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Post details: Mayan Gods Accept Dollars

Mayan Gods Accept Dollars

When I was in college, a friend of mine had a peculiar way of negotiating with the Gods of Conveyance. It was early 80s in Prague and streetcars were an integral part of our transportation diet. Thanks to the legendary communist ineptitude, the tramway schedules were as useful as five year weather forecasts and we were often stuck on a tram island waiting long minutes for the red and yellow monsters to appear. In such situations my friend often whipped up a pack of cigarettes and with slightly raised eyebrows murmured in a conspiratorial way: "Now watch me have a talk with Gods". And indeed, no sooner had the wisp of smoke circled around his cigarette than a tramway mysteriously materialized from behind the corner. With a wry smile, my friend would snub his barely used cigarette and we'd get in. I never made a statistical study of the underlying correlations, but it was clear that something funny was afoot.

This Thanksgiving I took a Central American cruise and our first port of call was Costa Maya on Mexico's Caribbean coast. We caught the end of the rain season, so when we took a 60 minutes bus trip to the Chacchoben ruins, it was pouring all the way to the river bank. Even when we arrived at the site, the rain showed no signs of letting up. We felt like being on a set of a Noah's Arc movie and I was cursing myself for being foolish enough not to bring any umbrella.

I noticed one local hombre though, who was selling yellow raincoats at the entrance hut. I had no pesos on me, but he gladly accepted the US dollars, all five of them. I parted with them reluctantly and accepted a small yellow package in return. And then the Mayan Gods spoke. No sooner have I wriggled myself into the overpriced maze of protective plastic that the rain came to a full and complete stop. And throughout our archaeological excursion, the gray clouds didn't dare to emit so much as a drizzly whimper. Not a single raindrop fell of my fashionable outer skin. I concluded that the coat peddler must have been a fully licensed representative of Mayan deities and that I had just found a way to appease them.

These days the US dollar seems to be under severe stress. Many economists are predicting run on our currency owing to the reckless bailouts and panicky government spending. There is no shortage of monetary doomsayers that toss around expressions like dollar collapse, financial meltdown and currency crisis. But I am not as pessimistic about the greenback as they are. How could it be doomed when Mayan deities still accept it? They wouldn't deal in a legal tender that was going to be worthless, right? So I sleep tight even though my wallet is stuffed with likenesses of Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson and Franklin. There is no point loosing sleep over the strength of a currency that is backed by the full faith of Mayan gods.


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