The cobblestone street was edged on both sides by churches, stores and homes all tucked in close to one another. One of the churches had a blue steeple, giving it more of a human face than god-like. It was close to five so the streets were full of people and action. A mother with her two daughters caught my eye. They were all holding hands with the little one of about two in the middle. She swung from their loving arms only touching the ground occasionally, ponytails on both sides. She caught my eye and said ola, eyes smiling. She lifted my spirits. I got to the top of the hill where the road turned to dirt. A boy was running ahead of me pushing a tire rim along with a stick, keeping it alive in balance with his fancy stick work. A herd of women, all in their traditional dress of bright woven colors, all greeted me as they walked past. I cut down through a narrow dirt path tucked in by homes tight together. A gang of six-year-olds were hanging on the walls relaxing in the late afternoon and munching on chips, ola, ola.
I wove through the scattering of dogs that were hoping for some droppings and reached the casa of the Cruz family, which was a combination of cinderblocks and adobe with metal roofing. “Buenos tardes,” I called out several times. Maria came out saying, “Buenos tardes,” imitating my funny accent. I was there to get my third massage. Maria is Mayan, the daughter of the local shaman. The previous two massages, she had kicked my ass going very deep and not in the least bit put off by my screams of pain. The massage table was a straw mat on a concrete floor covered by a blanket. She started out soft, but once she had the egg shaped stone in her hands, she pushed it deep into my shoulders. I screamed out in pain, and two little ones not older than two came running in to see what it was about. The smaller one peered around the bigger one, all eyes, and I could not help but smile through my pain. Maria worked hard on getting some movement back to my neck. She was pleased with the progress she was making—my head has not had this kind of movement in years. I was very happy. When the massage was over, she sat across from me on the mat and looked at me with concerned eyes and said I had many problems. “Yes,” I said, “but I have a strong spirit to endure these problems,” she smiled. Walking back in the dark, I stopped and tilted my head back to see the stars. It has been a long time that I was able to do that little number. Yes, it is good to be alive. Love Dave.