Guatemala. Jan. 20. 2:15 p.m. Lunch. Hotel Perez, San Marcos. At 9:10 I arrived at the Tapachula Post Office to mail home a 6.5 pound package - papers and articles about and collected in Mexico. From the package window I was sent with a small scrap of paper which said 2735 to stand in line at the stamp window. The stamp seller sold me 76 36 peso stamps. I complained that I could not place so many stamps on one package and was told that they can be placed in an envelope. One should not argue with native ways, so I returned and handed the 76 stamps to the package clerk. He complained that there was no way to stick 76 stamps on my package. I sent him to the stamp window. He returned with many, though fewer stamps. As we began to stick them my mental calculation revealed we had been shorted some stamps. He went off again. I left the Post Office with one package mailed after thirty minutes.

The next stop, at the Guatemalan Consulate for a visa, lasted only fifteen minutes. The consular official, with my passport in his hand, told me, "That will be two dollars." I told him I had pesos only. He immediately said, "That will be 1,000 pesos." I paid up and he returned my passport with visa. Seven minutes later I had a ride directly to the International Bridge where twenty money changers called out "change" in mispronounced English. The area reeks of urine.

After crossing the bridge, on Guatemala soil, a soldier directed me into a small building. Inside were two men. The man in uniform sitting on a table was playing with a handgun. The man in civilian clothing standing behind a counter told me to pay two quetzals for having crossed the bridge. I told them that I had only pesos and that I wanted a receipt. "We don't give receipts for pesos."

One does not argue with a man who enjoys fondling his gun. I handed over 250 pesos and walked out.

The following stop had a slightly more official air. A uniformed immigration officer asked for my passport, typed my name on a list, stamped the passport and said, "That will be one dollar." It is best to not argue with the official who has one's passport. I stated that I had only pesos and handed him 500. To my surprise I was given a quetzal in change, my first quetzal. I said, "Gracias," and walked out.

Two soldiers in camouflage uniforms were exceedingly conspicuous against the customs building, their machine guns were even more conspicuous. Yet another armed and uniformed person directed my to enter a door and I obeyed. I felt herded by this time. Inside my pack was inspected and I was informed, "That will be one quetzal." I surrendered my only quetzal. The customs officer placed a glob of white glue on top of the backpack and stuck a paper on it which says, "Inspected." I asked to weigh the pack on their scale "at no charge." 23 kilos.

Back into that intense smell and up the road I walked, soon into fresh air, past campanitas and other wildflowers and up the steep grade. Beside the road at the top of the riverbank there is a sign: "Welcome to Guatemala, Nation of Eternal Spring," Just beyond the sign at the police checkpoint called Garita de Policía de Hacienda I was allowed to pass without paying. My first ride was in a full taxicab. The driver repeatedly shut off the engine, coasting as much as possible. When I thanked the driver he responded, "I'm a servant to humanity."

Twenty minutes from the border we arrived at a checkpoint. Using hand signals a soldier directed me to get out of the car. The driver did likewise and informed the soldiers that my pack was in the truck. Five armed men surrounded us. I was hand signaled to remove the pack.

"You can talk to me, I will understand," I said.

"We want to check your pack."

I pointed out the inspection sticker and while lifting the pack out asked, "What are you looking for?"

The response was, "We want to see if you have anything worthwhile."

"The most worthwhile thing I'm carrying is scientific knowledge, and the worst things I have are dirty hiking socks." They laughed and the ranking member dismissed us without inspection. That was at 11:24. Five minutes later we met a jeep load of camouflaged soldiers with automatic weapons.

In Malacatan at 11:38 I caught a ride in the back of an empty truck. On the edge of town, where we passed a checkpoint without stopping, the road began climbing the Sierra. The roadside flowers were abundant, including many I hadn't seen until there. On the steep grade, as we approached four Indians climbing under large, heavy burdens, the driver honked although the oncoming lane was vacant. The burden bearers moved to the side of the road. In San Pablo the spread of the giant, old ceiba tree in the center of the plaza and the plaza are about the same size. Coffee plantations predominate at that altitude. After ten minutes my ride turned off amidst coffee farms in the countryside.

I walked up mountain for a half hour. The fourth vehicle to pass picked me up. There were two other passengers in that old van, one a National Policeman. I asked him what Policía de Hacienda means. "Police of Honesty," he replied. The van was very near dead, had a bad exhaust leak to the interior and was gravely overheated. I wasn't certain if the other passenger, an elderly woman, was sleeping or unconscious from the fumes. The engine heat was nearly unbearable. I hugged a window. We arrived in San Rafael at 12:45.

After I had walked only a few blocks a bus that had passed me twice picked me up. I placed a showy orange Bougainvillea blossom on the dash. From San Rafael the mountain climb begins in earnest. With a jammed full bus we switchbacked in first and second gear up the 45 degree mountainside for 45 minutes. At each stop the assistant quickly blocked the wheel. We crested a ridge at over 7,000 f.a.s.l. and then descended towards San Marcos. The route ended in front of the Guatemala National Bank where I was told they cannot change pesos or dollars. Two soldiers with M-16's guarded the premises. At another bank I got the same story and saw the same security. They directed me to this hotel for change.

3:38. A small church in San Pedro surrounded by a fiesta. I couldn't resist a stop because the marimba band, "Soberana India," is really entertaining. What excellent sounds! The street is quite filled with this neighborhood festival. I just looked up and noticed that a National Policeman, standing alone and apart from the crowd, is staring at me. Because I hadn't consumed enough the Hotel Perez wouldn't change traveler's checks. I arrived at the San Pedro plaza just after the bank closed and was directed to the store next door where they paid 9 quetzals for 1500 pesos and 60 quetzals for 20 dollars. From that perspective, including the soldier buying a new walkman, I could see six soldiers and five guns. They concentrate near the money. I walked into the street with the right currency to feed my hungry face, passed a woman with a basket of ripe, beautiful bananas and asked if they were for sale. "Yes, .25 quetzal a dozen." I purchased four bananas for a Guatemalan dime. Taking into account all of today's transactions it cost me 420 bananas to get into this so-called republic.

Directly before me people are stringing a piñata on a rope stretched across the street. About 100 people, mostly children, are excitedly gathered around. This piñata is an earthenware bowl topped with a glazed, ceramic rabbit. The bowl is filled with treats. A blindfolded child now begins swinging a stick in the air trying to find and break the bowl. The children awaiting the shower of contents are yelling directions. Suddenly a strike! A large pile of kids just formed. A second piñata is being strung up. The marimba continues.

9:57. In my tent on a cold and windy night in the highlands. From San Pedro I walked an hour. The area is densely inhabited and agriculturally rich. Some of the dried standing corn plants have cobs six feet off the ground. Courtyards are crowded by piles of drying corn. Drying corncobs are everywhere, billions of colorful corncobs. Fields of green vegetables dot irrigated portions of the hillsides. The land is rich and filled with people and it is their custom to greet so many smiles per mile are exchanged.

