Monte Alban and Convento Cuilapam


When I attended a Horizons Unlimited meeting near Toronto a couple of years ago, I met some incredible people. One of the women I met, Carol, is a Canadian who has travelled through Mexico several times. She really helped to put my mind at ease that Mexico doesn’t have to be as scary as I had made it out to be. She put me in touch with a fellow rider from Oaxaca who offered to help with any questions I had about Mexico. I had contacted by email a couple of times and was so excited to finally meet Ruben and his lovely wife, Aurora, when I came to their hometown of Oaxaca. They are lovely, generous people, and members of the the great big motorcycle family. I hope I can return their hospitality one day.

Ruben was an incredible host and tour guide for us on a beautiful Saturday morning. He took us to La Capilla for a real Mexican breakfast, complete with pastries, mole negro, Jamaica (hibiscus flower) juice, a hot chocolate, and much more. The hot chocolate was made with fresh milk and was rich but not heavy…just like a dessert. We had some sort of tortillas to start with fresh crumbled cheese and a bit of “grease” of some kind on top, but I mean that in the best way…kind of like a drop of fresh bacon grease. And I can say they were incredible. I think it may have been the best traditional I had in all of Mexico. After this incredible feast he took us next to the next stop on the Ruben tour, Convento de Cuilapan on the outskirts of the city.
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The convent was originally started in the 1530s and was never completed. It’s “open air” chapel is beautiful.
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We tour the inside of the convent and its enclosed courtyard, the upper level and a few rooms.
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Next, Ruben escorts us to Monte Alban, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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This was one of the original Mesoamerican cities and was the economic and political center of the Zapotec world for more than 1000 years. The visitor center is located just below the crest of the hill of the excavated city. And it doesn’t give you a hint of what to expect. So as I walk up the hill and climb the stairs and cross over to the center of the city square, I am shocked by the scale of the place. It’s enormous.
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This city was started around 500 BC and may have been occupied as late as the 1500s.
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I spend two hours in the hot sun exploring the grounds, and then retire to the shade and displays of the visitor center…and a coconut ice cream.
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1 comment

  1. I visited these very same places with a Mexican friend in the summer of 2000. It truly is an experience not to be missed

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