by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
One Summer In Mexico – Part 55
The Mini-Mayas +
The Foxy Tourist Guide with Benefits
Photo Above: This 25 year old single mother owned the hut that I rented, while staying near the Labna, Campeche Archaeological Zone. We used it as a base for touring several other Maya cities. The top of her head was barely above my belly button. She was at most, 4 feet – 8 inches (142 cm) tall. For the equivalent of $5 a night , my tour guide and I received full use of a dirt-floored Maya hut, three authentic Maya meals a day, plus use of two hammocks, two mosquito nets, two inflatable camping mattresses and two large hand-woven Maya cotton quilts. Today, $5 in 1970 would be worth about $35.
Currently, I am in the process of restoring hundreds of color slides, taken in the Mexican State of Campeche in order to create a video. The slides and accompanying journal entries are bringing back many memories that have lain inaccessible in the back of my brain for decades. You see, my initial Thesis of Intent for the Barrett Fellowship contained no Maya cities in Campeche, plus did not include Uxmal. The professors, advising me, did not think them significant, plus the travel agency advising them only listed archaeological sites, close to major airports.
Dr. Román Piña Chan, my fellowship coordinator in Mexico, literally tore up the Georgia Tech syllabus and threw it in the trash can. The new syllabus included Uxmal and at least eight Maya cities in Campeche. He was born in and grew up in Campeche. His mother was a Campeche Maya. He thought it extremely important that I see a cluster of eight Maya cities in eastern Campeche, even though they were then little known, even in Mexico. His beautiful graduate assistant, Alejandra, vaguely told me that she thought I could take tour buses from Ciudad de Campeche to the sites in eastern Campeche, but she had never even been in the State of Campeche. She was wrong!
Nowadays, we now know from being able now to read Maya writing that Uxmal and the nearby Campeche cities, such as Edzna, Labna, Kabah and Calakmul were very powerful and played a major role in Mayan history. However, access to these sites is still problematic. Tourists fly into Yucatan via the airports in Merida or Cancun. It is a day’s drive over bad roads and almost uninhabited landscape to the Campeche archaeological zones from these airports. Most North American tourists never seen the Campeche sites, as a result.
For new readers of the THE AMERICAS REVEALED, there are two facts that you need to know. When I was in Mexico the first time, the maps were terrible to non-existent. In southern Mexico, I never knew where I was when I found the archaeological sites that I was supposed to study. Secondly, when I arrived in Mexico in June, I was not terribly experienced in adult activities . . . if you get my gist. I found it impossible to have long term relationships at Georgia Tech, because there were very few female students, I had no car and had to work all the time on studies and architectural drawings. I had lots of Saturday night dates, because fraternity brothers with cars would bring extra gals with them on trips from other universities. However, today I remember very few of their names and faces.
Suddenly, in Mexico, but especially in August . . . there were new experiences and close relationships about every three days! So much happened that month that it would have been impossible for me to remember the details, had not I kept a journal and made hundreds of color slides.
The Chessite or Mouse People
Sixteenth century French and Spanish explorers occasionally very short Native Americans in the Lower Southeast, but provided very little other information. They seemed to be concentrated in remote areas of eastern Tennessee, northeastern Georgia, the area around Franklin, NC and western South Carolina.
Eighteenth century Creek spokesmen described these short peoples as being a branch of the Itsate (Hitchiti) speaking Creeks. They had dark complexions, odd shaped heads and noses the extended outward much farther in proportion their face than most Creeks. The Creeks called them Chessite (Mouse People). The Cherokees called them Tsisdetsi-gi (Mouse People). In the 1690s, the Cherokees encountered them living next to the Nikassee Mound in present-day Franklin, NC. They were driven off . . . moving southward in to Georgia.
It is believed that the Mouse People, who survived the waves of European diseases that killed about 90% of the Southeast’s indigenous population, ended up in Florida. They intermarried with other branches of the Creeks to become known as the Seminoles. From time to time, the genes that programmed individuals to unusually short pop up in the modern Seminoles, but they are not common.
