The Legend of the Storm Stomp

Chapter One:  Atop the Great Temple. Doom.

Ah yah whey. Ah yah whey. Ah yah whoa ha!

From the top of the great stone temple at Tulum, Chief Tamanaco looked out over the steamy jungle, singing to the sky and watched Kinni Ajaw the great sun god settling into the treetops for the evening. Seven blue macaws flew below him, in perfect delta formation, surely a good sign that all was right in the Jaguar Kingdom.  Only a week past, proper sacrifices had been made – under the ripe fullness of Ixchel the Moon. Blood had poured out red and bold, tassels of maize were spun with gold. Smoke and fire had leapt to the sky. The fish were jumping and the cotton was high. 

And yet Tamanaco felt an underlying dread that had crept into his mind ever since XiBanga, the StarWatcher had nervously pointed to the heavens last night, proclaiming, “The Wanderers have left their pathways – a powerful portent of great danger ahead. For the Wanderers were now free to whisper their dark secrets to Ixchel and taunt her in her lonely quest to catch Kinni Ajaw the sun, whom she loves with all her cold cold heart. But she can never again catch him, since their separation at the dawn of time. And in her frustration she may flirt with Mighty Huracan, he of wind and storm and chaos, who called forth the land from the sea and crafted the first peoples from the fingers of his hand; tempestuous Huracan who must not be trifled with can never resist the pull of the moon and together their dance of passion and anger always ends in storm and flood and utter destruction!!” 

Chief Tamanaco turned 180 degrees towards the clear blue sea. Wavelets twinkled afar with the last of the sunset. Soon sweet Ixchel would rise from the waters to chase after beautiful Kinni Ajaw in eternal futility. And the Wanderers were loose. The people must be warned. This summer would require even greater sacrifices of them. Dancing and twirling and maybe even some volunteer committee work!!   Tamanaco began the long descent down the temple steps to search for the sacred conch and a shot of tequila. While the night monkeys howled at the stars and the winds whispered on the waves.

Ah yah whey.  Ah yah whey. Ah yah whoa ha!

Chapter Two: Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Deep down in the great temple of Tulum, Chief Tamanaco reached inside his snakeskin tunic and procured his Holy Key – one of only three in all the kingdom – to unlock the Sacred Ceremonial Closet and Liquor Locker of the Gods. He was seeking the equally sacred Conch of Impending Doom to raise an alarm and gather the people – to warn them of the dangers that XiBanga the StarWatcher had seen in the fortunes of the Nightheaven. He took it down from the cold stone ledge by the beloved and well used Xhotxhi and walked to the Central Plaza, where many were gathered to watch the weekly Mayan game of Murder the Man with the Ball.  Literally.  While the acolytes were busy clearing the court of blood and bone for the third quarter, Tamanaco strode to the center and filled the arena with resounding trumpet blasts from the Sacred Conch.   Pupaah pupaah pupaah!!

Patiently he waited while all the fans returned from the halftime washbasins and tamale stands and began to address the crowd:

  Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whey!  Ah yah Whoa ha!     

“XiBanga the wise StarWatcher has peered into the depths of the Nightheaven and told me of Great Danger and Doom that lies ahead of us.  The Wanderers Are Loose!!”   

The people gasped {GASP!} and began to mutter among themselves. “Silence!  As you all know, Ixchel the sweet Goddess of the Moon spends eternity chasing her true love Kinih Ajaw the Sun across the sky. Once – long before the people were made – they were joined together in the bliss of pulsing and unending light.  But her father, Kukulcan the Great Feathered Viper who balances the world on His tail, became angry at Kinih Ajaws abusive ways and he separated them forever. In her grief and sorrow, Ixchel hid herself for a time on the Island of Cozumel while the Sun God strutted across the sky. But now, she chases after him each day and night, lonely and cold.”

Tired of Tamanaco’s story and eager to see the second half heads roll, Chakka TiTo, Keeper of the Monkey Stick, interrupted the Chief from the Mezzanine level, “ O Mighty Chief, why are you here to tell us this bedtime story?! Every child we haven’t already sacrificed has learned this in the toddler garden.”

