#53 Pinky in the Mayan Ruins
1984 in Mexico
Pinky was our tour guide. One misty, October morning, my husband and I boarded a ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen with Pinky. The boat was crowded with crates of chickens, Mexican families carrying suitcases and tourists like us...many yellow faced and clutching the railing with motion sickness.
Pinky was probably in his 50's, wearing a red cap pulled tightly over his gray hair. There was something commanding about Pinky as he rattled off instructions in decent English. "I am Pinky. You are my family. You are all brothers and sisters. You are Pinky's family. We stay together. You listen and we have a wonderful time!" Don and I grinned. We like Pinky's style.
On the bus ride to Tulum, Pinky lectured some more. "When we reach the ruins of Tulum there will be rocks to climb. If you fall, Pinky will have to take you to the hospital. The people will have no guide. The trip will be ruined for all. Please be careful as you walk. Thank you." When we reached the magical Mayan ruins I was stunned at the beauty. Rocks and ruins scattered with palms, the blue sea just beyond! Pinky pointed out this lovely spot and said it was the best place to snap a photo.
Posing with the Ruins
I'm surprised we had the nerve to ask Pinky to take our picture when his strict lecture probably didn't allow time for such nonsense. Maybe he was so amused by our short shorts that he couldn't resist!
When he returned to his lecture about the Mayan number system he began to remind me of teachers I've had. I had a history teacher once who knew his material so well he could rattle off dates and historic figures while making a grocery list. But Pinky actually had a passion for the history he shared. In fact he had so much passion he grew exasperated when drilling our group about what we had just learned. "Do you understand?" He shook his head and firmly reminded our group, "People think the Mayan's were primitive, but oh they had such complicated minds!!"
Posing With Pinky
Before we left the ruins I had Don take a picture of me with Pinky. I knew I never wanted to forget this colorful guide. After Tulum we headed off for lunch in an old hotel filled with butterflies and then a swim in a heavenly lagoon...and then there was one last lecture.
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please. Your tour covers everything! Lunch, bus ride, tickets to the ruins, everything except one important thing. Your tip to the guide.. That is Pinky. Please do not forget. Give what you feel he deserves."
Thanks, Pinky. Your impatience was slightly intimidating and the way you referred to yourself in third person could have made my eyes roll. You also didn't seem too thrilled about posing in my photo. But I liked you. You worked hard...seven days a week, you said! I think you also worked for many more years because your name pops up on the internet. I liked your name, too! Sure wish I'd asked how you got it!
Update From April 2017
In April, Don and I had a chance to visit Tulum and Chichen Itza, again. Early one morning while waiting for the gates to open at Chichen Itza, I spoke with a few tour guides who remembered Pinky, well. Sadly he passed away a while ago, but they all agreed he was a very well respected man in their world. After talking with the guides and reading blog responses, I wish I could go back in time and take his tour. I enjoyed him then, but how much more I would appreciate him now! Rest in Peace, Pinky!
1/5/2015 09:35:25 am
We had Pinky as our guide in Feb. 1980. I was just a kid, I don't remember much about Tulum, but I do remember the ferry ride (blah), Pinky and snorkeling in a lagoon. That was quite a trip. :)
1/5/2015 10:39:34 pm
That is so fun that you remember Pinky! I would think he could have been even more intimidating to a young kid... but he may have been more relaxed with kids. I don't think we had any kids in our group. Thanks so much for sharing!
3/27/2015 01:25:25 pm
My family had Pinky in tulum when I was around 10. Similar time frame. We still imitate Pinky to this day!
3/30/2015 12:41:23 am
That is so fun to know there are others who remember Pinky! I can just picture your family talking Pinky-style! He was a character. Hope he's enjoying a relaxing retirement somewhere!
Rosa Patlan Harris
10/26/2015 07:23:29 pm
Pinky was an unforgettable character, we often speak about. His education of the Mayan history was exceptional. His tour guide status was superb. We will never forget Pinky. He was much older when he was our guide. We took a chance by following a peddler pointing us to this Albino type guide. Thank you Pinky.
