by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
Throughout the videos on Mexico in my People of One Fire Youtube Channel, you will hear me say, “I didn’t have a clue, where I was.” This was no exaggeration. AAA sold a Mexican road atlas in the United States, but it was too large to carry on one’s person in the jungle and only showed the location of maybe five archaeological sites in all of Mexico. For unknown reasons, in Mexico the AAA Road Atlas for Mexico was only sold at the famous Sanborns Restaurants in Mexico City, which at that time was owned by the Walgreens Pharmacy chain.
Accurate street and highway maps were generally unavailable to the public and tourists in Mexico, except in the largest cities. Topographic maps were completely unavailable to the public. The Museo Nacional de Antropologia had topographic maps that staff members could copy on a blueprint machine, but they were bulky and faded away to nothing when exposed to sunlight or humidity.
Well! . . . yesterday I found the actual guidebook that I carried in my camera bag, while exploring the Lands of the Mayas. That was the ONLY source of information I had to find Maya sites, but (as you will see below) left out most of the Maya cities. I was assigned to visit 14 Maya cities in Campeche, but the guide book only shows one. I actually visited 21 Maya cities in Campeche.
The guide book is 52 years old, yet is still in surprisingly good condition . . . considering that it was carried through the jungle for a month . . . and that I was give three days notice in 2009 to vacate my house on Christmas Eve. It measures 5″ x 8″ and contains 85 pages. One of those pages was the only map I had to locate the Maya cities. The museums in Merida, Campeche City and Villahermosa sold “Maya maps,” but they were just inaccurate cartoons, produced by commercial artists.
I guess, the reader is now wondering why good maps were not sold in Cancun, Quintana Roo, a city that has about a million people. Well, no . . . below is a color slide that I took of the Maya village of Cancun in 1970. In 1970, Quintana Roo had too few people to even be a state. It contained nothing larger than essentially a village.
Now you know!