Monday, March 16, 2009

Oaxaca part 2

Well. When I said I would post "tomorrow," I clearly meant, "tomorrow plus eight days," or, "not tomorrow or the next day, but a week after that." Clearly.

ANYWAY. Let's get back to the story of Oaxaca! Sunday morning Laura and I got up and went to church. I only stayed for the first bit, because we were going to Monte Albán a little after 9:30. So I put some jeans, a shirt, a pair of socks, and my tennis shoes into a bag and asked my friend to bring it to the van for me, because I was going to get there as soon as they were leaving. Well, I got there. And three of our group were at breakfast, one of them being the friend I gave my clothes to. And Javier was ready to go. So he said that if they weren't there when the vans left, then too bad. It was already past the time to leave. This made me panick a little. I didn't really want to go to Monte Albán in my dress. I needn't have worried. They got to the vans with time to spare. I met them on their way back from the little restaurant (it was just around the corner from the hostel), and my friend didn't have the bag on her, so I went back to the hostel to get it with her. I thought about changing there, but I didn't want to push it. So we went back to the vans (the parking lot was on the same street as the restaurant, but in the other direction... still, very close) and they weren't ready to go. We sat there for five or ten minutes. I changed on the side of the van (I am very skilled at changing my clothes in pubic... you have no idea).

I thought it was going to be a bit of a drive, but it really only took us fifteen or twenty minutes to get there. And it was AMAZING. We went inside to look at some artifacts in a little museum-like display, and then we went back outside to the real thing. It was AWESOME. It was like... the town square of an ancient city. There were at least twelve pyramid-like things, one which had VERY TALL stairs leading to a sort of mesa on top with a pyramid and grass and tress... yeah. And it took us the whole hour and a half to walk around and see everything. We took some seriously awesome pictures (links in the side bar, to the right, though I haven't put anything new up since the last post) and just generally had a great time. It was also very cool outside, and windy, and it was just gorgeous. I had a blast. That was probably the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. (Of course, that will soon be trumped when we go to visit TEOTIHUACAN!!!! I am very excited for that.)

Next we went to a market in a neighboring town, which was really neat. It was huge. We spent another hour and a half just walking around. We ate lunch from one of the little food stands. I got what I thought was a quesadilla with chicken, but there was no cheese in it. Just chicken, some kind of salsa, and spinach leaves. It wasn't that great. I had wanted the cheese. See, Oaxaca is famous for its cheese (quesillo). It's kind of like mozarella, because it's all stringy, but it's better. So, I was disappointed when it was cheese-less. I only ate half (it was REALLY big) and I gave the other half to my friend when we passed her in the walkway. We explored the area, and found the food part of the market, where they had tons of fruits and vegetables, meats, and a whole ROOM the size of a high school gym with BREAD! I bought a fresh concha (type of pan dulce, or sweet bread), and it was the most wonderful thing I have ever eaten in my life. I should have bought ten. One piece was only 2 pesos! (That's like 15 cents.) AMAZING. I also got a pastry thing with cream inside, which turned out to be a rice-pudding like substance. Very delicious. And then, I bought... a mango on a stick. I had seen them all throughout the market, and I really wanted one, so I got one on the way back to the van. THAT was delicous. Mmmmm...

After the market, we went to another little town with some more ruins and a mini-market with clothes. I got a shirt to wear to the beach (which, incidentally, I forgot to take to the beach). We went to see the ruins, and they had little openings so you could climb INTO them. We went in. One of them was a tomb, and it was REALLY humid and gross and creepy. *shudder* And the battery on my camera died, because I had taken so many pictures that morning. Which was sad.

Next we drove down the street in that same town to go to a place where they make Mezcal, a drink that's similar to Tequila, but different. Or something. Lol. Oaxaca is also known for its Mezcal. It wasn't all that exciting for me, since I don't drink. Kind of interesting, though, because they do it all without machines or anything. Like, they have a horse that pushes the stone in a circle to crush the juice out of the plant. Yeah.

After that, it started getting COLD. It was just really windy. We thought we were going home, but no such luck. We had one more stop. I almost didn't want to, but then I remembered what it was. The (most likely) oldest tree in the world. Over 2,000 years old, they think. And it was SO BIG. Like, I was expecting it to be tall, but it was so freaking wide! Like, the trunk was probably the size of a large house. Seriously. Not a cottage or anything, a large house. It was SO cool. Though, of course, at this point we were so cold that we basically stayed in a huddle the whole time. When we first got there, we ran around the tree once. It was fun. But it didn't really help with the cold.

