Goodbyes and Mayan Calendars

Guatemala Day 7

Yesterday I got up a bit early by 6:00 and enjoyed my normal routine with the dogs, coffee and writing. I went up the path to the Town Centre and picked up a couple of granola bars at a bodega. Zeus followed me up there, but Shanti took her time and found her own things to do closer to the house and LaPaz. I secured a TukTuk and headed up the mountain to pick up Julia and go to Nadja’s house.

Nadja’s house was already alive and kicking at 8:15 AM. Pete had spent the night, as well as the usual suspects: Maryjann, Nadja and Josh. Shadow, the dog there, greeted me by wagging its tail and rubbing its body against my legs.

Maryjann and Pete were enjoying a HUGE breakfast Maryjann had prepared and Josh and Nadja were getting the last of their things together and jokingly accusing the other of taking so long to get ready.

Andrew arrived shortly and we took our leave of Maryjann and Pete, heading down the dock to catch a boat to Pana. The boat was so full that Julia and I had to sit on the rear, where the engine is mounted and the driver operates. It’s a bit scary being so exposed back there, but it provides an exciting, freeing sensation when the boat is at speed and the water of the lake is only inches away rushing by at about 20 mph.

A few stops later and we arrived at Pana, where our first stop was the travel agency near the docks. Nadja and Josh confirmed their reservations for a noon departure and left their bags with the staff. We began walking towards town and Nadja reported that it was the best travel agency in town. She had frequently changed her reservations and the manager simply said, “Ci, its bien” every time without a complaint or hesitation. Andrew beat me to the response, guessing aloud that there likely was no reservation – they just hoped they had enough room for everyone when they showed up. It wasn’t as if they had an elaborate computerized booking system. He went on and on in his own special way that he does, going into intricate detail about how the minds of the operators must think, and how the business functions, with occasional bits with incredulous unlikelihoods … and on and on, until somebody finally tells him, “Andrew, enough.”

Our first stop was Cafe Crossroads where three of the same regulars were sitting at the bar again. Dave is about my age and a Latin-American Studies graduate student living in Austin, TX, but visiting Pana for a few weeks. Camo-pants guy is about 20 and is a font of knowledge, and like Andrew, has a tendency to take hostages if you enter conversation with him. Though his conversations tend to be about topics you’d hear from the geeky kids in high school who played Magic The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons. Aside from the cam pants, he wears a black t-shirt warning of a zombie revolution and giving a website address. He has what I’m guessing to be neck-length, straight black hair, except it’s tied up to the top of his head, where it sprouts out like a mushroom – just like Pebbles’ hair, Fred and Wilma’s daughter in the Flintstones. Then there is the Sally Struthers look-alike, and being this is the 3rd world, who knows – perhaps it is – though this Sally has tended to her diet a little better. I’ve noticed she always orders a coffee and a piece of carrot cake – she’s my type of gal. She talks of things like her home in California and her apartment in Pana, and how the filtered water in the large bottles is too heavy for her to life and she has to fetch her building caretaker to mount it for her.

Julia wasn’t with us on our last visit to the cafe, but its clear right away that she’s known Mike for a while. They begin chatting and Mike is preparing a package to send to an old traveling buddy in the Netherlands. Julia’s agreed to take it to her on her next trip back later this month.

Nadja and Josh each order the New York Special, which appears to be a latte of sorts, with some chocolate topping, served in a bowl. It’s really the bowl that makes it special – I’ve never seen coffee served in a bowl before! We all enjoy our coffees and cake items and head out for one last picture, that Dave, the graduate student, agrees to take for us.

Next stop, the bank, where Josh cashes in a large quantity of 1 Q coins. To those of us left outside waiting I retell the story of the TukTuk driver who ran over a man’s foot and then proceeded to chase him down the street while his TukTuk sat blocking this intersection during our last visit.

Josh appeared from inside the bank and we headed down the market street towards the docks, looking for their favorite deli. Josh queries the group – who has to go to the bathroom? We have to plan it out accordingly, because every time we’re there if too many people in our group ask to use the bathroom they suddenly tell us they’re out of water. Three of the group reply with an affirmative, and they devise the best plan is to simply ask if they have water before asking for the bathroom. I find this all quite comical and ridiculous, but these are the strange rules a gringo in Pana has to learn.

I ordered my traditional Granola con Yogurt with banana and honey. Josh gets the breakfast burritos, Nadja orders a salad and Julia gets the vegetarian chili. Andrew orders only a cookie. The space is kind of cool – there’s a large tree growing up in the center of the building, with the seating area situated around its perimeter.

