Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dainzu to Tlacochatuaya

View of Dainzu

Friday's  hike took us to Dainzu.  The ruins here are older than Monte Alban.
 Dainzu is twenty miles SE of the city of Oaxaca and the people who once lived here had close connections with the citizens of Monte Alban and Mitla.  It's a pleasant spot, resting in the Tlacolula Valley.  Rio Salado runs through the valley and in Zapotec times the land was fertile, and appears to be today, as well.

Atonio shows us carvings of the
ball player story.
Dainzu is the oldest found Zapotec site and dates back to 700 BC.  It was first excavated in 1965 by Mexican archaeologist Ignacio Bernal.

The hikes are getting too popular.  That is to say, that there were so many of us at the site the single guard, Antonio, whose job it is to collect the $35 peso fee, was surprised by the hoard of foreigners, who suddenly swooped down upon this quiet, ancient and very beautiful place.

Antonio walked with us and told us about the site.  Dainzu is more artistic than either Monte Alban or Mitla and this artistry is well preserved in the story of the ball game. 

After we toured the site, we walked across farmer's fields and dirt roads to the town of Tlacochanuaya.  The town center and its church have the most well kept gardens I've seen in Mexico, with the possible exception of those I saw in Zacatecas.

Joan and our leader Nieves
 among the ruins
All the hikers, except Joan, Nieves and me, came to Dainzu by bus.  Joan brings her vehicle because she's concerned the bus drivers won't let Nieves on the bus.

"Why?"  I ask, "They allow turkeys."

"That's true," Joan said, "But I don't want to take the chance."

As we hiked Nieves, who loves the water, took advantage of the Salado River and jumped in on several occasions.  Then, for some reason only known to dogs, at the end of our hike she rolled around in the dust and gravel.  She was a mess.
Campesino's in a Tlacolula Valley
 fertile field 

The rest of the hikers took buses back to Oaxaca while Joan, myself and Nieves walked back through fields and paths to Dainzu.  We took an alternative route, and it made all the difference. 

We had the opportunity to see Tierra de Sol, a sustainable farm tourist can drop by, and we also saw a dam.  We had to find a way across the river and through thick bush growing alongside it. 

When we arrived back at Dainzu and once more met up with Antonio.  We invited him to lunch in Tule.  He lives in Tule, and since Joan use to live in Tule, they are casual acquaintances. 

Antonio is a lawyer and his guard duties do not satisfy his need for intellectual fulfillment, and so he likes to go to the schools and teach the children about their heritage.  Like many men in the state of Oaxaca, Antonio has worked in the United States.

We ate a late lunch at a restaurant owned by Joan's friends.  After lunch, I hopped on a bus that would take me home.

That's it for this weeks hike.  Stay tuned.  Another great hike is coming up next week.

Fodor's Travel Intelligence Information on Dainzu.

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