02-Jan-2007 -- We started early on Jan. 2, ’07, as we were unsure of the access to the confluence point, and also because sun sets very early during winter (c5:15pm). Our expedition started with only two participants: Marco Santoyo and Roberto Krause.
The drive from Mérida to Izamal was uneventful although we had the company of rain, which is highly unusual in Yucatan early in the morning, and particularly during winter time. Google Earth helped us identify an unpaved road (7 km north of Izamal, from the paved road to Tepakan) that gave access to a semi-deserted hacienda (called Tikuch). This hacienda is located about 700 m. north of the confluence at N21 00.388 W89 00.124. An early scouting trip during December `06 erroneously led Roberto to believe that there were neither dwellers nor activity in the vicinity. However, on Jan 2, while starting our hike to the confluence, we came across a field being harvested by Mayan farmers.
We met the Mayan farmers at N21 00.092 W89 00.204, roughly 390 meters from the confluence. At the onset, the Mayan farmers were a bit wary of our intentions, but after reading the confluence letter and explaining that we only wanted to take some pictures they quickly understood our presence there. They communicated among themselves in Maya, but switched to Spanish when speaking to us.
After getting their permission to go further into their property, we asked them if they could join us. We figured we would need their help because the jungle seemed very dense in the direction of the confluence. Luckily they agreed to join the team.
The newly enlarged team worked very well. Paulino Dzul and Epitasio Dzul used their machetes to penetrate through the jungle while we indicated the direction to follow. The jungle was so dense that if anyone walked apart from the team as much as 10 meters, they would completely disappear from sight.
The temperature was around 30 degrees Celsius and the sky was overcast. Half way through the jungle trek, heavy rain made us wait under a tree while for a brief period of time. The conversation would always revolve around the strategy to get to the confluence. They grew more and more curious about the project as we went deeper into the jungle.
Considering how deep into the jungle we were, the team suffered very little mishaps. Only the Mayan team members suffered minor although painful injuries. Paulino got bitten by a 2.5 cms long ant that slipped underneath his shirt, while Epitasio hit his shin with the machete making a small but painful cut. We were lucky not to stumble onto any snake or other vicious animals, even though we saw a lot of holes made by badgers and armadillos. We also saw lots of deer tracks and trees with their barks removed by the deer antlers.
Finally, after a long and exhausting trek through the jungle, we made it to the confluence. We were all very excited. While Roberto and I were busy taking pictures and doing the “dance of the zeroes”*, Epitasio and Paulino made a small mound of rocks to mark the confluence point. They were clearly as excited as we were. We were in a section of their property that they had never been to. They even helped document the event by recording a message in Maya (attached audio file with the voice of Epitasio), that says that they are very happy that we visited them in their property (Tikuch), which lies in the vicinity of the 21, 89 point (i.e. the confluence 21N 89W). Certainly the journey was as exciting and interesting as the destination. We are very thankful for the help that Epitasio and Paulino gave us, as it was critical to the success of our visit.
* We had read about the “dance of the zeroes” expression in the confluence.org site, and found it very curious. It wasn’t until we were doing it at the confluence that we realized how true it is. You walk one step to the North, and two to the South, then a little more to the West and then some to the East, and so on in an attempt to see all the zeroes. The GPS pictures are very close to the zeroes, but I’m sure I saw them right before taking the pictures…