My first trip to Mexico was to Yucatán. Land of the Maya. I was in Grad school at the Univershity of Alabamer, Tuscalooser. A good friend of mine then, Victor E. was from Mérida. I saw him at the cafeteria in Mary’s Hall. “Hey Victor. What’s up man?” “Great” he says. “I’m going home in the summer.” “Really? How come?” “Ahmona take a summer course in Mérida with (Dr) Baklanoff and Moseley”. Victor spoke fluent Southern. “I know Moseley”, I say. “What’s the course about?” “It’s an undergrad Maya anthropology course” Victor says. “Seriously? I loved Prescott’s ‘Conquest of Mexico’ (See above) Maybe I should talk to (Dr) Moseley.” “I think you should. What’s for lunch?”
I talked to (Dr) Moseley. he was the head of Latin-American studies. He’d also awarded me a very welcome scholarship fro the second year of my MBA. He told me there was still room to enroll. That they would be delighted to have me for the summer course. And no, I could not apply those credits in Maya anthropology to my MBA. (Above: Uxmal, ’78)
Uxmal is not as well known as other Maya sites such as Chichén-Itzà, but it has the world’s only “round” pyramid. The edgdes are rounded up. This is the temple of the soothsayer. The city (Uxmal means thrice built) was built between 600 and 1000 AD. And as all Maya cities was inexplicably abandoned after the year 1000, before the Spanish conquest.
Dr Coombs fooling around below representations of Chac-Mool, one of the most important Maya deities. We were a group of 20 or so students, mostly undergrad, a couple of grad students and half a dozen PhD’s. We had class at the hotel every other morning with field trips every afternoon and every other day. Imagine going to the most famous archeological sites with world authorities on Maya anthropology. Dr Baklanoff was the boss. And he would decipher for us inscriptions in Maya, such as the one on the stella above.
On the road to Itzamná. The Maya used to live (and some still do) in thatched huts such as this one. The same huts are featured on the façade of one of the temples. (Looking for that shot) (Yucatán peninsula, 1978. Times of Doonesbury)
A typical corbel arch. The Maya did not use the vault developed in European cathedrals in the middle ages where the keystone supports the weight of the walls. As a result, the Maya arches are narrower. (The vault dates back to Mesopotamia in the second millenium BC) On the above, there are two Chaac Mools on either side of the arch.
Street art “avant la lettre”. The bread bearer(ess) wears the traditional dress, called huipil.
At a henequen semi-abandoned factory. The leaves of a species of agave produced fibers suitable for ropes and twines. A large industry developed in Yucatán. Until the decline of ships and the advent of synthetic fibers made it obsolete.
Local boys take the guys up for soccer. On the left: Walter. A very nice guy for a Frat brat. Don’t remember the other guy’s name. (Write the names on your albums while you still can!)
“Francés caliente”. Hot French. 🙂 Pan Francés, French toast, is called Pain perdu in French. It was done to soften old dried up bread. One did not throw bread away. Ever. I still remember the first time my mother made us Pain perdu. Delicious.
Uxmal, 1978. l. to r. Francie and Pauline. Both “inspired” me two great characters for the first novel I ever wrote, Iguana.
For those interested in technicalities, all photos with Asahi-Pentax, 50mm lens. I don’t remember the F-stops.
Captain and crew thank you for flying Equinoxio’s Time-Space shuttle. To be continued…