“It’s easy to get lost in the cane fields and feel like an idiot” (2000 Guatemala Guide,Glassman)and there are newer sources for finding what is known as Monument 21, purportedly a large carved basalt boulder lost in a cane field. What no one mentioned is that the fields are planted on a rotation system, with some of the sugar cane a few feet high, some over six feet and a few fields still black and bare from the seasonal burning.
We’d passed this way four months before, following in the footsteps of some of Guatemala’s more renowned archeologists and hoping to find what hadn’t been seen since 1969, the Mayan carved stone of some 13 by 11 feet, lying on its’ side somewhere amidst the sugar cane.
The field trip then had taken the four us, Hill Billy Tom, Alabama Bob, the ‘Perfesser’ and I over the proverbial short cut to Hell, going up and over the back road from Antigua to the 13000 foot volcano known as Acatenango and then down into the humid and green flatlands of the Pacific coast of Guatemala.
We were lost only twice and we only had to backtrack a short ways to find the museum known as El Baul. But by then the day had grown to be afternoon, the heat and humidity were taking their toll and our evening’s lodging was miles away. It was too late to stop and look for the boulder in the cane fields. We agreed to come back and look again for what Michael Donley, a Ph.D in cartography, had last seen in 1969.
We’re leaving in a few days but this time not taking Hill Billy Tom’s metallic beige ’96 Mercury Cougar, the one that bottomed out and barely made it over the pass last time. We have maps, reservations at a ‘three star hotel’ nearby, and we’ll be close to the ‘sailor’s port’ of Puerto San Jose, noted for it’s tawdry nightlife.
The newer Ford crew cab with the large V8 that got us out of Semuc Champey last month won’t eat as much gas this time and armed with instructions such as “at the northern end of 4th Avenida, is a dirt road...about 300 meters up the dirt road is a narrow path leading west through the sugar cane. If you get lost ask one of the people in the area for the Piedra Espanola.” What could go wrong?