I stood on the terrace of room 309 at the Rocamar, the Caribbean crashed and roared just beyond the sea wall below me. On all the mornings I had ever been on Isla, I had gotten up early to watch the sunrise. On Chris Lane’ Isla-Mujeres message board, people often post there photographs of the sunset at Sergio’s, and they are beautiful. But sunrises are far more lovely in my opinion. They are more dependent on the other elements of sky, and sea, and land for there effect. They are pastel, not primary colors. I wanted to stay in bed and let the waves meet the dawn, but somewhere in the darkness a ray of sunlight had come out of my memory of yesterday’s sunrise and awakened me to this one.
Sunrise had come, inspired, and faded into early morning. The fishermen had sped out on there little boats into a golden horizon as if to catch the pescado d’oro. Soon, I would wonder out into the day to walk the beach to Playa Norte, and enjoy that place until the day trippers came over from Cancun. Then I would retreat to the south until they had gone. Whether because of yesterdays conversations with Bob the iguana, or the subtle beauty of the dawn. I felt emotionally drained, before the day had begun.
Bob had been right. No one would believe me if I told them about our conversation. We big monkeys do need to know that something actually happened before we will believe in the truth of it. It wasn’t always that way, I new that once not so many centuries ago, my ancestors had believed all manor of things without any of it ever having happened. Once that was not madness, or superstition, but evidence of a deep belief in the ways of natures Gods. As I stood watching the early morning waves, it occurred to me that perhaps they were calling me back to those times. Perhaps I was confronted with something so deeply believable and understandable that those things which had not happened were non the less real. The magic of Isla, might be only the magic that had been left behind in myself. Often had I gazed in fascination at some recumbent New Mexican hillside of Georgia O Keeffe’, realizing as if against my will, that the ravines and gullies in the hillside resembled the folds and form of a human female, not only through the design of the artist, or the imagery ingrained in my own humanity, but in the tendency of nature to use and reuse form again and again in her creations. And so here in this place of magic I could believe once again in that which no eye can see but is none the less real.
My encounter with Bob had started out simply enough. The Iguana’s I had seen along the way to Punta Sur ran as soon as they saw me coming. But this big fela, stood his ground. As I got closer he started to bob his head up and down. I figured that this must be the chief Iguana, and he ran this stretch of beach. So by way of saying hello, I bobbed my head up and down to. Whereupon, he said with a Midwestern accent “You idiot I’ll bet you think that bobbing your head up and down is a territorial threat display .You know what it really is? It’s an iguana’s way of saying yes to everything, including a fight”. I hated being bested by a lizard, but I had to admit that I did not know any such thing, that I was just trying to be neighborly. He said “if you can hear me, that means you came down here alone”. I don’t know if I saw a smile on his face, or merely heard it in his voice, but somehow I knew that lizard was smirking. I was surprised at how angry I got as I have always tried to be a gentleman, and have only kindly feelings toward the rest of the animal kingdom (when I wasn’t eating or wearing them anyway). I heard myself saying in none to friendly a tone (a little “I wonder if they do taste like chicken” in my voice). “And what would be your name little feller”. Skipping not one beat he said “Bob of course; we are all named Bob”. “And yours big monkey, what is your name”? I had settled down a bit, and said “Jerry”. Bob said “Not Bob? You sure it isn’t Bob”? A bit flustered that this lizard could be questioning my certainty as too my own name, I answered rather loudly “of course I am sure! My name is Gerald Ray Everett”! Well he said, “then you may be going back to the north soon instead of staying here as one of us. If your name was Bob and you came here alone, then you would probably stay here as one of us”. Feeling superior once again, I figured this lizard had gotten to much sun himself. I said “ what the hell are you talking about, even if my name was Bob a dozen times over, how could I stay here as a lizard, I am a large monkey as you can see, how could I ever be a lizard “? Bob just sat there on a rock looking out to the sea, and saying nothing for a long time. Then he spoke. “OK, I will tell you, even if you tell anyone else, no one will believe you anyway”. I figured he must have met some of my relatives so I said nothing, and simply listened as he told his story. He said:
“Long ago in the land of the Yucatec Maya, resided the Goddess Ix Chel, and the God Ah Kinchil. Ix Chel was the Goddess of the Moon, and Ah Kinchil was the God of the Sun. The people said that they were lovers, who could only meet twice a day for a short time. Once at dawn, and once at dusk. Still; it was noted that on particularly clear dry days, one could see the pale moon in the same sky as the pale sun. No one spoke of why this should be, for fear that some impious word of Godly behavior could bring misfortune, but among the Yucatec Maya, on such days not much work was done. For clearly on a day when the great sky Gods stayed late in each others embrace, so should the people of the Yucatec Maya.
