by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
One Summer in Mexico – Part 56
Ana, the Tour Guide with Benefits, had a major role in them!
Few young people today realize how radically the internet has changed our lives AND the relationships between potential soul mates. Had the internet existed, when I was a young man, there is little doubt that I would have married Ana Rojas Villanueva. I was also in love with Alicia Moreno in Mexico City, but there were major problems with her family. In contrast, Ana’s parents, from day one, conspired to push us into an intimate relationship and then immediately treated me as a member of the family.
But alas, both Ana and I were hard-working students and had ambitions for successful professional careers. Those ambitions kept on keeping us apart. Almost immediately after I returned to Georgia, I received a letter from her parents inviting me to be their guest on a Christmastime cruise in the Caribbean. However, it would not return to port until three days after the beginning of my winter quarter at Georgia Tech. I would not be able to register for winter classes . . . whereas today, such a task could easily be done over the internet with a Smart Phone. Ana soon wrote me a letter, which I perceived as a dump letter . . . but after reading it yesterday again, I realize she was just saying “I have too many hormones flowing in me to stay at home and hope I will see you again, but you are number one in my heart. Let’s have a open relationship until we can get together.”
Ana tried again and again to put us in the same place at the same time. Each time though, she was on a travel-study of European architecture; I was working in Europe; she couldn’t get a leave of absence from the INAH or I wasn’t eligible for vacation time yet. What I thought was the final coup de grâce occurred in December 1973, when she wrote me a Christmas letter to tell me that she was in a serious relationship with a Tulane University archaeology professor (one of the five Methodist universities in the Southeast that her father had as clients) She would always hold me dear in her heart, but this was bye-bye.
At that time, I was working full time in the day and going to school at night at Georgia State University to get a Masters in City Planning. There was no woman in my life, but I was so busy, her letter didn’t have much effect on me emotionally. I had long since written her off as being too pretty and too wealthy to be interested in me long term.
Then in April 1974, she wrote me that she and her fiancée had visited Labna. She went back to that Maya hut, where we had first been together and realized that she was getting married just to be married. She broke off their engagement and immediately wrote me. She offered to quit her job and travel to Atlanta to stay with me for the six week travel visa. She had already applied for the Anthropology PhD at Georgia State and there was little doubt of her being accepted – given her grades on her masters degree in anthropology and employment by the INAH. If we got along, she would stay with me. Both of us could attend Georgia State full time and rent a house close to Downtown Atlanta with the help of her father.
It took the letter over two weeks to reach my former townhouse in Peachtree City and the almost a month to be forwarded to my apartment in Midtown Atlanta. By then, I had gotten engaged to the future Anti-wife, held an engagement party and rented a church for a wedding on August 3rd. If readers recall an earlier edition of “One Summer In Mexico,” while on our honeymoon in Mexico, my new bride had gotten drunk then announced to my Mexican friends that she didn’t love me – only married me because I had a steady job.
Even though I had in December 1973 pushed Ana to the edges of my consciousness, I still considered breaking off the engagement and inviting Ana with open arms. However, I chickened out . . . using the excuse that my family might not approve of a beautiful, free-spirited señorita, who liked to smoke skinny little cigars and marijuana.
I was a complete fool as time would prove. Instead of revealing my mutual deep feelings for her, I curtly wrote back that “she should not have dumped me in the fall of 1970 and again last Christmas. I have gotten engaged while the letter was in transit, had an engagement party and scheduled a church wedding in August.” I never thought about her again until I viewed the slide of her on the Jeep and two other X-rated slides that revealed her full beauty.
At any rate, last night I was able to figure out Ana’s Spanish married name and track her career. She did get a PhD in Anthropology in Mexico, but focused on Education, not Archaeology. I should have guessed that she would be particularly interested in dancing. Prior to our first night ceremonies in Labna, she had ringed the inside of the Maya hut with sterno lamps and requested that we dance the Blue Danube Waltz together. She had brought along an eight track tape of Strauss waltzes. We ended up waltzing to all eight songs, both in the hut and out in the jungle, before moving on to more traditional courtship activities.
Ana had a major role in founding an organization that is promoting the renaissance of Maya culture in Campeche. These days, their primary focus are short videos that can be passed along from Smart Phone to Smart Phone. Much of Campeche now has cellular phone service. There are dozens of short videos on Youtube now, which accurately display Maya dances, clothing and cultural traditions. I think that you will enjoy them. The Mayas and Creeks are almost unique in the Americas because their men and women traditionally danced together, except for war dances.
By the way, “E-Maya means the same in Campeche Maya as it does in Georgia Creek . . . “Principal Mayas.” The word “Maia” was coined by the Spanish from the Maya and Creek word for lake . . . mia.