Dining with an affluent Mexican family
After arriving in Ciudad de Campeche by bus, I soon figured out that there were no tourist buses that ran to the many archaeological sites within the interior of Campeche. The roads were too rough. One company, based in Merida would take you from Merida to visit the many Colonial Era structures in Campeche City then a brief trip to Edzna . . . all for the equivalent today of $420! There was a third class bus going past Edzna, but none of the other sites even had this access.
The lone employee at the sleepy little history museum in town told me that there was a Sr. Armando Rojas, who specialized in providing transportation and catering for archaeological teams from universities. He might be able to help me. I paid for a room at the historic Hotel Socaire in the Centro then utilized their staff’s help in finding Sr. Rojas’ business address.
Rojas spoke excellent English. After seeing my INAH photo ID and hearing about my travels on the fellowship, he seemed to take a personal interest in my situation. He first told me about a little known archaeological site, just north of town, which seemed to be pre-Maya, but also urged me to thoroughly survey the colonial buildings in Campeche City. Without making any particular promises to help me, he then invited me to eat supper with his family. They were cooking it on a charcoal grill outside.
Sr. Rojas picked me up in front of the hotel at 5:30 PM. He asked questions about my parents and family background on the way out to their mini-estate on the north end of town. He said that I did not look like most Gringos. I told him that I was a Mestizo, but that Georgia’s Indians were much taller than the Mayas.
The house was laid out like a modern hacienda with a swimming pool, patio and gardens in the back. We feasted on grilled steaks, giant shrimp (prawn) and lots of tropical fruits. He had three children. Ana had just turned 21 in July and was entering her senior year at the University of Campeche – studying to become a high school history teacher. She was just two weeks older than me. Ana had a teenage sister and brother, but I don’t remember their names.
Ana’s younger brother asked me what religion was I. I told him, Christian. He responded, “Catolica?” Even though I feared that my answer might be a “deal killer” I answered, “No Protestant . . . Methodist.“
Big smiles came to the faces of Sr. and Sra. Rojas. He exclaimed, “Oh, we have many professor friends and archaeologist clients, who are Methodists. Do you know Southern Methodist University, Vanderbilt University, Emory University and Duke University? They are some of our best clients.”
I answered, “Of course, Emory University is in Atlanta, where I live.”
Sra. Rojas chimed in, “Los Methodistos son muy simpaticos and inteligentios.”
Their daughter, Ana, added, “Yes, we need to have married priests like the Methodists. Then we would not have all these pervert Catholic priests, who are hurting the children.” Her parents nodded in approval.
Well, that was a far cry from Alicia’s mother, who called me a “diablo protestante,” when she was in a good mood.
At the end of the meal, the two teenagers departed. Then the servants brought out a bottle of French brandy, plus two Cuban cigar humidors – one for big cigars and one for skinny little cigars like what the wealthy female Cuban students from Miami at Emory University smoked. Armando offered me one of the big cigars. I declined. Sra. Rojas pulled out one of the skinny cigars. Ana first pulled out one of the skinny cigars, glanced at me then asked a servant to bring her cigarettes.
We got down to business. Sr. Rojas first confirmed that I wanted to start the next morning. He said that he could take me on a three day tour of all the archaeological sites on the list, except Kalakmul for $200 ($1400 in today’s dollars). Kalakmul was too far away and the road had washed out. I could afford that, but would not have much money left over for touring Tabasco and Veracruz. This offer was really not what he was proposing, though.
As an alternative, he proposed that his daughter Ana take me to the archaeological sites in her Jeep. If I agreed to explain in detail the architecture of each city to Ana, my cost would only be her actual gasoline, food and boarding expenses. He would pay her salary.
I accepted the latter proposal (eventually costing me a grand total of $46). Rojas said, “Good, Ana will pick you up at 8:30 in the morning.”