I tired of walking immediately before a steep grade and caught a ride in the back of a pickup. The ascending panorama was beyond description. There is an especially majestic quality to steep mountains amidst clouds when covered by humanity. Viewing from above the clouds makes the scenery the more enchanting. Late afternoon soft lighting enriched the vision. The road quickly climbed thousands of feet. I had to put on my jacket. The cold air was noticeably thinner. At 5:30 we began to descend from the 9,600 f.a.s.l. pass.

On the outskirts of Quetzaltenango I caught a ride with a truck which had passed me twice. I climbed into the back and enjoyed the company of a Native man. We stopped at a simple roadside food stand where a dinner of beans, rice, tortillas and coffee costs one quetzal. The other rider departed after we had eaten. Before we drove on the Indian driver remarked, "Stay out of sight so the police can't fuck you." They assured me they would stop at my turnoff, the road to Panajachel. I climbed into the back alone.

It was a cold ride. I had to add a warm shirt under my jacket. I also wore a wool beret, pulling it over my ears. From my seated vantage below the truck's rack I saw the upper level gun slots of two police checkpoint towers. We were not hassled. The stars and brilliant moon seemed to gyrate overhead as we wound through the mountains. We reached the junction at 8:30.

I began walking. At one point three barking dogs attacked, but they didn't bite. I filled a hand with small stones and continued. While on the lookout for dogs I spotted a drunk and tried to avoid detection, but it was too late. As I passed he grabbed hold of my arm, perhaps only for balance, and said, "Give me your bills." In Spanish that's paper money, not accounts payable. He seemed too drunk to be a real threat so I said, "I have no bills, only pure gold coins." I gave him a Mexican 10¢ coin saying, "Here, have one." He let go of my arm to take it. I swiftly walked away. The high altitude moonlight was too bright to fool a drunk. He began to give staggering chase.

"Here's one. Get this one, he's escaping," he yelled.

I continued walking fast, wondering if the roadside building I past was yet another police checkpoint. Suddenly eight men rushed out and down the road towards me shouting, "Stop."

The best defense is a definitive offense. I turned and immediately asked, "Are you all drunk?" I noticed they were all armed. One was carrying the National flag."

"No, we are the patrol," the flag carrier responded. After they approached I saw they were Cakchiquel Maya Indians and that what first appeared to be rifles were actually wooden sticks. We were soon joking, including at the drunk's expense. They said it was eight kilometers to the next village, Solala, further than I want to walk tonight. I inquired about their activities. They are on the road all night. The leader with the flag said, "We are here until death, and we will patrol until death."

Well, this seems a secure setting so rather than brave more dogs and drunks I pitched the tent near their quarters beside a little church surrounded by a cornfield. The tent is facing east for the first morning sun rays. It's windy and getting colder. And it's time to rest.

Jan. 21. 7:49. The night was really cold, so cold and windy that condensation rained in the tent. Excepting a tiny cloud forming near the tip of the Toliman volcano, the sky is clear. The sun feels great. Tent and bag are drying quickly. I'm meeting my neighbors. One of them is last night's drunk. This morning he wants my watch. His mother, whose house is the nearest, and his sister are discussing my equipment in Cakchiquel, their native language. The women wear beautiful, colorful hand-woven garments. I'm the only person with shoes. It's time to begin packing and walking.

9:10. In an hour one vehicle with space and many overfilled vehicles have passed. Most vehicles are filled beyond capacity because today is market day in Solala, a beautiful village overlooking Lake Atítlan. Panajachel, a town on the lake shore, is my destination.

Nearby two men are tilling a field by hand, forming raised rows of soil with broad, sturdy adze-like hoes. I've stopped to take a candid photo. Their task is backbreaking labor, the field is changing at an impressive rate.

10:50. Solala. The zocalo, on the market's edge. Enjoying fresh watermelon. On the hill above town a dozen soldiers with automatic weapons were guarding the military garrison entrance. A few minutes later I passed a crude rock bunker with more soldiers. In the street which is the main road into town, a block from this plaza, there is a National Police checkpoint complete with a stop sign, a "Welcome to Solala" sign and a National policeman with an automatic rifle. I don't recall this degree of military presence during my visit here 10 years ago. The difference is striking.

I photographed the street checkpoint. The man with the gun noticed so I walked directly towards him and inquired about restaurants.

"Did you take my picture?" he asked.

I denied it. I explained that the camera has a telescopic lens, that I had taken a picture of the tall tower on the plaza. He asked if I was interested in buying some ancient gold and jade pieces from a dig. Is he corrupt?

11:22. Having breakfast. I walked by a coffee vendor cranking the grinder as he called out, "Café a .50 la libra." At yesterday's exchange rate that's 17¢ U.S. per pound for fresh ground Guatemalan Altura. This market is among the most colorful in America, the vivid garments the local Indians wear are like no others. The scene is busy. I'm going to search for old hand-woven cloth. Two eggs, rice, beans, tortillas and two cups of great coffee, 30¢ U.S.

2:06. Psicódelico Restaurant. Panajachel, also known as Gringotenango, is definitely a tourist hangout. Western languages are heard on the streets, gringos are promenading main drag, cloth sellers are everywhere, venders call out in broken English and the prices are high. I'm enjoying a Gallo (Rooster) beer and a rest after 12 km. of walking. Peter, an Australian I met today along the road, is just now arriving.

2:32. An acquaintance Peter made elsewhere on the Gringo Trail just walked up. We are at a main street veranda table nearly amidst the many pedestrian passersby. Peter and I have common interests, especially rock art. He has seen aboriginal Australian rock art. It is great to speak a little English.

The small stone sculptures collection I wanted to study in Panajachel no longer exists. M.C. reports that the collection disappeared at the time of his father's death years ago. Well, on to Antigua, the colonial capital.

8:41. Cafe Victoria, a Chinese restaurant. Antigua. After a short wait I caught a ride with an elderly man named Carlos, a man of conservative bent and Spanish descent. Carlos said he had never before stopped for a hitchhiker because he feared the possible consequences. He usually locks all his car doors and does not like to stop for any reason. He said that I have a very honest face and hinted that he was tired and needed a conversation to stay awake. Hitchhiking frequently presents that requested favor. On the climb to Solala we met a jeep load of soldiers, and in Solala a truckload. Along the highway we passed three now familiar National Police two-story checkpoint towers.

On entering Chimaltenango I remarked that in contrast to the Solala area fewer people wear native clothing, that the majority wear modern synthetics. Carlos responded, "Yes, it makes one feel more secure to arrive here." He stopped in front of a National Police tower, dropping me kilometers from the Antigua turnoff. I suspect he worried that I might rob him elsewhere. I gave him a gift of Indian art.

