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On the Trail of Stephens and Catherwood

By June 12, 2011April 8th, 2018Photography, Travel Journal

“On the trail of Stephens and Catherwood, I’ve chosen to illustrate my findings, not only with ink but with a camera as well. Catherwood was the first to introduce the Maya civilization to the world through two published books of his drawings in 1843. Only twenty years later, in 1862, and armed with world-changing technology, Désiré Charnay confirmed Catherwood’s strikingly accurate claims as he took the first photographs of hidden Maya splendors at Uxmal. I’ve been obsessed with their discoveries since I started planning for the trip. I often wondered how my own images and experiences would compare and contrast to theirs and what dramatic or minimal transformations the peninsula might have undergone in those 160 years.

Channeling the spirit of these pioneering explorers, we dove head-first into the virtually unknown. The past two days had been a long slog through an untamed environment of thick vegetation and stifling heat, sparse accommodations and millennium-old vehicles of nourishment, pleasant locals and bewildering outsiders, tracking and trudging into dark jungles and across a relentless terrain in the footsteps of long lost peoples. I’d say our experiences are quite comparable to those first discoverers and I declare an obligatory reward is long overdue. Luckily for us I had reserved a suite at El Meson Del Marques, yet another 17th century colonial mansion in the Yucatán’s most charming old-world town, Valladolid. Stephens and Catherwood, eat your heart out.”

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