Most of my ventures I pretty much travel on my own. On occasion, if I'm not nudged enough to ask or don't ask, some just take it upon themselves to join me at the start or somewhere along the way. Other times stragglers or hangers-on make themselves at home and tag along enroute, joining or leaving as they please. Over the years, some of the people that traveled with me have become, as it applies to me, Maya-templed-out, avoiding at all costs anything that is remotely related to traveling in the Yucatan, visiting Maya temples, or any association related to their ruins thereof, which is usually fine by me.
Such was the case when one day I made the decision to go to Tikal as well as throwing in a number of other sites coming or going along the way. The thing is, some of those "avoid me at all costs if what I'm going to do is even remotely related to anything to do with traveling in the Yucatan" had no problems hanging out at the somewhat luxurious Yucatan-based Westin Lagunamar in Cancun sitting around the in-the-pool bar all day long wolfing down margaritas just about or around the same time, telling me that upon my return, if I wanted to catch up with them afterwards to do so by coming back through Cancun. Besides they said, one of my most favorite Maya sites, Yamil Lu'um, is so close to the resort-hotel's property it's practically one of the rooms. As it was, doing so would work out favorably well all things considered if I so chose because of how I had roughly laid out my itinerary. The first half of my plan was simple enough. Eliminate any long distant ground transportation when I left the U.S., going as quickly and as efficiently as possible to Tikal after a slight detour flying into the Yucatan Peninsula city of Merida in order to be at the Temple of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltun at the moment of the Spring Equinox, which I did.
SEVEN DOLLS TEMPLE ON THE MORNING OF THE SPRING EQUINOX
(please click image)
After seeing the Spring Equinox in Dzibilchaltun, but before taking my scheduled flight out of Merida to Tikal, I made a quick 60 mile round trip to zip in and out of the Maya ruins of Oxkintok, not to take in the ruins necessarily, but mainly for nostalgic reasons. Years before, just out of high school and on my way to Chichen Itza, I got extremely sick outside Oxkintok while traveling throughout Mexico with a buddy of mine. Oxkintok sits right on top of the Chicxulub crater's outer rim and because of that Oxkintok played a huge big role in my life that I touch on briefly in The Maya Shaman and Chicxulub and I just wanted to look at it again.
With the Seven Dolls equinox and Oxkintok now behind me my intention was to fly from Merida into Guatemala City then fly from there to Tikal. It was only then, after I reached Tikal that I planned to switch to ground transportation. From Tikal my intention was to make my way to Carmalita then hike through the jungle four or five days to the Maya ruins of El Mirador, then retrace my steps back to Flores and cut across from there to Melchor de Mencos and cross into Belize wending my way at my own pace to Belize City and home. Getting from Belize City to Cancun, then home, presented no problem, so I decided what the heck, might as well include Cancun into part of my return.
MOST PEOPLE KNOW TIKAL AS YAVIN 4 IN STAR WARS EPISODE IV A NEW HOPE. TEMPLES I, II, AND III SEEN FROM IV
(please click image)
Visiting the remote Maya ruins of El Mirador after visiting Tikal worked out fairly well thanks to the guide and two guide assistants who left well ahead of us and had camp set up at the end of each days hike. What didn't work out so hot was being hit on by unprepared hikers that would straggle into camp at all hours of the day and night with no food, water, or survival gear and expect to be served and taken care of as though they paid for the guide and food. As a simple matter of logistics any seasoned trekker who has gone into deeply remote areas planning on being gone for days knows you just don't carry anymore food, water, and equipment than needed for the number of people in your group and the number of days being gone. A bleeding down of what's needed to survive impacts everyone unfavorably. One of the so said in need individuals actually brandished a pistol, a prospect I never really contemplated. I heard there was a concern with drug traffickers along the Mexican border, but fellow hikers? Give me a break.
The guy with a gun was one of those Birkenstock travelers that you run into all over the world that live off the goodwill of other travelers. He said he bought the gun from a tour hawker in Carmelita who told him he would need it because of snakes promising him he would buy the gun back at fair price when he returned. How many times that same pistol had been bought and sold nobody knows, but buying a gun instead of food or water for a trek through the jungle is a little on the weird side. We showed him how a single individual could find enough food and water in the jungle for the short term, gave him a bag of stuff and sent him on his way. After that what ever happened to him I have no clue. The two guide assistants both carried fairly menacing machetes that could easily chopped the Birkenstock dude into tiny little pieces for the jaguars to eat, and how many people that happens to anyway, people like me even, I thought, was a question to be pondered.
As for exploring El Mirador I also took in the El Tintal ruins along with Nakbe and La Florida ruins. However, other things were in the works, much, much bigger things --- and me including Cancun had nothing to do with it. There were fancy tour buses with air conditioning and huge rear view mirrors in sight all around Tikal, but where I left from by bus, after dropping down from Carmalita to Flores - Santa Elena, headed toward the Guatemala Belize border, my basic available options were junk-pile dilapidated former U.S. school buses, crammed from one end to the other with people, chickens, and one gallon plastic milk jugs full of kerosene.
(please click image)
Although the bus driver drove at terrifying speeds a good portion of the time we still arrived in Melchor de Mencos much later than I hoped for and by the time I walked across the border into Benque Viejo del Carmen and got to San Ignacio I decided rather than jump onto another two hour plus bus ride to Belize City I would just hole up for the night, get a room, take a shower and kick back until the next day. That evening having a beer sitting along the sidewalk in an open air cantina a young woman sitting with a group of people across the room approached me saying she thought she may have taken a college class from me a few years before. After a little back and forth chit-chat such seemed to be the case. When I asked her to join me she asked if I would like to join her and her friends instead, which I did.
She and her friends, down to the last one, were Americans, and if not in college, at least college age with a possible sprinkling or two of grad students about a couple of them. They were in Belize, and more specifically so in the town of San Ignacio, to train for and familiarize themselves for the upcoming once a year 170 mile so-called river challenge or canoe race from San Ignacio to Belize City, more officially known as the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge. The canoe race is a four day three night event that is said to duplicate or follow the ancient Mayan's trade routes to and from the hinterlands to the sea.
My newly garnered American buddies, on their own and without any kind of government sanctions or permits, were tuning up for the race but doing it in three stages, that is, over three days and two nights rather than the races' four day three night duration. They told me they had a bunch of canoes and a van and that most of them would be going downstream by canoe, but one of them, as a driver of the van and on a rotating basis, would follow along as close as possible then speed ahead and set up camp along the river for the night before the canoes arrived. They said even though I could be in Belize City in a few hours or less, and even though it would take them three days to get there, if I wanted to join them I was welcome as the passenger seat in the van would be empty during the day. I told them that was a fabulous offer, but I had made arrangements for a personal guide to take me to the Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves very early the next morning. I told them if I could catch up with them somehow after that I would most certainly do so. With that we parted company. Although I genuinely hoped such would not be the case, I figured that would be last time I would ever see any of them again.
The next morning, as promised, my private guide to the Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves, shortened by some to ATM but known just as much as the Cave of the Stone Sepulcher, showed up right on time. Why the personal guide? First, a guide is required to go into ATM, and secondly, because he could get me in early before the place officially opened or any crowds showed up. Plus he was deeply immersed in local color as well as heavily laced in the cave's history, both from a geological and archaeological perspective. One of the things that was great about the guide was that after we made our way through most of the highly interesting, albeit more-or-less well known parts of the cavern, passing through the Stone Sepulcher area, Cathedral, and climbing the 14 foot ladder to see the Crystal Maiden, all fully elucidated with in-depth and one-on-one historical backgrounds, we moved much deeper into the interior of the cave, past the so called river's sump, around massive boulders and through giant rooms, then, following my guide's lead, climbed up through a very small tight passage way that squeezed out of the top of the cave into a giant sink hole collapse right on the jungle floor without any need to return the way we came in.
THE UPPER LEFT GRAPHIC DEPICTS THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE ACTUN TUNICHIL MUKNAL CAVE, WHILE THE UPPER RIGHT SHOWS HOW THE CAVE IS
SEEN ONCE INSIDE. LOWER LEFT PHOTO DEPICTS THE CRYSTAL MAIDEN, THE LOWER RIGHT SHOWS THE LADDER NEEDED TO ACCESS HER CHAMBER
No sooner had I returned to town than I saw the canoe folk's van, and rather than being gone as expected, it was basically parked in the same location where it had been the night before. Seems earlier in the day some guy who had a car that wouldn't start asked the canoe folks if they would use the battery in their van to jump start his car. All well and good except for one thing. His car started and the guy drove off, the van's battery shorted out or something nearly exploding, rendering it and the van totally inoperative. It took the canoers so much time locating a new battery, installing it, and getting the van running that when they finally finished the job it was so late in the day they decided just to wait until morning.
The next day after all the canoes and crews had left the riverbank and headed downstream, and the van was just about ready to pull out I got into the passenger side just like I belonged. The first part of the day we pretty much paralleled the canoes, but part way into the trip we quickened our pace to get way ahead of them as our job was set up camp for the crews downstream. The idea was to have everything in place so all they had to do was clean up their equipment, have chow and kick back and get a good night's sleep. The driver pulled into at a pre-selected spot near where the river crosses under a major bridge not far from a place called Bermudian Landing where the canoe crews could easily pull their boats out of the water and store them safely for the night without fear of them floating away.
On our drive to Bermudian Landing we went right through the city of Belmopan, which is not only the nation's capitol, but also the location of country's Peace Corps headquarters. Usually when traveling in countries that are served by the Peace Corps I carry my old Peace Corps ID card with me because there exists a whole slew of mostly unofficial and unwritten benefits former volunteers can tap into. The quote below, as found in the source so cited, kind of lays out one of those unwritten benefits:
"When I was in the Peace Corps, former Peace Corps Volunteers traveling the world, would stop into the Peace Corps office, most typically located in the host country's capitol, of which mine was, and request the name and location of a current volunteer so they might obtain food and lodging for the night or stay a few days. In the country in which I served, Jamaica, my place, a small cabin overlooking Kingston, was high up along the steep serpentine road winding through the Blue Mountains, and was ALWAYS among those suggested."
Peace Corps Zen
So, taking into consideration of the above, I had the driver go by the Peace Corps office. Of course things have changed significantly since the days I was a volunteer. In those days we just went up to the office and walked in no questions asked, especially since everybody seemed to know at least somebody, plus it was where a lot of us picked up our mail. Belmopan was more like a fortress with a guard and everything. Everything meaning double locked entry doors and burglar bars on all of the lower floor windows. I showed the guard my passport and Peace Corps ID. Instead of a friendly welcome he had me wait outside. Finally someone came out saying I could come in but wanting to know just what I was interested in. I told her I would be spending the night in Bermudian Landing and hoping to catch up with a Peace Corps volunteer who was receptive to having a former volunteers visit. Well, they acted like they never heard of such a thing, saying they weren't sure if that would be a good idea. Such was not the case, however. As it turned out there was a list, albeit not official, of receptive volunteers that used to be tacked onto the bulletin board at one time but was now kept, on an unofficial level, updated and maintained by one of the office staff that just happened to overhear my conversation. As it was there just happened to be volunteer on the list located in Bermudian Landing, or close enough to be considered nearby. I was eventually able to locate her and she was more than happy to have us. In a sort of a turn around however, since the driver had to stay with the camp and fix dinner for the other canoers, the Peace Corps volunteer joined us, helping out, having dinner and sitting around talking away a good part of the early evening with a number of members of the canoe group showing an avid interest in the Peace Corps and what she did.
