Front Cover
 Also by Erna Furgusson
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Half Title
 Guatemala from Mexico
 Guatemala, the capital
 Tourist view
 Fiesta of Santo Tomás
 The shrine of the Black Christ
 The ruins of Copán
 Maya archaeology in Guatemala
 Maya old empire
 The heights and cool tropics
 Modern Maya
 Markets and merchants
 The taking of Mixco
 Costumes and textiles
 Antigua, the capital
 Hot tropics and bananas
 Hospitality and pirates on the...
 Little Germany and the land of...
 Indian dance and ancient rite
 Holy week
 Aristocratic antigua
 Fairs and feast days
 Finca week-end
 These Indians
 Modern Guatemala
 The President
 Bibliographical note
 A note on the type in which this...

Title: Guatemala
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00074074/00001
 Material Information
Title: Guatemala
Physical Description: x, 320, vii, 1 p. : plates, port., fold. map. ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Fergusson, Erna, 1888-1964
Publisher: A. A. Knopf
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1937
Subject: Mayas   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Social life and customs -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: "Bibliographical note": p. 319-320.
Statement of Responsibility: by Erna Fergusson.
General Note: "First edition."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00074074
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000648352
oclc - 23763946
notis - ADH8284

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
        Page i
    Also by Erna Furgusson
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
    List of Illustrations
        Page ix
        Page x
    Half Title
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Guatemala from Mexico
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 12a
        Page 12b
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    Guatemala, the capital
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Tourist view
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Fiesta of Santo Tomás
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 40a
        Page 40b
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
    The shrine of the Black Christ
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    The ruins of Copán
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
    Maya archaeology in Guatemala
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
    Maya old empire
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
    The heights and cool tropics
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 100a
        Page 100b
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
    Modern Maya
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
    Markets and merchants
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 120a
        Page 120b
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
    The taking of Mixco
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
    Costumes and textiles
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 156a
        Page 156b
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
    Antigua, the capital
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
    Hot tropics and bananas
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
    Hospitality and pirates on the Rio Dulce
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
    Little Germany and the land of true peace
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
    Indian dance and ancient rite
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 234a
        Page 234b
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
    Holy week
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
    Aristocratic antigua
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 258a
        Page 258b
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
    Fairs and feast days
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
    Finca week-end
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
    These Indians
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
    Modern Guatemala
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
    The President
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 312a
        Page 312b
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
    Bibliographical note
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page a-i
        Page a-ii
        Page a-iii
        Page a-iv
        Page a-v
        Page a-vi
        Page a-vii
    A note on the type in which this book is set
        Page a-viii
Full Text




ra~t.Rifo rag*.RUMI

p E T-i E N

SI A a 4 '~ I pia A I ,


.1 .Y. WIT'A

Q u


ue chi I nj~~fS

AC IP X/ s


Dancing Gods
"The chief values of the book are its author's great knowledge of
the dances and traditions of the Indians, and her wholly sympa-
thetic feeling for them. ... It is hard to imagine how her perform-
ance could be bettered, either as interpretation or as writing."
The Yale Review

Fiesta in Mexico
"Miss Fergusson writes as entertainingly about her adventures in
discovering the fiestas as she does about the fiestas themselves.
These sketches have the true ring of Mexican travel. .. ."
The New York Times

Alfred A. Knopf



*********- o ..-.-.... ... ..- ... ........-.* -l*** ... .... -,

New York ALFRED A KNOPF London



Copyright 1936, 1937 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form with-
out permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may
quote brief passages or reproduce not more than three illustrations in a review
to be printed in a magazine or newspaper.
Manufactured in the United States of America

press my thanks to the friends who gave me the benefit of
their knowledge in certain fields touched upon in this book
and who read and criticized certain chapters. Aside from
those who are mentioned in the text I am grateful to Miss
Elizabeth Wallace, Professor Emeritus of the University of
Chicago, Chester Lloyd Jones, Professor of Economics of
the University of Wisconsin, Charles A. Thomson of the
Foreign Policy Association, Miss Mary Butler, archeolo-
gist of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Karl Rup-
pert, archeologist of the Carnegie Institution, and Antonio
Goubaud Carrera of Guatemala.
For the use of their pictures I extend my thanks to Miss
Florence Dibbell Bartlett of Chicago, Miss Mary Butler of
Philadelphia, Morris E. Leeds of Philadelphia, and Web-
ster McBryde of New Orleans, whose pictures were taken
under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council
of Tulane University, and of the Carnegie Institution.



xix: COFFEE 218
xxI: HOLY WEEK 241
xxiv: FINCA WEEK-END 275
INDEX follows page 320


Village of Tahuesco, salt-making and fishing center:
(1) At sunset; (2) Palmetto-thatched houses 12
Guatemala: (1) The Cathedral; (2) Sixth Avenue 13
Chichicastenango: (1) The church; (2) A street 40
Octavio 40
Chichicastenango: (1) The men pray, the women
look around; (2) The Church of Santo Tomds;
(3) Masked dancers 41
Stela and altar at Copdn 100
The heights 100
An altar at Copin 100
San Francisco el Alto market 101
Volcano of San Pedro 101
House-thatching party, San Martin Chile Verde 101
Maya type 120
Chichicastenango man 120
Babies go hooded 120
Solold market during Holy Week fair 121
Crossing Lake Atitldn 121

Momostenango blankets drying 121
Woman of San Sebastidn Retalhuleu 156
The sun symbol 156
Chile Verde men 156
Men of Tados Santos 156
The ruined monastery of La Merced, Antigua 157
Palace of the Captains General 157
The jungle comes down to the river 234
The old Fort of San Felipe 234
Dance of the Venado 235
Dance of the Snake 235
Atitldn (Santiago) market 258
Corn-planting ceremony, San Jose Chacayd 258
The Church of La Merced, Antigua 259
Arch of Santa Catarina, Antigua 259
The Volcdn de Agua 259
Chicacao market 312
Finca Mocd 312
His Excellency President Jorge Ubico 313


I: Guatemala from Mexico

a couple of years in Mexico, traveling all over it, living in
it, making such friends that it no longer seems a foreign
country, but another home?
Tourists said that Guatemala was more fascinating than
Mexico, more untouched and picturesque. Indians still
wear native garb, markets are riotous with color every
day and not only once a week.
"It is," a student said, Mexico before the Revolution,
still a dictatorship, still sharply divided into classes. Indian
labor is mercilessly exploited. You should know it to un-
derstand Mexico better."
Understanding Mexico has come to be a real need. Some-
how we of the north, the efficient, the mechanical and criti-
cal, must understand our southern neighbors better. We
must get close enough to rub off, maybe, some of their in-
stinctive knowledge of human relationships; of that adap-
tation to nature which gets a living out of land without
destroying it; of how to know your pleasure when it is at
hand. Above all, we must make them know us for friends
and not dangerous imperialists. If only they knew how
unimperialistic we feel, most of us!

There were warnings, too, about Guatemala. Mexicans
said: "You won't find Guatemalans simpdticos. They are
hard, and they hate Mexico. For them, we are the mighty
grasping neighbor to the north. They fear Mexico as we
fear the United States. And you, who are Mexican and
Norte Americana too! "
I went to the Guatemalan consulate for a visa. Mindful
of my Mexican manners, I rose when the gentleman was at
liberty, extended my hand, murmured my name, at his
orders." He shook hands, but he was clearly not at my
He fixed me with hard black eyes. Why do you want
to go to Guatemala? I felt that he suspected me of designs
on the portrait of Alvarado which hangs in the capital.
"To know it. I understand that your country is well
worth a visit." But feeble joking was quite out of order.
Come again," he said, when you have four front-face
pictures of yourself." And that was all. No parting hand-
shake, no to serve you."
But he had taken my name, and I was sure the Mexican
police would be asked to scan their list of undesirables. Any
writer is in a precarious position in Mexico. Write as en-
thusiastically as you will about the enchantments of that
land, but if one word creeps in which might cast a shadow,
you are considered to have blackened the fair name of
Mexico. Denigrante is the word. We have no exact transla-
tion of its full implication. Probably we are so used to for-
eigners' criticism of our United States, even from Mexi-
cans who lampoon, caricature, and defame us in word and
picture, that we are too hardened to show resentment. But

I might have been guilty of the crime of blackening. It
would be too bad, I thought, if the Mexican police could not
in conscience recommend me to Guatemala. But when I
went again, I found that Guatemala would admit me. It had
been necessary to telegraph the capital for authorization:
my first experience with that country's powerful centraliza-
The minister dropped in as we finished the business: a
cordial gentleman with a close-clipped white beard. He was
glad I was going to Guatemala, made a courtly remark.
Even the consul melted from his stern official manner.
Nobody advises going by train from Mexico to Guate-
mala, but it is an edifying approach, even in its vicissitudes.
Overnight to the port of Veracruz it is, and a day and a
night through that state and Oaxaca, getting warmer and
more tropical every minute. Jungle grows always denser
with mimosa, tamarinds, and palms. Big-leaved plants are
tangled with ropy vines and orchideous plants. Parrots fly-
ing, blue and white herons in lagoons, and many queer
plants that flower without leaves: casahuates, baganvia,
and something with ash-rose flowers I could not learn the
name of. It was pleasant to feel my skin slightly damp, to
luxuriate in a temperature one did not have to fight against.
My train idled along, stopping at every flag station for
another family with bundles. A Pullman is no place to
travel, for all those families rode second class: the musi-
cally inclined were there; and venders offered their wares
at day-coach windows, not at Pullman screens. While I was
tendered eggs and ham on a white cloth, they could choose
chicken in toothsome sauces, tamales in banana leaves,

turnovers oozing richness, sugary cakes, melons and ices.
What they could not eat, those travelers took along, piling
baskets on crates and stringing to the racks their bunches
of bananas, whole pineapples, jars of fresh cool drinks.
For a whole day we rode across the heavily timbered
state of Chiapas, which has produced many a mahogany
fortune. Life there looks easy from the train. As we waited
on a bridge, I watched an old woman standing in the stream
and rubbing clothes in a wooden tray. She ladled up water
in a gourd, poured one over the clothes, the next over her-
self. The cool water must have felt good, splashing over
her bare breasts and back. When someone came along, she
squatted in the water, lit a cigar, and chatted awhile. Then
she spread clothes on the grass, scooped, and treated herself
to another douse from the gourd. I am told that these lives
are meager and dreary, that Mexico must be industrialized.
But compared with life in a factory town! I have read of
machines equipped with a harness to snatch the hand back
when the worker tires. Imagine the horror of a weary hand,
jerked and jerked! As long as work must be done, I can-
not grieve much over women washing, half-naked, in run-
ning streams, at their own time.
The Pan-American Highway, connecting Canada with
Tierra del Fuego is to run through here, once they get the
swamps drained and the terrain considerably remodeled.
Pedro de Alvarado is credited with making the first road
from Mexico to Guatemala in 1523 when he pushed his
four hundred and fifty Spaniards through these miasmic
bogs to the conquest of Guatemala. The Cakchiqueles, a
Maya tribe, had offered to submit to Cortez in return for aid

against their enemies, the Quich6s; and Cortez sent his bril-
liant captain, Don Pedro, to bring them all under the aegis
of Church and Crown. Alvarado was then just under forty,
at the top of his powers, courageous, ruthless, an accom-
plished commander, and ambitious to achieve a conquest
of his own. It would not be easy, for the Quich6s, more
mettlesome than the Cakchiqueles, were altogether opposed
to foreign intervention. At Tonali, Alvarado defeated his
first Quich6s and sent word to their kings they always
had two that he would accept their submission to the
King of Spain. Otherwise they would be treated as rebel-
lious and disloyal. The Quich6s were not yet ready to ac-
cept the Spanish assumption that all creation belonged, by
right, to the Emperor Charles V and that all who denied it
were to be suitably punished. Alvarado was to have his
troubles with the Quich6s.
At Tonali I met difficulties too. We were too late to cross
the border that night, but they told me so only after we had
left Tonali, and the last good hotel. The customs officer on
the train described the hotel at Suchiate as regular an
ominous word that always means and is often followed by
" mds malo que bueno ": worse than better. The host, when
he appeared, did not reassure me. Unkempt and taciturn,
he stayed silent when the officer commended the Sefiorita
to his best attention, calling on him to see and all the saints
to witness that I should lack nothing. He was to be my last
exuberantly friendly Mexican.
The hotel was an extensive board shack, open all around
to catch the breeze, with chickens on the porches, pigs just
outside, and a flock of Negroid girls shuffling around in

pantofles and never getting anything done. The bath was a
bamboo shed with wide cracks, a chair on a dais, and a big
tank of water with a baby's pot floating in it. But the bath
was refreshing, and a canvas cot is not bad in a hot country.
One's standard comes to be solely that there shall be no
Suchiate is a sandy waste with no plaza; nothing but the
railroad, the hotel, and an office where they gave me twenty-
four quetzales for my eighty-eight Mexican pesos. I won-
dered how long I could survive in a country with currency
on a par with ours. My host, who had consistently over-
charged for everything, took me in his car to the river
Suchiate, which divides Mexico and Guatemala.
There three men and one woman inspected my baggage.
Guatemalans are delicate; a woman paws through a wom-
an's things, but thoroughly! They all wished me well, ex-
hibited an English phrase, and let me board the flat-boat.
On the other bank a little fellow in blue dungarees nursed
his rifle under a rustic arbor. He copied my name from the
passport and said it was too late to pass. But we had a smoke
together, agreed that it was pretty hot there in the sand,
and he let me go on through a grove of fine almond trees to
Ayutla, my first Guatemalan town.
Now is not the hour. Too late."
"But may I not go to the hotel for lunch and come
back? "
Too late. Now is not the hour."
Then a man with a big stomach strolled up and ruled
that the Sefiorita might go for lunch, leaving her baggage.
Ayutla looks like a barracks, with a wide shaded street

