Even as I sit here, in front of this computer I am picking bits of limestone out of my wet hair. I close my eyes and try to let the moments of earlier today become vivid and alive again.
At 5:55, the blue van picked me up on the Philip Goldson Highway, just miles away from the Philip Goldson International Airport. Inside some members of the BAFFU team and I were on our own ‘road to El Dorado’. We, unlike the fifteenth century Spaniards in the New World, were en route to a Maya ruin, the former Maya site Noh Mul.
We stopped in Orange Walk Town to feast on the famed ‘Orange Walk tacos’, except for Dwayne Murillo who in observance of Ramadan must fast. We drove further on, to fix a valve on one of the tires. Some members went to the nearby park. I stayed on, I like the machines at the tire shop. The mechanical noises, the grease, the part of me, which always seeks to acquire ‘male’ knowledge and strength stayed on to be satiated.
Yasser Musa and Gilvano Swasey got directions from the man at the tire shop, he knew exactly where it was because he “used to farm deh. Before wen da mi loan bush.”
We all got back into the van and very soon, were turning off the Northern Highway unto the road which led to New San Juan. This is where the remains of Noh Mul sat, nestled in the loose vegetation, surrounded by a sea of cane fields.
We tackled a rough road to get there, which was fine by me, well accustomed to unpaved, pothole-speckled, rain-beaten roads of Vista del Mar. My comrades did not seem to mind either.
We could see it become real. The picture of a bulldozer-scraped Maya site, is just that, walking to the ruin, faced with its immensity, its vulnerability, its loss. The wreckage became 3D.
Gilvano climbed all the way to the top and smiling from the ledge said we could access it from the side. The braver ones went first, Micah Vernon, Briheda Haylock, Alyssa Craig, Kyraan Gabourel, Kristian Carter and Shantel Carter, me and Dwayne lagged for a bit a the base. The climb was not an easy one. He decided to stay and I swallowed my fears and began to crawl on up getting assistance with my folder of documents the flip and my phone.
I met them at the top, as they posed for a picture on a ledge.
I knew I needed to bury my credentials, I just didn’t know where. Gilvano suggested the top of Noh Mul.
Conveniently, there was an orifice there already. The earth around it was soft, so I decided it was perfect. I buried my academic history there, SJCJC and ESAY transcripts, an SCA graduation program circa 2003, and an acceptance letter and other forms from John Carroll University. After burial, I covered it with a stone and we all descended.
Micah, who had, descended first did his own intervention, at the base of Noh Mul, he disrobed and held a silver poster which read “Welcome to Las VEGAs!” A commentary on the fact that the demise of Noh Mul is the masterwork of the Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Gaspar Vega and his relative, aspirant standard bearer, Denny Grijalva.
Gathered at the base, along with Alton Humes, functioning as writer and press, we listened as Yasser explained his intervention, which was to bury a Landings book, a 464 page brick which documents 10 years of culture and thought. He would bury it here, but not before we all signed it, and some, tried to throw it up into the small oval crevice, made famous world wide when news broke of its near complete demolition in May of 2013.
The book was buried under soft cal, and patted down by Dwayne's prayers and hands. Kyraan sealed the ritual with a beautiful burst of spoken word, followed by Dwayne reading a poem he had written for the occasion.
As we were leaving, marveling at the pottery shards and flint chips, just lying there in the open, legacies of Noh Mul having been ravaged by those immense metallic claws. Everything flung in any direction, not prepared for the sudden assault.
We were met by a “what are you doing here? This is my property. This is not Noh Mul, this (is) just a mound. Noh Mul is back there. Covered in bush. Di English mi already come there and excavate that.”
He refused to give his name, but made it clear that we were trespassing.
We left that mound and drove toward another which was completely gone, except for the corner of it, held up by the roots of a tree. Here the CTV3 met and interviewed us.
After a supercharged day, it was nice to unwind in Boston village at Gilvano’s home amid craboo, annatto seeds, and discussing pairings for fever grass tea, spice seeds maybe.