TEMPLO DEL ALACRAN (TEMPLE OF THE SCORPION)
There is a small ancient Mayan ruin adjacent to the hotel property close to where I stay sometimes when in Cancun. It used to be you had to climb up a cliff from the beach through a tangle of bushes on an unmarked path inhabited by a bunch of iguanas to get to it. That was the way it was the first time I saw the ruin in September, 1988. I remember it well because I ended up crouched down with my back to the wall for hours and hours one night inside the ancient structure sitting out a Cat 5 hurricane.(see) Since the last time I was there the adjacent hotel, which has been in the process of constructing an access over the past few years, completed the access --- which means the ruins are much easier to reach, even in the darkened pre-sunrise twilight.
The ruin, called Yamil Lu'um, and of which nobody really knows what it was built for, is on the highest natural spot on the land facing the ocean that forms the lagoon and creates the hotel zone in Cancun. The ruin has been there for hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of years. Over the centuries hurricanes have torn through and battered the area countless times, yet the place still stands, unattended by any Mayans as far as we know clear back to 600 or 800 AD
In that one of the hotels built an access right to the temple without the need to climb unmarked cliffs in the dark I decided to go up there and watch the sun come up over the ocean. Thinking I might miss it I was unable to sleep much that night and eventually just got up and went up there to wait. Since it was a long time until sunrise I made myself comfortable and in doing so eventually dozed off.
Sometime before sunrise, in my slumber I heard three clacks, like handheld flat stones being hit together --- clack, clack, clack. Thinking I was dreaming I continued to doze when again I heard the sound, only this time more clear and distinct --- clack, clack, clack. I thought shit, somebody is there. The next thing I knew I was tapped on the shoulder very hard and quite distinguishable from behind. Still in a sitting position I turned to see who it was, but no one was there --- nor anywhere around to be seen nor to have had time to have walked or scurried away any distance, let alone be completely gone. That exact moment I turned back toward the vast expanse of the Caribbean only to see the very top tip of the sun just breaking the horizon.
As the sun's full orb pushed aside the night sky it began being dimmed behind a few scattered, low lying early morning clouds skirting just along the horizon, tinting the underside of the clouds with a glowing red and the temple walls with a subdued orange. As I stood up in the dimming red cast light I barely caught a glimpse of what appeared to be an almost smoke-like shadowy figure to my left seemingly darting behind the north corner wall of the ancient temple. Thinking I could intercept the figure or at least see who or what it was before it was gone or dissipated I shot around the south wall of the temple at full tilt turning to get an unobstructed view along the western side. Again there was no time nor anyplace for someone to go, yet no one was there. The temple is small and at the speed I was moving I was easily on top of the northeast corner of the structure in a matter of seconds. There in the sand in a quick turning away and scurrying toward and into the plants and vegetation along the northern end of the temple was the only living creature I encountered that morning at the temple: a scorpion.
THE SUN DAGGER
THE INCIDENT AT SUPAI
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
MAYAN RUINS AND THE SPRING EQUINOX
THE SPIRITUAL ELDER AND THE SANTA FE CHIEF
THE BEST OF
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In a variety of places in my writings, always in context with whatever I was trying to get across, I have mentioned my deployment with the Red Cross in having volunteered for four hurricanes, Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. In having done so, of the four I have really only had to sit out two. Rita came in while doing Katrina and Ike came in while doing Gustav. For Rita I was pulled fairly far back from its onslaught then put back in quickly south of the eyewall as the hurricane moved inland. With Ike I wasn't so lucky, being caught in its direct path working with a small team trying to evacuate a fellow volunteer that had become too injured to fend for himself. But none of it was like crouching down behind the foot-wide stone block open top walls of the Mayan temple in a Cat 5. The closest I had come to anything like that prior to that was being in the throes of what is called the 'Washoe Zephyr.'
The Washoe Zephyr, written about by Mark Twain and sometimes referred to as a 'devil wind' occurs on a regular basis on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, with an extremely strong portion on the east side of the paralleling Virginia Range, most notedly around Virginia City. Unlike the typical thermally driven slope-flows which blow upslope during the day and downslope at night, the Washoe Zephyr winds blow down the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada in the afternoon against the local pressure gradient. As a young man the Washoe Zephyr figured prominently in my reconsideration of a second manned-flight attempt since I had tried as a 10 year old. As for the strength and power of the downslope prevailing winds of the Zephyr and its ability to carry out what Twain has written it could do, in the book The Big Bonanza by Dan De Quille (1877), Chapter 35, the following is found:
"There is a tradition in Virginia City, that in the spring of 1863, a donkey was caught up from the side of Mount Davidson far up on the northern side, near the summit of the mountain and carried eastward over the city, at a height of five or six hundred feet above the houses, finally landing near the Sugar-Loaf Mountain nearly five miles away. Those who witnessed this remarkable instance of the force of the zephyr, say that as the poor beast was hurried away over the town, his neck was stretched out to its greatest length, and he was shrieking in the most despairing and heart-rending tones ever heard from any living creature."(source)