When she felt it was time to head back we drove her the short distance home so she wouldn't have to walk on her own in the dark. I walked her to the door and she kissed me on the cheek as though we had been on a date or something, squeezing my hand and thanking me for a most wonderful time. Just as I was turning to leave she stopped me and whispering in my ear asked if perhaps I wouldn't like to stay in a nice soft bed for the night rather than on the hard ground like I would have to do back at the camp. Although I had slept in a semi-funky hotel room in town the night before, albeit not quite the Ritz Carlton, it was still in a hotel, but she didn't know that --- plus I thought, if I stayed, there might be the possibility of a few extra added fringe benefits for the both of us other than just a soft bed for me. Nodding yes to her offer I told the driver I would see him in the morning and not to go off without me. Then, before I even had a chance to pretend to be a gentleman by suggesting maybe a little glass of wine or indulging in small talk --- or even request a spare toothbrush for that fact --- she had locked the doors, turned out the lights, lit a couple of candles in the bedroom and was under the sheets with the contents of her pile of clothes indicating she couldn't have much of anything on. I was thinking, like I said earlier, things had changed significantly since I had been in the Peace Corps --- or, like I was asking myself by the time I was pulling off my shirt, had they?
The next morning the canoe folk did basically the same thing as the previous morning's trip, albeit with some slight modifications. First, we switched drivers so the day before driver would have a chance at the canoes with the new driver and I making breakfast and cleaning up the camp after the crews headed downstream. The other slight modification was that there were no real roads to speak of that would allow us to parallel the canoes so the new driver headed out across Belize to the second night's pre-selected camping spot, meaning after arrival we had most the whole rest of the day to wait.
Before reaching the camping spot however, we pulled in and stopped for a long leisurely brunch and a few beers per a recommendation at a place called the Black Orchid Resort built directly on the Belize River in Burrell Boom and did so under the excuse of scoping out the place to watch the canoes come by the next day. The three graphics below, especially the two on each end, show how much of the Belize River looks along most of it's journey to the Caribbean. The center graphic shows a portion of the Black Orchid Resort and how close their property, by looking across the pool, comes to being right on top of the actual river itself. Then it was off to the Northern Highway, turning left after reaching a point along the road just past Sand Hill where the creek from Jones Lagoon crosses under the road and empties into the Belize River. There we made another left and in a quick few minutes we were right on top of the Belize River and started setting up camp for the canoe crews arrival later in the day. The location of that second night's camping area was not even eight miles from the regular canoe races third night making for a real short last leg and quick trip into Belize City.
People have been emailing me about the above two paragraphs and accompanying three graphics saying it isn't like me to go into such minute detail unless it leads to something specific of which those details don't seem to do. They say I given everything but the van's license plate number and the name of the beer I drank at the Black Orchid. Left turns, names of roads, etc., etc. Well, the license number I can't help you with, but the beer was most likely Red Stripe or Victoria, my favorite beers if I have a beer while traveling around Mexico and the Caribbean. The only other thing I can say is that the two days the two paragraphs make reference to, except for me assisting in the making meals and cleaning up, I was simply riding around sitting on my butt in the shotgun seat of the van looking out the window. I wasn't in charge, I didn't set the itinerary, and I wasn't really a needed member of the teams, nor was I going to participate in any fashion in the actual canoe race when the time came. I guess having idle time things that otherwise wouldn't mean anything became much bigger than they were. After a few emails I was going to delete the paragraphs, but after nearly being lulled to sleep by the the two paragraphs like my readers were seeming to be things changed --- and changed big time, both quickly and suddenly.
Not long after we got camp set up and put together chow than the canoes started showing up. Since it was the last night and with all the newness wearing off and everybody being tired it wasn't long after dark that everybody started settling in. The next morning everybody was soon up and gone leaving me and the driver to clean up. On our trip across Belize for that last night I kept seeing signs making reference to a Maya ruin site called Altun Ha, all of which in some fashion seemed to indicate it must be close by. I also noticed that on the same curve of the river as our camp there was a permanent built on the ground outfit called Rainforest Adventure Zone that provided a number of "adventures" for tourists such as river rafting, try not to get your hand bitten off by crocodile tours, and a number of other things.
In no hurry and with not much to do plus still early in the day I put the two together and sauntered over to the Rainforest Adventure place to see if anybody there could tell me about Altun Ha. A man at the Adventure Zone, a little perplexed by a single person walk in, handed me a brochure and told me Altun Ha was about ten miles north up the highway from where we were and that their organization runs tours there daily, but most of them leave from Belize City, and most are connected to cruise ship passengers. I thanked the man and turned to walk away when he asked if I planned to go to Altun Ha saying ten miles is a long ways especially in this heat. I agreed. Then he told me as a matter of course for his work he had to go up to Altun Ha and if I wanted to ride with him he would take me. I went back to camp and told the driver if I never came back or if he never saw me again to send my backpack to my brother in Oregon and in the process handed him a U.S. hundred dollar bill. The next thing I knew the guy from the Adventure Zone was screaming up on a motorcycle making a sharp U turn throwing dirt all over the place and yelling for me to hop on. It wasn't even 20 minutes later than I was being dropped off at Altun Ha.
When I arrived at Altun Ha the majority of the crowds were yet to arrive. There were a smattering of vans with families and a few tour buses, but nothing out of the ordinary. I bought an ice cold orange soda in a bottle from one of the vendors then sat out of the way in the shade and watched people come and go. While sitting there I noticed a Rasta looking guy, an older gentleman, quite mature in age as a matter of fact, with dreadlocks and knitted cap in the colors of the Rastafarian religion, that immediately upon someone having a drink and either leaving their bottle or throwing it away swept down and got it. Watching him I could see he had, even early in the day, began accumulating a nice little stash of bottles. A family of five who had been sitting near me got up to go see the ruins and in doing so left a bunch of trash a a half a dozen bottles. I gathered them up and along with mine took them over to the Rasta who hadn't noticed the bottles had been left behind. He thanked me and we got to talking a little bit. It seems the vendors, unknown to most of the customers, charge a deposit on the bottles and what the Rasta did was collect them throughout the day and turn them in himself for the cash. Pretty resourceful I thought. I dug deep into my shoulder bag and pulled out a well-worn old Rastafari bracelet and showed it to the man telling him I had lived in Jamaica for several years. The Rasta, who spoke a very high level of grade school King's English quite well switched from that fairly good clarity to a heavily laced Jamaican-like patois when he discovered not only had I lived in Jamaica, but that we had several places on the island in common, most especially so Irish Town near where I lived and he had relatives. He did, however, seem to become frightened when I told him I had apprenticed under an Obeah high in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica for several of those years. When I told him the story behind the bracelet he seemed to mellow a lot.
Figuring it would be unlikely that I would see him again we parted company, which in the end turned out to be pretty stupid figuring on my part. After a semi-coordinated wandering around a good part of the Altun Ha complex exploring, looking at, and climbing most of the structures I ended up in Plaza B in front of one of the primary structures called the Temple of the Masonry Altars. The temple has a set of stairs that starts on the side winding around back ending at the top platform. I had only climbed a short distance up the first portion of the stairs when the tourist in front of me, a man of fairly good size, fat actually, wearing flip-flop shower shoes as his only foot covering, missed his footing and began to fall backwards toward all the others of us following upward behind him. He grabbed onto the wooden hand railing hoping to break his fall, but instead, because of the trajectory of his totally unfettered downward and backwards free-fall combined with his weight, the railing broke. As he continued to loose control downward the 2X4 like wooden railing he was holding in his hand slammed into my jaw along my lower front teeth line, knocking me off stance to such a point I tumbled down the stairs clear to the ground level before I was able to break my fall. One of my teeth had been knock completely out several others were loose and my mouth was all bloody. At least my jaw didn't seem to be broken. The heavy set guy tumbled clear to the ground as well, with everybody, or at least family, making a huge fuss over him making sure he was OK, with almost everybody else continuing on overlooking any plight or injuries I may have incurred.
(please click image)
Barely able to stand because of being so dizzy, a young boy, probably eight years old or so, handing me some water helped me to a shade area cast along the wall of a nearby temple where I sat down leaning my back against the temple foundation. No sooner than I did than the boy's mother ran over a hundred miles and hour and yanked him away by grabbing his arm while yelling something like, "Leave the man alone, can't you see he's hurt!" Then she stopped and grabbed the water the boy gave me.
I had a couple of small packets of some really powerful herbal medicine from Southeast Asia or possibly India stashed away in my shoulder bag that was intended for emergencies only that when taken together you could pull the skin off an elephant --- herbal medicines I have purposely left here unnamed, but fall under the much broader Sanskrit word of Aushadhis. Really feeling like I needed some but afraid of the results since they were actually supposed to be brewed into a tea, and without any real amount of water I took only a tiny bit --- and amazingly enough the amount I consumed seemed to provide me with what I thought might be enough strength and clarity of mind to get to the tourist common area and some sort of first aid. I started out across the grounds toward the direction I thought the area was located, but in the hot sun, before I got very far my strength began to wane rapidly. To get out of the sun I sought out as much shade as I could making it as far as a deeply shaded area under rather large tree. Standing and leaning against the tree I either fainted, passed out, or fell into a near coma-like sleep --- although I remember before I passed out looking out over a close by low wall and easily seeing the Temple of the Masonry Altars in the distance directly in front of me.
I vaguely recall someone gently turning my head back and forth then holding open my eyes and asking me if I was OK. Shortly after that I woke up to find myself strapped to a junk pile World War II stretcher being dragged through the jungle by the old Rasta guy. I said something and he set the handles down and began giving me some water all the while wanting to know if I was OK. Drinking some water I sat up sort of dazed. Still on the stretcher I looked beyond my feet and where there should have been two parallel grooves in the dirt from the rear stretcher handles where the Rasta had dragged me through the woods there were none. True, I was a little dazed, but there were no signs of a second person or anyone carrying the back two handles or setting them down, yet there were no grooves. Gulping down a couple more quick swallows of water and a pinch or two of my herbs, only this time mixing both kinds together --- but still not in a tea --- I told the Rasta I was sure I was able to walk. When I got up, although a little wobbly for a second or two I was easily able to maintain a fairly good pace after a few minutes, with any other apprehensions quickly fading away.
After reaching the Rasta's abode he put together a quite edible and rather tasty concoction made up of mostly beans, rice, and cabbage, handed me some and I ate the best I could. The Rasta's concoction, with a possible conjunction with the herbs I ingested earlier, took me back to a time when I was a kid and my dad used to make what he called "Hobo Soup." He told us he learned to make it in his youth when he was "riding the rails." Anybody who wanted to eat would have to put something into the pot, carrots, onions, potatoes, almost any kind of vegetable that was edible and boilable. For him the pot was always a two-pound tin coffee can. Even though we had plenty of pots and pans around the kitchen he always insisted on cooking his soup in a tin coffee can just like he did on the road --- made it taste better he said. My dad was an experienced on the road guy during the 1920s and 30s. Later in life he used to take us down under bridges and stuff to show us kids signs that he said was a secret language used by hobos, tramps, and bindlestiffs. He would point them out saying this one meant the farmer's wife was nice and good for something to eat but her husband you had to watch out for. Another would read the daughter "was easy," and as kid always wanted to know what that meant. During his travels my dad did a lot of things and met a lot of people, some who would become famous such a the cowboy western author of over 100 books, Louis L'Amour. My favorite story was when he worked as a "Barker" for a carnival and said he had fallen in love with a star attraction in one of the shows, a woman that was only 21 inches tall. My dad said she was so small that she could stand in the palm of his hand. As far as the Rasta's grub was concerned it was not just my jaw and loose teeth, but when I was at the bottom of the stairs at Altun Ha I had spit my broken tooth into the palm of my hand. After being pulled from the temple through the jungle to the Rasta's hovel there was no way any woman could stand on my hand no matter how small she was as I still had the tooth tightly clenched in my fist. For some reason as hard as I tried I was physically unable to release my grip.
The Rasta, who through it all early on seemed old, hunched over and submissive back when he was picking up bottles, now seemed younger, more upright and strong in his stance, as well as much more, shall I say, intellectual and worldly. He told me he did fairly well with his bottle collecting enterprise although every once in awhile someone tries to move into his territory but soon discover there's not enough to go around for two. Every once in awhile the vendors send out their own workers to collect the bottles as well, but usually it isn't worth their while. Besides, he says he adds color for the tourists who seem to like interacting and taking pictures with him, plus the vendors like the way he pretty much keeps the place spotlessly clean picking up trash and stuff, which they notice doesn't happen as well when he isn't around. Then he turned to what he really wanted to know, how versed I was in Obeah or was it all talk. I told him how the Obeahman, even though I was white, came down from his mountain lair to help moderate me being wracked by the throes of Dengue fever and how I had helped take a young girl hit by a car up miles of jungle and mountain trails for him to officiate over her well being.
