Monday, April 18, 2011


In Birdland the grass must be greening up, and bulbs will be sending up leaves of various shades and shape—the bright spring green of Day Lilies and the darker forest green of Ghost Lilies. The daffodils may even be blooming, their

yellowdresses dancing in the chilly breeze.

In the Yucatan we have made an expedition to another Mayan ruin, Mayapán. It is a warm, sunny day with a bright blue sky with a few buoyant clouds floating above the massive

pyramids. We have brought a large umbrella to guard against sunburn.

The stone buildings are dark against the open sky and we begin to tour the ancient city. We approach one of the pyramids and some people are nearby, in snowy white shirts and brightly colored pants and skirts, with colored sashes of cotton tied around their heads. They have small clay pots of incense burning. It smelled to me like Sage, but my friend, Heidi, says, no, it's something else. They ask us in Spanish if we'd like to be purified, and we each stand still while the aromatic smoke washes over us. The man who gave me the blessing had a stocky build and a soft voice. He asked me my name, and when I told him, he began speaking softly, my name woven into his words as he circled the incense in front of me, behind me, and all around. Periodically, he would sprinkle more herbs into his bowl and the coals would spark and flare. He pauses to ask me to lift my arms and then passed the bowl of smoke beneath them. I am bathed in the earthy aroma. All the while, a smiling man photographed us. I thank my benefactor and turn to see Heidi, herhead bowed, a woman with a white blouse and a skirt the color of tangerines speaking softly, both hands on top of Heidi's head. She pulls her hands away suddenly, and gives them a little shake. Heidi looks up and smiles. We continue our walk, and the people progress through the ruins, stopping to bless each building, chanting and playing long notes on a conch trumpet. Later, we see them from the top of the biggest pyramid, a parade of color and sound winding through the ancient city.

We chose a flat rock with a little shade at the edge of the settlement for our picnic lunch of putanesca, which Heidi introduced as a “a dish with a story.” The story is that it is pastawith a sauce that the putas would make after a hard night's work. Whatever they had in their cupboards would go in the sauce, and all good women would have olive oil, garlic, anchovies, peppers. It was delicious, and we passed around bottles of tamarind water, a tart drink, like lemonade. Nearby the procession entered a barrel shaped building and we could hear the solemn music and smell the incense. As we ate, a strange tree caught my eye, with small green balls growing directly from the trunk, like a stalk of Brussels Sprouts. “Papaya,” said Heidi. They were small, yet. After our lunch we continued our tour.

The weathered stones were once covered with some kind of plaster and painted with pictures. Only a few scraps of the murals remain, and we visited those, now protected with a roof of thatch. The ochre and turquoise paint is faded, and the figures are hard to make out, but the scraps helped us imagine what the pyramids once looked like. We found some columns of stones stacked in rough layers of various sizes and colors.

One wall had a face carved in large blocks. Someone had left an offering of bougenvilla flowers, the bright pink lovely against the sandy colored stone.

We finished our tour and thought about the beauty of the stones and the flowers and the people. The smell of incense lingered as we walked quietly back to the car, and we felt pure and whole and sanctified.

Climb in Beauty; Consecrate Peace; Blessed Be.

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