We depart and head back towards the docks to the travel agency. We’re a bit early for their shuttle, so Nadja and Julia begin examining some of Nadja’s skirts she’s making with the locals. Julia went so far as to try one of them on and parade it in front of us. A couple of the dock men didn’t seem to mind.

The shuttle arrived a short while later and we said our goodbyes. Andrew was particularly emotional, as so many of his friends have left in the last few days. I was sad, as I won’t see Josh again any time soon. He is going to stop in Minneapolis for a week, but I will still be on vacation in Puerto Vallarta during that time. After that he’s going to be on an organic farm near the Minnesota and South Dakota border for the summer. I’m certain we’ll meet again when the time is right.

Julia, Andrew and I took our separate ways. Andrew back into town for errands and Julia to the hardware store and internet cafe. I headed to the docks to catch a lift back to San Marcos.

Back in San Marcos I stopped in at the Internet Cafe for a moment and then made way for LaPaz for the lunch special – a bean and tofu dish with rice and salad. Their meals are really very good and I always enjoy the ladies in the kitchen.

While in Pana Josh told of a man in San Marcos who could tell you about what your birth date could reveal when examined on the Mayan calendar. Josh said that his meeting with the man was very interesting, and the man was “dead-on” in many regards. A bit skeptical, I got the details and met this man, Jesus, or “Chuice” in the indigenous Ketcheqal language, at his place of business near LaPaz. I gave the man my birth date and time of birth and we setup a time to meet a little later that evening.

I returned to Casa de Benjamin for a siesta and woke in time to return to the Holistic Center for my meeting. We met in a sparse, newly remodeled room with only two chairs and a small table. He began by showing me the Mayan cross with the various energies laid our according to my birthday and what they meant. One of the primary energies represents the feminine, or passive role. My energy also represents the Mother Earth. He said that I could probably relate my life experiences to the experiences the Earth was having – with inhabitants taking from the Earth and offering little in return, the disaster in the gulf, storms, etc. I asked how this ancient civilization was able to sense these energies and measure them, and why weren’t we able to do so today? He said that the Mayans were physically different, with their heads elongated with differently shaped, and larger, brains. He said it was likely they were able to physically sense the energies. With that ability, they were able to map out the cosmos and predict when planets would align, solstices and equinoxes would occur, etc. The Hollywood hype about the end of the world in 2012 is just that – hype, he said. According to the Mayan calendar, it simply just the beginning of the next period on the calendar. He had a word for it, but I don’t recall it – something like the next century, or the next millennium.

He spent nearly two hours with me in total and I enjoyed my time with him. He explained to me that he is what’s called a Mayan Timekeeper – a keeper of records. He’s part of a larger organization of people like himself and suggested further reading if I was interested. The biggest take-away I got from our meeting was that my next birthday, according to the Mayans, is on July 24th – just a couple of weeks away. I’ll be in Puerto Vallarta. He encouraged me to do something special for myself that day, and to pray and meditate – this will be my opportunity to start a new cycle of my life, he said. Skeptic or not, I’ll give it a shot.

It was 7:00 PM by this time and I headed over to LaPaz for the dinner special. There were a number of people hanging out there, getting ready for a talent show that the yoga retreat had planned. They invited us non-yogis to come watch, so Vanessa, Rico and myself went with.

I hadn’t seen it before, but through the jungle paths at LaPaz, there is a large round meeting area with a concrete floor and traditional thatched roof. Everybody sat in a circle with musical instruments – moroccos, drums, and BeDonta, the lead instructor, had a small stringed instrument. (Note: BeDonta always makes me think “Bedonka-donk”)

It was interesting to see how this group interacted with each other. They are here with each other almost non-stop for about a month to receive their 200 hour yoga instructor’s certificate. They’ve clearly bonded with each other and have shared some good times. Lots of laughter and cheering each other on.

The first presentation was a slide show of photos taken around the village set to music, an improv dance performance by two participants, a game of toss-the-raisin-into-your-partner’s-mouth by two others, an original poem reading, and other silliness. I quietly stepped out near the end to grab some dinner before the kitchen closed, but I was grateful to bin invited into their circle.

After a quick dinner I headed home with the dogs and went to bed reading Neitzche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I’m not so sure I’m ready for the deep philosophical stuff, but I fell asleep feeling peaceful.