We ate dinner at a restaurant near the big tree. It was yummy. I finally got the quesadillas I wanted. And we had hot chocolate. The third thing Oaxaca is famous for- its chocolate. The first time I tried the chocolate, I didn't really like it. The texture was weird. Grainy and crumbly. It ruined it for me. But then I drank some hot chocoalte, and... it grew on me. And suddenly it was just really delicious. Mmmm.

Finally we went home. I was exhausted. I didn't go to bed right away, though. We had a chocolate eating party in my room, and we played Egyptian Rat Screw with the cards I had bought at the museum the day before. It was fun :) I was SO tired, though, and I was glad when everyone was ready to go to bed.

The next morning we packed everything up, because we had to check out before we left for the day. We went to breakfast at the same place our friends had gone the day before. I had hot chocolate again, and it was so yummy. We hurried, because we didn't want to be late to the vans. We were fine. We didn't leave for quite some time after we finished eating.

That day we went to this really cool place in another neighboring town. They made this stuff called "barro negro," which was a specific kind of black pottery. It was beautiful. The man did a demonsration (I took some video of it... I might post it on here another day). It was really neat. Everything was by hand. He didn't have a wheel. He took one big plate and turned it upside down, and then put another plate on top of it, right side up. Then he put the clay on the top plate and started spinning the plate. With his hand. He spun with one hand while forming the clay with the other hand. It was SO COOL. And he doesn't use any finish. Instead he rubs it with some kind of gem or something (I think it was quartz) after it's been dried/baked. This gives it a smooth finish and a glossy look. And then I think he bakes it again... maybe. I don't really remember. But, yeah. It was so neat. I bought a LOT of stuff there. Like, I have this huge bag full. I'm going to have to buy another suitcase. Lol.

After that we went to this place (keep in mind, these places are not like your average store... they're more outside than inside, and the whole family is involved in the business somehow) where they made these little wooden figurines. I wish I could remember what they're called. It starts with an A. Lol. Anyway, they make wooden figures (some are tiny, some are absolutely gigantic) of mythical creatures and gods from prehispanic culture. They are painted with very bright colors, with symbols and things that are significant to the culture. This guy did a demonstration, too. Also very cool. He told us that generally the men in the family did the carving, and the women did the painting. He worked with his grandfather when he was a boy, and eventually took over the family business. I also bought some things here, because they were just too cool. Next we went to another place that sold the same things, because Javier wanted us to see the difference between the very high quality figures of the first place, and the lesser quality (but cheaper) ones of other places. I bought a couple things there, too, because they had stuff that the other place didn't.

After that we ate lunch (I had more quesadillas) at a restaurant across from the place with the high-quality figures (the guy who makes them told us he's been to AZ to work with art students at UofA!). Later we figured out it was run by the same family. Lunch was yummy. I drank a soda called Fresca, which is kind of like Squirt. It was yummy.

Finally we went back to the hostel. Everyone else was staying in Oaxaca until that night, because they were all taking a bus to the beach in Oaxaca. They got the stuff they didn't want to take to the beach, and put it in the vans for us to take home. I scurried to buy some chocolate while they were doing that (our hostel was also a chocolatería), and then I ran across the street to the panadería (where they sell pandas) and bought some more pan dulce for the ride home. Then I RAN to the bathroom. When I was washing my hands, the water turned off. I already had soap all over my hands. Lots of it. My friend Emily was there, though, so she poured the water from her water bottle over my hands for me :) And then we went back to Cuernavaca.

My friend Callie and I decided to go to the beach in Acapulco instead of going with everyone else to the beach in Oaxaca, mostly because it would have been like a sixteen hour ride home from the beach in Oaxaca. So we did the 8 hour ride back to Cuernavaca (which was free, because we were in the school vans) and then Tuesday afternoon we took a bus to Acapulco. Which was way fun. But, I'm not going to talk about that in this post, because it is already obscenely long.

So, yeah! That was Oaxaca. It was so amazing. I am DEFINITELY going back some day. Soon. I think that's where I'll honeymoon. You know, when I find a boyfriend who then turns into a fiancé who then turns into a husband :) Have I said that on here already? About honeymooning in Oaxaca? Probably. Ni modo.

Anyway, make sure to check out my pics if you haven't yet! Link in the side bar, toward the top of the page.

Keep an eye out tomorrow. I'll be putting up a special bonus post. It will be exciting :)

Thanks for reading! I love you and miss you all! Only five more weeks to go!


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