At two o'clock, under a brilliant moonlight, and with a single guide, we started for the Pacific. The road was level and wooded. We passed a trapiche or sugar-mill, worked by oxen, and before daylight reached the village of Masagua, four leagues distant, built in a clearing cut out of the woods, at the entrance of which we stopped under a grove of orange-trees, and by the light of the moon filled our pockets and alforgas with the shining fruit. Daylight broke upon us in a forest of gigantic trees, from seventy-five to a hundred feet high, and from twenty to twenty-five feet in circumference, with creepers winding around their trunks and hanging from the branches. The road was merely a path through the forest, formed by cutting away shrubs and branches. The freshness of the morning was delightful. -from Chapter XIII As a Special Ambassador to Central America in 1839, American diplomat and writer JOHN LLOYD STEPHENS (1805-1852) witnessed civil war, explored Mayan ruins, and even bought a city for $50. He turned his real-life adventures in the jungles and villages of that fabled land into this classic of travel literature. Originally published in two volumes in 1841-and followed up by 1843's Incidents of Travel in Yucatan (also available from Cosimo)-Stephen's enthralling exploits introduced American and European readers to the mysteries of the Maya sites. Complemented by beautiful illustrations by English artist and architect FREDERICK CATHERWOOD (1799-1854), also included in this new edition, Stephens' evocative prose reads like the best adventure fiction, and continues to delight readers today.
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