Yucatan, Day Three

March 11th, 2008 by ejalbright

I awoke without a sore throat. My illness has now moved into my chest, meaning an occasional painful cough that produces about a gallon of phlegm. I didn’t have a fever until last night, but that broke after only a couple of hours. This bug, whatever it is, is a speedy devil, blowing through my system like a summer squall.

I spent the morning in search of a few more icons of 1910-1923, the period I am currently writing about. This is the era of the Mexican Revolution, and of the launching of the Carnegie Institution restoration of Chichen Itza under the great archaeologist Sylvanus Morley. This is also the era of martyred governor of Yucatan, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, and his American love, Alma Reed.

I began at the Museo de Antropologia on Paseo de Montejo. There were two items in particular I wanted to see. One was a carved disk that Morley found in the spring of 1923 buried in the Caracol, the observatory at Chichén Itzá. The other was a bust of Teobert Maler, the Austrian explorer, who was a lifelong enemy of Edward Thompson’s until his death in Merida in 1917.

I found the disk easily, for it was prominently displayed on the main floor of the museum. The Maler bust, however, which at one time decorated the entrance of an earlier location of the museum, was now in storage and I could not get permission to view it.

After the museum, I drove south to the city cemetery to find the burial places of Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Alma Reed. I wandered around the cemetery like an idiot, and eventually a fellow took pity upon me and led me almost by the hand to the grande mausoleum containing the dead governor’s body. A hundred feet from there is a section of wall where supposedly the governor, several of his brothers and followers, were executed in January 1924. Across the street from Carrillo Puerto’s sarcophagus is the grave of Alma Reed.

After the cemetery, I attended a birthday of a friend’s wife. There I met Rafael Cobos, who works for INAH, and we exchanged information about Chichen Itza. Cobos had done a lot of work on sacbes, the white roads of the Maya. I was seeking in particular information about the Mexican restoration of Chichen Itza, specifically El Castillo and the Ball Court. Cobos directed me to a couple of places to check for information.

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