Ana did not look terribly happy after hearing that last statement. Evidently, she had plans for the next day. There was a heated exchange in Spanish then Armando suggested they discuss the matter elsewhere. Sra. Rojas and I did our best to carry on pleasant conversation in mixed Spanish and English. She knew English about as well as I spoke Spanish . . . but we communicated. When Armando and Ana returned, he informed me that Ana would cancel her shopping trip to Merida with her friends and be delighted to be my guide.
First mention of the Chontal Maya
Much of initial journey in the white jeep of Ana Rojas-Villanueva varied between being awkward to downright unpleasant. It was obvious that she did not want to be in the Jeep with me, but was doing it anyway for the sake of her father’s business and own need to polish her conversational English and learn more about Mayan architecture. If she spoke at all, it was in curt, businesslike tones.
Nevertheless, Ana became the first person to discuss the Chontal Mayas with me. I had never heard of them. Neither Dr. Piña Chan nor any of my textbooks mentioned them. We drove first to Pak Mul on the Gulf Coast. It was a Formative Period coastal village that was contemporary with the Olmec Civilization. They were not Mayas and only built earthen mounds that looked like the ones in the Southeastern United States. Then later in the Post Classic Period the village site was occupied by Chontal Mayas, who were not true Mayas, but descended from people, who immigrated from farther south.
Ana said that the real Mayas were afraid of the ocean and hurricanes. Most of the Maya cities were at least 32 km (20) miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The Chontal Mayas settled the coastal zone and as a result became increasingly involved with regional trade. Their cargo boats plied the known waters of the Mesoamerican world.
Ana said that recently a stone monument had been discovered near Pak Mul, which portrayed a man with a large nose, beard & mustache and conical hat. He was holding a rope connected to a lantern shaped anchor. Many scientists speculated that he was from the eastern Mediterranean Sea region . . . perhaps a Phoenician. I told her that I seen an article about the monument in the Mexico City newspapers. Could we go see it? She responded that it was policy of the government that no white men had been in Mexico before Cortez. No one knew where the monument was now.
Puros franceses (French cigars)
As we approached Edzna, I tried to lighten things up by telling Ana about the time in Michoacan, when three bulls charged me on a mountainside as I was taking photos of Lake Patzcuaro. I jumped over a stone wall and landed in a mud puddle. She laughed for several seconds and never again displayed that super-stern look on her face.
To continue the stretch of humor . . . I asked, “Hey Ana, why didn’t you bring your cigars along?” Caught off guard, she blushed, quickly turned her head to smile at me and then said, “Oh, you are making fun of me because of last night. I didn’t want you to think that I was old fashioned. I do like to smoke cigars when I am drinking . . . how you say . . . alcoholic beverages?”
I didn’t understand. “What do you mean about being old fashioned? Women smoking cigars is more like revolutionary. I once dated a Cuban girl from Miami, who smoked those same little cigars.”
Ana actually laughed, “Oh no. There are many things that you don’t know about Mexico. Until about 40 years ago, almost all upper- and middle-class Mexican women smoked cigars. The Indian women grew their own tobacco and smoked pipes. The Maya women here in Campeche still do. Before Maximillian and the French came, the women smoked big cigars. However, the wives and daughters of the French soldiers smoked little cigars, so the Mexican upper-class women copied them. Now we call them puros franceses or French cigars.”
“My father does not know it, but my mother and I like even better to smoke little cigars that are tobacco wrapped around marijuana. We call them Pancho Villas or cucaraches. The women in the Revolution liked to smoke marijuana. You know the song, Cucarache? It is about the Revolution.”
We arrived at Edzna. Ana was much more pleasant . . . more like male buddy accompanying me on a hike. As we surveyed the ancient buildings, Ana asked me increasingly more personal and intimate questions about the weekend I had with the puros franceses-smoking Cuban girl during Christmas of my Sophomore year. I mean . . . really intimate . . . asking how it felt to do this or do that. Basically, I told her that it was a spiritual experience of two souls coming together. Even though I probably will never see her again, I would never forget her.
Actually, I did see her again . . . in 2009 . . . on Cherrylog Road in the Rich Mountain Wilderness Area of NW Georgia . . . of all places! I think she chose that road on purpose. [See the poem video below.]