full of soldiers and police. At two, the hour, my bags were
all opened again by a man and one woman, who was just
as interested as the one on the other side. Seven men and
two women, up to that point. But I was not through yet. The
police still had to pass me, making a total of eight men and
two women for getting a lone traveler across the frontier.
Guatemalans say this border must be well guarded because
all bad things come from Mexico, including grasshoppers
and radical propaganda.
At five the next morning Ayutla was dark and sweet-
smelling. As I dressed I heard palms scraping against a
dull blue sky. Sand crinkled under the porter's cartwheels
on the way to the station. Only a few people were stirring
and I was the only passenger. As day came, the country
showed itself. We ran close to the Pacific, which lies south
of Guatemala. Honduras is east, and Mexico north. Guate-
mala touches the Caribbean only where it runs into a point
at Puerto Barrios. Sometimes we could see the shoreline;
sometimes only lagoons where waterfowl rested. Many
clear streams cut the plain. We passed bamboo-walled vil-
lages tufted with coconut and date palms. Coffee planta-
tions, shaded by bananas, shaded in turn by taller, white-
barked trees, which bear a fruit also edible. I never saw so
much food in any landscape. The cattle were stout, and the
cheese they gave me at Ayutla was of the finest, flaky, deli-
cate. Corn shows, but it is not the prevailing crop. An infin-
ity of fruits whose names run like water: anona, chirimoya,
mandarinas, limes and sweet limes, papaya, zapotes, big
and little, yellow and green. At every house, turkeys and
chickens; pigs for scavenging, and buzzards to help. No

wonder the dominant race says the Indian fares well on
ten cents a day or less. Everything that grows produces
food, it seems.
All small children were naked. One, fair as a magazine-
cover child, came running toward the train. She had long,
soft, golden hair, and her skin was lightly browned, with no
trace of Indian blood no overlay of rich brown, no
straight coarse hair: a pure white baby running naked
among mahogany playmates. Near by was a frame house
with wooden lace trim, a shingled roof, and green shutters,
boarded up. I wish I knew what white woman bore that
pearly child and left her. Did she die? Did the man die too?
And what Indian woman keeps the little body and fair
hair so clean now?
Inland towered the volcanoes, a regular rampart of vol-
canoes, taller and taller. Tacani and Tajumulco, and Santa
Maria, which have literally leapt and flamed twelve and
fourteen thousand feet into the air, making fabulously
fertile soil with their volcanic ash and providing every
sort of climate. There can be no generalizations about
Guatemala. The narrow fringe of sea level is sultry tropics
with monkeys, parrots, and alligators; iguanas served as a
delicacy; and endemic diseases like yellow fever, which has
been conquered; hookworm, which may be; and malaria,
which gets them all sooner or later. That is below two thou-
sand feet. From four to six thousand is the perpetual spring
they advertise. It makes for marvelous days, and evenings
a bit chilly. Above that, it is frankly cold at night, though
the sun still does service by day. Little larger than the state
of New York, Guatemala must be thought of as extending

not lengthwise and across, but up and down. From Retal-
huleu on the coast to Quetzaltenango in the highlands, the
road rises almost seven thousand feet in thirty-five miles.
Behind those volcanoes, I knew, lay the highland Guate-
mala I was so eager to see.
Alvarado knew that too, and that there he had to conquer
those intransigent Quiche kings, who had sent an army to
meet him at the river Somali. The Spaniards, whose horses
and cannon were still news in Quich6, won that brush also
and entered upon a swift one-hundred-day campaign in
which they conquered the three kingdoms. Among those
dauntless invaders was Dofia Luisa, whose father, the
Tlaxcalan chief, gave her to Alvarado: the fair-haired Son
of the Sun. She bore him several children. One, according
to the baptismal record, was born on March 22, 1524: the
lovely Leonor, whose life covered the whole period of the
As I rode along that day, I realized how complete was
Alvarado's conquest. He made Guatemala a white man's
country. Indians were on every side, but all the men in
charge were white: the conductor, the brakeman, and sta-
tion officials. Men who boarded the train to ride only a
station or two looked like our Western ranchers in their
outdoor clothes and Stetson hats. Most of them were fair or
sandy: probably gringos, but the Guatemalans were of the
same type. This is stock country; maybe dealing with cattle
produces such men in any clime. They talked business and
parted casually, shaking hands at meeting and parting, but
more perfunctorily than in Mexico.
Even in the manner of wearing their hats the Guate-

malans seem a different people. A Mexican, with his som-
brero, points himself up. It is accolade, emphasis, plume
in the helmet, pride of race. He may have lost everything
else, including his shirt and most of his pants, but even as
he goes down for the third time his hat rides triumphant,
flaunting defiance to the end. In Guatemala there are few
tall-crowned sombreros, and a hat is merely head-gear, set
straight on the brow, forthright and simple. I never saw a
Guatemalan who swaggered with his hat, except one little
boy in Antigua, a very special little boy.
The eating-houses were most sanitary, screened and pro-
vided with modern toilets. Even Indian women offered
food for sale in wire cages. We passed one hacienda I
had not learned to say finca which had rows of stucco
houses with iron roofs, screened porches, and chimneys!
Could it be that they cooked with coal or wood instead of
charcoal? It looked like a California development with its
palms, straight streets, uniformity. Other signs of North
American influence were frequent: distances are computed
in miles, altitudes in feet. And many key words are in
English: tickets, restaurant, toilet, all right, good-by, hello,
Guatemala likes the United States. A young Guate-
malan, speaking of the depression, said: "It causes us
much distress. Your country has always been a beacon to
us, and we don't like to see our beacon flicker." No, to
Guatemala the imperialistic colossus of the north is Mexico,
not the United States. I am told that Salvador and Hon-
duras distrust Guatemala as a dangerous power with ques-



ABOVE. At sunset. BELOW. Palmetto-thatched houses, with coco palms and fenced
fresh-water wells.


ABOVE. The Cathedral. BELOW, Sixth Avenue

tionable designs. A procession of countries, each looking
apprehensively back at a feared and hated neighbor. To
make it complete, we should work up a good hate for
I began to see the variety of costumes Guatemala is
famous for. At Palin women came in numbers, for the
train from the port of San Jos6 passes there too and they
are tourist-wise. Their tight blue skirts fell to the heels;
their huipiles were white, and each one had a big ker-
chief, which she folded on her head or used for carrying
things, including babies. The Tabascan chief's gift to Cor-
tez might have looked like that: those twenty slave girls
of whom Malinche was one. Blue and white and red, and
on every head a flat basket piled with golden oranges and
granadillas. On every back, of course, a baby. Among In-
dians woman connotes baby.
Something more attractive must have happened at the
other end of town, for suddenly they set off, not at the jog-
trot of the Mexican Indian, but with a long-legged lope,
loaded basket on head, heavy baby on back, and arms
pistoning to balance the whole.
Then we reached Lake Amatitlin and scalloped a long
and lovely course around it. We saw the volcanoes. Agua,
trim and exquisitely coned, which washed out Alvarado's
capital at Ciudad Vieja. Fuego, mis-shapen by the explosive
bad temper which still throws snarls of smoke from its un-
even sides. And its mate Acatenango. Volcanoes dominate
Guatemala; not only by their grandeur, but because they
have made so much of Guatemalan history that one cannot

forget them. They loom in beauty, they brood, they are a
constant menace, and excitement.
Long before I reached Guatemala here, as in Mexico,
the nation is La Repiblica; the capital has usurped the
name I knew that Guatemala is not a little Mexico, nor
is it at all like Mexico. It has its own character, its own al-
lure, and, as I was to learn, its own way of making a
stranger feel at home and welcome. It is a less effusive
way. In Mexico they say of an effervescent one that he is
lirico. Guatemala does not grow lyrical. The back-slapping
Mexican hug becomes there a restrained gesture. Finger-
tips may touch shoulders, but scarcely. Chambermaids in
Mexico call one niiia, weep at parting, bring the children
bearing gifts, work up a dramatic frenzy. In Guatemala
servants are quite accurately described by the terms most
favored: respectful and humble. The younger ones fresh
from the country even fold their arms and duck their heads
for a blessing. Very embarrassing until you get used to it.
A Mexican, on his first visit to Guatemala, said: "Give
a Mexican half a jigger of tequila and he pulls his pistols,
dances and leaps, sings a song, makes love. It's cheap to
fill a Mexican with dynamite. But I've seen five Guatema-
lans sit drinking for hours, completely wordless except
when they say: 'Another bottle, if you please, sefiorita'!
No, I am not rich enough to liven up a Guatemalteco."
Six months in Guatemala only confirmed my first im-
pression that it is a white man's country. In spite of its sixty-
five per cent native population, the white race dominates
it, marks it. I became aware, too, that the white man's cul-
ture rides very lightly on that of the Indian, as foam on a

profound dark sea. That sea still ebbs and flows a tranquil
tide, but it has terrific power, yet unaroused. I wonder if
it will ever wake to a realization of its own power, and if
it does, what will happen. Many people in Guatemala
wonder about that too. Few speak of it.

II: Guatemala, the Capital

dred and fifty thousand people. Streets and avenues cross
at right angles, and every one leads toward a blue-green
velvet mountain. In December, the middle of the dry sea-
son, the days were dazzling with that southern sunshine
which harmonizes colors red and magenta, orange and
vermilion, bright blues, and vivid pinks and greens that
go sour and discordant under any other light. The country-
side was burned bare of all light growth, but city parks
and gardens, artificially watered, were luxuriant.
The creamy stone Cathedral faces stern gray barracks
across the Plaza de Armas. Most of the other structures on
the plaza are government buildings, representing various
periods of architecture. The President's new mansion, set
at the back of an open square of garden, is up to date, and
all its windows are fitted with rolling steel shutters. On
the south pillared arcades shelter shops and booths -
the most Latin American and the liveliest spot in town.
The plaza itself is three blocks of park, as tidy as a flower
show, with shrubberies, lily pools, and a fountain which
sprays into electric rainbows on tourist nights. Indian

gardeners were forever setting out new plants in rich brown
beds, and vines rioted in blossom over pergolas. Blond
babies played there, watched by barefooted Indian nurses,
and schoolchildren in uniform passed with satchels of
books. Many older people strolled through or lingered to
read a paper or get a shoe-shine. The Spanish custom of
wearing mourning for even distant cousins keeps women
much in black. Many men wear formal black or mourning
bands. It is all very quiet and well ordered, and a little sad.
Guatemala is a new city. Founded in 1776, after the
destruction of the older capital at Antigua, it was distin-
guished for its splendor even among the lordly cities of
colonial Spain. But in 1917 it was practically demolished
by an earthquake that left few buildings standing, and its
aspect now is very modern. Happily, in the rebuilding the
Spanish colonial style was kept. The houses, plastered in
soft and pleasant tints, are mostly of one story, as more
resistant to earthquakes. They stand flush with the streets,
and their heavy doors open into patios full of flowers and
birds. All the main thoroughfares are paved. Some cobbled
side-streets must be very old, for they dip to the center as
the Spaniards made them instead of into gutters. In rainy
weather the police rush out little bridges to take pedestrians
across the rivers that fill the streets.
There are two policemen on every corner: one on a box
under an umbrella, another one at hand. They have uni-
forms for every day, feast days, rainy days. They are
organized as a subsidiary army corps, in case an extra
army is ever needed in a hurry, and they exercise their
authority quite politely. Traffic is practically nil. At the

busiest hours there are no busy hours one can gaze
four ways from a corner on Sixth Avenue without seeing a
car. A boy on a bicycle may pass, or an ox-cart loaded
with charcoal. But traffic rules are numerous and well
observed. The speed limit is twenty kilometers an hour;
kilometers, not miles. At each intersection a driver slows
down, honks ever so gently, and waits until the policeman
signals him on with a whistle as dulcet as the motor's horn.
If he leaves town, an officer takes his number, telephones
it ahead; and if his spin has been a trifle too dizzy, the
speeder finds himself arrested at his destination. It would
be redundant to state that accidents are rare. There are
no street cars, and buses run even more slowly than private
cars. There are no street cries. One forgets what makes
hurly-burly in other metropolises. But it is not the silence
of death; a sense of expectancy, rather, as though the city
were swept and garnished and waiting. It may be obscurely
aware of some sublime destiny; maybe it is only ready for
the horde of tourists sure to arrive soon.
For tourists, Guatemala is the coming paradise. Official
Guatemala is clever enough to refuse larger tours than it
can handle, so it is still the delight of the few. On regular
days the streets come alive with modest motors bearing
travelers in what New York considers suitable costumes
for the tropics. An altitude of five thousand feet in the
torrid zone makes a most accommodating climate; cool
enough for winter suits if you live there, warm enough for
white linen if you are on a southern cruise. All comers
visit the Temple of Minerva and study the country's con-
tours from the relief map, where the volcanoes are peaked

up even beyond their natural exaggeration. At the other
end of the city are the zoo, with a fair assortment of un-
familiar birds and beasts, and the archaeological museum.
The tourists drive through the Paseo de La Reforma, for
Guatemala as well as Mexico had its reform President;
past the Eiffel Tower, for why should not Guatemala be
Latin America's little Paris? And the smartest modern
residences. Widely spaced in lawns and gardens, they sug-
gest a Los Angeles suburb. Architects, unfortunately, ad-
mire that bastard style which came about because Cali-
fornia, to be Spanish, debased Mexican colonial into a
jumble which Latin America is even farther debasing as
Californian. The result is a dismaying hotchpotch of tiles
too red, grilles too ornate, balconies too narrow, and doors
too ponderous; of turrets, cupolas, pillars, and scrolls; of
walls that inclose nothing, and gates that lead nowhere.
Guatemala's few sights would not bore the most sated
tripper, and there is endless informal diversion in listen-
ing to the band in the park, or the marimba at the Palace,
playing tennis or golf at the Country Club, or buying.
Curio-shops are plethoric with textiles, and the market in
the capital is the hub on which the whole Republic turns.
Aside from what the Europeanized minority needs, every-
thing that Guatemala produces or uses comes into the great
market behind the Cathedral. Need I say that it is quiet
and orderly, clean and pleasant?
All the Guatemalan tribes converge there, and its sights
and sounds and smells together reflect a wavering and im-
perfect image; but still an image of the whole country. No
Indian lives on too distant a mountain to make his way

sooner or later to the capital, bringing the woolly blankets
he wears at home; or in too trackless a jungle to turn up
some day in El Mercado Central with an ocelot skin or a
choice bit of alligator meat for sale. Most Indians come to
town in typical dress, for every hamlet has its own: cos-
tumes so striking in color and style that they reduce the
whole correct city and vapid white race to a paltry back-
ground for their display.
Most familiar are the San Juaneras in red and yellow
huipiles, held under wide belts that define their hard-
muscled haunches and flat backs. They tie their hair in
black wool which cascades under wide basketfuls of live
fowls, or flowers in fresh and fragrant sheaves. And they
stride along at a rate which takes them easily twenty miles
into town in the morning, and back again in the afternoon.
The town's serving maids wear native dress, too, but they
are not purists like the village Indians. They like huipiles
of store stuff, full skirts, and sometimes, but not often,
shoes. Upper-class babies have wet-nurses, preferably from
Mixco, because Mixco women have a reputation for cleanli-
ness and good milk.
Even the convicts are picturesque in Guatemala, in their
clean pink and white striped pyjama suits. They grin cheer-
ily as they are marched out to work or back to prison, at-
tended each one by an armed soldier. They say that if a
prisoner escapes, his guard must take his place. Very few
The town is full of soldiers, well drilled, correct at sa-
lute, and smartly officered. The point of ecstasy is reached
in the cadets of the national military academy, who realize

