I am woman and a mighty big key in Zaachila

The bathroom incident

Women line one street, cradling live chickens or hefting turkeys under their arms, waiting for buyers. On another street, women sell dried squash seeds and beans and corn and roasted peanuts. All around the square and inside the market building, vendors hawk bread and pastry, chocolate, meat, piles of peppers and tomatoes and onions. It’s Thursday, market day in Zaachila, a town about 12 miles from where we are staying in Oaxaca. It’s colorful, exotic, exciting. I don’t take pictures

I stand in line at the WC (2 pesos and you get a good amount of toilet paper to take into your stall). The ladies in line are mostly vendors wearing their aprons, braids down their backs. There’s no blending in for me in jeans and sneakers and straw hat and even at just 5′ 4″ more than a head taller than most of the women in line.

My oddness becomes even more clear when the tiny lady behind me taps me and in Spanish says, more or less, “This is for women.”

I turn and said, “Soy una mujer.” I am a woman.

The expression for utter embarrassment is universal. She cringes and looks horrified, and then giggles. All the women in line including me start laughing. I let her go ahead of me so she can get out of there, but I bet she’s going to be teased for awhile.

A quiet tomb

Above the market in Zaachila and behind the church is a small archaeological site–two Zapotec/Mixtec tombs. The only visitors while we are there were some policemen who come up to sit on benches under a tree to eat their lunch, and some girls in school uniforms who look like they were dodging grownups. If you click on any image, it will enlarge.

Miguel Fabián is the ticket taker and guide.
Miguel Fabián is the ticket taker and guide. He opens the steel doors protecting the tombs and tells me about them.
The mound covers the ruins of a palace, but only two tombs have been excavated at all--look at the lower left.
The mound might cover the ruins of a palace, but only two tombs have been excavated at all and are not much visible–look at the lower left.
The bones were on the floor and decorated with exquisite jewelry that got taken away to the museum in Mexico City. So did the pottery and other artifacts in the tombs, and Zaachichilo got le
The bones were on the floor and decorated with exquisite jewelry that got taken away to the museum in Mexico City. So did the pottery and other artifacts in the tombs, and Zaachilo only got to keep the bas-reliefs.
Tomb figure with penis
I ask Señor Fabián what the man carried–a big key? No, a penis, he says. Oh, a very big key, I say, almost as embarrassed as the woman who told me I was in the wrong bathroom.
Zaachila buses had the picture of Christ sitting on the cross, head hidden, and this message: "Nadie! Te Amo como yo." Nobody loves you as I do. Clearly, he got that line from his Jewish mother.
Zaachila buses have a picture of Christ sitting on the cross, head hidden, and this message: “Nadie te amo como yo.” Nobody loves you as I do. Clearly, he got that line from his Jewish mother.
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4 thoughts on “I am woman and a mighty big key in Zaachila

  1. The solution to these problems is simple. All bathrooms should have ancient bas-reliefs of genitalia on the doors, all women should wear pudenda pendants and all men should wear penis bolero ties. Do you think setting up a craft workshop in a village to produce these things would create a decent income for an ex-pat, Pat?

    Liked by 2 people

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