The Jeweled Beetle & Rebecca CriesFriday, July 27, 2007
Around 1953 my mother had some interesting Mexican friends in Mexico City. Two stand out. One was Alma Reed who inspired the Mexican song La Peregrina and the other was a mysterious woman called Nicte Há who said she was a Mayan princess. One day my mother came home from a party and woke me up to show me what Nicte Há had given her. I expected to see something in her hand but she pointed at the lapel of her blouse. I saw a tiny gold chain and a largish jewel that was moving. This was my first glimpse of the makech beetle which in the 50s was all the rage in Mexico City cocktail parties. The beetle eats rotting wood (it must be kept moist) and if one does not handle it too much it can live up to 4 or 5 years.
On Wednesday night Rebecca pointed at a shoe box in a store selling Yucatecan crafts. It had several jeweled beetles and I was hit by nostalgia for Mexico in the 50s. I explained to Rebecca the beetle´s story and offered to buy her one. She began to cry shouting at me that I was cruel to accept such cruelty to an animal that was not a domestic animal. She cried all the way home as I tried to explain that in the simpler times of my mother´s day we would never have thought of such things. This was to no avail. Rebecca stopped crying as soon as we got to her hotel.
As soon as she opened her Judy Blume novel she began to laugh. When I turned off the lights she continued until I pointed out that she was going to wake up an exhausted Rosemary.
With the logic that her father had once owned a pet tarantula she asked to see the makech again. This we did yesterday. Now she is wondering how she could hide the two inch beetle in a match box and go through customs. Anybody there know what would happen if the magic Mayan beetle gets a shot of X-rays in Rebecca´s hand luggage? We discussed that she was right in thinking the practice was and is cruel. But she is still undecided.
On Tuesday in Celestún a sudden burst of speed of the launch that was taking us to see the flamingos wrenched my prescription (and bi-focal) sunglasses from my face and they disappeared in the waters of the lagoon. By the time I asked our boatman to stop they were long gone.
To avoid the incredible throngs of Uxmal Rosemary wanted to persuade me to drive a rented car to the Mayan ruins. We would leave early enough to arrive at opening time which is 8am. But I was not prepared to drive without sunglasses. So yesterday Wednesday I went to a nearby optical store to see if they had clip-ons.
For those who may be reading this now, we left for Uxmal at 7:15 in a rented Nissan. My new prescription and bi-focal sunglasses were delivered yesterday at 5pm! We plan to then drive to the three cenotes or sinkholes at Cuzamá, Chelentún, Chansinic'ché and Bolonchoojol. The latter means nine leaks in Mayan.