10/27/2015 02:06:07 pm
That is so fun to know, Rosa! It's so fun to realize we weren't the only ones who were delighted by Pinky. There are obviously a lot of people who remember him well. Thanks for sharing!
12/12/2016 03:04:21 pm
In 1985, "Pinky" escorted us on a hydrofoil from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen, and on to Tulum. Unforgettable...he wore a bright suit, had bright white hair and purple sunglasses! He spoke/lectured to us on a whole lot of subjects that day....I just remembered Pinky, Googled his name - and that's how I ended up here!
12/13/2016 06:22:10 am
Chad, thanks so much for sharing! Obviously Pinky made an impression on many. I sure wish you had a photo of that bright suit and purple glasses!
6/6/2017 01:43:32 am
WOW that takes me back! 1998 he was our guide for Tulum & Chichen Itza. Back then you were still allowed to climb the temples, and the old pyramid inside the giant crawling stone rattlesnake pyramid was still open to the public, so you could HUFF your way up the buried exterior stone stairs to see the carved and still brightly painted jaguar watching you with huge round green glowing jade eyes, which Pinky said were analysed & uniquely identifyable as Chinese jade, which tells the undeniable truth of our categorical racism, our modern self-superiority and willful ignorance of the richness of ancient human life and supremacy of their arts & sciences which we've only recently progressed enuf to begin to fathom~ (try googling "Pear's Soap", then go to the image tab- read the poster ads from the 1800's and remember how diseased and genocidal these inbred bastards were- these are the guys who told us only whites could elevate the colored heathen races from their pagan squalor, dinosaurs were cold-blooded and are extinct, and history unexpectedly began 6000yrs ago- academic aristocracy seeks the fossilization of learning witholding advancement from any degree candididate who thinks outside the box, whic resembles a sarcophagus, as I remember. Schoch was in exile for decades asking the western egyptology cabal (ha) to looook! at the water erosion behind the sphinx, in a desert that hasnt seen running water since 12,000yrs ago, in a wetter climate easily verified in other regional contemporaneous rock layers. our ancient egyptians likely moved into the existing architecture, much as the Aztec now seem to have moved into abandoned Maya architecture. aaand dinos were warm-blooded and still peep and cluck and bob-bob-bob around city parks and farm-yards (please pause to imagine the majesty of a misty, primitive Earth, ruled by terrible dinosaurs, strutting, bobbing about, pecking at food and pebbles, cocking their heads sideways to see better- bird ancestors! they ould still pack your head off!) WOW that takes me back! 1998 he was our guide for Tulum & Chichen Itza. Back then you were still allowed to climb the temples, and the old pyramid inside the giant crawling stone rattlesnake pyramid was still open to the public, so you could HUFF your way up the buried exterior stone stairs to see the carved and still brightly painted jaguar watching you with huge round green glowing jade eyes, which Pinky said were analysed & uniquely identifyable as Chinese jade, which tells the undeniable truth of our categorical racism, our modern self-superiority and willful ignorance of the richness of ancient human life and supremacy of their arts & sciences which we've only recently progressed enuf to begin to fathom~ (try googling "Pear's Soap", then go to the image tab- read the poster ads from the 1800's and remember how diseased and genocidal these inbred bastards were.
6/7/2017 01:07:32 pm
Thanks for sharing, Greg. That's some interesting stuff, that had me scratching my head a bit. You made me feel incredibly sad that I didn't absorb more of Pinky's amazing knowledge. I so wish I could have known more about him and what initially captured him and made him passionate about the Mayan culture. Living in it, of course. But where did he grow up? Who first shared their knowledge with him? What was he like, when he was playing his role as guide?
