Before I had arrived in Mexico I had never heard of Oaxaca. As I started to plan for my next destination from Mexico City I settled on Oaxaca. From what I read I was expecting a much slower paced city than the capital and I was not disappointed in what I experienced. Immediately after strapping my backpack on as I left the bus station I felt a difference in the air. As I continued walking towards the center of town I came across a park and noticed a lot more people sitting and relaxing than in the hurried streets of Mexico City. After the overwhelming capital it was quickly clear to see that Oaxaca was going to be a needed change of pace. As I saw more and more people relaxing in the park and less traffic passing by me on the streets I could feel my breathing slow down and I began to realize how hurried I had become in my 8 days in Mexico City.
Settling into the hostel after a mile long walk I accepted my roommate’s invitation to dinner with a happy bunch from the hostel. A night of laughter and wine amongst new acquaintances led to a late morning walk to Santo Domingo Church and across an interesting outdoor art exhibit, 2501 Immigrants. The display contained 2501 small ceramic people standing on sides of the street in front of the famous church. The figures represent people who had left there villages to go to the United States. It took several years to complete the work and over 25 people from the artist’s village helped in it’s completion.
Santo Domingo Church with outdoor art exhibit
the 2501 Immigrants stand in front of Santo Domingo Church
a few of the Immigrants
It's A Man, Baby!
Walking down the street to the plaza and past the 2501 Immigrants
After any extensive or lengthy amount of travel it’s quite common to become somewhat jaded. As hard as it is to imagine, your attitude toward sightseeing can become somewhat lazy. In Southeast Asia, for example, you can run across plenty of backpackers who’ve “been there, done that”, and more specifically are “templed out”, or sick of seeing temples. After a while you can become spoiled with the sights on offer. I would consider myself a mild victim of this “templed out” phenomenon and therefore I wasn’t expecting much from Iglesia de Santo Domingo De Guzman in Oaxaca.
The moment I walked into the Church I was officially UN-“Templed Out.” The extravagance of the church was truly unexpected. The lavish ornamentation, artistry and craftsmanship on display was overwhelming! Yes, Grandpa and Grandma, I was excited to be at church! This excitement, coming from a child that had to be cajoled to attending mass by the accompaniment of action figures. As I write this I wish I could take a few moments to just wander around and take it all in again.
As you enter the church you’re struck by the amount of gold seen down the aisle at the front altar. Then you look up and you’re delighted by the somewhat whimsical “Tree Of Life” design on the archway above you. As you look closer you can see that the branches turn into people in a Renaissance-style psychedelic twist. Continue reading →