D. H. Lawrence's ideal of virile youths in tight scarlet
trousers. The scarlet is very bright, and many of the cadets
uncommonly fine examples of every type from almost
pure Negro to very pure white.
Hotels are adequate, though quite without character,
and nobody has thought of serving first-rate Guatemalan
food. The best restaurants are Mexican, Italian, United
States; and the usual hotel meal is that well-known in-
ternational hotel meal. There is better living and closer
contact with Guatemalan life in a pension (given the
Spanish and not the French pronunciation).
In the Sefiorita Fernandez's house, day began before
dawn with the maids giggling and splashing at the foun-
tain. All day they ran, on silent bare feet, around the
patio. They swept the rooms with soft grass brooms, hung
towels out to sun, helped the Sefiorita with her birds, wa-
tered the plants. At intervals they went out on errands,
always in pairs, coming back with big baskets on their
heads, piled with groceries and flowers. The last thing at
night I could hear them praying with the Sefiorita before
she locked them in at ten. For a mistress guards her maids'
morals and sees that they go to mass every Sunday.
One day a San Juanera came with turkeys. The front
door was open, so she walked in and sat on her heels until
the Sefiorita noticed her.
"How much? "
"Eighty pesos." About a dollar and thirty cents.
"Each one? Whoo-oo, very dear." The Sefiorita went
about her affairs.
The Indian sat on, her wrinkled old face passive and her

flat-breasted body as straight as a young athlete's. Maids
passed, running to the door, carrying bowls and pitchers.
As each one went by, the San Juanera asked, always more
But what will she give me? What does she offer? "
They are too dear, she says."
Mary, the Most Holy! They are good birds. Only look,
buyer, child! "
Too dear, she says."
At last the Sefiorita relented and the deal was closed.
They pegged out the turkeys in the kitchen patio, where
they could be heard for days gobbling their last hours away.
Guatemala, being a capital, is cosmopolitan. Upper-
class Guatemalans have for centuries been educated
abroad. Lately boys go more to professional and technical
schools in the United States than to European universities,
and girls are sent to convents in New York. Women's col-
leges are quite inconceivable. But all educated people have
lived abroad and speak several languages. Consequently
there is no sharp line between foreign colonies, and the
tone of society is Guatemalan, with an old-fashioned charm
as well as an international complexion. Entertaining is
done at home. There are no night clubs or road-houses.
A paradise for parents! Only the most formal affairs are
held at clubs or hotels.
Early evening is the young men's hour. After work they
appear. On Sixth Avenue no two or three are allowed to
gather together, but they go vacillating along, three or four
abreast, forcing swifter movers into the street. Or they post
themselves in cigar-stores or doorways to watch the girls

and make remarks. Que chula!" which might be inter-
preted as Hey, deary! and equally innocuous remarks,
toned to leerful meaning. This is called throwing flowers.
All over town the undetermined stand on corners in twos
or threes until all hours. Those with definite hormonic
urges add much to the romantic aspect of the place by play-
ing bear. Girls, shiningly coifed, lean in the barred win-
dows and receive their pretendientes, who stay for hours. I
understand that if one of them comes often, the family ex-
pects something explicit.
Aside from these spottings of gallantry, nights in Guate-
mala are devoid of life. At eight, heavy iron shutters hide
the shops' display windows, and the streets are practically
deserted. Though there is a proud new picture theater, the
movies are scatteringly attended. One evening, when I left
before a second show, I asked a policeman if there would
be a bus.
Ah, sefiora," he grieved for me. "It is very unlikely
that buses should pass now that it is late. It must be nine
o'clock. Ah, no, sefiora, at this hour there will be no more
As I walked home through the cool impersonal streets,
I tried to analyze the sense of transitoriness that assailed
me in Guatemala. It was not only that I was transient; the
city itself seemed without footing, as though it had no tap-
root to plumb the country's subsoil. It perches on top; a
flower in the buttonhole, and an imported flower at that. It
is the capital, nothing more. To know Guatemala, one must
leave the capital.

III: Tourist View

has never before produced as timorous, self-coddling, and
jittery a specimen as the modern American tourist. Incred-
ible that the grandchildren, even the children, of the hardy
conquerors of a continent should be so scary. And what will
come next? Of what earthly use will be these children who
prattle of germs in their perambulators, who are trained to
consider comfort above all gods, and who are so sheltered
that they acquire no immunities, either to disease or to the
least discomfort or inconvenience? Even this generation is
afraid of everything: of food and water, of uncertainty, de-
lay, boredom, the strange. Why this pampered soul ever
leaves home is a puzzle to people who like what is unex-
pected, different, even difficult. But he does travel, and
anyone who has ever served him knows that he must be
handled as gingerly as a basket of baby chicks. Kept warm,
but never hot; fed frequently, but nothing he is not used to;
shown things of interest and told facts, but never too much
or too many; and always and forever reassured. Nobody
in any country understands this better than Alfred Clark
of Guatemala, who conducts tours which give one a fine

sense of adventure and a chance to see Indians in curious
costumes; but through plate glass, at a safe distance, and
in a sanitary nursery atmosphere. I decided to take one.
Our guide was Mr. Logan. Well-informed and courteous,
he wore the official white cap and an invisible coat of im-
permeable patience, which I saw threatened only once. We
stood on the hill of Carmen, above Guatemala, viewing the
valley of the Virgin and the volcanoes. Mr. Logan told how
the Volcin de Agua got its name, in 1541, when it erupted
water in terrifying torrents which roared through the old
city Ciudad Vieja and demolished it completely.
"And who," inquired a tourist, "was responsible for
God," said Mr. Logan, for once letting his natural wit
rise above his tolerant understanding of how unaccount-
able a foreign country can seem. Then, abashed, he ex-
plained what geographers say about an inner lake's break-
ing loose.
He did not mention Hunahpd, the legendary King of the
Cakchiqueles, who was buried in the volcano which bore his
name. From his sepulcher he saw the enslavement of his
people, the destruction of the archaic monuments; and one
night he turned in his grave, tore out the side of the vol-
cano, and loosed the catastrophe.
We drove south out of the capital between the hideous
stiff museum on a hill and the animated market at its foot.
Beyond we ran through Avenida Sim6n Bolivar, said to
be the busiest thoroughfare in Central America. From be-
fore dawn until long after dark its four-car roadway and
side paths stream ceaselessly with traffic. There are few

beasts of burden; trucks carry produce and people with
produce from all the provinces, both lowland and highland.
But most of the commerce, even now, is borne by human
carriers. Men and women, even children, expertly packed
with crates, baskets, and bundles, lope along as though no
mechanical conveyer had ever been. It is an ambulatory
bazaar, chameleon-colored, of grotesque people with queer
head-dresses and unfamiliar cut of coat and skirt, less hu-
man than some sur-realist's puppets, designed to express
the oddities of a subconscious world. It is primordial Guate-
mala bringing food and service into the paved modern
When the road for Antigua turned off, we took the other
to skirt Lake Amatitlin, where the President goes to rest
and enjoy his motor-boat. Society has followed him with a
notably ugly assortment of country houses.
In the village of Palin we stopped under its ceiba tree,
generously outspread over the whole plaza. This was where
those long-legged women had run away from the train.
Tourists must have come in by motor. I left the others dick-
ering for kerchiefs and went into the church, redolent of its
carpet of drying pine needles.
At a side altar knelt three little girls, heads bowed under
their Dresden-patterned coifs. Remembering all I had
heard of the deeply devout Guatemalan Indian, I was
careful not to disturb them as I slid into a seat. In a second
they were upon me, worshipers transformed into traffick-
ers for cash.
"Buy, sefiora! Four quetzales, four d6lares! offering
the kerchiefs snatched off their pious heads. Mine, se-

flora, buy mine! Three fifty! Three! The market broke and
crashed. "Two! One! One was a fair price, and by that
time I had shooed them out into the open, where their com-
mercial steam was less apt to result in a dangerous ex-
From Palin we rose, rounding the shoulder of the Volcin
de Agua, through oak forests with hanging moss and lianas
and the air plants which are the orchid's poor relations.
When Mr. Logan mentioned an altitude of sixty-five hun-
dred feet, we ran into a village built of upright bamboo,
roofed with grass, and sitting right in the lap of the vol-
cano. Here intrepid souls take off to scale the peak at night,
to suffer penetrating cold till dawn, and then, by the simple
device of turning the head, to gaze upon two oceans and
intervening views of inexpressible grandeur. Chill winds
sucked through the lanes, even at midday.
Women in bright magenta kerchiefs, fading exquisitely,
came to the fountain. They dipped their jars into the lower
basin and took drinking-water through bamboo reeds from
little jets at the top. We remarked that the government must
be making headway with its health measures. Then a group
of recruits, dismissed from drill, ran up to drink, all im-
bibing through the same sanitary reeds! Children broke
out of school, the little girls in wrapped blue skirts and
magenta kerchiefs like the women. We looked into a house
where a weaver sat on the dirt floor, her loom tautened by
a heavy hip-strap. On the edge of town, women were wash-
ing piles of clothes, with babies jouncing on their backs as
they scrubbed.
As we swung toward the valley of Panchoy we could see

ruined Ciudad Vieja, which rested too trustingly on the
slope of the Volcin de Agua. It was the original Most Loyal
and Noble City of Saint James of the Gentlemen of Guate-
mala. After its destruction they built Antigua, known now
as the ancient capital. Less than a hundred years ago this
valley was a network of the cactus plants which fed the coch-
ineal bug. Now gray-green gravilea trees make shadowy
aisles between sprouting fences and the coffee's bright
leaves. Round the chapel of the Calvario and through the
Via Crucis with its empty stations of the cross, we entered
the abandoned capital, still stately in its ruin. The most im-
portant Spanish city between Mexico and Lima, it endured
two centuries of recurrent earthquakes before it was de-
serted in 1776. Residents of Antigua like to mention that
since then they have had no serious shakes, while Guate-
mala has been wrecked and rebuilt so often that little of it
is old. Almost none of Antigua is new.
The Palace of the Captains General preserves its per-
fect sixteenth-century facade, but inside is only a lit-
tered yard with broken walls around. Churches are topless
cloisters or gaping domes. Of the pale stone Cathedral only
one chapel is intact, and the padre's house, built around a
patio reminiscent of Toledo. Weavers or pottery-makers
have put up lean-to's in stately convents, and swine root
around what is left of fine gardens. But nature has made up
for man's neglect and hidden the worst with masses of
flowers and ferns. Wild roses and anemones cling to fallen
stones, little orange trees try to cover broken tombs, poin-
settias sing a cheery note in gray corners. Many people find
Antigua sad. Only one with great inner resources would

settle there for long. Fortunately one did. Dorothy Pop-
enoe, the English wife of an American botanist, remodeled
a storied old house where she read about Antigua, looked
at it, and wrote its history in a charming little book: Santi-
ago de los Caballeros de Guatemala.
At the Church of San Francisco, Juanito picked us up.
He could say "Chine, ten cents," and he wished to be
taught more English at once. Little boys are a great help.
They never let you miss anything, it is true, and must at
times be reminded that there are moments for eating, dress-
ing, sleeping, or just sitting supinely still. But, that estab-
lished, a retinue of youngsters is invaluable for carrying
things, finding places, running errands, and supplying that
misinformation which is more revealing than facts. Juan-
ito, for instance, took me to see the stone cross in front of
the Church of La Merced, favorite of all Antiguefios for its
confectioner's front of white arabesques on French gray.
See, sefiora! He was hoarse with eagerness, pointing
and fighting off other urchins who offered the bust of Fray
Bartolom6 de las Casas in opposition. "That cross they
took, the padres, to the Volcan de Fuego, but it refused it.
The other volcanoes, look, sefiora, Agua and Acatenango,
they accepted their crosses and they never returned to
erupt, but Fuego refused the cross and threw it out and so
they brought it, the padres and all the people in procession,
sefiora, and they put it here by the Merced where you see
it, sefiora, right now."
Nobody will allow me to have that story, but I like it.
And I see no reason to doubt that priests who habitually
took the saints out in procession to intercede for them might

have tried to appeal to a volcano's better nature by plant-
ing a cross on it. Or why, really, a minor explosion in that
tempestuous land should not have thrown it down.
At the hotel we ate only too well. To please a North
American clientele, the original breakfast of frijoles, eggs,
tamales, sweet breads, and coffee has been enhanced by
orange juice, oatmeal, bacon, and hot cakes. With the addi-
tion of big pink slices of papaya with cut lime, brown
zapotes with mellow insides, anonas like green bombs in-
closing a white pulp delicate as a mousse, or hard-shelled
granadillas full of seeds in slippery fiber; you have quite a
meal. Essence of coffee was served in a flask accompanied
by pitchers of hot water and milk. The other two meals
were as overwhelming. Both include aguacate, for the vale
of Panchoy is the home of that luscious oily fruit. You
may slice it into the soup, the preferred Antigua way, fill
its hollow with all the condiments on the table, and eat it as
a separate course, or add it to your salad.
In the evening, replete, I sat in the patio under the pink
linda vine while Juanito shined my shoes. Other boys came
along. One begged a cigarette and soon all were smoking.
Then the little doctor drifted by, looking for a shine and
company. Slim and not tall, gray and frail, he had more
interests at eighty than the combined youth movement of
the United States. But he was appalled at my smoking
Please tell those youngsters, but seriously, it's not a
joke, that they are injuring their health by smoking when
they are so young. It can really stunt their growth."
I translated, and the boys crushed out their smokes re-

