I recently went to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to say goodbye to a dear friend who just passed away. I traveled from Cancun to Merida just after midnight and back to Cancun the next afternoon.
Once you leave Cancun or Merida there is little reception and the radio goes silent for most of the three hours that it takes to go from one city to the other. This gave me time to enjoy other aspects of this world and its history.
While in Merida, I drove to Progreso, a seaside village that has become a large metropolis. Progreso is also included in the area where the Chicxulub asteroid hit some 66 millions years ago and destroyed a major part of all living things including the dinosaurs.
The Yucatan Peninsula does not have any rivers as the water runs underground and is available in breaks in the limestone called Cenotes. The Cenote provides the water source for the civilizations that developed.
The last great Mayan civilization was the Itzas. They actually were Toltecs that built their first capital, Tula, in Central Mexico beginning in the 10th Century CE.
The Toltecs were originally immigrants from the northern areas of Mexico and the American Southwest. They came to Central Mexico and later to the Yucatan Peninsula not to take, but to give and build something greater.
It is in the 11th Century that a great Toltecs immigrant waive reached the Yucatan Peninsula and established a dynasty. Those that vacation in Cancun normally have an excursion opportunity to visit Chichén Itzá. Chichén Itzá, Mayapan and Uxmal, all near Merida, were the three leading cities of that dynasty.
The Toltecs were very much a bilingual and bi-national people. Yet, in the Yucatan they chose to live, speak and be Mayan.
Even Quetzalcoatl, the bird serpent god that founded their civilization took its Mayan name equivalent Kukulkan. These strong but unassuming people enriched their world to the point that the term Toltec became synonymous with the description of a person of knowledge and culture.
Their legacy stands today as a pursuit of excellence that kept a decaying country from falling apart. The Aztecs that came later tried to honor the Toltec traditions even as they witnessed and suffered the fall of their empire at the hands of the Spanish invader.
The world must go one and America with it. The immigrant story of this country is its most important moving part.
It has historically provided the energy and ethic that seeks to built a better future. The fact that today’s immigrants are predominantly Latinos and brown does not diminish that energy and ethic in pursuit of the American Dream.
As I entered the outskirts of Merida, I saw the signs that gave directions to Mayapan and Uxmal. Two of the three cities of the Toltec Mayapan Alliance. Heading out from Merida back to Cancun, I passed by Chichén Itzá and thought about the wonder that was the third member of a group of cities that extended the Mayan vibrant culture at least another two centuries.
The current effort to stop the immigrant flow along with the insistence that America be treated equally in all things around the globe is the kind of retrenchment that can kill the drive that brought us superpower status because to be equal is to be just one of the many. The dream of America around the world is built on the platform of an immigrant country that finds diversity both a challenge and constant potential for greatness.