Updated: Sep 8
They found gold. It seems to be a common theme in the local folklore (possibly true) stories of the Maya. In every story I have heard to date about finding gold, there is a warning about not coveting it.
We were out in the pueblo of Leona Vicario touring the town on a motorcycle taxi, a bit like a tuk-tuk. Our driver was telling us stories as he showed us around. It was a lovely spring day, sunny but not too hot and the flowers were in bloom and fruit beginning to ripen. Luis, or driver, was happy to share. Excited even in a child-like way. He took us to the edge of town where the road narrows into dirt and explained that the road continues for many miles, but hardly anyone ever goes there.
And, this is why.
Many years ago, some people went about 50 km down the road out of town. They found gold there. They tried to take it, but suddenly there was sound of a violent storm from the ocean even though there was not a cloud in the sky. They left immediately, afraid of the sound. When they returned the next day, the gold was gone.
Not long after, another group of people drove down the long road and found a place to go camping. They settled in an area very close to where the gold was originally found, set up their tents and relaxed. The, as the sun was setting, suddenly there came the sound of a violent wind, like a tropical storm from the ocean. But again, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Terrified, they picked up their tents and left. Nature was, again, protecting the gold.
Of course, I want to drive down the road and see where this all happened. I looked at the map as it seems the road becomes very narrow and I am sure it is dirt, so I don’t know if I will be able to drive all the way to the site where the gold was found. I have no interest in looking for gold, however. I simply want to stand where they stood and see what I feel.
If you want to read another story about what happens when you try to take Maya gold, check out The Hat That Turned Into A Snake.
It seems there is a very strong value system in the people I have met in the small villages here on the Yucatan that advocates unselfishness. The chasing of gold is seen as a bad thing. Here is another story about gold.
There is a cenote in a little village called Kaua that is almost impossible to get into as it has steep cliffs. An old man who had seven sons had a lot of gold. But since his sons were fighting over the gold, he threw it into the cenote for safe keeping and set an alux there to guard it.
Years later, a group of scuba divers went into the watery pit to try and find the gold. As they were descending into the abyss, all of a sudden the sky went dark and a cloud of sulfur filled the water so they could see nothing and they were forced to abandon their dive.
After hearing so many stories of Maya gold, I wonder what might be hiding all over the peninsula in jungles, caves, and sacred ruin sites. It piques one's curiosity for sure. But, I think rather than looking for gold and braving the possible reperecussions of finding it, I think I will hunt for something the ancient Maya found more valuable than gold.
Looking up brownie recipes,