spectfully. When the doctor's shine was done and he ram-
bled away, Juanito, squatting against the pillar, grinned at
me. El Sefior Doctor didn't grow very big, did he? he
Antigua is warmer than the capital. From there on, and
up, we were rising into the temperate zone, with layers of
woollies recommended. At noon, even in Chichicastenango,
one is glad to shed. At night it is cozy to snuggle into them
all again. At Chimaltenango we stopped to admire their
fountain exactly on the continental divide, and to learn that
the name means Place of Shields. Tenango, in Aztec, is
place of. Alvarado's Mexican allies are responsible for all
such names in Guatemala.
The roads are wide enough for two cars and so well
graded that they are passable even in the wettest weather.
As many tourists notice, they do go up and down and round
curves a tendency almost unavoidable in a mountainous
country. Many Spanish bridges are still in use, squat stone
arches, solid as the day they were built. We met people
constantly. Merchants harnessed like beasts with the heavy
head-strap to hold the burden on the back. Family parties
with small children staggering under loads, little hands
on the tumpline to ease the weight, young faces too strained
to respond to a greeting. A woman in a striped red skirt
had laid down her bundle while she knelt in prayer before
a roadside shrine. Then she kissed the cross, resumed her
burden, and ran on.
Costumes changed as we left each village behind. At
Patzfim and Patzicia the women's skirts were blue. Those
huipiles with wide rose tops came from Comalapa. Men in

checked woolen skirts were from Solola, or Nahuali, de-
pending upon how they fastened them behind. It seemed
impossible ever to learn to which village each costume be-
longed, but Mr. Logan could locate every one at a glance.
In Patzim an old spinner sat against a wall twirling her
spindle in a shallow bowl and pulling off a smooth and
even thread. Her face was gentle, amused, and she posed
willingly for a picture, only straightening her white chef's
cap. Sanitary legislation requires caps for all who handle
food, and it has, apparently, become the thing for general
The church in Patzfim, like all old Spanish churches,
has its share of wonders: paintings and statues brought
from Spain and badly rubbed now, silver lamps, and a
silver altar rail. For those Spaniards nothing was too much
trouble, no distance too great. What could be moved was
imported; what could not, was made; by Indians, of course,
but under the direction of the padres. And anyone who has
tried to get anything made a pair of shoes or a piece of
pottery according to his taste, knows that the padres'
job was not inconsiderable. They got hundreds of churches
built, enormous structures embodying the principle of the
arch, formerly unknown to the Indians, finished with
carved hard woods, decorated with sculpture, paintings,
enamels, hand-wrought metals, fabrics everything that
was known in Europe. Salvation lay that way. Every tem-
ple meant so many souls saved from damnation, so much
more glory for God. So sixteenth-century civilization ex-
pressed itself.
Our civilization," I remarked to the old doctor, can

boast of no force comparable to that until we get a hospital
and a social center in as many inaccessible places as they
put churches."
He bristled up at once. We have hospitals," said he.
"In New York State there is not a town of five thousand
without a decent hospital and a man capable of making a
creditable appendectomy." As though a sixteenth-century
Spaniard had boasted that every village within a day's
journey of Madrid had its church. The church at Patzfm
was many months' journey from Madrid.
Going on, we passed many road-workers. Every man in
the Republic owes two quetzales annually for road-work.
Most natives prefer to work it out, and the government pre-
fers that too, as a day's work is valued at eight and a half
cents. We passed a gargantuan machine, labeled: "Chi-
cago, Illinois: made in Green Bay, Wisconsin." The doctor
was too busy getting a picture to make me the deserved
retort; but there was our civilization, digging out a hillside,
connecting all the world with Chicago. Ours is a civilization
of roads, after all, and machines; not of individual health
or well-being.
Lake Atitlin is lapis-lazuli; too deep to sparkle, too deep
even to plumb. Two volcanoes, Peter and Luke, come right
down to it: sheer rock-blue mountain into gem-blue lake.
They hold it really for rock slides have blocked all the
exits and the lake is mountain-bound now. Another vol-
cano, James, stands back a little way. James and Luke have
Indian names as well: San Lucas Tolimin, Santiago Atit-
lin. These are the names of villages too, and all the other
apostles have sponsored pueblos near the lake. Beyond the

look-out where we saw all that, the road kept the lake in
view almost all the way to lunch at Tzanjuyfi: Nose of the
The lake, when you reach it, is friendly, intimate. Water
lilies and water hyacinths bloom where streams fan out to
enter it. In some coves grow the rushes they weave into
mats. Indians in dug-out canoes paddle back and forth to
market. And every village gives that sense of remoteness in
time and space that makes Indian life so soothing. San
Pedro houses are thatched to a peak, and men wear em-
broidered drawers. Santiago Atitlin has ridge-poles, and
the women's hips are slim in tightly drawn red skirts -
the red of roses fading into a purple death. Where they
wash along the shore they look like flowers thrown away.
Even schoolgirls have learned to knot that strip of red skirt
so it never slips.
Beyond Tzanjuyfi we rose steadily into colder country.
Wheat grows there. Corn, the omnipresent, clings to the
most impossible slopes. Sheep appear; so many black ones
that I worried about the state of morals in Guatemala.
Houses, except in the towns, are of wattled poles roofed
with grass; sometimes very shaggy, sometimes nicely bar-
bered. Fences are of corn-stalks bound together, much
stronger than they look. No chimneys. The native has never
thought of making himself comfortable. We had many
glimpses of the lake as we mounted, curving always higher
until we touched an altitude of almost nine thousand feet at
Los Encuentros, where a road veers off for Totonicapin
and Quetzaltenango. We were for Chichicastenango and we

were meeting hundreds of people bound there for the feast
of Santo Tomis.
Many were Maxefios: people of Santo Tomas. Generally
they wear ordinary clothes on the roads, but as this was
fiesta we saw them in their best: men in short black serge
jackets and smallclothes, women in heavily decorated hui-
piles. A big fiesta lasts eight days, and the crowd was going
both ways or resting in dry leaf shelters by the road. A
few mules rustled along under corn-husk fodder, but most
of the loads were carried by men or children. Animals were
going to market or to new owners. Cattle have sense, but
pigs! Any pig is a cantankerous traveler, but getting along
a populous road with a dozen little porkers, each on his
separate line, each shrilling his individual plaint, takes a
lot of doing.
Just at dusk we began bumping over cobblestones-
sure sign of a town. Chichicastenango! A few electric lights
in the streets; many in stores no wider than their doors.
Many people, but little noise. Bare feet go so quietly. We
passed the market: the whole plaza under canvas, with
pitch flares held high on sticks, ruddy faces, black heads,
opera-bouffe costumes. We whirled round a corner and
there were the two churches, paper-white, facing each other
along the side of the plaza. Another corner and the Mayan
Hieroglyphics painted on the walls, boys in the village
costume, pottery from Quetzaltenango, Momostenango
blankets, napkins woven specially for tourists, and many
pieces of furniture from good old houses. But the real

thrills are for wood fires on those chill evenings, for rooms
with baths, and, final luxury, a hot water bottle in every
bed. Menus are such as Mother would plan back home,
with hot cakes for breakfast. Nothing not the shifting
spectacle of native life, not the towering volcanoes, the
emerald green nor azure blue of the lakes, not the breath-
taking amazement of unfolding mountains, ridge after
ridge under a brilliant sky nothing calls forth such en-
thusiasm as hot cakes for breakfast. Yes, Mr. Clark knows
his tourists well.

IV: Fiesta of Santo Tomas

the plaza was abustle with ordered confusion. The store at
the corner was full of drinkers, even so early. Every canvas
shade in the square lured one to see what it hid. But the
way to the church was most enticing. Meat-stalls and eating-
booths outlined the swarming passage to the parish church,
where Saint Thomas would be venerated all day, from the
Chapel of the Calvary, which we were warned no white
person dare enter or even approach. On its steps men
wreathed themselves in copal fumes from clay censers, and
a few devout Indians went in and out. But the circular white
steps of the larger temple teemed with worshipers. Men in
those black suits like court pages lit their incense at big
glowing braziers and swung a blue haze through which can-
dles inside the church punctured little holes of flame. Peo-
ple knelt or mounted step by step on their knees. Often
groups made the hard ascent together, men praying, women
meek and silent, humped with baby on back, their upturned
bare soles pitifully exposed.
These Maxefias are the uncomeliest Indian women I
have seen anywhere. Short, almost dwarfish, their legs and

feet are often mis-shapen and much too prominent under
tight scanty skirts. Their huipiles white or brown, with
wide yoke patterned in red are handsome. Bound under
thick belts, they make the little figures look like clumsy
toppling dolls, precariously balanced on spindly legs. I
remarked that their protruding stomachs looked to me like
a biological miscalculation.
Ah, no," said the sentimental spinster, agasp with the
wonder of everything. I find them beautiful. To me these
women typify the glory of motherhood."
In such case, one spinster's guess is as good as another's,
but I did not think that even the most glorious motherhood
would bulge so high. Later I learned that maternity, even in
Chichicastenango, follows the usual lines and curves. Those
bulges were not motherhood, but hookworm, contracted in
the fincas on the coast.
The rare Maxefia is pretty, with a well-cut nose in a flat
face and a curving mouth. Thick hair, well brushed for
fiesta and braided with black wool, is a real adornment,
and every one wore a mass of shiny silver glass beads at
ten cents a string.
The men are better favored in knee-pants with pocket
flaps like wings and bolero jackets. All is made by the man
himself, who finishes it off with braid and embroidery.
Some were strikingly Oriental in the tasseled sute, the red
or purple turban. A tradition persists that these Indians,
being originally from the Quich6 royal city of Utatlin,
wear Spanish court costume and embroidered symbols of
the sun, as evidence of their nobility. If so, it is an aristoc-
racy that has fallen off a good deal.

Always mindful not to distract the suppliants, we entered
the church through Padre Rossbach's patio. The entrance
was full of parishioners waiting to see the priest, who was
receiving guests at every moment that he was not in the
church. Bustling and friendly in English and German,
Spanish or Quich6, he was discussing archaeology with Mr.
Diesseldorf of Cobin, the fiesta with village headmen,
flowers with his Indian gardener, a baptism with a grand-
mother, the church with ladies from Guatemala, and usher-
ing tourists in to see his jade collection, said to be un-
equaled in the Americas.
As a lad, Ildefonso Rossbach was sent out from Ger-
many to work on a coffee finca. He learned Spanish and an
Indian tongue, and as he became acquainted with Indians,
he knew that his life must be dedicated to helping them. A
Protestant, he thought the way to do that was to become a
Catholic priest. So he went to New York with very little
money and no English, only a great conviction that he must
prepare for his chosen work. His struggles were epic. Un-
prepared, unknown, and poor, he found it hard to get even
a hearing. Finally, of course, he did and returned to
Guatemala as an ordained priest. Traveling about later, I
learned that Padre Rossbach has served in many highland
towns, is known and loved everywhere. His parish now ex-
tends over a wide region and includes many chapels which
are opened only when he rides in on horseback for the
monthly or less frequent mass.
On the padre's hint, I slipped through a side door into
the church, dusky after the daylight. Underfoot were pine
needles. Ocean, aromatic, soft to the tread, and deterrent

to fleas, no better carpet could be imagined. Indians had
set up bunches of flowers on the floor, scattered torn petals,
and stuck candles among them. Guttering and smoking,
they added the smell of burning tallow to the aroma of
pine, copal scent from outside, and the unforgettable efflu-
vium of unwashed Maya. The devout knelt or prostrated
themselves beside their offerings or crawled to where the
padre sat for long hours with holy water and hyssop, pray-
ing and sprinkling benison. A man prayed aloud, seeming
to talk companionably with God as one who had dropped
in for a chat. His woman, kneeling behind him, let her
eyes take in everything, nursed or patted her baby. Another
man made supplication for a whole group. The general
piety seemed to swirl into pockets of prayer quite uncon-
nected with the high altar or the pictures and statues of
saints along the walls. Only when they left, each worshiper
crept from saint to saint, noisily kissing the railing or the
floor or holding children up to smear the glass with kisses.
Outdoors again, I discovered that all the religion was
not Catholic. At the foot of the steps eight men of decorous
mien and advanced age were making ceremony in their
way. The table where they sat was backed by other men
holding silver-topped maces. The business of the meeting
seemed to be risings and sittings, slow speeches in Quich6,
and the measured imbibing of aguardiente; for that potent
liquor, aside from being a comfort to the body, figures in
every religious affair in Guatemala. Younger men were
rigging a rope from the belfry to the ground, and I decided
that life there was too interesting to leave even for the
market. Casting about, I saw my appointed place. In an

ABOVE. The church. BELOW, A street.
OCTAVIO lat right)

ABOVE, The men pray, the women look
around. BELOW. Masked dancers.

