Or, what happens when you stop being a jerk.
The week before our wedding, we spent a lot of time driving back and forth on the road to Coba—three times in total. We didn't mean to.
Before heading to Tulum I had read about the Mayan shops that line the Coba Road, and I'd become more than a little obsessed with the dreamcatchers they made. I planned to use them as decorations in our wedding ceremony. In the months leading up to our trip, I'd lay awake at night, in my bed in New York, thinking about the dreamcatchers in a frenetic fever trance; Sometimes I'd worry that there wouldn't be any left by the time we got back to Mexico, that for some reason the artisans would have stopped making them and we'd suddenly find ourselves without decorations. Most nights though, I just thought about how excited I was to have an excuse to buy a whole car's worth of dreamcatchers.
The plan was to drive to Coba on Sunday. My sister had come to Tulum early to help, so she would come too. Thomas and I also really wanted to visit the shamans who'd be performing our ceremony, and since they lived just past Coba, we thought we'd visit them before we did our shopping.
Sunday morning came, and I was in a rush. We set out just after breakfast. The sky over the inland jungle was bright blue and dotted with low, cumulus clouds—the puffy, pure-white kind that always seem to move so quickly over the Yucatan. As we drove towards Coba, I looked out the window anxiously waiting for signs of dreamcatchers.
Finally we saw them. And then, more. We passed shop after shop, each filled with dreamcatchers more vibrant and beautiful than the next. Relieved, I took mental notes on which shops looked the best. I wanted to jump out of the car and buy them all. "We have to meet the shamans at noon," Thomas reminded me.
So, we kept driving. The road to Coba is long and straight, a little endless. Still, we managed to miss the turn to the shamans' village. By the time we finally found it, it was well past noon and the sun was blazing overhead. The shamans, Juan and Laura, met us at the entrance of the temezcal and lead us down a shaded path to an open-air kitchen. They didn't seem to mind that we were late. Laura wore a dark blue huipil, the traditional embroidered dress of the Mayans and had one of the warmest smiles I've ever seen. We sat under the palapa and drank juice made from the juice of crushed star fruits. We began to talk about the wedding. As Juan described each element of the cosmic Mayan ceremony, I felt a wave of calmness wash over me. I could hear birds chirping in the still jungle around us. Laura held Jaun's hand and nodded as he spoke, the corners of her eyes crinkling. I looked at my sister and Thomas. They each had tears in their eyes. I forgot all about the dreamcatchers.
When it was time to go, Laura plucked three broad leaves from a tree and handed them to me. "The Mayans used this as medicine," she said. "Make a tea with these any time you need peace." We got in the car, and as we drove away, I could see Laura and Juan in the rear mirror, waving goodbye.
I looked at my sister in the back seat, and Thomas next to me. Laura's leaves were still in my hands. I felt so lucky. We passed a sign for Punta Laguna, the monkey reserve. "Let's stop here," I said, knowing how much my sister and Thomas both wanted to see monkeys.
"We can get the dreamcatchers tomorrow."