Did you ever have one of those years that made you feel like a poster child for Murphy’s Law? I just did and, frankly, I’m still a bit shell shocked, but I have an advantage. I now live on the island of Cozumel and life is improving nicely. Still, there is someone who has been the definition of a friend throughout the past months and I strongly felt that a special token of appreciation was necessary. With all she has done a simple “thank you” just didn’t seem to be enough, although she’d disagree. So, with the dust settling and my life calming it seemed time for a trek to the San Gervasio ruins. People have been going there with offerings for centuries. I decided to follow their example and make one of my own.
First, a bit of history. The San Gervasio ruins are a pre-Columbian Maya worship site built in honor of the goddess Ix Chel ( which means “she of the rainbow”) and the people would travel there to worship the deity and give offerings for fertility, midwifery, medicine, and weaving. This bit of information is taken from Wikipedia – a favored online website. Apparently, certain times of the year were significant and, although some lived in San Gervasio year round, often pilgrims would travel to this site from the mainland. Frankly speaking, I admire any group of people who would travel such a distance without the use of modern transportation. Now, with that in mind, I’ll return to the morning.
Since the ruins are located in the center of our island, a taxi can be quite expensive if negotiating isn’t your thing. I was fortunate to find Victor, a friendly man with some English skills and an entertaining personality. As soon as I opened up my front door I saw his taxi van parked at a street light just outside my home. We had a quick conversation and were able to come to an agreement on a round trip price that was mutually satisfying. I jumped in his van and off we went. He was quite the tour guide and had me smiling the whole drive. A good way to start the day.
It was early, about 8:15, and the sky looked promising. We’d had rain for a few days and I’d been a little concerned. But, the clouds were white and appeared harmless so the potential for pictures was good. Time to sit back and relax. About thirty minutes later we turned into the site and traveled under an archway. Once past the two security men we drove down a long, bumpy road through sparse jungle. Alongside the road small cenotes seemed to be just about everywhere and lizards were already coming out to sun on the rocks. Other than the van, the only sound was of the birds, a lot of birds. And, since it was early, we were the only vehicle on the road.
After a mile or two, we pulled in the parking lot and Victor pointed out the direction I needed to go. I paid my entrance fees, there are two now, but quite reasonable, received my pamphlet and map and off I went. Due to my special purpose I turned down the possibility of having a guide, although I’ve heard the experience is quite informative, and started to walk down a stone pathway alone. Let me mention that, once out of view of the entrance and the few workers, it became a bit disconcerting for a moment. Whether one believes in spirituality or not, there is a strong sense of import. A sense of the people’s history, their culture, and a feeling of strength prevails. And, at the risk of sounding a bit touched in the head, there’s a regal calmness about this place. Probably the best way to describe how I felt would be to say that if I’d been with someone I would have whispered out of respect. I do know I walked lightly.
I came up on an arch. According to my pamphlet, this was the entrance to the main plaza and, once I snapped a few photos, I walked around it to go down a long path to the main house. This might be a good time to mention that the ruins are accompanied by information in, I believe, four languages and signs with painted arrows mark the paths. So, for the adventurous folks out there, like me, who travel without a guide there’s little chance of getting lost.
It’s quite a walk, but worth it. I could hear things rustling in the foliage on the side, but nothing of any size to be concerned about and the morning was beautiful. I was glad that I’d remembered my mosquito lotion since the recent rains might have brought more out than usual. Enjoying the solitude I took my time and pointed my camera just about every direction at one time, or another.
Once at the main house, after a taking a few pictures, I began to look for some stones for my offering. There are stones of every size, shape and color scattered everywhere and I was hoping to find a few that stood out. Once collected I would be stacking them with a prayer and a wish of well-being for my friend and her family. For those unfamiliar with this practice, stone stacking is a tradition that can be found within many religions and cultures such as Judaism and Buddhism as well as in my own Native American background. It’s not unusual to see these small offerings in a park, outside a temple, or even in someone’s garden. Sort of an eco-friendly symbolic gesture might be the best way to sum it up. I spotted a couple, carefully confirmed that they were not part of any structure, put them in my bag and went on.
The San Gervasio ruins may not be as impressive as those at Chichen Itza, or Tulum, but they are certainly worth a visit, in my humble opinion. In addition to the structures, the paths, flowers, and lizards all help make one feel the true sense of what it must have been like in centuries past. In fact, their remote locations and smaller sizes discourage crowds from gathering, which makes for a pleasant experience. I saw a few more stones that looked interesting, the process itself is fulfilling, and I put those in my bag as well. Now, off to find the spot to put together my small group and send up a thank you to my friend.
A lizard decided to pose for me, and that is exactly what it seemed like since I took so long to focus. Another one walked along the path just in front of me. They are everywhere, but most seem quite acclimated to humans. Not sure how I feel about that. Still, just one more part of the experience that makes it all worth the trip. I clicked away and, a little while later, knew that I had reached the spot. A sturdy wall centuries old will be the place to make my offering. I sat down for a moment.
After a few thoughts about the “events” of the past year I made my final selection from the stones I’d been collecting. This part might be a bit hard to explain, but I’ll try. It isn’t necessarily about their appearance, their texture, or even the color. It’s the feel of one in your hand, the way one might catch your eye when looking about. Maybe it’s how they fit together, or not. The point is this, my thoughts were with my friend, and her family, throughout the process. The stacking began and my final result was far from impressive, but that’s okay. With each small stone there was a good thought sent.
I headed back to the entrance and found Victor waiting. With a smile, he held the door open for me and we headed back to town. Some pleasant exchanges, a bit more information about my surroundings and I was home. With good thoughts, the morning ended. Salud!