12 November 2006

One Morning


SAN FRANCISCO ALTO – We got off the bus where the hill continued steeply up through buildings covered and cloaked in the stalls and wares of market day. Instead of starting right up into the brightly colored melee of commerce we walked a ways down the highway and our teachers, Paty and Shirley from Escuela Sakribal led us up some steps roughly chopped into the dirt and rock and we stepped out onto a wide ledge.
To the left the canyon fell away 1,000 feet or more and southwards opened onto the plain where Xela was built. To the right the boulders formed a natural temple, utterly black by who knows how many hundreds if not thousands of years of ceremonial fires. Here sat several women in traditional dress and a Maya priest, sacerdote, his head wrapped in bright red cloth, prayed in the clear morning light to the old spirits.
A woman approached him with a grey hen tucked under her arm. They conferred for a minute and he threw balls of incense onto the smoking embers in a fire ring. They approached the blackened rocks, a long knife appeared and the chicken’s head was quickly severed and thrown onto the smoking incense. As the body kicked and shuddered the blood was swung onto the rocks. Bees swarmed over the blood, around the rocks and two landed on my shoulder.
The priest sectioned the bird with his long knife, throwing some pieces onto the incense and others over the cliff. He then laid split sticks of acote wood around the offering and soon flames were licking upwards, adding their smoke imperceptibly to the face of the rocks. The air was full, then, of incense and the smell of meat, the acrid smell of burning feathers and the chants of the Maya priest.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My roomate did the same thing in our dorm room in college. Only in was on the back of the room rug.
Skipper

2:53 PM  
Anonymous that girl said...

you should put a picture in this post!

11:56 PM  
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