(continued from an earlier issue; read part one)
Outside the restaurant I said, “We must go quickly to find this man at the University.” We set off at nearly a trot, and after asking directions from a street vendor, we found our way to the steps of that library. As Gustavo had said, there stood a large man with a thick middle. His Yucatecan shirt was tucked in at the waist, making him appear even stouter. Eusebio Diaz appeared to be uncomfortably warm. Small beads of perspiration dotted his forehead as he said, “Yes, I am the one you seek. Let’s get out of this hot sun right now.”
We sat at a shady place along a low wall. It was clearly siesta time, and many people simply laid down where they were and dozed in the afternoon heat. “Diego De Landa,” I started to say.
“Shh! Hold your voice down,” Eusebio cautioned. “We don’t want our neighbors to know our business.” In a low tone, he said, “I know all about De Landa. He is the personification of Evil on this earth! If you really want to learn about the goings-on in the colonial days, there is a group that meets here in Merida. We have not forgotten how our people were mistreated. We are few. But we are growing in number. Since you come from Izamal, you will indeed appreciate what we have in store. But I say too much. Join us and learn what every Mayan should know. We are students and professors and seekers of truth. And remember, the motto of this place is “A true spirit of rebellion is one who seeks happiness in this life.”
I think: Happiness always seems to be something that someone else has in his grasp.
We walked down a side street and entered a narrow alley. A rusty iron door with a padlock opened, as if by magic, as we approached. “We’re in luck. My friends are already here,” Eusebio said as he left us. The door swung wide, and we entered.
Five men stood in a circle around a small table. On that table was a very old-looking book. “Maybe, in time, we will introduce ourselves,” one of them said. “But for now just call us as if we were points on a circular clock face, with the “12” being closest to the door. So, I am “3,” next is “5,” then “7,” and “9” and the last, “11.” Yaxche` tightened her hold on my hand.
The man called “3” spoke first: ”We know all about you both. We know you come from Izamal. We need your help. That is why you have gained entrance into this group. You will first need to learn many things. These things are difficult, and you will not like to hear them. But the truth will make you stronger. Do you ever wonder who you are? Dios Mio, it’s 1993, and many of us still don’t have a clue as to what went on.”
Number 9 continued, “We will help you put back together the pieces of our Mayan history. We will let the light of knowledge shine on you.”
And Number 5 added, “Yes, time is passing quickly. Prepare yourselves for a different world.”
What did that mean? Soon we would find out .
On this first meeting, I was sizing up these people. Of course, I was interested in learning all I could about the past. These men seemed to know what I wanted to know. I didn’t understand the need for secrecy, but I would go along with them for at least a while. I could feel Yaxche’s resistance to the whole thing. “When is the next meeting?” I asked.
“It doesn’t work that way. We contact you. It will be the day before we meet. That way, there will be time for you to get to Merida.” Number 11 said. “And, Luca, you must not speak of this place, or of us.”
As Yaxche` and I walked out the door, I noticed some verse had been neatly written above the doorway:
Don’t tell me your missions are beautiful
They’re monuments to slavery and pain.
Butchery done for glory and gain
By Cortez, the Church, and Spain.
The hairs on the back of my neck raised about 2 cm as I read that.