Which reminded me of this brilliant lyric by Bruce Cockburn:
All day the mountains rose behind a veil of smoke from burning fields And road dust dyeing black skin bronze and the road rolling like a rough sea It’s quiet now, just crickets and a dog fight somewhere in the far away In my heart I hold your photograph And the thought of you comes on like the feel of the coming rains
Hot breeze ran its fingers through the long grass of a thatched roof eave They stuck me in the only chair they had while they cooked cassava And a luckless hen They asked for one well three lanterns and two hundred liters of fuel and I said, “Who, me?” And the time for planting’s coming soon And the thought of you comes on like the feel of the coming rains
In the town neon flickers in the ruins Seven crows swoop past the luscious moon If I had wings like those there’d be no waiting I’d come panting to your door and slide like smoke into your room
All day the mountains rose behind a veil of smoke from burning fields And road dust dyeing black skin bronze and the road rolling like a rough sea It’s quiet now, just crickets and a dog fight somewhere in the far away
In my heart I hold your photograph And the thought of you comes on like the feel of the coming rains
And the time for planting’s coming soon And the thought of you comes on like the feel of the coming rains
I went to Mitla when I was here in 2019 and took all the requisite photos. The place was nearly empty. When I took a couple of my neighbors there this past weekend, It was obscenely overpopulated. None of the photos I took last time would have been possible. The Guelaguetza Festival is normally at this time, so a lot of Mexicanos take vacations here. The festival was cancelled, but the throngs still came. Anyway, I already had all the touristy photos, so I took these three. There used to be a trash can in the third one, but thanks to the magic of Content Aware Fill, you can enjoy the view without distraction.
Went to Villa De Etla for their inaugural cultural festival. It was nice, with the usual over-long speeches that any inaugural event in Mexico has, some music and dancing, a few tables sampling cane sugar alcohol and sweets, and a contemporary art exhibit which was the highlight for me. All of these photos are from after, when we drove into town and wandered around.
I’m not sure of the exact story behind this magnificent mistake, but the young couple we met out front told us that it was a magical building and that construction had been halted for some reason.
Aqueducts are all over the place down here. I’m pretty sure they predate the Spanish invasion.
The church here was way bigger than one might expect for such a small community. I think there must have been mineral deposits here which made the Spaniards value the location.
That second image was taken through a hole in the door. The church was locked up tight.
On my second visit to Monte Alban (founded 500BC and most significant site of the Zapotec culture), I took a slightly different approach, less about documentation and more about getting good images. My results were mixed.
I first came to Oaxaca in 2009, on an epic road trip from Tucson to Lago Atitlan in Guatemala and back. We descended into the town out of the mountains and stayed a week. I was completely unaware of Monte Alban sitting nestled in the hills above town.
I came again in 2018, for Dia De Los Muertes. On that trip I visited a smaller site, Mitla, but did not go to Monte Alban because my legs would not permit me to climb around (long story).
Then I was back one more time this February, but that trip was consumed by the search for the apartment where I now live.
Today, I finally got to see the site in all of its magnificence. Well, almost all. Because of Covid, access is closed to the tombs which contain some spectacular paintings. I’ll have to see those next year.
Here are some photos and a video from today, starting with the “discoverer” of Monte Alban.
In Mexico, you don’t put your trash bins at the curb to be picked up. The garbage truck drives slowly down the street, honking its horn, and residents run out to put their own trash into it. The guys working the truck separate out some plastic bottles and cardboard by hand. I’m not sure where those go in the end. I’m not sure where any of it goes, actually.
I’ve now been in Oaxaca for two weeks, and retired for close to a month. Friday, I drove back with a new friend from an overnight with another new friend in San Mateo Rio Hondo (pics later). As I pulled over for the 3rd or 4th time to let a driver who was in a hurry pass, I remarked to my companion that it is nice to be retired and free of time urgency. I feel blissfully relaxed. Each day passes as I want it to, and if something doesn’t work out, there is always the next day. Of course this is an attitude that shouldn’t require retirement to attain, but hey, I’m retired.
I have been writing five days a week at Convivio. Usually I spend between 3-5 hours on the first draft of Ocean.
I have also been devouring other people’s books. So much so that I have reactivated my Goodreads account. I have an author page there, with a journal that I occasionally post to. You can follow or friend me over there if you want. If you have read Atmosphere, I would of course appreciate a rating/review at Goodreads as well as on Amazon. Here’s my latest Goodreads blog post:
I am beginning the last of four days away from Ocean. Naturally, I have read a lot. I just finished The Dali Lama’s Cat, a delightful look into the life of, you guessed it, the Dali Lama’s cat. I imagine it will introduce many cat lovers to the elementals of Buddhism. Before that, I polished off Peter Kuper’s sketchbook journal of two years spent in Oaxaca during and after the 2006 uprising. It was an interesting, thoughtful presentation. I also read Roman Blood, by Steven Saylor. It is your basic murder mystery/detective novel set in ancient Rome. It was OK, if formulaic. Unlike The Skull Mantra, by Eliot Pattison, which delved deeply into and relied on the culture and history of Tibet and the Chinese invasion/occupation, Roman Blood was only superficially dependent on its setting. Next up, Barkskins, by Annie Proulx.
As soon as I download photos from my camera, I’ll post some pics of San Mateo, et al.