Once Upon a Time in Mexico

“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great, pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature

and is manifest in each of us through intuitive knowledge.”

Deepak Chopra.

The night was long,  one of those sleepless, nocturnal periods of time when you toss and turn for hours but your body refuses to acquiesce to your demands for sleep. Once again I resented  the power of the ceaselessly chattering mind, my nemesis. This night, however, brought a gentler, kinder insomnia because I was in a cozy, comfortable home on the stunning patch of Mexican soil called Riviera Nayarit.

Outside the sliding glass doors which led into my bedroom, the light sensor was busy. Each time the streaks of lightning brightened the skies the sensor responded, clicking its light on and off in random intervals. Beneath the bed, Feliz was also restless, sensing the discomfort I was feeling. I could hear her bushy tail thumping the bottom of the mattress.

 

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San Pancho, Nayarit, Mexico was a dream, with a gorgeous tropical rainforest called Lo de Perla framing the village on three sides while the Pacific, with her sapphire beauty and exotic beaches, lay like a restless giant on the fourth side. Even with sleepless nights, I was enjoying this Central American paradise. It was only a few days until I caught my return flight back to the United States, and I was already missing Feliz, the unique animal I had travelled so far to take care of while her doting owner visited her family.

Outside the doors the heavy rainfall had accumulated in puddles beside the dipping pool. The pool was overflowing, and small, white blossoms from the garden floated on its top like fragile, toy ships sailing on a pond. The night had a rhythm, a primordial drumbeat. The falling of the raindrops upon the leaves of the palm trees, the heavy thunder piercing the ebony skies, and the wind rustling through the tree limbs, tempting them to sway and moan as if they were in some strange ecstasy. Although the constant battle for a good night’s sleep had left me exhausted, the night was calming after my experience from the day before.

That Old Sun-God Tayau

Yesterday, I had failed to follow the laws of Tayau, the sun-god of the ancient Huitchol. The Huitchol are believed to be the descendants of pre-Columbian Aztecs and today compose the majority of residents in the small village of San Pancho. Tayau’s laws are immutable, but I suffer from a stubborn streak which often leads me astray and puts me at risk. As usual, when one breaks the law, he or she will pay the price in one way or another. I realized this after making the illogical decision to walk to the village immediately after I had finished my lunch, during the hottest part of the day.

The skies had been filled with rain clouds all morning, and a cool breeze was blowing in from the Bay of Banderas, so I ignored Tayau’s edicts which commanded that between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., one must stay in out of the heat. Nor had I obeyed his second command, that when going out in the heat of the day one must take enough liquids to hydrate his or her body. The second was most likely the most critical of my mistakes, for the day before I had not been feeling well and in the process had become sightly dehydrated.

 

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As if determined to teach me a lesson the clouds which had only a few moments earlier been dispersing cool, light rain disappeared and that terrible sphere of fire began to beat down upon me with a brutality I had not witnessed in all the years I was growing up in the heat of Texas summers. I made it safely into the village, purchased the few supplies I needed, and headed back up the hill toward home.

Within moments of beginning my ascent, I realized my mistake. They tell us that the gods are cruel and require our repentance when we fail to abide by their rules. Archeological artifacts testify to that belief, for in 1487, when the new temple in Tenochtitlán  was dedicated to the deities Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc, more than 84,000 victims are believed to have been sacrificed upon the altar of the Aztec gods. The sacrifice required of me, though much less deadly, came almost instantly.

Feeling faint and dizzy, I stumbled to the safest place I could find, knowing instinctively that if I continued on I would pass out from the effects of the heat and the extreme humidity. I collapsed on the steps of the small, village hospital. No one was in sight, so I lay down on the steps, panting and willing with all my might for my blood pressure to rise. I lay there wondering if I could make it back up the steep hill and through the iron gate which would lead me home where the air conditioner was on and there was ice water in the refrigerator.

 

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She stood beside me and watched over me, her sleek, back hair shaved to ensure comfort in this unforgiving environment. Her tongue, rough and damp, licked my neck. Although I had unintentionally dropped her leash, I knew she would not leave me. Feliz had learned her lesson the hard way, and she would not forget it.

