Among us it is simply called "the road." No other explanation is necessary, for there is only one road here. This path to corruption was laid down by men of another race--men without the foresight to see the affliction that the road would bring to those who live along it; men, who through their asphalt, joined together worlds which would have best remained apart.
I am a Mayan; for many, many years, I have lived in the Yucatan jungle, far removed from the immorality and evil of modern civilization. We existed as a forgotten race, lost deep within the jungle. We were content to live out our days, one at a time, concerned only with our daily welfare. We had no currency, held no jobs, and yet we lacked nothing. Here, nestled within our communities, our huts, and our hammocks, we held everything that was important. We wanted nothing more than the simple necessities that our gods provided us. We were a contented people, but that was before the road came.
Now life is very different.
Sadly, this road has seduced our children into the ways of the corrupt. With the lure of money and entertainment, the Mexican cities have much more appeal than the quiet of our own communities. We can do nothing to stop our children; we have little to offer them here that can compare to the excitement that lies ahead on this blackened path. Younger and younger they go, inspired by the stories and trinkets that return to our village through others who have journeyed from home. Our huts, once barren of all furnishings except hammocks, now display televisions and other electronics. A video rental store has now been established across the street from our open-air meat market--a video rental store in a village with almost no refrigeration.
The road has brought us more sorrow than just the corruption of our children, though. At the same rate our children are leaving, the tourists are arriving. They arrive in cars, on mopeds, or on tour buses, but no matter their mode of transportation, tourists are all alike. They treat us as if we are a side show created just for their entertainment. These insensitive sightseers point and stare as they travel past our huts and through our villages. Hardly a quarter hour goes by that at least one of these tourist-ladened monstrosities do not interrupt the peace of our village. Through their laughter, they forget that once we were the most advanced civilization in the world.
Polluted slowly, day by day, the Mayan culture has been diluted by the influence of modern society which now threatens our once unpenetrated jungle. The road has brought these influences to us, and I am afraid that because of them, the Mayan culture is dying. Now, all that remains of our once vast empire are ruins, and tragically, I believe that someday ruins will be all that are left of our culture.
So, here I stand on the gravel shoulder of an asphalt trail which stretches like a black river to the horizon. I stand, powerless against the draw that pulls my children from my grasp, powerless as I watch them go. I stand humbled, robbed of pride by other men who watch my life as they would a film or a movie. As I stand, watching the light make water mirages on the tar, I am a frustrated man: frustrated because I am powerless.
Last update: 5 June 2000