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Oaxaca #4, Monte Alban

Today I will be a tourist....

I got dropped of in my usual spot and started walking towards a hotel that runs vans up to Monte Alban. I made it in time for the first van at 830am. I had to pay extra to stay up at the site for an additional hour. It turned out to be a good choice allowing me to really take my time while composing images.

The archaeological site is enormous. The ruins are about 1300 feet above Oaxaca making them 6300 ft from sea level. The mountain was partially leveled and terraced to create a suitable foundation for the numerous structures.

I spent about 3 1/2 hours walking around the site. Had I been ready with additional water and memory card I would have stayed all day until sunset. The verandas from the top of the structures revealed layer after layer of mountains on the horizon. Many small villages surround the site on the valley floor below. I wonder how the 17 thousand Mixtecos at the peak of Monte Alban organized their communities. If they lived in the valley below or inhabited the slops of Monte Alban.

I took a break about half way through the morning, hiding in the shade of a small tree. I ate my sandwich as I deleted images from my memory cards. Just as we were leaving the mountains yesterday I used up that last bit of space on my ninth memory card. I'm guessing that's about 2000 images.

As I'm resting a older mexican gentleman of about 70 with a cowboy hat approaches me a strikes up conversation. It was obvious that he wanted to sell me something. He pulled out a green marble statue that looked like a an Aztec fertility dole totem style with a rabbit on top. Essentially the fertility goddess of rabbits. Our 20 minute conversation teatered between the sale of the idle and information about the area. It might be a stretch, maybe I just wanted to help the guy out, it was the only idle he was selling and their is a connection with Phi, rabbits and my new tattoo. So I bought the idle.

I spent the next hour taking pictures until my ride showed up. I road home in a van full of "real" tourist. The kind that usually only get a superficial perspective of the culture they visit. I feel lucky to have seen and experienced parts mexican society that many don't and knowing the extent to which the poor or majority of the mexican population maintains their indigenous traditions in their daily lives.