I had loved her instantly from the moment I met her, for she was identical in every possible way to my beloved pet Muffin who, until three years earlier, had been my trusted companion of nineteen years. It was because I wanted to get to know Feliz that I had agreed to spend one-month pet sitting in what, although amazingly beautiful, feels like it must be one of the hottest places on the face of the earth. Extreme heat is an enemy to those with low blood pressure, and I avoid it at all costs. Yet, the allure of getting to know Feliz and discovering more about her story had drawn me to this tiny village located just across the bay from California’s Baja Peninsula.

 

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Feliz’s story began with another pet sitter. Her owner, a Canadian who arrived in San Pancho a few years ago to serve as a teacher in the local Montessori school, had asked a neighbor and friend to take care of Feliz while she was away. To protect the teacher’s privacy, for the purpose of my tale we will call her Liz. In Hamlet, Shakespeare tells us, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Feliz’s story confirms Shakespeare’s belief.

A Nayarit Family in Distress

In a village about twelve miles from San Pancho, a young man paced the floor of his cinder block dwelling. Only recently having lost his job, he was just beginning to face the harsh reality he had avoided for so long. In order for his small family to survive, it seemed he had no other choice than to make the treacherous crossing from Mexico into the United States in hopes that he could find work to support his wife and children.

Feliz and the “Call of the Wild”

Feliz’s tale begins on a dusty stretch of road not far from San Pancho. Left alone in an automobile for only a few seconds, she decided that she was tired of confinement. She was ready to experience the wild jungles of Mexico. She wanted to sniff the ground beneath the banana trees, hear the calls of the Russet-Crowned Motmots, and follow in the footsteps of that powerful jungle creature, the jaguar, feeling the freedom and excitement of the wild which stirred her blood. An adventure was in order.

She did not hesitate to take matters into her own paws, and realizing that the window was open more than was perhaps advisable, she took advantage of her opportunity and jumped out of the car. She wagged her bushy, black tail in excitement. Then, forgetting that she was a pampered and much loved house pet, she joined a newly discovered friend to romp through the fields of Nayarit and investigate the Lo de Perla Jungle.

Where Is Feliz?

Upon returning to the car the pet sitter, obviously severely distressed that Feliz had disappeared during her watch, searched for hours. It seemed Feliz was nowhere to be found. Heartbroken by her unintentional lack of judgement, she notified Liz, who immediately made arrangements to fly back home to try to locate her lost pet. Posting photos of Feliz on store windows, searching street by street in all the nearby villages, and contacting everyone who might know of her pet’s whereabouts brought no results whatsoever.

The days passed. Feliz had spent hours chasing the squirrels and playing hide and seek behind the coconut trees with her new friend. Yet, soon she became hungry, tired, and thirsty. There was no bowl filled with her favorite dog food anywhere in the rainforest, no matter how hard she searched for it. During the most intense heat and humidity of the afternoon, there was no cool air flowing around her body as the air conditioner hummed softly. Nor was there a bowl of fresh water, always lovingly filled to the brim by her owner Liz. No one threw the ball and waited for her to retrieve it. No one took her for long, leisurely walks in the village where she could sniff at other village dogs.

The one person in the world she trusted was not to be found. even though she searched desperately. Feliz suddenly realized that she was lost and alone in a strange world in which she had very few skills to keep her alive.

Meanwhile, heartbroken and grieving, Liz was on the verge of losing hope. She had visited every village near San Pancho, enlisted the help of the native culture, knocked on hundreds of doors, and called all the expatriates living in the area, begging for their help. She had done all that was possible. Now, she decided, it was time to consider the impossible!

Determined, Liz returned home, rummaged through her desk drawer, and located a number given to her a few days earlier by a friend. She dialed the number and heard the voice on the other end identifying itself as belonging to an “animal intuitive,” a sophisticated word for the vernacular, “animal psychic.”

An Animal Communicator Searches for Feliz

“Feliz is fine. She is living in an old barn with some chickens, a pig, and a donkey,” the voice reassured Liz. “She is anxious to return home though. She’s hungry, dirty, and miserable from the heat.” With her romp completed, the unfamiliar voice explained, Feliz was ready to go home where it was cool, where she was regularly bathed by her kind Mayan veterinarian, and where her water and food bowls were always filled. The problem was that she was in an unfamiliar environment. Feliz had lost her way home. She had experienced enough of the wild, and now she was scared.

