An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
of April 18, 2010
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining
Chichén Itzá Ruins, Yucatán, MÉXICO


Mérida in supposed to be very hot and glaringly sun- baked in April, so on Tuesday when I stepped from the porch of the Immigration Building into a cool drizzle it was something special. For the rest of the day showers came and went, stunning the town with unexpected cool freshness, with shimmering, silvery reflections instead of stark shadows, and a kind of overall pastel softness instead of the usual rambunctious commercial garishness.

In sprawling Mercado San Benito at a little sidewalk eatery I settled beneath a red table-umbrella with silvery water streaming over its edges and asked for my usual meal: Eggs scrambled with onion, tomato and chili pepper -- a la mexicana, as they say. The plate arrived not only with eggs but also refried beans, a nice salad and a stack of hot tortillas, for it all goes together here, just having scrambled eggs being quite impossible. Forty years ago the salad would have given me severe diarrhea for three days and nights but now my guts are so Mexicanized that I can eat anything with impunity.

When I paid, the middle-aged woman asked me how it'd tasted. I surprised myself by kissing the fingertips I'd held the tortillas with and crooning in English "Wonderful!" The robust, flat-faced lady flashed a smile like that of a child with a new puppy, and the friend she'd been gossiping with patted her on the back.

Nearby in tiny Parque Eulogio Rosado, so small it's not even on my tourist map, I found a bench that tree branches had kept relatively dry. Others hadn't taken the seat because also overhead there cavorted an obstreperous flock of grating, popping, whistling and screeching Great Tailed Grackles. Most people feared that if they sat there they'd be pooped on, but I was in the mood to take a chance, and in the end I got away in immaculate condition.

With bouncy, rhythmic music blasting from half a dozen colorful shops and stalls at the park's edge and a loudspeaker someplace droning on with a fellow hawking snake-oil good for everything from hemorrhoids to diabetes, an old Maya lady, fat, browned by the sun, wearing the lovely traditional white, flower-embroidered smock, or huipil, decided to take a chance on the grackles, too. She sat beside me, kicked off her shoes to reveal pink, puckered toes and soles, and spreading her toes and wiggling them in the cold drizzle moaned with such pleasure and smiled so that everyone all around smiled, too.

But, here's what interested me: That everyone in Parque Eulogio Rosado that day -- at least a hundred individuals -- was lavishly indulging in a kind of existential perfection seldom experienced by many people. Yet surely not one of those around me knew about the Six Miracles of Nature, nor did any carry in his or her head the image of the hand "casting dust into empty space, the dust proliferating, coming alive, blossoming into the Universe with all its dimensions, all its living things, more and more feelings and insights, and unseen currents of creativity... "

These folks worked hard, took siestas, produced babies, some drank too much, most ate too much, they belly-ached and laughed, fought and forgave, sometimes felt good and sometimes got depressed... and from my perspective beneath the bedrizzled grackle tree they presented a living tableau of nirvanic gorgeousness.

In cacophonous Parque Eulogio Rosado I saw the Taoist Yin-Yang Circle forming in the mist, the circle composed of black tadpole entering white tadpole, which itself enters the black one, black and white both marked in their hearts with their opposites, and it seemed to be saying this:

That life seeks understanding finally to understand that what was being sought had been at hand all along. There's no frustration or sense of lost time in realizing this, however, for, as St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) wrote, "All the way to Heaven is Heaven." Facebook Icon.