All the time I was at the Rasta's, especially when I was talking about the Obeah, I felt like we were being watched by someone or some thing just beyond the trees, of which I would soon find out why. After hearing what I had to say about the Obeah the Rasta had me follow him through the woods until we reached a spot where we could just barely see the glow of a fire through the trees. The closer we got the clearer it became that the glow emanated from a small fire contained within a stone fire pit positioned in a clearing some distance from the trees and well inside the rectangle outer edges of an undeveloped Maya ruin site, a site composed mostly of low level foundations and scattered stones. Around the fire was what in the darkness appeared to be four men. When I turned to ask the Rasta what was going on he was nowhere to be seen.
In the deep darkness of the nighttime jungle, blanketed over by an even darker night sky, the barest of light penetrates the thickness of the dark as though it was a powerful beam only to fall on the objects it touches in its original bare dimness. Thinking it might be wise to duplicate the departure of the almost instantly gone Rasta, I turned on my heels as if to retrace my way back only to be stopped in my tracks by a barely discernible black jaguar cast in the dim light of the fire glancing across his reflective yellow eyes, a jaguar that looked all the same to be in an at-ready to pounce position. Unable to figure how the Rasta or anybody could have possibly gotten past the jaguar on such a narrow path, especially in the short amount of time that elapsed, I decided on what seemed a more prudent option. I quietly and slowly backed away, eventually turning while quickly picking up my pace toward the light of the fire without actually running until I nearly reached the clearing, all the time not sure if the whole of my backside would be torn to shreds any second.
As I reached the open area beyond the trees the four men stood up, all facing me. All four appeared to be of indigenous Maya stock but dressed in clothes that hearkened back to the very early days of the Maya. No flip-flops, cargo pocket shorts, or wife-beater tank tops. So too, not one had anything on that indicated they were members of a priestly caste. No fancy head dresses, no feathers, no amulets, scepters, or tattoos that so often seem to appear in ancient Maya glyphs. The thing is, the top dog priests and such from the old days got all the face time and credit, but in real life they had like doctors of today have, Nurse Practitioners that did the work for them. As I looked at the four men and tried to figure out what was going on I couldn't help but think that in the dark lurking just beyond the tree line was the top dog in full Maya priest regalia, pulling the strings and watching every move.
One of the men waved me to move closer, primarily for the light of the fire, then had me immerse my left hand wrist deep into a low-top carved stone bowl containing a liquid that felt more oil-like than water-like. When I first put my hand into the liquid it was in a closed fist position, wrapped tightly around the tooth that had been knocked from my lower jaw earlier in the day, but as my fist was immersed into the liquid my hand mysteriously opened and the tooth rolled off the palm of my hand to the bottom of the bowl.
It was then, in the slight red-orange illumination of the fire that the man, or men, saw what they were looking for. What he saw and I saw as well as the other men took me back to an incident maybe 50 years before when I was just a few years out of high school and traveling in Mexico with a high school friend of mine. We had made our way down through Mexico ending up in the Yucatan on our way to visit the ancient Maya temple ruin complex of Chichen Itza when unbeknownst to us we crossed over the then unknown and yet to be discovered asteroid-caused 65 million year old 112 mile diameter outer rim of the Chicxulub crater, given credit now for the total extinction and demise of the dinosaurs.
On that very first night years ago, after crossing over the boundary of the impact's dry land portions outer ring onto what would be the crater floor, I had for some reason, become so uncomfortable I wasn't able to sleep. Thinking I would be up most of the night I unpacked my telescope and set it up primarily to look at the Andromeda galaxy, spending most of my time trying to stay with the spiral's relative movement caused by the Earth's rotation without jiggling the scope so much I couldn't see it. Concentrating all my efforts on doing so, especially after installing a Barlow lens that doubled the scope's power, I completely lost track of time and place. Suddenly a chilling breeze or what was not quite a full wind caused from afar came up out of nowhere snapping me back to reality. Standing up to straighten my back and get the crick out of my neck as well as relax my eyes for a second, just as suddenly right in front of me and just as much out of nowhere as though she had been swept in by the sudden burst of wind, was an old woman. Short in stature with straight, pulled-back, nearly pure white hair and appearing to be of Maya extraction, she carried a gunnysack-like shoulder bag slung across her chest and back and under her arm filled with sticks as though she had been out collecting kindling wood or something. We just stood there looking at each other for what seemed the longest time.
What the four men and I saw that night in the soft illumination of the fire's light in Belize can be summed up in the following involving and old Maya woman who came upon me that night inside the crater's ring as I was studying the stars:
"After awhile she started poking around the fire with a stick and rolled a dull glowing red stone about the size of a chicken egg out onto the sand.
"Delicately picking up the stone by barely touching it she dropped it into the palm of my hand and quickly using her two hands tightly closed mine around the stone. The stone was burning hot and as I leaped back pulling loose from her grip I quickly shook my hand up and down in front of me thinking all the time and yelling, 'You stupid, fucking-ass old lady, what the hell are you doing?' I collapsed to my knees dizzy with pain. The stone, fused to my hand-flesh rolled from my palm into the fire taking small pieces of meat and skin with it. All kinds of thoughts were racing through my head: I'm glad it is my left hand; how will I ever get medical help out in the middle of nowhere; how can I kill this lady; am I going to die? I could smell the seared flesh and in the dim light able to see my palm was torn open clear to where I could see the bones that spread out from my wrist reaching toward my fingers. I was falling backwards as though I was passing out, unable to keep myself upright. She put her hand on my shoulder almost as to steady me and said, in so many words and as near as I can remember, that the smell of burning flesh would wane from my nostrils, the wound would heal as though it never happened and my life and life generally would return better than ever."
The Maya Shaman and Chicxulub
What the five of us were experiencing in real time was the remaking of that above same event, and for me, re-experiencing the full amount of pain and all. After my hand was fully immersed in the liquid my tightly clenched fist slowly opened on its own accord and the tooth that had been broken from my jaw rolled into the bottom of the bowl the same as the burning hot stone had rolled from my hand so many years before. With that, they knew they had the right person. The fire was extinguished and in the stark darkness the jungle night the five of us made our way back through the woods ending up on the edge of the Altun Ha complex, exiting the trees at the south east corner of the so designated Plaza B where the 60 foot tall Temple of the Masonry Altars is located. In the dark we started to climb the stairs going right past the still broken wooden railings that had done such a number on me a few days before. Soon we were on the huge, flat, top platform.
(please click image)
LOOKING DIRECTLY DUE NORTH OVER THE ALTAR'S TOP FROM THE SOUTH
NOTICE STAIRS RAILING REACHING THE PLATFORM'S NORTHEAST CORNER
On the very top platform in the center rear of the Temple of the Masonry Altars, for reasons thought by many to be related to blood sacrifice, there is, as shown in the pictures above and the two full size temple photos above that, a flat fairly large diameter built from stone circular altar somewhat over two feet high. Toward the left in the first altar photo, a short distance away from the circular altar, you can see the eastern edge of the platform. That eastern edge runs directly north and south, with north being toward where the platform edge runs off the left side portion of the graphic. The second altar photo shows the platform's eastern edge on the right running from the south directly straight north.
The men had me lay on my back on the north side of the circular altar with the top of my head just barely touching against it with my legs and feet pointing on an angle toward the north edge of the platform roughly half way between the northwest corner and the northeast corner. Then each of the men laid down as well, and although I couldn't see them clearly from my position they seemed to do so in a sort of spokes of a wheel fashion with one more-or-less aimed toward the northwest, one pointing toward the southwest, and the fourth with his feet pointed toward the south. Before the last man laid down he set the stone bowl, that still had my tooth in the liquid, in the center of the circular altar. Then we laid there, and even though we were so far south Polaris was probably obscured by the trees, from my flat position I tried to find it or at least make out some of the circumpolar constellations, the big dipper or something, but wasn't really able to. If you recall part way back up the page I wrote that some years before, while in the Yucatan, I unpacked my telescope and set it up primarily to look at the Andromeda galaxy, so I wasn't totally unknowledgeable about the area's night sky. Even so, not one of the circumpolar star configurations, at least constellation-wise, seemed familiar.
"Sixty-five million years ago a giant, six-mile wide extinction-level object crossed into the Earth's atmosphere at an incredible high rate of speed. So huge was the object that rather than burn up or disintegrate as it raced toward the Earth's surface it basically held together with no more than a little shedding and dissipation of heat. Within seconds of entering the Earth's thickening lower atmosphere it slammed into a shallow sea in what is now the north coast of the Yucatan, Mexico with a force comparable to 100 million megatons of TNT. The resulting impact created a crater 112 miles across and a tsunami wave two thousand feet high that swept as far north inland as the middle of present day Texas. The results of the impact caused the demise of entire species, including, it is said, the dinosaurs. Ground zero for the asteroid is pretty much considered now days to be centered near the small Yucatan city of Chicxulub."
The Maya Shaman and Chicxulub
Prior to laying down on the temple platform I had no problem walking or moving about normally, easily traversing the woods in the dark, running from out of nowhere jaguars, and climbing the stairs to the top of the temple. However, no sooner had I laid down than within seconds I discovered I wasn't able to move, my whole body was totally locked down or frozen into it's supine position almost like sleep paralysis. To myself I seemed to be awake and conscious, but I wasn't able to talk, form words, or move my jaw, although I was able to move my eyes and think clearly.
Then, with no idea as to what would happen next and not sure if I was breathing or my heart had stopped, I had a strange feeling somehow that time had, or at least a deep pushing down oppression of such. That feeling was soon to dissipate because some distance away to the north in the darkened night sky, centered more closely directly in front of me yet initially still quite high, and if not the same one, somehow exactly replicating that long ago sixty-five million years ago event as described in the previous quote, a huge almost perfectly shaped fireball entered the atmosphere, burning brighter with every instant, and within seconds of hitting the lower atmosphere apparently slamming into the surface of the Earth many miles north from me well beyond the tree line. All along, with me not noticing it at first, without a sound or the slightest whimper of a noise or a rumble, out of nowhere, in a slow almost methodical way the platform stones all around me started to disappear, evaporate, or cease to be. One-by-one as the temple began to slowly disintegrate backwards in time in a reverse order of being built, reaching such a point that it no longer existed and I was laying on my back in a clearing on the jungle floor in the exact same position seemingly long before the temple was ever built or thought of. Still I couldn't move.
The whole northern night sky lit up like a gigantic explosion of light with the outer edge of the electromagnetic brilliance sweeping past me not leaving me outside, but encapsulating me inside the light bubble as it continued to expand beyond me in the distance. The next thing I knew, faster than I could produce thoughts, huge fire storms, dust clouds and winds flattening all the trees with flying debris everywhere, preceded beforehand by a blast of super-radiant heat so hot that when it blew across me laying on the ground with my feet facing directly toward the center of the impact that it burnt the shoes right off my feet, then my skin and flesh right off my bones moving up my legs and past my knees, blowing what was left of me completely away with it, my brain and still intact skull watching and functioning until they too were gone. Then nothing.
To that same nothing, not a thing existed because none of it was. Within that wasn't, very far away and almost not at all, the ever slightest inkling of a tiny ripple occurred, barely not even a feather's light touch, not solid like an object but more like not what wind is, but the stand-behind of what wind is made of. Within that embryonic newness thoughts were formulating not of being gone or not at all, but brought forth in one huge deep gulp of air, so instead of sucking in the sea of the nothing from the beyond and drowning, only to settle to the seafloor of the no longer, a mindscape aware of still being there, alive and having never been gone was restored.
