Alaska, Mexico and Beyond…

“One Journey Leads to Another”

Archive for the tag “churches”

HIKING OAXACA: Zegache to Ocotlán

All dressed up for the Day of the Dead festivities, this happy couple greeted us in the village of Zegache, where our hike began.

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The group gathered in front of the spectacular church of Santa Ana Zegache. No matter how many times I visit this church, its vivid colors entice me to take just a few more photos!


We headed out across a  flat and peaceful agricultural valley toward the villages of San Antonino and Ocotlán.  It’s wonderful to see small fields with several  varieties of vegetables instead of gigantic agribusiness farms. People grow many vegetables for sale in local markets, and they use oxen and horses to pull plows and wagons. Farmers in some villages collectively own a tractor and everyone can use it!

Brilliant marigolds and red cockscombs are the favored flowers for Day of the Dead celebrations, and people were cutting them and hauling wagon loads to the cemeteries to use for decorating the graves of their ancestors.


Yet another beautifully painted church in San Antonino



Ocotlán was the home of well known artist Rodolfo Morales, and these are sections of a huge mural he painted behind the portico of the municipal building.

And then… what luck! We spotted a sidewalk mezcal bar and joined some locals for a welcome and unexpected end of hike treat!


For more photos of this and other colorful churches:
For a short biography on Rodolfo Morales:
For interesting information about the saints inside the church:

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Religious Buildings

Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church

Built circa 1895 in Kenai, Alaska


A sign next to this little building across the street reads:

Saint Nicholas Memorial Chapel
Built and Consecrated (1906) over the graves of
Igumen Nicholai (1810-1867) Makary Ivanov (1835-1878) and others.


To view more photos from this challenge click here:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

In Mexico the boldness of orange brightens every part of life – in fact I’m wondering if the Mexican people invented orange!

They love to….




Church in Xalapa, Veracruz

Church in Xalapa, Veracruz


Click on any photo for a larger view




Part of a light show projected onto a church front during Day of the Dead celebrations.

Part of a light show projected onto a church front during Day of the Dead celebrations.


Sierra Norte near the village of Benito Juárez

Orange you glad it’s photo challenge time?

Tlacotalpan, Where is Everybody?

Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, is a small city with a population of almost 9,000. During the 24 hours we spent there, we saw probably less than 50. Where were they? Walking the streets was a bit eerie, as the streets of Mexican towns and cities are usually full of people walking, talking, eating, and laughing. Few stores or businesses were open.  Granted, the blustery gray day wasn’t the best for outdoor activities; apparently they were experiencing a “norte,” the local name for cold fronts from the north that dominate the weather from October to April. Still, I’ve never known a little cold to hamper socializing and shopping!


UNESCO granted World Heritage Site status to Tlacotalpan in 1998 partly due to to its graceful  style of architecture.

Click on any photo in the gallery for a slideshow.

The reason for including colorful arches on the logo is obvious – and if your building doesn’t have arches just paint them on!


A few hardy souls braved the brisk wind!


We strolled the streets and enjoyed the artwork and other intriguing sights, but we never found a hot coffee nor a cold beer!


Street scenes in tile decorated many park benches.



Tlacotalpan is well known for its Feb. 2 festival “Our Lady of Candlemas.” If you are looking for action, I recommend visiting then. But you are welcome anytime!

Travel Theme: Details 2





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To enjoy more details click

Ruins of a Spanish Mine

Spread along the Rio Papaloapam, high in the Sierra Norte north of the city of Oaxaca, are the ruins of Spanish haciendas that were built and inhabited during the years of Spanish exploitation of the mineral riches of the area.

According to historical records, Cortés learned of the possible existence of gold and silver in the Sierras and immediately sent scouts in search of the minerals. They returned with the news that the mountains were indeed rich with gold and silver ore, and Cortés, ever the opportunist, claimed the entire Central Valley of Oaxaca for himself (year 1521). The Spaniards built the infrastructure needed for mining operations and constructed aqueducts, large haciendas, stone bridges, and a church. These remains are located deep in a lush valley near the villages of San Miguel Amatlán and Lachatao.

Hacienda Wall

Hacienda Wall

Click on any photo to enlarge it   

The Friday hikers explored El Socorro, the first section of the Spanish ruins.

A sinuous highway (the highway signs said so!) led us through seemingly endless mountains that offered spectacular vistas. Local people navigate narrow gravel roads that zig-zag up the mountainsides to their villages.

Winding River, Winding Road

Winding River, Winding Road

After climbing to the mountaintop to pick up our guides in the tiny village of Amatlán, our excellent bus driver maneuvered to the valley floor on a dirt road that was clearly not designed for a school bus! He received a loud cheer and applause when we reached the fork where the hikers got off and started down the trail, while he continued on to a wide spot where he was faced with the daunting task of turning the bus around!

Our guides hopped off the bus and cleared rocks from the “road.”


Ruins of the Hacienda

Ruins of the Hacienda

Trout were visible lazing in the shadows of pools in the river, which  runs with clean, clear water.

Trout were visible lazing in the shadows of pools in the clean, clear waters of the Rio Papaloapam.

The pink blossoms decorated fat cactus in perfect circles.

Perfect circles of pink blossoms crown these fat cactus

Epiphytes grow anywhere and everywhere they can find a resting place. Some cactus favor the tops of old stone walls, while other prefer to just hang around.

Mountainside church

At the end of a long day of busing, hiking, and exploring…what could be better than relaxing and spending the night in a cabaña with a view!

Cabin with a View

For information on ecotourism in The Sierra Norte, and how YOU TOO could hike in these magnificent mountains and end your day in one of many charming cabañas:

Several of the photos in this blog were taken by my husband, David, who has become a hiker and photographer too!

Painted Churches

From tiny chapels to immense cathedrals, the colonial era churches of Mexico grace the central zócalo (plaza) of almost every Mexican pueblo and city.

After the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early 1500’s, the Spaniards began building churches, monasteries, and convents in every corner of Mexico. Some proved too grandiose for the amount of money available and were never finished. Others were destroyed in earthquakes or fell into ruin from neglect. However, many of these splendid structures served their congregations well for hundreds of years and have been lovingly restored and maintained.

The Oaxaca Valley is home to three of my favorites (so far). The architectural style is similar in all three, but their beauty was bestowed upon them by the artists who wielded the paintbrushes.

Saint Ana del Valle

Church of Saint Anne, Santa Ana del Valle

Church of Saint Anne, Santa Ana del Valle

Click on a picture to view as a slide show.

Santo Domingo de Ocotlán

Santo Domingo de Ocotlán: Ceiling

Santo Domingo de Ocotlán: Ceiling

Click on a picture to view as a slide show.

Santa Ana Zegache

Ahhh…I saved the best for last. There is nothing shy about this church!  Perhaps drenching the sculptured details with polychromatic colors was not part of the original designer’s vision, but the church wears them proudly. Looking at it just makes you feel happy.

Church in Santa Ana Zegache

Church in Santa Ana Zegache

Click on a picture to view as a slide show.

Famous Mexican artist Rodolfo Morales (1925 -2001) established a foundation that has provided ongoing work for the people of Zegache while restoring their church and its appointments. Read about this excellent program at www.proyectozegache.comSome Rodolfo Morales paintings are displayed in a museum next to the Santo Domingo Ocotlán church. For information and photos (before and after) of restorations:

Santa Ana Zegache: Interior Entrance

Santa Ana Zegache: Interior Entrance

Click on a picture to view as a slide show.

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