Teotihuacan and Juchitan
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Feb 22, 2013 11:59 PM Last Post By: RichTX1
Feb 20, 2013 2:29 PM
Teotihuacan and JuchitanHello everyone,
I am in Oaxaca and planning to go to Chiapas. I am looking for a way to break up the long overnight bus ride, as it takes me two days now to recover from the lack of sleep. I speak fluent Spanish and am very interested in local culture - I´m not the kind of traveler that has to have an itinerary or ruins to go to. It looks like both Teotihuacan and Juchitan could be an afternoon and overnight break and then I could get a daytime bus at least to Tuxtla the next day.
Are either one of them worth going to? And if not, does anyone have other suggestions?
The guide gives a brief description and I got fooled by that once already somewhere else...
Thanks for your help!
Feb 20, 2013 2:30 PM
Feb 20, 2013 3:16 PM
3Yes, you probably confused Tehuantepec with Teotihuacan. The former is on the way south, to chiapas, whilst the latter is very far away, northeast of Mexico City. Juchitan and Tehuantepec are two very important cultural centers for the zapotec culture. Because of what you wrote about your interests I think you are going to like both places. They are home of the "tehuanas", you know, the ladies that wear those fancy costumes that Frida Kahlo used to wear a lot...
Feb 20, 2013 5:55 PM
4Both are worth a visit. Tehuantepec is shabby but friendlier and much better set up for visitors. There are two good budget hotels and some decent restaurants.
When I was there a few years ago I noticed that it was only older women 60 years plus who still wore the blouses and long skirts. Young women and even middle aged women wore t-shirts and jeans.
While culturally traditional, Juchitan is famous for its red hot political atmosphere. You'll see the hammer and sickle everywhere and leftist banners around the zocalo. It's quite peculiar that way.
Feb 21, 2013 5:06 AM
5I often break up the trp between Oaxaca and Tehuantepec...if you go just over the bridge heading from Oax. to Tux, you arrive at the zocalo...the Oasis hotel has been torn down to make way for a hostel but there is a nice friendly hostel there right next to where Oasis used to be...next to zocalo...zocalo is lively every night and has a village atm0sphere...if you have time go to the ruins Guiengola off the beaten path....see my post good trip to Guiengola if it still exists...Happy Trails---Jaime
Feb 21, 2013 7:19 AM
6I've visited both Tehuantepec and Juchitan, enjoyed them both. If you go to Juchitan, visit the casa de cultura, and the foro ecologico, both just west of the central plaza. The mercado and the ex-convento are the best attractions in Tehuantepec, as well as the public dance performances (there were three the night I stayed), and private fiestas, where all the woman wear their best (I even saw a man wearing a lovely long dress, and nobody batted an eyelash!)
Feb 21, 2013 11:59 AM
7The Isthmus has a traditional cultural role of "muxe" or transgender. Hence, no one bats an eyelash at a man in a lovely long dress.
When I visited the casa de cultura in Juchitan a number of years back, they had a very post-modern photo exhibit deconstructing high-glamour drag -- I thought it was fascinating to see the mash-up between traditional and contemporary violations of the M/F dichotomy.
Feb 21, 2013 8:11 PM
8Thank you, everyone!!
I`m very interested in Muxe culture, as the woman`s son at the hotel desk where I`m staying fooled me! And I know lots of transgendered folks in the U.S. His mother works the evening shift there, and she told me how hard it has been to stand up for him all these years - in school, his teachers wanted to kick him out of class, people call him horrible names, his father couldn`t stand it...
It sounds like Tehuantepec is better for tourists.
Does anyone have the names of the budget hotels there?
Thanks again, you all made my day! :)
Feb 22, 2013 7:20 AM
9When I visited there were seven hotels in town, and I think all but the motor hotel at the highway triangle were budget. There is a tourist office, at highway 200 opposite the river, at the intersection with Cristobal Salinas, which could help you, also a map next to the central square in front of city hall with the locations of the hotels, all within walking distance.
Feb 22, 2013 1:21 PM
11I found my "Mapa de Tehuantepc, Oax" and see several hotels marked on it: Posada SF (San Francisco?) at the corner of 5 de Mayo (but Google Maps labels it Cristobal Salinas) and highway 200, very near the centro (and where a second-class bus will let you out, otherwise the station is another 2 km northeast); Hotel Oasis located across the railway tracks to Av Juarez C. Romero, then a block south to the corner of Melchor Ocampo; Hotel Donaji located another block south, then a block east to the corner of Josefa O. de Dominguez and Av Juarez (not the same Av Juarez as mentioned earlier); an unlabeled hotel located north on Av Hidalgo (essentially a continuation of Av Juarez) near the corner of Guerrero; and the Casa de Huespedes la Tehuanita where I stayed, another block north to Aldama and a couple of blocks to the east (this from memory). If you are coming from the station, you should check them out in the reverse order of course.
Feb 22, 2013 9:11 PM
12I loved Juchitan, used it for just that purpose coming from San Cris. Scruffy (and often very windy), but I found it very friendly, and the Huave and other small indigenous groups really give it a unique flavor. The Muxe culture is also fascinating... check the documentary Blossoms of FIre:
My understanding (which could be totally wrong) is that men are not allowed to "man" businesses in the market, only women and Muxes, who, like #6 mentioned, often wear full regional dress and look pretty stunning. There are "velas" which are celebrations you can take part in various parts of the year, the main one in May (ie. the insanely hot month).
Also had a nice time in Tehuantepec but was glad I stayed in Juchi.
Oh, a beautiful tune about the city as well from Lila Downs,
Can't remember the place I stayed at but it was right on the square. This was 2009 so things may have changed, but definitely give the region a couple of days to enjoy.
Feb 22, 2013 11:59 PM
13I really loved Tehuanatepec... last time I was there, there was construction downtown and stayed at that motel along the highway, There didn't seem to be many tourists in town, which was fine by me.
It may be a mistake to consider the muxes as "transgenders" or even cross-dressers in the Western sense. As far as they, and their culture are concerned, they are a third gender, although relationships with biological/cultural males, rather than females (or other muxes) are the accepted norm.
To make things more interesting, this area still preserves much of the matriarchal traditions of the Zapotecs, with women having the economic power (and often political power... in the late 19th century, Juana Catalina Romero — a Zapoteca — was much more a power than any governor or Senator). Some men may dress as women, or "womanish" clothing when doing business for the same reason women in our part of the world sometimes wore male clothing, or clothing modeled on male attire not so long ago when doing what we considered "men's jobs".
A sense I get (and others may see things differently), is that women tend to be more forward, and men more retiring in public than in other traditional Mexican communities.
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