Out Of The Archives:
The Rest of the Magical Story


Breathe in. Breathe out.

Magical is a relative term, depending on who is experiencing it and what the expected outcome of that experience is.

It’s hard to be a writer and write about a magical experience with Daniel Pool Pech without sounding just a little bit kooky. After all, he is Maya, a Shaman of sorts, an untrained masseur of sorts, he talks to God in his dreams, he chants while he works, and people trust not only their entire bodies – sometimes sick ones at that – to Daniel, but their life energy too.

That above all else is a testament to Daniel, that people trust him.

When I signed up for my healing massage with Daniel I had no idea what I was signing up for. I was in Tulum to see what was there, to get some sun, get away from my so-called-life, and to have experiences and write about them, when someone lightly suggested that I have a healing massage with Daniel.

I was not sick or un-healed when I went to see him, or so I thought. Sure, I had a lifelong stiff neck, a back that I really have to watch out for, and I was overweight, but nothing in the extreme. My head is on straight, even though my friends and family question that more often than not. But starting within the few hours after my healing massage my life started noticeably changing.

Getting a massage can be a hit or miss experience. Finding a good masseur/masseuse, and connecting with them, is key. Some massages last only as long as the massage. Others will last for an hour or two after you leave the room and then your body will start feeling ‘normal’ again. Knowing that a massage, and the hands that give it to you, are a tool, and not a cure for what is ailing you is important. If you have a massage to help an ailing back, you also have to learn what not to do to your back to make it hurt again. If you are having a massage to open up your energy channels, well, you also have to know how to keep them open on your own. And if you’ve had a few massages in your life, you can probably tell a good one from a not so good one.

Which is why I can say my magical experience with Daniel can be described as like a light switch had been turned on and my entire being lit up.

Within an hour of seeing him, I could feel myself starting to lose toxins, a sensation that felt like needles were shooting out of every pore of my body. I could feel the energy moving through me – all channels were open and operative. The next day, in my mind, I noticeably started seeing beyond the illusion of my life. That morning I really felt like I was on center, that my power had returned to me – something I hadn’t really realized I was missing. In spite of that I cried almost the entire flight home, for no real reason. And when I got off the plane at SFO, I had no desire to even lay eyes on my boyfriend, much to his chagrin.

For days after my massage I could still feel Daniel’s hands on my skin, very lightly working my muscles. The toxic needles shooting out of my body became less intense as time went by. For the first week, after my return to SFO, I found myself in a waking dream in the middle of each night. I would awake with Daniel’s thumb pressing on the edge of my sternum. Time to roll over, he would telepathically say. Rolling over, I would go back to sleep and would wake in the morning refreshed. I think the only reason why I stopped having those dreams was because I changed time zones again, making a nine hour difference in our sleeping hours.

In that first week my magic also included befuddlement, with the inability to make decisions based on any of my personal belief systems. Crying at the drop of a hat for no reason, I couldn’t handle the confusion. I would burst into tears in places like the checkout line at Whole Foods, or while I was pumping gas into my car at Costco. It seems that when my energy channels opened, my belief systems went haywire. Even though I felt energized and in my power, I also felt intense emotional insecurity and had wished many times that week that I had not waited until the last day of my trip to see Daniel. It would have been nice to be able to consult with him, or just be around the area, to adjust, for awhile longer …

And to this day, some three months later, I actually enjoy sitting up rigidly straight in my chair. Something I never did before seeing him.

Daniel didn’t seem to care about what led me to him, or why I was there. He has one purpose when he is alone in a room with you and that is transformation. Yours. Daniel is on a higher plane and he’s going to do his best to bring you there with him. But you also have to consciously choose to go there.

Everyone will come away from Daniel with a different experience. You can see him and just get a really good massage if that is all you want. The quality of your experience really matters more on how you approach your session with him and how open you are.

Whether your transformation is physical or spiritual, whether or not you believe in Daniel and his work, if you are a spiritual person and open to it Daniel Pool Pech will change how you understand the word healing, how you feel spiritually, how you see and perceive the world and most of all, how you see yourself.

