On the quiet continuation of a Centro street in Oaxaca, I come across the ruins of an old aqueduct. Weeds spring out of the top of worn brick and stone arches that once carried water from the mountains to the city. Houses are built right up against the aqueduct. I’m not sure how there is room left for it in Oaxaca, but there is even more charm and quaintness in this part of town.
Walking along the aqueduct, for a brief moment I feel like I’m in a previous era. It’s more than the structure’s relic status. There’s the rustic nature of the materials used and the roundness of the arches. These are elements that are often forgone in more modern creations but constitute a kind of beauty that is simple and timeless. The structure is of a period where function and beauty were allowed to intermingle more regularly.
As I continue, I think about the ongoing water shortage in Oaxaca. I wonder what it might have been like to walk along the aqueduct when it was in use, beginning in the mid-1700s and almost 200 years thereafter. I wonder if such visibility of the flow of water makes you think more about its source, how it’s used, and how much of it there is.
I wonder about the people who currently live their lives up against this beautiful relic. Those who walk and drive through the arches daily. I wonder if it’s just a bunch of stone and brick to them or if it’s as gorgeous to them as it is to my unfamiliar eyes. I wonder if everyday they are enchanted by Los Arquitos and tickled when they duck to walk through doors behind arches.