On Saturday we went to a little town called Panchimalco. We were hoping to see something exciting, but there really wasn't much there except a mostly unimpressive church and an art studio/gallery/school. We did, however stop in to a really unimpressive looking cultural shop which housed two guys who specialized in recovering Salvadoran ancestral history. First the one guy began talking about cultural stuff and playing an instrument invented in El Salvador that does awesome native bird calls. He did a lengthy bird call demonstration for us. Then, I pointed at a souvenir with a vicious snake like creature on it and asked what it was. As I suspected, it was Quetzalcoatl, depicted as a feathered, fire breathing serpent. I asked him to tell me what he knew about Quetzalcoatl. It all occurred in Spanish, but, between my imperfect understanding and what my dad can remember, we got a few interesting things out of it. His buddy was a spiritual mystic who was all over the place, mixing in Nostradomus and typical Native American spiritualism, and seemed to be proselytizing to us, so we took his comments, which were many, with a grain of salt.
The following is a summary of what was explained to me by the bird song man and his mystical buddy about their Native American/Mayan beliefs:
Quetzalcoatl was a God who was a white man with a beard who wore a white robe with a cross on his chest. He came on some sort of an "embarkation" which usually means ship, but they don't understand what exactly. (Which is actually contradictory to other accounts which say the Quetzalcoatl came down from the sky.) He came to teach them new ways to improve their lives, both spiritual and temporal. He taught them about the most nutritional way to prepare or grow corn or something (can't really remember). The corn we eat today is genetically inferior to the ancient corn and continues to lose its nutritional value. The modern Mayan elders know this and have hidden up a cache of the ancient corn in accordance with Quetzalcoatl's instruction.
Many Native American peoples, in some form or another, believe in Quetzalcoatl, including Anazazi/Ancetral Hopi, the Hopi, the Aztecs, essentially most tribes from North America all the way to Northern South America, but they all have different names for him, most, however, being quite similar. It it prophesied that Quetzalcoatl will return but no one knows when. Thus, the Mexican thought that Cortez was Quetzal and so they treated him like a god until they realized that he was nothing more than a man. The people still anticipate the return of Quetzalcoatl.
According to tradition, with the arrival of the original Quetzalcoatl, most followed him but there was one tribal leader who was angry at the attention given to Quetzalcoatl, which resulted in his loss of power. He rebelled against him, teaching his people not to believe in him. He left the area and took other like-minded people with him.
The end of the Mayan calendar does not predict the date when Quetzalcoatl will return (since, as previously stated, no one knows when he'll come again), nor does it predict when the world will end. It is simply a prediction of a time of great change, or a new epoch of time that will usher in a great positive energy that will have a negative effect on those who are not in synch with nature (or evil, i guess) and apparently make them go crazy (info from the Mystic guy). So, on December 21, 2012 expect big changes, but not Quetzalcoatl yet. And he said that we have 20 years after that date before the judgement. He also said that people continue to harm the earth because they don't understand that it's a living entity. Eventually, the earth will transform in to a paradisiacal state.
Paintings by one of the most famous artists in El Salvador. Found at the gallery/studio/art school. It had extensive, beautifully manicured gardens behind it, in which more artwork was displayed.
Kelsey posing in front of a banana tree.
Kelsey and 4 yr old Jocelyn who was a neighbor to the gallery.