“You know, on that day when you played the guitar by the cenote, I felt something. I really felt something. There was a connection,” the beautiful girl told Checo on one evening when they were alone in the kitchen. Her name was Eneida, from Uruguay. She was short with a good figure and long almost blond hair. Her eyes were big and round. Her cheeks were like flapjacks.
Eneida loved music, and she wouldn’t keep her mouth shut. She always sang something and even gave vocal trainings to whomever expressed only the slightest interest. It was a few times actually disturbing. Because once Eneida had appeared on the scene, she would be singing, nonstop and everywhere. But she had a good voice, and she could also play all kinds of instruments. And yes, it mustn’t be forgotten that she also loved marijuana.
Whenever Checo took the guitar, Eneida would come and sit next to him. And it wasn’t only one time when she literally handed him the guitar. “Play,” she asked him politely. So he played. She watched him and listened. “You are amazing. Your fingers are like poetry,” she said. And then she would sing and improvise, creating beautiful melodies. It was so simple… She was excellent.
But Checo wasn’t as amazing as she thought, and she thought so only because of the first day. When she told him to play D-moll, or A, or F, Checo was lost. Yes, he could play a few chords, but he didn’t know their names. And, obviously, Checo couldn’t read notes, he only sometimes played the guitar because he loved the sound of it. That was all.
Eneida was probably too young for him, but he liked her. He was looking at her when she wasn’t looking. And she was looking at him, too. Either because she noticed he had liked her or because she liked him as well. When they were together, she would be somewhat physical. She would often touch him with some part of her body, and he didn’t know whether she did it unconsciously or purposely. It confused him. One time she invited him to play in her big tent. Her friends were there, too. But they stopped playing very soon because she used too much theory, which Checo was not able to follow. She then laid down on her mattress right where Checo was sitting. And again, she was too close to him. And it made him nervous and all he knew was that he would not want to start anything with a girl in the community. There were simply too many people living together in one place. It would all go public. But the main thing was that Checo was dealing with other things. He just wanted to have a clear head for now. Anyway, after three weeks or so, Eneida left. And all that remained was this memory.
Another memory is this one…
It was after diner, dark and quiet. Checo was sitting in the dinning room, on the cushion at the low coffee table. He was taking some notes. There was a small lamp above him. Its light shone just enough for him to be able to see on the paper. It felt like this was exactly that kind of evening made for writing. Almost everybody made themselves scarce, only Mauricio and Cosme were hanging around in the corner of the kitchen. They talked in husky voices which were reaching Checo as unclear and muted sounds of a relaxed conversation. This background noise along with the jungle’s night chirp even more depicted the atmosphere of what he was writing about. And so, he submerged himself in his mind, and there, the sequence of his thoughts meandered like a river in a valley.
“There is a sensual dance at 9. Are you coming?” somebody said suddenly. Checo lifted his head. It was Carla.
“A sensual dance at 9,” Carla repeated.
What kind of dance is that?”
“Everybody will dance with their eyes covered. They can dance alone or with somebody, it’s up to you. It will last an hour,” Carla explained.
“OK, maybe I’ll come,” Checo answered promptly without much interest. He didn’t think about the dance and was just about to lower his head to get back to his story. “Are you afraid?” Carla asked him. He looked at her. She had a provocative grin on her face. It surprised him. “No, definitely not,” he said and wondered why should he even be afraid. But Carla’s cheeky smile had challenged him. “OK, yeah, I can come,” he said partially to prove that he wasn’t afraid of some dance and partially to just be done with it. She left as quickly as she appeared.
It had already been a while… a centimeter from the paper, the ball bearing of his pen which he held in his hand, motionlessly pointed to the last word he had written. The sentence, the paragraph, were waiting to be finished. But Checo was disturbed, thinking. The sensual dance had gradually aroused too much of intriguing curiosity. With the eyes covered. He couldn’t focus anymore. He realized that everyday in Nicte meant a new adventure. And so he decided he was going to dance. “Checo! You want smoke?” Cosme called at him from the kitchen. It was perfect timing. “Sí, señor!” Checo called at Cosme and sprung up with excitement.
Only five minutes later, they were all in the shala. “The shala” was another round building that looked the same as Keshet’s house except that it was empty and in the center was a fireplace covered with a wooden lid. The building was right next to the kitchen, and it was used for any kind of activities – morning exercise, yoga, meditation, dancing, birthday parties, anything.
They were sitting on the floor, around 15 people, blindfolded. Checo didn’t quite understand where did they all come from so suddenly, including himself. This evening was supposed to be entirely different, that’s how he saw it in the morning, that’s how he imagined it, and now he didn’t see anything at all, and the effect of the sacred herb’s properties was just beginning to work.
“I welcome you all to today’s sensual dance, and thank you for coming,” Carla said and continued, “This dance will last for about 45 minutes to one hour. You can’t use your eyes. You can dance alone or with a partner. If you don’t feel comfortable dancing with a partner, pat them twice on the back, in between the shoulder blades.”
