Report on my West Coast Tour and Maya Tour 2007, presentations and honors in Central America

John Major Jenkins

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West Coast Tour (April-Maya-June)

I tried to coordinate several conferences this summer as closely as possible so I could do a driving trip on the West Coast. Although a few dates fell through, it was a great opportunity to connect with friends and family, and camp out in the Redwoods. I drove from Denver to San Francisco first, for my presentation and 2012 panel contribution at the New Living Expo in late April. I met with friends Elizabeth Upton, Robert Paul, Oleg and Kathryn while there. Elizabeth, bless your heart, facilitated a luncheon with David Ulansey and friends at Gratitude Café in Berkeley - it was amazing to spend some time with this incredible scholar and teacher. At the Open Secret Bookstore in Santa Rosa, I bumped into my old friend Azul (Robert Simmons) and my friend Jagat appeared at the same moment - quite a synchronistic experience. And then, moments later, Elizabeth and her friend walked in! We had all come to see a presentation on the incredible Damanhur community in Italy. It was a full moon in early May. Then I drove north to visit Barbara Matz, Marty Matz's widow. I stayed two days and we shared stories of Marty, writing, publishing, the Chelsea Hotel and went for a drive to the Pacific Coast. It was good to meet Barbara after so many years of long-distance collaboration bringing out Marty's controversial Pyramid of Fire text. I continue to support and maintain the official Marty Matz website, as Marty requested before he died in 2000. I camped out near Mendocino and next day visited the site where my siblings and I spread my mother's ashes in the ocean, as she requested, in 2005. Then I was off to northern California and camped out for three nights in the Redwoods. I had with me an incredible book that was gifte to me a few days earlier by my friend Robert Paul - a book called The Pleasure Garden of Shadows by Daniel Schulke. There can be no better book to have with you while camping in the Redwoods. While in San Francisco I had met Daniel and his wife through our mutual friend, Robert, and we had dinner together. Kindred spirits and great people.

I arrived near Ashland and camped out in the State Park - a bit noisy by the freeway, but very do-able. I gave a presentation at the University of Oregon campus, hosted by the Native American Student Union. An audio recording was made. Local friends Abby and Bridgit were incredibly helpful in making this happen. An old friend, Aumear, appeared, and he may attend this year's Maya Tour. William Maxson was actually the instigator of my Ashland event - he made the calls and connections to set it up. Bill also organized the biggest event of the summer, at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland, which happened the following weekend. It was a multi-sectioned event, with the Friday night introductory talk, the all-day Saturday workshop, and the presentation of the 2012 Odyssey movie on Saturday night. Paige Richmond from the Willamette Weekly was in attendance, and I interviewed with her for a piece that appeared the following week. That wrapped up the events, except for an impromptu video interview I did with my friend Kiffin Hope in Missoula. I visited Sharron and Jay of Sacred Mysteries near Seattle, friends Nicholas Honshin and Crystal, my brother and family on Whidbey Island, and drove home in late Maya, camping along the way and visiting friends in Missoula. Home only for a few days, I flew to California for the Harmony Festival in early June, where I did a presentation and a 2012 panel with Daniel Pinchbeck and others. That led to me writing an article for his new Reality Sandwich website.

Maya Tour 2007

Maya Tour 2007 (July 28 - August 5) happened in two parts. The first was the official tour, led by Jim Reed and myself. The group of 20+ participants met in Guatemala City on July 28. We had our own 24-person bus, and traveled first to Copan in Hondura, where we stayed at Hotel San Lucas, owned by Flavia Cueva. We were given a special dinner and presentation by Maya archaeologist David Sedat, who lives in the town of Copan Ruinas. Jim and I gave slide show presentations after a dinner hosted by Flavia at her amazing hotel. The Copan valley is an incredible place! We then traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, where Jim and I gave presentations at the Francisco Marroquin Language Institute. At Jades, S.A., Mary Lou Ridinger gave a presentation and tour of their museum. The group then went to the site of Iximche and Chichicastenango for market day, and on to an amazing lakeside posada near Santiago Atitlan. I gave a mini-presentation, fun was had by all, and we were all surprised when anthropologist Vincent Stanzione appeared, who I hadn't seen since 1994! The next day we visited the Maya deity Maximon. We spent that night in a festive hotel in Retalhuleu, dancing to mariachi music, and the next day we explored the interesting pre-Classic site called Takalik Abaj. We were given a special presentation and tour of the museum by site archaeologist Christa Schieber de Lavarreda. In the afternoon, on the way back to Antigua, we stopped and saw the Olmec heads in Monte Alto. A dinner ended the tour and people departed for home. It was a great honor to have met so many wonderful people, and to share ancient sites and the modern life of the Maya. Jim Reed produced a wonderful DVD, based on his presentations on the tour, called Understanding 2012.

Now alone in Antigua, the second part begins. I was not exactly alone, as I was able to stay with Mary Lou and Jay at their finca. I met with Jay one morning and he told me he was going to nominate me for membership in the prestigious Explorer's Club. I submitted my work and research at Izapa and by the end of the year I was in. I gave a private presentation to guests at the La Victoria Finca, and a public presentation at the Jades, S.A. museum - attendees included Mary Lou and Jay Ridinger and the illustrious scholar Marion Popenoe Hatch. On the evening before we left for Izapa, Volcan Fuego erupted south of town - the plumes of fire and smoke were clearly visible from the Central Park. It was an erry moment that echoed a scene in my novel Remembering 2012. Locals said such a dramatic eruption hadn't happened in thirty years. On August 9, Mary Lou, Baldomero, and myself drove to Tapachula and Izapa in Mexico (5 hours away), where Rudolfo Juan and family hosted our visit. We went immediately to the Town Hall in Tuxtla Chico, where we were honored as guests of the the town. We visited the site of Izapa briefly, and I gave a tour of the ballcourt monuments. We then returned to town for a press conference; headlines appeared the next morning. I was overwhelmed by the reception. We had dinner that evening with Rudolfo Juan and family. The next day we visited a fish farm - very interesting - did a radio interview and visited the museum. My presentation at the Universiy of San Carlos took place that evening, and it was well attended. On August 11th we had breakfast near Izapa, and many people approached us, saying they had found carved stones in their fields. We visited the home of a woman and she showed us a stone that had Izapa-style motifs on it. We visited the site once again, including Group B, and we were there at high noon when no shodows were cast over the zenith gnomons. Zenith passage day at Izapa! We ate cacao fruit raw (kind of tastes like mango) and then we crossed the border and returned to Antigua. An amazing trip! An unprecedented opportunity presented itself - to facilitate Maya daykeepers to come into Izapa and do ritual. This would be nothing less than the ceremonial re-opening of the site after being dormant for centuries. I am going to be working with local officals to see if this can be arranged.

Stayed tuned for the launch of Maya Tour 2008!