Friday, August 29, 2008

Back to School

Another school year has started yesterday.

My older daughter’s enthusiasm for this event has seeped into me, while, together, we prepared her things, sharpened pencils, put labels on binders, went again through her list of school supplies to make sure we haven’t missed anything, and stuffed her backpack.

The youngest, sitting on my lap during the whole “operation”, helped too: I would write a label, then she would peel it off and hand it to her older sister, who would in turn stick it to the binder. That’s some teamwork!

In the schoolyard, each kid got a piece of a puzzle, which they had to match with a picture posted on the fence and thus find their classmates for this year. A bit bizarre and probably not necessary, but hey, why not… So, this is their mascot.

Yeah, I know, the beginning of the school year means - maybe more than anything else - that summer’s over. This is especially hard to accept in a year when there’s been no real summer, although these relatively warm August days make me hope for a nice Indian summer.

It also means that I’ll return to my early morning schedule and thus (hopefully) find a wee more time for blogging – reading and posting – and for writing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Asleep in Xcaret?

Nobody is sleeping at Xcaret, except, maybe, for the odd baby overcome by the scorching heat or for the majestic jaguars resting in the shade of their homonymous island. There is too much to do and too much see before you have to leave at night to afford to waste even one minute...

Xcaret (ISH-KA-RET) is an eco-park on the Yucatan coast that blends natural and human built marvels in a most fascinating way. If it were only for the underground river – a half-mile long subterranean river with chilly water that one swims in a darkness interrupted only by the shimmering light coming through rare holes in the ceiling - and my imagination would be forever captivated by this place.

There is a re-created Mayan village there and a Mexican Cemetery. There are 365 tombs on a small terraced hill, one for each day of the year.

It seems the cemetery is a work of art and only that. No real people are asleep under those clever stones. I didn’t know that when I visited it. I’m glad I didn’t - though there was plenty of doubt in my mind at the time if only because of its disagreement with the place; not knowing allowed me to read the inscriptions and to feel the deep emotion that brought tears to my eyes. I admit, I am a bit disappointed now that I know, and somehow relieved.

So, why these tombs, no matter how artistic in look and purpose, among the vivid activities of busy vacation park? A colourful reminder that Death is upon us? Some sort of a Mexican Carpe Diem? Something like the ancient Romans used to have on the walls of their banquet halls – scenes of death to make them live more vigorously? Maybe... Maybe just a distinct approach to the concept of death – laughter as a diffuser of pain and lovely memories instead of sorrow...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Days of the Iguanas

They were everywhere. In the early morning, on the pristine sand of the beach, one could see their trails, the deeper narrow groove left by the tail and the fine filigree drawn by their claws.

An inhabitant of our hotel has come out of its dwelling at the base of an enormous concrete column to enjoy the morning sun, as part of its daily ritual. Good morning, sunshine!

Almost unbelievably all these are youngsters. I’ve just found out from Wikipedia that adult males can reach 1.5 meters in length. These black iguanas (Ctenosaura similis) are listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest lizards on Earth.

Sweet sad dinosaur…

A warrior pose – just before eating some of the white beads produced by a dwarf palm tree. Fruit or flowers?

An Indiana Jones setting… What secret door will you open or what deathly trap will you trigger if you lean onto this mysterious head?

The silent guardians of the stones are watching…