Not able to move or even clear if I had arms or legs or even knowing where I was or who I was or even if I was and if I was, was I big or little or when I was, past, present, or future, or a place or non-place where there was no time at all. Then, in that ethereal primordial soup from where those elementary thoughts and concerns were emerging and forming, with everything that exists that one could be concerned with, instead were found to be thoughts focused on none other than what the little old white haired Maya woman told me years before on the ancient remnants of the Chicxulub crater floor, of which as near as I can remember went something like:
"The smell of burning flesh would wane from my nostrils, the wound would heal as though it never happened and my life and life generally would return better than ever."
Connected like a train car-after-car one after the other everything about Chicxulub I ever knew, learned, or seen came rushing to the forefront.
Then, on a more macro level and with no movement or noise preceding it, I felt someone or something touching or tapping what would be my forehead. Then distant voice-like words leaked into my growing consciousness asking if I was alive. In a real narrow slit I opened my eyes into the bright light of what was like a miner's lamp, otherwise all around me it was dark as though I was in a cave, and I was. I could barely make out three people, a man and two women, all three seemingly young, roughly college age, all with miner's lamps and all three bent over leering into my face. The male asked how did I get so deep into the cave and how long had I been there? Had I fallen, was I OK, was anything broken? I began to move the best I could to try and get up but everything all around me including me, was slippery. The male began gently pulling me out of the sunken hole the best he could considering neither of us knew if anything was broken with the two females controlling their gag reflexes the best they could telling me I was covered from head to toe with "bat shit." With the male's help I crawled out of the cave into the sunlight and sure enough I could see exactly what the women meant, I was covered head to toe with bat shit.
USUAL WAY IN AND OUT OF THE BAT CAVE
They told me I was at a place called the Bat Cave on the Island of Utila about 22 miles off the north coast of Honduras less that a quarter mile from the beach and the Caribbean. After crawling to the opening and scaling my way down from the cave I walked to the beach the best I could, threw my shirt, socks, and shoes into the trash, left my shoulder bag on the beach, and with only my shorts on walked into the Caribbean washing off all of the bat poop that I could. After some twenty minutes of doing so I walked back, picked up my shoulder bag, and sat in the shade among the trees just off the beach to dry off. I unsealed a secret pocket along the bottom of my bag and slid out a carefully lead-foil wrapped item. Inside the foil wrap was a solid gold Presidential Rolex watch similar to the one Don Johnson used to wear in the old Miami Vice TV series. Accompanying the watch were two one-ounce gold South African Krugerrands and a secondarily wrapped up anodized titanium all metal American Express Black Centurion credit card, all items I sometimes carried with me or didn't, depending on what it was I was doing or where I was going. The watch had long since been mine, the card and it's perks were floated on a no questions asked as needed basis, provided me through the generosity of an anonymous admirer.
With my pants dry enough to wear and looking all the same if not worse than any beach bum and probably still smelling like bat shit since I didn't have any soap, I walked over to the registration area of a very nice close by place just off the road to the beach leading down from the bat cave called Camp Utila Village, plunking down the black anodized titanium American Express card and asking to rent a bungalow for several days. On the way to Camp Utila Village I put on the Rolex, but hadn't revealed it yet at the desk. The person behind the counter seeing me and the card along with missing a tooth and smelling like bat crap, called the hotel manager. He asked if he could help me and sliding the credit card off the counter top I handed it to him using the same arm the Rolex was on. Gulping a little after seeing I was wearing a watch that was probably worth more than he made in two years, excused himself a few seconds and called the number on the card. With everything appearing to be on the up-and-up he apologized saying they just didn't get many Black Centurion cards down their way especially from walk ins. Then told his assistant give me whatever I wanted and ensure it was the best. I told the manager I fully understood and not to worry.
Within minutes the American Express Centurion concierge was calling back asking the manager where I was and if I was OK in that I had been "missing" for weeks, telling the manager he needed to speak with me as there was a special identification number that needed to be confirmed before being able to move forward. The manager handed me the phone and I assured the concierge that for those so concerned everything was fine, that I needed a few days, and that I would be contacting the appropriate people soon. When he asked for the number, in my typical ritual, I told him I would give him the first few if he gave me the last few. Without any need to go any further he agreed that everything was OK. Then the concierge wanted to know if I needed anything, plane reservations, charted boat, or even a private executive jet sent down if need be for example. I thanked him and told him in due time, but right now I was in a semi-tenuous situation. The concierge, who is a personally assigned to the generous anonymous prime card holder, taking a chance with me, sort of broke his staid professional demeanor a bit by letting down his guard and exhibiting a slightly muffled chuckle said, "You always are."
After visiting the men's store and picking up a few things like shorts and shoes I was shown to my bungalow which was actually designed for more than one person. Since I was only one person and American Express was picking up the tab I just took the whole place, which was built up on stilts with a great veranda and fabulous view. I had a bucket full of iced beers delivered, took a huge long shower, scrubbed my shoulder bag clean, then kicked back on the veranda looking out towards the Caribbean. Interestingly enough, the beer delivered to my room in the ice bucket, Belikin, the beer of Belize, uses as it's main logo a picture of the Temple of the Masonry Altars at Altun Ha, the same temple I ended up on top of.
A couple of beers into the beers there came a soft knock on the door and an even softer hello. I said the door's open, come in. The next thing I knew, standing next to me was one of the two women, or a girl as the case may be, from the cave, at first expressing concern with my overall well being as she was walking in, then seeing how I seemed to be surviving somewhat favorably after being found in the cave covered in bat shit from head to toe, seeming a little more on the perplexed side. I asked her to sit down, handed her a beer, and making herself at home she kicked off her filp-flops, propped her exquisitely long suntanned legs and feet with well manicured nails on the veranda railing the same as me and started talking. First she wanted to know about me, that is how did I end up in the cave covered in bat crap then secondly, she told me about herself.
Anyone who has read this far pretty much knows how I got there, but abbreviating the story for her I said I arrived by air on Utila alone ending up in the bat cave on my own then found by her and her friends with only my shoulder bag with everything else, my backpack for example, gone, leaving her with an impression she arrived at herself, that I may have been either drugged and mugged or both either inside or outside the cave.
As for her, she was 23 years old, only recently graduated from college with no real plans for the future except possibly graduate school. Well spoken and highly articulate with a large vocabulary smoothly delivered, she seemed to have absorbed her education well. Surprisingly at age 23 she was a huge fan of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and could go on and on about him. Because of Thompson she had a strong repertoire of Allen Ginsberg, albeit most of it through Thompson. Although most don't put Thompson and Ginsberg together, the following, of which the general gist of the girl was familiar with and knew, and of which we discussed, was written about what Thompson had to say about Ginsberg:
"Yeah. Allen was a particular friend, one of my heroes, really. I knew him almost as long as I’ve been writing… I was once arrested with Ginsberg. He was a big help to me. He was one of the few people who read unknown writer’s work. Maybe he was just hustling me. He liked to flirt, Allen. They called him a monster but he was only falling in love."
She and her girlfriend had been traveling around Central America and the Caribbean together quite sometime, just the two of them, with both enjoying every minute of it until uninvited her friend's boyfriend showed up and sort of upset the dynamics. All they did was have sex, with the boyfriend continually going on and on about the three of them in a menage a trois, the prospect of which made her sick. Before, although she had never done anything like it before and she was still a virgin relative to men, in a sort of friends with benefits type thing, she and her girlfriend started experimenting, even to the point of orgasms for both, but with the boyfriend back in the picture and her girlfriend's total fascination with men's dicks, all that ended. She wasn't sure what she was going to do but was entertaining the idea of just returning home. Eyeing the Rolex and not recalling it from the cave she asked if I was rich and I said no, just a generous fairy godmother, besides I told her, although it was real, it was just a prop.
With me not a hundred percent sure of what to make of it all, and thinking some of it may have been the beer, she took a fairly large well kept paper map of Mexico and Central America out of a protective envelope in her backpack and unfolded it. Holding it open the best she could in the slight breeze off the Caribbean, all proud and everything, she began showing me the well marked with black ink routes of all the places she and her girlfriend, two young girls in their early 20's traveling alone and on their own had visited, telling me as well where she was hoping they would be going. Her excitement and exuberance took me back to a time when at just about the same age, as I've written about in Footnote , a buddy and I traveled throughout Mexico and the Yucatan a few years after high school, with me thinking how nice it would have been to known someone like her to have traveled with in those days.
She said after the boyfriend showed up things didn't look that favorable for her anymore, and because of that I thought, in our conversations she continually squeezed in a series of tiny innuendos that she would like to hook up traveling with me instead. Avoiding the issue as best I could yet feeling a certain sadness she had about her situation, I suddenly noticed something truly remarkable on the map. Switching gears I took the map inside and spread it out fully open and flat across the bed. Sure enough, although I didn't know what it meant, if anything, and still don't, except for a short 30 mile dogleg to the west toward Altun Ha, it was a direct straight line due south-southeast from the center impact point of the 65 million year old Chicxulub crater located along the northern top edge of the Yucatan peninsula and the island of Utila, the exact same head-to-toe direction my body pointed laying on top of the Temple of the Masonry Altars.
Besides her flip-flops and a really nice pair of expensive designer sunglasses which she wore on top of her head most of the time, she was dressed in an oversize tee shirt and short shorts with about a one inch cuff rolled up so the legs were just about even with her crotch. After a few beers she got up to use the bathroom and when she came back re-propping her legs back up on the railing she only had a tee shirt on, the breeze from the Caribbean that once interfered with reading the map now blowing across what I took to be bare bodily parts. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you want to look at it, before either of us were able to act on it, if either of us were, there was a knock on the door. The manager had brought some Centurion Black Card American Express guy up to the room and with that the girl ran into the bathroom coming out somewhat more presentable.
The man, who was some kind of a Central America area American Express big-wig whoop-de-doo, had been sent down specifically from Guatemala or Costa Rica or maybe it was Mexico City or some such place, just to see me because of the prime card holder's concerns. And when this particular card holder said jump, American Express jumped. The man had a whole dossier on me, of which he wouldn't physically share but read portions of that went something like: "Years before, without knowing who a certain little girl was and with total disregard for his own life and limb he interceded into a significantly volatile and highly dangerous situation saving the little girl from some rather extenuating life threatening circumstances." That young girl, now a grown woman, was the granddaughter of the prime card holder and has since, because she lived, presented the card holder not only a full life as a granddaughter, but also now with a couple of great grandchildren, all of which the card holder believes would not have been so had it not been for me. It is because of that belief that I have total carte' blanch no questions asked regarding the full benefits of the card, regardless of costs.
The American Express big-wig said I was a little more mysterious than the typical card user and except for a semi-regular use of the card to access exclusive airport VIP lounges, for a person who had wide open access to the card I didn't use it all that much. When I did he said, according to the dossier and discounting VIP lounges, I was usually in a situation that was somewhat difficult to get out of. That was why the prime card holder was concerned. The man satisfied that everything was OK and could report back that I was pleased with their efforts he asked what my plans were for the evening. I said we were contemplating going into town for dinner. He said he had one of the few cars on the island and a driver as well and that he could take us into town and after that both the driver and the car would be at our disposal for the night. After the girl picked out a much better top for dinner from the women's shop, we were soon having dinner at one of the better places in town as recommended by the driver. After that we walked around hand in hand followed by the driver in a town filled with drunks. When we were done for the evening I had her dropped off with her friends then returned to my bungalow. Of course you know who showed up wanting to spend the night. Even though it was late I had the night manager put her up. Actually they put her up in a tent in their camp ground area. If she was gone the next morning or not when I left I didn't know.
