Cruising to the ruins in Santa Cruz d’Quiche and partying in San Marcos la Laguna


Santa Cruz d'Quiche

As I swallowed a last gulp of coffee, fortune produced Batman (aka Padme, the gringa), out of nowhere at the Solo Cafe. Totally out of character, this usually sour guide admired my Guipil and, even more amazingly, she freely gave me advice without scolding me for not knowing, already. Empowered by such unexpected pleasantries, I caught the next chicken bus for los Encuentros and transfered onto a “Bling Bus” for Chichicastenango.. NOTE: Batman alleges that fanciest vehicles are run by the drug cartels and, therefore, can afford to pay the extortionist’s prices. And, on the other hand, a bus could be so tricked out because their group is exacting tributes. Either way, this packed school bus -sqeezed us six abreast (yes, with children on laps) and hauled into the capital of the Department of Quiche in way under 2 hours. The tourist vans whined uphill in our wake.

Even borne on Bling Wings I would not be catching up with Joan Boccino and the Healer2Healer Jornada in Santa Cruz d’Quiche before dark.

Hungry from this utterly gripping ride, I found a Chapin Breakfast -eggs, beans, plantains, tortilla. Meanwhile, below the window a minivan marked “URL Ruins” lumbered to a halt and discharged a baker’s dozen of tiny “mujers en traje” -read: Women in traditional dress- onto the sidewalk. This handy van departs Santo Tomas plaza every 20 minutes and for a few Quetzals drives twenty minutes into Utalan and eventually drops seekers off at the short road to K’umarcaaj ruins.

On their face, these are not the most exciting ruins ever but the site offers a 360 view of the valley. But, you would hardly be unable to see the massive territory the Quiches ruled from this ancient capital. –
Santa Cruz d’Quiche is home of the National Book, the Popol Vuh, which was written in three parts: creation myths, a middle part that rules human sacrifice and probably kinship and the final part recalls pre-Columbian conquests of the Kakchiqueles and, the last chapter recounting the heroics of Tecum Uman, who valiantly fought the Spanish.

Tecum Uman defended against conquistadors

On top pine trees rock swooping garlands and flex in the high winds. For all this motion, the sound was immense but still. I stood centuries above a sacred fortress town so burnt that there was no sense of there being a stone upon a stone… This muffled majesty was tucked in under furrowed hills and all of this is edged by a wide, profound ravine. These ruins are sitting on a steep ledge. Somewhere there was talk of some tunnels -perhaps through a ravine wall. I preferred to view a few live altars; especially a large one down a very deep bank to a 40′ diameter sinkhole.

Furrows through the city burnt by Pedro de Alvarado 1524

With the rainy season coming the museum looks forever from being finished and if this is to be the next Tikal, the “excavation” better get cracking, pronto.

Back at the hotel a fistful of NYers werewaiting for a van; I was just in time to join the celebration of the Q’anil Collectiva. About forty adults and kids would dance to a mirambista orchestra led by a base and a drum – and all would share in a home made tipica feast. In the thrilling din, I began to distinguish the hosts from the colectiva. This night was for festivity and Pauline would give a speech and honor Fredric with a gift. The clinic would be closing the next afternoon. And, after everyone piled into the van heading for San Marcos la laguna and the airport it would be several months before they would meet again.

We took off at good speed, tooling along the crags going in the wrong direction. We we steaming for the state of San Marcos by the Mexican frontier instead of the lake town So, unlike the lightening Bling bus trip, we arrived in Pana seven and half hours later and certainly too late to get across the lake until the next day.

ONly about 45 minutes away from Panajachelm San Marcos is a time trip — narrow trails with dainty velvet shoe’d neo-hippies in beads and dreads paused at bulletin boards announcing “group re-birthing” and other more Spa like activities. The dust blew me back to the 1970’s ..all the way to the Lama Foundation’s New Mexico full moon dance.. In so many ways San Marcos’ buildings are as Bucky Fuller-esque, earth conscious, quaint but rarely are lake communities as coordinated as Ram Dass’ compound in the Gila wilderness.

One posada offered two kinds of pyramids: a sleeping space for four covered with tarpaper shingles (like a suburban gable) and a field of individual open air meditation spots under triangular 1/2″ pvc skeletons. Another place had installed murkey corrugated skylights and the fanciest one had I-beam frames footed and braced against the mountain, orthogonal lines, real smooth cement and a nice paint job. In San Marcos we would bake in a rough (crawl in) Mayan sauna and discuss the merits of the Spa Castle in Queens vs the NJ place. After the sweats, sleep was sound …until the Evangelicals produced their amplified bellow – piercing the first daylight.

So, six of us would begin the day much earlier than expected. The 1st order was to find a (quiet) space big enough to do Tai Chi — We tripped over each other stepping “crane” in a tiny clearing. As it was Joan’s birthday the day called for a pretty (if dear) breakfast, a tuktuk trip to a coffee finca, a tour of San Pedro and a boat ride back to San Marcos for the evening.

We would both miss the Orientalists and their professional speculations on the meaning of pulses, the market price of centipedes, which Tai Chi master produced quick results or the best time to go to either Spa Castle…

It was not quiet for long. After “team acupuncture” packed out, the Reike practitioners arrived for a night of music. At their table, the next morning we would meet Dr. Gato and and his assistant, Felix of Munich. Lots of woo woo ensued as this duo examined jades and crystals for different (psychic) values, read auras and discussed efficacy of their Bio-electric 4 hertz wand.

After my treatment I fully expected to open my eyes and see turquoise and silver rings, heishe beads and bracelets again on my hands. But, dang…I did feel better… Peace-Love

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Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

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