Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Almost a year after our first visit to the newly opened Atzompa archaeological site, yesterday, we returned.  The beautiful paved road up from Santa María Atzompa (elevation 1,580 meters) now brings one to a parking lot right across from the entrance, making for less of a haul up the hill for those less mobile or challenged by the altitude — at the top it is almost 300 meters above the village below — even we were huffing and puffing.


Atzompa was part of Monte Alban and one of its largest settlements.  At the top of the stairs (above), is the largest (45 meters by 22 meters) of the 6 ball courts found among the Monte Alban communities.

Ball court

Investigations of the Atzompa site first began in 1940 by Jorge R. Acosta, who was part of the Monte Alban Project.  However, in 2007 the National Institute of Anthropology and History began formal explorations using a team of architects, archeologists, topographers, and restorers.


Though the path is currently difficult to see, make sure to go around to the left of the building above to see the north quadrant.  Informational placards in Spanish and English are now in place throughout the site and most of the facts in this post are taken from them, but, of course, I neglected to take a photo of the placard for the building below!


Residents from the land cooperatives in the surrounding communities have been hired to do much of the field and lab work.  Not a bad setting to work…


One can, in the words of The Who, “see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles…”

Green valley with mountain range in distanceExcept for the birds, insects, lizards, and workers, we had this spectacular setting to ourselves — I think we only saw 3 other visitors the entire time we were there.  Perhaps when the second entrance on the Monte Alban side opens, it will attract more attention.  In the meantime, the peace and tranquility are a gift in these chaotic times.

Oaxaca–The Year After has more from yesterday’s visit.

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Ahh, young love…  On the walls of Oaxaca, among the extraordinary art and pithy political statements, there are declarations of love.

In red heart on wall: Angel y Edna

People speak of love don’t know what they’re thinking of
Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
Speak in terms of belief and belonging
Try to fit some name to their longing
People speak of love

—  In the Shape of a Heart by Jackson Browne

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Life and death is a family affair…

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November 1 and 3, 2012 in the panteón municipal, San Antonino Castillo Velasco.

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Signs reading, “Buen Fin” began to appear on shop windows around town last week.  How nice, I thought, with a 3-day weekend coming up (Monday, 11/19 was Mexican Revolution commemoration day), the stores are wishing one and all a “Good Weekend.”

Sign on carved wooden door reading, "Buen Fin. El fin de semana mas barato del año."

I’d only glanced and didn’t come close enough to read the smaller and more important print, “Weekend:  Cheapest of the Year.”  What’s it all about?  Last year’s LA Times article, “A ‘Black Friday’ shopping ritual coming to Mexico?” explains it all.

Apparently, I’ve been oblivious or this newest US export has taken a while to make its way all the way down to Oaxaca.  But, make its way down to Oaxaca, it has!  According to Monday’s Noticias, “This weekend hundreds of Oaxacans went to department stores and shops of all kinds in the city, to stock up on essentials and electronic products, mainly taking advantage of ‘Good Weekend’ promotions.”

Depressing, is all I can say…


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At long last, and with not much fanfare, the Atzompa archeological site is open to the public!

Panoramic view of Atzompa archaeological site.

The winding road, cut into the side of the mountain, has been visible for a while and we could see platforms when we were up at Monte Alban (about 5 miles away) two weeks ago.

Winding road on side of mountain.

It’s a bit of a hike up a newly paved road from the small (temporary?) parking area under the pine trees, but we eventually reached the site and the ball court.

Ball court with mountains in background

It is small, but the setting is spectacular.

Ruins in foreground with mountains in back.

One can see a recreation of the 1,000+ year old Zapotec kiln that was uncovered 8 feet down — offering proof of continuity to today’s renown potters of Santa María Atzompa.

Kiln with shade covering.

Then there is the vegetation….  The architecture of native trees adds to aura of this ancient site.

Tree in front of side of pyramid

And, the white flowers of one of the trees has attracted the tiniest hummingbirds I’ve ever seen.

Hummingbird sitting on branch

Nopal cactus, in full fruit (tunas) at this time of year, dot the landscape.

Nopal cactus loaded with red fruit "tunas"

Archaeologists and their crews continue their work excavating and restoring, and much is blocked from amateur exploration, including the 1,100-year-old burial chamber.  Darn!

