Mexico Trip Journal – Day 6 – Oaxaca

categories: mexico travel

After breakfast and a (hot) shower I went over to the tour place and caught the shuttle to Monte Alban. In the van on the way over I struck up a conversation with a Mexican man who had done a section hike of the southern most section of the Pacific Crest Trail. There had been some misunderstanding that he was sneaking into the U.S. since he was Mexican and hiking in the desert from the Mexican border. There was a helicopter, spotlights, loudspeakers, border agents and ultimately an apology for the misunderstanding.

Monte Alban is a Zapotec ruins that sits in a beautiful site on a leveled off hill near Oaxaca. It was the first planned city in the Americas and dominated the region through trade from 500 B.C. to 700 A.D. It was a matriarchal society as the men were off trading far and wide.

Somehow there were enough men around that even though it was a monogamous society the women averaged 16 children. Our guide said the same thing still happens in Mexico when the man who has been working in the U.S. for two years is told by his wife that she is pregnant. “Remember that really good conversation we had on the internet recently? That’s when I got pregnant.” That is why he told us he prefers to stay in Mexico. He was wearing a San Francisco Giants hat so he was clearly very intelligent.

He told us that he people lived to around 45. Skin cancer and osteoporosis were apparently two of their biggest health issues. They looked more Chinese than Mexican and the rich people deformed the forehead of their children with rubber bands to make a clear delineation between the classes. A slave cost 200 cocoa beans. The diet was mostly corn, beans, squash and chiles. The rich got to consume chocolate and vanilla as well. Their astronomy was the second most advanced in the new world with the Mayans taking first place in the astronomy science fair.

Mercado 20 Novembre - Carne Asada

For lunch I went to the Mercado 20 Novembre where you can get great Carne Asada. The system of ordering is fairly complex but I may blog about that separately. That market is pretty much just small restaurants. I also walked through the Mercado Benito Juarez which has less food… unless of course you count the grasshoppers. But you can get many other things there like chiles, leather goods, cheese, and mezcal.

I wondered up to a Saturday market at a park off of Benito Juarez where I ran into Sarah again and got to meet her fiance George and her puppy. George confirmed for me that his picture which I used for Travel to Oaxaca, Mexico – Amateur Traveler Episode 174 I had mistakenly labeled as the cathedral but it is a church further out of town. I had suspected as much when I visited the cathedral. I then wandered over to the ballpark and through the Barrio Jalatlaco which Sarah had mentioned on the show.

I ate dinner at the Zocalo. I was not that hungry so I started with another chocolate milk but then decided to order the Tamales in the Oaxacan style. It was only $3.50 and right there where everything was happening so I figured it would be a small side order. Not so much. Things are just pretty cheap down here right now. It was a full dinner.

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

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