us in utter shame.

After finding the hostel (thanks go to "Rough Guides" for placing it on the map wrong) we went back down to the Zocalo for something to eat (Taco's) and had a Oaxaca chocolate ice-cream (100% coco). As it was a Sunday there was a fiesta going on so we decided to just sit around and people watch for about 3 hours. Unfortunately we forgot our camera but there was street entertainers, a band playing, people dancing in the street and loads of street vendors (including young children) selling food, sweets and souvenoirs. We heard screaming from a crowd and decided to take a gander. A man was in the middle of a crowd with a paper mache Bull attached to his head running round setting fireworks off from the top of it, it is the insane thing either of us has ever seen. Unlike England where there would be a risk assessment for breathing, the Mexican's seem to have a death wish as they stood feet away from the rockets and catherine wheel's. The man with the fireworks was running amongst the crowd playing chicken seeing how close they could get to the fireworks as they explode. At one point a firework hit a wall and exploded with children standing next to it, but still everyone laughed and found it funny.

Meanwhile, a huge wooden crucifix was being constructed by a group of 5 men and at midnight they were set off with fireworks. With the Mexicans sticking to their suicide nature, if part of the structure didn't set alight a man would climb up whilst the structure was on fire and set the firework off by hand. To say the least the night was very interesting.

The next day (Monday) we wondered around the city sights including the Santo Domingo, the Cathedral and other churches. We then went to visit the 3 markets that the city had to offer. These were quite similar to those in Mexico City but Oaxaca seemed the place to buy leather goods like bags, belts and sandals. The 3rd market we visited was the fast food market which contained all the fast food stools, there was so much to choose from but as we don't know much spanish yet we decided on some soup. The soup had chicken, beans and rice in it but was very spicy so not to Hollie's liking, even I struggled to eat it all. We then went to another restaurant on the Zocalo and shared a Torta (like a roll but stuffed with bacon, ham, chicken, cheese, tomato, avocado, salad, and chilli if you wanted it). Very nice!

We then went back to the hostel where Thomas got to watch the football, Hollie wasn't pleased but got her ownback and got to watch Private Practice in the evening. We then went back to the Zocalo to eat again, not that we're greedy or anything.

On Tuesday we got up early to make our way to Monte Alban. This is a ancient site of the pre-eminent Zapotec's, which was later taken over by the Mixtec's. This is the first historical site we have visited and we were very impressed. It was impressive just to think that the site was one of the first cities in Mesoamerica and was founded toward's the end of the Middle Formative period at around 500 BC until it was abandoned around 750 AD, making the site around 2500 years old. The site then was the capital and was larger than Teotihaucan, the site today is 250 by 750 sqaure metres and took us around 3 hours to walk around.

The site's main ceremonial and residential structures are located around it or in the centre. To the north and south the Main Plaza is dominated by large platforms accessible from the plaza via monumental staircases. On its eastern and western sides the plaza is similarly bounded by a number of smaller platform mounds on which stood temples and elite residences, as well as
one of two ballcourts known to have existed at the site. The ballcourts were used to settle conflictions and decide upon political differences at the time (i.e. land ownership), those that lost were beheaded.

After exploring the site we made our way back to town and decided to go back to the food market to have barbequed steak and chorizo, it was amazing. Unlike chorizo we get in England this was crumbly inside and tasted much more smoked and spicier. It was then time to go back to the hostel, pack up and make our way to the 1st Class bus station for our overnight (11hours) coach to San Cristobal.

Speak to you all soon

Love Thomas and Hollie

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