Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, Vol. 1 cover

Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, Vol. 1

John Lloyd Stephens (1805-1852)

1. 01 - Arrival at Balize; A Visit to the Carib Indians
2. 02 - Perils by the Way; A well-spiced Lunch
3. 03 - How to roast a Fowl; How to gain a Husband
4. 04 - Arrest; Imprisonment
5. 05 - The State of Honduras; Village of Copan
6. 06 - First View of the Ruins; Thoughts of Buying Copan
7. 07 - Commencement of Explorations; Buying a City
8. 08 - Tablets of Hieroglyphics; Idols Originally Painted
9. 09 - Antiquity of Copan; Separation
10. 10 - Esquipulas; A Death Scene
11. 11 - Murder of Vice-President Flores; Political State of Guatemala
12. 12 - Lazoing; Taking the Black Veil
13. 13 - Farewell of the Nun; Carrera Heads the Insurgents
14. 14 - Interview with Carrera; His Character
15. 15 - Party to Mixco; A Night Brawl
16. 16 - Volcano de Agua; Cultivation of Cochineal
17. 17 - Arrival at the Pacific; A Roving American
18. 18 - Arrival of Mr. Catherwood; New Year's Day
19. 19 - Hunt for a Government; Attack of Fever and Ague
20. 20 - Visit to the Volcano of Izalco; Sickness and Mutiny
21. 21 - Zillenthal Patent Self-acting Cold Amalgamation Machine; Coffee Plantations of San Jose
22. 22 - View of the Two Seas; Departure for Guatemala
23. 23 - Herds of Deer; An Earthquake
24. 24 - Belle of Guanacaste; Route of the Great Canal
25. 25 - Survey for the Canal; Horrors of Civil War

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The year is 1838. The scene is the dense Honduran forest along the Copán River. Two men, John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, are about to rediscover Mayan civilization. Their guide, slashing through the rampant growth with his machete, leads them to a structure with steps up the side, shaped like a pyramid. Next they see a stone column, fourteen feet high, sculptured on the front with a portrait of a man, “solemn, stern and well fitted to excite terror,” covered on the sides with hieroglyphics, and with workmanship “equal to the finest monuments of the Egyptians.” Stephens records these discoveries and also his travels in Central America, where he had been sent by President Van Buren as special ambassador to the ill-fated Republic of Central America. The republic being engulfed in civil war when Stephens arrives in Guatemala, he finds himself dodging revolutionary armies while he hunts for a “legitimate government” to which to present his credentials. Catherwood, meanwhile, directs his immense artistic talent to illustrating views of Mayan architecture. Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan was a best seller in its day and has been called an “Indiana Jones” saga by modern reviewers.