Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico
By Ronald Wright
I came across this travel classic after writing an essay published in ELAND Press and as a token of appreciation, the editor offered any three of their books. Naturally, my first choice was the book with the cover of the iconic Santo Tomas church of Chichicastenango which is filled with a mix of Indigenous flowers and women in traditional garb (traje), and the smell of incense emanating from the catholic church which often has chickens being sacrificed on the top. Very appropriate for a book that covers both the lives and culture of today’s Maya culture but also the complicated culture and religious nuances. A travel book that covers both the Old and New World simultaneously.
Although I was managing programs in Sierra Leone, West Africa when the author wrote his book, I’ve traveled to many of the places he describes, including the unforgettable hotel Santa Tomas where the author and team stayed,” …There’s hot water, colonial-style furniture, even a corner fireplace and a stack of logs. The room is arranged around patios full of flowers, stone fountains, and parrots on perches…”
But he adds an important fiat which he also pursues throughout the book, “…I should be a delightful place, but now it feels tainted. According to human rights organizations, there were fifty-four massacres in El Quiche during 1982 alone; more than three thousand civilians were killed.” As is the case throughout the book, he provides the source for this disturbing reality.