From Chimaltenango I caught a ride with a bus. I wasn't thumbing but the bus driver's helper called out an offer. He took my pack onto the roof, I entered the back door and joined the back of the bus crowd. A conversation about earthquakes and fault lines ensued. We were near the fault line of the devastating 1976 earthquake. I traveled this same route shortly after the disaster, witnessing entire towns leveled.

We passed an army garrison and the conversation shifted to the military presence. I remarked that I was both surprised to see and unaccustomed to seeing so many heavily armed men. The young man seated beside me said, "Here soldiers are as common as trees," and, for emphasis, he pointed to the woods. His words were too true for he had unwittingly pointed out a group of camouflaged soldiers in the forest. We all laughed. Just down the road we easily spotted another group wearing camouflage in a gravel pit.

In Antigua I climbed the back stairs of the bus rather than waiting for my pack. Hitchhikers fix tires or engines and don't expect service. It's a habit. On top I found the kind helper and my open backpack. He quickly claimed it was an accident due to his lifting the pack by the strings. Two Peace Corps trainees on the streets recommended a good, reputable hotel. I asked if they were accustomed to seeing so many soldiers.

"Yes, we live near an army barracks," one said. I'm beginning to think that everyone does. The other one said the army would be working with her on a reforestation project. The chow-mein is excellent.

In the hotel. Tomorrow, in part, will be spent reviewing colonial art and architecture with attention to prehistoric influence. The local colonial era began in 1527 when Santiago de Guatemala, the first Spanish capital, was established in this valley. Fourteen years later an earthquake in combination with summer rains unleashed a mudslide from the slopes of Mount Agua volcano, destroying the young colonial base. As a result Antigua was founded, again officially named Santiago. Antigua flourished as the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala with jurisdiction from Chiapas to Costa Rica. Earthquakes in 1717 and 1773 destroyed much of the city and the capital was again reestablished in 1776 at present day Guatemala City, a move which contributes to Antigua's continuing colonial ambiance. Three immense volcanoes surrounding Antigua have historically threatened destruction. A colorful colonial era description of the volcanoes by Thomas Gage reads as follows:

"This volcano or not so pleasing to the sight, but the other which standeth on the side of the valley opposite unto it is unpleasing and dreadful to behold. For here are ashes for beauty, stones and flints for fruits and flowers, baldness for greenness, barrenness for fruitfulness. For winter whispering and fountain murmurs, noise of thunders and roaring of consuming metals; for running streams, flashing of fire; for tall and mighty trees and cedars, castles of smoke rising in height to out-dare the sky and the firmament; for sweet and odiferous and fragrant smells, a stink of fire and brimstone, which are still in action striving within the bowels of that ever burning and fiery volcano. Thus is Guatemala seated in the midst of a paradise on the one side and a hell on the other, yet never hath this hell broke so loose as to consume that flourishing city. True it is that many years ago it opened a wide mouth on the top, and breathed out such fiery ashes as filled the houses of Guatemala and the country about, and parched all the plants and fruits, and spewed out such stones and rocks which had they fallen upon the city would have crushed it to pieces.

"...all the while I lived there the noise within the mountain, the smoke and flashes of fire without, and the summer earthquakes were such that with the use and custom of them I never feared anything, but thought that city the healthiest and pleasantest place of dwelling that ever I came into all my travels."

Jan. 22. 7:19 a.m. Restaurante Los Capitanes. A rooster in the hotel courtyard and church bells went off together at 6:00 sharp. I was up earlier than the person responsible for plugging in the hot water heater so a much desired hot shower must wait. It's cool at this mountain altitude. The clerk plugged in the little heater and promised hot water later. They promised hot water when I checked in.

After I ordered breakfast three MP's walked in, stacked their rifles in the corner beside the jukebox and sat at a table. One was singing and as we made eye contact I asked, "Tocas tambien?" (Do you play also?)

He pointed towards the jukebox and rifles and said, "There it is."

I turned to the two Mayan Indians at the counter beside me and joked, "They play guns."

Both men discreetly laughed. We conversed. I said I was on my way to the church with renowned artwork. As I reached for my notes one said, "San Francisco?" Very correct indeed.

2:35. Guatemala City. Having late lunch. Between breakfast and the church I passed the National Children's School and saw written on the wall, "Amnesty no, Popular War yes, the assassins who committed the massacres are the Army."

The San Francisco church courtyard portal has botanically accurate morning glory depiction in stucco relief. The artistic twiners wind around and climb the portal columns, atop which are small alternating mushroom and shell images. I asked the first passerby to identify the flowers. The man responded, "I don't know. They are beautiful, made of pure God." After doing photography I toured the adjacent convent ruins and therein gathered seeds of a reddish purple morning glory variety. The convent caretaker, who wears a crucifix, identified the morning glories by the name "Quebra cajete." I asked what the name meant. He said that they are bad, that it means that they cause a person to drop what he carries, "Causa que caiga cosas de la mano." Different Indian and Spanish names and notions about certain botanicals persist today. One person's little bells--campanitas-- are another's bewitching.

I viewed the ruins of Santa Clara convent and at 10:00 arrived at the old "Universidad de San Carlos," today the National Colonial Museum. The first two paintings I examined, both 18th century oil paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary by anonymous authors, depict heavenly blue morning glory flowers amidst the details. One features baby angels in both substantial and transparent apparitions surrounding Mary ascending to heaven.

At the hotel I discovered that the water heater was unplugged for a reason, it doesn't function. After a cold shower I walked in what I though was the correct direction to the Iglesia de la Concepción ruin. On passing another church ruin at the indentation in the barbed wire fence enclosing the area on the huge wall buttress I noticed the following written on the large plaque: "Here was located the house where the famous soldier-historian, hero of the conquest of Mexico and Guatemala, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, author of the 'True History of the Conquest of New Spain.' lived and wrote." My first impulse was to sit for a while and write in the very place where Bernal wrote. I proceeded no further than to unbuckle my backpack because the easily recognized smell of urine reached my nostrils. A quick visual inspection revealed that in both buttress corners the late conqueror's floor was wet and adorned with piles of human feces. A fitting transitory monument, a proper monument to conquest. I continued towards Chimaltenango and examined the La Merced church facade. I asked directions. I had been going the wrong way. After passing and examining the remains of the church of "La Imagen de Jesus Nazareno de Candelaria" I arrived at the "Monastario de Nuestra Senora de la Conception," the "Monastery of Our Lady of the Conception." The historic interpretation reads in part: "1620. Completion of the Monastery of the Clean Conception." Within the monastery I asked to see the ruins of the regal and expansive home built for Juana Maldonado y Paz. For a fee I was allowed to enter. A young girl unlocked the door and accompanied me. I photographed several interesting stucco escutcheons and collected flower seeds. Back on the street I photographed a portal with beautiful sun and moon images.