 

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The intuitive’s voice described a village which was not far from the barn and warned the teacher that her pet was extremely frightened. Because  of her fear, Feliz seldom left her less-than-desirable sanctuary. She had been hiding in the barn for seventeen days, and the only way she had managed to survive was by killing and eating the chickens. Because of the trauma Feliz had experienced since the day she was lost, and because of her fear, it would be very difficult for a stranger to catch her, the voice warned Liz.

Again Feliz’s owner searched, but to no avail. Yet now that she had hope that Feliz was alive, Liz refused to give up. Once again, she taped posters to the windows of the village which closely matched the description given her by the intuitive. However, this time there was one major difference, for on these posters there was a strong incentive. Liz offered a reward of almost 5,000 pesos, or $250, which by Mexico’s standards is a small fortune.

 

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In the village, the young man who had lost his job saw the poster with Feliz’s photo. Beneath it was Liz’s telephone number. The animal in the photo looked vaguely familiar to him. He recalled seeing a black dog, well-groomed but dirty, dejected, and bedraggled, wandering in a field not far from his home. With the well-being of his children on his mind, he dialed the number, spoke to Liz, and requested a piece of her dirty clothing, something which still carried her unique scent.

A Happy Ending

Twenty-four hours later, a happy, tail-wagging Feliz was in the delighted arms of her owner. The barnyard, complete with the chickens, pig, and donkey, just as was described by the psychic who lived several hundred miles away, lost one of its residents that day. The chickens, their numbers dwindling daily, were most likely happy with this turn of events.

The dirty t-shirt had worked its charm, for the scent of her beloved mistress had convinced Feliz to take a chance that the villager holding part of the shirt in his hands would not harm her, but instead, would help her find her way home where she belonged.

The hero of our story had sat patiently in the field all night long, surrounded by torn pieces of the t-shirt. When the morning sun had just begun to rise, Feliz had dared to leave her sanctuary, for there had been a scent, pleasant and familiar, drifting on the breeze. It was a special fragrance, one which only a lost, lonely pet could detect or even appreciate. It was the aroma indicative of companionship, safety, comfort, and home. It was a scent as old as time itself, the aroma of trust and devotion between a pet and her owner. It was powerful enough to lure Feliz from the tiny bit of security she had found on her journey and into the unfamiliar arms of a man whose family was on the verge of going hungry.

As the happy owner placed the pesos in our hero’s hand and thanked him, he explained that the reward money would allow him to take care of his family while he searched for another job. It would no longer be necessary to leave his loved ones behind in order to make the dangerous trek into an unfamiliar country.

Feliz Speaks, In Her Own Kind of Way

As for Feliz, early the next morning her owner let her go outside to play. A while later, Liz heard a scratch at the door. She opened it, only to find three dead chickens at her feet. As she told me Feliz’s story, Liz explained that her dog was giving her a message, telling her, “I need you to know that this is what I ate. This is how I stayed alive.” Other than the death-blow which struck each of the chickens, there was not a scratch upon them, revealing clearly that Feliz did not kill the chickens for the purpose of eating them.

I will always wonder if Feliz’s owner was mistaken about the chickens. Feliz had learned during her adventure that chickens can be of great value. I wonder if the fowl were gifts, something to express how much she appreciated her home in a land where most dogs lie listlessly on the sides of the road, panting and hopefully waiting for a kind word and a dry piece of bread to be thrown their way.

This morning, as Feliz and I left the shade of the jungle and headed back home before that brutal old ball of fire, Tayau, made us regret our walk, I realized what a special gift Liz’s pet was to me. Feliz doesn’t seem to mind that periodically I forget and call her Muffin. She ignores the fact that often when I look at her, I see Muffin walking by my side through the old growth forests of Oregon and Washington where we spent our days.