LEFT, The Church of Santo Ton.is.

angle of the padre's house, steps led to a platform. On the
lower level a barber was lathering, scraping, clipping, and
brushing hairs into the air. But a masonry bench above in-
vited me, and in a moment I was settled: high enough to
get the whole sweep of the kaleidoscopic plaza and with
the principal acts right at my feet.
At that point Octavio came into my life. Several young-
sters squirmed in beside me, but it was Octavio who pos-
sessed himself of my bag, took definite charge of me and
my affairs. Octavio looks like Tom Sawyer. He is thirteen,
with round serious eyes, crooked teeth in an occasional
smile, and hair that grows a lot of ways. He is always clean.
Fresh collar turned down over his round jacket, white trou-
sers, and scrubbed bare feet. It suggests Simple Simon, but
there is nothing simple about Octavio, unless a desire to
serve and to do everything just right is simple. If every-
body were as straight and honest as that boy, as eager to do
his best and to give full value, all our problems would be
solved. The world can do something terrible to boys like
As we sat in our angle, the boys helped me jot down
descriptions of costumes in my note-book. Wrapped striped
skirts, blue and green, with drooping wraps, Totonicapin.
That particular woman, with four pigs tied together, three
children running free, and one on her back, lives in Chi-
chicastenango, but keeps her native dress. Men in red
frogged jackets, like a band-master, had walked all the
way from San Juan Zacatep6quez. The family camped on
the steps below us was from Santa Maria Chiquimula. The
mother's skirt was long, her huipil heavily flowered

around the top, and her hair braided with colored ribbons.
Her little girl, surely not more than three, was her perfect
replica. She leaned at ease against her mother, who alter-
nately picked at her rumpled hair and watched the show.
When the baby fretted, she pulled it round in front and
poked a hard brown nipple at it, as impersonally as though
it were rubber from the drug-store. When the sucking
stopped, she let her breast hang exposed until the huipil
fell over it again.
Octavio spoke in the tone of one bound to see that a vis-
itor misses nothing. Do you go to the cine tonight, sefio-
rita? You must not fail to see it. It talks, and for the first
time a cine that talks comes to Santo Tomas." His solemn
eyes contemplated me for a moment with no shade or gleam
of self-seeking. But Eduardo was not so subtle.
We've never seen a cine that talked," he submitted, and
then choked on the bitter look Octavio gave him.
Later we strolled around among the booths. Vegetables
and fruits were near the fountain. Raw foodstuffs and woven
stuffs were piled and hung in porches and temporary shel-
ters. Furniture stood exposed and blankets carpeted one
whole side of the square. Food sizzled and steamed. People
haggled, standing or squatting, interminably over their se-
lections. Octavio seemed to have an objective and at last
we brought up at his mother's sweet-drink stand. She greeted
me with the gesture of feeling in the dark, her finger-tips
touching my shoulder. I treated the boys to a saccharine
watery drink, and the Sefiora pressed another on me as a
compliment to her son's patrona. Octavio thought we had
better go on, and manifested it by working one set of toes

over the other. We lost a lot of coppers playing a game with
a bouncing ball. I bought one of the flat white bags the men
carry; and Octavio has never forgiven me for paying too
much. He could have acquired it for much less.
Passing the city hall, where barefooted soldiers in blue
dungarees lounged in a passageway, Octavio stopped,
struck by the movie posters.
If you should care to go to the cine tonight, sefiorita,
I could buy your ticket," he said. But I was mean enough to
let it ride, waiting to see what Tom Sawyer would do with
his Huck Finn.
Huck was weary of delay. It was almost time for the show.
"The cine is only fifteen cents ." but Octavio held him
back, hissing at him. As I dickered for a leather purse, I
heard the words ill-bred, the correct manner. Whatever was
done must be done properly. No crudities would be toler-
It was really time for the movie, so I headed for the
hotel. Octavio, encumbered with my bag and purchases,
asked if he should come in the evening. It might please
you to see the plaza with the lights." The perfect gentleman
could do no more, so I offered to finance the cine party,
which would be so kind as to excuse me, as I wished to visit
the zarabandas. Octavio left me with bows, hat in hand, feet
close together.
Sefiorita, until tomorrow. May you rest well."
A zarabanda is a dance, with liquor. Indeed, the pota-
tions outrank the ball for both buyer and dancer. Every
storekeeper puts in beer, aguardiente, and a marimba, and
clears a room for dancing. It is not an Indian dance, not

even a folk-dance, but a drunken orgy, leading to empty
purses, tortured heads, and jail. All day, every day, for
the week of fiesta, those rooms reverberated to the tinny
thumping of marimbas and were jammed with a swaying
crush of Indians, pressed by spectators into the smallest
possible dancing-space. Aguardiente was the preferred
drink, and treats seemed to be the rule. Women drank as
much as men. Each danced alone, heavily, stupidly, jigging
a sort of one-step, around and around. Intervals with the
bottle, lurching against the bar, and then the dance again.
Very drunk, they danced together, more for mutual sup-
port than from conviviality. It is all so voiceless, so without
joy, such a sullen determination to drink and dance until
one falls wholly obfuscated and is carried out. Women were
especially pathetic in their sodden helpless bobbing, bound
perhaps to forget all life meant for them, to forget even the
baby jolting loosely on the back. It seemed that they must
fall, that tipsy mothers must stumble and crush them. But
I saw no fatalities in several days and nights of intermit-
tent watching. Here, too, the gods guard children and fools.
Too sottish to stand, dancers were rolled by friends into a
corner and left to sleep. Only the hapless ones found drunk
in the streets were marched off to jail.
The fine was one quetzal, and by the end of the fiesta the
town was richer by over eight hundred dollars. Besides that
the Ladino (or white) merchants had a large share of cash
recently paid to the Indians for labor, and numberless liens
on future earnings, which would be faithfully paid. A profit
of from two to five hundred quetzales during fiesta week is
not unusual, I was told. The storekeeper's reply to criticism

is that liquor is a government monopoly and that each town
is required to sell a certain amount yearly.
When I came out from breakfast the next morning, Oc-
tavio was waiting, sitting on his heels by the gate. It was
December 22, the very day of Santo Tomis; the dance of
the Toritos was promised and a procession. We walked
about the village to see the cofradia houses, distinguished
by pine boughs at the door and officious cofrades, brothers,
in ceremonial dress. Octavio even found a wall from which
we could look into a patio where the performers were try-
ing out their steps.
Close views of the streets were dismal. Both men and
women showed black eyes or were still staggering from the
night's debauch. Babies, forlornly dirty, hung whimper-
ing from indifferent maternal backs. Older children were
pinched with weariness. The eating-places were mussy, with
the general aspect of a too long bazaar. But distant views
were to be recommended. The church's white set off per-
fectly the color on the steps, black, red, and purple pre-
dominating; with curling incense smoke, clusters of tall
sky-rockets, and down in front the agitated plumes of the
silly-faced dancers.
In cheap court costumes shorts, long-tailed coats,
cocked hats, velvets and puffed satins they were pranc-
ing to the tune of a violin, a flute, and two drums. All wore
masks: black with gold beards, or red faces with long brown
curls. The bull wore a sort of ecclesiastical cope, and his
horns were tied on by a handkerchief. He made sorties at
small boys, who squealed and ran, only to come back and
dare him again.

A toy horse and horseman were jumping up and down
the rope we had seen strung from the belfry yesterday.
Xocoli, Octavio said, but he did not know what it meant.
I suspected Santiago, Spain's patron saint, who appears in
so many Indian rites. Later Sefior Don Flavio Rodas, who
is a deep student of these things, explained that the Mayas
worshiped a divinity who ran as messenger between man
and the sun. When the Spaniards brought horses, so much
swifter than men, they elevated that animal to the post of
Mass over, the church door framed one saint after an-
other, tilting tipsily as it was borne over the threshold and
down the steps. Women hovered about, white huipiles hang-
ing loose, as is correct for formal occasions. Las capi-
tanas," whispered Octavio. The most esteemed saints rode
in huge cloth frames which exactly fitted the door's arch,
and were decked with mirrors, Kewpie dolls, paper flowers,
and plumes of peacocks, ostriches, even the rare quetzal.
The last image was that of God in person, swathed in yel-
low calico and holding a bleeding little Christ on His knee.
Four marimbas tried to outdo four orchestras of drum and
chirimilla. Fireworks popped and boomed as men ignited
tubes of powder or set the tall reeds soaring into the sky
while people gazed breathily enraptured at smoke smudges
against the blue.
Fireworks are not only noise to the Indian. The slender
reeds, rising skyward, symbolize the soul going up to the
sun. To understand it, according to Don Flavio Rodas
again, one must go back to the grandmother of the Toltecs.
Those valiant youths wished to go to Guatemala to play

basket ball with the Mayas, but the old lady advised against
it. She was afraid they would be defeated and utterly de-
stroyed. The Toltecs, being very brave, insisted, but they
told their grandmother how she might get news of them. She
was to plant a certain reed, which dies down in the dry sea-
son. They assured her that if it grew again, it would be a
sign of their success. So the grandmother waited many anx-
ious months, but was finally comforted to see the reeds
burgeon fresh and green. After that they could be only the
emblem of life eternally renewed and so they stand to this
Late in the afternoon Octavio and I sat in our niche by
the padre's house, watching the day soften into twilight and
be shot full of garish electricity. That chromatic, diversi-
fied plaza held the answers to all the questions that boiled
within me, and I could not read them! What I needed was
a private archeologist, a resident folklorist, a handy his-
torian, an interpreter in constant attendance, a court eth-
nologist, an expert in assorted handicraft, a botanist. I
needed to know. And I wanted to understand. But I never
should. White men do not understand Indians; least of all,
I felt, in Guatemala, where the underlying Indian sea is
still so undisturbed, so silent, and so deep.

V: The Shrine of the Black Christ

little town of Esquipulas, where a black image of Christ
Crucified is reputed to work miracles. Indians walk in-
credible distances on this pilgrimage. Special buses run
out from the capital. The society columns announce that
Sefiora This and That, with her daughters, is making her
annual peregrination to the fabulous shrine.
As Esquipulas is on the way to Copin, one of the most
magnificent Maya ruins, it seemed the time to visit them
both. Such a journey would touch Guatemala's past at two
high points: a regal city of the Old Empire and a medi-
aeval holy place. However overlaid it may be by modern
life and ways of thought, these two still shape the character
of Guatemala. Fully a third of the people speak a dialect of
ancient Maya and practice some form, however distorted,
of Maya religion. An even greater percentage is Catholic.
Mary B. said she would go with me, so my wish to travel
with a private archaeologist was to be fulfilled. An authority
in the field described her as a sound archaeologist." Cer-
tainly she is a charming girl and one of the few satisfactory
traveling companions in the world. So few can run off and

amuse themselves alone! So few can accept a country and
a people as they are without drawing invidious comparisons
with their own flawless homeland and their own superior
compatriots. The third test is to know that the way to see
what Indians do is to sit still and watch. Mary B. was all
of that; and she could, besides, bring a cool fresh humor
to every situation.
We went by train from Guatemala to Chiquimula, over
toward Honduras. Everyone had commiserated with us
over the torrid heat we should encounter; to say nothing of
malaria and assorted venomous insects, including the tick
that bores in and never comes out. Upon advice we took
powders and sprays against the biting bugs; quinine and
whisky for malaria; tea and cheese and raisins, and even
cots and mosquito nets, because imagine us stuck somewhere
with no house to harbor us and nothing to eat. I had little
hope that anything so exciting would happen, but after
those icy days in Los Altos, I was ready to revel in hot
tropics. I took a top coat, having traveled in hot countries
At Chiquimula we waited in a pension for a car going to
Esquipulas. As it was early morning, we were privy to all
the goings-on. Men shaved at the fountain, where maids
were filling water-jars, and a Ladina woman scrubbed her
baby, unmoved by the child's screams as she rubbed soap
into its eyes and poured cold water over its little body. Her
Indian maid took the child into her shawl as soon as she
could, warmed and comforted it in the sun. A group of
men breakfasted together. One, in high buttoned shoes, a
black coat, and tweed trousers, should have been the town

undertaker. They bowed as they passed our table and
courteously paid no more attention until they finished. Then
each one noisily rinsed his mouth, spat into the flower-beds,
said: Buen provecho," politely, and left.
We shared our car with three: a couple and a mother-in-
law. The man was alert and well-informed, mother-in-law
fervently told her beads, and the wife sat helplessly among
the mounds of fat that submerge so many women of her
race after marriage.
We crossed mountains, making long curves and descents
and passing drowsy villages. The people moved more slowly
than those of the Heights. Many women wore dark blue
skirts with white huipiles: that always cool combination.
Almost every man was smoking a cigar, for tobacco grows
there and they all make their own. Every village was dressed
up with arches of cypress and cedar, with flowers and cur-
tains and flags, and the main street and often the road were
strewn with pine needles. For the President was expected
any day now. He would certainly get as far as Chiquimula
and maybe to Esquipulas. The country was green with
both pine and palm. Bare-branched madre de cacao bore
flowers as pink as almond blossoms. Murul was flowering
with yellow. And close to the road was the large purple
shrub which seasons tamales for Sunday breakfast. We
saw birds all the way, but our driver was too interested in
his own ideas to tell us the names of things.
People say the United States is imperialistic, but I say
no! If the United States wanted these countries she could
take them without firing a shot. Just let her send a hundred
thousand men to pay gold for everything they used, and

every country would be hers. That's all, gold. But the
United States doesn't want these countries. All she wants is
a market. She paid a lot of money for the Philippines and
what did she get? Nothing but trouble. No, they don't want
any more uncivilized people."
At a shady place, where a rill cascaded over rocks, we
stopped for water. A group of young men came along. One
after another sank down, resting his load against the bank,
shook his head free of the tumpline, smiled at us, and set-
tled to rest. Pilgrims, certainly. Such peaceful faces, and
their hats were wreathed with the gray moss and yellow
gourds that mean Esquipulas. They were Kekchi from
Cobin, and their cacaxtes held seeds which they had taken
to be blessed. They wore ordinary shirts and blue jeans, but
their tranquil faces were the justification for all pilgrim-
The driver still had a lot to say. I like Norte Ameri-
canos. They say they are all for business, but I say no.
They are more full of sentiment and idealism than we are.
To know that, you have only to listen to the radio and read
their magazines. I don't read English, but I read transla-
tions, and I hear American songs over the radio every day.
That country is for progress and we must have progress.
Abyssinia should be conquered by Italy. Italy means prog-
ress for those people."
But," said the gentleman from the back seat, Italy
might conquer Abyssinia as you say the United States could
overcome us, with gold."
The driver laughed and let it go.
From a hilltop we could look down on Esquipulas: a

chalk and brown village, with square church towers as
white as a paper cut-out. Along here the pilgrims stop to
make their first obeisance and prayers. As he swung his
car along the looping road, the driver told us about the
" Rock of the Compadres." Compadres are the parents and
god-parents of the same child.
It is," he elucidated, a spiritual relationship estab-
lished by our Holy Church, and for them it is a mortal sin
to unite, to procreate." The Spanish language has a pellucid
clarity. Once a man came here with his comadre, and as
they came down this hill, quickly with the descent, they
fell in love with each other. And right there in the road they
made that mortal sin. So our Lord, for punishment, turned
them into two rocks, one on top of the other, as you will
see. And there they stand as a warning."
Sure enough, there they stood, a large rock and a small
one. And where the larger overhung, there were pine
needles, scattered ashes, and withered flowers, suggesting
that other compadres had thought it well to seek protection,
or forgiveness, there. A troop of pilgrims were just leaving
as we arrived.
The Black Christ of Esquipulas was made, in 1595, by
Quirio Catafio, Guatemala's outstanding sculptor then and
one of the most famous in any day. The artist made the
figure black not, according to the Church, as an Indian
Christ, but because a dead body, blood-covered, would look
very dark. Nor does any legend attribute the color to the
accumulated sins of the world, as is the case in other places.
In fact, legend and miracle were lacking until the shrine
was long established. In 1735 the newly elected Bishop of

