It’s early in the morning but the sun is already sharp above us, the air clear. We’re among the first onto the grounds of Monte Albán that day, which I like, because the grassy plains between the pyramids stretch out empty before me. What I imagine as a once-busy square is now abandoned like the city itself was about a thousand years ago.

We scale the pyramids, shoes disturbing tufts of grass that have made a home amid the rocks. We look out at the flattened ridge top before us. How did they do that? We walk around the edge of the city and look out over the valley below. How did they build a city, up here?

And why did they leave?

What remains: monuments to a human past that is not entirely knowable, though it is ours. What has changed? Or are we fundamentally as they – we – are?

I don’t know; our technology has changed but we humans still rise and fall. Ascend and crash. Create amazing things and watch them fall to pieces, or destroy it all ourselves.

So, people built this place about 2,500 years ago, and people lived there for maybe about 2,000 years. Imagine that stretch of time and imagine the thousand years since. And their work is still standing, physically, and perhaps also in all of us. Maybe it’s how we are.

There are things I cannot change, and so we left to find a coffee shop and live.

Monte Albán 1 Monte Albán 2 Twisted Tree, Monte Albán View of Oaxaca from Monte Albán Little Daisies, Monte Albán Monte Albán Detail Monte Albán 3 Monte Albán 4