Friday, October 14, 2011

Oaxaca, Mexico - Day 7, Monte Alban

Tom and Wendy Hogan arranged a variety of experiences for our group, including an opportunity to see some beautiful parts of the region. The adventure continues with Day 7:

Thursday, November 3 – 3:10 p.m.

Today, we visited the ruins at Monte Alban (├ín), perched high on a mountaintop and overlooking Oaxaca, one of the earliest cities in Mezoamerica. Please do check out the link. You'll want to go see it for yourself. It is amazing. Like “Apocalypto.” Breathtaking. There was such a presence to the place, such a sense of history and former greatness. Such wonderful food for the imagination. Huge, huge area of ruins, only 15% of which has been excavated. Want to go on a dig? I took some pictures, but even the panoramic ones don't come close to portraying the expanse of the place. 
Photo by Chris. All Rights Reserved.
The vendors outside the gates were relentless as only the vendors in this part of the world can be, and I'm sure I overpaid for the few trinkets I purchased, but I'm happy to help the local economy (That's how I choose to look at it...). Even turning my pockets inside out to show I had no dollars left didn't deter them!

When we got back to headquarters, I put my feet up. Although I am feeling much better (praise God!), my ankles are still very swollen. I feel old and in the way. But I am not! The doc is up and about today, though he looks pretty weak. Others are experiencing head cold symptoms. I wonder if that might not be from all the dust...both from pouring pisos and from breathing the regular air. It was very, very hazy this morning; however, the breeze has picked up, and that has cleared the air somewhat. There are a few clouds in the sky.

I've been thinking a lot about the culture of honor. The arrogance of Norte Americanos can be astounding, including some of us, perhaps even me. But I hope not. I don't want people to flinch at my questions or comments (as our guide did at some of the insensitive questions posed to him today). Relationship is everything. If you come here (or anywhere) with an “agenda,” you are malodorous. All that to say, yes, we missionaries come with a wonderful message of forgiveness and freedom and reconciliation. But we would benefit from learning about other cultures, too, in order to understand the people we are coming to see...their religion, economy, history, social systems, language, etc...before coming to them and (in their eyes, anyway) trying to change that. Who could blame folks for thinking we are trying to superimpose our culture over theirs?

I think it's wonderful that so much evangelism is done in the context of culture now, that Native Americans can drum and dance their prayers, for instance, without condemnation from other believers who don't “get it.” Well, enough of that soapbox. It's good to honor others. We can't expect them to want to have anything to do with us if we don't.
Photo by Chris. All Rights Reserved.
We drove past some tourist resorts on the way up the mountain to Monte Alban, with fabulous panoramic views of the valley. That is most certainly a different view of what Oaxaca is like than you would get in the villages! There were lots of French tourists at Monte Alban, by the way. I thought that was interesting. Bet they didn't know I could understand their snide remarks...heh heh... And people think Americans are rude.

More local flavor: The tortilla truck just went by. It's a car, actually. Anyway, it has a blaring loudspeaker that lauds the quality of the product (Tortillas! Calientitas!) as it slowly progresses up the street. The woman across the street comes out in the morning with her tortilla towel to buy her morning tortillas. Makes me smile. It's a heartwarming sight and reminds me of my grandmother, for some reason.

There's a church service next door at 6 each morning. The singing wakes us up, just in case we have learned to sleep through the roosters. We get up at 6 or 6:30, which is a good time to get up when you've got a large group of folks needing to be ready to leave by 8 a.m. Okay, 8:30. Well, will we be loading up around 9? We'll try to be there around 10 for sure. And we arrive at 11:30. That's close enough, eh? I hope this makes you chuckle, or at least smile knowingly. I like it here. The people are wonderful, and the brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we have worked are incredible. Such beautiful hearts.

Tomorrow, the Palau festival begins!

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