Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 6 in Oaxaca: Monte Alban Excursion
 I woke up today and had the weirdest dream. My dream consisted of me at Monte Alban walking around and meeting the kings of different Mesoamerican groups like Mixteca and Zapoteca. It took me ten minutes to realize it was just a dream but it was nice to have a visual of what the different Mesoamerican groups looked like. Yesterday was quite adventurous because I went to Monte Alban with my professor and group and we got to see the ruins and learn about the history of Mesoamerica. Our tour guide was excellent and very thorough especially when he was describing the different plants used for medicinal purposes and healing. One thing I found really interesting was when our tour guide was talking about the cactus plant called peyote which was a hallucinogin that was used for cermemonial and medical purposes. I remember doing a project on peyote for my drugs, culture, and society class this past fall semester. From what I recall peyote was used medicinally and ceremonially for many ills and that when intoxicated with the cactus they saw "horrible visions". Padre Andréa Pérez de Ribas, a seventeenth-century Jesuit who spent sixteen years in Sinaloa, claimed that Peyote was usually drunk but that its use, even medicinally, was forbidden and punished, since it was connected with "heathen rituals and superstitions" to contact evil spirits through "diabolic fantasies." The reason I found this interesting was because I had no idea that the alcoholic beverage mescal came from peyote as well. I've never had mescal before but my professor did mention that here in Oaxaca the people believe that mescal is good for the stomach because it stimulates the appetite. Personally, if I was offered mescal before I ate I would be very skeptical because of the mind-altering effects it does to a person. 
Another aspect of the trip I found interesting was when the tour guide talked about how women prepared for childbirth. I recall from the reading by Young and Garro "Medical Choice in a Mexican village" they talked about how midwives helped women in Mesoamerica prepare for birth. The reading mentioned that the midwives gave massages to the mother-to-be and gave counselling on diet. During the tour our guide mentioned how the midwives altered the baby's position during the massage which I found intriguing. I never knew you could alter the baby in the womb through massaging the mother.
After the excursion I reflected on everything that happened and I realized that medical practices in the United States already began here in Oaxaca through the small details that people overlook. Its amazing because when I think about how there are some people in the United States who are skin heads I feel that they never really paid attention to the history. Alot of skinheads believe an ideal America should be white and all immigrants should leave. When I think about it not only is it not true but the United States is the way it is because of immigrants. Immigrants are the backbone of America and I don't understand why there are people who don't pay attention to the history and judge.  I can't wait for the next excursion because I'm finding myself more emersed in the culture as the days go by.


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