7/18/2017 02:10:51 pm
Thanks for posting this. I was looking at youtube videos of Mexico, thought about Pinky and found this site. I had Pinky for my tour of Tulum in April of 1978. Best tour guide, ever. He admonished someone in the group for talking while he was speaking and told them to go elsewhere to have conversation. He wanted everyone to hear what he was saying because he didn't want us to leave thinking that all the Mayans left behind were piles of rocks. We stopped at Xel-ha for snorkeling on the way back. I still have the books he suggested, "Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan". Volume 1 & 2. They are great reads. He was quite a guy and certainly one of a kind.
7/18/2017 04:23:15 pm
Lowell, Thank you so much for sharing! That's so fun to know that you went on his tour in 1978. That's a lot further back than when we met him. I can so picture him reprimanding the chatting tourists! He sure made people stop and think! I wish I could go back in time and absorb more of what he shared!
12/6/2018 12:02:15 pm
We were in Tulum in 1998 and had our tour conducted by Pinky. His “pinkyisms” became part of our vernacular as well and we still say “Keep it in your head and never forget” and, our favorite, “Biki Biki” which I think was his all purpose “move it along” or “hurry up” expression. I am so happy to find other memories of this scholar and gentleman out there! Rest In Peace Pinky!
12/7/2018 03:03:11 pm
Jaan, I can just hear Pinky saying those words! I don't actually remember the Biki Biki, but I love that! It's fun to know that Pinky has so many fans out there, after all these years.
3/18/2019 12:59:22 pm
Wow, I'm living in Mexico now, PV, and was wondering about Pinky, who I met in 1988 when my husband and I went to Cozumel for our honeymoon, and had the great fortune to end up on a tour to Tulum guided by Pinky. All these years later, I still remember him so well. Such an interesting and quirky and knowledgeable scholar of the Mayans.
3/20/2019 03:32:08 pm
Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing! You have just added to the wonderful list of Pinky's words of wisdom! "Seep, seep!" I love that! It just amazes me to think there are so many people who have fond memories, from their tours with Pinky. It makes me so curious to know who Pinky was, when he wasn't playing his guide role! What an interesting man. Thanks again for your memory!
Susan and Dean
11/22/2020 12:13:29 pm
Pinky was our guide in 1976. What memories we have of our tour with him. Back in the day his catchphrase was “And don’t you forget it”. After all these years, he is one of our most memorable guides!
11/22/2020 03:17:13 pm
Thanks for sharing, Susan and Dean! This is so fun to know you had Pinky as your guide, 44 years ago! Your Pinky Tour goes further back than any of the other mentions! I can just hear Pinky reminding his group, “And don’t you forget it!” :D
12/12/2020 02:28:26 am
I don't remember how old I was when we visited Tulum (guessing about 9 years old, probably younger). This would have been around 1981. Pinky was our tour guide. My parents spoke about him for years after our trip.
12/13/2020 05:28:45 pm
Cristina, thanks so much for sharing your memory! You had Pinky as your guide a few years before me! What an impression he made on me as an adult! I can only imagine what a strong character he must have seemed, to a 9 year old! I hope Pinky is looking down and enjoying all these comments!
4/1/2022 11:34:39 am
We still joke about things he said in 1988 -"they were the first to discover things -- mathematica, scientifica, geographica! " Here we are 40 years later remembering a great soul! Love to you Pinky.
4/2/2022 05:58:56 am
Jan, thanks so much for sharing those wonderful Pinky Words! He was one of a kind, wasn't he? Wish we could go back in time to the way Tulum once was AND to have another Pinky Tour!
4/20/2022 09:22:54 am
Thank you so much for posting this. I visited Tulum with my parents sometime around 1998 - 1990 (I was only in grade school so I’m not sure exactly). I still always think of Pinky when I think of the Mayans and how he was so passionate, and created such an interest in Mayans for his tourists. The thing I remember most is how he did everything so quickly. We had to keep up or get scolded (in a friendly way).
4/20/2022 09:44:55 am
4/22/2022 03:08:01 pm
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To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers