Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Memory, Tagged (click on the pictures to make them big)

Jon, over at Website De La Illiteratei, has been tagged in one of those bloggie games and in this one, you go to where you keep your photos on your computer, open the fourth album or folder, then open the fourth picture in it.
Simply because it piqued my curiosity, I went to my iPhoto's, opened the fourth album and opened the fourth picture. It brought back so many memories I wanted to post it.

The name of the album it came from is Cozumel 2003. And I remember the day we got on our rented scooter and drove down to where this picture was taken but I couldn't remember the name of the beach or the bar or the sweet, sweet fellow we met that day so I got out my old journal from that trip and I opened it up.
Here's part of an entry from from that day, 10/27/03:

We went to Palencar beach and a guy named Fernando talked to us, Glen mostly, about fishing and he showed us a crocodile and also birds behind a fence and in cages. Parrots, parakeets, turkeys, chickens, peacocks. We ate some shrimp quesadillas and guacamole.
The water was beautiful.

And it was. Here's a picture of that:

And the crocodile:

I remembered that we went back a few days later and Glen dove with Fernando. I don't scuba so I laid on the beach and swung in a hammock and read and dozed and when the fellas came back off the water, we ate lunch and there were pictures taken then, too.
Here's Fernando, playing with one of the parrots:

How beautiful is that man? Well, boy. But still. The Maya on Cozumel (and I cannot speak for the Maya everywhere) are the most peaceful and kind folks I think I have ever met as a group. In all of my many trips, I've never seen the slightest act of violence or even discord among them, either the children or adults, although I am not under the delusion that it does not happen.
But still, I've never seen it.
During my times on the island I've seen plenty of weird and violent behavior but always from the tourists and inevitably the American ones. But the Maya display an almost saintly attitude towards the tens of thousands of tourists disgorged upon their shores, even the cruisers who have five or six hours to shop at the cruise line approved stores, eat at the cruise line approved restaurants and drink at the cruise line approved bars.
Believe me, there is vomiting involved. And bad behavior. And ugly behavior. There is an art to bargaining. Most Americans do not have it.

But no matter how many times we go back, and how many changes we see on the island, the one thing that seems to remain the same is the people and their gentle, humorous spirits. They will stop to help you if you appear to need help. They will volunteer to show you things on their island they are proud of. They beam when you compliment their children. They will remember what you drink, what you put in your coffee and if you go back often enough, they will remember your name and your story.

And I remember them.

Here's a picture of me and Fernando from that first day we met him:

And how could you forget a smile like that? A profile like the one in the picture of him with the parrot? The first time I ever went to Cozumel I felt as if I had been dropped into a living version of the National Geographic Magazine with noses and profiles and eyes all around me just like the ones on the pages National Geographic that I had studied all my life; the pictures of the paintings on the walls of the ancient ruins of the Maya. These people never disappeared. They live on and have babies and fish and love and smile. They share their stories, they share their knowledge and their skills and their jokes. They are living their lives.

Here's another entry from that journal. It's a poem and not a good one, but here it is:

The water is flat tonight
But the wake from the dive boats
Who are speeding across
In and out
Leave wakes which slap the shore
The breast of Cozumel Island.
These Maya are as comfortable on the water
As in their mama's laps.
We met a boy named Fernando Conrado Silviera
Whose mother told him that
He was born
On a boat
With his mask and fins on
And a regulator in his mouth.
She's probably right.
The water, the water, the water
The sky
Blue, blue, blue and green.
The only way I can give this up
Is knowing
That it will be here
When I return
And that the Maya
Will be here too.
Speeding across the water
And living beside the water
Under their Caribbean
Mayan sky.

The next day I wrote a better poem. The picture I have to go with it we did not take but the place it was taken is a place we did visit, which was Chichen Itza where we hired a guide, a man half MY size who was so serious about what his people (and that's how he referred to them- my people) had accomplished, had created and who had so much to tell us and show us that he was impatient with Mr. Moon who kept wanting to stop and take pictures.

Anyway, here is my poem and here is a picture of Chac Mool, the Mayan deity whose hands hold a bowl in which the beating hearts of sacrificial victims were placed:

Chac Mool might as well be holding his hands out
For my heart.
Here, you crazy God, you bloody boy.
Just go ahead and receive it.
It's yours.

These memories. They are so sweet. And because I have the journal out and because it's a beautiful day here in Lloyd but my heart has been thrown back in time to that island, here's one more thing I wrote during that trip while I was on the beach in a coconut grove while Mr. Moon dove beneath those blue, blue, blue green waters with Fernando:

I wish I could cut my hair, get Ixchel tattoed on one shoulder, the map of Cozumel on the other, go home changed physically because I am changed inside.

And then on the last night, at sunset, I wrote this:

Why do the tiny swallows cry out
Except to say
I am alive again
And there is food in the air?

There is food in the air of that island for me. It has filled my heart to bursting so many times.
Thanks, Jon, for giving me a reason, no matter how unintended, to go back in my mind to revisit the place that has always filled my heart, my soul.



  1. That was a beautiful post. It makes me want to explore and travel so much more than I did just five minutes ago. I think you need to go back, or go somewhere else, and get more stories, more poems, more memories, and share them with us!

  2. Great story. Fun game! I'm going to play at Thanks!

  3. oh my God that sacrifice statue is terrifying.

  4. That's a gorgeous shot of the parrot. And I don't think the crocodile is smiling.

  5. That's such a beautiful place. You make me wanna go travelling again and experiencing other cultures. It kind of reminded me of my experience in Bali. Beautiful, humble, peaceful, curious and intelligent people ... Thanks for sharing the photos and the story.

  6. HoneyLuna- you ARE about to travel. You are going to learn so much. And I can't wait to hear about it all.

    Jon- I have a lot to thank you for lately. "We got an apartment on Marlboro Street..."

    Cari- Hmmm. Not much for contests. But have fun with yours!

    Maggie May- Oh, I love Chac Mool. But yes, he is rather terrifying. Perhaps I'll get him tattooed on my hip. (I wouldn't count on it)

    MamaBear- I don't know. The croc had a lot of chicken bones in there, as well as some lovely water lilies. Maybe he WAS smiling.

    Groover- I have always wanted to go to Bali. Should I?

  7. Absolutely beautiful!

    Can you hear the drums Fernandoooo!

  8. Ms. Magnolia- I kept trying to figure out which of my daughters Fernando could marry.

  9. beautiful!! that 2nd photo should be in a magazine - absolutely gorgeous... i would like to go there someday - it sounds wonderful

  10. CMe- I think you would love it.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.