I put up the thumb at 1:37. At 1:38 I had a ride with a reckless speedster who ignored stop signs and drove through a 40 kmh residential zone at 100. I stepped out onto the sidewalk near the National Theater at 2:16. Too fast! It's all too obvious that I have reentered the modern western world, leaving colonial and native environs behind. Diesel fumes fill the air, noise is incessant, prices are higher and people don't automatically greet each other. My Guatemalan enchilada, basically a pile of red cabbage on a tortilla, was garnished with a little slice of a hot dog, the local equivalent of the red dye number 3 cherry I assume.

4:53. Hotel La 14, Annexo. My impulse is to get out of the cities and return to the villages and the countryside. The streets are impossible to breath in, the noise of internal combustion is atrocious, there are even jets taking off directly overhead. I shall endure. I' m reminding myself that there is much material of interest in museums here. Even the Kaminal Juyú ruins, a site comparable to Teotihuacan, are within the city or, more accurately, under it.

Jan. 23. 7:35. Restaurante Bilbao. At this hour few are open. I talked the kind staff into feeding me. The waitress is mopping up around my feet. They open later. I had wanted scrambled eggs with vegetables and I explained that "huevos a la Mexicana" is eggs with tomato and onion. I was told that's "huevos a la ranchera." Well, I also love ranch style eggs so I said great. Borders are merely lines placed on a map by some former power after the invention of nations, armaments, colonies and paper deeds, but in reality they are stinking river crossings, machine guns and corrupt individuals with the power to take your pesos. They are also a very effective means of keeping people separate. From Ciudad Juarez to Tapachula huevos a la ranchera does not mean two fried eggs covered with red cabbage and a little wiener bit. This is America, but not the United States. Here life is practical and waste is absent. People search the garbage dumps for food and graze swine in the dumps. They won't find my eggs. I wasn't told, "Oh, allow us to do that over for you, Sir." I got a very polite next time, and in view of the number of beggars I've seen in the few blocks I've walked in this great center of modern civilization I cannot argue with local economics nor the intricacies of local cuisine. On to the museum, to check out the past, for it hasn't always been like this. Actually, it's never been like this before.

8:39. Out onto the capital city's urine stained sidewalks I proceeded, down the carbon monoxide and lead filled concrete and adobe canyons, walking to the museum. I noticed I was following 3 soldiers wearing camouflage. My attention was drawn to their ammo harnesses with bullet clips. I was taking count, so to speak, of how many people they could kill. They stopped at a crosswalk. I inadvertently caught up to them. Clearly printed on one bullet harness I saw the letters, "U.S."

I've walked much further and am seated a block from the entrance to an urban military garrison called the "Tactics Center of the Heroes." Fifty feet in front of me is a barbed wire and chain link fence surrounding the garrison. Between me and the fence is a monument to Bernal Diaz del Castillo erected on the 400th anniversary of the writing of his "true" history. It reads as follows:

Bernal Diaz del Castillo was born in Medina del Campo (Spain) in 1496. He died in Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala in January of 1584, Alderman in perpetuity of this city and one of its principal citizens.

"I do not have other riches to leave my children and descendants except my true and notable history."

"Oh what a difficult work it is to go to discover lands in the manner in which we adventured."

"Moctezuma died and it was as sad as if it were our padre."

Text of the plaque which covers the tomb of Bernal Diaz del Castillo en Antigua:
"He fought in 119 battles in the Conquest of New Spain, Guatemala and it's provinces and Yucatan, as one of the principal Conquerors of them, he was one of the Alderman of the Noble and Loyal City of Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala and he wrote a history illustriously embellished with the lights of his deeds and the true events of his times, making them known thereby in the two hemispheres of both suns. He died at an old age and began to live without limits and without measure."

From Guatemala to the illustrious Soldier-Chronicler Don Bernal Diaz del Castillo on the 400th Anniversary of having concluded his immortal book True History of the Conquest of New Spain 1568-1968.

The sound of continuous gunfire punctuates this sitting and setting. Camouflaged planes and helicopters take off directly overhead. The concrete is clean and unstained and the only smells are exhaust and gunpowder, but perhaps I shall pass by after dark. Better yet, let me vent my disregard for the conqueror with quotes from his "True History" describing the first battle fought under Cortes in the New World:

"...we doctored the horses by searing their wounds with the fat from the body of a dead Indian which we cut up to get out the fat, and we went to look at the dead lying on the plain and there were more than eight hundred of them, the greater number killed by thrusts, the others by the cannon, muskets and crossbows, and many were stretched on the ground half dead....The battle lasted over an hour....we seared the wounds of the others and of the horses with the fat of the Indian, and after posting sentinels and guards, we had supper and rested."

"These were the first vassals to render submission to His Majesty in New Spain."

Well, onward. The museum is a few blocks further down the Avenida de la Liberación and then to the left.

11:21. The National Museum of Anthropology. On the front steps. The electricity went off so it's dark inside. Upon entering I was told that tripod use is not allowed. The guards sent me to a second story office to obtain permission. When I admitted not being associated with a University I was informed that "use of a tripod is considered professional" and a formal written request to the National Institute of History and Anthropology on official sealed and numbered paper would be necessary. I inquired about studying the 23 mushroom stones in the museum's possession and was informed that the same process would be required. I did see five mushroom stones on display, all tripod types. Many interesting stone sculpture are exhibited, including a Mayan stela so detailed and complex it would take all day to apprehend.

4:46. Cafe Reforma, after photographing 33 small stone sculptures, mostly mushroom stones, in the Popol Vuh museum, a spectacular regional collection. The museum is located on the sixth floor of this modern building, which features a full height, central atrium. Numerous plants, including 3 story palms, jungle the atrium. The elevator back wall is glass and faces the atrium, an elevator in the forest effect. Upon entering the museum the sound system was playing, "We built this city on Rock and Roll."

Nearby on the sidewalk I encountered a man with a machine gun guarding a garage entrance. I stopped and asked, "What gun is that?"

"A Ruger 223," he replied. I asked what he was guarding.

"The U.S. Embassy."

Jan. 24. 8:43 a.m. Friday. I'm enjoying a late breakfast. I had to wait for tap water this morning. When I finally asked the hotel clerk he said a faucet must be on elsewhere and he went off for a moment. He returned and said that the water would flow. Yesterday when I returned to the hotel I received my laundry and asked for the bill. The same clerk, a very nice man who did the laundry himself, wouldn't charge me.

Last night at the suggestion of a mutual colleague, I met with M.T., a doctor interested in ethnomedicine. We had little time together. We exchanged study materials and made tentative plans for the weekend.