Having a beautiful 23 year old young woman with exquisitely beautiful long suntanned legs in the mix or not, I really had much bigger things to be concerned with. I was on the island of Utila, an island that was sovereign territory of the country of Honduras. The last official dated stamp on my passport was related to me crossing out of Guatemala into Belize. Nothing on my passport said anything about me having left Belize, either long term, short term, or entering Honduras. Yet, here I was. Although there was Honduras customs down on the dock for my own personal reasons I didn't want to check in, so the next morning I had the same driver take me into town and with the driver's connections, a local, I was soon fixed up with a charter boat captain willing to take me the 100 miles west across the Caribbean from Utila to Placencia in Belize no questions asked. Which, for a price, for both the driver and captain was easy enough to do. The day after that I slipped unpretentiously over the side of the boat off the beach from Placencia and after splashing around for awhile walked ashore like any tourist playing in the water might do. I was never questioned by anybody and my passport clearly indicated that I had crossed the border out of Guatemala into Belize from Melchor de Mencos to Benque Viejo del Carmen. After coming ashore and blending in doing a few touristy things such as eating and people watching for awhile I hopped the ferry crossing the bay from Placencia to Independence/Mango Creek to take the bus to Belize City.
Feeling much better about things and a little more in control with all of the events of Altun Ha and the island of Utila behind me, I called my friends in Cancun telling them I was on my way and would be there in a few days. They told me they had both a beautiful huge yacht with a captain and crew and a really great brand new van and driver available, saying they could come get me however I liked. I told them after my trip from Utila I didn't want "no fuckin' boat." After I assured them I was done with Maya ruins and such for awhile, they told me since I didn't want no fuckin boat, they would just fly into Belize City, send the driver and van down on his own, then all drive back together stopping at Playa Del Carman and a few things before returning to Cancun. They said they would get a bunch of suites at the Princess Hotel and Casino that's built right along the bay in Belize City, we could all hang out around the pool and in the casino for three or four days, then head out. I told them I would at least meet them in Belize City, but after that I wasn't sure, which was good enough for them.
Of course you know who was already waiting for the bus to Belize City by the time I showed up. None other than the long legged sometimes sans underpants bat-cave girl from Utila. The same day I departed Utila on my clandestine ruse boat trip to Placencia she had already left Camp Utila Village on her own, backtracking how she and her girlfriend got to the island in the first place. She headed into town and took the 7:00 AM ferry to La Ceiba then the bus to Puerto Coretes. The next day she took the Vomit Comet to Independence/Mango Creek. When I asked what her next move was she said she didn't know because she really didn't have any amount of money to speak of. Then she wanted to know what my next move was. I told her I was on my way to Belize City to catch up with some people I knew who were flying down from Cancun to meet me. Her next question was could she join in. I told her these people were all super well off, most from old money or dubious means, highly sophisticated, and highly educated. They didn't like new people unless they selected them themselves and when they did they were like a cat playing with a mouse. If you weren't lucky enough to escape or fool them by playing dead, it was only a matter of time. Then, offering a caveat, I said if she was willing I was willing. She said because of me she was willing, but afraid. It was then I told her about the group.
Between the time I graduated from high school but before I was drafted into the miliary I worked on a marlin boat come yacht owned by David Halliburton, Sr the multi-millionaire heir to the Halliburton oil fortune. Working on the boat and spending a lot of down time in Cabo San Lucas as well as being the only full time crew member, the skipper and I became fairly good friends. When he was diagnosed with cancer and could no longer work I made it a point go by and see him on a regular basis.
Several months prior to his death the skipper moved back to his onetime childhood home in Wilmington, California, still owned by his mother, to finish up his life. On one of the days I was there he pointed out a fairly good sized cardboard box across the room he had been filling up telling me inside was a bunch of handwritten notebooks, logs, photographs and personal items related to his years being a skipper for Halliburton. He told me when he was done he would send the box to me and for me to hand deliver it to Halliburton when I got the chance. Whoever was supposed to send the box must have mislocated it or something as it took forever to catch up with me. One thing led to the next and by the time the box showed up it got lost in the shuffle and I genuinely forgot about it.
"As an adult, David Halliburton Sr. frequently returned to Baja to fish with friends including Baron Hilton, Dean Martin and John Wayne. Partly so their wives would make the trip, instead of complaining about the men's frequent Mexican fishing excursions, David Sr. built the peninsula's first upscale resort, the Twin Dolphin, in 1977."
Not many months after Halliburton broke ground for the first time to build his Hotel Twin Dolphin Resort in Cabo, unrelated in any fashion, I was heading off to the Caribbean, eventually staying in Jamaica several years. After my return I was going through some of my junk that I had put into storage before I left and came across the box the skipper sent me years before intended for Halliburton. With box in hand I made the trip to Cabo, caught up with Halliburton at the Hotel Twin Dolphin and handed it over. He asked me to stay a few days and as I was leaving he made me promise I would return. After that first trip, keeping my promise, I went down several more times, each time Halliburton making sure my rooms were comped as well as all expenses incurred while there covered.
PANORAMIC VIEW OF HALLIBURTON'S HOTEL TWIN DOLPHIN AS IT LOOKED CIRCA 1993
The quote above the graphic and the paragraph above that makes mention of Dean Martin. During one of my visits to the Twin Dolphin Martin was there accompanied by a movie and TV actress of true natural talent, the fabulously beautiful Phyllis Davis, who, after a formal meeting several years later, would not only make a major impact in my life but hers as well. Although she and I didn't meet during our stay at the Twin Dolphin nor were we introduced she and I had been in the same general mix of people over a span of several days in and around the resort. One morning for Sunday Brunch, under invitation, we sat at the same table at the same time, and of which she apparently didn't remember. With Martin a no show for breakfast, which was not unusual for him I was told, Phyllis showed and like me sat at the same table together with several other people as a personal guest of Halliburton
PHYLLIS DAVIS CIRCA 1980
Of course when I first came to Halliburton and introduced myself, I was no more than a former crew member on his boat and a carrier of a box, practically next to nothing. However, he still comped me rooms, but in a multi-millionaire's eyes I was still a onetime hireling. Later, when I brought it to his attention that long before my summer job on his boat he had a crush on my cousin when he was about 20 or so he was a little befuddled. Stretching the truth a bit by calling my Stepmother mother and her niece my cousin as well as saying I lived at my mother's place across the street from his family home in Berkeley Square when I actually lived at the artist-studio compound of my Uncle a couple of blocks away, he practically shit. Remembering the cousin fondly and my stepmother's status as she was, rich, powerfully influential in certain circles on both sides of the law and at the top of her game in those days, I was suddenly escalated to that of a peer and taken into his inner circle, especially since now he thought of me no longer as a crew member, but working as a teenager during the summer, a highly admirable thing, telling me his dad made him do it too.
During one of the summers I was at the Twin Dolphin for an unknown number of days the same group, albeit much younger then, that I was going to meet in Belize City was staying there as well. Even then they were establishing themselves. They were well liked by staff. They had great credentials and connections. Spent a lot of money and were big tippers.
The bartender, pointing out one of the guys in the group, had a Type 718 Porsche Spyder RSK sent down by boat and when they were unloading it slipped off the dock or something and fell into the bay. He and his friends went down to the dock, saw it sitting underwater on the bottom of the bay and he simply said fish it out and send it home. Then they all went back to the Twin Dolphin like nothing ever happened.
One evening early I was walking in the hall to my room when one of the females of the group came out of her room carrying something in her mouth, putting her key in her purse and running when the heel of one of her stilettos came off, she twisted her ankle and fell to the floor. I had just opened my door so I helped her up, sat her in a chair, got her a glass of water and called the front desk. The next thing I knew my room was crawling with people all wanting to know what happened and if she was OK with even one member of her group wanting to know what the hell I had done to her. She quickly resolved everything and everybody left. Later I was sitting at the bar having a drink and she and her group were across the room at a large table having dinner. On the way back from the ladies room, a trip I was sure was on purpose, the young lady who had fallen stopped, and while taking a green olive out of the bartender's stash with a little plastic pirate sword toothpick and sensuously or erotically savoring the olive in her mouth while trying to drop the pimento into mine, asked why I hadn't come over to her table and ask how her ankle was. I told her she had to be kidding, I wouldn't go near that group. She took my hand and pulled me but still I wouldn't go. She went over to her table and told her friends and the next thing I knew some were standing up insisting I come over while others were waving me to. When I still wouldn't she came over and got me. The bartender just looked at me and shrugged his shoulders looking at me like it was your life buddy. All the time I had been there, except for the help and the comment to me in the room earlier in the evening about the girl falling, I had never seen any of them talk to anybody other than to each other in their own group.
As the evening wore on it was suggested we get a bunch of hot dogs from the kitchen, booze from the bar, gather up a bunch of wood and stuff to make a fire and go down to the beach and roast hot dogs. Figuring the last thing I would remember was being hit over the head with a log and thrown into the ocean I went anyway. Then, there all alone, on the beach with no prying eyes things changed and one by one they let their hair down. Why, I don't know, maybe because I was older or they just needed to let it out. To a number, when they were growing up, kids of rich, busy, and possibly famous parents, individually nobody cared for, liked, or paid attention to them unless they were hired or received money in some fashion for a service rendered like a nanny, guardian or private teacher. Somehow they came together eventually bonding and forming their own group to the exclusion of everybody else. Eventually their group, not as individuals, but as a group, grew to be, because of the exclusiveness, in. Most drove fast cars, all had money to spend, always went first class, traveled big, and tipped big --- and regardless of anything else, they always appreciated I gave them the time of day once a long time ago. Boyfriends came and went. Girlfriends came and went, yet the group still stayed. How much longer was a question to be asked, but none of them ever did, or if they did, they never did in front of each other. In a sense they should have been hated, but I didn't, I loved them all and I loved the night roasting hot dogs on the beach.
We left Belize City fairly early with only a short layover in Playa del Carmen for lunch and a few beers. After a slight detour to the Cancun airport to let the girl off to see if she could get some kind of a flight back to the states we sere soon pulling up in front of the Lagunamar. Since the group had been staying at the Lagunamar anyway all the rooms were in order for us to just walk in, they having made arrangements for me earlier even though I had said I might just fly out of Belize City. Of course they all knew better, even knowing better to the point of having a rather stunning surprise for me. I noticed they were all acting funny, especially so in that they all insisted they join me on the way to my room.
When I walked into the room the stunning surprise, and I do mean stunning, was sitting out on the balcony. There, holding a foo foo drink and wearing a bikini swimsuit top and a waist to floor sarong with a big slit along one side was one of my most favorite people, Madam Nguyen Cao Ky, now going almost exclusively by her real name Dang Tuyet Mai. Without telling me or even being sure I wouldn't leave for the states from Belize, they flew her into Cancun for several days. The only thing is, they forgot to reserve for her, her own room. Sad.
MADAME NGUYEN CAO KY
(please click image)
After a number of things at a number of places for a number of reasons I made my way back to Belize for a very special occasion, the 10th year anniversary of the Museum of Belize. On that special 10th anniversary day, what is considered the crown jewel of Belize, known as Kinich Ahau - The Maya Sun God - a nine pound carved jade head found at Altun Ha, was unlocked from its vault and put on display for that one day only, the first time it had been on public display in the museum since 2009. Belize school kids were bused in from all over to see the carving. They had special rights to go in and see it ahead of anybody else, followed by citizens of Belize. Then came the lesser folk, people like me for example. However, as it was, except for some waiting, I had no problem getting into the museum and allowed upstairs to see the sacred object. When one group of students were ushered out and a new group came in I was allowed to stay and able to get right up next to the acrylic case it was in.
POSITION OF HIGH PRIEST AND JADE HEAD FOUND IN THE SARCOPHAGUS
SARCOPHAGUS WHERE THE JADE CARVING AND HIGH PRIEST WAS FOUND
During one of those quiet interludes between the coming and going of students I was admiring how beautiful the carving was a man came up standing right next to me. After a few casual comments about how remarkable the head was and him asking if I had ever been to Altun Ha, as other observers stepped away I moved around to the other side to see the back of the carving and when I did the man, instead of moving with me, was gone. From the short glance I saw of the man he appeared to be an indigenous Maya, albeit quite a bit taller than the typical Maya. He also carried himself regally, almost as if he was royalty. When I turned to leave a soldier who was one of several security people on the second floor stopped me before I could exit. He asked to see my papers, i.e., passport, which I showed him. Then he asked what was the nature of my business in Belize. I told him I was simply a tourist who had an avid interest in seeing the carved head. When I heard it was going to be on display on this date I specifically came to Belize to see it. He told me that was very admirable for a non Mayan. Then he handed me a small sealed Manila envelope maybe two inches across and about three inches high telling me the man who I had been talking to asked that he give it to me.