Ix Chel was the Goddess of fertility, and child birth, and of medicine, and weaving, and of the great sky water. Ix Chel did not do all of these things at once, of course, Ix Chel like the moon had many faces, but she showed each one in it’s time. And in this fashion, all of the things of her life, and of the life of women, and the life of the Yucatec Maya. All things were apart, but as one. Thus it was that in there stone carvings the people of the Yucatec Maya depicted Ix Chel many ways according to each time in the life of Ix Chel. And thusly the people of the Yucatec Maya were able to bring offerings in accordance with there need of Ix Chel’ help. If Ix Chel’ statue was carved showing her as a young moon goddess carrying a rabbit, this was a place that a young woman, in want of a child could bring an offering and ask Ix Chel to give her a child. If the statue was carved to show Ix Chel as an old woman carrying a jug of water on her head, this was a place where men might go and bring an offering to ask Ix Chel to give them sky water for the crops.
In all of the land of the Yucatec Maya, there was only one place where all of the statues of all of the faces of Ix Chel could be found together. This place was the Island of the moon, and was the home of the Goddess during the day, while she was on earth.
One day while Ix Chel was abiding in the temple of the moon, on her Island home, a great boat load of strange men came from across the sea. They stank, and were unclean. They were tall and thin and pale, and there faces were covered with hair. They wore clothing of course and ugly weave, and strange hard metal upon there bodies and heads. There were no women among them. These were the men who had brought great sadness and death to the people of the Yucatec Maya, and every other nation to the North and South. Ix Chel did not know anything about these men. She was a Goddess of the moon, and while the moon looked down upon there lands to the North and East, They like all others slept at night, and since they did not pray to her, or bring her offerings, how was she to know there ways? The strange men walked about her Island as if it was there’s. They looked at the statues of Ix Chel, with no piety in there hearts or eyes. Then they claimed her Island in the name of there king and of there strange male God, whom they believed had slain all other Gods. Ix Chel had never heard of there God, nor had any other of the Gods of the Yucatec Maya, as far as she knew. Then they named her Island of the Moon “Isla Mujeres”. Insult upon insult! Not only did they not honor her as the multi faced Goddess she was, but did not even know enough to see that these were many statues to one Goddess, each with a different face. These fools think these statues are of human women, and each one a different human woman at that. How could such ignorant savages obtain such power and arrogance as to devastate nations, and deal so impiously towards the Gods of the earth? Full of rage though she was, what could she do? They had no women among them, whom she could make infertile. There weaving was already so poor, she could hardly make it worse. They were so filthy and unhealthy, that they appeared to know nothing of medicine or care. Rain was all she could do, and each drop of rain was one of her tears. For she knew that these were not the last such men to come to her Island, but the first.