Workers restoring a building

The only “facilities” available at the site, thus far, are bathrooms (which were a trip, but I won’t go into it).  Lest you worry about comida for the workers, it arrived by motorcycle and was waiting in insulated boxes in the parking area.

6 motorcycles with soft insulated boxes.

Aside from those working at the site, we had the place to ourselves… no tour groups and no vendors.  We were left alone to listen to the birds and insects and imagine a highly developed culture, alive with the ancestors of the energetic, creative, and spiritual people we are privileged to live among.

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Fifteen hundred years may have passed since Monte Albán was in full bloom as the center of Zapotec civilization.  However, the flowering continues…

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Monte Albán on an early October morning.

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… there you are.

Green grass, stone structure, blue sky with wispy clouds

Monte Albán on a picture perfect autumn morning.

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What’s your internet connection like?

Wire and cactus on tile roof of INTER_NETJOLY

Do you think the cactus help?

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The textiles of Oaxaca are currently on center stage, both literally and figuratively, during these 10 days of Guelaguetza festivities.  And perhaps, besides drawing in much-needed tourist pesos, the Guelaguetza plays an important role in the appreciation and preservation of Oaxaca’s textile traditions.

Delegation from San Andrés Huaxpaltepec, District of Jamiltepec, in the Costa region of the state of Oaxaca.

However, the textile traditions of Lebanon have not fared so well.  According to the article, The End of the silk road, by Ana Marie Lucas and posted to Now Lebanon, silk production, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is on death’s doorstep.  Only two artisanal workshops remaining today.  However, along with the Italian Embassy, the Mexican Embassy, Alfredo Harp Helú Foundation, and Textile Museum of Oaxaca are coming to the rescue.

“We wanted to share our experience with the Lebanese,” Mexican Ambassador Jorge Alvarez Fuentes told NOW Extra. “When I saw the House of the Artisan closed and in need of more attention I thought this was the perfect place to exhibit both Mexican and Lebanese items,” he explained.

“Aside from the exhibition, we wanted to organize two conferences and a workshop of how to dye the silk with natural pigments. This way many people will be able to see how the Phoenicians could extract the purple dye from the Murex shell,” he added.

According to Héctor Meneses, head of the Textiles Museum in Oaxaca, there are surprising similarities between the Lebanese and Mexican traditions in terms of pigment extraction. Mexicans extracted the red dye from a species of snail, very similar to the purple dye extracted by the Phoenicians from the Murex shell. “The difference is that in Mexico, this process is still alive and it’s being used,” he said during a conference.  [Read full article HERE]

FYI:   Alfredo Harp Helú is a Mexican businessman who, like his cousin Carlos Slim Helú (world’s richest man), is of Lebanese extraction.  Harp Helú maintains a residence in Oaxaca and, besides his foundation funding the Textile Museum, he and his foundation are involved in several other philanthropic projects in the state of Oaxaca.

h/t to Margie Barclay for the article.

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Early Saturday morning I was on my way to the doctor’s office, thus walking with purpose.  However, turning onto Constitución, along the south side of Santo Domingo, I had to pause…

Man and woman in stylized Aztec costume in jewel tones.

A photo shoot in progress?  I didn’t actually have a doctor’s appointment, just dropping by for a consultation (common here), so I lingered.

HE was obviously modeling “glamed-up” Aztec.  But SHE…

Woman in stylized Aztec costume in jewel tones.

Hmmm… Japanese???  Of course not!  Comparing it to images found in the codices, it, too, is an extremely stylized expression of  the fashion and hair of some classes of Aztec women.

Close-up of woman wearing purple silk huipil and stylized Aztec hairdo.

¡Muy hermosa!

Update:  I think Sheri is probably correct.  This may be a promotion for, or at least evoke, the annual reenactment of the Donají la leyenda, during Guelaguetza.  It is the legend of Princess Donají, a Zapotec princess who was kidnapped and decapitated by rival Mixtecos.  Her beautiful head was later found intact by a shepherd under a lily.  The body and head were reunited and buried together near, what is now, the city of Oaxaca’s airport.   The face of Donají appears on the official shield of the city of Oaxaca de Juárez.

Official shield of Oaxaca de Juárez.

The elevation and celebration of this story makes me wonder how today’s Mixtecos feel about it…

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The word "ask" spray painted on wall.

Painted on wall: a cross followed by words "adiccion o conviccion?"

Shadow on wall that looks like a podium; words written "I love Phaooluchiiz. Signed by Fapely"

Who do you love?

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