The Artwork of Michael Divine

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Guatemala, Mayans y Pollo Frito

July 10th, 2006

Cloudy skies with bits of sprinkle now and again become welcome respite from the hot southern suns. One sun really but may as well be many cause they beat down hot when they decide to. We are circled by volcanoes pointing to the sky with little divots at their peaks, seen when the clouds decide to part ways. Cobblestone streets of Antigua, Guatemala, walked by small mayan women dressed in bright colors carry baskets upon their heads filled with clothing or sliced mangos. young schoolchildren in their school uniforms, and ordinary latinos in ordinary clothing, young girls in the traditional garb of the young girls of the times- a tight pair of jeans and a tight shirt accentuating curves- traditional wear.
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After lunch we find ourselves wandering through earthquake strewn cathedral. Giant pillars crashed to the ground and remain in piles. The ceiling is gone and opens to the sky, arches shadowed against eh clouds and the bits of blue which shine through. Where once gold gilded the edges of an altar or brightly painted spanish colonial patterns decorated a doorway, now little bits of broad leafed plants grow from cracks, stucco falls to the ground and four hundred year old rock and brick are exposed. Once a great mayan site, always once a great mayan site- torn down, destroyed for the sake of anothers power- that cathedral was well, loses it’s footing and slides into disuse, a mere shell of it’s former self. What are we ever left with? Only that which has always resided in our hearts.

Yesterday we found ourselves in Tikal, farther north, near the trown of Flores, the quaint little island town in a lake, with winding streets and brightly colored buildings and old women vying for our attention so as to sell us more of their clothing, their bright colors, their table runners and they are all charming and their colors are alll beautiful but we can only buy so many things…

In Tikal, where no one lives now, we marvel at ruins soaring above ther jungle canopy. We sit and draw in the breezes blowing by. Once a thriving center of power. now a place for tourists and mayans alike to come and wander through yesterdays grandeurs. Many years ago, as they do now, someone couldn’t sit still: the power was here! to be had and taken and commoditized! So they came, they conquered, they left. Now no one owns it. It is a place to come and see what is in the past while new enemies are named and new powers are usurped. It is a cycle, a drama, which just goes on and on…

Still, heard in whisperings of brsses, in the patterns of stones, int he arrangement of temples, power never goes away. It is felt by those who go pay homage to those places. Power has forever merely shifted hands. We are as empowered now as we were then and as we ever shall eb. It is up to us to allow that to flow through us in this now. We take little, We leave little. It is nothing but energy.

Tomorrow we head to Lake Atitlan to hike in the Volcanoes. Between Mayan temples we must have a little bit of vacationing as well. It is all research and inspiration and the temple builders, the artists who weave thir patterns are as much inspired by their spirituality as they are by land they walk upon and to taste the vibration of a place their are many flavors to sample: the food, the spiritual centers, the oceans (a few days in culturally disparate Belize on Caye Caulker snorkelling with the fishes and the coral helped that), the mountains, the lakes and, most of all, the people.

Now the sky has decided to open up a bit more and leave us with alittle more rain. The umbrella we found on the airplane seems to have been granted to us by duivine providence. It’s a pretty nice umbrella too and sweems it could be used for a weapon if needed. We are beings of light on serious missions of self-discovery and enlightenment however and it will be used merely to defned ourselves from the cold rain.

A little boy comes in. Wants to talk. I am sitting at the end of the row of computers near the two large open wooden doors. Hola, he says… and a conversation ensues. Would i like my shoes shined? I am wearing sandals. he smiles bashfully. Where am i from? Los Angeles. Un Ciudad Grande, un poco como Guatemala Ciudad. Muy grande, ruida… Entonces: i show him my sketchbook, his eyes brighten. Would i buy him some chicken he asks. Hmmm… a bold question. His shoeshine box swings from his hand. His other hand, darkened by the shine, rests on the table. He smiles sweetly. We talk some more. Really, he says, he would like some chicken.

Ok.

So we go and get some chicken next door. It is Burger King. It’s cheap. That’s what he wants. it’s raining. How much do you make per shoe shine, i ask him, while we wait in line. 4 quetzales, he tells me. That’s is about 50 cents. Not much. It takes a long time to save up enough for lunch. He is six years old, not yet in school. Has to work for his food. Earlier i saw an old mayan woman angrily chasing two laughing shoeshine boys with a rock in her hand. I holpe he wasn’t one of them. Our turn in line comes. Un orden de Chicken tenders, papas fritas pequenas para mi amigo por favor, i ask.

I place a burger king crown on his head as i leave and wish him luck. There are scams and then there are just kids who really just are hungry. It is a poor place, though not dirt poor. He will get by- being bold enough to ask strangers to get him lunch, when he gets older he will want bigger things and have the gumption to ask bigger questions. Good luck, orlando.

The Artwork of Michael Divine

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