With that the soldier let me pass and without taking any time to open the envelope I rushed down the stairs in an attempt to catch the man. He was no where to be seen nor could anybody who I talked to seem to recall seeing him or seeing him leave. Within a few minutes I started back up the stairs but before I got very far I was told I would have to wait because several groups were up there already. When I asked to speak with the soldier I was told there was no soldier up there nor had there been one.
Inside the small envelope was my tooth that had been broken from my mouth and was last seen by me in the carved stone bowl that ended up on top of the circular altar. The tooth is now in a small screw-top jar on a shelf probably not 12 feet from where I am typing this. It has been proven to be mine through DNA analysis. The rest of my mouth required over $10,000 dollars in implants. I never heard if the heavyset flip flops guy ever made it to the top of the altar.
THE SOLDIER IN THE MUSEUM THAT STOPPED ME
(please click image)
THE SUN DAGGER
THE INCIDENT AT SUPAI
MAYA SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
MAYA RUINS AND THE SPRING EQUINOX
THE SPIRITUAL ELDER AND THE SANTA FE CHIEF
THE BEST OF
<<<PREV ---- LIST ---- NEXT>>>
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
WESTIN LAGUNAMAR, CANCUN, MEXICO
FOR NUMBER AND VIEW OF EACH INDIVIDUAL TEMPLE CLICK IMAGE
ABANDONED JEEP AT TIKAL. JUST A SMALL PART OF SOME OF THE
EQUIPMENT LEFT BY ARCHAEOLOGISTS AFTER SITE RESTORATION
In 1956, a little over 10 years after the end of World War II a team of University of Pennsylvania archaeologists set into motion an expedition into the jungles of central Guatemala to explore and restore the ancient Maya ruins of Tikal, an expedition and exploration that turned into a 13 year project that didn't come to a conclusion on the University's part until 1969. Ironically, as I view it, almost the exact same years as the Vietnam war where lots of jeeps were left rotting in the jungle, along maybe with a few other things.
The 13-year Tikal project resulted in the completion of a topographical map covering an area of 5 square miles and if not the restoration of all the ruins as least their documentation. At the time of the restoration the camp included a settlement for archaeologists and single workers, and a separate settlement for married workers. The site also included a sawmill, school, and a dispensary. Among the vehicles and equipment at the site besides the jeep, that is easily seen to have been abandoned, there were also at least two bulldozer-type caterpillar tractors that are nowhere to be seen or left behind, even though they were huge and weighed several tons each.
JEEP IN A BOX, JEEP IN A CRATE
THE SAIGON TEA GIRL
(please click image)
The square shown on the very far left center of the map below, at the west end of the Calzada Tozzer Causeway near the red number 5, represents the location of Temple IV shown in the above photo as used in the Star Wars movies as being on the planet Yavin 4. In the distance of the photo can be seen Temples I, II, and III. The actual location of Temple I in relation to IV can be found almost in the very center center of the map. Temple II, returning back toward IV, a short distance to the left, followed by Temple III just a little further to the left, the closest of the three temples to IV. Somewhere in the vicinity of 700 meters separates Temple I from Temple IV, less than a half mile. The map can be enlarged for easier viewing by clicking the map image then reclicking it a second time.
(for larger size click image then click again)
SIGHTS IN EL MIRADOR
The 838 square miles of tropical forest surrounding El Mirador harbors dozens of substantial cities that flourished during the Middle and Late Preclassic eras. At least six major causeways connected El Mirador to these satellites, an engineering feat that enabled it to become what was possibly the New World's first political state. The four largest cities in the vicinity are all within a day's walk of El Mirador.
- El Tintal (15 miles southwest of El Mirador) One of the largest and most important Preclassic cities, with a moat surrounding the civic center both to defend the city and ensure a year-round water supply.
- Wakna' (9.3 miles south) Built around what is possibly the largest astronomical observatory in the Maya world, with Preclassic murals and a series of internal causeways.
- Nakbe' (8 miles southeast) Established around 1200 BC, it grew to be one of the most important Preclassic sites. El Mirador was probably modeled upon this predecessor. All the characteristic features of Maya civilization --- monumental architecture, palaces, causeways and ballcourts --- had appeared here by 600 BC.
- Xulnal (4.3 miles west of El Tintal) Discovered in 2001. Pottery found here is evidence of some of the earliest occupation in the Mirador Basin.
WITH THANKS TO LONELY PLANET
START OF THE 4 DAY RIVER CHALLENGE, HAWKSWORTH BRIDGE, SAN IGNACIO, BELIZE
The annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, or as it is sometimes known or called La Ruta Maya Belize Endurance Canoe Race, is 170 miles long running downstream on the Belize River over the course of 4 days. The starting line is just under the Hawksworth Bridge not far inside Belize from the Guatemala border in San Ignacio Town, Cayo District. It is not unusual for the race to draw anywhere between 90 and 100 teams from Belize, U.S.A., Canada, Japan, the U. K. as well as a number of other countries as the popularity of the race grows. Matter of fact, some locals and race organizers are actually wondering, i.e., worrying, how long before professional type teams start showing up impacting the more home grown aspects of the race, possibly diminishing some of the fun and color.
The race begins in the morning at 7:00 AM headed toward Camp 1 for the night, ending the first days leg 49 miles from the start. The next day it's leg two with a 60 mile stretch. After that leg three at 36 miles, then leg four, the last day, at 25 miles. Although the Belize River appears placid by all accounts, out on the river it is a different story. The crews constantly face throughout the length of the 170 miles a number of obstacles including rapids, low areas requiring the canoes to be portaged over short distances, crocodiles, dolphins that often want to join in, and strong headwinds as they approach the Caribbean Sea.
Teams are made up of three members each all of who must be aboard the canoe at the start of the race. No substitutions are allowed once the race has started. Crews are divided into the four classes: Male, Female, Mixed (male and female) and Masters (over 40 years of age and may include mix of male and female). Canoes must be a maximum of 20 feet long and may be constructed of any material and by any method. For safety reasons the canoe must provide at least 25 pounds of buoyancy when swamped. Propulsion must be manual, human muscle powered with single blade paddles only.
RUTA MAYA RACE SCHEDULE:
- Day 1: Race starts in San Ignacio, Cayo District at 7:00 a.m.; ends in Banana Bank, Belize District.
- Day 2: Race starts in Banana Bank at 6:30 a.m; ending in Double Head Cabbage, Belize District.
- Day 3: Race starts in Double Head Cabbage at 8:00 a.m; ending in Burrell Boom, Belize District.
- Day 4: Race starts in Burrell Boom at 9:00a.m; ending at the Belchina Bridge Finish Line, Belize City.
FINISH LINE OF THE 170 MILE 4 DAY RIVER CHALLENGE, BELCHINA BRIDGE, BELIZE CITY
REBUILT RAILING AFTER OLD ONE BROKE KNOCKING OUT MY TOOTH
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter IV, verse 1 it is stated that the supernormal perceptual powers of Siddhis CAN be reached through the use of certain herbs, that is DRUGS, called Aushadhis in Sanskrit, replicating on the short term a mind-strength ability and potential execution of powers similar to or equal to that of a person versed in Siddhis garnered via the highest levels of Spiritual Attainment.
The translators of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, as found in the text from the source so cited, of the First Verse of Pada 4 (Kaivalya Sutra) 1, offer the following commentary in interpretation of the meaning behind the translation in regards to aushadhis (i.e., drugs):
(O)ne's latent abilities become enhanced through the wise utilization and communion with nature's medicines and elixirs (aushadhi) which in turn trigger/activate the inner evolutionary circuits (including the body's neuro-endocrine system), clear out obstructions in the nadis, and in general remove obstructions both in the cellular memory and neuro-psychic pathways. The wise use of certain herbal combinations are known to the tradition of yoga to stimulate/catalyze the production of inner elixirs (soma, amrita, etc.) which are also activated by other factors.(source)
One's latent abilities means quite frankly how far along the path one has become masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, Prajna, and being a frequenter to lonely places. There cannot be significant results with Siddhis under any circumstances, with or without aushadhis or anything else if one's latent abilities are lacking because there is just nothing to draw upon. The level of latent abilities that exist within is what is enhanced. Again, if miniscule, then miniscule, if all but the bottom of the barrel breaking through, then close to major.
AUSHADHIS: AWAKENING AND THE POWER OF SIDDHIS THROUGH HERBS
ISLAND OF UTILA OFF HONDURAS' NORTH COAST
Utila is located in the Western Caribbean Sea in the Gulf of Honduras off the Northern coast of Honduras
(click map to view in Google Maps)
The smallest of the 3 major Bay Islands, (Roatan, Guanaja, and Utila), Utila is located approximately 22 mi off the Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba
(click map to view in Google Maps)
Utila is 8 mi long and 3.75 mi at its widest
(click map to view in Google Maps)
(click photo to zoom)
PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN BY BELIZE BLOGGER SAME DAY AND TIME I WAS AT THE
MUSEUM. NOTE THE SOLDIER IN THE BACKGROUND IS LEANING ON THE SAME
RAILING AND WALL HE WAS PHOTOGRAPHED CLOSE TO IN THE OTHER PHOTO
The story is fairly simple actually. I was living in Jamaica and one day on my way home I stopped at the quasi-large open air market in Papine hoping to pick up a few edibles for the weekend. In Jamaica tourists usually don't get as far afield as Papine, but a few do so there are a number of vendors that provide tourist type items because of it. Having a little time and knowing it would be awhile before the short chassis mountain bus would be heading up the hill I was leisurely wandering around looking at the various wares. In that I was in and around Papine on a regular basis and stood out quite well because of being white, if the vendors didn't know me per se' they were familiar enough with me being there I usually wasn't bothered. I stopped at one of the vendor's booth looking at some of the Rastafarian style bracelets he had, even to the point of taking one off the rack and trying it on. The vendor offered it to me for a really good price relative to how much he would ask the typical tourist and although I was interested and the price was fair, I put it back primarily because it had a certain commercial air about it.
Not long afterwards I was getting something to eat when a little Jamaican boy began hinting he would like something to eat also. I asked the owner if he knew who the little boy was or who he belonged to and he said that the kid was always hanging around. I told the man if he thought it was OK, give him something to eat. Not seeing a problem with it, he did. A short time later the little boy, after eating, was back handing me the same Rastafarian bracelet I had looked at earlier. Within seconds the bracelet vendor was at my table yelling and screaming that I had put the boy up to stealing the bracelet for me. Soon the cops were there. I showed them I taught at the university, was on my way home and stopped to eat while waiting for the mountain bus. Why the boy did what he did I thought was, apparent. I bought him lunch, he had seen me admire the bracelet, so he took it to give to me. I told the vendor if I paid for the bracelet would he let it all go away and he agreed, except he charged me the full tourist price to do so.
Eventually in the end we all became friends. The vendor, known as a higgler, liked the way I was teaching at the university helping the "yout dem." He sort of took the boy under his wing and paid him to do odd jobs around. The vendor never changed the price of the bracelet for me, of which I still have to this day.
Me and my gone all-summer-long travels in Mexico with a high school buddy came about after a trip to Nassau in the Bahamas for the Speed Weeks with Joe Landaker, the top Ferrari and Maserati sports car racing mechanic in the country at the time, but before being drafted into the Army.
I started to tire of the same day-to-day over-and-over grind of the job I basically held since leaving high school. At first it was exciting stuff, working on the high altitude breathing equipment for the then super-secret U-2 spy plane, getting to go out to Edwards Air Force Base, Groom Lake, and Area 51, but with the contract nearing an end, the job began to get stale. When the skipper of a marlin boat come yacht owned by the heir to the Halliburton oil fortune, David J. Halliburton, Sr., offered me a no-brain job doing brightwork on his boat I jumped at it.
