Mexico page 4

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Serpent heads, often found at the base of pyramids, especially at the bottom of stairs.

Stone carvings of Mayan origin. For a long time the Mayan writing was thought to be merely decorative fluff on these carvings. However, after a while, someone figured out that it was actually writing, although deciphering it is still very much a work in progress.

Obviously, I couldn't not include some pictures of pottery. Be thankful, I took over 400 photos at this museum... you're being spared from my overwhelming compulsion to post lots of pictures of pottery.

Among the many artifacts on display is a book written by the indigenous people in the Spanish language telling the story of their conquest from their point of view. (or maybe I'm remembering it wrong, and this was just a children's story book)

For lunch, I went for a walk and I stumbled upon a part of town where all the foreign embassies were. In this part of town, there were many very nice restaurants. I ate my lunch in one such restaurant. MMMmmmmm camarones... (prawns)

A gold vessel from the height of the Achemenid empire. It is especially significant because of the way it is formed. Gold, you see, like many metals becomes brittle when you work it. So... to get that level of detail, it would have been necessary to constantly heat it up, otherwise it would've just snapped. Gold, of course, is even trickier because if you heat it up a little too much, it just melts. This vessel is, therefore, a pretty good indication that the artisans of the day really knew what they were doing.

This was a metal plate on which can be found the writing of the ancient ancient persians. It was probably descended from Babylonian or Assyrian language and writing. I really should know more about this stuff because I studied the Achemenid empire from Cyrus the great all the way to Alexander the Great... but I wasn't really into the writing. I was too busy looking at pottery...

These Mexican museums really know what they're doing. These display cases were very well-lit and informative. There was even text in english...

There was a display which explained the formation of different types of Arabic caligraphy. All four screens above actually show the same thing. I can even read the top-left screen. I can't tell you what it says though...

A very old edition of the Q'uaran, the Islamic holy text. Although I did a little bit of Arabic, I can't read a word of this because it is all written in caligraphy, which is tricky to read.

More golden artifacts from the Persian exhibition. The displays were first-rate and some included magnifying glasses so you could see the details up close.

Oaxaca (16/2/07-18/2/07)

First stop after Mexico City - Oaxaca. Second-highest warning level on the australian government's travel advisory website.

For those of you at home who are concerned that we may not be eating well while we're here. Most of our dinners, apart from those in Guanajuato, have been a creative mix of canned vegetables, rice and canned tuna or salmon. Sometimes we are really adventurous and get some beans... but generally not while we're sharing a room with lots of other people.

My first meal in Oaxaca... Mexican alphabet soup. I wonder if I can find the " Ñ".

On arriving in Oaxaca we decided to take a bus to go look at a tree (really, we weren't bored... this tree was meant to be really big). Anyway, we couldn't find the right bus in the end and, on our way back to the hostel, we got a little lost and ended up in a market.

Here we observe a "pelota" court. Pelota is a game played with two teams and a ball in which each side tries to put a ball through a hoop. There is a catch - you must use your hips to propel the ball.

A view of most of the complex at Monte Alban. Lets play a game. It is very similar to "where's Wally" except that, in place of Wally, we have Nick.

Another picutre which tries to capture the steepness of the steps... and with limited success. You'll just have to take my word for it - the steps were very steep.

Palenque (19/2/07)

This is the bus that took us from Oaxaca to Palenque. The trip was a very long one. We left Oaxaca at 5pm and arrived at 8am the next day. In addition, the road out of Oaxaca was particularly windy and made me feel quite ill. No small miracle that the sleep deprivation combined with the windy mountainous roads didn't make me vomit. After a few stops, the bus was almost empty and we were able to stretch out over several seats at once to sleep. This was especially good for Nick who was having issues with leg room.

Aahh... finally - the ancient Mayan city of Palenque. Apart from the curiously well-manicured lawns, this place has a very "lost city" feel to it. We had had very little sleep the night before (as most of it was spent on a bus) but we soldiered on and what we saw here really woke us up.

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