Angle or Bat
Essay by Margaret Wikman.
I sustain myself an English teacher, but my passion is Mexico. I have a fair trade store in Copenhagen, Zapoteca, where I sell arts and craft from cooperatives and families in Mexico and Guatemala.
This is a one hundred percent true story. I wrote it as a grammar exercise for my English students. I have transformed it into pure pose. I will send you both versions.
A Bat or a Spirit or an Angel or Something Else.
The first time I travelled in Mexico was in 1975. Second time I went there was in 1984, and I carried with me a hammock. It was the best way to travel off the beaten track, because that way you had your own bed with you. Most people let you hang it up on their porch if you asked them, so you always had a place to sleep.
One night I arrived late in the evening at a traveller's lodge beneath the new and famous Mayan archaeological site, Palenque, which had been uncovered recently. A group of young Italians had arrived earlier in the day, and now they were eating spaghetti, drinking tea and playing music on primitive instruments. They were mellow and soft-spoken, and when they invited me to go with them up to the ruins I accepted their invitation.
The moon was full, and the colours had disappeared so the jungle appeared in black, white and grey-tones. The road wound itself up the mountain, and the music from the instruments created a mystical atmosphere.
The guard at the entrance was sleeping, so we crept by him and headed towards the largest pyramid. Suddenly I recognized it. I had been here before! Nine years ago I had come here in the back of a truck with medicine for the local Indians. I was certain that I had climbed this very pyramid and descended a steep stairway down into the bottom, where archaeologists were digging out the grave of an ancient Mayan king.
Now, together with the Italians I climbed to the top, which rose above the vegetation. There we sat listening to the sounds of the jungle. The roars of the Howler-apes were eerie, and they were accompanied by the screeches of exotic jungle birds. Behind us was a row of columns and behind them the darkness of the temple.
Quietly I got up and entered the temple. Passing one row of thick columns I saw another row and stepped in behind them. The darkness was so complete that I could not tell whether my eyes were open or closed. I knew that there had to be a staircase, but I wanted to be sure.
Carefully I took a few steps forward, but suddenly in the dark I experienced a sensation rather than a sound next to my right ear. I stopped. My heart was pounding and I realized that I been frightened although I did not consciously feel scared.
"It was a bat," I told myself. "It won't hurt you." I tried to take another step forward, but my feet would not move. Again I experienced the sensation. "Come on," I said to myself. "There is nothing to be scared of." But my body...