Saturday, February 12, 2005

som3th1ng just h@pp3n3d...

... i had never seen a machete wound before. another dark post.

the third world as we call it, has alot lot going on. all of the right wing folks who always talk a bout 'keeping the american lifstyle our own' and 'screw the other countries' really need to get on a plane and find that third level of reallity that lies past our borders and out in the real world.

in search of insight about myself i decided to go south. so south that i would lose the man i call deryke and find the man that i really am. the 'maya route' was my chosen path. this is the long string of ancient maya temples and palaces that dot southern mexico and guatemala. the 3000 year old structures that pre-date jesus are standing monuments to the human spirit and the fear of the gods that many of us still have today.

the maya people both prospered and suffered for the life that they held so dear and that is the essence of what most of us dont do on a regular basis. we are the gaudy gilded hood ornament of the world while they were the blood and fear driven v8 power house that made it all possible.

the maya temples dot the southern lands in the sam way that the calfornia missions dot the california landscape. it was a spiritual highway that one's soul would speed along to meet the sun god for dinner and a drink.

while in quintana roo i hooked up with a fellow traveler who was from canada. his name was 'guy' or 'gee' as froggies the croak. he was a tree planter from montreal. his was fresh out the canadian army and a tour in bosnia. with all of his non-offensive french canadian slang he would tell me of the suffering of the Bosnia people at the hands of their overlords. in between the tales of horror and suffering we would toke spliffs and talk about our favorite bands and rock out to reggae while we dreamed of the next primus show.

i had a plan to go to a place called yaxchitlan. this place sat square at the zenith of an ox-bow bend in the 'rio ucimacinta' that bordered guatemala with no official crossing. it was only accessible by plane or boat and i didn't have a plane to spare. with the help of my crazy northern friend i felt that the plan was now a possibility. he was game, actually this crazy bastard was game for anything. i like people like that. we whent out and bought machetes and camping supplies for a dangerous trip in to the dense mexican jungle where no one can here you whine.

we needed to make it to a place called 'frontera corazol'. the heart of the border didn't exactly stand up to its name. it was a town that was littoral cut out of the jungle in the name of commerce. it wasn't even a town yet. it was just a tiny dirt grid cut in the jungle. the town was full of barefoot dirty kids, scared mestizo women, and drunks that lived in the rough even to rural southern mexico standards.

it was nightfall and two guys from the north were a huge target in a place like this because we were so deep in the bush that the people were no longer mexican they were maya. they had the same face that were carved in stone and immortality in grand effigies to the heavens. they were they subjugated descendants of kings and noblemen and they were not to be trifled with.

at the end of town we found a family that had a cabanita for us to stay in for the night before we bought a dug out canoe and jumped into the river to test our luck against the green serpent god that ruled the waters. the children were young an knew nothing of guys like us and never would they would live their live here in the shadows of giants and protect the stories of the land the kings from people just like us.

the morning gave us a 20 dollar dugout boat and a calm river to navigate safely. the howler monkeys in the trees on the river bank heckled us with reckless abandon while we slowly sucked in what would be a once in a lifetime discovery of the wild wild south. as we hit ground at the site we were greeted by some stunned on looker from the north and some equally unimpressed local caretaker that had already heard of us through the mayan internet. when the canoe hit ground and we jumped out it sank like a rock. we both looked at it in awe. the caretakers helped up drag it out of the river and paid us ten bucks for it. we took it and went up to see who was in charge. to our surprise it was under no control it was just the jungle and since we were just tourists we could stay as long as we wanted with no payment at all.

the campground was a strange mix of us, two twenty something goofs from nowhere, and some of the most brilliant minds in archaeology from boston college, UCLA, Penn, and the unversidad de mexico. they were there to visit the ancient burial caves uncovered at this newly discovered set of ruins in the middle of nowhere. me and gee spent the day chasing down giant inguanas, smoking mota while running wild in the yards, and eating tuna on chips. the caretaker said they would take us to the new sites that were just discoverd and show us the scope of the dig. it was so awesome it brought a tear to my eye. to this very day i may never feel so i awe of anything.

we spend a couple of days there and got back to frontera corazol on the dime of the archaeologists that seemed to be enamored by the magnitude of out intrepid spirits. we were just hungry for adventure and a knowledge of the greatest places on earth.

when we got back to the cabin we were staying at we found an empty house with only a 9 year old in charge to let us in. this was puzzling and a lil freighting. who would leave such beautiful children alone to fend for themselves in a crazy place like this and why? the kids were told to give us the cabin for the night and give us food. they were mindful children and did just that.

after dinner the kids were especially alive and playful. they were playing keep away with a bunch of pictures. thier faces had the look of devilish mischief. finally i said that they needed to chill before someone got hurt (that was the adult in me talking) and they gave me the picture and then sat down on the ground around us as if to see our faces while we took a look. the pictures were of a man and a woman who had been partially decapitated and crudely wounded with a machete. both bodies laid face down in their own blood with huge chunks of meat laying beside their lifeless corpses. the pictures showed them from all angles an with all the descriptiveness of a legal document. the children explained that last night the mantally retarded adult son of a woman had been drinking and killed his mother and her lover out of a jealous and child-like rage. here in the jungle there are no police and the town must govern themselves. the mother and father of the children were in charge of documenting the crime scene and escorting them to the proper authorities. that was why the kids were there. it was either stay at home with us or on a 7 hour bus ride with a mentally challenged killer. i think they made the best choice.

me and gee were dumbfounded and amazed at the events and thought to ourselves that we were lucky to have the lives that we do. the jungle is no place for the faint of heart. i looked at the innocent faces of the children as they finished the story and ran off to get ready for bed and brush their teeth like little brown angles. they truly were made of the stuff of kings and this was their land and we were just visitors that were playing in the shadows of giants.

'tan cuidado tourista. tan cuidado' ... out of the mouths of babes.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATION: i drew this drawing 5 days before the story at a set of ruins named 'palenque'. the structure is called 'el palacio de los reys'. i was sitting on the 'templo del sol' to get the view.