“While this may be true Chakka TiTo, you are out of order – so sit down before I decide to put YOU into the ballgame.  I remind you of this story precisely because the Wanderers have broken loose and they fill the Gods with thoughts of mischief and mayhem…especially Ixchel the Moon. She may recklessly loose the tides upon us, or even worse, she may be persuaded to flirt and tease with handsome Huracan, God of Wind & Storm and in their passionate dance they may rise from the sea and crush us with wind and rain and flood, storm and lightning and mudslides raining from the mountains!! All of our regular sacrifices will not be enough to spare us from their fury and folly. I warn you today to be prepared for greater sacrifices, more gold, more blood and much more volunteer committee work.”

The people Groaned. But Chakka TiTo stood and rallied the crowd, for he did not want to end up on the bloody field.

“We must find a way to distract Ixchel and Huracan this summer!! Prepare your feasts and your fancy robes!!   Let us dress and dance as the Gods to steal their power and stop this stormy Tryst. Slaughter your wild pigs, gather your shorecrabs and snapper throats and let us find Chef Xonlon.  We will need his Magic Sauces soon! “ And the people clapped and cheered at least until the second half began.

Chief Tamanaco shook his head and carried the Conch back to the Sacred Liquor Locker. Would the feasting be enough? Would the Cold Moon look upon them with pity? Would Wild Huracan show mercy? He ran his hand across the stone friezes on the walls that told sad stories of destruction and devastation from the last time the Wanderers were loose. He sighed and reached again for the tequila; while the Day Monkeys howled at the sun and the winds began to whip the incoming tide.

Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whoa Ha!

Chapter Three    Moonbeams & Marinades

Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whoa Ha!

High in the night sky the beautiful but lonely Ixchel, Goddess of the Moon, stuck out her lip and pouted. She was tired of chasing that rascal Sun, and was actually waning a bit gibbous, and let her thoughts and eyes wander to the handsome Huracan, lazily swirling in the Great Gulf below.

“He is quite the specimen” the gravelly voice of a Wanderer whispered in her darkside ear.” A little rough around the edges, but swift and powerful is he” tempted another. They flitted around her head like moths, tempting her to call out to the great storm god across the heavens. “Oh Huracan could help you pass the nights and dance away the days of summer and you could forget about the haughty sun – even if just for a time. Let us take him your regards O Queen!”

Ixchel blushed and brightened and allowed herself to slip under the spell of the Wanderers and breathlessly beamed an invitation down to the King of Chaos.

Meanwhile, from the Temple Observatory, XiBanga the StarWatcher noted the gleam on the beam on the bounding sea and frantically called for a runner to summon Chef Xonlon from the Eastern Shore. A feast, an epic feast with delicacies and delights to distract the gods was in order. Xonlon would know just what to do. But he better hurry, for the winds were freshening and the waves were stirring with every wink of moonbeams.

Chef Xonlon was in a foul mood. Much of his kitchen staff had been sacrificed at the last Temple banquet when an undercooked snail had crawled up the tunic of the High Priest at a most inopportune moment but hey you can’t overcook those snails they get all tough and rubbery.  Fire and Jaguars! He didn’t need this summons from XiBanga right now.  It was going to be tough to recruit new help from the lazy villagers. But maybe, given enough grilled nutria sausages and banana beer, someone would come back to the Temple with him for whatever this big feast was they wanted. He packed his knives and put on his fancy long apron – the one that covered his big swinging ladle – and headed out to check his crabpots and fish weirs on the way over to Tulum.  Best to pull them now before this storm came in. All the fishermen would be drunk for days til it blew over. Maybe we can stuff some wild pigs with blackberries and smoked habaneros instead. Hope we can keep the firepits lit in this wind. Miserable Mangos!! Chef Xonlon cursed the sky. But he gathered a few more pans and headed out for the Temple.  While the crabs hunkered low in the choppy waves and tall palms shook in the breeze.

  Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whoa Ha!

