Tuesday 31st October
A travelling day. We left Mexico City at 8.00 am and drove out through the black market area. Apparently it is something of a ‘no go’ location. From the bus it felt strangely empty with the odd person walking along the street. Perhaps it was a bit early for gangsters of Mexico City to be out and about….
We were heading to Oaxaca (pronounced ‘Wahacca’). Our journey took us through the stunning Sierra Madre. Steep hills soared upwards on both sides of the road with very thin cactus shooting up above the undergrowth. Overhead we caught sight of the occasional vulture.
Oaxaca is named after a tree. The Spanish changed its name, but it reverted back after independence. It is a colonial style city of 23 million people but has a much smaller feel. The roads are quite narrow. We arrived to a band coming down the street leading a procession of mainly young children dressed up to reflect the characters of the underworld associated with the Day of the Dead. There was definitely a carnival atmosphere which we were to see repeated throughout our stay in Oaxaca. The Day of the Dead is cause for celebration in Mexico.
The church was originally a large monastery complex. It remains as an ornate reminder of the establishment of the New Spain. It’s interior has been richly carved by the natives in wood and overlaid with gold leaf. The ceiling depicting the tree of life was incredible.
Leaving the church and it’s splendour behind, we were back onto the square where the party continued. Large paper mache figures twirled and bobbed, costumed and painted faced figures clapped and another brass band led the dancing as we squeezed past to try to get ourselves orientated with the town.
As it got dark it proved difficult to keep together, but we almost managed it! A few got lost in the hubbub and found us later and eventually all arrived at the market. This was full of stalls selling all manner of food. We were given the opportunity to try the chocolate and nuts and a cheese rather like mozzarella. By bow it was getting late and time for dinner.
Another full day. Tomorrow the UNESCO site of Monte Alban.