A minute of silence followed. Then the music started to play, at low volume. It was slow, instrumental and slightly psychedelic. “This is your rebirth. You are beginning from zero, again,” Carla talked deliberately like if she was reciting the verses of a poem, “Imagine a world in which you can do anything you want. This is now. You are free and happy. What would you like to do right now?”
Checo didn’t know whether what Carla had just said was a spur to start dancing. “What would you like to do right now?” he heard her say again. But he didn’t know what to do, not yet. Maybe he expected that they would all be told when to start dancing. He wanted to be sure, and so he remained sitting.
The music was playing louder now. The song developed and blossomed like hundreds of flowers. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he also heard someone’s bare feet were treading, patting and smacking the floor. Somebody must have started dancing already.
He focused. “What would you like to do right now?” he asked himself. He was the ocean, its ears lying down and sleeping in the deep, in silence and darkness. But somebody dived in the water from great height. It splashed, it woke him up, and it started to be wavy. “Come on! You want to dance!” he heard something said in the middle of the ocean. And a joyous feeling spread in him like the warmness when drinking something hot.
But he still wasn’t sure whether he could already start, whether he was allowed. It made him impatient. And he needed to find out right now, and so he did it, he cheated. He removed the strip from his eyes and saw that some people had already been dancing while the others were still sitting on the floor like him. It lasted only two seconds, though, because right from behind his back somebody put the strip back on his eyes. It made him smile.
He knew he could dance now. But he still took another moment. Then somebody brushed against his back. Fingers were stroking him there like when somebody writes in the sand on the beach. He knew it was a woman’s touch, and it read, “Come on! It’s time!” It was very beautiful, and he would have sat there forever just to feel that beauty, but suddenly it was gone.
The dance was somewhat odd at the first. He danced almost on the same spot, and then he started making small circles eventually coming back to where he was before, at least this was what he thought. Rather than a dance, however, it was kind of a careful walk like that of the blind. But really strange was that he still felt shy in spite of the fact that no-one could see him.
Soon, Checo started encountering other dancers. So far, they had all been men. It wasn’t difficult to make sure they were men. He knew it at the first contact – rigid figure, a hairy belly and chest, big hands. He never stayed longer than necessary. We can say that these blind and random encounters with men was something Checo almost didn’t like. However, there was one or two incidents when he felt a particular sense of brotherhood with the same gender. He didn’t really dance with them at this point however, rather, he just expressed respect by a very friendly handshake, which was mutual, and kind of exalted, as if the two men were celebrating their masculinity.
The music sounded more and more beautiful. All the flowers had already blossomed, and since he couldn’t look at them, it was time to go and smell them all. He needed the experience and in order to make this happen, he had to venture out of his comfortable dancing circle. He did it. Upon the first step into the unknown, he was seized by a great desire to wander and explore. Suddenly, dancing in the dark was so much adventure. It was like looking for a secret.
Now he was really dancing, crisscrossing the whole shala back and forth. His hands were widely stretched, and swinging like on big waves, he let the music carry him like when the wind blows onto a sailboat in the open sea. So little did he see, yet so much did he feel. Perhaps he had really used his eyes now for the first time in his life. Deep down he looked and what he saw there was nothing but joy and several crazy people from all around the world dancing with strips around their heads, inside a round building in the middle of the jungle, in Mexico.
He portrayed himself and the whole scene in all details. He was really there and doing it. It suddenly became too funny, ridiculous. He couldn’t help it and uttered a laugh. Then he laughed more, uncontrollably. And he heard others to laugh as well, they laughed even more and louder than him. And then something completely unexpected happened again. “What if they are all laughing at me?” he asked himself in a shock. No, this can’t be true. But he couldn’t stop it immediately and a chain of thoughts followed. What if I’m the only one blind here, and they are all watching me? What if this is just some kind of test, a ritual every new-comer has to pass in order to be accepted in the community, to become a member, one of them? His dance faltered, and he pondered over the thoughts for a minute. But the healing process had already begun. This was only his disobedient mind which still needed some good training. Fine, if this is how it is, if they have been watching me from the very beginning, then there’s nothing to lose, and I can simply continue because it’s fun.
His dance quickly gained the same temperament with which he danced a while before. And now he wished to dance with a woman. It took a while. But eventually they really met. To his surprise, their hands found each other so naturally, they fit together like a lock and key, it was meant to be. And immediately their bodies swung and bent together like two trees in the wind, their branches touched, caressed and rubbed one another. It had only been a moment, just a few swings and steps, and they were already so close to each other. Yet another moment later, they were even closer. And then, finally, there was no gap between them. This was fast.
Their bodies pressing against each other, they began to dance the sensual dance. He lowered his head, almost rested his chin on her shoulder, and poking his nose in her hair, he smelled the flower. It was such a wild smell. It aroused him as he inhaled, he felt it was tickling him in his nose, and in his lungs, and then lower and lower, until he felt it very strong in his crotch, and his knees buckled for a second. And she, she breathed and sighed in his ear, and it was pleasure, it was real.