 

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Once Upon a Time………

In a few days I will catch my flight back home. Whether or not I will see Feliz again is debatable. Perhaps, as her owner has requested, I will return, and once again the two of us will roam the cobblestone pathways of San Pancho in the rain, wade in the waves which incessantly splash upon the shores of the Pacific, and laugh at that vain old rooster who crows so proudly in his raggedy, worn feathers on the tree opposite Feliz’s home, in hopes of romancing the hens clucking and pecking beneath him.

Yet, whether I see her again is actually unimportant, for she has become a part of who I am. Like my Muffin, she will always have a place in my heart; therefore, she is never far from me. One of my favorite writers Clarissa Pinkola Estes stated, “I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and you will work with the stories… water them with your blood and tears and laughter til’ they bloom, til’ you yourself burst into bloom.”

 

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In truth, our lives are a composite of stories. Every moment of our existence is replete with tales which define who we are. Old acquaintances, family members, first loves, deep friendships, beloved pets, enemies, successes, failures, and amazing adventures, all have the capabilities of completing that introductory phrase, “Once upon a time…………” Those tales seem to occur in a fortuitous fashion. They arrive with no visible script, plan, or blueprint issued from the hands of a master storyteller. We tend to look at them as simple, random occurrences.

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “The influence of the senses has in most men overpowered the mind to the degree that the walls of space and time have become to look solid, real, and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits is the sign of insanity.”

The tale of Feliz’s adventure and the animal intuitive’s ability to describe in detail the village, the barn and its inhabitants, and her food source was clearly indicative of looking beyond time and space. It is a lesson which teaches us, if we only dare to be honest with ourselves, that we are severely limited in our understanding of reality.

Synchronicity: That”Illusory Veil”

Events such as those which took place on the Riviera Nayarit cause us to hesitate and look deeper, reminding us in the words of Roger S. Jones, author of Physics for the Rest of Us, “Synchronicity hints at the unified world behind the illusory veil of the material universe.” A young man on the verge of losing all hope. A beloved pet spying an open window and daring to escape her confines for a momentary sense of freedom. A teacher who refused to play by the acceptable norms her society has imposed upon her and dared to believe in the impossible. All came together in a complex series of events which prevented a young family from suffering the temporary, but painful, loss of a father.

As once again I dim the lights in a small house in San Pancho, Mexico, Feliz’s damp nose nudges me, demanding that I wish her a good night before she crawls beneath the bed to lie down contentedly upon the cool concrete. The thunder rolls across the night sky like some angry Aztec deity, heralding the arrival of the nightly rainstorm, the lifeline to the lush rainforest around me. Somewhere in its dark depths I imagine a jaguar crouching, silently awaiting the unsuspecting prey which will allow him to survive another few days, while in the distance the waves ebb and flow, their timing predetermined by that fascinating, old orb, the moon.

The pitter patter of the raindrops on the window weaves its magical enchantment about me. It conjures mysteries of primitive tomes with cryptic symbols chiseled in stone, of shamanic rituals celebrating birth, death, and rebirth, and of Montezuma and Cortés. I envision the Spanish conquistadors, their proud, young bodies glistening in armor forged in the smoldering furnaces of ancient Toledo, as they march, spears in hand, on an unsuspecting, indigenous people.

My mood evokes scenes of blood-stained altars. Those reveal a tale of unparalleled human sacrifice made to gods, those immortal beings who only existed in the superstitious mind of the Aztec, helping to alleviate his fears in a world about which he understood so little.

Finally, my restless spirit admits defeat, and I begin to fall asleep. A smile is on my lips, for I realize the fallacy of man who is under the illusion that he understands the reality into which he was born. It is very possible that the ancient Aztecs, those whose practiced hands tore the blooded, still-beating hearts from their sacrificial victims, were under a similar illusion. And as the magic of the Lo de Perle begins to wrap me in the silky silence I so desperately need, I imagine that I hear his voice, that cruel, old Feathered Serpent Quetzalcotl, as he laughs and whispers to himself, “Foolish man! Will he never learn?”

For Another Story About the Mystery of Synchronicity, Read Transylvania: Demons, Witches, and Vampires

For More About San Pancho, Mexico, Read San Pancho, Mexico: Swallowing the Sunset