Grant McWilliams

Mexico 2006 - Day 8

Today I noticed that our hotel has a tour to Monte Alban so we took it. We waited for what we thought would be a tour bus but ended up being a suburban (remember those?) with about 6 people already in it but since 5 were Mexican we had room for about 8 more. We drove up to Monte Alban which I now know we probably could have gotten to by ourselves.

In case you don´t know since I don´t have my pictures up yet Monte Alban is a city on top of the mountains much like Machu Picchu in Peru. Machu picchu is at about 7,000 feet and Monte Alban is about about 6,500. It was quite cold up there but worth the visit. Monte Alban is the reason I started to look at visiting the state of Oaxaca and in the end the city of Oaxaca. The second reason is the food. Monte Alban means white mountain in Spanish because there are many trees that have white flowers on them and the Spanish saw a mountain that was white at the top and thought it was snow. Also a neat thing about Monte Alban is the ruins are largely preserved and there are no churches built on top of it. The reason for this is it was abandoned when the Spanish arrived and since the Spanish only put churches where there were people to convert they left Monte Alban alone. Originally Monte Alban was spread over several mountain tops but only the main one has be excavated. There is an I shaped ball court where the Zapotecs played ball, a zocolo, a hospital (!) and an astronomical observitory. NASA studied the observitory for 3 months before deciding that it was indeed a building to study the stars. The Zapotec people decended from the Olmecs and some of the oldest buildings were actually Olmec buildings. There is proof that they opened up people surgically and studied them and that they had done genetic research too as they recorded characteristics of people with chromosome problems. They also studied the effects of giving pregnant women mushrooms for pain in the third tri-mester. There calander is accurate to within one day in 5000 years which is better than our current calender (1 in 4000). There is also proof that they knew the sun was the center of our solar system and the earth revolved around it. This was about 1500 years before Galileo and his telescope. What they didn´t understand is how the planets moved so they figured the whole universe was a ball game and the Gods moved the planets around like players. This is why they played ball because they figured that they needed to play ball ceremonally to keep the planets moving. So they didn´t know everything but they were still pretty smart.

After leaving Monte Alban we went back to town and ate at the Zocolo again at a really fancy place. We sat on the second floor in front of a large open window overlooking the zocolo. I had chicken with four mole sauces (yellow, green, black and almond) and the almond was very good and didn´t have chocolate. Jade got the short end of the stick and