Around 1pm we descend to the parking lot to meet our Miguel and taxi #855. He is happy to see us and recommends another more obscure site a few kms away called Atzompa----it is a less excavated and more middle class Zapotec ruin on a hill to the north. We affirm that we'd like to go and the uphill drive begins---more topes, little villages, colorful schoolyards. The countryside is reminiscent of southern New Mexico, just different cacti and flora. We arrive at the gate and it is locked, Miguel wheels the cab down a small dirt road that indicates parking and we come to another locked gate. I am thinking we have been stymied but he honks and there is a stirring from a small guardhouse 30 meters up the road. A fellow comes out dressed in official khakis, smiles, opens the gate, and points us up a hill. Miguel finds shade for his car and we set off. More climbing, but this place is cool too. We have the whole place to ourselves and it is free.....there are huge ball courts, living quarters, partially excavated temples, what is described as a bakery or pottery firing oven. Once I look up and there is dude under a tree on a hill observing us---one of the laborer restorers I think. I point the camera at him and he vanishes. We come upon another guy snoozing in the shade of a ball court and we realize it is siesta time. After about an hour in the sun we descend to the parking lot and ask our man to drive us back to the hotel----we stop at a cajera automatic---very secure and air-conditioned ATM to make sure we have his fee....about $60 for the whole day for our own personal chauffeur. I think this must be middle class indulgence huh?
That evening we walk north through the center of Oaxaca to a real actual deli(sorry). Janet eats a delicious turkey sandwich with pickled broccoli and I have a homemade sausage plate, both of us drinking Bohemia claro. We also have lunch there on Friday(today).
Oaxaca at night is amazing. Everyone is out, chatting, eating, dancing in the zocalo. It is a feast for the eyes, ears, and nose. I can't help but thinking of my fellow Americans, glued to reality TV, while this earthy, close, convivial culture is out en masse, actually living.
Wednesday is a lazy day. We have some late morning pool time then I drop Janet off at the Textile museum here for an hour or so while I wander and take photos. We shop a bit---Oaxaca is heaven for art, jewelry, crafts, clothing, all of it hip, original, and not much pushiness. That night we end up in a little eatery near by and dine on chiles rellenos and chicken with what I think will be New Mexico style chicharrones---but here they are pork rinds. We order Liquor 43 for dessert and get a pithy comment from the waiter about how we should be having mescal. You know, he says, Oaxaca is known for its mescal. Yeah? I'll drink what I want.Mezcal is great but not really our thing I say. Deep frown.