It was kind of weird, but we were not on a date and there were no prospects of this being anything more than Ana being my tour guide for three days. Her daddy would have me beheaded, if I even touched his princess.
There was a Maya vender at the archaeological park, where I could buy us lunches. Afterward we continued studying the ruins until about 3:00 PM. We then headed east on a dirt road to the Maya town of Hopelchen. As we were driving away, she thanked me for being so honest with her. She said “You were the first man, who had ever been honest with me about his deep feelings. I hope my first time will be as beautiful as yours. “ . . . “Oh, and I will not go to a Vietnam protest the next weekend and get thrown in prison.”
Dr. Piña Chan picked out several smaller, little known, Maya cities for me to see, so I would understand how dense the Maya population was, prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The Hopelchen ruins were in surprisingly good condition, even though they had never been restored.
Hopelchen looked like it had not changed since Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Almost all the streets were paved with sand. I looked up photos of it on the internet. It is unrecognizable to me now.
Ana then drove to the edge of the town, where there was a cluster of authentic Maya huts. Ana introduced me to the owner of a guest hut and said it would be 36 pesos ($3) per day for a hut and three meals a day. Plumbing consisted of outside spigot and 10-gallon wash tub. Electrical service consisted of a light bulb, suspended from log ceiling joists. Ana then drove home.
The dinner was pretty good . . . similar to Central Mexican cuisine, but not nearly as heavy on the chili pepper. The main course was an all you can eat pork and vegetable stew. There was cooked sweet squash, cut up sweet potatoes, wedged tomatoes, tamales and lots of tropical fruit. She gave me Mexican beer to drink. Apparently, the Mayas at that time didn’t drink coffee or tea.
Things got weird after dinner. The woman showed up at my hut with her two teenage daughters. She announced that the 16-year-old was 24 pesos ($2) for the night and the 13-year-old was 12 pesos ($1) for a total of 36 pesos . . . the same thing that she charged for the room and board. The two girls were so much shorter than me that they looked like young children. I was grossed out, because just two days earlier, we had watched the Merida police abduct a 16-year-old beauty queen and sell her to a Boss Hogg from Texas.
Teresa, the girl in Merida, LOOKED about my age, though. She was very much a woman in everything, but chronological age. I did indeed lust after her in my heart and at times thought myself stupid for rejecting the repeated advances of the beautiful lassie. However, these two looked like they should be playing with the Mayan equivalent of Barbie Dolls.
It should be explained that Maya women, just like Georgia’s Creek Indians, had known how to make a very effective birth control potion from wild sweet potatoes for perhaps two or three thousand years. Sexual intimacy had no legal, moral or religious connotation . . . other than adultery was forbidden. It was just considered fun. Young people could begin experimenting at any time they desired, without condemnation. However, that was their culture and at 21 I still had a problem being in contact with teenagers than looked like primary school age children.
When I declined, both the mother and the 16-year-old became very angry and called me a duck (pato) several times. Guess 36 pesos was a lot of money to the teenage girl, but I didn’t back down. I told her that Ana was my novia (serious girlfriend or fiance’). The mother demanded that I pay her anyway.
I slept in the hammock, draped with a mosquito net that night so no snakes would come slithering over me. Campeche is derived from the Maya words that mean “Place of Snakes and Ticks.”
A tourist guide with benefits
In the morning, both the mother and the two daughters were still mad at me. Breakfast consisted of warmed-over old tamales, which were undoubtedly flooded with nasty bacteria by then. I grabbed some fruits and a beer then went back to the hut to wait for Ana.
Ana did not show up at 8:30 AM as promised. In fact, she did get to my hut in Hopelchen until after 10:30 AM. She looked like hell. In fact, her makeup was running some from crying. I was not going to make a fuss, though, because I had no other options. In fact, I had no clue where I was!
First thing that Ana said was “Please take me back! I have retake my INAH bilingual guide exam in two weeks. I didn’t pass the other one, because my stupid school taught us British English spelling and I didn’t know anything about the Maya cities.”
