It has finally begun to rain here. Having grown up on the Oregon coast, where it rained almost continually, I never thought I would be so happy to feel rain on my face. The parks were parched, the streets had begun to smell, the air was hot and humid, but now we can breathe freely. I spent a couple hours today on the beach celebrating an enactment of a Mayan ritual in praise of Ix Chel, goddess of the moon, the tides and fertility. This tradition, which disapperared with the arrival of the Spanish, was recreated this weekend after 500 years.
The enactment was manifest by rituals in Xcaret, Cozumel and finally Playa del Carmen and linked by dug out canoes, paddled across the sea from site to site. Only three of the 30 canoes arrived in the rough sea of Playa from about 12:30 – 1:30 pm. One held six men, the other two held two women and two men each. The wind was blowing hard and rain was falling. Five women in flowing burnt orange dresses stood on the beach awaiting the arrivals. Tents had been erected for the families of those handling the canoes. Behind, further up the beach, was an area prepared for the ritual.
The ceremony began with flute music accompanying male dancers with long hair and gourds atop their heads. The crowd of perhaps 50 canoe paddlers crouched before them. Soon they were joined by young men and women with mud dried on their faces. Ritualistic dances continued and were joined by drumming. The canoe people were welcomed and filtered through palapa huts constructed behind. Finally a very pregnant woman in a blue dress was brought forward. A few if the young women climbed on the shoulders of the young men and water was poured from gourds in front of the pregnant woman.
It was all rather wonderful, but by 2:00 pm I was soaking wet. Several friends were still present, but I decided to make my way home about four blocks from the beach.