This is for the folks who thought we might have disappeared on the Usumacinta River. And those who are just curious about how it's turning out.
Sorry for losing communications for a few days. We were on the road and having too much fun to go online, which says a lot about our state of mind.
No podcasts yet. Nicco may facilitate some when he gets back. Here's an update:
On Wednesday night we ftp'd back files of our conversation in Palenque with Ed Barnhart, to Nicco's editor Ed back in D.C. Then Thursday we went to Yaxchilan and Bonampak - high point atop the Acropolis at Yaxchilan when Nicco broke out in a recitation of a stunningly apt poem that he'd memorized 10 years ago:
COULD THIS BE IT?
Transfiguration. Consider it from where you stand.
Overnight the cold, cloudy wet spell was lifted, and
you wake beneath a Byzantine blue dome of glass:
golden birds--red hearts in their musical breasts--
overflow the oak leaves with echoes, a frenzy
of possession that fractures into small squabbles as
two redbreasted nuthatches struggle for dominion
in a sapling oak -- its leaves emerald tesserae in which
sunlight glows. Suddenly, the leaves look back at you
looking up at their broad, light-lapping faces, morning
riding your shoulders like a pet monkey, and all is pause
for a cracked moment of amazement, mutuality, until
you walk on into woodshade, flapping mosquitoes away.
by Eamon Grennan
Out of our heads with the moment and our presence in it. Deep contentment on the ride in the lancha to and from Yaxchilan, and with the photos of the ancient Maya mooring stones on the river shore, at Ron Canter's request. Hey Ron - I discovered a dozen new ones in about 10 minutes!
Friday we rode the winding road up to San Cristobal de las Casas, wandered the nearly empty streets that night past the 16th century cathedrals, heard great live music in the club Latino's, and slept in my house on the hill. Saturday up to Chamula to see the pine needle-carpeted, candlelit and icon-filled church, full of chanting Maya townfolk. Then some serious shopping for weaving and amber in SCLC before we hopped back on a bus and arrived back here in Palenque at 10pm. Cut a deal with a taxi driver to come out to Panchan at 4:30am so Nicco could catch an 8am flight from Villahermosa to Houston to New York, then an evening train (this evening) back to D.C.
It's the beginning of Semana Santa here, and getting crazy with tourists, backpackers, and Mexican folks on vacation. So it was not surprising, only fitting, when a young local kid stumbled out of the jungle as we waited for the pre-dawn cab. "Is there a disco here?" he asked. No, not now. "La feria se termino?" Yes the party was over. Nicco laughed with satisfaction that this was his adios to Palenque, and rode off in his cab to Villahermosa and home. He had 2300 emails to answer on his plane flight back today. But he was definitely relaxed.
I went back to sleep on Ed's floor until 7am. Ed went off on heirophany patrol (searching for lighting effects built in to the temples for this equinox sunrise) and returned with photos of the Temple of the Sun pinspots to the back corners. I headed up to the site to see easily five times as many people as I had ever seen in the ruins. Fortunately I ran into Alfonso Morales, old friend, archaeologist and rascal. He was taking a tour group through the ruins, so I tagged along and recorded his typically entertaining and informed lecture. (Possible podcast to come).
On the way out I saw Hun Batz Men, a Maya shaman of the New Age variety, and his followers, in the shade of a ceiba tree in the plaza. Luna Joy was conducting crystal skull ceremonies, showing people how to amplify their energies by holding two of the softball sized skulls together jaw to jaw, sometimes as a bridge between their midriffs. Serious faces, no signs from the joined couples, but Luna Joy seemed confident it was working. She took a moment from her work to offer a brief explanation (another podcast moment?)
I walked out through the crowds, tour buses and sellers of water, soda, Gatorade and souvenirs, determined to catch the 2:15 bus back up to San Cristobal. I knew Semana Santa was a bad time to travel but I was still surprised to find the only available seat on the 11pm bus tonight. So I write this back at Don Mucho's restaurant at Panchan, on good wireless and listening to ranchero music over a bowl of pasta. Looks like another jungle evening with travelers, music and firedancers around the bar, under the thatched roof which strangely never catches fire. The fire extinguisher onstage is new this year.
That's today's sketch of an amazingly deep and hilarious voyage by this gringo and his now departed pal Nicco. Que le vaya bien, hombre!
More from cold country, including these long-promised podcasts and clips. Nicco may post some and I'll post some others. I'll provide the links and further adventures.Posted by Dave at March 20, 2005 04:29 PM