I participated with danish artist Per Kirkeby and danish writer Ib Michael in the expedition The Old Maya in 1971. A journey where we explored the ancient Mayan culture in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, at a time when it was time to travel to Afghanistan and Nepal, and which resulted in the book Mayalandet and the children’s book Indian life in the rainforest. Mayalandet or Maya country in english was a mixture of a novel and a travel book with Ib Michaels text, Per Kirkebys drawing and my photographs from the ancient Mays ruins and a few from the lacandon indians, but in B/W even if I shot most of them in color. The children book was only for school purposes and was not sold in book stores. So very few of my images from our visit in the rainforest of Chiapas has been published until now.
Our first stop was Palenque, a mythical Mayacity, much of which is covered by jungle. We lived in the archaeologists’ neighborhood, a house without electricity, only kerosene lamps. At night we sat on the ruins and studied the starry sky. In the jungle we swung in the vines by a small waterfall.
At the same time we had a dream to find some of the few descendants of the Mayans who still lived in the rainforest. In the city of Palenque we found the pilot Moises Morales. It turned out that he had known Frans Blom, the Dane who had dedicated his life to the Mayan culture. Now suddenly there were 3 Danes.
He told us that a few months ago he had flown over a group of Lacandon Indians he had not seen before. He drew a map and explained how we got to the nearest village, Damasco.
When we arrived by a small bus to Damasco, we asked for Metzabok, the lake where Moises Morales have seen the Lacandon Indians. They pointed into the rainforest and we waded in our naivety into the forest… quickly, the sky was gone, the paths disappeared. It is impossible to orient oneself. There was only one way. Back.
Back in Damasco we found a guide and we strolled at full speed through the rainforest. Everything is wet and muddy. The paths are almost non-existent. We were soaked, you grabbed for a tree, when you were about to slip, it was full of spikes. When we passed a fallen tree, our guide first knocked to chase away any snakes. Suddenly we were standing by a clearing, a milpa, a cultivated corn field.
We passed it and now stood face to face with a somewhat surprised Lacandon family at some small huts. Our guide exchanged a few words and disappeared. Now we were left to the uncertainty.
It became a week where time and place disappeared. The Lacandons lived their own lives, did what they always did. The children gathered root vegetables, the mother made cigars, the father chopped down tree trunks, and ground corn. Everyone was preoccupied with something that fell to them naturally, there was no visible organization, they were just doing what needed to be done.
These Lacandons were the last still living as they had done for centuries with only sparse contact to our world. Today they are assimilated with the population in the area, but are still Lacandons.
Below is a small selection of the images. I used 2 Pentax Spotmatic cameras, 1 for B/W with Kodak Plus-X Pan film and 1 for Kodachrome 64 ASA film and sometimes Ectachrome, with 3 lenses, a 35 mm, a 50 mm and a 85 mm, all Takumars.
After publishing my book “A PROPOS THE 60S” I decided making a book solely with my images from the trip into the rainforest of Chiapas. I was supported by 2 private foundations.
You can buy the book here www.edition-blondal.dk
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