GREAT FAITHS THAT TASTE GREAT TOGETHER
COPAN, Honduras "Maybe we should just import corn from Iowa," Gustavo announces in the Copan Ruinas museum. "We can't compete with the U.S. and industrial agriculture. We should plant radishes and cauliflower or something. Sell them. Buy corn."
I shift my attention from the artifacts, the incomparable stelae, carvings and temples, some 1,500 years old. My guide talks faster than I can write, sliding from fertility toads to modern natal clinics. Eh? Cauliflower, a cash crop? What?
"It's a cultural thing," he blurs onward. "The Mayans are the people the gods made from corn. To stop planting it is to abandon their roots."
We sit, humbled before slab architecture knobbed with skull carvings.
"The ruler would perform a ritual in times of trouble, piercing his foreskin with a stingray spine," he explains. "His blood was the ultimate offering, the greatest self-sacrifice."
"Copan, today, is a blend of two ancient faiths," Gustavo says.
"Catholic and corn.
"The Mayans believed in bloodletting. The missionaries told them about the sacrifice of Jesus and they totally related. He gave his blood to save our lives; yeah, that's a good man! But they related to him as a good leader, not a savior...
"Today, most families have a small altar with a cross. But they also conduct ceremonies in the field, burning corn.
"These two ancient faiths are good together."