Chapter Four: FLIRTING WITH DISASTER

Flattered by the amorous glances from Ixchel the Moon Goddess, mighty Huracan shook off his sub-tropical depression, shifted his attentions to the heavens and gave the sultry moon a sly wink with his one good eye. The probabilities of a rapidly accelerating summer fling had certainly just increased and Huracan flexed his spiraled arms and struck a virile power pose across the swelling sea. Surely this would cause the moon to swoon, and fall in love with him all the sooner. Time to fluff up the cumulo nimbuses and ramp up the whirling winds. The great God of Storm and Chaos knew how to put on a proper show of wild eyed fury for all the lady gods (why did they always fall for the rogues and bad boys?) and he sang out across the waters to wake the waves: Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whoa Ha!

Meanwhile back at the temple, Chief Tamanaco’s hopes were rising too. XiBanga the wise StarWatcher had summoned Chef Xonlon to come from the Eastern Shore with his secret sauces and magic herbs to conjure up a feast to delay and distract the Gods and there had been a flurry of clatter and clearing and cleansing old blood from the Temple Kitchen and Sacred Grillpit in anticipation of his arrival. Some of those dried headpods on the stone shelves had expired back with the Olmecs and certainly needed to be cleared out. Fresh heads would need to be harvested and Tamanaco decided he better make an example – just to get the villagers in line and the volunteer rolls full again. Reaching into a ceremonial bowl, full of polished stones representing all his committees, he closed his eyes and plucked a victim – ah the Head of Grounds Committee. Cucarachas! there was no Head of Grounds! He pulled out another stone – Sunday Racing. Aargh! Again no Head of that committee to chop off either. Feathers of a flying jaguar, he would have to try yet again…but suddenly into his chambers burst Chakka TiTo brandishing his Monkey Stick with several wild eyed villagers in bright flowery robes behind him.

“Oh great Chief the skies grow dark and the winds grow strong and all the pigs and parrots and pacaranas are fleeing the forest for higher ground! The waves are filling our fishing boats and we fear there will be no barba for the q’s and no bananas for our beer. {“Yes we have no bananas. We have no bananas todaaay!” sang out the chorus behind him. }“What must we do O Chief to save our summer season!!”
“First – no more singing until we get to Holy Karaoke Night”, the Chief said. “I was going to chop off some committee heads for a fresh sacrifice, but your interruption has given me a better idea. Spread the word among the peoples to freshen up their brightest of flowery robes before the winds blow the petals from the jungle, and gather your loud trumpets and flutes and drums and bells. We will make a great parade around the temple – before the Feast of Chef Xonlon – that will surely capture the attention of Ixchel the Moon and steal her away from crazy Huracan!! Hurry now there is little time to waste” And off Chakka TiTo and his buddies went, focused on their task, but still unable to keep themselves from singing a little Riders on the Storm on the way out.

Tamanaco put aside the ceremonial bowl of committee heads. Another day, perhaps, if needed. But there was one more step he needed to take. Chef Xonlon would be here soon and he would need some help. Powerful help. He hated to do it, but perhaps the burning of a thousand goats and the smaller temple at Merida could now be finally atoned for and forgiven. He reached inside his snakeskin tunic for the key. Not to the Sacred Liquor Locker this time, but to the Dungeon of Despair where they had been locked away. In a struggle with the Wanderers and the Moon and the Mighty Huracan, it was time to bring up those who could tame the smoke and the flame – the Pale Priests of the Pit!!

And the dark clouds boiled on the horizon and the frogs lifted their loud hosannas of praise and the winds whistled on the steps of the towering pyramids.

Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whoa Ha!

Chapter Five: BLAME IT ON THE MOON

Amidst a clash of clang and clatter, great Chef Xonlon strode into the temple kitchen, flinging pans and kettles before him, cursing the winds that had whipped his long apron up around his head. Moldy Monkeys! He hated all those stone steps! When were they ever going to invent an elevator! Before he could get his bearings in the dim light, Chief
Tamanaco appeared in the doorway proclaiming, “AHA! Great Xonlon. I have brought you some help for your task!” as he ducked two large meat forks thrown by the startled chef. Tamanaco had descended deep into the Temple, to the Dungeon of Despair, and brought up the Pale Priests of the Pit – who had been thrown in a cell after the torching of the Little Temple at Merida and the burning of a Thousand Goats. Unfortunate as that was, their talents were needed now – to prepare an enormous feast fit to steal the attention of Ixchel the lonely moon and feed the great parade of the villagers.