At the very least, you’ll feel a lot better :)


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and do not have any authority in recommending or prescribing massage as a form of healing what ails you. If you see Daniel, you see him under your own motivation.

Out Of The Archives:
That Pesky -X

The letter -X. It’s a common enough letter, but one rarely used in English at the beginning of a word, where it is pronounced like the letter -z as in the word xylophone. In English it’s not used so much in the middle of words either, where it is pronounced like the compound -ks as in the word excited.

But in Yucatec Maya, the language that is spoken and written throughout the Yucatan peninsula, the letter -x plays a prominent role.

In simple terms, the language of the ancient Maya was pictorial and verbal. Words were not written out with an alphabet until the arrival of the Spanish. When the Spanish monks began to record this local language, there were a few sounds that stumped them. The sound -sh was one of them. This sound was not recorded in Spanish, so they used the letter X to signify this sound.

When the letter X starts a word, it is pronounced -ish or -eesh. You will hear it both ways, or sometimes pronounced somewhere between the two.

For example the name of the ecological park Xcaret is pronounced Ish-kar-ette

The English word chocolate came from the Maya word xocoatl which is pronounced isho-ko-aht-l

When the letter X is in the middle of a word it is pronounced -sh

For example the name of the Maya archaeological site Uxmal is pronounced Oosh-mall

And then there is the Mayan word for leftovers –xix pronounced Ish-ish.

Once you get the pronunciation of the letter -X in your head, it becomes natural to pronounce it correctly when reading signs and menus in The Yucatan.

Do you have a favorite word in Mayan that uses the pesky -X?

Out Of The Archives:
Tulum – The Walled City


‘The Tulum ruins are that way.’ said the young woman at the front desk of the hotel. She pointed in the general direction of the archaeological site and continued, ‘At the end of the road. You can take a taxi, or rent a bike …’ I politely interrupted her by saying, ‘No, I’d like to walk.’

She furrowed her eyebrows and responded, ‘Are you sure?’ (But in retrospect I’m sure she meant ‘Are you crazy?’ :) ‘It’s far for walking. It’s hot now and it will get hotter later, take water with you! …’ She made sure that she got out all of the warnings before I waved good-bye for the day and took off down the road.

Well, at least she knew where I went in case I didn’t make it back.

Walking, walking, walking. It is four kilometers from the hotel to the ruins on the cliff, and it was very hot. The adventure was slow going in the heat although the road going in that direction was fairly flat and smooth. The road was partly shaded on one side by the not-so-tall-thick-forest of trees that lived in the coastal jungle and lined both sides of the road. Along the road I saw a sign to La Playa and I found myself on what was considered to be the public beach in Tulum – the cleanest, whitest, most beautiful public beach I had ever walked on.

About an hour and a half later, I found myself walking on a path through a thin umbrella of jungle and finally reached an arched doorway in a wall. Taking a breathe, I bent my head, entered, and walked the twenty feet through the low arch in the wall and into the sunlight of the city. The setting of this place is truly spectacular, ruins on a cliff, on the edge of the bluest sea imaginable.

Tulum was originally named Zamá, which is the Maya word for dawn, and named so because the ancient city’s location allows for a full view of the sunrise, everyday of the year. It could also have been named that because the site was an important Maya astronomical observation center.

Tulum, which means The Walled City, was the name given to it by later researchers of the area. The wall itself is an unusual feature of the city, being only one of two walled cities found so far on The Yucatan peninsula. The ruins are heavily fortified on three sides by a twenty-foot thick by thirteen-foot high wall, with the fourth side dropping off of a spectacular cliff into the Caribbean. The only way to enter the ancient city was through one of the five arched and guarded doorways in the wall, or to stand on the beach and wait for permission to enter. In any case, Tulum was not an easy city to just walk into. It was known for its strong fortifications and its location as an ancient watch point, guarding the trade routes from both sea and land and even serving as an important center of commerce for the region.

