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View Diary: Yes, the Maya are Very Much Alive (19 comments)

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  •  I long ago gave up explaining to people (4+ / 0-)

    That I have met plenty of Maya in my tavels. They spoke little Spanish; we smiled and gestured a lot.  We communicate the way most humans do: non-verbally, with our eyes, our hands, bodies and ultimately, with our hearts.

    The Maya are alive indeed.

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 09:17:52 PM PST

    •  I've met many as well (5+ / 0-)

      A highlight of a visit to Mexico in the late 80s was a brief trip to San Juan Chamula, a small Mayan Village outside of San Cristobal de las Casas. Our guide, a woman named Mercedes, only took us to the village after giving us proper scrutiny. She'd been burned by culturally intolerant and stereotypically crass US tourists, and since she had grown up in the village, she only took people who she was sure wouldn't do or say anything to offend the villagers—who were, after all, her friends.

      It was eye opening in many ways, and I'll never forget watching quietly from the shadows as a Mayan shaman conducted a healing ceremony for a sick woman and her child in an old church. The pews had been removed and the floor of the church was strewn with pine needles. Thick copal incense smoke wafted through the air as the shaman sat with a chicken and  took ceremonial drinks from two bottles—one filled with posh (a sugar cane liquor) and the other Coca-Cola. The Maya are syncretists, having incorporated Christianity into their pre-Columbian spiritual beliefs, so the addition of Coca-Cola in to their rituals didn't seem jarring at all.

      Mercedes then told us about how a US couple had stormed out of the church, interrupting a similar healing ceremony and loudly complaining about how it wasn't "Christian." That was when she started being very particular about who she took on her tours.

      But what still sticks out most in my mind is when Mercedes took us to visit two elderly sisters. They lived in a home made of mud brick, and we had to duck to enter. Their home was about as large as an average US bathroom. Inside they had some kitchen implements, a small table the size of a stool, and a rug or two. With Mercedes translating, we talked to them about their lives, and they offered us food and were extremely warm and welcoming.

      It was humbling beyond anything I had ever experienced—meeting these kind Mayan women living a life so spartan and so alien to our lives of luxury, and having them offer us food and a space to sit in their tiny home. After a while, we said our goodbyes, and went back to our spacious gringo hotel.

      But I was never the same after that visit. I try to remember those Mayan women whenever I find myself feeling like I don't have enough money or gadgets or my house isn't big enough or my car is too old and junky.

      I wish everyone could visit those women, and I wish I could thank Mercedes for that life-changing visit.

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