Taken by lust, he slid his hands down to her buttocks. And the wind blew very strong now. She felt him, no doubt. She felt all of his virility. Her hands traveled on his body like if she was looking for the entrance to his soul. It was like they were sailing the ocean, and a big storm had just arrived, the storm of delight. They continued the voyage. They climbed up the sailboat’s mast and at the very top they danced bravely as it swung and tilted from side to side. Lightnings and thunders struck one by one, it was pouring rain, they were soaking wet, and huge waves played with the boat like pleasure with uncontrolled human bodies. And it really became dangerous now, so they held each other even tighter to not fall, or perhaps to fall in love.
And please no more. No more or we will really fall, we will crash, we will be shipwrecked and gone forever. He suddenly realized that he couldn’t continue, and even felt a slight embarrassment about his arousal. What would happen once the dance would have been over? They would remove the strips and look at each other. Then they would see the reality. And maybe they wouldn’t believe it. He decided it was time to leave. Maybe he could even dance with another woman. There was still so much to explore. He just traveled the world.
Slowly and carefully, he started removing himself from the clinch. It was a long descend. She understood. Then he hugged her tightly again. But this time he was saying goodbye and thank you.
Still holding each other’s hands, they stepped apart, then their hands separated like if a rope was breaking off. Instinctively, he reached out for her hands one more time, and then, they finally went to dance on their own again.
Now, empowered by his experience, Checo flew around the place like a bird, free and happy, just like Carla said at the beginning. He still encountered one more woman, but it was nothing like before. He left. And soon the sensual dance was all over.
As soon as Checo removed the strip from his eyes, he couldn’t believe what he saw. There was a clump of four people laying down on the floor, their limbs were wedged in one another. There were couples standing in a hug, visibly moved by the experience. Another girl was hanging on the rope which hung from the roof in the center of the shala. And others were sitting on the floor, alone. Some people laughed from excitement and some looked like if they were not able to comprehend what had just happened. All in all, it was obvious, there was a profound feeling of an experience in the air. Then, Carla asked everyone to share their impressions. By the way, the girl who hung on the rope was the one who cut her toe in the kitchen when Checo arrived. Her name was Francesca. She was from Italy.
They sat down in a big circle. The light was very dimmed. It wasn’t possible to see people’s faces clearly. Carla led the dialog. She was interested especially in hearing about people’s feelings and emotions. Checo was surprised how eloquent almost everyone was. He was becoming nervous to talk in front of so many people. The last time he did something like that was probably years ago, in the school. He thought he would simply say it was good and that he enjoyed it.
It was his turn now. He lifted his head and quickly scanned the circle. “So, I actually don’t even know what to say because I probably need more time to process it. Tomorrow, a week later, a year, or perhaps 20 years later, I will have better words to say,” he spoke and heard someone giggle which encouraged him to relax and be more open. He continued, “I was surprised that at the beginning, I didn’t really need to know with whom I was dancing, I mean, it wasn’t important for me to know the person’s name. “But then,” he said, “I came across some girl, and it was very much arousing. And I really wondered who she was. We danced together for a very long time. It was beautiful. But because it was mainly about the dance, I decided to leave.” At that moment, Kakanka started to laugh very loudly and almost simultaneously, all the others joined him. Checo didn’t understand what it was so funny that he had said. But he was very pleased that they were laughing. Because again, the last time something like this happened was years ago in the school. “So there were some feelings…” Carla said. “Oh, yes, of course. Sexual arousal is definitely a feeling,” Checo responded and everyone erupted into another laughter.
Mauricio was among the ones who remained sitting unmoved and silent when the dance finished. Everybody was now waiting what was he going to say. He started, “Hudzitsu, busi, kuci musi, pochata, pochaba, mucha, chacha, chusha, chasua, busua, amusua, basuia, kachata, machata, mama, tatabamba.” A few people smiled uncertainly. Then there were three seconds of silence. He gave a sigh and said something short in Spanish. And everyone burst into a deafening laughter. They were all in fits. “What did he say?” Checo urged whoever was willing to translate it for him. “It was a fucking orgy!” Karmina said gasping for air, “the funny thing is that he said it in a dialect in which people talk here.”
It was getting late. But the people were still full of their experience, and passionately they continued sharing it later in the kitchen. It was interesting to learn how the others danced. For example, Kakanka never even stood up. He decided to sit down all the time and let others find him. Karmina supposedly run back and forth around the whole place with her hands spread like and airplane wings. How strange that Checo was never hit by her. Mauricio on the other hand wasn’t able to say anything. He was still in a shock. And it was obvious that he had experienced something very sexual, too. “I felt like a jaguar,” he uttered at last with a serious look.
Nevertheless, the longer Checo talked about it and the more people he talked with, the more he was becoming curious as of who was the girl he had danced with. He knew that she knew. Because he wore his hat, and she took it in her hands at one point during the dance. He didn’t know why did she do it. She probably just wanted to find out with whom she was dancing. So she knew, and he was looking at all the women now, trying to guess which one it could be, but he wouldn’t ask any of them the question. Dancing in the dark was like looking for a secret.