As mentioned in my last post, Paco – our Chichen Itza guide – was incredibly entertaining, though this leads me to doubt whether some of his stories were told in full seriousness, namely 2 and 3.
Having settled into our seats on the coach for the long drive to Chichen Itza, Paco’s voice came out over the microphone…
1. Hola and welcome, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Paco Rosas, that’s Paco with a P not Taco with a T. Now, before you all fall asleep, can I have your attention for a short while – I will give you time to rest, don’t worry, I just need to tell you that we will stop on the way for a quick break where you can use the toilet and visit the gift shop. There is a toilet on the coach, but that one is only for peepee! Not for poopoo!!
(Thanks to his poker face, I had no way of telling nor will I ever know if this was said genuinely, or purely for comical purposes)
After getting back on the coach for the remainder of the journey, he proceeded to give us a short historical background, regarding the Spaniards’ and their arrival in the land of the Mayans.
2. When the Spaniards arrived, with their rifles, steel armour, and physiques which most likely terrified the Mayans, (who were short people – I saw a man whose head came up below my shoulder), they asked the Mayan people who they were. The Mayan people didn’t understand this strange, foreign tongue. They replied in their own language, saying something sounding like ‘ma ya, ma ya!’ meaning “don’t hurt us!” Obviously, the Spaniards took this as their answer, and thus called them Mayans.
3. Yucatan was similarly named. When the Spaniards asked the locals the name of their place, the Mayans simply replied “I don’t understand what you’re saying”, which to the Spaniards, sounded like ‘Yucatan’.
After this genuinely interesting lesson in history, Paco said:
4. Thank you for your attention. I’ll come round if anyone has any questions. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll make up a good one for you.
As he wandered round to our seats, I overheard the following conversation between another passenger and Paco:
5. “Where did you learn your English, Paco? It’s very good!!
“I learnt it at school, sir”
“Where, here in Mexico?”
“Yees, yesss I had a beautiful teacher… ohhh she was gorgeous!”
“Oh um..okay, I was ju-”
“Aaah it was a good way to learn!” *Paco looks off into the distance in a daze*
6. Before disembarking:
We’re going to put a sticker on you all… because you all look alike, as tourists always do…
7. …and we then proceeded to explore the ancient city of Chichen Itza with our ‘Paco’ stickers clearly plastered onto our clothes.
8. I’d like to leave you all with something though, that was the most interesting exchange of the day by far, for me at least. Around Paco’s neck was a string, from which hung a small, white skull. I know what you’re thinking – “Well, that’s tourist-friendly”. But before you judge, just wait. We asked him why he was wearing a skull, and its significance. I found his answer to be quite refreshing, actually. He replied that skulls are particularly important to the Mayans because they are somewhat symbolic; a reminder, if you like, that regardless of one’s external appearance, including skin colour, and regardless of one’s beliefs and practices, ultimately we are all going to end up the same way. Inside, we are all the same. “We are all just human beings”, ended Paco.
I found this analogy so…nice, albeit different, and it just left me so pleasantly shocked at this long-standing, open-minded attitude which we could really use a lot more of in today’s world.