We found Oaxaca to be a nice town. Warm and friendly with musicians playing marimbas, big bass guitars, singing, and ornate churches, It was really like something out of a movie. We quickly found a place to stay with a nice lady in a house with a lovely courtyard full of flowers and a beautiful bird in a cage for a reasonable price. We often heard the lady laughing hysterically when we were in our room. But when we would come downstairs we didn’t see her anywhere. She was out shopping! It turned out to be the bird that had copied her laugh and occasionally would just laugh and laugh. It was a pleasant mystery solved.
We were told that while we were in Oaxaca we must see the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. As we arrived, I looked up at the church and thought it looked interesting with some nice sculpted facade and big blank walls that looked more like a fortress. But nothing prepared me for the interior. Nearly every square inch inside is decorated in hyper-ornate 3D relief with intricate gilt designs swirling around a profusion of painted figures. We spent hours exploring all the details we could take in. This was the first church of this type we had ever seen so it was a visual overload and quite exhausting. You can Google it and see pictures but they really don’t do it justice. The Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán was awesome in the true sense of the word.
We decided we needed to get out and see some of the other sites and after a bit of research decided to visit the Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán. We took a bus up to the small village at the base of the mountain where we were greeted with tour guides and salespeople offering ‘real artifacts for a cheap price’. I wondered how many boxes of ‘real artifacts’ were in their stock. We took another bus up to the ruins. It was a massive, open area with pyramids and a lot of stairs and the air was thinner. We were shown tunnels that led from the top of one of the central pyramids to another platform where the priest could ‘disappear’ from one place and ‘appear’ in another. Yeah, since way back the religious leaders were using ‘magic’ to impress the believers. This was once a bustling, thriving civilization with surprisingly advanced medical procedures like brain surgery and strong commerce and trade with other cities, and then seemingly overnight, all the people were all gone! The city was completely abandoned. So, the big mystery is, where did everybody go? Theories abound, including, of course, aliens.
When we were preparing to travel, I knew I needed an instrument and I figured the smallest instrument I could bring along was a harmonica. After a few weeks of torturing Donna, she said, “Lance, you are not a harmonica player. You play guitar! We need to find you a guitar.” But guitars are big and we were already carrying way too much in our huge backpacks. We had met a mandolin player so I thought a mandolin could be a nice small instrument. After a brief and fruitless search for a mandolin, Donna said, “Lance, you are not a mandolin player. You play guitar! We need to find you a guitar.” So, we began to look for a guitar. After a few days of searching, we stumbled into a shop that had a few three-quarter size guitars. At last, we had found the perfect travel guitar! We named her “Miss Guitara”! Throughout our travels, we collected stickers that eventually held her together.