She stepped off the old school
bus-type bus onto the dusty ground below. The sun was out in
full force, no clouds in sight, and she knew she was going to
burn today. Hopefully not too much though. Maybe she would
give in and buy a silly tourist hat from the men walking around
wearing multiple sombreros. For now she would let the sun sink
into her skin and warm up her slightly shivering soul.
After buying a ticket to
the ruins and on the way to the entrance, she was beset upon
by an aggressive huckster. The man gave off an air of pudgy
desperation, not at all conducive to his trade of swindling the
visitors who hadn't even made it across the parking lot. "Hello,"
he said quickly, uncovering the treasure in his hand with a flourish.
A pair of squat obsidian figures lay across his palm, flat as
though run over by a squat obsidian steamroller, possibly the
third piece of the set. A little more quietly, as if to show
his respect, the man made his announcement: "The god of
the Sun and the god of the Moon."
She didn't even slow down, but continued her straight shot towards
the information booth at the front of the site. Admirably, the
man kept up with her and her long legs; he danced sideways around
her presenting his wares at every possible angle. "Only
two hundred each. Both for three fifty. Normally they are three
hundred each. Hand made obsidian."
"Oh, did you make these?" She stopped suddenly. With
his nodding response she continued, "In that case I'll give
you 25 pesos for both, and I'll throw in another five pesos for
a peek at your workshop. But that's my lowest offer."
She flashed a wicked smile and resumed her long steps forward.
He was starting to get a suspicious feeling that this might be
a difficult sale. He decided to go with Plan B, and pulled a
slightly smaller third figure out of his pocket. "This
one is supposed to be a hundred and seventy-five. But for a
beautiful woman like you it is only one fif-" She was already
gone, laughing out loud as she left the little man far behind
and flew up the steps to give her ticket to the guard at the
entrance. At about one hundred feet from the entrance the would-be
stonecarver hovered for a few seconds as if pressing softly upon
some invisible force field before turning to focus his attention
on the next -- hopefully slower-walking -- person on their way
Once through the entrance, Angela walked through a simple courtyard
underneath a white two-story building that seemed to hold bathrooms,
a deserted information counter, and the local restaurant, as
well as a few administrative offices. A couple of men sat on
the steps, just observing the passers-by and talking about who-knows-what.
Their clothes were old but they were smart enough to have hats,
which gave them a slight strategic edge against the sun's rays.
Angela knew she should probably avoid worshipping a god that
was so bad for the skin, but the light had pulled her forward
to this place, and like a pale moth she felt compelled now to
get as close as she could before catching fire.
She emerged from the shade of the building and caught her first
glimpse of the two pyramids, the Sun and Moon greeting her squat
and stony in the distance, but impressive even from this far
away. A thin ant line rolled up the edge of the Sun pyramid from
the main road below. Above its pyramid the god shone down as
if to welcome everyone who made the journey. Smaller and farther,
the pyramid of the Moon still had a few climber ants of its own,
people who didn't mind not being on the highest top.
Angela tried to imagine what it would have been like without
all of the people, the loud Americans, the louder Germans, and
the loudest Lithuanians. What it would have been like without
any of the souvenir venders and their colorful rugs and mock
tomahawks. Before the pyramids had been appropriated by the government,
they must have stood for centuries all alone. To the occasional
lonely traveler they must have seemed like beautiful diamonds
of rock, emerging from the ground like some forgotten miracle.
As she climbed among the shorted and t-shirted around her, she
imagined she was climbing alone, making her way up to the top
as if an adventurer who didn't know that what she was doing was
in every guidebook within a hundred mile radius. She climbed
as if on some pilgrimage to an ancient force that was older than
the stones she pushed up on, older than the ground below. The
steps were steep, and she had to pause twice to catch her breath,
but before she knew it she was there, her shoes together on the
highest point of the rounded mound that was the top of the pyramid.
For just a moment she was able to block out the sound of the
crowd gathered around her and she turned her face upwards, eyes
closed, and smiled at the brightness and heat that had been there
every step of the way, just not this close, not this immediate.
Between her and the sun was only wide blue sky, a cool breeze,
and ninety-three million miles.
She opened her eyes and looked
at all the other wanderers who had somehow cumulated upon this
place. She wasn't quite ready to leave, so she took a seat on
the edge of the mound between an old brown couple and a young
white couple. As she sat and enjoyed the wind, she listened
to the couples speak and realized that she couldn't understand
a single word any of them were saying. Other couples and families
wobbled around the top and took pictures of each other with the
smaller pyramid behind and below them. But there would be no
photos taken of her today, no lasting record of her having been
in this place at all. Once more she found herself the solitary
adventurer, surrounded by nothing but the wind and the sky and