• In January, 2005, I traveled to my favorite place on Earth – Oaxaca, Mexico. There I acquired a magnificent alebrije (wood carving) of a psychedelic dragon from the artistic genius carver, Francisco Ojeda in San Martin Tilcajete. I stayed for a while with the excellent weaver, Demetrio Baustida, in Teotítlan del Valle where I acquired two of his amazing tapides (tapestries). One wool tapide contains over eighty shades of red obtained by adjusting the acidity of the natural cochineal red dye. I visited again the impressive Zapotec pyramid site of Monte Alban and attended a dance/dinner with a presentation of many of the folk dances of the guelaguetza. I have been going to Oaxaca as often as I can since 1967. Sadly, after the Mexican Army and the local PRI government brought martial law to Oaxaca in May, 2006, the old Oaxaca is gone forever. But, in January, 2006, I traveled for the last time to Oaxaca. This time I visited again the Zapotec ruins at Mitla. I spent a day at Hierve el Agua, a beautiful spring which produces travertine falls, not unlike those at Yellowstone Park. On the last Sunday afternoon in Oaxaca, the Oaxaca Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra set up hundreds of chairs beside the Zocalo and played most of the afternoon, as it does every week. There is truly no better activity in the world than sitting in the Zocalo in Oaxaca and contemplating the world.

 

  • In May, 2006, I visited the Maya sites of Copán, Tikal, Quirigua and Seibal. With only my newfound close friend, Enrico Caputo (of Otupac Tours), I first spent an afternoon at the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Guatemala City, before setting off with him for Copán, just across the border in Honduras. Copán is indescribably beautiful! In particular, the entire Rosalila structure is reconstructed in the wonderful on-site Museum along with many magnificent examples of Maya stelae, vessels, eccentric flints and stucco masks. After two days we set off back to Guatemala for Tikal and visited the site of Quirigua along the route. Some of the stelae at Quirigua are over twenty feet high. At Tikal, the many temples are designed to illustrate power in contrast to the beauty shown at Copán. Temple IV at Tikal, in particular, is over 240 feet high. They tell me that the view of the site from the top of Temple IV is beyond belief. When I am younger, I will check it out. After three days at Tikal, including a trek into the jungle north of the Mundo Perdido (Lost World) complex, we spent a day at Seibal. We were the only people there! Seibal has magnificent structures and very interesting stelae. I flew back to Guatemala City and visited the Popol Vuh Museum the next day. Both museums have beautiful examples of Maya ceramics.

 

  • In May, 2007, I returned to Guatemala and Belize to visit more Maya sites with my good friend, Enrico Caputo (of Otupac Tours). After flying directly to the Flores airport on Lake Peten in northeast Guatemala, I stayed in El Remate at the lovely bungalow complex, La Casa de Don David, belonging to the very interesting ex-pat, David Kuhn. On our first day’s trek, we headed south through Sayaxche to the Maya site at Cancuén. We took a small launch down the Pasion river to the Cancuén site. There are on-going excavations at Cancuén, where the archaeologists have restored two swimming pools, one of which was found containing sacrificed human remains. After an overnight at the surprisingly nice Hotel Cancuén, we drove back to El Remate by way of the Maya site at Dos Pilas. Dos Pilas is interesting for its military interactions with nearby Tikal and Seibal under the influence of Calakmul. The temples at Dos Pilas are beautiful while the remains of two concentric defensive walls built from ransacked temples by later occupants can be clearly seen. Next we went to Uaxactún and Yaxha, both north of Tikal national park. Uaxactún contains many plazas and temples, the most famous of which are the “E” complex which shows alignments with the rising sun at the solstices. Yaxha has a beautiful reconstruction of huge temples connected by very wide roads, undoubtedly used for ceremonial purposes. We climbed Temple 216 at Yaxha for a most beautiful and serene view of the lake and the jungle. Enrico and I spent many afternoons contemplating the questions of the mechanism of the collapse of the Classic Maya period and the diffusion of the reasonably standardized Maya glyph language. The next day, we drove east into Belize. The Belizean border customs officials were a real pain in the ass, asking to examine our suitcases which we had to drag into the customs building, then saying they really didn’t mean it. We drove to the Maya site of Caracol in the south of Belize over what must be the worst road in the world. Fifty kilometers of washboard dirt caused by the continuing use of the road by the British Army tanks (I thought they were gone!) and the absence of any repairs. Because of recent criminal attacks we received an army escort but it did not seem required. The temple called Ca’ana is awe inspiring. It is massively huge and dominates its plaza. After a teeth-rattling drive to San Ignacio we spent the night in the very comfortable cottage complex at the Log Cab-Inn. The next morning it was off to Belize City where we stayed at the Best Western Biltmore motel and visited the smaller Maya site of Altun Ha. We had had too much of the lackadaisical attitudes in Belize and drove directly back to El Remate in Guatemala, which gave me another free day to tour. We used it to revisit Tikal. We went to the P complex in Tikal which I had missed last year. We saw many, many howler monkeys and spider monkeys, as well as crocodiles, herons, coatimundis and iguanas. I flew back the next day, Friday, to Guatemala City where Enrico picked me up in his van at the airport for a drive to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan where I boarded a launch to the Posada Santiago Atitlan. The Posada is a beautiful complex of stone cottages built on the banks of Lake Atitlan, just outside of Santiago. It is perhaps the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed in – lovely gardens and a magnificent view of the volcano, San Pedro, across the Lake. I spent three days at the Posada, just relaxing. On Sunday, I went to the market and bought embroidered Maya textiles. On Monday, the lady who owns the Posada, Suzie, made appointments for me with local Maya weavers. The work of Sra. Dolores Ratzin so impressed me that I bought two textiles from her, which now adorn my walls at home.

