“What’s at Tikal?” I asked, oblivious.
Eric looked at me like I’d just fallen off the turnip truck. My complete ignorance of so much of popular culture and general knowledge outside of my field of expertise often elicits that kind of response. Not that one would necessarily expect the average woman on the street to know about Tikal, at least not until Pinchbeck wrote that book about 2012 that hit the best sellers list. The fact that the Mayans had predicted the end of the world as we knew it in the next week or so had become common knowledge, at least to folks not me, and Tikal was pretty big in the world of Mayan culture.
“Jeez Louise, don’t you go online?” Louise looked at me like some ancient relic from the far distant past. She had a tendency to use her name that way when she got really excited, and she was. It was the first night of our single’s trip in beautiful Belize. “Do you read magazines maybe? Watch TV?”
She was the youngest of our group, a thirty something, the picture of midwestern wholesomeness. Kind of funny that, since most of us were there, I assumed, to get laid. It was, after all, a singles trip.
She took a nice long pull on the straw of her mango and rum smoothie before continuing. “That’s the main reason I’m here! I was browsing through the singles travel site and this trip just called out to me. I looked at how close the Belize Botanical Garden is to the border and the archeological site and the other vibes I’d been getting lately just sent shivers down my spine. I had to come.”
“Me, too.” Eric chimed in. He was drinking water and struck me as a very serious fellow indeed, not my type, at all. “The Mayan calendar is so incredibly astronomically accurate that some people say it was left by aliens, and it ends on December 21, less than two weeks from now. I’ve got to take a look at it, and take a look at the place where that culture lived and died.” He was passionate about it, in a no-nonsense kind of way.
“Wow, I came on this trip hoping to find a nice man and get well laid in a tropical jungle. I thought maybe I'd try the swim along a barrier reef in some crystal clear water thing, and drift through some really groovy caves.” I flashed a grin that was largely supported by a couple of fruity concoctions of my own, as well as some tame but satisfying Belizean weed that a sweetie of a guy at the site had shared with me. Taylor was a super nice, very young and incredibly cute permaculture guy from Florida, my home state.
Alas, by that point, already pickins’ looked pretty slim for getting well laid by a beautiful stranger on the trip for me. Taylor was much too young, Eric too serious, and already obviously interested in another of our group, Anna. Kevin, the tall Irishman from Boston, had acted mostly the obnoxious jerk from the git-go, and he had eyes for Anna’s friend, Marie. The two ladies in question were sidekicks, one small and blonde and just right for Eric, the other tall and dark and, as it turned out, a wee bit like Kevin. Patrick was reasonably intelligent, nice looking and athletic, but made clear that he was much more interested in the caves and the wine and the music than in the old hippie chick carrying all the pain around. He might be available for a hook up, but he seemed to be carrying quite a bit of pain of his own, to which he applied red wine liberally. Rudy, our five foot tall, one hundred and ten pounds soaking wet, self titled Anglo/Irish/Afro/Caribbean/Mayan/Belizean Cave Spirit Whisper of a tour guide had his delightful eight year old daughter in tow, probably to protect him from singles tour women hoping to get well laid.
So no, I’d had no idea what Tikal was.
The trip into Guatemala from Belize was very enlightening all by itself in all kinds of ways. Crossing the border from a land of relative affluence and the sense of security that comes with it into one of abject poverty and truckloads of arms bearing military personnel all around was a bit of a jolt. We had to leave Rudy behind at the border. Miguel, our Guatemalan guide, was not nearly so cheerful. It’s amazing what a difference a relatively tiny span of history can have for so relatively small a space geopolitically divided.
Perhaps it all started at Tikal when I contracted hallucination inducing malaria with a mosquito bite, there’s no telling. Maybe some ancient Mayan spirit sensed my desire to be one with another to the level of soul and has just been metaphorically fucking with me. It could be that an ET implanted nano-bots in a spore spreading fungus at the site and programmed them to release and enter hosts within the timeframe for dispersal encoded in the calendar. Maybe the world ended on Dec. 21, 2012 and it’s all been a dip through purgatory since, I can’t say. It’s hard to figure out what’s what sometimes when bobbing around in a vast sea catching waves.
There is something that I can do though.
Let me tell you a story.
Linda Brooke Stabler, Ph.D.