Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca CityThe unforgettable city of Oaxaca is the cradle of a multicolored culture with continual fascinating enchantment. For me it was also the city of romance. We had a very handsom guide on our tour to Monte Alban. Dark sparkling eyes, boyish smile, cute black curls and nicely built tanned body. I typically don’t like the “latino” type but he was  just so alluring… he asked me out which totally shocked me. Now, when I’m more aware of “customs” it doesn’t seem so shocking and makes me and my adventure less special. But let’s not spoil the sweet memories by thinking too much.Beer in Oaxaca City

We went out to have something to drink in beautiful Zocalo. In front of the cathedral I could hear opera singers entertaining the crowd. The plaza and restaurants were full of lights and people. The air was warm, the alcohol strong and his eyes bright and deep. After not that long we seemed to be talking only about desire, senses and romance. His fingers gently touching my skin crawl the length of my arms to climb to the line where the neck meets the hair. Then he slowly moved his hand down my spine probably reaching the intended effect of electricity in the air between us.

But… well but… just straight after coming back from Mexico I was to move in with a person I really cared about, so it didn’t really work that way. There was no electricity and the romance ended before it even started. Thinking about it now I just can’t believe feeling for one huy can make you so insensitive to seduction by another even though he was so very attractive and I recognised it. Strange. But well, happens right?Basilica de la Soledad

The city was formerly known as Huayacac, a Nahuatl word whose roots “huaxin”, stand for “gourd”, and “yacatl”, which means “pinnacle, point or beginning”, thus being defined as “The beginning or pinnacle of the gourds”.

The cathedral I mentioned earlier is called Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Nuestra Señora de al Asunción). It is acctually the third to be built as the first two were destroyed by large earthquakes in the 16th and 18th centuries.

Basilica de la SoledadBasilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is located four blocks west of the Cathedral on Avenida Independencia. It is built between 1682 and 1697 by Father Fernando Méndezon a site where supposedly an image of the Virgin Mary appeared. According to legend, the image of the Virgin was found in the pack of a mule that sat down on an outcropping of rock and refused to get up. When the image was discovered, the Virgin appeared, and a basilica was constructed to commemorate the event. The outcropping of rock is surrounded by a cage of iron bars immediately to your right along the wall as you enter the church.Wedding outside basilica de la Soledad

The concave facade of the Basilica de la Soledad, projecting forward from the building, is unique in Mexico’s religious architecture. The way the top is rounded and the tiers are divided suggests an imitation in stone of the traditional carved wooden retablos (folding altarpieces) common in Mexican churches.

Oaxaca is now preserved as a  “Cultural Heritage of Humanity” site by UNESCO.

Cuilapan de GuerreroDuring the tour around the city we visited also Cuilapan de Guerrero, famous XVIth-century open-air chapel hosted a mass by Pope John Paul II. Cuilapan was originally called Sahayuca and inhabited by the Mixtecand Zapotecpopulations. the monastery is located on a small hill which gives it a view of much of the valley area.It is one of the most extravagant and elaborate colonial area construction in Oaxaca.Built of green quarried stone and river rocks, it is a quiet place where footsteps can echo in the hallways. The extravagances of the site, include the tall basilica, the elaborate baptismal font, the Gothic cloister and murals remain as national treasures. The decorative work of the monastery, especially its murals, are important because they show a systematic blending of indigenous elements into the Christian framework, done in order to support the evangelization process in the local Mixtec and Zapotec people.Pope John Paul II in Cuilapan de Guerrero

One of the parts of the monastery is open air chapel. It is a three-nave chapel, also called “Church of the Three Naves.” The chapel has been given to the convent of Cuilapan fame for being the only of its kind throughout Oaxaca. The main facade stands out for its Renaissance elements. It has three entrances with semicircular arch on fluted pilasters. Central access is framed by Corinthian columns fluted shaft and a double cornice, above is a frame that Cuilapan de Guerrerocontains the shield of dominica order, flanked by two dogs carrying a torch in his mouth. Dogs, symbol of the Dominicans, represent, according to legend, a dream of the mother of Santo Domingo. On the sides of the frame are two human figures representing the virtues. The side entrances are lower than the central concert is an oculus with iron bars. The ends of the facade are occupied by two cylindrical towers, pierced in arch, and covered with spire. The top center of the facade is a triangular pediment.Cuilapan de Guerrero

The interior is in three naves. The naves are divided by two rows of 13 arches, supported by Tuscan columns, one of the rows is unfinished. The side walls have nine hits with arch. The bottom of the central nave ends with the triumphal arch, located near the main altar, now walled up. In the nave west, also at the bottom, is built a stone quarry with inscriptions Mixtec historical perspective, accompanied by the date 1555.

Cuilapan de GuerreroIf I remember correctly the chapel didn’t have a roof because the natives believed they wouldn’t have contact with God if they couldn’t see the sky.

We also visited Arrazola and San Martin Tilcajete, two towns which specialize in the art of crafting alebrijes (brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures), which can be purchased directly from the artists. And San Bartolo Coyotepec where the artisans specialize in black clay pottery.

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