Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Where Maya Meets the Sea

December 26, 2007, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

It is known as the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It's also abbreviated as Cancun for the airport, city, and tourist strip that bring the dollars here. But it is really home to the Maya, an ancient people of great strength, artistry, and civilization, and it is now home to my youngest daughter, who has married a fine Maya man, and with whom she is expecting their first baby in April. Our day of celebration spanned December 24 and 25 this year, as we spent it with his family (my first in-laws!) in Opichen, a jungle village south of Merida, about 4 hours drive from their home (and dive shop) on the Caribbean coast at Puerto Morelos.

Yesterday, after our hearty partying the night before, and as my family back in Canada and the US celebrated with other loved ones, we toured a Maya ruins east of Opichen, a ruins that may never be fully excavated and among many other cultural differences, perhaps this one above all, struck me with its unfamiliarity. We stood high on the pyramid to see mounds and hills all around us, further buildings and structures belonging to this city (about 500 - 1050 AD), all clothed in rampant jungle greenery. My natural ( trained) industrially-bred mind expected that it was only a matter of time (not geologic time!) before the rest of the city would be uncovered, but when I asked about that, I was surprised at the answer. This is an important ruins, but is well off the beaten tourist path, and its excavation for that purpose may not justify the expense. If there is sufficient archeological interest, then perhaps, but suddenly the shift from "not if but when" to a simple "if", made all the difference and I began to see that the very idea of leaving an historical record to the depths of its jungle cover could be as natural to a different consciousness here, as not leaving it would be to us.

Touring the ruins, we were Crescent, William, and two of his little neices, Monica and Maria Jose, but we had an extraordinary experience there that you will see in the photos to the right...a slim irridescent green snake with his head in a hole was not hiding from us, as we first thought, but was engaged in capturing and then ingesting, whole and alive, a baby gecko! We watched spellbound for the entire process!

Back in Opichen, other culture shocks continued to bang up against my ignorance and my comfort levels, but beneath it all was a warmth, acceptance, and genuine delight in which I am now a member!

ps - try this map link to see the outlines of the Oxkintoc ruins:

and go here for the website of Crescent and William's new dive shop, Aquanauts Dive Adventures:

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