10:47. Cafe Elliot. This morning archaeologists at the Instituto de Antropología y Historía de Guatemala showed me a recently excavated mushroom stone, one of the most beautiful of all the mushroom stones. The one foot tall creation is very smoothly finished and in perfect condition. The base is a coatimundi, the animal's long snout points up the stem. In Mayan mythology the coatimundi is the trickster figure associated with the vault of heaven. Do the mushroom stones represent the vault of heaven? Without official paperwork or requests I was allowed to photograph using the tripod.

12:00. Tree of Life Vegetarian Restaurant. I'm trying to contact the owner of the world's largest and best mushroom stone collection. The directions I received on a very poor telephone connection failed. One finds the most interesting places when lost, and in this part of the world a vegetarian restaurant with carrot juice and whole grain bread is not to be ignored, especially not with a name like Tree of Life. The decor is much like uptown USA; wood wainscot, vegetable and mushroom wallpaper, a birch forest wall mural, wicker lampshades and green plants. A few pleasing native products compliment the decor, especially the weaving on the reception counter. The helpful restaurant workers are telephoning to solve my poor directions. Jefferson Starship on the local rock station fills the background.

"We built this city We built this city on Rock and Roll; Say you don't know me or recognize my face Say you don't care..."

2:49. Waiting in the reception area again. Though I had been informed on the phone that K.N., the collection owner, would be here until one o'clock, when I first arrived the secretary said he was out until three. I revisited the Popol Vuh museum a few blocks away. Along the way I saw in the Banco del Caf*, the Bank of Coffee, a beautiful mural depicting native people wearing traditional hand-woven garments, a very pleasing tribute to the artistry of the people who pick the crop. All the depicted garments have spectacular, colorful birds in the designs. The armed guard would not allow photography. How could I argue?

One notices many more details during the second viewing of a museum. I examined the one of a kind collection of large earthenware Quiche burial urns then reviewed the Mayan polychrome pottery collection and photographed vases with the "U" glyph, the glyph associated with the fantastic toad at Izapa. In the polychrome painting the "U" glyph is associated with Mayan enema depiction, possibly an alternative to oral medication of remedies that would cause vomiting.

The caretaker-guards were most collaborative. I inquired about turning on a spotlight, it proved to be burnt out and the man returned with a drop light. When I inquired about an unlabeled item he referred to the files and returned with an answer. I like being closely watched in such benevolent fashion.

Of course, the art impresses the most. I was most amazed by a stone sculpture of two coatimundis standing upright on the rim on opposite sides of a bowl. Their long pointed snouts balance a delicate narrow ring. To create this ancient artwork the sculptor had to remove most of the stone, a difficult and, to me, seemingly impossible task.

4:27. Back at the Elliot Cafe. At 3:05 K.N.'s secretary informed me that he would not return for the afternoon. I walked the three blocks to a public phone and called his residence. I was informed that he had departed to his office ten minutes prior. I returned to the office a third time where, without my saying a word, the secretary told me to sit down and said I would be promptly attended. K.N.'s son J.N., greeted me. I explained my object, to study the mushroom stone sculpture collection held by his father. He asked what institution I was with and I said none. He asked for letters of reference and I had none. He noted my name and address and the names of several references and told me to call him on Monday.

Their's is the largest collection of mushroom stones in the world and includes a set of nine miniature stones depicting the Nine Lords of the Night. This group may provide the best clues to the real meaning of the use of the mushroom form in these small stone sculptures. Are they related to astronomy, a zodiac, the vault of heaven? Are they hemispheres or mushrooms? When I reported hoping to study the National Museum's mushroom stones on Monday J.N. cryptically stated, "If they are still there." Their family business is coffee so I mentioned the new methodology of producing edible mushrooms from coffee bean husks. I was deposited in the lobby in full view of the guard.

While walking back to the old city center I passed two urban military garrisons. On one from the building corner a new tower with narrow gun slots is being constructed projecting into the streets. Next door several machine gun toting guards stood watch at the U. S. Consulate entrance. At the entrance to the Politecnic Institute, now seemingly a military garrison, I asked the five armed guards standing in a row at the gate if I could enter to photograph the murals. I was firmly told, "No way." I could fill a book describing the number of armed men in this country and the kinds of arms; sawed off shotguns in the banks, etc., etc., but enough said. Let me say they are very many indeed, and then I shall say no more. Nor shall I grow accustomed to the constant presence of individuals equipped to so easily end my life or the lives of others.

Today I saw a poster about the First Conference on Peace scheduled for February. A bus I rode had written on the window, "Amor is vivir. El Año Nuevo en Paz es deseo de su piloto." (To love is to live. The New Year in Peace is the wish of your driver.)

Now to decide how I can best spend this weekend. I will know more after I phone Dr. M.T. tonight.

Jan. 25, 7:35 a.m. Awake since the first rooster at 5. At 9:00 M.T. will pick me up. We will travel to Antigua for the day. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying rereading M.T.'s article in "Ethnomedicina en Guatemala." I've also enjoyed the hot shower, though I wonder about the method by which the water is heated. A thick red wire comes out of the wall and attaches to the tin can sized shower head. A black wire attaches to the water supply pipe where it exits the wall. There is only one valve and the flow regulates the temperature, slower is hotter.

7:49 p.m. Wimpy Hamburgers. Gringo food is my choice tonight because I need to change a $20 traveler's check. This eatery makes change at a good rate, but only if you order food. A 1/4 pound cheeseburger costs 58¢ U.S.

Today in Antigua was thoroughly enjoyed, though late in the afternoon the shutter of old Pentax SP 500 #3288022 failed. It remains open at 1/60 second and slower exposures. I imagine that all the faster shutter speeds are now inaccurate. The top of the shutter curtain still works, but the bottom is loose. This may be a real complication for I know not if it can be repaired here.

Our first stop of the day was the colonial museum to review the ethnobotanically significant paintings, the Virgins with morning glories. After viewing the San Francisco portal we visited the agency and people responsible for Antigua's preservation. They presented a lecture-slide show of colonial fresco art in Totonicapan churches. Most impressive were the 18th century frescos which fill the San Francisco el Alto church with floral splendor.

M.T. is an Antigua native and his driving led past many an interesting architectural feature and more church ruins. He served a picnic at his family's coffee farm and surprised me by displaying his mushroom stone. We visited the rams which assist his microbiology work with occasional blood donations. After a short break in the open hayfield for the volcano view we returned to the town center to tour a beautiful colonial home, the house of Popenoe. It was recently fully restored and filled with precious articles and furnishings of its era. My favorite artwork was the immense wood relief carving of two angels. Architecturally, I most liked the second story dovecote room. The 100 plus stuccoed nest cubicles which line the room's walls stand five levels high, like a miniature apartment complex. From the dovecote room we ascended a narrow spiral stairs in a domed tower to the flat rooftop for a splendid volcano view, one including the many church domes. The sleepy little town of Antigua is a treasure and certainly unique in all America. Let us hope the earth remains merciful and the volcanoes quiet.

