21 enero 2013 lunes
Today we celebrate American democracy in action as President Obama took the oath of office for a second term. I am filled with such great pride that our country, so torn apart by the past of slavery and still struggling to come to terms with our attitudes about race, not only elected our first African American President, but also re-elected him to serve our country another 4 years!! May this action strengthen our self-awareness and healing. Not only in terms of learning to treat ALL Americans with dignity and fairness as so eloquently voiced by Martin Luther King Jr, but also in how we treat citizens of other countries and the physical world that we all share….this fragile planet Earth. If we Americans and our elected politicians can learn that none of us are superior to others, then there is greater hope for our powerful country to enact legislation and act in ways to promote peace and justice in the world. May it be so for 2013 and beyond!!
Speaking of new eras and beginnings. We obviously all survived this past December 21, 2012 which celebrated the end of a Mayan era of approximately 5,200 years, culminating in what was called 13 Baktun. A Baktun is a period of roughly 400 years, so we just completed thirteen such eras, and now we commence with a new Baktun. Thus, the Mayans did NOT predict the end of the world for 12/21/12 but merely the end of an era. Their belief is that this new era forecasts humans living in better harmony with their environment. …so timely and crucial for our survival!
I truly wish that I had been present in Guatemala to attend the festivities because there were to be celebrations at 13 sacred sites. One such site was to be Zaculeu which I visited on my return to San Bartolo from the colorful town of Todos Santos. This is a pre-Columbian archeological site from the period AD 250-600. Standing amongst the ruins of pyramids, I tried to imagine the community life from so many centuries ago. This was the capital of the Mam Kingdom (Mam is a Mayan language still spoken in the area), which was then taken over by the K´iche´Kingdom of Qúmarka. Kíche´ is now one of several of the more widely spoken Mayan languages in Guatemala (there are a total of 22 Mayan languages) so clearly the K´iche´peoples rose in power in the past and spread their language and culture.
My town of San Bartolo, a one hour drive south of this site, is a K´iche´speaking community. And as so often happened in the world, a colonizing force arrived in the form of Spaniards and invaded Zaculeu around 1525…hence the ruins today.
On my last day in Todos Santos, Laura and I climbed what is popularly called ¨La Torre¨, due to the presence of a cell phone tower! It is reported to be the highest non-volcanic peak in Central America, standing at 3,837 meters or 12,589ft. It was a cold start to the day as we loaded into a van with hikers bound elsewhere, and then we hopped out at a small path near some homes with our guide. The trail was actually relatively easy, but the altitude had me stopping frequently to catch my breath and enjoy the view.
As we climbed, a carpet of clouds formed in the distance with Tajumulco poking its head out. Yes, I felt a pride to realize that I had stood atop that highest point with my kids in December 2011.
A few hours later, we reached the top. There were signs of a more active tourist time, with the abandoned remains of a coffee stop. Apparently when the global economic downfall hit 5yrs ago, so also tailed off the visitors to this mountainous place. The three of us enjoyed the solitude and the view, taking our time to descend back to the small hamlet of homes. No such luxury of a van ride back to town…instead we clung to the sides in the bed of a pickup truck, with cold wind whipping our faces, and both of us trying to dodge the growing puddle of sheep urine. The male ram was also tied in the back of the truck and his owner tried to comfort the scared animal who was trying to keep his footing as we rounded the mountain curves. We arrived safely in Todos Santos after our adventure of hike and travel. After all, I need such adrenaline rushes to stay young at heart and in body!!
So a very happy 2013 to all as we go forward in a new Baktun and new Presidential term!!!