Tule RV Park
I was awakened rather rudely this morning. The window on my side of the bed faces a side street that runs by the RV park. I had the window open to enjoy the cool night breeze. At 6:36AM (I checked my watch) I was blasted out of a sound sleep by very loud Mariachi music. I looked out the window and what did I see? A large flatbed truck with two very large speakers mounted on top of its cab. It was driving very slowly down the street with the music blaring. If you think some of the cars in the US play their music too loud, you have heard nothing compared to this “sound” truck. I don’t know why it was playing loud music so early on a Monday morning unless it was the town of Tule’s version of a town crier calling all of the people to work. I guess it’s just another one of Mexico’s little mysteries.
The tour bus and our local guide, Eugene, arrived at 9:00 AM to take us on a tour of the ruins of Monte Alban. These are neither Mayan nor Aztec. The city began around 2000 BC as a village inhabited by people of unknown origin. These people began to level the top of the mountain around 500 BC. Eugene said it took about 300 years for the people to achieve this monumental task. At some point the Olmecs moved in and built about 10% of the city before the Zapotecs took control and completed the city. They tore down the Olmec structures and reused the stones to build in their own style. There are a lot of stones with Olmec carvings that were used helter-skelter by the Zapotecs in their buildings. Some of the carvings appear to have been part of an Olmec “medical school” as they depicted a woman delivering a baby feet first (a breach birth), a baby with Down’s syndrome, a woman’s fallopian tubes and ovaries, a man with a broken arm, a hunch-back, and other human ailments. There was also a carving of a man after he had apparently been disemboweled. The carving depicted coils of intestine spilling from his abdomen. He was probably a prisoner who had been executed. At the beginning of the 13th century the Zapotecs began to loose power and move away, which allowed the Mixtecs to move in and use the city as it was, with little of their own building.
After the tour of the ruins we went to the nearby village of Arrazola, noted for its woodcarvings of animals. The shop we went in was filled with all kinds of wooden animals, realistic and mythical, that were very brightly painted. We purchased a small cat that cost $120 pesos (about $10 US).
By this time it was about 2:30 PM and we were all starving to death. We were taken to Hacienda Cuilapam which featured a Mexican buffet and dining on the hacienda’s patio. I was able to identify only a very small part of the food available, but whatever I ate was good. The prices were a little more “tourist oriented” than most of the other Mexican restaurants in which we have eaten.
After lunch we went to San Bartolo, a village that specializes in black pottery. The technique was invented in 1953 by Doña Rosa who died in 1979. Her son, Valente Nieto Real is still making the black pottery. The technique includes smoking the pottery during firing and then rubbing the fired pottery with a piece of quartz to produce a sheen.
By the time we returned to the RV park it was 6:20 PM. Many of us had our RV’s washed (only $150 pesos – around $12 US) while we were gone and I was very happy to find a nice clean RV waiting. I don’t know what the others did, but Carol Ann and I were beat and just had a simple meal in the RV and crashed.
Tomorrow we get on the bus again and go see some other stuff. I’m too tired to look at our itinerary but I believe we are going to see some more ruins, rug weavers, a chocolate factory, and a Mezcal distillery. I just hope the sound truck doesn’t come by again in the morning.