Guatemala arrived from his home in Lima, Peru, very ill.
Hearing of Esquipulas, he went there, was cured, and or-
dered the construction of the magnificent church that now
houses the sacred statue. Esquipulas became a place of
pilgrimage. After the Bishop's cure innumerable miracles
are cited. The best, as a story, is that of Sefior Don Juan
Palomeque y Vargas, a wealthy shipper of merchandise
between the colony and Spain. His story is dated 1629, and
I paraphrase it from a pamphlet written in 1914.
"Whether as a result of his excesses or because God
wished it, Palomeque had begun to suffer from a sharp dis-
charge of the eyes which went on aggravating itself until it
took on the character of a true ophthalmy. He con-
sulted the most able doctors of the capital, and not find-
ing relief, he finally decided to offer a visit to Our Lord
of Esquipulas, to whom alone he trusted his healing. Such
was, then, the object of that devoted pilgrimage which
Don Juan should have undertaken in a more humble and
Christian spirit. But the case is that Palomeque had added
to the offering of his visit that of a chain of gold, and
thinking of this gift, that puny soul considered the matter
of his recovery a simple business deal between our Lord
of Esquipulas and himself. Consequently he judged that
if he obtained his cure he would be obligated to the Lord
as he would be to a merchant.
He arrived finally on his knees to place himself before
the altar where the sacred image was located. He made a
brief prayer and deposited the chain at the foot of the
crucifix. Instantly the opaque veil which covered his eyes
disappeared and he felt at the same time as if a soft breath

had tempered the burning fire that inflamed his pupils. But
the unfortunate one kept the worst of his blindness, that
of the soul.
Palomeque left the church full of joy and went to the
house which was prepared for him. His journey had no
other object than to fulfill the vow made to our Lord, and
so he disposed himself to rest that morning and to leave
after dinner on his return to Guatemala.
"'What a joke, Gonzalo! said Don Juan, laughing
with good humor. 'What a joke on the doctors to see me
completely cured! '
Sefior,' answered his attendant,' the important thing
is your cure. For the rest, it cannot be denied that human
wisdom cannot understand why it is reserved for the power
of God. So, my master, give infinite thanks to our Lord of
Esquipulas, and be forever his devotee.'
"'Thanks to the Lord of Esquipulas,' replied the
hidalgo with an ironic chuckle; rather you mean to say
to my gold chain.'
The attendant was horrified to hear these expressions
in which ingratitude was aggravated by blasphemy, and he
did not answer a single word. As he pronounced the impious
sentence, Don Juan put his right hand in his pocket and
found there the gold chain which the day before he had left
at the feet of the image of Jesus Christ, and, having recog-
nized it, a dense cloud covered his eyes.
"Palomeque gave a cry of horror and exclaimed:
'Blind! Completely blind! O unfortunate one!' "
Not having a house prepared for us, like Sefior Don Juan
de Palomeque, we sought out Concha, who was gratifying a

lifelong desire to visit Esquipulas. She advised Dofia Car-
mela, Widow of Rodriguez. The widow's house was full,
but when she learned that we had our beds, she offered a
room, a wash-bowl and pitcher, and meals. The widow's
meals were palatable: savory black beans, tortillas, hot and
crisp, well-cooked meat, and coffee. For sanitary arrange-
ments there was a banana grove behind the high adobe wall
with a latch-string which read occupied or not according
as it hung in or out. Flies were kept down by a long-legged,
long-necked species of heron in the patio. His voice was that
of a piece of machinery needing grease badly, and it never
ran down. The widow said that he squawked like that only
when a car passed, jealous of a sound even more exacerbat-
ing than his own. If so, he heard more motors than the hu-
man ear is attuned to. Still we were comfortable at the
High noon was blue and sparkling, and the village
crowded. We pushed through people between booths lining
the narrow street to the temple. It is fair as well as pil-
grimage, and traders had come from all over Guatemala,
bringing hand-woven goods and pottery from the highlands,
manufactured trinkets from the capital, and food in every
stage from cattle on the hoof to cooked meals served on
table-cloths. Baskets had come from Salvador, painted
gourds from Chiapas in Mexico, and hats from Honduras.
Mary wanted a hat, but they were too small. Hat after hat
perched unsteadily and too high. Merchants in other booths
began to offer other things. A shawl. A string of beads. No,
Mary wanted only a hat. Solamente un sombrero.
Only a hot? said a voice from the next booth. My

God! A hot! Somebody from Livingston, where they know
how to deal with tourists.
The atrium was packed so tight with people that we were
plastered up against the railing. A procession was pushing
through from one church door to the other. Over a sea of
jet-black heads floated the silken canopy that shaded the
image and the priests. And above that slowly moving mass
of heads a multitude of candle flames flickered redly in the
sun. The priests were chanting; there was that low murmur
of a crowd at prayer.
In a room young student priests were selling pictures,
frames, rosaries, medals. I bought rosaries for the maids
in my pension. Inside the church these things were blessed.
A young priest with a fair, uplifted face paced between the
people on the floor, each with his little packet of purchases
spread out. The priest murmured benediction and scattered
holy water on the gifts and the people. He must have been
fresh from the seminary: uplifted, consecrated, pitifully
sensitive, doomed to be terribly hurt by life, even a life
inside stone walls.
Afterwards we rested on the stone balustrade around the
atrium. Sitting quiet and motionless among Indians, you
soon merge with the scene, and the people, absorbed in their
own affairs, forget you. So the ideal is achieved of knowing
what would transpire if no stranger were there. An outsider,
especially a white person among brown-skinned folk, cre-
ates a palpable disturbance. He fills the air with bustle and
strange speech; but, even worse, the natives react to him.
The better of them withdraw, postpone whatever is impor-
tant until the annoyance is removed. A few play up cheaply.

On the church steps men were singing religious songs
from books they had to sell, and pilgrims went up and down
on their knees, kissing the stones, throwing kisses as they
backed away. Beggars whined: For the love of God," and
" May God reward you! Men in white with peaked som-
breros looked like Mexicans, and, sure enough, they had
come from Oaxaca.
"What grace will these people win," they wanted to
know scornfully, coming at ease in automobiles? We have
walked twenty-one days to honor our Lord, singing hymns
and making prayers night and morning."
Below us on the slope was an interesting camp. From
their costumes, they were people from Los Altos, a journey
much shorter than the Mexicans had made. Women were
picking nits out of each other's hair, suckling their babies,
brewing coffee, or modestly rewrapping their skirts, with
equal indifference. Men moved about, sat and ate, got up
and went away. It was dirty, but friendly dirty, like a gypsy
camp. One girl, when her hair had been well picked over,
combed, and braided, was very pretty to look at.
Concha found us there. She plainly had us on her mind,
having been told by her mistress in the city to look after the
strangers. She found most of the food pretty questionable,
but she had a friend who was selling coffee. In short, Concha
had come to do her duty by inviting us to take coffee with
her. The friend was equipped with a low charcoal fire, a
couple of chairs, and a few cups on a plank laid across
trestles. She fanned up a glow and set a jar of water in the
coals. When it bubbled well, she dashed a handful of coffee
in, without measuring it, and set it aside. Then she called

her daughter and, with great to-do, they wiped off the table,
poured sugar into the settling coffee, called across to a
neighbor for sweet breads. In no time we were served. We
tried to learn what miracles were reported this time, but
our hostesses agreed that the time of miracles seemed to
have passed. They had heard of none this year.
Concha offered to prepare us each a garland for our hats.
She said that otherwise nobody in the capital would know
we had been to Esquipulas. Mary, who had at last found
a hat to fit, chose the colored paper flowers which are re-
placing the traditional adornment. After I had carried those
heavy yellow gourds around for a few hours, I was ready
to agree that paper flowers mark an advance in comfort, if
not in religious zeal.
Just before dusk, going to sit again in the church, I found
in the nave a huge catafalque under a black velvet pall,
flanked by tall candles in silver candelabra. I asked a
woman near me.
Oh," she said, that is for tomorrow, when there is a
mass for the souls of all the dead who ever came here on
pilgrimage. That's why it is so lovely to visit our Lord of
Esquipulas! "
We missed the mass next morning, but we sat a long time
watching the farewells. Loaded for the trail, people came
to say good-by as to a human host. A woman tacked to the
wall a crude painting illustrating her miraculous escape
from an accident. Resplendent in the upper corner was our
Lord of Esquipulas, black in a burst of yellow paint glory.
The smooth-haired woman from Los Altos came in with

several others. They knelt in a row, each backed by his
crate or bundle. A boy rang a small ordinary bell, unre-
mittingly. When his right hand tired, he transferred it to
the left, but never stopped. A man swung a pottery censer
and the fumes of pagan copal came drifting up against the
Catholic incense. They all watched him and we took him
for the leader, though he drooped against his cacaxte as
though fastened there. His head-kerchief slipped and was
pushed up again and again by a woman next to him. He
chanted steadily. Was he the Indian shaman, we wondered.
Why did that woman bother him so? He swung the censer
more and more slowly, would have let it drop if the woman
had not caught it. Others came in. Women with bundles,
men bent under heavy crates. The little boy kept ringing.
Cleaners were sweeping their way down the tessellated
floor, scraping up spilled wax and pushing the litter before
them with soft brooms. If worshipers did not move at once,
they shoved them roughly. We, too, moved, and that brought
us closer to the Indians kneeling just inside the door. The
copal fumes were stronger. The officious woman had taken
the censer away from the old man. Then, as she pushed up
his kerchief and wiped his face, we saw that he was not an
old man, but very young, and sick; wavering and weak, but
not with age. His chanting choked and ended. A man beside
him took up the prayer. His words were neither Spanish
nor Latin. Were they all, perhaps, invoking a pagan deity,
with the child's bell, the copal smoke, the combined appeal
of now it was eleven people kneeling there, all intent upon
the prayer; except the woman beside the invalid, who was

only concerned to see he did not fall? She arranged a roll
of rags to support his pitiful head, wiped his face again and
again. Tuberculosis might make a man look like that.
The young priest with the consecrated look strolled by.
Off duty now, he walked slowly with hands in pockets
through his cassock, observing. The scent of copal struck
his nostrils. Without altering his steady pace he turned
his head, gazing from the aerie of his seminary training, his
intellectual Catholicism, his youthful intolerance, upon
that outlandish, unchristian, intolerable performance. All
wrong, he knew it to be. But he knew, too, that a Church
much wiser than he would ever be, tolerated just that. If the
Indian must express his faith so, then he may. His youthful
reverence was scandalized, clearly, but he went slowly by,
at even tread, his eyes turning as he passed to assure them-
selves again that such things could be in a Christian temple.
Only his nostrils and his mobile mouth expressed his per-
turbation. It will be many years, I thought, before he will
know the tolerance of such men as Padre Rossbach at Chi-
chicastenango, of the Padres Knittel at Momostenango and
San Francisco El Alto.
The Indians were ready to go. Several were busy with
the patient. A net supported his feet. The woman wrapped
him warmly in torn blankets, and he laid his head wearily
on the bundle of rags she had tied there. When he raised
his hands they were gaunt, shadowy. Every man knelt, har-
nessed himself to his burden, and rose, staggering with the
weight. One knelt behind the sick man. Thin as he was, he
made a heavy load. When the bearer stood, they all rested
a moment, still. Even the little boy had stopped ringing. The

patient moved his hand feebly in the sign of the cross, and
on his face was such a look as only God and the angels
should see. Faith, pitiful, tragic faith. It did not seem that
he could possibly live until night. They carried him out
then, slowly, backing reverently to the door and moving
steadily down the steps. Twelve or fourteen days at least
to their home in the Heights.

VI: The Ruins of Copan

senger touring car. As two people always ride with the
driver, we begged that honor. In the back seat were a man,
two women, and two children, and in the middle two men,
another woman, and a baby. Complete, we thought. But at
the city hall we picked up a soldier and his friend. The
friend's bundle was tied on somewhere; a bath-towel around
his neck was the soldier's only impedimenta. Our protest
that no car should be expected to climb mountains under
such a load pained the driver deeply. It was a good car,
and besides, the last two were a promise, an obligation!
There is no reasoning with a man of such sterling honor,
so we subsided. The supernumeraries stood on the running
board in some danger of being scraped off, but handy when
a push was needed. With their aid the car did make the
grade. All advertisers of motors should observe their per-
formance in Latin America. With parts missing, the engine
exposed to the weather, a starter that does not function,
dangling wires, tires worn to the fabric, and loaded to
double capacity, they thump over the most taxing grades,
steaming and rattling, stopping often for water, for punc-
tures, for minor repairs; but they never fail to arrive. Any

manufacturer would be amazed at how often they arrive;
dismayed at how long they last.
At Chiquimula we had to secure a visa, as Copin is in
Honduras. Hot and dusty, we made no speed about cooling
baths and drinks, and it was half past five when we crossed
the plaza to the government building. Soldiers in well-
washed blue snapped to the salute, and one directed us up
wide stone stairs. The corredor was full of men: peons in
white, sitting with that almost inhuman patience of the
Indian. With the equally inhuman insistence of the Yanqui
we pushed through and were greeted by Colonel Monte-
negro, in crisp white and varnished boots. He must, he said,
wire to the capital, but he anticipated a reply within a
couple of hours. We might get off for Copan in the morn-
ing. Convinced that no Latin American government could
do anything in a couple of hours, we resigned ourselves to
a whole day's delay and tried to match the Colonel's suavity
as he saw us to the stairs. As the officer passed along the
corredor, all those waiting men rose, with the rustle of
sandals on stone, and stood at attention, humbly. He heeded
them no more than as if they had been corn agitated by the
wind. I thought of a mayor at home, greeting his constitu-
Knowing Latin America, we knew not Guatemala. Be-
fore eight that evening our visa had arrived. We might start
as early as we liked.
It was another drive of mountain ridge after ridge, with
the same sinuosities, up and down; all negotiated easily by
a powerful car and a skillful driver. No village was too
small to have a uniformed policeman to stop us and ask all

