I planned out a route using google maps (I love the internet for mapping!) and we had no problem getting there despite the somewhat hairy Oaxaca traffic. Since we had the car out anyhow, we also planned on going to the unfinished Cuilapan Monastery and Church that began construction in 1555 and was never finished, about 10 kms south of Monte Alban.
We had no problem getting to the ruins. Parking was free.
Kevin, at the top of the entrance steps to the ruins site.
We found the little ticket booth and paid our 57 pesos ($4.73) each for admission. There's a small museum on site, so decided to take that in first. They had a few of the artifacts that were found on site. All descriptions and signs in the museum are in Spanish only.
I liked this little statue. Almost looks like a real face peering out of the mask!
Many of the original stone carvings are kept in the museum, with copies in their original spots on the grounds.
You're in and out of the museum in 15 minutes. It's pretty small, which is just fine with us. You can only look at so many broken pieces of pottery before they all start to look the same!
Some of the structures are pretty big. Notice Ruth sitting on the steps near the right.
We were lucky that there were not many people around! A couple of tour buses, but they left well before we were finished.
One problem...this was one of the most restrictive ruins sites that we have ever visited in Mexico. Many of the structures had interesting things at the top, but you weren't allowed to go up and see them.
This building had a lot of rooms and cavities and tunnels...all closed and locked up. I don't like not being able to explore! Are those rocks on the ground really left over pieces from the reconstruction? Hmmm.
Another opening, but again not accessible. I want to go in and explore! Notice the interesting carving at the lower left of the opening.
Some of the ruins are unrestored. Apparently this was a residential area, where they found the bones of eight individuals.
What's this? One of us is apparently on the wrong side of this piece of tape! Ruth, breaking the rules? That's something I would normally do. There's nobody around, so let's see where this goes...
It actually went down to an unused bathroom building! But beyond that there was a trail, so we took it and it brought us to another ruins section that you wouldn't otherwise be able to get to. Why was the trail closed? No idea.
More unrestored ruins, and one gated off section that housed a couple of unimpressive rock carvings.
And, an unlocked door!
There are several of these tombs on the site, but all of the tombs are locked. This one was open! I crawled down to have a look, but it was just a small empty crawlspace. Can't figure why they keep them locked unless there are maybe artifacts or whatever in the locked ones. No idea.
Pretty much had the place to ourselves!
I like that nice green shade tree. It sure seems out of place up there.
Overall, I was left unimpressed by Monte Alban when compared to other ruins we've visited. But we've been to a lot of ruins sites in Mexico over the years and our favorite is still the ruins at Palenque. However, if you've not been to many, or never been to any, then Monte Alban is worth a visit. We still managed to spend three hours wandering around, so it's worth the 57 pesos entry fee just for something to do.
From there we drove back down the hill and towards the town of Cuilapan. About half way there, traffic slowed down and we saw some cars and buses attempting to turn around. It was a bit of a zoo! There were a LOT of taxis all the same color and they were blocking the road!
Never found out why, but the taxi drivers were protesting something and had closed the road. Remember our road block from a couple of days ago? It turns out that disruptive protests are a common occurrence here in the state of Oaxaca, and even more so here in the city.
We had passed a Bodega Aurrera store (owned by Walmart) and so when we finally got turned around we figured we would stop in for some supplies that aren't as easy to get in the central area. No go...the store was closed due to some kind of a teachers protest. So we went to a Soriana grocery store...it was closed too with signs and people milling about!
We spoke to our apartment host Susana and she said that there is always someone going on strike or protesting in Oaxaca City. Some of you might remember the teachers strikes and demonstrations here that resulted in quite a few deaths back in 2006. Apparently the teachers had been going on strike EVERY year for over twenty years prior to that. Susana said that the teachers now only work four hours per day...8am until noon! (Note, I haven't been able to verify this info...just going by what Susana said, but she's lived here her whole life.)
And so the protesters cancelled our trip to the unfinished convent.
We found out that there's some sort of dance festival going on in Oaxaca this week, and there's a different free show every evening at 7:00pm, so we walked down to have a look.
Along the way to the dance festival.
This one couple did the whole show.
They went through several costume changes. Sometimes while onstage. It was kind of strange.
Overall, the 45 minute show was a little weird. Some of the dance was good, but we have a hard time getting the artsy part of it! Maybe we'll go back to a different show this evening. It was weird, but it was free. Something to do in the evenings.