OR, HOW A OLD BIRD CLIMBED TWO MOUNTAINS IN A DAY.
This post from exactly a year ago in Mexico is a favourite of mine memory wise. It was a solo travellers demanding type of day with hardship but then huge rewards. This is the way we rock us old birds, moaning a lot but loving it!
When I made the decision to visit prehistoric cave dwellings that have been inhabited for 10,000 years I thought it would be a little tricky but not that hard. yesterday I worked my little travellers socks off to visit two of the major sites in Mitla. I had chosen two, maybe three places but hadn’t anticipated that they weren’t just there like most tourist sites, they are tricky to get to and a lot of leg work. I would advise not to try for them unless you’re feeling top notch and are prepared to go slowly.
Now I’ve been to Mitla two years ago to see the famous Mayan site of Mitla and also Hierve el Agua, which now sadly is permanently closed. Both were things of wonder so I was excited to be even more daring this time with a bit of pre history caves and their paintings all in the same area. I have always wanted to see some more ancient art in caves but have only once before been to an island off Sicily and no photos were allowed but here one has the privilege of getting out the old camera. I had no idea how remote they actually were and how hard you had to climb on treacherous slippery terrain after the rains. Although the soil had dried off there are a huge number of springs which are obviously spurting out excess water as you go higher up and make the soil and rocks really slick.
MY SUNDAY OUTING TO VISIT 10.000 YEAR OLD ANCESTRAL CAVES.
I came across this post of a year ago and it very much fits my mood now. I am sick of it back here in London. To the point of gnashing teeth. I also fling myself down on the sofa and weep. I pace from room to room. I plod up and down the stairs with water for my food terrace. I drink too much and smoke too much on miserable binges. I can’t write. I can’t make art. I’m a wretched mess. It’s well overdue to hit the road but I’m broke. It’s vile for a free bird to be trapped in this way. IT IS TIME FOR ME TO HIT THE ROAD, ANY WHICH WAY!
A year ago to the day I wrote this post and now I remember that fraught time in Oaxaca when I hit a brick wall and knew that it was time to go. It was at the beginning of the end as they were closing a lot of museums and archaeological sites across the more Northern part of Mexico and my mood gradually deteriorated from then as frustration, with the very different Mexico near Mexico City, and the dawning recognition that the Mayan Riviera was a much more chilled place to be with little of the mask hysteria and closing down of places.
Alert: This is last years offering which I’m adding to. I’ve rejoined the British Museum so I’m back in the members’ room to write and edit photos. So happy to be back in my second home which is more condusive to work-like endeavours. They also have an eclectic library so I’ve just managed to cross reference information on the Zapotec, Mixtec and Mayan with some art photos which are lovely because old and I don’t recognise them so probably they are hidden away in some basement these days. Enjoy
JULY 2021 OAXACA MEXICO.
OR, A MOUNTAINTOP ZAPOTEC CITY LINKED CLOSELY TO Teotihuacán and mitla
It’s huge, it’s Zapotec and it’s completely different to what I expected. I hadn’t researched at all so it was a huge learning curve from my usual Mayan sites.
A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE ZAPOTEC AND MIXTEC.
In parallel with the rise of Teotihuacan, Zapotec civilisation encompassed much of the southern highlands. In the course of the first millennium BC, early chiefdoms of the Oaxaca Valley coalesced into a militaristic Zapotec state centred on the commanding hill-top capital Monte Albán. Zapotec scribes invented one of the four independent Mesoamerican writing systems (the others being Maya, Mixtec and Aztec) and refined their own variant of the 260-day ritual calendar which was in widespread use throughout Mesoamerica.
From about AD 1200, Mixtec peoples began to assume control of key Zapotec sites through conquest and political alliances. Knowledge of metallurgy, which had been introduced a few centuries earlier from South and Central America, was employed in the production of copper and gold objects to reflect rank and status. During the fifteenth century AD, the Mixtec resisted the Aztec imperial advance, but the consummate stoneworking and metalworking skills of many Mixtec artisans were redeployed to serve the Aztec kings.
The Zapotecs were a sedentary culture living in villages and towns, in houses constructed with stone and mortar. They recorded the principal events in their history by means of hieroglyphics, and in warfare they made use of cotton armour. The well-known ruins of Mitla have been attributed to them.