Our last study stop was the La Merced church and adjacent convent ruins. Very little remains of the 16th century frescos which led us there, yet our visit was not without reward. M.T. was resolute about examining other details and I followed. We climbed to the partial upper level of the ruin which buttresses the church's east side wall. From there we walked out onto the now wall-less second floor of the convent quadrangle's south side. When we turned and walked back towards the church we were facing the dome. From that perspective I noticed an architectural detail too interesting to ignore and too distant to adequately discern. I dug for the 135 mm lens and asked M.T. if he knew what the gold statues around the dome depict.

"They look like lions," he responded.

I lifted the camera. They were not lions. Excited immediately, I handed the camera to M.T. Much to our surprise we stared at three creatures seated on their haunches with small rear legs tucked under full upright hairless torsos. Their arms or forelegs extend straight down, balancing robust chests. My excitement surged and my hair stiffened as I peered again with aid of the telescopic lens.

I was awe-struck and had a vague sense of deja-vu. We were staring at faces that belong to our ancestors from a million years past; bold features, sloped back foreheads, long hair, partial balding and an eerie alertness of expressions. They were unmistakably protohuman faces. I took one photo.

Had we found, discreetly depicted in the architecture of a colonial Catholic church, what Darwin would theorize after its construction, the notion of human evolution? A multitude of questions came to mind. When had someone sculpted those faces, faces not unlike those created by evolutionary theorists today, faces distinctly individual? Were the artist and image Mayan or European? The questions must wait. The image remains vivid in mind.

We moved to the church interior, a living, functioning church with people and prayers. White doves on great drapes of blue cloth seem to fill the tall vault. There the shutter broke while winding the film.

The late afternoon was spent relaxing with M.T.'s compadre and his compadre's family. Because of my wanderings the conversation included reminiscing about their youthful journey to the great Mayan ruins. I listened with attention. In such circumstances in a private home with the noise of children awareness of nations and boundaries dissolves.

Today's colonial study has been a royal day indeed. Even the sunset was one of the best of the now familiar blazing pastels, this one above and beyond majestic cinder cones. The exchange of information and local guidance have been fruitful. Also, I was given a letter of introduction from M.T. to the owner of a private mushroom stone collection. Prehistoric influence in colonial art is quite apparent and would be a fascinating study, probably even aiding in understanding and deciphering prehistoric art. My intent is to pursue first what came first, to concentrate on the most ancient era, to follow the course of prehistoric art. Tomorrow will be spent on archaeology. Meanwhile a rest. Tonight I'm tired.

Jan. 26. 8:53 a.m. Sunday. At a little eatery, the "Naturalist Fountain," on Batres Blvd. I'm without the usual weight of daypack and photo equipment and not adjusting to the idea. My mood is definitely down. Will I find adequate photo repair facilities? Tomorrow, Monday, will better serve to resolve the problem. Today a visit to the south coast, including the museum in La Democracía, Finca El Baul and ? What a contrast it is to walk the streets of Central America's largest city after a day of colonial splendor. Near the market two men strained hard pulling a two-wheeled cart with more than a half ton of vegetables. A grey haired man helped by pushing. Their's was not the only human drawn cart in the neighborhood. The trash and unmentionables thereabouts are somewhat overwhelming. Within a few blocks of the National Theater along a fence a half block long section of street side without concrete sidewalk, just natural soil, seems a very popular place to defecate. People obviously back up to the fence, thereby depositing a perfect row of feces piles. National Theater indeed! Beside the main boulevard one man was hanging it out such that all might see. Facing the busy street and his fellows the gentleman was urinating on a handy pile of gravel without inhibition. This city needs sidewalk urinals and toilets. In the better zones of town they could also install bidets. Perhaps the numerous soldiers could help install the new sidewalk fixtures. With sidewalk johns the inefficiency of doors and private chambers would not impede those laboring at there daily toil just like now. The city center streets are enough to make a person puke and I saw a few places where people had. I just drank the last pint of made to order carrot juice. Someone will have to run past the National Theater to the market for more carrots. Carrot juice, 57¢ a pint.

11:02. Riding a new bus, 90 minutes for 42¢ U.S. The stereo is great. Public transportation is great here. We are at the market place in Escuintla and surrounded by vendors. The moment we stopped at almost every window someone's head burst into the bus shouting what they offer. The variety is surprising; homemade drinks in plastic bags, many fruits, fried foods, whole chickens, and much more. Watermelon is the best seller. Other people surrounding the bus carry heavy wares balanced on their heads, just the right height for displaying them to the outnumbered passengers. An arriving bus terminates the siege. We are making our escape.

12:02. La Democracía Archaeologic Park. Surrounded by monumental stone heads and full-bodied sculptures, best described as near spheres with projecting heads and limbs. One has a metate on the chest. The stone head beside the museum entrance has closed eyes and an expression of serenity. What beauties they are! Children are playing baseball nearby. The Cultural Center's public address is playing music complete with an occasional commentary. A ceiba tree, 10 ft. wide at the trunk, towers overhead dominating the plaza-park.

The Cultural Center's announcer is speaking of the archaeologic treasures of this region. He says people come to see "Dios Mundo" and place offerings in his mouth. He says they slaughter chickens at this Dios Mundo altar and let the blood in the mouth of Dios Mundo, and that it is important that such customs continue, that they testify to immortal time. Quiche people arrive to this coastal plain from the mountains to conduct these rituals. Thirty-five years ago when the sculptures in the park were discovered, when they were first brought here, within days people began lighting candles before them. On to the museum.

Later. Inside beside the entrance are four mushroom stones, all simple tripod types. Another tripod type, displayed at the base of a large mural, has facial features engraved on the stem. The tripod types are the oldest form of these sculptures. Are the tripods symbolic of triangulation? The Popol Vuh relates that the ancestors of the Quiche Indians came to this side of the earth "on stones, as if there were no sea." When they arrived they "measured the earth and the sky" and they pointed to the cosmos (as though to a certain position on a map?) to indicate from where they had come. Employing fundamental astronomy and triangulation is how to survey, measure the earth or navigate. Does this Quiche history indicate a navigation ability enabling their migration?

Many murals decorate the museum. In this, the lecture room, they are illustrations of the Popol Vuh. The principal mural is entitled, "This is the origin of the ancient history of the Quiche." Below it burn two candles. Ancient tradition burns strong. The mural symbolizes Tepeu which the Popol Vuh describes as the formative force, the omnipotent force which is impossible to explain for we cannot understand the infinite space, the germinative matrix which causes all the universe to form within itself.

Sylvanus G. Morley, the noted Mayanist, described the Popol Vuh best; "beyond any shadow of doubt, the most distinguished example of Native American literature that has survived the passing centuries."

