Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Guidxi Binnizá - the place like fire

Another place we visited was Tehuantepec. Tehuantepec is a Nahuatl name, which means hill of beasts. In Zapotec its name is Guizii', which means hot like fire.

Unlike Juchitán, which is not very rich architecturally speaking, Tehuantepec preserves quite a bit of colonial architecture, as it was founded by Hernán Cortés as a control post for the area of Central America. 

We spent just a half-day there. But enough to see a couple of interesting things, like the Dominican cathedral of Santo Domingo, founded in 1544. Not recent at all, right? Fortunately, along the rather somber figures adorning the place (you know, tortured bodies, blood, fire, all standard Catholic church fare) an attempt to be ecological and save energy led to a very funny result with an angel's staff.

Oaxaca is colourful. And like in Xhadani and Juchitán, you're bound to come across some brightly painted mural if you walk enough, like this one by the Casa de la Cultura (Culture House).

That stood in stark contrast to the House of Culture itself, of course, itself housed in the former Convent of Santo Domingo, a gorgeous building with plenty of remains of what must have been a beautiful decoration with richly painted walls and ceilings. You could also appreciate the ancient knowledge, no doubt forged through centuries of heat in the Mediterranean and in the isthmus, that led to the building feeling remarkably cool despite the intense heat outside (I definitely think the Zapotec name of the city is the most appropriate, and this was winter!).

To battle the heat? Fresh fruit or veggies with lemon and chili powder! Yeah, no chili powder – no good. And really, in such heat, all I could think of was something cool and fresh. So this made for the perfect lunch for me!

We explored a bit, through older buildings and alleys. Ruinous houses, popular markets flooding the maze of old Tehuantepec, leaning towers giving in to age and quakes...

I'm grateful I got to visit, if only briefly. Not my favourite place. Way less Zapotec than Juchitán. But if just for the exoticism of it, I was happy to be able to say I had set foot on the isthmus of Tehuantepec and on its most famous city.

Now, I'll be posting a lot more about this trip. And I can assure you, the posts will gradually rise in "interestingness", at least in my opinion!

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