Postcard from Merida, Mexico: Mayan gods molded man from masa

An engraving by Fernando Castro Pacheco illustrates the importance of corn to Mayans in a book by Alfredo Barrera Vasquez, Poema en Cinco Puntos Cardinales, published in Merida in 1976.

According to ancient beliefs rooted in the Yucatan, Mayan gods created a world full of plants and animals yet still felt unfulfilled. Their egos required more. They yearned for creatures capable of worshipping them, offering them tributes they craved. Like chocolate.

After attempts with other materials, the gods settled on corn, corn mixed with water and perhaps a bit of their own blood. So the first four men were formed from ground kernels of white corn and the women from yellow.┬áMan not only was created from corn; he became dependent on corn as the cornerstone of his diet. Fortunately, there was a deity for that – Hun Nal Yeh, the god of corn.

So it is only natural that the critical role of corn in the world of the ancient Mayan and Mexico today is heralded in El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya of Merida. Continue reading “Postcard from Merida, Mexico: Mayan gods molded man from masa”

Postcard from Naples, Italy: Virtual church for times restricted to armchair travel

On the left, Saint Sebastian, the protector against the plague, Monumental Complex Donnaregina

During these days when many a traveler unwittingly has brought back coronavirus as an unwelcome souvenir, we remain grounded and semi-cloistered at home in San Antonio. Spring plans canceled.

With churches locking their doors to try to keep their parishioners safely cocooned in their houses, Sunday seems a good time to share some snapshots from churches taken during a fall trip to Naples.

Am including an assortment of saints to serve most any request. Perhaps Saint Sebastian, the protector against the plague, should be a logical choice? Depictions of saints painfully attaining martyrdom are included to remind us that this confinement is not so bad, particularly as we have internet to let us connect with one another and the world.

And am throwing in the body of one saint-in-waiting, the Venerable Giacomo Torno, lying in an incorrupt state since his death in 1609 as a reminder most aspects of Roman Catholicism remain mysterious and incomprehensible to me, an outsider admiring the art and architecture while always avoiding mass.

Postcards from Naples, Italy: Guardians of the streets

Navigating our way around Naples on foot offered us ample opportunities to sense those extra pairs of eyes watching over us….

And spotting the statue of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), “Il Sommo Poeta/The Supreme Poet” of Italy, gives rise to his cautionary words so applicable to American politics today:

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.