Self was a grad student at Stanford.
Her roommate was an Anthropology grad student named Sachiko Hayashida. (She has tried many times to find Sachiko. She has googled “Sachiko Hayashida” and found a few who teach in Japanese universities and fired off letters. The letters always come back with a note: I am not that Sachiko Hayashida)
Sachiko and self decided to spend two weeks traveling around Mexico.
Sachiko was responsible for drawing up the itinerary. Self’s only responsibility was to keep up.
Sachiko had undertaken many trips by herself. Not self. This was self’s first travel adventure.
We ended up fighting. A lot.
Sachiko had to be carried on the plane on a stretcher at the very end. She had Montezuma’s Revenge.
One of our most memorable trips was from Mexico City to Merida by third-class bus. Once we arrived in Merida, we searched all over the city for a vegan restaurant mentioned in Lonely Planet. The name was Sergeant Pepper’s.
We finally found someone who said, “Ah! You are looking for Sarhento Pimiento!”
Of course! Sarhento Pimiento! Why had we wandered all over Merida looking for SERGEANT PEPPER?
One of the most memorable excursions we made while in Merida was to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. We took a public bus, and it dropped us off at the side of the road at 4 a.m.
Self frankly thought Sachiko was crazy, but at 7 a.m., when Chichen Itza began to receive its swarm of tourists, self thought Sachiko was brilliant. Because no one else was in the ruins at 4 a.m. (Of course, it wasn’t safe. But we were 22. We weren’t thinking of safe) We were thrashing around, avoiding lizards — some extremely large — and what-not, when we suddenly came to a large clearing, raised our eyes and YOWZA! A temple!
Afterwards, self read to Sachiko from a book she’d picked up from the Stanford Bookstore: World of the Maya by Victor W. Von Hagen.
She has it with her now, in Mendocino.
The Maya have been characterized as “The Intellectuals of the New World” because of their highly developed calendrics, their glyph-writing, and the ornamental complexity of their architecture. They were unique in their culture; pacific, they fought few wars; they viewed life from their jungle fastness with Olympian detachment, working out complicated calendric inscriptions that could push their history back to 23,040,000,000 days.
You need a lot of undisturbed time (i.e. peace) to be that focused on a task that complicated, self figures.
The irony is not lost on self, that one of the first widely-read accounts of the Mayan civilization was William H. Prescott’s The Conquest of Peru, who made a hero out of Francisco Pizarro, “a man who couldn’t even read his own name . . . ”
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.