the questions. Every hamlet was fragrant with lime and
orange blossoms, swept and adorned for the President, ru-
mored to be coming here too. We crossed a divide where
hundreds of men swarmed, widening the road, shoveling,
sweating, heaving, bossed by a flat-nosed Irish boss. More
than fifty years ago Guatemala was invaded by hundreds
of Yankees, mostly Southerners, who built her railroads.
So the strain of the North American adventurer may show
itself anywhere. We rode under magnificent ceiba trees,
interspersed with cedar. Orioles and woodpeckers were
familiar. A curassow, yellow-crested, black and stately,
crossed the path. Blue and gray jays chattered, and hum-
ming-birds whirred in iridescence through the mimosas.
We even saw the yellow-breasted trog6n, a cousin of the
quetzal and probably as close to that mythical bird of free-
dom as I shall ever get. Beyond the road-gang we followed
the old track, narrow and addicted to hanging itself out over
precipices. Every lift opened up vaster extents of valley
and peak. There seems to be no flat or uninteresting inch in
the whole Republic.
From the Vado Leli we had five hours at least on the
mules sent from Copin to meet us. One for each of us and
one for baggage on which Manuel treated himself to an
occasional lift. Afoot he made better time than we did. In
Guatemala, which does not know the Rocky Mountain pony,
the belief prevails that a mule is something to ride on, but
five hours is adequate proof of the error. A mule does dig
his hoofs in so at every step, and with a jerk to jar the very
marrow in the bones!
At the border a dark congeries of huts emitted men. An

old one in spectacles took our papers and burrowed back
into the unlighted house, where he must have performed
magic over them; he certainly could not have read them in
that gloom. There remained with us a malarial individual,
lean, yellow, and sardonic; and two soldiers, one black as
jet, the other leather-colored. They asked the invariable
questions: Where were our men? Had we no men? We
risked a joke. Even the malarial one was betrayed into a
grin. The old man poked out again with our papers and his
ideas all in a muddle. Captivated by the archaeologist's slim
prettiness, her flying fair hair, and her facile Spanish, he
put all his queries to her. And the other woman? What's
her name? How old is she? What does she want to go to
Honduras for? The malarial one finally wearied of the
game and suggested that we probably had no contraband
So we were in Honduras, and hungry. Manuel knew a
family. They apologized because they had only tortillas
and coffee. But with our cheese and chocolate, and the pine-
apple they remembered at last, it made a fine meal. Father
and grandmother smoked while the daughters served us
and a young matron suckled her baby. The children offered
slipping little hands and then sat very still. This family,
like the men at the border, wanted to talk about that most
capable engineer, Don Gustavo, who had just driven a truck
over these trails to Copin the first automobile many peo-
ple had ever seen. The children remembered. They had
seen it; it made much noise. This ride we were making
in five hours had cost the intrepid Don Gustavo eight days,
largely occupied in road-building.

Don Gustavo is Gustav Stromsvik, one of those happy
beings who have found their level and their work by force
of personality and ability. A Norwegian sailor, he appeared
at Chichen-Itza at a moment when a man who could handle
ropes was much needed. In moving tons of irreplaceable
stone, knots must hold. After several years with ropes and
cement in Yucatan, learning constantly, Mr. Stromsvik ad-
vanced to setting the stela at Quirigua in permanent bases.
He planted each one firmly in cement, bored a hole through
its length, inserted a backbone of wire, and protected it
with heavy fencing. Earthquake-proof, even tourist-proof.
Quirigua had suffered from a visitor who whacked off a
nose for a souvenir. Dr. Morley faced that vandal in his
New York home and recovered the nose, which after many
vicissitudes is back where it belongs. Mr. Stromsvik is now
in charge at Copin. Modest about what he knows, aglow
with the joy of what he is doing, his enthusiasm would in-
fect anyone with the urge to dig. It is a human manifestation
that would be well worth the trip even if it offered no won-
ders in stone.
The end of the ride was dragging, long. Any Indian
wishes to be kind; so Manuel assured us, for hours, that
Copin lay just over the next hill. Tras lomita, tras lomita."
But at last we rode into the cobbled village and up to the
long porch of Don Juan Ram6n Cuevas's house. We were
greeted by three young men in white linen. The Carnegie
Institution takes a bit of formality into the jungle, as well
as the odor of sanitation. Years of exploring have taught it
that in the wilds dressing for dinner is quite as important
as iodine in the water or nets over the beds.

In the morning when Don Gustavo took us to the ruins,
we realized that the renowned truck had not lost its novelty.
Dozens of inhabitants rushed out to see the fabled monster
pass; we might have been riding a dinosaur. In a few min-
utes we reached the little museum the Honduran govern-
ment has put up and the heavy wire fence that protects the
ruins. The whole valley, about twenty miles square, was
occupied by the prehistoric Mayas, but this was its heart,
pulsating with government and business and with cere-
monies in the idol houses, as the Spaniards called the tem-
ples. John L. Stephens first mapped it in 1839 when he
bought the site from a finquero for fifty dollars. By what
right the finquero sold it and who owned it afterwards no-
body seems to know, but since the settlement of a border
dispute with Guatemala, Copan belongs to Honduras.
The valley is prolific of a rich and varied living. The
zapote tree gives the ironwood the ancients used for door
lintels and beams; its fruit is edible, its sap is chewing-
gum. Tropical fruits and vegetables: cacao for money and
for drink; palm for food as well as hats, raincoats, and
roofs; gourds, and rubber. The jungle was cut down in
1860 and only a few noble ceiba and cedar trees remain.
But in the time of the ancients deer and peccary abounded,
anteater (which the natives still relish), monkeys, and cer-
tain dogs for food; jaguar and ocelot for furs. The storax
gives copal, the pungent gum whose aroma is as evocative of
Indian rites as Catholic or Chinese incense is of theirs. In
1840 Colonel Galindo discovered the quarries of that vol-
canic tuff which was so readily carved into feathery de-
signs. Mr. Stromsvik showed us how a penknife will cut it

Exposed to air, it hardens into a durability that will last
for centuries.
As we drove through the gate, the Acropolis towered
ahead of us and to the east, forty meters high and veiled
with jungle growth in many tones of green. It was named
fifty years ago when archaeologists thought in terms of
Greece and Egypt. They called all such Maya mounds pyra-
mids, though they are not truly pyramidal, but flat-topped;
and they were not temples, but bases on which the temples
stood. We left the truck beside an incongruous chugging
engine which was boring a hole into the center of the mound,
and went to see the stelae first.
West of the Acropolis lies an extensive quadrangle sur-
rounded by stepped walls like an amphitheater. It has been
planted with Bermuda grass, which forms a mat too thick
for the jungle to push through. At last they have found a
way to avoid the old necessity of chopping down the bush
every year before work could begin. More than twenty
stelae stand there, erect now, colorless in the sun-glare like
ghosts of their own past.
A stela is a monolith, twelve to thirty feet tall, in the
shape of a human figure compressed into a rectangular
form. Standing with heels together and arms flexed, it gen-
erally holds a bar across the breast; and it is topped by a
head-dress of great elaboration. To an eye trained by Euro-
pean art, Maya sculpture seems at first deliriously confused
as a whole and hideous if not gruesome in detail. Dr. Her-
bert J. Spinden, in his Maya Art, published by the Peabody
Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, explains that the
Mayas, unlike the Greeks, did not aim to express an ideal

human form. Their gods were represented by ophidian or
animal forms or by composites. What human features they
used were incidental, though faces are often so individual
as to suggest portraiture. Legs and arms were sculptured
almost in the round and too realistically, and in poses too
difficult for any but a finished artist. Every stela is worth
close study for the delicacy of its carving and for the fine
and balanced dignity of the whole. The color which origi-
nally covered the sculpture must have clarified the design
and lessened the confusion by bringing out certain lines and
subduing others.
Set up at twenty-, ten-, and rarely at five-year intervals,
the stele were time-markers. That they stand erect now is
due to Mr. Stromsvik's work, using the technique he per-
fected at Quirigua. Under many of them, in cruciform
offertories, were discovered pottery vessels, sea-shells, and
coral. Under Stela H, to be technical, they found the oldest
wrought gold known in the Americas. It is impure gold, but
it forms a couple of miniature but unmistakable human legs.
A handful of jadeite beads was with them, all crumbled,
maybe broken with intent. Together with these, but more
shallowly buried, was a crouching figurine with a typical
modern Mexican sombrero perched on an ornate head.
dress. No explanation is vouchsafed of how he got so faj
ahead of the mode.
Walking back toward the Acropolis, we could see that
only part of the stairway has been uncovered. On its slopes
and sides enormous trees have been left, giving more im-
pressively than anything I ever saw a sense of antiquity and
of mystery. For hundreds of years those trees grew, bury-

ing in humus and loam masterly work which is only now
coming to light, cracked by roots and discolored by soil.
Men made those steps, carved the Hieroglyphic Stairway,
placed the stela and carved the symbols so significant then,
so meaningless now. The dates can be read; nobody knows
what events they marked. Of a powerful people and their
history nothing is left but dates, and we don't know what
they mean.
In front of the Hieroglyphic Stairway is a pile of debris,
monument to bad work. Pieces have been snatched out,
pawed over, thrown out of all arrangement, and left with no
record of where they were found. If only," groaned Mr.
Stromsvik, if only they had told us where they found
what they took! For in archaeology, as in society, position
is everything. Finding this under or over that may upset a
whole theory or confirm it. As the work progresses, it is
hoped that some of those fragments may be replaced, but
to the amateur it looks a hopeless task. There are seventy
structures within a radius of a square kilometer. Five years'
work, at least, just to clean it up, show what was there,
repair what may be of the havoc of bungling digging.
On our hands and knees we crept into the tunnel the en-
gine was working at. The motor was for light; the actual
digging was done by Indians. These diggers are an impor-
tant part of any archaeological staff; they handle every bit
of bone or pottery with care, understanding that it is impor-
tant, and they seem to enjoy their kinship with the great
people who made the idols and walls that hold such strange
interest for the foreign gentlemen. A shaft into the center
of a pyramid often serves to establish a sequence. The

Mayas made a practice of building one pyramid over an-
other by erecting a larger shell and filling it in with rubble:
an onion-like construction which leaves no doubt about the
order in which things were done.
On top and stepping up those high and narrow treads
is an athletic feat- we saw work on a temple. Maya tem-
ples were rectangular buildings with very thick walls and,
originally, two parallel rooms. The inner gradually became
the enclosed shrine; the outer was modified into a portico.
On this theme many variations were played. But the Maya
architects were always limited by the fact that they did not
understand the principle of the true arch, and their rooms
could never be more than twelve feet wide, the limit of the
corbeled arch they did understand. Intent and excited, a
young archaeologist was watching Indians scratch the dirt
away from a piece of carving-- his own discovery. It was
in a narrow chamber which might have been of ceremonial
importance, though certain out-jutting stones were unac-
countable. It is always so; nothing definite is ever asserted
in such a case.
Copan is one of the oldest sites so far studied; and its
history covers practically the whole period of the Old Em-
pire. In both architecture and sculpture the whole story can
be read there. Dr. Spinden based much of his study of Maya
art on Copin carvings because they illustrate the develop-
ment from clumsy rumblings of primitives, unsure of their
technique, to the work of the best period, comparable with
the art of any people limited to similar tools, and superior
to that of both Assyrians and Egyptians in knowledge of
foreshortening. Maya decoration, as Dr. Spinden shows,

began with flat figures, realistic but badly done. It devel-
oped through more and more elaborate stylization into what
the layman sees as a nonsensical jumble of tails and skulls,
claws and backbones, human noses and birds' tails. Only a
student can pick out the ear-plug, the quetzal feather, the
course of the spine. Many of the greater figures, like those
of the stelae, represent single beings, gods or priests or
rulers, with an infinity of detail, showing lushness of im-
agination and riotous prolificness in the use of form, but
always disciplined by the requirements of space and of the
highest principles of art. Dr. Spinden remarks, arrestingly,
that if we could once accept the Maya serpent symbolism
as we accept the halo of the Christian saint, we should be
able to appreciate their art.
We crossed the flat top of the pyramid and slid down the
other side into the East Court. Archeologists take this to be
the holiest spot because the most ornate temple stands there.
Its doorway is formed of monstrous figures, rearing from
skulls at the base to join their tails at the top of the arch. A
supreme example of the combination that comes to seem
typically Maya: grisly symbols of death with odious rep-
tilian and grotesque human forms built up into a total effect
of nobility and magnificence. The famous Jaguar Stairway
is in the East Court. A burial chamber has been opened
there and altars repaired. The oldest altars were drum-
shaped, with scant decoration, but altars of a later period
are in the shape of beasts and solidly carved with glyphs.
Two-headed dragons, turtles, and jaguars appear at Copan,
and at Quirigua, colonized from Copin, they become com-
plicated to the point of degeneracy.

These things are indescribable. As my archaeologist truly
said, You can only tell people to go and look. If they can't
see, it's impossible to tell them anyhow."
The main structure, centering in the Acropolis, was a
gradual growth over possibly two centuries. This can be
well understood by a view of the most interesting excavation
at Copin: a piece of nature's handiwork. We rode out to the
Copin River from where we could see how the stream has
made a perfect cross-section of the pyramid. It must have
changed its course, as tropical rivers do, after the Mayas
abandoned the city. Relentlessly it cut through the mound,
leaving exposed a bluff thirty meters high and a hundred
long. It shows how the Mayas built, on a rubble center faced
with cut stone and lime plaster. Various plaza levels are
discernible, with pavements and drains. It is a superb pro-
file, but enough has been done. The problem now is to make
the river let well enough alone. So a crew of modern Mayas
were digging the river a new channel a hundred meters away
from the old. With the first rains, floods would rush through
that man-made ditch, deepen it into a real river, and save
the famous cross-section as it is.
Late that afternoon, while the archeologists talked tech-
nicalities, I sat on a stone bench facing the Hieroglyphic
Stairway and tried to picture what an Old Empire chieftain
might have witnessed from that seat. Today's ghostly gray
stone was blazing with color then. The pyramid, shadowed
now with heavy forest growth, stood clear then in the sun
and aswarm with life. Even on an ordinary day the people
must have been brightly dressed as the modern Mayas, and
imagination hesitates before the gorgeousness of a festal

day. That ruler could have seen a procession zigzagging
down those steep steps, garbed as the figures on the stelae
are with skins and plumes and jeweled ornaments. They
would have shimmered in robes of feathers, prismatic as
tropical birds, set in patterns with mosaic-like precision.
Priests carrying ceremonial bars most finely wrought by
the best artists would have performed ceremonial magic,
uttering oracular prophecies or portents of disaster. And
surely the great court of the stele must have held such
dances as exist no more, with animal, serpent, bird, and
flower forms in bewildering splendor.
My mind went back from that to the cripple at Esqui-
pulas. What a contrast! The faith of the medieval Church,
the glory of Maya art. Both achievements of the human
spirit incomprehensible to the modern mind, but equally
significant, possibly, if we could only understand.