She reached out her right hand with two 500-peso bills. “My father will pay for your costs, if you take me back!” I had no clue what was going on, but could use the money to pay for the rest of my travels. I took the bills.
Then I had to tell her what had happened. “Ana, don’t be mad at me, but last night the woman here tried to make me pay her for her two daughters sleeping with me. I told her no and lied. I told her that you were my novia. Don’t be insulted. Also, why would she and the older girl call me a duck?”
Ana winked and said, “Your novia? That sounds like fun. What Spanish word did she call you?”
I responded, “Pato . . . you know . . . the Spanish word for duck.”
Ana started laughing uncontrollably and blurted out, “In Mexico, we also use “pato” to mean . . . how you say? . . . a queer. I better check you.”
As soon as the Maya woman came out of her hut, Ana grabbed me then planted a PG-16 rated kiss and full body rub in front of her. “Hm-m-m . . . Ricardo . . . you are not a pato. I can tell that you are a jaguar.” At this point, I had less than no clue as to what was going on. It was to get worse.
After we loaded my backpack in the back of the Jeep and hopped in, Ana reached from behind her seat, grabbed a plastic bag then handed it to me. “My father bought these for you at the pharmacy.” I looked into the bag, choked and could only say, “Geez!” The reader will need little imagination to guess what the bag contained. Ana then suggested that we needed to get some steaks and a cooler at the little grocery store. That was obviously a subliminal message.
Ana had brought along several wine bottles, a small brandy bottle, French cigars and Pancho Villa cigars to grease the wheels of romance. However, she did not overdo the use of substances like the French hippies did in Oaxaca. She also brought one of their company’s compact camp stoves, which were used to cater meals at archaeological sites. This would be used to make tea and coffee, plus cook our own meals in the hut, if necessary. There was a picnic cooler filled with the ingredients for traditional Mexican and North American breakfasts (about the same things on the menu). She also brought along standard camping items like a battery-operated boom box for playing rock music, flashlights, lanterns, a first aid kit, hatchet, matches, butane lighters and several types of bug repellant.
As we were driving out of Hopelchen, Ana apologized for her unpleasant behavior the day before. She explained that while a teenager, she often helped her father set up camps for the archaeologists. Many of the archaeologists assumed that she was a servant and treated her like a stupid peon. They would command her to run errands for them around the campsite. On the other hand, the French archaeologists assumed that she was a prostitute and would offer her 20 pesos for her services.
As the Jeep approached the outskirts of the Sayil Archaeological Zone, Ana quickly confessed that she was not the blushing maiden that she had claimed to be the previous afternoon. She had two experiences outside of the Yucatan Peninsula. What little she remembered of them or her date, were not pleasant. She had always dreamed that her entrance into womanhood would be a romantic swirling of passions, like I described with the Cuban artist in Midtown Atlanta. She was envious of me. I reassured her that we were both novices and would love to dance with her in the Puuc Jungle. We did.
The “highway” from Sayil to Labna was terrible! No wonder tour buses didn’t go there.
Something terrible had happened the night before that seemed to have radically changed Ana’s attitude toward me. She initially did not want to talk about it. I did not get the full story until it was almost time for me to leave on the bus, headed to Villahermosa, Tabasco. We will tell the readers later.
All of the Mayas around Sayil, Kabah and Labna had features similar to the lady at the top of this article. Obviously, they had settled there as a tribe, at some time in the past. They were a dignified, gentile people, who did not seem too bothered by being so much shorter than us. Ana was quite tall for a Mexican señorita in that era. She was 5’ -8” (173 cm).
Soapwood: I was amazed how spotless these Mayas kept their clothing and bodies clean, despite not having indoor plumbing or running streams near them. We observed a woman washing her clothes in a large galvanized tub. Ana asked her where she got her soap. The woman told her they cleaned their clothes with a liquid derived from the “soapwood” tree.
