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Thursday 8th April - Monte Alban
By Claire
Sunday, 11th April 2004 22:55

I shared the hostel room with two other girls, one a pleasant German who slept a lot, the other a loud, opinionated English Northerner who felt that we hadn't planned our trip very well and that we should be going for at least two years, like her. Mikey and I had breakfast quite early that morning! The minibus picked us up at 9 and took us to another minibus and after a bit of waiting around and switching of buses (and Mikey buying a hat) we went off to Monte Alban.

We managed to find an excellent English-speaking Zapotec guide to show us round Monte Alban for a couple of hours. He was really enthusiastic and explained about Zaptoec customs and what life might have been like 1500 years ago. The site itself was very nicely preserved, and INAH, the Mexican archaeological people, had reconstructed much of it to give an impression of the original buildings. The guide explained that there have been no archaeological excavations since 1996, when the government ran out of money, and so far they've only explored about 20% of all the sites in the country. Every decade that passes sees them fall under about 8 inches of dust and vegetation. I'm thinking of a trip in 2006 with a pickaxe, a balaclava (or fedora, if you prefer) and a lantern if anyone's interested...

We were back in Oaxaca by about 2, which was lunchtime. We'd met some Italians on the tour of Monte Alban, and they suggested a cafe so we joined them. We tried mole, the local speciality that seemed to be maize paste with a sauce of chocolate and chilli, almost disgusting but not quite. Just very weird. We also had local chocolate sweets, which were crunchy and granular with either nutmeg or cinnamon in, whatever lebkuchen are made out of. I'm going to stick to my emergency Cadbury's rations, and mars bars in the meantime!

Our bus to San Cristobal was at 7, so we had a brief stop at the internet cafe to post a few diary entries (and find out that it looks like the people buying our house might be signing the contract by the end of the week, which is great news as we might be able to afford this trip!

The bus journey to San Cristobal de las Casa was 12-hours long, and they showed Universal Soldier - the Return which made me glad I hadn't seen the first one! We got a bit of sleep as the buses are not too uncomfortable, but the road winded up into the mountains a lot which didn't help. By 7am we were in San Cristobal, and we headed for Casa na Bolom (Home of the Jaguar), a museum on the edge of town, for a bit of sleep and a nice shower.

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