I had just taken what looked on the map to be a short walk in the bush and arrived suitably exhausted in a little town. I bought a cold drink and was slumped on a bench in the shade on the dusty little square facing the massive, featureless side wall of a 18th Century church. Some old Mexican men were sitting around on the other benches, lazing away the late afternoon. The sun was setting behind the church and its shadow was reaching across the street to where we were sitting.
A late model American stationwagon drove up to the square and stopped and an American lady got out, looked around, pointed a small camera at the church, apparently took a picture, then got back into the stationwagon and their party drove off.
I thought it was silly because she was photographing directly into the sun and all she was going to get was the black mass of the church and a blinding glare of sunlight. While I suspect the old Mexican gentlemen around me might not have picked up on these photographic nuances, they still thought it was the funniest thing they had seen all day. I wouldn’t be surprised if the American tourist were a stock character in Mexican humor.
On my walk that day I had noticed carved stones, apparently from some ancient structure, built into an unmortared wall beside a cornfield. I doubt that the stones would have been carried far from where they had been found, and likely had been removed from the field to make room to plant the corn. They had come from something, probably a Mayan structure abandoned long before the Spaniards arrived, but looking around I saw only cornfields and forest. There are still ancient buildings out there, overgrown by jungle or hiding under a cornfield, and no one know they are there.
[The eight posts of this series are collected in a more convenient form as a single document, which can be accessed by clicking on "Incidents of Travel in the Yucatán" in the upper righthand corner of this page.]