Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mayan Equinox

In Birdland it's suddenly balmy, but we are not in Birdland. My middle boy, Dylan is home while Ellis and I are traveling.We have come to the Yucatan to visit our friends, Heidi and Chris, and their lovely daughter, Gabriella. We flew first into Mexico City, circling, circling. As we decended, we could see green trees, and thought of the bare branches we left at home. The city held various textures and colors, with distinctive palms and the more familiar shapes of deciduous trees. Scattered throughout the city were trees in full, purple bloom. From above they looked like a purple variety of brocolli, but I should never be amazed to see color in Mexico.

My bag first went missing in Mexico City, but we were assured in a mixture of Spanish and English that we would be reunited with it on our last leg, in Cancun. It was there that we discovered that our bags had been mismarked way back in Indy, where our journey started. For the next three days we would be haunted by someone else's bag marked with my name, while mine dodged my best attempts at reconciliation.

We are staying in a sweet guest house in Heidi's back yard where weare collecting ideas for Birdland improvements: a composting toilet, a sleeping hammock, a solar shower, a bamboo grove. I'm not sure we can import the coconut or banana trees to our northern climate. The yard is fenced with a high wall, topped by the traditional broken glass bottles, which Gabriella tells me sparkle when lit, artificially, or by the sun. The back garden contains a variety of tropical plants, but also a few temperate ones, like sorrel.

They also have a rooftop garden, with tomatoes, chard, arugula, and eggplant. Our first Mexican meal was a pasta dish with gorgonzola and arugula that our friends had cooked for the long drive from the airport. I had always eaten my aruglaraw in salads, but cooked it was delicious, heartier than spinach, with just a hint of the smoky peppery flavor that I love in my salad. In Birdland, arugula is a crop that grows well, and now I'll have something more to do with the abundance this summer.

On the Equinox we got up at 4:30 to go to the Mayan ruins at Dzibilchaltun to see the sunrise. On the equinox the sun aligns to illuminate briefly a window set in the stone wall. We were, apparently, not the only people with this idea, and we joined thousands of people making slow progress toward the ruins, while the sky gradually lightened. The line moved slowly, and we sang soflty, “here comes the sun,” hoping to make it past the gates before it slipped over the horizon. By the time we had the stone window in view, the sky was so bright I thought we had surely missed the sunrise, but no. We found a place with a good view, behind thousands of other people, and waited. We saw a gradual brightening of a distinct spot in the sky, but it was not centered on the equinox window. Gabriella asked a

worker who was intent on keeping people off of a particular patch of grass, and he told us that this far away from the window, you had to stand in a very specific spot for viewing. Turns out, perspective is very important for this expedition. We hurried about 30 yards to the left before we could see the sun aligned with the window. By then it had slipped up over the top of the stones, but was still spectacular. The moon, of course, was coming down from full, and getting ready to set. As we drove home, toward an early morning siesta before breakfast, I thought of Dylan and the dogs in Birdland enjoying the same moon.

Align in Peace; Survey Beauty; Blessed Be.


  1. Sounds like a marvelous time! Wish I could be there! Hi to Heidi! Post photos, please! <3

  2. I wish you could have joined us, too. Next time!