“Too many cooks will spoil the broth” screamed Chef Xonlon, but Tamanaco pushed all three of them into the room anyway. First Xo Cowa dragging his portable cookpit “Let’s get to smokin’!!” Next Xim Alla, brandishing his sacred torch “First we make the fiyah!!” and finally Xim Eewakka “ Step back. We gonna throw out everything in this Pit that ain’t makin biscuits or yellin Roll Tide!!” He raised a push broom over his head and let out a whoop! Ah yah whey! Ah ya whey! Ah ya whoaaa ha!

Chef Xonlon gritted his teeth and pulled most of the hair from his ears, but he knew deep down he needed some help to pull off the greatest feast of all time and save the village from storm and destruction. Not wanting to share his magic herbs just yet, he called out for some calming medicine and XiBanga appeared quickly with the Sacred Xotzki and five
full tequilas. Lining up with Tamanaco and the Pale Ones, Chef declared, “Ok boys, we take the sacred drink and we do some sacred work. Fire in the hole!” Together they raised the Xotzki high and slurped.

Tamanaco wiped his chin and hurried off to start gathering the villagers for the biggest parade ever and Chef Xonlon started barking orders: “Find me the fieriest peppers. Snatch up the sweetest mangos. I need pickled pineapples to prep the pigs and we’re gonna stuff pompano in some parrots, wrap em in bacon and roast em on a stick. we’re making
crab cakes and shrimp shakes and those little eggplant rolly things. I need a nutria to roast and some lizards to toast and about 300 pounds of cream cheese!! Well don’t just stand there let’s make a feast!!” The Pale Priests just laughed and snorted – “Uh we’re headed to the GrillPit to make a fearsome fire and sacred smoke and do a little sweepin’ up
and its gonna take a little while, so why don’t you send out some Mayanettes with a few banana beers in a little bit and let us know when yer ready to actually, you know, GRILL sumpin’”. And they quickly scampered out of the kitchen. Aaargh!! where was the chef gonna find some Mayanettes!!

Meanwhile, far out on the edge of the Gulf, Huracan anxiously awaited the moonrise, when sweet Ixchel would ascend from the cool waters and he would surely steal a kiss or two. Or maybe three. Patiently churning on the horizon, he flexed his fluffy nimbuses and admired his reflection in the waters. How could she resist?! And suddenly there she was, just peeking over his outer bands. Gently he caressed her face, kissing her with tall clouds and a bold breeze. The wicked wandering planets swirled about her head, whispering, “Oooh see how he wants you, you are so beautiful and he is magnificent. Forget the haughty sun and have your fling O Goddess of the Night!” She blushed as she crossed the horizon, the Strawberry June moon, sneaking glances at the powerful storm god, even kissing him back with a barrage of glittering moonbeams. Too soon she rose in the night sky, but her tides swelled the amplitude of his waves and he towered into the heavens and chased her a full 45 degrees. Ahh, the passion of the immortals surged through his core, sending wind and waves toward shore. Tomorrow night. Tomorrow night she would return as always, but Huracan would be bigger stronger maybe even powerful enough to pull her close into his spiraling arms. Wind and wave began to tear at the far shore, toppling trees in the jungle, sending faint screams across the waters and into the night. But what did Huracan care of the travails of puny men!? For him, for now, there was only the beautiful mystical moon.

And the night sharks sang a salty song between their shiny teeth. And the wind danced wildly on the waves and tossed them high in the sky with delight.

Ah yah whey! ah yah whey! ah ya whoaaa ha!

Chapter Six: DON’T RAIN ON MAYA PARADE

The winds whistled and screamed through the palm fronds as Chief Tamanaco hurried from the Great Temple into the village to check on the preparations for the Great Parade for their Festival de Luna. This party needed to be big enough, loud enough, so over the top that the Moon Goddess Ixchel would be smitten with their raucous praise and adoration and forget about her summer fling with Huracan the Storm God – before it was too late!! Already the winds howled off of the Gulf and the tides were broaching the seawalls and cresting the banks of every creek and inlet.

