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

John Lloyd Stephens (1805 - 1852)

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. (Summary by Sue Anderson)

Genre(s): Travel & Geography

Language: English

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