Some triggers of fear in Mexico (above left to right): large hand-sized tarantula near the entrance to Tortuga Escondida; the Akumal jail cell; an entrance to Xibalba; the tree of life deep inside Balankanche cave near Chichen Itza
Surprises are not always hard to stomach. Oftentimes, Mexico is downright magical in the happiest sense of the word. I achieved fascinating results in my jungle-improvised electronics studio, and I even witnessed multiple species of birds singing in response to my chirping circuits. I gave my first electronics class in Spanish and had the distinct impression that I changed a man’s life. I made several life-long friends in less time than I spent maintaining distant, unsatisfying contact through social media. I managed to paint a large portion of my first street mural using a cheap roller that fell into the dirt repeatedly (i.e., once or twice a minute). I witnessed strangers open their hearts and give freely in a multi-cultural exchange that overcame grudges, judgement, and hierarchy. I used a paper map to navigate poetic roads across remote areas of the Yucatán peninsula. I met people who unabashedly believe in the existence of spirits, and I participated in five Mayan ceremonies. I climbed ancient pyramids and wondered why great civilizations were abandoned at least five hundred years before the Spanish arrived. I saw Morpho butterflies, Motmot birds, Tucans, Chacalacas, Flamingos, Howler monkeys, and giant Iguanas. I swam with sea turtles, heard strange owls, watched millions of bats fly in a vortex, and felt the presence of a jaguar. I stayed up all night in the jungle, sang a mixture of Mayan prayers, Christmas carols, and southern spirituals, confronted my fears in multiple sweat lodges, and descended into Xibalba four times. I left with the distinct impression that hardship is not something to be avoided, but embraced as a practice of spiritual growth, perhaps as the only way to cultivate openness to the truly good stuff in life —the stuff that money and convenience simply cannot buy.
Below are a few of my photographic impressions, although most of the magic I witnessed could not be easily captured. I will have to create works of art for that which words and cameras could not record.