Despite the building storm, all the people had gathered in the square in their brightest costumes of feathers and flowers and coconut brassieres, drinking their fermented banana beers and chanting songs of the beauty of the moon. Enormous floats had been built and festooned with banners and bolts of bright cloth, and the children waited anxiously for the riders to begin tossing the signature sweetcakes of the Festival de Luna. Yes – the Mayans invented the MoonPie!! Unfortunately the Mayans never invented wheels larger than those they used for toys – perhaps because the jungle paths were always muddy and full of roots and horses did not arrive until the Spaniards showed up and who wants to domesticate a jaguar to pull your wagon oy! – regardless, Tamanaco needed to get this parade started because it would take forever to reach the Temple on those tiny wheels. So, recruiting the always willing Chakka Tito to be the Grand Marshall and direct the revelers with his handsome Monkey Stick, Tamanaco blessed the procession and sent it lurching from the Square and on towards the Temple – amidst a blaring of conch horns and the staccato rattle of the rhythm gourds.

Ah yah whey! Ah yah whey! Ah yah whoaaa ha!

Great billows of smoke were rising from the sacred GrillPit, carrying the pungent aroma of roasting pacarana and barbecued nutria nuggets up into the darkening sky. Great Chef Xonlon began setting out huge platters of crabcakes and stuffed mushrooms, bacon wrapped parrots and pompano en papillote, hearts of palm and prosciutto, bowls of pickled shrimp and mountains of cream cheese and crawfish dip. Peppers and pickles and mangos and candied lizards until the Great Feasting Table was near to breaking and the last dish of meatballs was nearly out of reach atop the tasty tower of treats! Surely this display of culinary genius and generosity would catch the attention of Ixchel the goddess of the Moon!! Surely the tantalizing smoke and fire from the Pale Priests of the Pit would waft like incense up to the heavens and turn her eyes on them with mercy and gratitude!! Hearing the raucous festival parade reaching the bottom of the Temple pyramid, his heart leapt and he turned to see the Glorious Moon herself just beginning to peek above the cloud crowded horizon. And he began to dance.

Ixchel the moon goddess had rushed all day long to gather her brightest beams for her evening tryst with handsome Huracan, knowing he would be waiting for her tonight where the sea meets the sky, with his strong arms and rough caresses. Flinging off her ancient loneliness she leapt the edge of the world and into his wild and welcome arms, willing to abandon her quest for the Sun – if just for a few summer nights. But as she nestled tight in his towering clouds something bright and shiny caught her eye, beautiful singing caught her ear and the delicious smells of pagan worship pulled her attention just over Huracan’s mighty shoulder and there they were! Her adoring fans. Thousands and thousands of chanting groupies. Why, there were so many more to love her than just the one Huracan! And suddenly she began to drift away from the Storm King, mesmerized by the swell of joy and revelry and the smell of roasting nutria wafting towards her in the heavens. “My people! My people – You love me! You really love me!”

Aghast that his lovely Ixchel was slipping from his grasp, Huracan reached deep into the fury of his spinning eyewall and unleashed lightning, twisters and driving rain down upon the Parade and roared with pleasure as he watched the crowd disperse! Reaching out with a gust of 110 he cleared the smoke from the heavens that had come between them, and, for a moment snuffed out the flames of the Sacred GrillPit. Torrential rains poured forth to drench the fabulous feast and he laughed again as the tables began to float away on the surge. Reaching out with his bulging spiral arms he corralled the wayward moon and turned her face back to his. “You are mine, sweet Ixchel and our passion is not to be denied by weak and worthless mortals such as these. You are mine now and for all time and our storm and tide will dance across the face of the earth forever!! Muuuhuuuhuuuhahhahahaha!!!

The moon trembled and swooned, as the people scrambled for their lives under the onslaught of the god of chaos and storm. Tamanaco sheltered under the Great of Stone of Kukulcan and hung his head. We are doomed. But the Pale Priests still searched the Pit for one last live coal and the chef gathered what he could in wicker go boxes. And the revelers in the treetops cried out to the moon:
Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whey! Ah yah Whoa Ha!