The beginning is my favorite excerpt:

"This is the account of how all was in suspense, all calm, in silence; all motionless, still, and the expanse of the sky was empty. This is the first account, the first narrative. There was neither man, nor animal, birds, fishes, crabs, trees, stones, caves, ravines, grasses, nor forests; there was only the sky. There was nothing brought together, nothing which could make a noise, nor anything which could move, or tremble, or make noise in the sky. There was nothing standing; only the calm water, the placid sea, alone and tranquil. Nothing existed."

12:59. The museum closed for lunch. I'm sitting next to the ceiba tree and taking another look at the colossal monoliths. What impressive sculptures they are. The elicit the best of emotions. My mood was transformed upon entering the plaza. La Democracía is a small village, but oh what a park! Onward, to try to find Dios Mundo.

3:04. Finca El Baul. Facing 30 stone sculptures of various sizes. I just noticed a guard with a gun sitting behind a tractor and spying on me. I think I'll leave.

3:36. Sitting in front of Dios Mundo in the fragrant incense of the copal fire found still burning. Dios Mundo and the adjacent stela are blackened by smoke, have candle drippings on them and have fresh red carnations on and before them. Also before them are small flat-topped stones covered with fire residue and candle drippings. Patches of earth 15 ft. in front of Dios Mundo and 10 ft. in front of the stela are entirely fire blackened. Sugar has been thrown on the lower portion of the stela. Bees are busy consuming it.

Sprinkles just fell. The atmosphere is very active and unstable. I've lit a candle and placed it on the square flat stone in front of the gigantic zoomorphic-human face seemingly emerging from the earth which is Dios Mundo. For how long have people been arriving here? Ah, sun again.

4:44. It's raining, it's pouring in very large drops. My rain gear is in the hotel. I've taken cover in this roadside vending stand. They have no refrescos, only hard liquor is sold. Three cautious young girls surround me. I've given Sandra Elizabeth some art work, a drawing of Rochester Creek's petroglyph panel.

At El Baul, which is a sugar cane plantation, the private guard was carrying a shotgun sawed off at both ends--here comes a bus.

5:07. In a fish restaurant in Santa Lucia. The El Baul guard (there are seven of them according to the bus crowd) was wearing a belt full of shotgun shells. El Baul, an immense plantation, has its own sugar refinery, private police force and rows of very closely placed little shacks for the seasonal workers. Many archaeological objects, including the thirty stone carvings near the refinery, have been found on the property. Mushroom stones have also been found and Dios Mundo is on the property. These ancient artworks attest to human occupation for millennia. Today the fields contain cultivated sugar cane. The vast holding reportedly has one owner. Workers are crowded into shanties. It's surprising that Dios Mundo remains on its little hilltop.

Today's rain, the first in many weeks, is now only a sprinkle so I may yet see several other large stone sculptures near the village. Mmmm, great local fish. Mmmm.

10:01. Back at the hotel. A very kind family drove a few miles past their turnoff to drop me at the hotel door. They know M.T. It's a small country.

After the rain stopped I returned to the cane fields. A kind local man witnessed my wandering the wrong way, joined me, and guided me to three sculptured rocks; two stela-like stones and the greatest artwork of the day, a boulder topped with 12 feet by 15 feet of carved surface. This latter sculpture, elaborated in high relief and executed with perfection, depicts a larger than life human surrounded by two smaller people, faces, a miniature person, a hand puppet, birds and foliated scrollery. The large central figure wears knee length pants and sandals. The rock projects from the ground, is of indeterminate size and, in all likelihood, will never be moved.

The sculptures, all great artworks, are part of a sugarcane field. Without local assistance it would have difficult to find them. Perhaps a sleepy tractor operator will someday ruin one. Steam rose from the rocks as we viewed them. One moment the volcanoes near Antigua were visible, the next time I looked they were enveloped by clouds, pastel sunset clouds in turbulent motion.

As darkness approached my kind guide and I stood at the plantation boundary in front of his tiny lot and home. We spoke first of his time in the United States working while an illegal immigrant. We looked out across the land and at the sculptures of his ancestors and the faint light on the again clear volcanoes while speaking about Agrarian Reform laws, agreeing that changes in land ownership are needed. Certainly great artworks were not intended to be sugar cane fields. Certainly people should not need to travel across the continent to work. We also agreed that he should not be confined to a small parcel on the village edge, an unemployed man overlooking rich earth complete with the fine art of his ancestors.

I returned in two hitches after departing at dark. I had forgotten the moon during my nights in the city, so the rising full moon was a surprise. Another surprise was the bright red river of fire, the stream of incandescent lava flowing down the Volcano de Pacaya. It is clear and very, very windy tonight.

The first ride was in a cattle truck cab with a mestizo rancher and an Indian. They had many questions. We discussed my travel plans. I spoke of the art of Izapa and mentioned my interest in Quirigua, Guatemala, the Mayan city ruin with immense monolithic sculptures and intellectual curiosities such as dates of 90 million and nearly 400 million years ago engraved in everlasting stone. I told them I wanted to see and sit on the world's largest toad sculpture at Quirigua and compare it with the earlier Izapan toads. The driver stated that in ancient times people used toads to cure a skin problem called "disipele." His companion, the Indian, said people still do, that he has seen it done. At my request he explained that it is a problem of the skin of the leg becoming red and peeling, that a toad belly is rubbed on the leg in the form of the cross. This is repeated three times after which the toad is immediately thrown into water so it will not die.

Ah, death. In this morning's paper there is a story of three dead men found by the garbage dump gleaners. The three bodies had tied hands and legs, were gagged, had been tortured and had gunshot wounds. They had been killed by strangulation, wrapped in large plastic bags and dumped. People sifting and searching the landfill for food or useful items opened the bags. Last night on the sidewalk I had a conversation with an individual who I must not name to protect this person from the guilty. I was warned to be careful about what I say. This person said that if one is noticed opposing the government or speaking out nothing happens immediately but they determine where you sleep and at night two carloads of judicial police enter your residence, take you away and you are never seen again. I was also told that the people live in fear, that it is unwise to venture more than a few blocks from your home because you do not know when a policeman might ask for your identification, and that the officials claim that guerrillas do these things, adding that the people know that it is the police and soldiers who are responsible.

I was surprised at such a warning and outpouring and, if it is true, at the risk of making the statement. When the same new Jeep passed a second time we quickly disappeared into the night. It is bad enough that one's days are numbered without the possibility of being personally eliminated--as in murdered--by fellow humans. At the museum today I saw a modern mural depicting prehistoric human sacrifice. Do our "modern" tendencies to sacrifice individual lives bear on our belief that prehistoric Americans sacrificed each other? Let us end our present predilection for sacrificing human life. What will future people say of what is happening today in America? IÍve heard reports claiming 60,000 Guatemalans killed since the CIA overthrew the democratic government and that the Indian peoples of this modern nation state are enduring the longest sustained genocide on the planet.

