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ox-wagons with solid wooden wheels slowly rolled along, creaking and squeaking. Inside sat
men and women, dressed in their best and making merry, playing guitars and singing songs
of the region. Alongside the road were stalls where food and drinks were sold. The reason for
this unusual movement was that the annual fiesta del tule was held on that day. The tule is
a famous old cypress tree which has stood for many generations in a village that derives its
is the biggest I came across, and it is claimed that this cypress is over 5,000 years old. Once
every year huge crowds assemble in this village for a fiesta that lasts two or three days.
Late that evening we arrived in Oaxaca, a nice town up among the mountains. Mexican
Indians, like their South American cousins, have many superstitions, some of which are very
similar. Shortly before we entered the town I saw a cross alongside the road where Indians
go to wish. If two stones are tied together with a string this is supposed to make the person
who has done it the owner of a pair of oxen, and a maguey leaf cut off and put on the ground
with a pebble in it means marriage and a baby, the leaf representing a cradle. The Indians of
Oaxaca, not unlike the Bolivians, make hollows in which they place crosses, and to leave the
'sufferings' of a journey behind they place a stone or pebble in one of these hollows.
I was delighted with my stay in Oaxaca, where everybody, from the governor down, did
his best to make me happy and comfortable.
A trip was arranged to show me the remarkable ruins of Mitla which are some thirty miles
from the town. A large party of us left in cars, and after a pleasant drive over not too good
a road I was able to admire this gem of construction and art of a civilisation that has long
disappeared. The ruins are noteworthy for their artistic designs in different and complicated
patterns, entire walls being covered with them. All are made of hewn stones, cleverly and ab-
solutely evenly pieced together. The corners of the building that had probably once been the
principal temple are perfectly perpendicular, although their complicated designs made such
precision most difficult. Many of the priceless stones and decorations had been taken away
from the ruins by the Spaniards to build a church near there; a testimony of ignorance. It
was easy to tell that these ruins are often visited by strangers, for Indian vendors of cleverly
every time we refused to buy them. The Mexican government has been wise in placing a per-
manent guard over the ruins to prevent ignorant souvenir hunters from damaging them. In an
who acted as guide, insisted on telling each one of us how long we would live. This he did
by making us go through performances of standing and taking spans and other measurements,
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