Everything went well for the next three days. Ana initially told the Mouse Lady (photo at top) in Labna that she was my novia. Novia also means bride. The woman had limited command of Spanish and so assumed that we were on our honeymoon. She lavished us with care and special treats, even washing our clothes the last two days. Her food was delicious. At the end I gave her twice as much money as we had agreed on. She deserved it.
At night, as we lay on the inflated mattresses in the afterglow, we would discuss our past, our current feelings, our future and even our philosophies of life. Ana told me on the second night that this was the first time that she had actually lived among the Mayas. She realized that all her life she had subconsciously considered them somewhat less than human. She shamefully admitted that seeing them walk along a road was like viewing the trees and shrubs in the landscape. Earlier that day Ana volunteered to help our Maya hostess with the meals so she could come to know them as living souls . . . and also learn how to make Maya stews.
A combination of perfect lighting conditions and a boost to my morale resulted in excellent, creative photography, while exploring the Campeche Maya cities. Well, both Ana and I maintained big smiles on our faces for the throughout our travels.
We stopped by Ana’s home before she took me back to the hotel to say goodbye. It wasn’t to be a goodbye. Armando put a big grin on his face, when he saw how happy and energetic Ana looked. Ana raced up to him and kissed him on the cheek. She thanked him for sending her on the journey to Labna and told him that he was the best father in the whole world.
Then there was another huge surprise. Armando told me that he had not seen his daughter so happy and relaxed in three years. He had been worried about her. He invited the two of us to stay in the Guest House behind the swimming pool until it was time for Ana to start fall classes at the university.
I had to decline the two week visit because I was obligated to study cities in Tabasco and Veracruz, but I did agree to stay another day and half. Ana was elated. She hugged her father and then hugged me.
It was rather weird being treated like a legally married couple in her parents’ house, but everything went smoothly. Her younger siblings were constantly wanting me to tell them about my experiences in other parts of Mexico.
The next morning, when Armando was at work, her mother invited us to join her with the Pancho Villa “special” cigars. Prior to going to Mexico, I had never smoked pot, because Naval Midshipmen were tested for drugs periodically. Here I was shacking-up with her daughter and smoking pot with her mother. Surrealistic. I made reservations for the overnight bus to Villahermosa, so I would have two full days with Ana . . . she was regularly leading me back to the Guest House for further nurturing . . . but all good things must come to an end. Just before the time for Ana to drive me to the bus station, Armando gathered the family together and asked one of the servants to take a photo of all of us. I soon turned the page on another chapter in One Summer in Mexico.
We took a different dirt highway back from Sayil, Labna and Kabah that didn’t pass through Hopelchen. About 30 miles (48 km) from Campeche City, we passed a massive Maya city ruin. There is still no name attached to this city in the jungle. It is the same story in much of the Yucatan Region.
And now for the rest of the story
After literally forgetting about Ana for three decades, I realize now that her personality was very much like that of Vivi the French Courtesan, who met 20 years after Ana. The primary difference is that Ana had a happy childhood, provided by two loving, tolerant parents.
It was so nice being with a woman with a (after being nurtured!) stable personality. I can’t say that I was deeply in love with her after three days with her, but two more weeks in the Guest House together and we probably would have fallen deeply in love. We could have been very happily married, but my life course would have been very different. I probably would have gotten a PhD in Anthropology and spent a great deal of time in Mexico . . . and become very, very wealthy as an Architect-Archaeologist . . . because of her father’s business contacts.
While we were cuddled up in the Guest House, Ana finally confessed what was going on. Her confession was virtually identical to the one made by Alicia Moreno back in June. They both were victims of authoritarian, male-dominated, Middle Eastern religions and cultural traditions colliding with the late Twentieth century.
Just like Alicia, Ana complained that virtually all Mexican young men began visiting brothels regularly after age 15. Simultaneously, they were expected to not touch “nice girls” until engaged. As a result, they were lousy kissers and had no clue how to nurture a young woman’s physical and emotional needs. The only thing that these young men were programmed for is keeping their wives pregnant until they died in childbirth or their bodies wore out.
