An Invitation to an Amazing Oaxacan Adventure

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Off the Beaten Path

Here we are at the lovely, old, colonial church of  Santa MariaTiltepec, built as a village church, no doubt by locals, sometimes around the late 1500's - it's exterior is elaborately carved on almost every surface 
and, if you look carefully, you'll see that it's not the same side to side, it's asymmetrical and then you'll see flowers, and vines, and serpents,  and mythical animals and the whole effect is kind of chunky and blocky as if the builders  have taken it apart piece by piece and and then reassembled it.  This is the folk art of the 16th century being built at the same time they were building magnificent cathedrals 20 miles away.

And then, if you turn away from the church and look in this direction, this is what you see!  Can we say, sort of the middle of nowhere!  But green and bucolic and peaceful and commanding quite the view.
We saw people picking avocados, herding sheep, and repairing roofs as we drove through this tiny little puebla.

 I was so excited to take the tour here because it's something special and it's off the beaten track. Many guide books don't even mention it.  And every time I have been to Tiltepec the church has been locked and not a soul in sight.  This time I was with our guide Pablo and was hoping he could find someone to let us in.  He went off on his errand and we sat and sketched. Some drew the church and some the countryside.

Then lo and behold, a mere forty five minutes or so later, along came Pablo, the caretaker, and his son, on a burro, who was holding the key to the 400 year old door.  I had one of those died and went to heaven moments when they opened the door, revealing candlelight flickering in front of all three of the 17th century altars inside this small village church.

Pablo and the caretaker, who was so kind to take time out from his busy day working his ranchito, to give us a private little tour.  You can see Jill & Victoria sketching in front of an altarpiece in  the background on the left.

Above photo is the retablo/altarpiece dedicated to the archangels. 
While we were there about five people from a nearby village came with flowers and candles and sat up in the front and said some prayers.

And here's  a super old baptismal font where you see carved legs made to represent serpents.
I saw another one kind of like this one at Cuilapan.

But I have never seen a column carved like a cactus like this one here.

This was one of the high points of the tour for me and a really special day.

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