Like all natural things, love tends to be like the sky and the stars, the clouds or the flowers. Years can go by, cultures come and go, eras can pass, but there it stays in the heart of man. He will achieve the impossible and even change the past; that is the power that man has locked up inside of him. This is the story of a maiden and a castaway, who by the chance of fate, discovered true love during their lifetime.
It was afternoon and the sun was dipping down below the horizon when the canoes moved through the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, returning from the island with great news for the inhabitants of Xcalacoco, one of the most important Mayan communities in the region.
While the villagers looked out toward the immense sea, waiting for the return of their brothers, one of the oarsmen thought he heard a voice. It was the desperate cry of a man screaming for his life as he fought the tides while trying to reach the coast, but the tides pushed him further and further away. The oarsmen steered their boat, and nearby they found a castaway man adrift at sea. They immediately lifted him into the canoe and rowed toward the shore with all their strength, trying to save the stranger’s life.
Off in the distance, they could see the torches of the people of Xcalacoco, who awaited them with music, dance and a special energy that made its way their hearts and gave them strength.
When the first oarsman set his feet on the sand, a deep silence swept over the crowd; instead of unloading food and crafts, the men were dragging a man. A man who was not like them.
They brought the torch closer to illuminate the person’s face and get a better look.
He was a white man, something their eyes had never seen. This man was unknown.
The villagers’ very nature began to show. The Chaman did not look favorably on the stranger, and he was offered to the goddess in sacrifice. While most of the community was afraid, others interceded on the man’s behalf. It was the daughter of the village Chaman who begged her father to give the castaway a chance. Touched by her request, he was overcome by fatherly love and granted his daughter’s wish.
She clothed him, quenched his thirst and gave him hope. His life was as delicate as the sand of the same ocean that tried to take his life.
Such was the arrival of the man who would become another member of the Xcalacoco community.
All was calm the next morning, and the villagers were tending to their daily chores. The women looked after the children while the men chopped wood to prepare food.
From a nearby palapa, the pale face of the now recovered white man appeared. Looking shocked, he tried to speak to the locals to find out where he was, but nobody could understand his words.
Seeing the man’s desperation when he couldn’t find the answers to his questions, Lol Ha the Chaman’s beautiful daughter approached him and began to communicate with hand signals. Searching for answers, the man drew a map in the ground depicting two continents and an endless ocean between them. Her surprise at seeing his true origin was so strong that she promised to teach him the local language to learn more about his life and adventures. This was how a flame began to glow between Lol Ha y Bernard even in the darkest moments of this love story, transcending time.
From that moment on, they met every night in one of the most beautiful cenotes of these far-off lands. The waters of the cenote were so sacred to the Mayans that they created offerings made of pottery, and held ceremonies in its honor. For them, it was the entrance to the underworld.
They used nature as examples of the thousands of words they learned together: cenote, day, sky, night, tree, water, fire, light, life, peace, eye, hand, mouth, hair, feet, love.
Only the noises of the nighttime animals interrupted their lessons, which also helped them to teach each other the name of the creature making this sound or that.
And so they spent their nights teaching each other, and a bond was formed between them that nobody could ever separate.
It was a night with a full moon when the Chaman offered a ceremony of respect and thanks to the sacred cenote. There, he saw the secret couple together on the edge of the cenote.
His rage was so great that he ordered to have his daughter and the white man killed. Reason and justice were replaced by the anger that blinded the old Chaman.
They threw his daughter into the cenote and let Bernard run away into the jungle badly wounded, knowing that the wild animals would finish the job.
Many moons passed, and the village seemed to carry on like it always had. Except its leader, the Chaman, had a different look. The strength and clarity of his eyes were gone, and a gray shadow covered his face. Reason had returned to his mind, and his heart was filled with grief for letting his anger kill his own daughter.
The gods were his only help in those dark hours.
He called upon the village to celebrate the ceremony of purifying fire. He had been touched by darkness and wanted to find understanding within his soul, so he had to complete the ceremony of the sacred fire: the fire of life.
That night the stars seemed to shine brighter than normal, and a magical atmosphere drifted around the sacred circle.
The copal smoke floated like prayers toward the sky, harmonizing the energies that drew closer and closer.
A cool breeze moved through the trees and created a symphony of nature, mixing with the song of the crickets and the thousands of tiny creatures that hold the secrets of the jungle.
The moment the sound of a flute announced the beginning of the ceremony, the Chaman was seen coming from the direction where the sun rises.
He was beginning one of the most ancient and mysterious rituals ever known. With him, he brought the fire of life, the sacred fire. The flame that never burns out, the flame of knowledge. The villagers slowly slipped into a magical trance that transformed them from the inside out.
The Chaman began to cry out to the gods so strongly that the flames of the sacred fire came to life. He asked for the soul of his daughter again and again. Then, the sounds of the drums and flutes ceased, and he could hear what sounded like the voice of his beloved daughter. Off in the distance, two beings could be seen holding hands, walking slowly toward the sacred circle. The Chaman’s heart beat in a way he would never forget. The gods had heard his prayer and would bring back his beloved daughter. By the grace of the gods, she had survived that night in the crystalline cenote.
Hand-in-hand with the man she loved, the maiden approached her father and said these words: “That night in the sacred cenote, a white light surrounded me and swept me far away from the darkness. The next thing I remember, I was waking up on the white sands of the ocean, and the white man was by my side. Is this the work of the gods?”
Her father answered, “Yes daughter, this is the work of their love for all living beings found in this universe.”
Upon hearing these words, the fire of life began to burn stronger than ever in the hearts of all who were present. One by one, they began to dance to the ancient rhythm that captivates man even today.
Shining forever in our hearts.
NOTE: This story is not one of the traditional Mayan legends, and the characters are fictional.