“Autoethnography, transculturation, critique, collaboration, bilingualism, mediation, parody, denunciation, imaginary dialogue, vernacular expression -- these are some of the literate arts of the contact zone. Miscomprehension, incomprehension, dead letters, unread masterpieces, absolute heterogeneity of meaning -- these are some of the perils of writing in the contact zone.”
—Mary Louise Pratt, “Arts of the Contact Zone”
Uxmal, I have never visited you. I have not seen first hand your stone pyramids and palaces, nor have I heard near you the whoosh of Yucatecan nor smelled the spicy depths of achiote, a seed that seasons the food of your people. It not only imparts flavor to the meals people eat near you, known also as annatto or bixa it once colored people to make them attractive, to make them social.
Though you stand stolidly in Yucatan a monument to a once and maybe, your name escaped and I found it on a gray, smoggy, Salt Lake January in a brick building, near the city’s center, with federalist doors and windows. You were in a place called Cancun, as if the resort on the opposite side of Yucatan where blue waters and gleaming, tall hotels meet, where pyramids from Chichen Itza, not you, stand out on the wall.