Jan. 27. 10:49. The Elliot. This morning's paper reports an earthquake of non-destructive magnitude in the northern provinces, centered between Tapachula and Solala. Around San Marcos the quake caused people to run out of their homes in a heavy downpour. Billions of drying corn cobs must have been taken indoors as clouds grew and threatened. Twice yesterday I thought about earthquakes, first as I jogged from Dios Mundo, hurrying towards town with an immense, dark cloud rapidly churning and building overhead. The changes were so wildly rapid I wondered if an earthquake was about to occur. By then it had. Because of the unusually strong, powerful winds experienced while driving between volcanoes towards the capital last night I again reflected on earthquakes. I have a feeling that something ominous is going to happen, but that feeling is uncertain.

I found a camera repair shop. The camera will be ready tomorrow for a surprisingly minute fee. With camera promised I can proceed with arranging to see the mushroom stone collections, beginning with Dr. M.A., to whom I carry M.T.'s letter of introduction.

12:08. Dr. M.A. will see me tomorrow one hour after the camera is promised. J.N. apologized that his father has a cold and that much of the collection is packed. He stated that these factors and my short notice make it impossible to study the material at this time. We agreed that I will keep them informed of my return schedule. So now it's off to the National Museum to see the director, one Sra. Guerra. I hope she is friendlier than her name, which means war. I have an official sealed and stamped paper in hand.

12:53. The front desk again sent me to the second story office. The secretary informed me that Sra. Guerra is out until 2 o'clock. I've taken a chair to wait. Someone is in the inner office, but who? Now the secretary says I must leave so she can close the office.

8 minutes later. Sitting with the guards inside the main door. The secretary just arrived and called a guard aside for a conversation. I think I'm about to get the boot and I feel I'm getting the snub.

1:35. It seems I'm being trusted a bit, the guards are busy eating lunch and I'm left performing the duties of doorman. One employee was surprised to have a stranger, an obvious foreigner, refuse him entrance. I hadn't seen him leave and had to call a guard to identify him. What would a Bolivia to Guatemala flight cost? I'm thinking about travel options. Things are happening too slow and as a result I've had a great weekend and seen sights and sites I otherwise would have missed. It takes too long to travel to South America to wait on layers of bureaucracy. I don't mind short waits while writing, but for now not much else top annote, so here I sit, just waiting.

2:23. Still waiting, though I had a conversation with one of the guards and an "ethnologist?" I turned the subject to toads. The guard confirmed the use of toads to cure disipele. He reported that with one hand one grabs the toad's forelegs and with the other hand the hind legs. The afflicted area is rubbed with the toad belly which causes the toad belly to become a very bright red color. He added that then the toad is thrown into a pot of water . The ethnologist asked the guard if it was really true. I told them that my other informant said the toad must be thrown into the water so it won't die. The ethnologist asked if the cure worked if the toad died. The guard smiled and responded that it only works if the toad lives. It's too bad the museum is closed today, I'd rather study exhibits than "ethnologists."

4:03. I was back on the streets at 2:54 after having been verbally assailed by Sra. Guerra by means of her telephone conversation to those she says must decide if I can see the collections. People at the Institute told me "she must decide." While glaring at me and speaking to a third party she listed all sorts of reasons why I should not be so allowed.. She stated that my lack of institutional backing was in itself sufficient reason to deny me. During our brief conversation she stated that it would be impossible for her to go to any other museum and ask to study material without an officially presented request. I informed her that to the contrary I had never before been so denied. Meeting Sra. Guerra was not a pleasant moment though I really enjoyed her expression of shocked surprise when, 45 minutes late from lunch, I answered her knock on the museum door with, "You must be the director."

I'm enjoying the present moment thanks to chorizo tacos at this Mexican restaurant, Los Cebollines, on the Plaza Espa?a.

5:15. Back at the Elliot. Along the way I met two French tourists who had intended to travel to Nicaragua. The returned from Southern El Salvador due to unmistakable warfare in the form of battling with guns in city streets. At a travel agency I discovered that a La Paz-Guate flight would cost $645 U.S. For that price I can travel by land for two months and perhaps I shall. A short hop over a war would be cheaper. Today seems wasted compared with the company of stone heads and stelae yesterday. I hope to be traveling soon, seeking more rewarding digs.

Jan. 28. 7:00 a.m. Reading this morning's issue of Prensa Libre. A 31 year old man was found dead in the street, shot thrice in the head. Neighbors reported hearing voices and gunshots early in the morning, though no one admitted looking out their window or observing what had occurred. The body was found 90 minutes later. Prensa Libre also reports that yesterday in Honduras for the first time in 55 years someone became President without military intervention. The report says that U.S. Vice President George Bush, who was present for the historic event, assured the Presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that the U.S. would support a political solution if one is found in Nicaragua.

9:12 p.m. San Salvador, El Salvador. Alive after traveling from capital to capital. Another National Museum is nearby.

This morning, after 52 minutes in the Post Office to mail one package, I met M.T. at La 14. We re-exchanged study material. He surprised me by announcing that he had arranged companions and transportation for me. Soon R.L. and her brother P. arrived at La 14. I checked out and with gear loaded we drove to the camera shop. M.T. had found in me a teacher for his former student. She immediately quizzing me about the new methodology of mushroom production using biotic waste. The camera was ready and working.

To pass the time I had allowed for walking we viewed the colorful tiled benches of the Plazuela Espana. The colonial era Spanish tiles depict the discovery of America from the distant European perspective. Only at the fourth bench did we view a backside, a Christ the King scene.

At noon we met Dr. M.A. then walked to his home. While saying that Portland, Oregon, is most beautiful in June thanks to the flowers we passed into his home's entry courtyard filled with orchids abloom and carved stones. A doorway niche is dominated by an 8' tall reproduction of a Mayan stela. Surrounded by flowers and archaeologic treasures, at a table below a bright skylight, I set up camera and tripod. The mushroom stones were brought out, six of them with animal figures for bases; two monkeys, one human, one pisote, one an unusual face and one anthropomorphic animal, possibly a toad. Dr. M.A. called two of them "tomb brothers," disclosing their burial provenience.

Before we parted at the city edge on the Pan Am to El Salvador R.L., P., and I lunched at Los Cebollines. The conversation centered on the degree of pre-Columbian intellectual achievement. After describing the statues on the La Merced church dome I asked about indications of local prehistoric views of human origin or evolution. R.L. immediately referred to the Popol Vuh citation of monkeys as an early generation of humans.

"...the monkey looks like man and is an example of a generation of men which were created and made..." Popol Vuh.

Finding America -- Part I -- Part II -- Part III -- Part IV -- Part V -- Part VI