Blog Title Photo

Blog Title Photo

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Merida


From a flat jungle, a city of limestone rose, clustered about a pyramid. A mountain, it towered above the Mayan world, their people, their highways, temples, their scorpions, jaguars, and precious water in deep springs. Into sacred cenotes the Maya threw votive statues of gold, and bones of souls sacrificed to Quetzalcoatl, their god.

Sacrifices became so prevalent that throwing bones into the sources of drinking water was deemed unwise. Skulls were later stacked in another place, at the Temple decorated with a thousand carvings, . . . of skulls.

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The quetzal, a jungle bird with long tail feathers still lives in these parts.

Quetzalcoatl half bird half-serpent, in divine manifestations had a manly aspect, and and during the late Maya, was as demanding of blood as the God of Hummingbirds, to whom the Aztecs built temples in Central Mexico.

When He rises in the morning He is pale, and demands blood, and at night He goes to sleep gorged on the sang of his victims.”

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Adjacent to the pyramid the ball court, two parallel stone walls fifty yards apart, reflect every whisper. A yoke of stone surmounts the center of each wall. Adorned in feathers and wearing protective armament, the players of the violent sport, something of a combination between lacrosse and soccer, competed to pitch a small rubber ball through one of the stone rings without using their hands. The teams vied with each other for victory in front of the Gods, and the winning team was sacrificed. They changed it . . . as power shifted from Gods to men . . the losing team was sacrificed.

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The sun down here can be blinding. The pyramid is extremely steep, and is the only edifice of any height for hundreds of miles. You climb to the sun, creator and executioner of all life. A flint or stone axe flashes from the sky, a head severed sends a red shower of blood, radiant in the blinding light, creating a rainbow spray of colors, a refractive warm salty mist. The rainbow apparition that hovered in the air was believed to be Quetzalcoatl.

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At the top of the pyramid many of the stone steps are lose, they wobble, and are very uneven, and I'm sure that many, Westerners have taken an awful roll down the entire staircase. I listened to the yells of English and German tourist women, pleading for someone to help them get up or down. Typically people start climbing the thing, and then once they are aware of how steep it is they begin climbing on all fours, and somewhere further up they freeze and flatten out like worms onto the face of the serrated pitch.

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Merida is the retail mecca of the Yucatan. A downtown Macy's, hundreds of shoe stores, Mayan girls in high heels, narrow sidewalks, crowded shop lined streets. Sears is here doing a big business in washer dryers. The market is quite close. Red strong looking onions, radishes, melons, mangoes of endless variety, papayas, other sweet fruits too numerous to mention. Bananas, tomatoes, fish of every hue taken from the nearby sea. Blue-fin, tuna, shark, grouper, ray, eels. The indigena women sit on blankets with piles of chilies in front of them.

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 - At the guest house, courtyard, slotted with shutters, veiled by mosquito netting, yellow pearl marble stairs curving right and left up to the second floor balcony past two hairy marble lions with curly manes, a slim Mexican proprietor pads about in plastic thongs, this sound echoes throughout the house. On the second landing I met a Danish bespectacled tall kid carrying a knapsack. Said he got laid in Zipolite on the Pacific coast, actually used the words, 'I recommend it highly.'

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A couple of American girls have gotten so broke they've stayed on at this place week after week, because moving around cost money. They got lazy and slovenly in their dress, and sometimes padded about with hardly anything on. Had frequent conversations with them as they sat spread legged airing their crotchy parts not in the least caring that I saw all their secrets. Got used to this after a while.

One day they locked themselves out of their room, down a dark dingy passage along the first floor, where horses were kept in the old days. I played with the lock using a coat hanger, and one of their hairpins, with a screwdriver borrowed from the proprietor. They hung from my shoulders entreating me not to give up. My probing into the lock became an exploration of many other things, when finally the catch spring yielded and the wooden crate of a door swung open to a haven of musty sheets and clothes they bounced in and shut the door after me quite worried that the proprietor would catch them, that he was very particular about ‘what went on’.

I could do nothing else except run the tools back to their proper places.

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