Chichen Itza, Mexico
January 29, 2017
My fiance, Alexia and I had just finished our two hour tour of Chichen Itza and we were told we could explore the grounds for another hour on our own before we were to meet back on the bus. We hung behind a minute so that I could speak with the tour guide, Marco. Little did I know I would soon engage in one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had. Marco was a professor of Mayan studies turned tour guide – born and raised Mayan in a tiny village just forty minutes from Chichen Itza. Marco, as most of the Mayan people was short and stocky with caramel skin as smooth as a babies bottom. He had straight, short black hair peppered with gray, brandishing a worn navy blue baseball cap and matching polo stitched with the tour company name, EKNX Tours. Fashioning a pair of hip blue jeans with black tennis shoes, black fanny pack and an NFL Patriots lanyard around his neck clipped to his badge. Marco moved with his blue umbrella using it as a walking stick – no doubt a totem of his many tours through the ancient Mexican cities – poking it into the tough taupe colored ground. This stick was also used to draw simple geometric designs of the temples in the dirt and crude markings of the solar system and the ancients’ correlation to them. Marco looked my way and we locked eyes. Our thirty minute conversation began.)
MARCO: Si, senior?
ME: Do you believe in magic? The occult? What can you tell me about it?
MARCO: (Laughs). The Mayan people are a spiritual people. We believe our bodies are made of energy. (Pauses. Then says excitedly) Will you come with me? I want to show you something!
(MARCO takes me to a large wall structured like a diorama and made entirely of limestone. It’s engraved with drawings of men posed in side profiles.)
MARCO: Listen here, I don’t usually show people this; this isn’t part of the tour but I want you to see it. You see this wall? Look carefully. What do you see? There is an image on the third block from the bottom of a man, see? Wearing a helmet. But that is no Mayan helmet. It is what appears to be a Roman soldier helmet. Why? How could this be?
(Marco spoke with the enthusiasm of a child making a discovery. I responded:)
ME: Right. Two completely different time periods. The Romans came far after.
MARCO: How is this possible?!
ME: Other dimensions?
MARCO: Who are these men? Have they visited from the future?
ME: Did the Maya predict their arrival?
MARCO: We are more than we can see with our eyes. We can transcend beyond this body. There are stories of people entering into the Pyramid of Giza for an hour but when they leave it’s been days. How? Nobody knows.
ME: Do you know of the crystal skulls?
MARCO: Si, there are thirteen. Six have been found.
ME: And these are supposed to record … information? Yes? They act as crystal balls?
MARCO: Si, that is what they say. They are made of quartz crystal.
ME: Right, just like memory chips today. It can save information.
ME: It is hard to understand what information is. How could the Mayan people understand it let alone store it?
MARCO: I don’t know. Some say it is just a myth.
ME: Under what conditions might be skulls be activated?
MARCO: (Contemplates.) We are energy. Positive and negative. We can use it for good, for healing, or for evil. You know, I grew up in a tiny Mayan village forty minutes from Chichen Itza. A few hundred people. We had a shamans there. I watched a man do evil and kill another man. (Pauses.) Can I tell you a secret?
MARCO: I don’t share this story with anybody.
ME: (Eagerly): OK…
MARCO: My fathers best friend was a Shaman. My father wanted me to be a shaman. He took me out with him twice to see him perform. But it was not me, I did not want to do it. But I saw something … You know, the body can … how do you say … transform into an animal.
MARCO: Si. I watched it happen.
ME: I’m sorry, you saw what?
MARCO: The shaman turn into an animal.
ME: Wait a minute. You mean to tell me you watched a man turn into an animal before your eyes?
MARCO: Si. A goat. Fur and everything.
ME: I don’t even know what to say.
MARCO: Many people do not believe this is possible. But it is. We are more than we can see.
ME: How do you go on living a normal life after seeing something like that?
MARCO: You just do. It’s normal life for us. For the shaman, he must drink a potion… like… in order to get into the right mind … he must…
ME: Like Ayahuasca?
MARCO: Si, and peyote.
ME: So in order to contact these places you must do these drugs and get into a trance first?
MARCO: Sort of, si. There was another shaman who walked around the village as a dog. He was shot several times in the butt. After that he disappeared for five days. People came looking for him but they couldn’t find him. They suspected it was him though – the shaman. Eventually they knocked on his door and he answered. He showed them his butt and sure enough there were several bullet holes.
ME: So can’t any person in the street take peyote and become a shaman?
MARCO: No. That is not how it works. You must be chosen.
ME: Listen, I don’t want to keep you any longer but I just have one last question.
MARCO: Please, its my pleasure.
ME: Thank you. So I am an artist and I am exploring shamanism where I live but translating the traditional practice for an urban landscape.
MARCO: Si, si.
ME: Using urban materials, bottles, litter, whatever is available. I was wondering if you thought this was possible to achieve for me? I certainly don’t think I was chosen by the gods like these men you speak of, ha. Do you have any advice?
MARCO: Listen. If you are called to do this work you will know it because something inside of you will make you feel it. Whatever you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing. There is a reason you are here in Mexico, there is a reason we are here today having this conversation.
ME: Thank you. (We share a hug)