 

  • In May, 2005, I traveled to France to explore the Prehistoric Art Caves from 12 to 25 centuries ago. I stayed in a lovely 14th century chateau in the hills around Brive near the Dordogne river. I was amazed at the beauty and sophistication of the wall paintings at Grotte de Lascaux II, Grotte de Font-de-Gaume, and Pech Merle. Even though Lascaux II is a copy of the original cave which is now closed to human visits, it is wonderful! I finished the visit to France with a few nights in Paris.

 

  • I spent 2½ weeks during May, 2001, visiting Ghana and Mali in West Africa. After settling into Accra, Ghana, at the house of my good friend, Baba Mahama, we traveled to the villages of Bonwire (Kente cloth) and Ntonso (Adinkra cloth) and to Cape Coast to see the Posuban shrines. I gave a paper on creating a “University Without Borders” in West Africa, to the Tenth Annual Conference of the Global Awareness Society International held at the Golden Tulip Hotel. Then, we traveled to the Dogon Country at the Bandgiagara Escarpment in eastern Mali. Our guide, Adama Diawara, who turned out to be a good friend, met us in Bamako and took us to in his brother’s 4×4 SUV, along with several interpretors, to the mud Mosque at Djenne and to Sanga. When we tried to climb down the Bandiagara Escarpment to enter the Dogon vollage of Tirrelli, I suffered from heat stroke. The hogon took pity on my suffering and offered me several of the best pieces of Dogon Art in the community. The Satimbe, Dalewa and Domolo which I acquired in that way are prominent pieces in my collection. I don’t recommend this method of collecting, though. I am an ardent collector of African Art, particularly masks, sculptures, vodún art and African textiles. My house is now full.
  • In 1999, I traveled with my ex-wife, Collette, to Nova Scotia for a two week vacation. After visiting the Pre-Columbian Art at the Hudson Art Museum at the Univ. of Maine, in  Orono, we spent a lovely week on Grand Manon Island, next to Campobello Island. We stayed in the Marathon Inn, a Victorian house on a hill, buit about 1840. We spent an entire day on a small private boat, circumnavigating Grand Manon Island during which time we saw scores of grey seals, basking on the rocks. We then drove to Tatamagouche, NS, where we slept in a converted railroad station, in the stationsmaster’s bedroom. This gave us time to see the famous tidal bore of the Bay of Fundy and to tour the nature sights in Northwestern Nova Scotia. Next we drove to Baddeck, NS, and stayed for a week in Alexander Graham Bell’s house, which is now called the Telegraph House Inn. This gave us plenty of time to drive and walk around the justly famous Cape Breton National Park. We some some of the greatest scenery this side of Banff, Alberta. And many animals — moose, bald eagles, foxes, etc. We went on a whale watching voyage during which we saw over forty pilot whales and two sunfish. On the return drive to New York, we stayed for a night in St. Andrews by the Sea, located at the southeasternmost corner of New Brunwick. While living in Oregon and Seattle, I had often visited Banff and most of western Canada. I even climbed Mt. Stephens, near Field, BC to search for trilobite fossils associated to the nearby Burgess Shale.
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