Young women, who became intimate with their boyfriends, were expected to marry them. Other young men would never marry a gal, who was not a virgin.
Beginning around age 18, Ana became increasingly controlled by her hormones and thoughts of intimacy . . . when such intimacy seemed forbidden. Her resultant emotional swings and unkind remarks to her family deeply concerned her parents. Her mind dwelled on sex, but she didn’t even know was sex really was.
I had totally misinterpreted the situation. While we were sitting at the outdoor dining table that first afternoon, she quickly realized that I was different than Mexican men, but then began having “sordid” thoughts about me. While pretending to be disinterested in me at the table, her inner self felt the opposite. Her bitchy demeanor in the Jeep the next morning was really a cover for a demon within her wanting to park the Jeep and then drag me out into the jungle in order to ravage me sexually . . . even though she really did not know what to do.
That night, Ana went to a beach party attended by her college classmates. She couldn’t get her mind off of her decadent thoughts about me. She drank booze and smoked pot excessively try to get rid of those thoughts. This was not the first time that she had binge drunk to try to get rid of her hormone driven obsessions. Evidently, someone also gave her some sort of mind-altering drug.
She got lost coming home that night then was unable to stop the Jeep in the driveway . . . ramming into the garage door . . . thus setting off the burglar alarm . . . thus causing her neighbors and parents to call the police. However, a patrol car that was following her erratic driving was already in the driveway to arrest her for DUI. Eventually, four police cars showed up and most of their neighbors were standing at the end of the driveway. Her father had to bribe the cops in order to avoid her being arrested.
Back in the house, her father blew his stack when he learned that she had abandoned me at a cluster of Maya huts in the middle of jungle, which was a known brothel. Several foreign tourists had been beaten up and robbed there. I had no clue where Hopelchen, Sayil, Kabah and Labna were, until yesterday, when I looked them up on Google Maps. Ana was supposed to take me to a nice posada (inn) in the center of Hopelchen. She didn’t because she was afraid that she could not control her sex drive once we were in the inn.
Fortunately, Ana was still so drunk and drugged that she was totally honest with her father. She had been acting crazy for three years because she desperately needed some nice man to make love to her. * Rather than beating her or disowning her as many Mexican upper-class fathers would have done in that era, he did what he did. He also told her not to date Mexican men. She was a free-spirited Mustang, destined to marry a well-educated foreigner. Most Mexican men would only bring her misery. I have a feeling that she ultimately married one of the archaeologists, who were his father’s clients.
*What she actually said in Spanish was quite a bit more coarse than I what I put in English. To translate her actual words verbatim, would violate WordPress and LinkedIn standards.
As a result, father and daughter bonded closer than ever. Ana never got drunk again and she repeatedly told me in letters that the happy memories of our time in Labna had permanently driven out the demons that had made her and her family so miserable.
In September 1970, both Alicia (Mexico City) and Ana (Campeche) invited me to spend the Christmas holidays in their home. Even though, I had not spent nearly as much time with Ana, my preference was Ana, because of her loving family. However, her extended family decided to stay at the hacienda before Christmas. Afterward, the Rojas booked a suite on a cruise ship, touring Cuba and Puerto Rico. They invited me along and were going to pay all costs, but the ship would not return to Campeche until three day after classes at Georgia Tech began. Over the next two years, similar barriers kept Ana and I from seeing each other again. Had there been an internet, the situation would have been quite different.
Ana hated teaching high school history, because (just like me) she loved being outdoors. She did pass the INAH exam in September 1970 and thus grabbed a job working with tourists at INAH archaeological zones in 1972. She wrote me in Sweden that she wanted to travel with me around Europe after I finished the job in Sweden, but then had to cancel those plans because the INAH would not give her a leave of absence. The last time that heard from her, she had obtained a Masters Degree in Anthropology and was considering going for a PhD.
This famous poem by James Dickey, the author of “Deliverance,” best describes the memories that I have of Ana . . . the Tour Guide With Benefits. Dickey was working on this famous book, when my English professor at Georgia Tech . . . just before I departed for Mexico.