Even so, the draft was still looming over my head big time and the fact my long term semi-on-and-off high school and after girlfriend --- who had gone off to college while I remained home being nothing but a dunce working stiff --- hit me with the fact she had met and fallen in love with some hunkering down stud and they were planning on getting married didn't help. When my buddy, who was in much the same boat I was, suggested an extended, open-ended trip to Mexico I decided to take a leave of absence from my job on the boat and go for it.
We shopped around and bought a used six-cylinder 1951 Chevy panel truck just for the trip that was in pretty good shape and over a period of a few months the two of us outfitted it like a camper with fold down bunks, table, sink, stove, and portable toilet. We loaded up with a bunch of new fan belts, radiator hoses, inner tubes, tools, and an extra tire. Then, early one Saturday morning, with no idea how long we were going to be gone, we crossed into Mexico at the Tijuana border.
We ended up seeing the pyramids in Mexico City, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Palenque, and a whole bunch of Maya ruins in the Yucatan including Chichen Itza. We stopped whenever we wanted and stayed as long as we wanted. Compared to most of the people in the countryside we came across, as well as the locals in the towns we went through, we had all the money we needed to spend on anything we wanted including gas, food, lodging, girls, and beer. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Eventually we made a decision to return home. We headed north along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico through Vera Cruz then westward inland toward central Mexico turning north along the spine of the Sierra Madres crossing into the U.S. at the Nogales gate. By then the summer was all but done.
THE MAYA SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
CASTANEDA AND DON JUAN MATUS
THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING
THE BEST OF
<<<PREV ---- LIST ---- NEXT>>>
The above graphic shows the location of the Chicxulub crater and the configuration of the continents 65 million years ago at the time of the impact. Of the two graphics below the one on the left is a map depicting the structural layout of Altun Ha. On the map is a north direction symbol of which shows north as being magnetic north and not true north or geographic north, true north, relative to the map being straight up and down, say for example as with the edge of your computer. The second graphic below, the one on the right depicting a compass, shows both magnetic north and true north and the difference between the two, the importance relative to our concerns here being how the men had me lay down on the platform.
When I laid down the men had me lay on my back on the north side of the circular altar with the top of my head just barely touching against it with my legs and feet pointing on an angle toward the north edge of the platform roughly half way between the northwest corner and the northeast corner, the same angled direction as magnetic north appears on the map. If you take the circular compass map below to be the circular alter on top of the temple, laying down, the top of my head would be touching where the red tip of the compass pointer touches the circle rim, with my body and feet extended along the dashed line. In that laying down position from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet I was pointed in the exact same direction as the asteroid when it hit the Earth 65 million years ago, meaning that my head to toe center line was in a perfect direct line from the exact center impact point of the asteroid to right between my eyes.
On the Altun Ha map if you go down to a point just above the half way mark you will come to the drawings of a group of structures laid out in a sort of horseshoe shape with the closed end of the horseshoe on the left and the open end on the right. Just outside that open end on the right you will see a drawing of a square shaped structure. The interior space formed by the horseshoe shape structures make up Plaza B while the square shape at the open end of the horseshoe is the 60 foot tall Temple of the Masonry Altar. Below is a graphic of Plaza B looking due west across the plaza from the top of the temple's southwest corner.
CHICXULUB: THEN AND NOW
Just beneath the two larger graphics below are two smaller graphics. The smaller graphic on the left shows the location of the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula relative to it's location to what is known as Albion Island in Belize, located roughly 224 miles southeast of the crater's center.
Albion Island holds two major distinctions for being important relative us here and to the 65 million year old Chicxulub impact.
The graphic just to the above left shows the location of the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula relative to it's location to what is known as Albion Island in Belize. Albion Island, although called an island is not an island in the classical sense such as say Jamaica or Catalina, both of which are surrounded by large bodies of water. Albion Island is, as the above graphic on the right depicts, totally shall we say, landlocked, formed by the Rio Hondo or Hondo River where some distance upstream from where it discharges into the Caribbean the river splits in two for approximately 12 miles before coming back together and continuing it's journey to the sea. It is that 12 mile or so piece of land between the upstream split and the downstream rejoining that has come to be called Albion Island.
In the above larger graphics the very top, top one shows the impact center, the impact crater's 110 mile diameter rim called the Ring of Cenotes, and finally the out-and-out diameter-reach or limit of the 225 mile fallout-edge of debris known as the ejecta blanket. The second graphic just below the top graphic is basically a blow-up of all of that. It just so happens that what is now known as Albion Island lies just within the asteroid's ejecta limit.
The black and white line drawing below dramatizes the effects of the impact and how the results incorporate Albion Island. Roughly in the center of the graphic, albeit not to scale, is a depiction of the Chicxulub crater showing waves created by the impact rising up on both the right and left sides of the center. The waves on the left are shown falling into the Gulf of Mexico taking that side's ejecta debrls into the sea with them. On the right of the crater in the same black and white line drawing is a similar depiction except on the right the ejecta derbris is piling up on dry land. Just to the right of that piling up on the dry land is faulting and through the normal processes of geomorphic transition (not shown) it is eventually covered over.
That covering over leads us to the bottom graphic below, an area on Albion Island know as the Albion Island Quarry, a more-or-less semi-active quarry in the active quarry sense. It is highly important relative to the Chicxulub impact and ejecta fallout, as the quarrying that goes on there during their normal digging operations exposed quite graphically the ejecta layering, which brings us to the second distinction. Albion Island Quarry is less than 35 miles northwest from Altun Ha. While it is quite apparent that the Albion Island Quarry is inside the Chicxulub impact crater ejecta circle because of the ejecta, no one is sure by how much. It could be by just a few feet to several miles. No matter how much further, it still pushes it closer to Altun Ha and my situation as elaborated in the main text above.
There have been ejecta traces found in exposed sediments along a highway near Santa Teresa in Belize 355 miles due south of the center of impact, 120 miles south of Altun Ha. If 355 miles is taken as a radius for ejecta fallout that would push the fallout edge well over 120 miles east of Altun Ha meaning the location where Altun Ha stands now would be well within the range of any impact effect. Interestingly enough Santa Teresa just happens to be on an exact direct straight line due west from Utila Island by 140 miles, which will come into play shortly.
The following cuts to the quick relative to Albion Island from the source so cited:
The Albion Island quarry in northern Belize has the best exposure of the "ejecta blanket" from the Chicxulub blast. Overlying the Cretaceous dolostone is an orange-colored layer of fine material that contains rounded carbonate particles called spherules. The spherules when cut show evidence of being formed by accretion very much like hailstones. It has been hypothesized that the y formed in the atmosphere from the condensation of carbonate rocks vaporized by the impact. Above the spherule bed is a thick layer of jumbled rocks of all sizes in a fine matrix. This unsorted material is called diamictite. The diamictite contains large boulders, as well as numerous cobbles. Many of the rocks are polished, faceted, and striated and closely resemble rocks with similar features that can be found in the glacial tills of western New York state. Except they are found in tropical Belize! Instead of being transported by moving glacial ice, this diamictite material was pushed outward by the blast of the impact.
Expedition to Belize
THE MAYA SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
According to the American Express representative, the opening sentence to the dossier he had on me read something like:
"Years before, without knowing who a certain little girl was and with total disregard for his own life and limb he interceded into a significantly volatile and highly dangerous situation saving the little girl from some rather extenuating life threatening circumstances."
Sounds a little like a brave white knight in shining armor of yester yore riding in on a big white stallion at the very last minute to save the day. It wasn't quite like that. Actually, when I first became aware the whole thing going down I was just waking up from a sound sleep. I was a passenger in one of the private roomettes of an Amtrak sleeper car on the way from Los Angeles to New Orleans. During a routine late night extended station stop at one of the major cities along the route and with the train no longer moving I woke up. The train, called the Sunset Limited, was made up of a locomotive, several sleeper cars, a dining car, a whole bunch of coach cars, a club car, and a couple of others being taken off to go somewhere else. Because of the number of cars, not every one had the luxury of ending up directly in front of the main station proper, with mine being one of the ones that didn't, actually edging quite a way down the tracks into a little darker seedier section of the station. Didn't matter much in my case since I didn't plan on getting on or off at the station anyway.
The sleeper car roomette I was using was located on the opposite side or away from the station platform. When I raised the shade to look outside, since my window was on the side away from the platform, initially all I saw was a bunch of adjacent parallel tracks followed some distance away by a darkened area of dilapidated graffiti tagged buildings, barely making it trees, scraggly bushes and a fair amount of trash strung up and down along the far edge of the railroad right-of-away. Although it was difficult to see much because of the inside reflection of the light off the glass combined with so much darkness surrounding the trees and such on the far side of the tracks it suddenly dawned on me, after raising the blind and straining my eyes, that I could barely see what looked like several figures beating or attacking someone. From what I was able to make out in the dim light through the shroud cover of the trees and bushes the dominant group appeared to be made up of several males, the one on the receiving end female, mostly determined from the light off the person's smaller figure and what appeared to be the bare legs of a woman or girl.
With everybody else seemingly asleep and no sign of he porter, and with me dressed only in sweat pants, tee shirt and a pair of just slipped on untied shoes, I exited the car and ran around the end of the train, doing so because how passenger cars are connected you can't cross the tracks between them. Rounding the last car I started yelling. At first from what I could tell the men retreated into the darkness. When I got across the tracks I discovered there was a onetime chain link fence that separated the railroad right-of-away from the property beyond, taking me a few minutes to find a way through. That was just enough time for the men to see that I was alone and regroup. I grabbed the receiving end victim, which turned out to be a nearly unconscious mostly unclothed girl, attempting to get her through the fence the best I could. Before I was able to totally clear the fence to the track-side, one of the men had grabbed a partially burning log or 2X4 from a nearby 55 gallon drum from their apparent camp site and began pounding me across my back and shoulders. Even so I was able to get through the fence, but before they were able to climb through, at least quickly and expediently, the man's attempt at pounding me collapsed the fence opening, not stopping them but at least impeding their access to the other side. Resuming getting the girl across the tracks I made it up onto the platform and through the door into the sleeper car just as the porter, not realizing I even got off the train, was about to close the door. By then the men had figured a way through the fence and crossed the tracks, but by the time they reached the platform the door was closed and the train moving
The porter was aghast, saying all kinds of things about being against the rules, he could get fired, I could go to jail. She was jailbait. In my favor however, right at the very start of the trip the porter and I hit it off, having developed an amicable rapport and friendly understanding. I told him to just act dumb, feigning any knowledge of the situation and that I would cover for him totally and suffer all consequences. He wasn't happy with it, but since everybody else in the car was asleep and never saw any of what happened he agreed to go along with it at least in the short term.
It was just around sunrise when the girl woke up in a quasi-stupor. After a few minutes she seemed to know who she was but had no clue where she was or how she got to be where she was. After a short explanation and ensuring her that her mode of dress, or undress as the case may be, was not of my making but how I found her, with me suggesting she take a shower and maybe find something of mine she could put on, both of which she did --- all done in time for the two of us to make it to the dinning car in time for breakfast, each acting as though everything was normal. I told the maitre d' come-dining-room attendant that my niece had a horribly uncomfortable nights sleep and requested, if possible, that he allow for just the two of us to sit at the four seat table rather that have others join us, a request he was willingly and able to comply with.