Trading from the ships took place on the beach, theoretically outside the city. A small cove was easily entered on one side by boats, while the merchants and traders from the city entered on the other side which was, and still is, easily gotten to because the cliff drops to the beach in just that one spot.

The oldest buildings in Tulum date from the time that the rest of the Maya civilization was in decline, around 900 AD, and life was still going strong here when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. Much of the architecture was of the Puuc style – building bases with sloped, tiered steps and columns, and decoration based on carved stone mosaic with most of the decoration being done on the friezes. Only a few sculptures, and faint memories of the a few of the murals on the walls, remain. It is said that when the Spanish explorers found the city, the buildings were stuccoed and painted, as were most of the archaeological sites in their heyday, The Castle being painted a wonderful blue and lit by an eternal flame.

In viewing Tulum, more so than during my visits to the other archaeological sites, I had to use my imagination to reconstruct the buildings, repaint the murals and imagine the city full of life. Damaged by the centuries of neglect, jungle growth, and salty sea air, Tulum is probably one of the most decayed of the major Maya sites. Because of the sheer number of visitors it receives on a daily basis, it isn’t possible to walk into the buildings for fear they will further damage the structures. The only inhabitants of the city, the ubiquitous iguanas, are the only creatures to have free reign here, to hide in the shade of the walls or sun themselves on the rocks.

Besides the wall, The Castle is the main and largest building on the site, although compared to other Maya cities, this castle is small. Its impressiveness comes from its placement within the city, the back of the structure almost lines up with cliff edge, leaving room only for a path to walk on before dropping down onto the beach and the turquoise sea.

Other buildings to visit would be the Temple of the Frescoes where you can see faint remnants of the paintings as well as hand prints, the many shrines on the site, the House of Columns, Temple of the Descending God, Temple of the Wind, and The Bay. Walking along the inside of the wall gave me the opportunity to feel the scope of the site. One great surprise of visiting Tulum is having the sunbathing and swimming access on the beach below ruins.

Visiting the Ruins
The best time to visit the Tulum ruins, as in all the archaeological sites, is early in the morning. Around noon the tour buses from the cruise ships docked near Cancun start arriving in droves at this most visited archaeological site on the peninsula. When they are there your photographs will be filled with smiling tourists wearing funny hats and you will have a hard time exploring on your own. In the morning Tulum is quiet and peaceful, and above all, cooler.

Out Of The Archives:
Uxmal – The Place of Plentiful Harvests


Leaving Merida a little later than I had expected that morning, after having forgotten to charge the battery for my digital camera the night before, the bus moved through town and out into the countryside. Charging time combined with the travel time of about an hour-and-a-half to get to Uxmal from Merida by public bus, it was no surprise that I landed in the middle of the Puuc just before the archaeological ruins witching hour, high noon. Temperatures had started to climb, but for some reason the temperatures were still tolerable and remained so throughout the afternoon.

Uxmal is the Maya word for the place of plentiful harvests. Ux meaning harvest and mal meaning a repeated number or action. This site is located in the center of the Puuc region where there are a few very fertile hills, the only hills in the landscape for hundreds of kilometers across the Yucatan peninsula. The locals here now grow corn and citrus, but in the day of the ancient Maya, this land was relied upon for growing everything the community needed to survive. The water on the peninsula was not plentiful, but the Maya contrived a way of creating cisterns to hold water that was pumped out of the underground limestone caverns, while also depending on the rainfall each year, to water their crops.

Village life in this area of the Puuc seemed to begin around 800 BC with a primarily agricultural focus until around 200 AD. Between the years of 200 and 1000 AD the population of the village grew to approximately 20,000 people, making it the Governor’s seat and the ceremonial center in the region. From 1000 until 1200 AD the city of Uxmal turned into a merchant city with the infiltration of the Xiu clan. But by 1200 the city was in decline and people were moving on to other cities and regions on the peninsula.

