I had ascended to the top of the Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacán and was feeling rather proud of myself until I spotted an old man and woman in about their mid-70’s appear over the crest of the steps about 20 minutes later. My jaw dropped. This was no easy climb. The steps are uneven and narrow in some places, the incline is ridiculous in others and climbing the distance from top to bottom puts a burn in your body equivalent to a punishing workout.
The old man was being held up on his right arm by a woman equal his age. She appeared a bit stronger while he actually walked with a limp. These two had climbed the Pyramid of the Sun together without any assistance! It was both a thing of beauty and awe inspiring at the same time.
I lost track of the elderly couple while walking around the top of the pyramid. It is huge. I didn’t see them again until I began my descent down the dangerous steps. They had already begun going down before me. They were about 10 steps down below me and moving at a very slow pace. The steps are uneven and jagged in some areas and I noticed people in a rush crowding the elderly couple, almost trying to make them move faster. There wasn’t much room but some of the impatient philistines found ways to maneuver around them. I was appalled at the behavior of these people and rushed down the steep steps to position myself between the elderly couple and the remainder of the people descending the pyramid. I slowed the crowd behind me and wasn’t allowing anyone to pass. The elderly couple ahead of me were finally making their way down without interruption. I felt good about that.
As we were going down I noticed the old man’s foot slip once and it frightened me so much that I ran down and grabbed his right arm. On his left was his companion and, on his right, me. There were many steps left and the rest of the crowd seemed to get the hint and remained behind us.
It was a slow pace but we finally made it to the bottom of the pyramid. The old man and woman smiled as he said to me, “Gracias Señor.”
As I left the couple I was feeling good about my minimal role in their visit to the pyramids. I smiled to myself as I recalled the motif of tales that have spirits entering our world to interact with human beings, testing us or challenging us to be better. It occurred to me that, in those types of tales, the elderly couple I encountered would have represented a pair of spirits sent to test our humanity.
Be honest with me. Would you have passed the test?