(I will write another post about the fabulous jade and gold discoveries, that are housed in Oaxaca Palace Museum. This is closed at the moment but I’ll be able to dig up some photos from before. I really need to write a bit more about the amazing Zapotecs)
CLOSED PLACES AND CHANGED PLANS
I had got up ready to go to the archaeological museum but it has been closed. No signs on the door except the opening hours, and through the peephole a man informed me that they didn’t know when they’d open again to which I replied rather hotly I must confess well put a sign on the door then and change the bloody Google details. He said that’s a good idea I’ll put a sign on the door as if he’d just thought of it. Yes, some people have travelled thousands of miles to see these artefacts I whined. His beady eyes perused me as if I was mad. And sort it out on Google and your site this is the second time I’ve come here. He was making me cross and I felt as if he might just let me in if I kept banging on about it.
Top Tip: With the distraction of what was open or not, and jumping on buses every five minutes as places decided to close some, or all of their historical sites and museums, or basically anything of any interest whatsoever, I learned some bitter lessons. When in times of crisis don’t trust any info gleaned by Google et al. You need to speak to proper locals or call tour guides of the area that you are planning to go to. Nobody bothered to change their details online while I was there so I was disappointed many times. So due diligence is essential, don’t just assume they will tell you any changes especially in casual places like Mexico. Make the calls before you get on that bus, or drag over to the other side of town for that special gallery because they will close when they feel like it!
OR AN INTRODUCTION to ITS PRE CLASSIC ROOTS. PART ONE. WHERE IT ALL STARTED. AN INTRODUCTION Dear reader, after my extensive travels within the Yucatan Peninsula in 2019 and 2021, I can finally start to […]
OR RIBS ARE NEARLY BETTER AND PREPARING SOME ART WHILE DETOXING.
Alert: Links are where the words are underlined in yellow, just click and you’ll get there!
Tough times last year trying to get out of the UK then trying to get back in, (why I came back I’ll never know, what was the matter with me?)and under terrible vicious conditions manufactured by Doris in his eternal house of horrors. Then after leaving Mexico last year being incarcerated in a ‘Quarantine Hotel’ and nearly having a nervous breakdown. Then our beloved dog Brutus got sick (while I was still imprisoned) and later died despite all our valiant efforts. Amongst the demonstrations against tyranny and usual trials and tribulations about resettling in the UK, (I always get ants in my pants after just a couple of months even in normal times) and general stress (bailiffs and all sorts of shite for nothing) and being homesick for Mexico, it seemed that I was in a dark place. So I started to look at property in Bulgaria to live a simple life off-grid growing my own veg and mushroom hunting while creating a studio to carve sculpture when another disaster befell me, in that suddenly Bulgaria became fascist too. This harsh body blow was followed by my having actual body blows when I dislocated my knee then a couple of weeks later cracked and broke ribs in a series of ludicrous strokes of bad luck. A lot of pain from both and as usual I didn’t do anything except home treatment and physio.
SLIDE SHOW OF OUR LOVELY BRUTUS R.I.P. AND THE ESCAPE IN MEXICO LAST YEAR.
Yeah, bummer finale to 21. A shit sandwich of vast proportions.
OR GETTING TO GRIPS WITH ANOTHER CULTURE, THE OLMECS.
Alert: This is a light-hearted travel blog from two years ago before I publish a more serious one about the birth of the Mayan city-state empire in its Pre-Classic era!The “Mother Culture” being inextricably linked to the developing Mayans
Although I had time to spare that first day and I never really fitted in to pretty old town Peubla, I did see that it was mostly the fact I was tired and dispirited by this time, and to be fair to me, most of the fucking place was closed.
Alert: I’m having trouble in finding images so some will be of other gods just to enjoy the art! This will be corrected when I get back to the UK. I think that’s why others aren’t mentioned because they are so difficult to identify!
OR, LORD OF HEAVENS NIGHT AND DAY, OR GOD D.
Before deciphering the codices the gods were all given just a letter to name them. Now however we have their glorious and exotic definitions but they usually are referred to by their letters too hence God D (Mayan: “Iguana House”)
There’s a lot to be said for a quick foray into other parts, and Merida and Uxmal were a good example. The atmosphere over in Yucks (Yucatan) is more aggressive and smacked slightly of London about the masks, apart from that it was lovely. However once leaving I had no qualms. I wanted to be back home in Tulum. I don’t want to be a baby about it but it’s the closest you can get to our old normal lives in this lovely place.