Saturday, May 20, 2017


With summary of 1966 Archaeological Expedition & 3rd Exploratory Trip to Coban
Click below for last post:

Link to Newsletter #7 MAY 2017; Project Updating & New Partnership Announcement -- GARBAGE DUMP COMMUNITY PROJECT -- NEED AT VALPARAISO/RIO FRIO SCHOOL -- 1998 Summer & Winter Newsletters

1.  Newsletter Summer 1999 - Project Report & 1998 Financial Report
2.  Newsletter Winter 1999 - Indian Queen, with Foundation scholarship,  now a certified school teacher>Our schools at Chulac blossoming >Field Director 1st non-Indian invited to Mayan ceremonies >Foundation's Future >Funding the Projects
Note:  Previously I have said this would be the 3rd Exploratory Trip, but I'm sure there were 5 making this one the 4th, yet I can't remember one of them,  so we'll call this the 3rd
INTRODUCTION BY CORDELL ANDERSEN, Executive Director of the Guatemalan Foundation: Taken from Newsletter #7 May 2017
In 1963, through an ex-missionary companion, Frank Lawton, I met Garth Norman, on my first return trip to Guatemala, 5 years after my LDS mission.  That chance meeting led to the 1966 expedition to Izapa near Tapachula on the Mexico-Guatemala border  with Garth in my pickup, when I got for him,  on 4"x 5" professional film, the collection of photographs he has since used in becoming the recognized expert in that area of ancient American archaeology.  I believe it's more than coincidence our coming together--time after time-- over the years.  

Following is a brief recounting of that experience using (mostly) recently salvaged 2-1/4" square transparencies that went through 35 years of Guatemala's humidity that had them full of fungus and deterioration.  I was not able to save many of them that had to be discarded, but following are those saved and restored as best I could -- but for historical purposes are of great value.

 Below is a photograph of the basic area of exploration, taken in 1966 at the National Archaeological Museum in Mexico City.

For those not familiar with this history, Garth Norman, seen below in 2017 at the Visitor's Center at Izapa, is the world recognized expert of the archaeological site some call
The Ancient City of Izapa.

Three years after first meeting Garth, as mentioned above, we left together  July 1966 in my Ford pickup, with camper modified to be my photo lab where I would process daily the 4" x 5" photographs taken with a Speed Graphic professional camera.

Above we see on Google Earth the basic route taken from Utah, down Mexico's Pacific Coast, and then inland to Mexico City where we were authorized to take photographs in the National Archaeological Museum.  
While in the Mexico City area we visited the impressive ruins of Teotihuacan  as seen in a few photos below.

Here's the budding archaeologist, Garth Norman.......

......and here is the fellow who, in some of Garth's scientific publications, is described as "a freelance photographer"  who took the photographs used in Garth's first publications in 1973 and 1976  for  BYU's
 New World Archaeological Foundation

From Mexico City we traveled southeast to Veracruz and then to other sites related to Garth's research, and followed tough roads over the mountains to Tuxtla Gutierrez, and from there on to the Tapachula area, and IZAPA near the Guatemalan border. 

In the jungles of Izapa most of the photographs were taken using night photography employing my Honda portable generator seen below--which in this picture I'm seen using to  drill air jets for Andersen Samplers, our family business,   prior to moving to Guatemala in 1967.  

Using photo flood lights coming in from the sides, the engravings on the stone monuments, nearly invisible during the day,  popped into view.  One problem was that the light attracted all the mosquitoes in the area that zeroed in on me!
Two weeks later I was to learn what all that meant.

Garth is seen above in the camper/photo lab examining one of the 4" x 5" negatives, as after a photo shoot I would then process the black & white negatives, and color transparencies, in my camper, to make sure we were getting quality photos.  Below is seen the  most important out of the many monuments photographed, it being what many call:

Once the work was accomplished we drove to the  beach to the west of Tapachula where the unpredictable strong undertows and currents were well known.  There were two sets of waves, the ones furthest out indicating a sandbar, and then a trough and another set of waves reaching the beach.  In the trough there was a strong current that pulled one angling out to sea.  It reportedly had killed many.  With cautious experimentation we found where there was a narrow neutral pathway, with currents to the right and the left.  Following that pathway we made our way to the sandbar waist deep, and had a great time diving into the outer waves.
A larger than normal wave came and we dove into it.  When I came up I couldn't see Garth anywhere!
In my frantic search I finally made it to the beach where I found an exhausted Garth who had been pulled under, carried through the trough and luckily came to the surface near the beach.  We gratefully headed for Guatemala.

