My eyes opened at 3:48 am and my brain registered the acute pain – the reason for my sudden wakefulness. We were about to leave the house to catch our flight to Yucatan, Mexico in a couple of hours and my right ring finger was throbbing with intense pain. Intense enough to wake me up from deep, exhausted-from-packing-and-organizing slumber. I knew I was in trouble. After weeks of planning where to go for spring break, what made sense financially, whether the children will be happy with our choice, we had decided upon the ancient Mayans. The Yucatan peninsula – the land of the Mayans, soft yellow sandy beaches, turquoise blue water and waving palm trees. The ruin-addict in me wanted my fill of ruins and my water loving family wanted beach fun.
My knowledge of Mayan civilization is sketchy at the best and garnered primarily from travel books and internet. But I knew that the Mayans were the most sophisticated culture of ancient America with their astounding knowledge of astronomy, science and a complete writing system. Their culture survived the ages and there is a thriving community of Mayans in the Yucatan peninsula. I was often mistaken for a Mayan woman and when told I hail from India, there were confusion and surprise on the face of the person who started a friendly chat with me in Spanish, thinking I was local.
According to the book ‘Yucatan and Mayan Mexico’ one of the most remarkable things about the Maya is that our image about them is not some fixed, established text, but has been transformed over the last 40 years, and is still developing.’ The Mayan civilization is fascinating, intricate, enigmatic, brutal. The sites and ruins made me wonder about their fascination with death, their thoughts of afterlife. One of the cardinal points in Mayan philosophy is to live the present moment – live it fully. I hoped to bring home that wisdom and incorporate in our lives.
Early morning did not see anyone in good spirits. Sahana and Ryan were tired, I was in pain and slightly worried about my finger, which, by the way, was caused by my foolishness. I tore away at an annoying cuticle on my ring finger with my teeth since there were no nail clippers to be found. And somehow, the finger got infected.
We finally reached the airport. Few bickerings were squashed with cliches like ‘it is more important to be kind than to be right’ etc. My expert husband, who travels around the world thirty percent of his time, got us to the gate in no time at all and even got one seat upgraded, much to the joy of Ryan (he always wanted to travel first class). There was not much question who was going to avail the upgrade 🙂 ! Sahana said she was going to listen to her six hour worth of music on her iTouch, she was oblivious of her surrounding and she did not truly care where she sat on the plane.
As I sat there guarding the luggage, while the family went in search of breakfast, I looked through the glass wall of the airport to take in a young, nascent, blood red sun getting ready to kiss each corner of the earth and make it blush crimson red. And just like that I was happy. A break from the usual, a few days of searching for the unusual. A few days of looking at the sun set and moon rise, a few days of eating ice cream for dinner, if we so wanted, a few days of trying something new perhaps. And for me, a few days of freedom from the wire. I had no phone, no tablet, no computer. I had my camera attached to my hip, my black and white composition book and a whole lot of pens. A few days of going wireless.
My elation lasted for a few hours till the finger started letting me know I had made a huge mistake over that cuticle. As the hours passed on the plane and in airports, I sadly kept looking at my ring finger, which started swelling up and changing color. After two painkillers, I could pick up a pen. ‘Tomorrow morning the swelling will be memory’ I thought to myself, staying positive.
We arrived in Merida and rented a little Matisse, which we named Escargot for it’s shape, and yes, speed too. As we were focussed on trying to find our Hotel Dolores Alba on Calle (street) 63, we did not see much of Merida. We had traveled the whole day and wanted two things – a shower and most importantly, BED! We found our hotel and were delighted as we stepped into the beautiful courtyard adorned with copies of Frieda Kahlo’s artwork and gorgeous mosaic floor. Very comfortable, clean rooms. Lovely showers with hot water, happy, smiling staff.
My eyes were closing as I jotted down my thoughts. Uxmal calling tomorrow….