Walking down the path towards the Temple of the Magician, the landscape felt familiar. It felt like I was at home in California. The oak trees, the dirt under my feet, and the smell in the air all seemed like home. The temperature was just on the warm side of comfortable. As I walked I imagined a Temple of the Magician in San Francisco and chuckled to myself. I’m sure it would be considered a waste of valuable real estate. Better yet to imagine a Temple of the Phallus there, hidden amongst an oak grove in Golden Gate Park.

Uxmal happens to have both.

Uxmal also happens to be an ancient city that I could imagine living in. Even though the architecture is highly structured, the feel of the city is down to, and connected to, the earth. Elements of the earth were used to build the structures on the site, local limestone for the buildings, and wood and thatch for the roofs. Artisans of all kinds – painters, sculptors, stone cutters, woodworkers, potters – were all employed here. The people who lived here knew their place in the community, and no matter what that place was, it was important.

This is a city that is known for the beautiful sculptures and stone mosaics that adorn the walls of almost all of its buildings. Coming from Chichen, I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between the two sites. The stone of Chichen was colder, greyer, the signature building El Castillo was boxy, angular. Here at Uxmal, The Temple of the Magician was rounded, earthy, and took on the hue of the pale yellow-ish pink limestone, as did almost all of the other buildings in the city.

The Story of The Magician
The Magician that is referred to in the name of the temple is one of Maya legend.

In the neighboring village of Kabah there lived an old woman who was considered to be a witch. It has been said that she had birthed a baby boy out of an egg and as he grew older, he did not grow in stature and remained a dwarf. The child was full of curiosity and imagination. One day he noticed that the old woman was hiding something under the fireplace. The Dwarf found a gold tambourine and a wooden drum there and he began to play. The sound was heard throughout the neighboring villages and when the Lord of Uxmal heard the sound, he knew his days were numbered. It had been prophesied that whom ever found and played these instruments would take over his throne.

The Lord of Uxmal sent for The Dwarf in hopes of intervening and stopping the inevitable. He gave The Dwarf a number of tests to pass, which The Dwarf easily did. In one last desperate attempt to rid himself of The Dwarf and The Prophecy, he subjected The Dwarf to a test of strength and pain, hitting him over the head with cocoyols. The Dwarf agreed to this only if The Lord would endure the pain should The Dwarf himself survive. The Lord agreed, thinking The Dwarf was going to die before he would have to prove himself. But the witch had placed a strong piece of flint on The Dwarf’s head, hiding it in his hair and The Dwarf passed the test of pain with flying colors. The Lord of Uxmal did not fare so well, dying on the first hit.

The Dwarf came to rule Uxmal, favorably and wisely, building the Palace of The Governor, The House of the Old Woman, and The Temple of The Magician.

The Temple of the Magician dominates the current entrance into Uxmal, but it is by far not the most spectacular building. The Nunnery Quadrangle could compete for that title, with its beautiful Western Edifice that has sculptures of rattlesnakes and bleeding hearts, thrones backed by plumes of feathers, as well as masks of Chaac.

One of the more striking facades at Uxmal is The House of The Doves, called so only because the shape of the wall is reminiscent of a dovecote.

Walking down the path through the trees on my way to visit the last part of the site, The House of The Old Woman, I pass a palapa covering a group of rocks, placed neatly in rows on the ground. I stood looking at them for a moment before I realized what they were. They were all sculpted in the shape of a penis. All different – amazingly – large, small, thin, thick. A very nice and varied collection. The Temple of the Phallus, which is near The House of The Old Woman, is called such because of its rain gutters – each sculpted in the shape of a penis. Uxmal has more than one reference to sex, and because of that it is thought that fertility worship played a large role in this Maya city.

Uxmal is a place where hours or days could be spent looking at all the details of the city. The mosaics are like eye-candy – for those of us who like that kind of thing. When I felt like my eyes were filled for the day I walked back out to the main road to catch the bus, which happened to be waiting when I got there. That happens sometimes. When I got back to the hostel I shared my day’s photographs with anyone who look.

Uxmal is a World Heritage Site