VII: Maya Archaeology in

world: a healthy, outdoor sport, with all the suspense and
challenge of a mystery story. First a crime is discovered.
A splendid culture has been destroyed, apparently at the
acme of its development. The corpus delicti is found in
ruined edifices, and there is a mass of detail potsherds,
carvings, jewels, writings in code, and skeletons that
would baffle the most up-to-date detective. Clues have been
confused, misread, and lost by blundering amateurs muss-
ing around before the scientific sleuths arrived. The recon-
struction of the crime needs the patience of a jigsaw addict
who also likes cross-word puzzles. He should be young
enough to stand wearing trips into insalubrious jungles and
adventurous enough to take chances where game is plentiful
but other food scarce, water lacking, and himself sure to be
rated as a suspicious if not dangerous lunatic. If he is all
that, he will have an exciting time and go home to be hailed
as a scientist of the first rank. Which he undeniably is.
Modern archaeology is a science in that men devote their
lives to the painstaking accumulation of facts and the work-

ing out of conclusions, honestly founded upon facts. It
and its related study, ethnology, are human sciences of the
broadest possible application. When we know, for instance,
where the Mayas came from, whether their development
was autochthonous or depended from some old-world cul-
ture, and why it broke down, we shall know much more
than we do about our own civilization. Dr. Kidder said:
" If the world has produced another culture as high as the
Maya quite independently of ours, we may conclude that
the human animal is bound to produce culture. Ours is not
just chance. And when we know why Maya civilization dis-
integrated, we may get light on what is happening to us, on
whether we are on the way up or down. All quite aside," he
added, from the fun of digging."
Men so inspired will not accept anything as true until it
has been established beyond the peradventure of a doubt.
One who hopes for a few glittering generalities to put into
a book confronts an unbreachable wall of caution. No
archaeologist admits anything without reservations. Very
scientific and commanding much admiration, but it does
hamper the reporter. After toiling to extract information
from my private archaeologist and others, I can explain why
archaeologists so generally marry one another. No girl un-
trained in scientific doubt could possibly realize that the
hesitant young man qualifying every statement, hedging on
every declaration, casting doubt on his own thesis, was
proposing marriage.
Our race first heard of the great Maya temples when
Alvarado, pushing his conquests into Salvador, was told of
a stone city to the east, which must have been Copin. He

did not visit it, but later travelers did and left accounts
much more florid than anything a modern archaeologist can
be betrayed into.
In a letter to King Philip II, Diego Garcia de Palacio
describes Copin's superb edifices." He saw a statue which
"resembles a bishop in his pontifical robes with a well-
wrought miter and rings on his fingers," and a baptismal
font. Fuentes y Guzmin, writing his history in 1700, was
even more romantic. He relates that the circus of Copin
was surrounded by stone monuments about six yards high
representing men and women in garments wholly Spanish
in style." He found this odd, although the Demon could
have shown the Spaniards thus arrayed to the Indians, even
before the coming of the former to these shores." He also
reports a stone couple, in Indian garb, dallying in a stone
hammock, so delicately swung that the lightest touch of
the hand could set it swinging. These astonishing master-
pieces were unhappily never seen again. Colonel Galindo,
in 1836, does not mention them. End of fairy-tales, begin-
ning of science.
Science was picturesque enough in the person of John L.
Stephens, a young American sent by President Van Buren
in search of the government of Guatemala. As the govern-
ment might have been anywhere in 1840, Mr. Stephens was
free to roam as he liked. He liked to visit ruins, climb
volcanoes, and frivol in the capital. Nothing dashed him
except smoking ladies, but he tolerantly admits that they
were good women in spite of it. He was one to listen to
warnings against disease, danger, and difficulty and then to
do what he intended from the start. He was knocked out,

once or twice, by fever; moschitoes bothered him con-
tinually; but he rose from more than one bed of pain for an
arduous trip, and when there were no nets against the mos-
quitoes he suffered through as best he could. Mr. Stephens
was the first to write in English about the Maya ruins, and
he put all later archaeologists in his debt by taking along
Frederick Catherwood to make drawings. They recorded
for study several monuments since destroyed, and Mr.
Catherwood's copies of hieroglyphics he could not decipher
are so accurate that they are easily read by later students
who can. But Mr. Stephens and Mr. Catherwood supposed
all wrong. (One must speak of them with the formality they
used. Two young men off on adventure in a foreign land,
who literally fought, bled, and all but died together seem
to have addressed each other always as Mister.) Having
studied in Egypt, they saw kings in all the statues and took
the carvings for records of regal doings. They did notice
the few signs of war and marveled at a history with nothing
bellicose in it. These two formal rascals covered nearly the
whole of Central America on mules, saw and mapped the
most important ruins, and produced a book, Travels in
Guatemala and Central America, which is the most enjoy-
able of them all.
In the eighties and nineties an Englishman, Alfred
Maudslay, made three visits. His photographs are supple-
mented by the drawings of Miss Annie Hunter. Dr. Morley
considers her work a little too pretty an English gentle-
woman, making drawings in the eighties! but reliable as
to glyphs. Mrs. Maudslay accompanied her husband once,
riding a side-saddle over the most precipitous mountains

with umbrella, note-book, and camera. She wrote A Glimpse
at Guatemala, while the doctor prepared scientific studies.
Mrs. Maudslay set up housekeeping wherever she was,
cooked and cleaned, and directed servants. She never
seemed to feel put upon, but she did remark at Copin that
she saw more of her kitchen than of the obelisks.
All comers assumed that they could best serve science by
removing as much as possible to Europe or the United
States. Thanks to Dr. Maudslay's expert packing, the Ken-
sington Museum has one of the best Maya collections in the
world. In that day it was incredible that Europeans could
ever see Guatemala. The only way to show the world was to
take the stuff out, and they did. That Dr. Maudslay was a
most honorable man is manifested by the tale of his en-
counter with D6sire Charnay, a young Frenchman who
thought the ruin at Menche Yaxchilan was his discovery.
He named it Lorillard City after one of his backers, Pierre
Lorillard, of the tobacco family. When he arrived, all set
to dig, there was Maudslay, hard at it. Overcome with dis-
appointment, Charnay offered to withdraw. But British
courtesy proved quite equal to French. Dr. Maudslay bowed
himself out, and Gallic chivalry evened the score by telling
the story in the book Charnay wrote. It is a gentleman's
sport, archaeology!
Other French notables were M. and Mme Le Plongeon,
who spaded up some invaluable treasures, thanks, they say,
to Madame's gift for dreaming.
All these investigators were puzzled by the stelae. Though
most of them lay prone, they had obviously once stood erect.
They were taken for gods or kings, and the telegraphic

marks for incidental decoration. Only Maudslay had a
glimmer that they might be numbers. They are a code, of
which less than a third has ever been deciphered. Its reading
began with students poking about among musty manuscripts
in European museums.
In 1863 the Abb6 Brasseur de Bourbourg in Madrid
found the Relaci6n de las Cosas de Yucatan (Account of
the Affairs of Yucatan), written in the sixteenth century by
Fray Diego de Landa. It was all the friar could learn about
Maya life and customs from educated Indians who remem-
bered the days before the Conquest. Brother Diego, later
Bishop of Yucatan, owed civilization that account because
his religious fervor had led him to burn all the Maya books
he could find. To a sixteenth-century priest they were the
Devil's own work, but what an irreplaceable record went up
in that holocaust, and how many years have been spent
trying to restore what fanaticism destroyed! Among other
things, the Bishop describes the calendar, giving glyphs for
the twenty days of the Maya month and for eighteen of the
nineteen divisions of their year. He also gives an alphabet,
but that breaks down in the light of later knowledge. What
the Mayas said when they were not lisping in numbers is
still enigma, but the cryptic dots and dashes took on mean-
ing. They recorded not wars but the movements of stars and
planets and the passage of time. Twenty years after the pub-
lication of Landa's Relaci6n, Dr. Firstemann, studying a
Maya manuscript in Dresden, discovered that the Mayas
understood and used the zero centuries before it was known
to our culture. By curious chance, J. T. Goodman of Cali-

fornia, working with Maudslay's records and unaware of
the German's report, made the same discovery.
Until well along in the twentieth century there was little
consistent advance. Each investigator cleared the bush,
gazed enraptured at the marvels revealed, removed what he
could, and sailed home to write a book about it. Then the
jungle stealthily overgrew the ruin, which showed only as
a slight eminence in the verdant sea of the forest.
Beginning with the Peabody Museum of Harvard, vari-
ous North American institutions have worked in the Guate-
mala field, building up, stone by stone, clue by clue, the
case for a Maya civilization worthy to rank with ancient
cultures of Europe and Asia. For the amateur the best book
on that subject is Herbert J. Spinden's Handbook of Central
American Archaeology.
In the first decade of this century Dr. Edgar L. Hewett,
Director of the American School of Archaeology, headed a
couple of expeditions to Quirigua and CopAn. Their greatest
contribution was Sylvanus G. Morley, then on his first trip
to Guatemala. His eagerness, his infectious enthusiasm,
have fired all later students, and his scholarly presentation
of the importance of the field interested the Carnegie Insti-
tution of Washington. In 1915 that organization authorized
Dr. Morley to study the Maya area. Followed ten years of
exploration: a thrilling decade when every turn opened up
something more wonderful than the last. Already it has be-
come a legend. Dr. Morley visited all the known ruins and
discovered many new ones. In the Pet6n they offered twenty-
five dollars a ruin to the chicle-gatherers, those semi-

aquatic creatures of no particular race and of the worst
reputation, who tap zapote trees for the sap which makes
our chewing-gum. They knew, of course, where carved
stones stood. One enterprising one offered to show ruins at
so much per day and expenses, but that method produced
more expenses than worked stones and was abandoned. In
densest jungles the temples and palaces of a very advanced
culture appeared. The density of that population, their pro-
ficiency and fertility exceeded all expectations.
The most extensive and intensive work in the Peten has
been done at Uaxactun, whose history, from A. D. 68 to 638,
covers practically the entire period of the Old Empire. Dr.
Morley named it Eight Stones in Maya, but the natives are
sure he was honoring his national hero, Wash-in-tun. Ua-
xactun is the northernmost Old Empire site in Guatemala,
but Palenque and Piedras Negras in Mexico were impor-
tant centers too. Dr. J. Alden Mason and Mr. L. Satter-
thwaite of the University of Pennsylvania have found there
exquisite figurines and the finest carvings in stone work
so artistic that it bears comparison with that of Egypt and
of Greece.
Not all the known ruins have been worked; certainly
many have not yet been discovered. Almost half the Repub-
lic of Guatemala runs away into the impenetrable jungle of
the Peten, where the unconquered Lacand6n Indians live
out of reach of white men. It is country that white men have
never seen except from the air when a group of archaeolo-
gists flew over it with Colonel Lindbergh. As their eyes be-
came trained to spotting ruins from the air, they could see
evidences of more than one city probably quite as dazzling

in magnificence and in interest as the greatest now known.
That sort of thing they call orchid-hunting. The real job
of piling up fact on fact into certainty is dirt archaeology "
a term rendered with the same intonation as "dirt
farmer meaning, I assume, that all will be learned
eventually by a slow and meticulous sifting of the sand and
of the findings. But it is the carvings and the temples that
attract us mere gazers from afar.
This second period of intensive study has taken Dr. Mor-
ley to Yucatan, and work in Guatemala is directed by Dr.
Oliver G. Ricketson, Jr. And, to complete the picture,
Dr. Alfred V. Kidder heads the Department of Historical
Investigation under which all the Carnegie archaeological
work is done.
In 1936 Dr. Kidder and Dr. Ricketson, as plain and sim-
ple diggers of dirt, opened up a ruin within three miles of
Guatemala. Finds indicate that it was occupied from earli-
est times almost to the Conquest. As it was on the main trade
route, it may at any minute reveal a connection with Aztecs,
Incas, anybody. Archaeologists are forever breathlessly
seeking that missing link! Several years ago Sefior Lic. J.
Antonio Villacorta C., Minister of Education, began exca-
vations there. Reporters jeered that it was just an old brick-
kiln and that nothing good could be found so near home
anyway. Sefior Villacorta showed his mound to Dr. Ricket-
son, who is charmed to have a job that involves no mule-
rides through waterless jungles.
I went out there one day. A round hill had been cut in
half to show a stone stairway mounting a pyramid. An
audience of Ladino neighbors, Indians from the market,

and the latest ship-load of tourists gazed into a hole in the
ground. And at its bottom sat the cream of the archeological
fraternity, rubbing soil in their fingers and poking around
with spatulas to be sure no single precious jade bead was
lost. With soft brushes they were cleaning carved jade orna-
ments and brilliant green ear-plugs. This was the tomb of
a rich man, if not a king, whose fate seems to refute the
theory that jewels are vanity. Of this gentleman only his
jewels endure, and a few belongings buried to help him on
his way. A slave among them. In his honor they have named
the site Kaminaljuyd Hills of the Dead.
They have found many vases of varying fineness, all of
the Old Empire. One is in the form of a man with a wise
old tortured face and the curling feet of a baby. Some are
almost as thin as porcelain, others very crude. They are
painted in fresco in dull green, red, black, turquoise, and
soft blue with the delicate lines, balanced design, and har-
mony of color that only an artist is capable of. Every
pot is pasted together- the jigsaw-puzzle department-
copied by an artist, and maps, charts, drawings, and photo-
graphs made to show where every bit was found.
Modern archaeology not only handles material in a studi-
ous and doubting frame of mind. It involves dealing with
governments. The earlier way of shipping out as much as
possible resulted in stringent prohibitive laws. Each coun-
try naturally wanted its own treasures. The Carnegie Insti-
tution, in full accord with that desire, agrees to turn over
to the government every piece it finds. In consequence the
Middle American countries have profited by North Ameri-
can diggings. It is one answer to the Colossus of the North

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