Oaxaca: A trip to Monte Alban!

There are loads of places to visit in Oaxaca. One of the day trips I did was to Monte Alban, some ruins on the outskirts. Here’s a short story of my trip there with a travelling friend, Uvlad.  
Well worth a visit. Monte Alban
Photo by schizoform
At first I wasn’t that keen on visiting Monte Alban.
“What is it anyway?” I asked Uvlad, my first travelling friend, who leaving soon for Belize on a diving course.
“It’s an Archaeological site, maybe you can learn something,” he said as he scanned his guidebook. We were chilling out on the hammocks in the hostel terrace.
“Learn something? At an old ruin?” Maybe he was right; I’d enjoyed my trip to Teotihuacan. “Go on then.”
Monte Alban, or White Mountain in Spanish, was more interesting than I’d imagined, but the trip there was mental. The crazy bus driver whizzed us round the curvy lanes and overtook cars on blind corners.
“Look at those views,” Uvlad said.
“I’d rather not,” I said, trying not to peer over the cliff edge.
At the top we were almost 2000 km above sea level.  
“The Zapotecs started building Monte Alban in 900 BC and finished 2000 years later,” Uvlad said as we arrived.
“Whatever,” I said, still feeling slightly giddy. “There’s an amazing view though.” The light blue sky was cloudless and the dry region of Oaxaca stretched out for miles.
How archaeologists get their numbers fascinates me. There must be a knack to guessing the right age for rocks, much like a good wine connoisseur. I imagined the Monte Alban Archaeologists’ conversation.
“Dear Charles, what do you think of this one sweetie pie?”
“Well Margie darling, looking at the carvings I’d say she has to be getting on a bit, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes, the texture is ripe, isn’t it? Look at how the rock just peels of so charmingly. I’d say she was an eight fifty.”
“My dear, I’d have to disagree with you there, put her down for a nine hundred.”
“AD or BC darling?”
“BC of course, dear.”
Great place for a game of Subbuteo!
Monte Alban was like a mini version of Teotihuacan. Between the north and south platforms was a luscious green-grassed plaza with monuments in the middle and at the sides. We climbed the steep staircase of the south platform and rested at the top.
“Bet you could have a great game of Subbuteo here, eh Uvlad?” I said, gazing at the felt surface. Uvlad was unaware of the delights of the miniature football game.
“We’re at the top of an ancient ruin and all you can think about is a stupid football game,” he said after I’d explained the rules to him.
“Stupid? Look at the smooth surface; it would make a great pitch.”
“Yeah perfect, where’s your culture?” He had a point.
We strolled round and read notices about why things could have been built as they were and what could have happened thousands of years ago. The information was mostly hypothetical, but I guess they were experts.
Some of the Zapotecs engravings were confusing.
“Are they dancing or hunting?” I asked Uvlad. He read his guidebook and made appropriate acknowledgement noises.
“There’s a debate about whether the engravings are of dancers, or tortured prisoners of war who have chopped off their penises.” 
We preferred them as free ha
ppy dancers – with their important parts intact. The trip down was a lot less frightening and we arrived in tact. I’d enjoyed my last exploration with Uvlad. After that he took off to Belize and I never saw him again. 

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