Tim Becomes a Mayan Priest
You hook your hands in your heavy gold belt, your flashing chestpiece weighing heavily on your shoulders, your headdress waving to the sky. Beneath you hordes fill the plain in front of your temple complex.
“We the Children of Itzaman, the lord of heaven and earth, gather here in the Fourth Cycle of Time, the Fourth katun! These captives” – the conquered Teotihuacans are flung to their knees – “could not stand against our might, against our destiny! Now they will serve the god of the new year katun, that our cycle may continue!”
The crowd roars, the noise building in anticipation, as the sword is raised…
I’m just saying, you stand up on top of that temple and look down, you get a sense of what some old Mayan muckety-muck must have felt with the rush of power in his head, figuring he led the people central to the cycle of time and all that. Though I don’t know how he climbed up there in his kilt without looking like a right idiot to everyone downskirt. Mayan temples and palaces were covered with pictures and statues of captives. Mayans fetishized the captive form, forced to kneel, and above all the moment of decapitation. Whereas our culture fetishizes sex. Pick your poison.
They Say You’ve Got to Lose a Couple Fights to Win
In Which Joe Gets Lost
So there I was, following Tim out of San Cristobal, when suddenly! I saw his sunglasses fall off his motor. Knowing that he only had these sunglasses, I stopped and ran back for them. Alas, I got there just in time to see them die an instantaneous death under the tires of a rather large truck. Mournfully, I ran back to my bike and sped to catch up, as Tim hadn’t notice me stop.
Thus started a real comedy of errors.
Tim, looking behind, noticed he lacked some Joe behind him. Dutifully, he turned around to see what had happened.
Now, this story would be over if we hadn’t been in a construction zone around a couple of bridges at a critical intersection in our ride. Yeah, we did something to upset the travel gods. As it was, we both did a couple of loops around the construction area and both checked both roads, but managed to totally miss the other rider. Ten minutes later, we were separately facing the same decision.
Now, I think this shows our real opinion of the other’s abilities, and Tim has some explaining to do. I decided that Tim was probably going to wait at the next Pemex, so I headed to the next town. Tim decided that if he couldn’t see me, I probably couldn’t survive, so he headed back to San Cristobal to see if I was in the hospital, morgue, or jail. Nice vote of confidence.
Tim got a hotel and found Internet, so he wrote me an email saying where he was and that I should come join him. Noticing that the next Pemex was forever away, I also stopped for Internet, leaving my motor in a highly visible place.
I don’t know what we did to the travel gods, but me oh my were they ticked at us. My email, after I had checked it for a month along the entire depth of Mexico, decided that there was suspicious activity and it needed to shut down. It locked me out for 24 hours from the last time I had logged in, so I couldn’t get Tim’s messages.. Wow, thanks gmail. I now had no means of communication, and as Tim carried the cash and I had spent my last bit on gas, I was officially SOL.
Knowing that Tim would never have left the Pemex, I returned to the site of our separation, confident that Tim would be waiting at the crossroads. I assumed that he assumed that I had taken the wrong road. Actually, he assumed I was dead and was checking with the city and state cops, and checking for an email, which I was still locked out of.
It got dark, so I camped out. Tim found a place to camp in the city for 100 pesos. In the morning, I checked the area again, then drove to Ocosingo. No Tim at the Pemex, so I found an Internet cafe. Thank the Lord, my email worked, as evidenced by several emails of increasing concern from Tim.
Ed: “Increasing concern” is one way to put it. The emails may or may not have included words such as “police”, “find your body by the morning light”, “call the embassy”, and “cosmically stupid”.
I wrote him back saying that I would stay at the Pemex until either I died or he showed up.
And so I’m sitting, and to pass the time I told my story to a kid and a gas station attendant. “Mi hermano es perdido a mi,” I said sadly. The kid felt bad for me and gave me a doughnut. After telling the attendant (in very broken Spanish) the details and that Tim would be here in a couple of hours (I hope), he said I could wait in the shade.
And so here I sit, and to pass the time I wrote this, with my thumbs, on my iPod.
And happily, thirty minutes after I finished writing, Tim showed up. And there was great rejoicing.
Tim Adds a Few Comments
After doing my own circling and waiting and emailing, I went to the hospital. A guard helped me out. He asked, “What’s your nacionality?” “US.” “You’re a gringo?” I wasn’t thrilled about being called a gringo. “You’re a gringo? Yes? Your accent is so clear.” I forgave him for calling me a gringo. It also helped that Joe’s body wasn’t there.
Later that night, after more waiting, I checked with the cops. “I’m looking for my brother.” They were helpful and sympathetic. They asked reassuringly, “Your missing brother’s a man though, right?” I said, “Yeah, he’s 22, but he only has 100 pesos, and he’s kind of stupid.” “Don’t worry, you’ll find him!” Thanks anyway.
On the bright side, I found a book by Octavio Paz for which I’ve searched all through Mexico, so my classics reading project is back on, and I got to eat a meal on a beautiful plaza in San Cristobal. Which I delighted in telling Joe. Though, for the record, it turned out he had not been cosmically stupid.
They Say That This is Where the Fun Begins
After we finally met back up, we went to the ruins of Tonino. More pictures below!
Tomorrow we’ll hit up the ruins of Palenque. To end this long post, here’s a short video we made while camping out as we headed into Chiapas, the state we’re in now.
A few notes: I call the stuff “mexcali” – it’s “mezcal” or “mezcali”. We got half a Coke bottle for 20 pesos. The fire is about as big as your hand spread out. You can’t see in the dark after I turn off the flashlight, but I’m taking a small mouthful of this potent stuff and spitting it into the fire.
Below is a picture of our campsite, where we filmed this, which had cow dung and nettles and cactic and donkeys trotting up a la Shrek to bray at us in the morning. We thought it was perfect.
Peace out for now!