Wild Magic in Izamal: The Yellow City
Updated: Feb 26
Have you ever been in a place where the energy was off the charts? A place rife with magic? A place where your wishes came true almost before you dreamed them?
I just returned from Itzamal, the yellow city, the city that is home to the people created by the god Itzamna and the goddess Ixchel. Everything is painted a golden yellow in honor of the corn, which is life, which people are made from, according to legend. The magic was so thick there that total strangers gave us gifts completely out of the blue! But, I am getting ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.
We arrived in Itzamal and quickly learned that there are 5 Maya pyramids in the town and 87 other Maya structures. Imagine it like this: You drive down the road and see a few houses, an Oxxo (like a 7-11), a Maya pyramid, a bank, a few more houses, a Maya ruin, a pharmacy . . . and so forth! The town is built among the ruins of an ancient city! Everywhere you look there are old stone walls and ancient stones with Mayan carvings on them. And everywhere there are stories.
The streets are narrow, winding, and angled. It is confusing to navigate, especially because the majority of the buildings are all the same deep golden hue. We wanted to find the pyramid with the story about aluxes, but didn’t even know its name. A small drift of, “wouldn’t it be cool if . . .” touched my mind like a butterfly and then there it was, directly in front of us. Then a couple of hours later, after exploring it, we wanted to find the pyramid with the story of the cenote under it. An old man waved to us and stopped us on the street and told us he would take us to it. We parked the car and got out to walk. Earlier I had seen a basket I fell in love with but didn’t buy and then could not find again. The old man led us around the corner to the pyramid (We had no idea it was so close!) and handed us off to a shop keeper who had the very same basket hanging in the front of his store. I bought the basket and we ventured up the steps of the ancient ruin.
It was like the town was bending around us, folding itself to create shortcuts for us to find just what we wished to find. Again and again, it felt like we were journeying through worm holes and coming out where our imaginations dreamed us to be.
And then there was the café. It was dark out, about 8 o’clock, and very little was open for dinner. We found a café in the same time and space bending manner and walked in to find it empty save one table with four women chatting animatedly. We sat down and looked at the menu, which didn’t have anything particularly appealing on it. It was filled with traditional Yucatan food (which is good) but we were looking for something less spicey and more comforting. It was impossible not to get drawn into the conversation of the animated ladies as they were sitting rather close to us, and almost immediately after the introduction, their food started coming. Nothing on the menu appeared at their table, but rather yummy treats like stuffed cheese and fresh salads. I have no idea how they managed to order the things that arrived. Everything looked good. And then, much to my surprise, one woman decided she didn’t want the large plate of yellow rice and fried plantains she’s been served and she passed it down to us, almost without asking if we wanted it. It was just the kind of comfort food we’d been looking for!
We got into a real conversation with them about the history of the city and metaphysics. We finished the rice and bananas and were looking at the drink menu when the strawberry margarita appeared. One of the women was served the pink frozen drink and then simply decided she would prefer a mango one. She passed the drink over and we shared it, caught up in conversation and occasionally looking at the menu and trying to decide what to order and still wondering where they got their selections as they had not given us a satisfactory explanation.
That was when the dessert appeared—spiced, sugared papayas. Oh my! By this time, we had both ordered mango margaritas (after sharing the strawberry one) and the dessert seemed the perfect way to top off a light meal. We exchanged contact information and discovered we all knew a local shaman named Hermano Maya.
The next day we went back to the Maya ruin with the alux stories and explored a bit. We had the place completely to ourselves. As we were leaving, I was very drawn to a tiny stick house next door to the ruin with a white slip of fabric for a door blowing in the wind. No one was home, so I took a few photos. Then we got in the car and I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could find a local person with firsthand stories about the alux at the ruins?” (Wouldn’t it be cool if is the phrase I use when I want to manifest something).
We well turned the corner and there was a tiny store called Tienda de Los Aluxes, so of course we stopped in. We bought a coke and started talking to the owner who lived on the premises and had LOTS of firsthand accounts of aluxes (watch for the video of him coming soon) AND…who told us that there was a shaman living in the little house next to the pyramid, the little house with the white curtain-door. And guess who that was? Hermano Maya!
Have YOU ever been in a place where you simply wish for something, a wish as quiet as a butterfly, and it lands so lightly and effortlessly in your hand?
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Hugs and Butterflies,