Madrid

Madrid

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Tree, A Church, Some Wool and Some Ruins

Tuesday we hired a private driver to take us to several points of interest in the eastern arm of the Valley of Oaxaca.

Our first stop was at the little village of Santa María del Tule just nine miles from the city of Oaxaca.  The village is renowned for what is referred to as the Tule tree, an enormous water cypress.  The tree is at least 2000 years old.  It dwarfs the village church next to it.  The trunk has a circumference of 160 feet... it would take thirty people with arms outstretched to encircle it.  Although it is not the tallest tree in the world, some say that it is the world's largest tree in terms of biomass.


About four miles from Tule was our next stop, the town of Tlacochahuaya.  The town's pride and joy is the 16th century church and former Dominican monastery of San Jerónimo.


The interior of the church is splendidly decorated with paintings that were done by native artisans of that era.





In the choir loft there is an organ which is nearly 300 years old and is still functioning.


Our third stop, five miles further down the road was Teotitlán del Valle.  The town is famous for its weavers who produce beautiful wool rugs.  We went into one of the workshops for a demonstration of how the wool is prepared, dyed with natural colors, and woven on looms.


 Cochineal, an insect that lives on the paddles of the prickly pear cactus, is the source of natural red dye which can then be modified into various shades of orange and purple.  In colonial times cochineal was a major source of wealth for Oaxaca.


Of course the demonstration is done in hopes that the visitors will then buy some of their merchandise.  And I am fully aware that guides and drivers have arrangements with the workshops... that they will get a commission from any sales made to the tourists they bring.  Nevertheless, we were impressed by the beauty of the "tapetes" (throw rugs), and I bought one for my house.
 

Our final stop, 28 miles from the city of Oaxaca, was the archaeological zone of Yagul.  The hilltop city of Yagul was inhabited by the Zapotecs for about 1000 years until its abandonment around A.D. 1200.  Although it is not as spectacular as some archaeological sites, its location and solitude (very few tourists come here) give it a very special appeal.



The ball court at Yagul is the second largest in Mesoamerica.  (Only the Mayan ball court at Chichén Itzá in Yucatán is larger.

  
In a courtyard surrounded by largely unrestored structures archaeologists have discovered several tombs.



Visitors may descend into one of the tombs.  Although they were looted long before the Spanish arrived, you can still see the carvings that decorated the burial chamber.


The most important structure at Yagul is known as the Palace of the Six Patios.  This was most probably the residence of the city's rulers.  A maze of rooms surround six courtyards.



 
 Some pictures of the beautiful scenery that surrounds Yagul...






4 comments:

  1. Yagul...I'll have to add it to my list of place to see. And that church! Wow, Mexico is just chock-full of amazing things.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Which has its own trove of amazing things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must come to Oaxaca sometime. We are here for 2 weeks and we have something scheduled for every single day.
      So have you made reservations for your winter escape yet??? (It's been around 80 degrees here every day.) Hoping to see you in DF.
      Saludos,
      Bill

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  2. I've been to Oaxaca. F and I spent Semana Santa of 2010? 2011? there, but I'd love to return. Edgar is from Oaxaca state, but I'd like to go with him to the capital some time. Still haven't fixed my getaway, but working up to it. Saludos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pues, apúrate, amigo. We're half way through January. It's time to leave the cold!
      Saludos,
      Bill

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