Soon we were into Guatemala heading south and looking back at Guatemala's  impressive volcano, Tacana, 13,320 ft. high

For me this trip became my 3rd exploratory trip to prepare the way for us to eventually move to Guatemala.  This would be a giant move and needed careful study and preparation.  My main objective was to spend a couple of weeks in the Coban area where as a missionary in 1958 I had experiences that convinced me that was my main target area--with Mayan Kekchi and Poqomchi Indians..

The above map, minus the green arrows & labels,  was part of a slide program I had put together on the Guatemalan Culture using a sound track of native sounds recorded on previous trips, and  two slide projectors:   A 35mm. and a 2-1/4" x 2-1/2".  I had been showing it all over Utah Valley:  At high school  &  BYU Spanish classes;  At LDS firesides, the Lutheran Church, Rotary, Kiawanis and other clubs, etc. 

This is the Google Earth view of Guatemala, showing  the locations of Izapa, and Coban .  To get from Izapa to Coban, we decided to take the "adventurous route,"  and in the process learn more about rural Guatemala where 80% of the population lived--and which rural people I felt I had to focus on.  We made our way north to Huehuetenango, and on a rough road I had driven on my 2nd exploratory trip with Maria,  headed east towards Coban,  roads like we see below, except that they weren't paved. 

Below is seen  the Google Earth view of this back country road.  As I drove it for the 2nd time, I was more and more impressed that I had to do something in that isolated area--an area with 200,000 inhabitants, but with no medical services, several of the towns without electricity and other services. Little did I know as I was driving it again that it would become the route of my 1st Guatemalan Project--Cine Chapinlandia (the traveling movie)--and it did happen just a year or so later beginning in September 1967.

The circle on the left is Aguacatan, next Sacapulas, then up to a low pass & junction above Cunen from which we go north over a 10,000 ft. pass and down to exotic Nebaj, then back to Cunen  where AYUDA would years later begin their project.  An hour  more to the east we come to San Miguel Uspantan, then a rough hour more we come to Chicaman.  
From there the road drops way down to cross the Chixoy River, then up to San Cristobal and on to Santa Cruz Verapaz, and finally to Coban we see below, picture taken many years ago when it was a sleepy, remote town--except at Fair time, 1st week in August, when I had timed my arrival.

Shortly after arriving in Coban, Garth left to travel home, leaving me alone to do my investigations.

Below we look out of the doors of the Catholic Church towards the park that is full of people as it is FAIR time when hoards of people from all the surrounding rural areas converge on Coban for the parade and all the religious/social/sports activities during the week-long fair.

The Central Park is jammed with those who came to the parade that kicked off the week-long Fair.  The parade always ends in the picturesque soccer stadium, 
This  wellworn soccer field saw soccer games every day  during the fair....... well as basketball games every night.

As you will notice I visited the Churches, especially the Catholic in the area, as when I was a missionary there I had two very impressive dreams that have guided my life--one of them in a very important reference to  the Catholic Cathedral.

By this time Garth  had headed for the U.S.  I continued poking my nose into everything, introducing myself as a writer/photographer, and doing my best to understand the people, the cultures, the agro/business world, etc. to enable me to come up with ideas of how I was to support my family there for a life-long personal, but divinely guided  mission.

This photograph in the Catholic Cathedral, is a very fascinating study in the dual cultures of Guatemala:  The Mayan/Kechi in the majority, but also is seen the Ladino culture, as evidenced by the well dressed woman on the left.  

My main interest in planning to return to Guatemala to live and work was the  Mayan/Indian culture, but I knew I had to also understand and be friends to those in Guatemalan who are called Ladinos--who are Guatemalans of European culture.  So during my two weeks in Coban I made an effort to get to know influential Ladino families--like as seen above, the home of those known then as "The Leon Sisters" or  "Las Hermanas de Leon."     Two of them are seen above in their home --the missing one,  DoñMatilde, in whose private school, a year later, Julie would begin her education in Guatemala.  I was invited many times  by them during my days there, to eat and to talk about agro/business opportunities in the area.


But a lion's share of my time was getting close to the Indians and learning more about their culture, and their problems.

As I had done as a missionary, I made efforts to visit the rural areas surrounding Coban, and even was able to do some medical treatments which activity had won me many friends as a missionary that was the beginning of the Good Life method of helping Indians....and one important person claimed was the beginning of World Wide Humanitarian Services for the LDS Church.

What I saw and experienced strengthened my resolve to get back to rural Guatemala as quickly as possible.

In my investigations I met several teachers in rural government schools and from them learned about what was called:
El Servicio del Fomento de la Economia Indigena -
The Institute for the Development of the Indigenous Economy

As a result I made several visits to their center between Coban and San Juan Chamelco and was very impressed by their system.  It was to seek youth from rural areas who were interested in learning--both the ABC's in the classroom, and also through on-the-job-training  in animal husbandry and in vegetable/fruit production, as we see above.

