Saturday, 19 September 2009

Down Mexico Way

Church in main square in Oaxaca
This past Christmas, my husband and I took a tour bus to the interior of Mexico to celebrate an important anniversary—I shall not tell how many decades. This was our third trip down there.
Our main destination was Oaxaca (Wa-ha-ca), a city of half a million, 7500 feet above sea level, with a provincial charm and delicate beauty. The city is situated in a spectacular valley where several mountain ranges converge. The area offers magical sights and flavors.
Monte Alban, an ancient city of Zapotecs and Mixtecs, was unforgettable, with its pyramids, huge platforms, and buildings. They spoke of a powerful elite people skilled in the production of fine pottery, jewelry, and codices.
We saw El Tule, the great cypress tree, which stands 135 feet tall and about as wide. It is said to be the oldest living thing in Mexico, and already growing over 2000 years—before Christ was born.

Throughout the days and nights, we visited museums with great art treasures, exquisite Catholic churches decorated in baroque carved gold ceilings, tiny humble churches, and a Dominican monastery. We strolled through patio shops, ate in sidewalk cafes, visited markets with stalls heaped with mountains of baskets, pottery, rugs, chiles, jewelry, and all things imaginable.

Since we were there for Christmas, we learned how the Mexicans celebrate the coming of the Christ child. All public celebrations take place on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day, the streets and plazas are empty because everyone stays home with family. The citizens of Mexico know how to celebrate. We watched a parade around an enormous plaza that continued for three hours. Our tour guide said—“Oaxaca is a city of half a million, and tonight, you’ll see every one of them downtown.” This brought a big laugh for all of us, but by the time we arrived back at our hotel, we agreed we’d seen every one of them.
We may not return to Mexico, but we have memories and visual impressions of a mostly happy citizenry, with the family at the core of their society. We were always treated politely, and when we asked for something in our halting, elementary Spanish, each person was eager to listen and help us. Not one of them laughed at our pronunciations.

And now, back to our lovely little hotel, tucked away behind walls, with a nice courtyard to sit with a glass if wine or coffee in the mornings. Only two things were wrong--no English-speaking television and no hot water unless you asked for it. Ah, cest la vive! Or whatever it is in Spanish.
One photo is of me in front of one of the smaller pyramids--I climbed it! The gorgeous hunk sitting on the fountain ledge is my darling--see how cool he is?


Lindsay Townsend said...

He's VERY cool, celia, and you and he sound to have had a blast on your anniversary holiday! Super blog, lovely pictures and your descriptions make me long to go to Mexico!
Thank you so much for sharing.
Lindsay xx

Graham A said...

Mexico has always been on my list of places to go, even more so now. What time of the year did you go?

Celia Yeary said...

Lindsay--thank you. I only told you the good parts--haha. Believe me, Mexico is filled with wonderful places and things to see--but the bathrooms, something else. No descibing those here. Just one hazard there! But we've seen a charm and culture that most Americans--especialy Texans--don't get to learn about, because most don't venture past the border towns. The interior is entirely different-Europe. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

GRAHAM-- December 18th-28th. the higher elevations are very cool, but say in Vera Cruz and Tampico--both on the coast--very nice in the winter--very tropical and hot in summer. We usually go in early Spring--but we chose this trip because our anniversary is Dec.21--on this particular night, we stayed in Vera Cruz, had shrimp right out of the Gulf, and a bottle of Argentine wine--Mexico wine there was extremely expensive.Celia

Mary Ricksen said...

I now a lot of people who regularly go to Mexico, they love it.
The bathrooms, ugh. Did you drink the water? Probably not. I'm so glad to had fun with the hottie you took with you!

Celia Yeary said...

MARY--no, I don't drink the water. Hotels give you a couple of big bottles every day. But I do drink the coffee--I figure whatever's in it probably died.
And I'll tell him he's a hottie--Mary said so! Celia

Mona Risk said...

Celia, I've just chosen my next trip. MEXICO, Yeah. I have been to Mexico beaches by cruise, but after reading your post I really want to discover Mexico City. It sounds like you had a fun anniversary.

Celia Yeary said...

MONA--we only spent about four hours in Mexico City--driving through. I would like to tour more of it, but the smaller interior towns which provincial centers are the most interesting--San Miguel, Guanauato, Patzquaro, and even Oaxaca, even htough it was huge.The provincial centers have no traffic lights, usually cobblestone roads and walkways, and lots of shops and restuarants. I'm not crazy about their food--It's not Mexican food as we know it.Usually you could count on soups--I lived on soup (and once, domino's pizza!). Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Wow, thanks so much for sharing your trip and experience of Mexico. Another place I'd love to visit the way you and your husband did.
All that splendid history and culture.
And climbing a pyramid, that would be a trip unto itself.
Their family-centric culture is one the things I admire. When I traveled to Caracas, it was such a heart-warming treat to see the way parents treated their children.
Your guy is definitely a hottie!

Celia Yeary said...

SAVANNA--oh, thank you! Yes, children are indulged in Mexico, for the most part. True, there are some throw-away children, but the majority--even the poor--keep their children close and give them everything they can. I call it almost over indulgence--I watch during these celebrations and wonder how these parents have so much money to spend on trivial stuff.then, they all dress up--and I mean dress up--and go to church together.Very important. Celia

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia, wonderful virtual trip. :-) Love your photos. TV I wouldn't care about. No hot water without asking is roughing it.

Your husband looks like a very lovely man, indeed. Happy Anniversary (belated).

Keena Kincaid said...

He is gorgeous, Celia. You lucky woman. I've never been to Mexico...but it's on my list now. The Oaxaca sounds like a delightful place to go.