A WALK IN PISTÉ

In Pisté late morning it's already hot and windy with summery cumulus clouds overhead. Coconut Palm fronds crackle in the wind, dust clouds swirl past, and heavy sunlight on sweaty skin feels good. Tourist buses stream through town headed for the ruins, pale faces peering from windows, but here on the backstreets mostly people are walking or on bikes. A pickup truck cruises by with a loudspeaker atop alternately blasting salsa music and praise for pineapples on sale.

An Achiote tree beside a low stone wall next to the street is loaded with brown, burry capsules. Break open a capsule, rub the reddish-orange seeds on your hand and you get reddish-orange stain, the color of spicy achiote paste used in many Maya dishes. Tangles of Night-blooming Cereus cactus scramble atop other stone walls. Grackles screech and clack and whistle from deep inside a big Strangler Fig, and Social Flycatchers, shrill and piercing, call t-CHEER-CHEER, chee-TIQUEER. Little boys cheer as their black homemade kite ascends skyward making loops in ever- gustier wind.

Gliding, gliding, gliding, feeling bodiless, looking at weed flowers, picking up silvery-winged Monkey-Comb seeds, passing gaudy wall posters announcing a dance in nearby Xcalacoop, images of light and color drifting by accompanied by birdsong here, blaring radio there, fragrance of citrusy Lemoncillo flowers here, the woosh of wind there, always the wind.

Honestly I'm not sure whether my friend and I are fighting when I interrupt our talk saying, "Look at that black dog smiling at us." Seeing the dog's sloppy smile and sparkling eyes directed right at us, she laughs so hard that I know we're not. She's just sending into me one of those probes of hers to see what's inside me, unconcerned about what she disturbs, or what the consequences might be.

Back on the main street it's hotter and much louder, and dustier. A lady's sidewalk rotisserie billows dense white smoke when juices drip from reddish chicken-halves being flipped. We walk through the cloud, my friend feeling good calls to the señora, "¡Huele rico!" "Smells good" and inside the smoke we enter another cloud, this of loud Mexican hiphop with such unlikely lyrics and joyful energy and sexy imagery that she looks at me and says, "Let's eat here."

In smoke and hiphop and with tourist buses rumbling over a speedbump just feet away my friend's orange-red chicken-half comes with rice, slices of red tomato, green lettuce, white onions, and hotsauce in a black stone molcajete. The giardia I've been battling for three months seems to be acting up today, sharp stomach pains and I'm a bit dizzy and feel feverish atop all the heat, so I just drink cold water, and soon feel better.

Actually I'm not sure it's my giardia acting up, or just the way I feel when this friend shoots her probes into me, or when she's doing things like sitting next to me as vividly aware as I that this smoke and the diesel fumes and this crazy hiphop beat somehow is something worth cherishing, worth getting misty-eyed about when I think about it, something that's smiling and generous and good, and even though I don't like breathing smoke, don't like eating beside speedbumps with crossing-over busses and don't like nutty hiphop, I know that we're so profoundly lucky to have it all exactly as it is right here and now, never to be experienced just so, ever again.