Musings on the Coast

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The Nightmares

By Michael Ray

I was on a family vacation and asleep in my room in the house I had rented in a little town called Progresso. The town is on the beach outside of Merida, Mexico, the capitol of Yucatan, not too far from Cancun. Yucatan is where the Chicxulub Comet hit. It was about 30 miles in diameter and created a crater, appropriately called the Chicxulub Crater, which itself is about 93 miles in diameter and 12 miles deep. (More recent evidence suggests the actual crater is 190 miles wide, and the smaller ring is in fact an inner wall of it). It happened some 66 millions years ago and it killed approximately 75 percent of all life on Earth, including the dinosaurs.

The comet’s impact was massive, more than massive. The energy released by it was equal to some 500 million of the A-bombs that hit Hiroshima and created a mega-tsunami approximately 330 feet high. The relatively shallow sea in the area of the impact limited the height of the tsunami; in deep ocean it would have been 2.9 miles tall. The debris from the wave has been found almost as far as Canada and as far east as New Jersey, 3,100 miles away. The comet was probably one of a series of other, lesser comets and asteroids that hit about the same time, each one creating its own aftereffects.

Those aftereffects resulted in a thin limestone crust of surface earth, which is porous. The rain filters through the thin crust (in most places, about 6 feet) and creates a layer of fresh water about four feet deep. Below it is salt water. Where the two meets there is about 18 inches of mixed water that looks like milk. The availability of fresh water is why the Mayan civilization started there. That civilization was sophisticated and produced great scientific advances, as well as dotting today’s world with the ruins of a multiplicity of pyramids.

Today, many the locals believe the comet’s impact welled up remarkable, almost magical precious minerals whose effects can make compasses spin. In fact, we used GPS to find our way here, and in one of the cars, the directions created by the GPS were the opposite of normal (the driver of the car, seeing other cars in our “expedition” going the opposite direction, turned around the followed us).

The locals also believe the precious minerals can call up demons and create chaos. Some believe that is why the Mayan civilization perished. No one knows for sure, but starting in the 9th century, A.D., the Mayans descended into warring mini clans, depletion of resources, and finally extinction.

In any case, on the sixth night there, our little party went nuts. Yes, everyone had too much to drink and was tired and cranky. But suddenly, like a comet had hit us, we were at each other’s throats. It seemed it went on all night, but it was only for hours. It was as though we were possessed, like in a giant tornado, then it passed and all was quiet again. It happens to all families. But…

Later, the nightmares began around dawn. I dreamed tigers and leopards were attacking me. It was not one attack. There were many and they centered on my home in Laguna Beach; the huge cats leaped through the air in attempts to crash through my front door. Like out of a movie, I would jerk awake gasping for air and shaking. After each, I sat up looking around my room wondering what was real: the room or the tigers? Then I would plunge into sleep again to repeat yet another version of the nightmare. In some of them, I would have a baseball bat to swing at what now was a leopard. In other scenarios, I would pick up a chair to defend myself, or futilely counter attack with that baseball bat or some other implement. Or launch myself in fury at the attacker.

I do not know how long this lasted, but in the morning, I was drenched in sweat and the bed sheets were dripping. Further, I was disoriented and dizzy. I thought a shower might help, and almost could not get there as my body reeled.

I do not know what is real there, but I know that I will not go back. I think of myself as a sophisticated, left-brained individual who can do algebra off the top of my head, and think of those who believe in “spirits” as crackpots.

Yet I will not return. The place is jinxed. It does not matter how I think of myself, I know that place brings out evil behavior.

Michael Ray grew up in Corona del Mar and lives in Laguna Beach. He is a real estate entrepreneur involved in many nonprofits.

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