I learned there that one of the founders of the organization was a Mormon who lived on Guatemala's South Coast--a Brother Rodriquez.

Those of you who have read our Historical Review, will recall that eventually we followed this fine example at Valparaiso with a vocational education program we sometimes called LEARNING WITH A SHOVEL....or a CHAIN SAW.... a TRACTOR...a CHICKEN COOP, etc.  One difference being that rather than being an expensive government controlled and operated bureaucracy, ours would be based on a partnership with an actual profit producing business, thus not only reducing costs, but also making it totally realistic.
Some might also remember we actually brought to Valparaiso "Brother Rodriquez" to be our manager, but due to very literal communist leanings and resultant conflict with me, he and his daughter left saying
"the climate doesn't agree with us!" 

I finally finished my research, investigations and exploration, and decided that I needed a bit of rest and recreation--and use the boat I had on top of my camper.  So, off to the lake at nearby San Cristobal Verapaz for some incredible fishing for large mouth black bass.
As I caught many very nice bass and released them, I noticed that a few guys were fishing with snorkel and spear gun and doing well.  So I followed suit, but after an hour or so I began chilling and feeling as though I was coming down with the flu.  With my last strength I got the boat back up on the camper and headed for Guatemala City--actually passing through Valparaiso for the first time--totally unaware of what the future held for us there.

NOTE:  Years later when living in Guatemala, late one afternoon fishing in the same lake, there was  a huge alligator-like lunge at my floating lure with drops of water landing on me--from at least 20 feet away!  A week later a skin diving fisherman with spear gun got a 27 lb. large mouthed black bass in the same spot--which easily would have become--and still would  be,  the WORLD RECORD on fishing equipment!
The next afternoon in Guatemala City I was  scheduled to have dinner with Berkley Spencer and wife Carolyn.  Berkley had been a missionary in Central America  along with me, and we had continued to be friends.  He was in Guatemala working on his doctoral thesis.
While having dinner with them I began having uncontrollable  chills.  Berkley immediately diagnosed me with  malaria and gave me medicine setting me up in a spare room for the night.  I was finally paying the price for having  been  blessed with getting the night shots at Izapa.
I left the next day--late--for Mexico City where I had to take more photos in the National Archaeological Museum, and then continue to the U.S.  I was taking the medication,   but felt very weak, and couldn't eat.  I didn't get very far, felt very tired and stopped to sleep a few miles short of Esquintla.  One of the 3 active volcanoes was erupting and darkness came very early.

The night seemed suffocating, with a sort of brim-stone, smoky smell in the air.  In the morning I had to do my  best to clean the volcanic ash from the pickup and then head north.
I made it to Mexico City unable to eat, just drinking gallons of soda pop.  I got the photos Garth needed, and continued towards the Pacific Coast.  Once again I felt nauseous and could only drink soda pop.  

I don't recall how many days I traveled,   but finally made it to an isolated  area near Guaymas we had named "Andersen"s Cove," with a giant rock outcropping rising out of the  water you see below in the eye of the half-moon cove on the Gulf of California where we had camped many times.  I had planned on putting my boat in the water to do a little fishing, but didn't have the strength, so just did a little snorkeling to clean my sweaty body and be refreshed and then continued north.  

Thirty miles short of the  border night fell and I continued wanting to get to Nogales, Arizona, but all of a sudden a black cow appeared from nowhere hitting my right front fender, the main damage  smashing the headlight and shorting out the electrical system.  With no lights I pulled off the highway and parked on a sharp angle and went through a difficult night.   
I awoke in the morning hearing angry voices.  Out the back window, 50 yards  behind, I could see the dead cow, and villagers were angrily coming for me!  I slipped through the  boot into the front seat, prayed the motor would start and I floored it just  barely escaping from the villagers!
From there to Provo, Utah I could only drive during daylight hours,  but finally made it not having eaten anything, only drinking soda pop for at least a week.  

That is the trip where I joke about having driven through Mexico spending more on soda pop than on gasoline (back when gasoline in Mexico only cost like .15-.20 cents/gal.)

So, my volunteer photo-graphical work for Garth was costly, but look what it has finally helped produce--51 years later:  A Visitor's Center at the Ancient City of Izapa for Garth and the Ancient America Foundation!

Plus very profound and ever expanding understanding of ancient American history that in the end  can be an awakening blessing for a whole nation of people......and more...SCROLL DOWN for more


October 1966


1 comment:

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