San José Mogote

Staircase of the partially excavated temple.

San José Mogote was the first major cultural center of the Zapotecs in the Etla valley of Oaxaca. There is evidence of a farming community as far back as 1500 BC, and significant political power with the attendant construction of temples, etc, beginning in 1300 BC, or 800 years prior to Monte Alban. Most of the site has yet to be unearthed, which is probably a good thing, as INAH, the Mexican governmental agency tasked with administration and protection of such sites, has barely enough to continue operating established tourist operations. There was no controlled entry here at all, and paths cris-crossed the entire site, with grafitti defacing some upper walls.

The top of the pyramid.
Trees and walls atop the pyramid.
Structural remnants.
New grafitti on ancient walls.
The corner of the main structure.

I chose to present these in B&W to accentuate the age of the site. Afterwards, we walked around the town of Guadalupe Etla a bit.

Carnival rides out to pasture.
Partial excavation of another structure from the Mogote settlement.
It is difficult to see from this photo, but this area above the new excavation very much resembles a typical ball court, shaped like a capital I with a V shaped center.
These last three are from the Templo de Guadalupe

I really hope INAH gets the funding they need to properly excavate and preserve this and other priceless heritage sites around Mexico. It would be a shame to lose this history.

Real de Catorce

Founded in 1779, Real de Catorce, named for 14 Spanish soldiers who were killed by the people whose land they were stealing, was a wealthy silver mining town until the beginning of the 20th century, when the price of silver tanked. At one tim, it had a population of 15,000. Now it is around 1000, along with as many tourists as they can pack in on a given day.

It is accessed by a 27 kilometer cobblestone road and a 2 kilometer one way tunnel. Many people, as I did, stay in a hotel or B&B on the downhill side of the tunnel. These next few photos are from the small community there.

Ruins in the valley below Real de Catorce
The church in the town outside of Real de Catorce
Tienda
The remains of a mine building in the valley below Real de Catorce

My first day there, I drove up to the tunnel in the early afternoon. I had to wait about two hours, until sufficient tourists had left the town to allow parking inside.

The town itself was ridiculously full. I had to inch my way through the narrow winding streets to the far side and down a hill to park. Then, trudging back up at over 9000 feet elevation was a workout. I wandered around a bit and took a few photos, then had dinner and left. The next morning, I went to the tunnel early, before the people with walkie talkies got there. At that hour, you can drive through the tunnel, but you risk meeting someone half way, at which point one of you has to back up. I followed a pickup into the tunnel, and, no surprise, we did meet someone. I and the pickup reversed course to a slightly wider part of the tunnel, let the others pass, and then continued into the town. It was much nicer devoid of tourists. The day before had been Sunday, arguably the busiest day of the week. Even later, when the cars started pouring in, it was less crowded on a Monday. The following are photos from Real Catorce itself.

The Templo de Guadalupe, as seen from the panteon (cemetery).
Setting up the stalls to sell chotckis to tourists.
Up the hill to the ruined part of town.
The horses which give rides to tourists spend a lot of time in the ruins. There is also a giant, multi-story “horse hotel” hidden on the other side of the hill. The horses had better accommodations than I did, and a much better view!
Hi there!
I wheezed my way up the hill to get an overview of the town.
More abandoned mining buildings in the valley below.
I waited over an hour for the sun to come around so I could get this shot.
Inside the main catedral.
Another view of the remains of the community outside the tunnel.