Lover she cried in despair! Lover come to me and comfort me in my misery! Help me, for I have no powers to punish these wicked men. A flame appeared above the stone alter of her temple and Ah Kinchil was there. “Yes my beloved. I knew that this day would come”, Ah Kinchil said. “For while you have looked down on there lands by night, I have looked down on there lands by day, and I have seen there ways, even without hearing there prayers. They are as you have seen them, crude and cruel beyond imagining. They have such powers to bring despair upon the earth, only because they have learned to divide one thing, from another, and one man from another. Our calendar is round and accurate, and the people of the Yucatec Maya live in time without end. There calendar is rectangular and made up of pieces like the weaving on a basket. Each day is by it’self, and can never be repeated. Each man is by himself, and lives not by his cooperation with others, but by his cruelty to others. This way of separation is very powerful it is like a death that is not a beginning for anything new. When it uses a thing, that thing is gone forever, and the world can not have it again, but all of the power and magic which was within that thing is put into the hands of these savages all at once.”
Terrified, and angry, Ix Chel screamed, “ Ah Kinchil. You are the strongest of the Gods of the Earth. You must punish these men and cleans the Earth of them forever.” Ah Kinchil replied, “ I have thought on the mater, but I have decided, that these men are like the brightest stars of heaven, they burn brighter than any other star for a short time, and then explode. These are not men whose ways can be maintained for long. The very power to divide will cause them to create such thing as will be the cause of there own undoing. It will take some time, but they will do some great harm to themselves, like children playing with obsidian blades, they will cut an artery and bleed to death. Anything I might do to harm them will only harm the rest of the world as well. Best to leave them alone and wait.”. Ix Chel was to angry for any such philosophy. “Ah Kinchil!” she cried. “ how can you let these men wonder the Earth and plunder it one more day, much less, for a thousand years”? Ah Kinchil said “ not a thousand years, five hundred maybe, but not a thousand”. Realizing immediately that this was the wrong way to have spoken to this particular Goddess, he added quickly “What would you have me do”? We are Gods of the earth. We are Gods of life. Even when we kill, we kill so that new life can be created. Would you have me become like there strange and ugly God? Do not be angry with me. I could not be the shining God of the day that you love, if I were not the God of light and life. The power of change which you call on to destroy, is nothing at all unless it is used to create.” Ix Chel said sadly, but with defiance, “I know what I feel, and my anger is so deep as to be a bottomless cenote’, I can not rest until these men have been destroyed. Will you help me or wont you?” Ah Kinchil, was disarmed by this, as he always was in the face of this shining being of the gentle night. Clearly, wise or not, he most do something. All of Ix Chel’ feelings held some wisdom. Listening to the words of light which were his essence, Ah Kinchil, heard the quiet voice of justice speak. Finally, he said “my beloved, this is what I shall do. I shall destroy what is evil in these most unworthy men for they are death, and what is death unless it becomes new life? So that they may bring about new life, they must see the world for what it is, and thereby know the cost of there impiety, and the need for them to live a different way. In order for them to see, there eyes must be opened. I will shine the light of heaven into there eyes, and they will see the blue waters of your ocean, and the gray rocks of your Island flecked with the white spray of breaking waves. they will feel the soft fine sand of your coral beaches under there feet. My warm sun upon there bodies, shall be as a memory of peace. Any who come here will envy the Iguana’s and say to themselves it would be better to be an Iguana on Isla Mujeres than a man anywhere else on earth. Knowing the truth of things will burden them to the end of there days. They will find salvation only in the loving eyes of another. And they will become human beings and not monsters”.
For a long time Ix Chel and Ah Kinchil were silent. Then finally at dusk, they rose together toward the heavens where they could be together for a short time. “How do you know that it will Work” Ix Chel said. Ah Kinchil looked into his beloved’ face and saw there the reflection of his
own light, his own best self. Taking her in his arms, he said simply “It will work”. Then they kissed, the world quivered, dissolved, and went to sleep.”
Well, I wasn’t sure what I thought of the lizards story, and he never spoke again. But I did not bother him as he looked out to sea, and watched the waves come in. I felt dependent on the effects of sky, sea and land, and drawn to the high point at the end of the Island. I moved on as if pushed by the wind.