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Sacred Monkey River: A Canoe Trip with the Gods
At the border of Mexico and Guetamala lies the Usumacinta river. The river and its tributaries form the region that once supported the achievements of the Maya. Shaw has travelled these rivers by canoe, his story brings together the thrill of adventure travel and the acute eye of the naturalist.
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published November 30th 2000 by W. W. Norton & Company
(first published August 2000)
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Like the current American empire, Mayan civilization was formed around highways. The watershed of the mighty Usumacinta (Sacred Monkey River) was the Route 66 that bound together an interstate network grid, crisscrossing today's Belize, Guatemala and southernmost Mexico. Cities were built next to freeway on-ramps (headwaters). Motels and fast food (canoe beaching sites and stackable corn tortillas) were available at regular intervals. There were even drive-thru churches (travel diety shrines).
The author is some sort of environmentalist from the Adirondack Mountains in New England, and this is about a canoe trip he made on the Jatate and Usumacinta rivers in Meximo and Guatemala in 1996. He has a great sense of all the history attached to the places he goes through, from when they were the preferred route across the Yucatan Peninsula for Classic Maya traders to when they were the home territory for the Zapatista uprising just before his visit, and he avoids oversimplifying either the ...more