editor’s note: Our friends Billy and Kaki, who are fellow devotees of Oaxaca, kindly agreed to fill us in on their current trip.
Every time I visit Oaxaca, it’s like the first time, because it´s impossible to remember how perfect the climate is, how wonderful the colors are and how friendly the people. We arrived on New Year’s Eve too late for the special Christmas Guelaguetza but early enough to be kept awake by the firecrackers, cherry bombs, and neighbor´s turkeys. The deepest bombs set off the car alarms, with a wildly successful cacophony of noise.
We´re traveling with my sister Marvine and her husband Knox, who are visiting Oaxaca for the first time. This morning we visited Monte Alban, the ruins on the mountain near Oaxaca left by the Zapotecs and the Olmecs.
Our guide was a seventy-nine years old, and has been guiding for forty-eight years. “I am a ruin, myself,¨he said. His name was Netzahualcoyotl Jimenez Diez, which he translated as “Hungry Coyote.” He said he grew up in the city and didn´t speak Zapotec, but that his father did. He described himself as Olmec.. “This is the nose of an Olmec,”he said.”The Olmecs are descended from the jaguars. The Mayans are descended from the snake, with their crossed eyes and flat foreheads, and the Aztecs, with their beaked noses, from the eagles.¨
After lunch we walked one block to ARIPO, an artesan’s coop. This is a good place to sample the variety of Oaxacan art: weaving, clay works, carved wooden figures, basket weaving, embroidery, and rugs. Many of these works were new interpretations of the classics. I always come home from Oaxaca inspired to be an artist.