Quite chatty, she filled me in on her story while she filled herself up with double helpings of sausage patties, scrambled eggs, and french toast, with me not sure how much of what she was telling me, if anything, was true. I could however, tell she was both quite refined and well versed in all the rules of etiquette, knowing which utensil to use when and for what. Any of you that may have traveled by rail and eaten in the dining car know everything harkens back to the old days when etiquette was the mode of the day and silverware was real silver. Describing herself as an on the road post-hippie type and according to her story still shy of 16 years old, albeit looking more toward the younger side but at the same time coming across much more mature, the maturity being imbued or overlaid with a certain level of street smarts, she told me she came from a back east old money family, having run away from boarding school without anybody knowing where she was, what she was doing, or why. If in fact the last name she casually provided in passing during our conversations about herself and a few family members proved to be accurate, then there was no doubt as to the level of her old money status. Done with breakfast after having told me she had been on the road for months just living off her wits, traveling a couple of times with older girls on-and-off, one that had a car for awhile before it broke down, plus working some odd jobs and with the dining car folk wanting us out I suggested we head back to the roomette to continue our conversation.
Having met me I thought, I probably wasn't the best role model she could have run into. Like I mentioned above in the main text my dad left home at age 16 back in the 1920's, riding the rails and all that, and never went back. As for me I think I was barely 10 the first time, of two maybe three times that I ran away from home --- most of which is chronicled throughout my writings. The quote below is a good example of me as a 10 year old runaway as found at the source so cited. For reasons I don't recall I ran away from the foster couple I was living with and went in search of my former Stepmother, only recently divorced at the time from my dad:
"Although impressed that I ran away just to be with her she thought it best to get in touch with my dad and see what she should do next. Unwilling to talk with my grandmother she called the woman of the foster couple I ran away from, who she knew and was friends with, hoping to find out if I should be returned to them or to locate my father, telling the woman that I was in good care and everything was OK. The woman of the couple, Aunt Pauline, told my stepmother to 'keep the fucking little asshole, I don't give a shit what happens to him.' Then she added, 'Don't forget his prick of a little brother, either.' My stepmother, taking into consideration there were no subtle or hidden messages in her response, being quite clear as well as taking her at her word, contacted my uncle to see if he had any idea where my dad was. He didn't, but told my stepmother if she could find no other solution and she could get me to Santa Fe he would deal with situation until everything could be hammered out. With that, having no success locating my dad for whatever reason, rather than sticking me on some grungy multi-day cross desert bus ride to my uncle's and not knowing for sure if I wouldn't just get off somewhere on the way, she arranged for the same former World War II P-47 pilot that flew my uncle and me to Sacramento a few years before to fly me to Santa Fe, ensuring, she hoped, I would be less likely to get out mid-trip."
The Normandie Club
While having breakfast in the dining car the porter returned the roomette back into it's daytime two seat configuration from the previous night's bunk-bed style format. Sitting in opposite seats facing each other we talked and watched the countryside roll by. I told her what happened the night before, that she appeared drugged, and that a group of several adult grown men had or were in the process of having their way with her. She assured me while she was in the shower that morning everything seemed OK physically and that I had intervened before any of them got that far. She refused any suggestion on my part to ensure medically such was the case. I told her it was bad enough what happened, but at her young age it was critically acute, mentally and physically. I also interjected appropriate authorities should be notified, but she would have no part of any of it saying just because I pulled her out of a rough situation from a bunch of lowlifes or worse I didn't own her, I wasn't her father, I wasn't anybody, threatening to just leave the train at the first chance she got. We talked over a number of options of what we should do next. Not sure how much she was bullshitting or stringing me along, eventually she broke down in tears. She told me always before on the road she thought she was in control of things, but what happened the previous night, unable to get away, being drugged and outnumbered by a number of men, had scared more than just the bejeebies our of her and now she just wanted to go home and make amends with her family. We agreed to continue on into New Orleans while figuring on a way to make arrangements with her family and their right in any decision making process. She insisting everything be coordinated through her grandmother.
Feeling she shouldn't be left alone, I asked the porter if he could have the conductor come to the room. I told him the girl was my niece, me being her favorite uncle. Hoping to surprise me she boarded the train just to say a quick hello and without either of us realizing it the train began to move. I told him the porter was totally unaware that she was on the train or in my room. The conductor, buying my story, was visibly upset but observed what was done was done. I paid her fare and that was it. When we got to New Orleans a family member was supposed to be there to meet her but when we arrived the person that greeted her was a locally hired limo driver holding a handwritten sign on a piece of cardboard with her name on it. The driver told her he had an airline ticket for her and he was to drive her to the airport.
That's when the girl's demeanor changed. She flew into a rage, yelling at the top of her lungs that was why she hated her family and that was why she ran away. Screaming in the driver's face, a total innocent in the scheme of things, she said she wasn't going to no fuckin' airport and she wasn't going to get on no fuckin plane --- and besides she said, although without consulting with me, she wasn't going to go no fuckin' place to meet her fuckin' family without me. With that she grabbed me tight around the waist, but before I even had a chance to offer any sort of comfort, still holding on she slid to the floor in a fetal position crying. A small crowd began to gather trying to make sense of what all the yelling was and as I carried her to one of the hard plastic chairs in the waiting area facing away from the murals, a man stepped forward asking if I was the one she was talking about, that is, she not going anyplace if I didn't go with her. Shrugging my shoulders accompanied by a give me a break facial expression, he took it as a yes and handed me an envelope. In the envelope was a photograph of the girl paper clipped to what turned to be typewritten instructions from the girl's grandmother. A few minutes and a cold drink later the girl regained her composure. Seeing the instructions were from her grandmother she was willing to comply, with one exception, I was to be included. The man who handed me the envelope, who had been identified in the instructions as the go to guy, at least for the short term, listened to the girl's request, made a quick phone call, then waved the limo driver over and we went to the car. As we walked, out of earshot of the others, as a precaution and not knowing who we were dealing with I told her not to allow any physical distance or space to widen between us or let anybody get between or separate us while we walked or moved about. I also told her not to get into any vehicle without me first if there was already a driver in the drivers seat. Hold my hand when we get in. Same with elevators, we both enter at the same time or we don't enter. If nobody will let it happen just drop to the floor and yell if you have to.
The girl and I were taken to the Ritz-Carlton in the New Orleans French Quarter without incident and shown to our rooms with the girl insisting that they be adjoined or at a minimum, right next door to each other. It was well into the night by the time we reached the station, got to the hotel and settled in. We each had our own rooms and although a woman was there for the girl, identifying herself as a nanny of sorts, I slept on the couch in the girl's suite. The next day the nanny saw to it the girl got cleaned up, hair and nails done and after a few measurements given a selection of shoes and clothes to try on. We were in fairly luxurious suites and while I was waiting for her fully relaxed in a big overstuffed chair with huge round arms she came out of the shower into the area I was sitting dripping wet, drying off, with only a towel and nothing else. The nanny got all upset telling her go back to the bathroom she couldn't parade around like that, she was practically a grown woman. With that the girl suddenly plunked herself down on my lap with her legs crossed at the ankles up over the arm of the chair high in the air with both of her arms around my neck and the towel barely laying across her just enough to cover her from right below her arm pits to her upper thighs, all the while giving a defiant look toward the nanny. I stood up with the girl practically falling to the floor while the nanny took her hand and walked her back to the bathroom. The girl, while recovering her stance as I stood up, to stop the towel from dropping she instinctively folded her arm across the towel against her upper half. However, the level of her arm was just low enough that it allowed the towel to fold over basically in half. In doing so, before she had a chance to reposition the towel higher up, most of her whole upper body was uncovered, clearly showing that even though still a young girl she had reached the age where she was blossoming into womanhood. I don't think more than even a micro second could have elapsed before averting my eyes, but as I did my eyes went right into hers, she having caught me looking. I don't remember what was going through my mind at the exact moment of my downward glance, but her catching me having done so I never felt so small. If there ever was a single instant in my life that I wish could be rescinded that would have to have been it. As she was walking away she held the towel covering her front but her whole backside was totally exposed and in the process of walking away turned her head back toward me and stuck out her tongue. Suddenly she was that little girl again and I wasn't so small.
It seemed so weird the differences between the circumstances in the large plush sunshine filled surroundings of the Ritz-Carlton and a well scrubbed sober, understanding young lady as compared to a few nights before in the tight confines of the sleeper car. There the girl really had almost no more on than she did coming out of the shower, besides being drugged out of her mind to near unconsciousness, yet for the two of us in such close proximity it didn't carry any potential adverse or underlying strong stigma assigned to it. Why? Because for the two of us at the time there was no outside world. The concern for the overall well being for the girl was not done because someone was there judging nor the fear of prying eyes, but because it was the right thing to do. Why then after such an experience would things be any different in the mind of a young girl who came out of a shower? For her, as things unfolded there occurred a decoherence in the flow of time ending the experience with the men before the conclusion. She only knew the side she experienced, there was no fear.
Not long afterwards a phone call came through to me from the grandmother, the only time I ever spoke with her. She told me she would be in New Orleans in a few days and since her granddaughter had become so taken with me as a protector I was welcome to stay but hoping I would have eased myself out of the picture by the time of her arrival feeling it would be best for the girl and her reintegration back into the family. I agreed. The grandmother, pleased with the response and hoping that would be the response, told me she, in the short amount of time available, had done what she could regarding a background check on me, and after pulling some strings that she, the grandmother, was quite pleased with those results however scanty or difficult they were to obtain. What she wasn't happy with was being unable to obtain results of the whereabouts or her granddaughter while she was gone saying there were people who should be held accountable for their actions and afforded their just due. She did say her people had talked with both the conductor and the porter and both said neither of them had seen any of the events that preceded the girl having been brought on the train. The porter said he was aware I had taken quite a beating by one of the assailants using a burning log as a weapon the night I saved her granddaughter because one of the assailants threw the log toward him as he was closing the main door to the sleeper car. I assured her, relative to me it sounded a lot worse than it was.
Considering the situation how I came across girl in the first place, and although it seemed like a lifetime since that night, not really that many days had passed, during which time she had made truly remarkable strides. Like a father who had custody of his daughter only a day or two out of the month we put those few days we had together before the grandmother showed up to good use. We ate beignets at the Cafe du Monde, we rode the ferry across to Algiers Point and walked to Thomas Mann's real workshop studio, even picking up a little trinket she couldn't live without. Took the streetcars up and down to no place and rode in a horse drawn carriage all around the city. Binged watched TV in the room, made popcorn, and had room service breakfasts.
With the nanny's assist, clothes and shoes and a variety of accessories began to accumulate for the girl, apparently in a effort to favorably impress the grandmother, and in doing so it soon became clear travel luggage of some sort would needed, which through the nanny it was dealt with. On one of our days, the girl and I were in the hotel gift shop looking around and she bought a luggage lock that required a combination to open. In one of my stories about myself I told her how codes had impacted my life from childhood right up through adulthood, especially so a 1940s radio premium offer called a Captain Midnight Code-O-Graph and even more specific one known as a Photo-Matic. Neither Captain Midnight nor Code-O-Graphs meant anything to her but I was able to impress on her the aspects of codes. I convinced her the combination, i.e., a code, for her luggage lock should have some importance and that the two of us could use the code as a secret identifier between us. The kid that she was loved the idea, especially the fact that it would be a secret between us forever. I told her that on the night I was struggling to get her to the safety of the sleeper car, all the while being chased by the group of men, an oncoming freight train on one of the set of tracks between the sleeper car and where I grabbed her was bearing down on the two of us at a high rate of speed. I knew if we got stuck on the side of the train where the men were it would be all over, so I took the chance and crossed the tracks anyway. A couple of the men made it by too, but the oncoming train split their numbers and as it was I was able to make it inside the sleeper car with the porter slamming the door shut before they were able to reach us. As the oncoming train bore down on the two of us while we were still on the tracks the four digit locomotive identification number prominently displayed on the front of the cab was forever seared into my memory banks. Those four numbers were the numbers we chose.
Soon our few days were gone, and abiding by the grandmother's wishes, so was I.
That young girl, now a grown woman, was the granddaughter of the prime card holder and has since, because she lived, presented the card holder not only a full life as a granddaughter, but also now with a couple of great grandchildren, all of which the card holder believes would not have been so had it not been for me. It is because of that belief that I have total carte' blanch no questions asked regarding the full benefits of the card, regardless of costs.