THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK NINE: BOOK of the JAGUAR PRIEST
CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN
Silvestro Kaak, his new bride and Colonel Solis arrived at the port of Progreso on the twenty eighth of June. Despite the newly printed papers attesting to his share of the great wealth of Colonel Macias, the Tatoob was troubled by an overwhelming sense of doom within moments of their disembarking. At first, Solis and Maria perceived nothing out of the ordinary in the dusty streets, in whose shadows crouched the black outlines of thin and panting dogs (although her senses were accustomed to the rhythms and the nature of the capital and of the lands to its north). Solis had forgotten the unpleasantness of Yucatecan summers, but straightened his uniform and marched on, as if the weather was one more rival Generals to be outmaneuvered and cut down before coming to a gradual stop.
Even the urchins and the baggage-porters, who inevitably swarmed over the docks at the arrival of a boat, were not in evidence. Nor were the vendors of refreshments, even the few taxi drivers who normally waited by the pier to transport passengers and their bags to the railroad station.
Progreso ridiculed its own name beneath the vapid blue skies and ferocious sun, which had heated the port to forty-four degrees Centigrade.
Silvestro motioned to the others that they leave their baggage on the boat. Two blocks from the pier, an old man stretched beneath a green umbrella, crumbling tobacco between his fingers.
"Cigarros?" he offered, tearing at the leaves with hands brown and wrinkled as was the tobacco. "Cubano... muy bien..."
"Drought?" the Tatoob asked, sniffing at the dry, salty air.
"Si, sequia... gran sequia! Not since the great killing, seventy years ago, has the sun been so large, so cruel. I was only twelve, then, when it was hot. The sun drove men to acts of madness." And he gestured with his old hand towards the sun as if he were an impresario... or a magician, displaying the rabbit he'd pulled from his hat.
Silvestro purchased a cigar and returned to the boat. "We will not leave," he said, "until the sun is very low. My first decree as Carranza's Governor is to declare siesta."
Solis was impatient. "It will be hours," he said, "until the train to Merida. What will we do in the meantime?"
"I am going below, to sleep," he said, and he slept alone, for Maria had spent much time preparing her clothes and hair for landing. She and the Colonel dozed in chairs on the shaded side of the deck until the sun was lower and life began returning to the mummified port. Boys tugged at the bags of the passengers who'd missed the early train. They climbed over one another towards the deck and Solis waved them off. Silvestro returned an hour before sunset, by which time the temperature had dropped a few degrees. A taxi appeared, sweating great clouds of steam and, into it, they bundled their belongings; their uniforms and shoes and gifts, Maria's hats and dresses and her panting, nipping poodle. The lean dogs of Progreso stretched their jaws, yawning, as if measuring whether Pablito could be swallowed in one gulp. And then the fotingo was off... its engine rattling through dusty streets of zopilotes, flies and screaming children... towards the station as a huge, wet three quarters moon rose at their back.
By the time they reached Merida, it was fully dark and only thirty-nine degrees, a hundred, more or less, as Americans would measure. The city squirmed like an anthill as people who had cowered all day in patios or in their dark, secluded rooms emerged to celebrate the slaughter of the tyrant Kin by the harlotous moon. Their gaiety seemed almost obscene, for Merida was very, very rich that year even as the rest of the state... like the territory to the east... baked, starved and burned. The first inklings of this came in the restaurant at the Gran Hotel when Silvestro bought an American soft drink, after the waiter told him that there was no fresh water to be had.
When they were finished, Solis protested the bill.
"Look Colonel," the waiter sneered, gesturing towards the streets. "Your Revolutionary Government has given all these people land, and now they have to sell it for a drink. Can you blame me for making money
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