Fly to Merida, Yucatan. Rent a hangar at airport. Nice hotel.
Much smaller city. Even V willing to walk places. Or at least, doesn’t want to rush out and buy another fancy car. She just leases one.
On the edge of town, a ruined Mayan city. Very old. Oldest cathedral in the Americas! Beautiful old buildings.
H & I go walk the streets, to supply shops and bars, asking about people preparing for an expedition about 6 months back. Ask if any guides are available.
• 10 guys from mexico city were planning an expedition, shifty about what they were doing. Looking for ruins.
• Henry learns a locally-renowned guide was hired by Dominguez group, Yansito Exposito. Hasn’t been seen for about a month. Was bragging about getting paid for a 40-mile hike to some jungles, past the de la Vega guy.
• Dominguez gang was here about 5 months before leaving. Doing research?
• This is going to be terrible. 40 miles on foot into a miserable jungle to find crazy cultists
• Bandits and worse in the jungle, Henry hears. City folk have a bad time. Dominguez and his crew didn’t contact local crooks, tomb robbers and shit.
• De la Vega lands are well known. Go there without permission, you’ll get shot.
De la Vega is patriarch, land baron, henequen farmers (some kind of rope plant). Easy to find at a nice restaurant.
I go talk to some local cops. H translates. Anything about Vega? These bandits?
• Vega is wealthy, powerful
• They’re proud of their city. Occasional archaeological visits. Cityfolk is unusual, though.
• Cops didn’t like idea of troublemaking city folks going into the ruins, pilfering
• Legends about it being better to leave the ruins alone
At the City Library, asking about legends, stories about the ruins. Run into a professor at a local college.
• Says Chichen Xoxul, supposedly discovered 1846 right before a caste war broke out, and died without revealing location. 3 local guides know that part of the jungle
o Yansito (went in, hasn’t come back)
• Another guide, “Rick Luke”, shows a lot of enthusiasm but hasn’t made it to that area at all
• Librarian says no information about Chichen Xoxul or books by Arthur cartwright
• I also hear that the people around Xoxul think it’s curse, that it’s the mouth of the well of zozul, place where horrible things pour into the world.
Get to talking with an old man about Xoxul stories, he starts talking about Golxumal, where fishers from outside cast their nets, pulling mortals in through the mouth. People use the story of Golxumal to threaten children, threaten to send them there. Nobody has ever come back from there.
Poking around in city archives: De la Vega has filed many reports about bandits, shootings on his property. Nothing ever comes of it, nobody agrees on jurisdiction. Vega polices his own land, reports that “somebody came on my land and I shot them” and nobody investigates.
[Jan 13, 2016]
We’ll need to hire a guide who knows the jungle. Local shopkeeper helps us set up interviews.
V has booked us rooms in most expensive place in town, of course. But this “casa azul” sure is a nice shade of blue.
Interviewing Guillermo, Pablo, Rick.
Pablo Garza: 30s. No English. Knows where Zozul is, but hasn’t been there. Avoids it. Would not enter ruins himself. Recommended porters who’ll go with him. Claims he can read mayan pictures.
Seems honest. Cheap.
Guillermo Castillo. 40s. Arm scar. Speaks English. Says he’s been to Zozul. Has taken other expeditions there. Crew works with him.
Says: Zozul is: old pyramid, other ruins. Overgrown.
Says he’s fought a jaguar, and so on. Maybe telling some tales, but honestly seems unconcerned by superstitions. Says it’ll be 4 days to get to site. Also wants permission to cross Vega’s land. HaSeems savvy had no problems with Vega.
He has the Cartwright volume here. Says there might be way markers in the jungle. Cartwright describes Zozul as a smaller Chichen Eetza. Picked his copy of Cartwright up in Mexico City.
He’s from Kansas City. Wouldn’t recommend visiting it.
Discussing hiring Castillo, bringing the kid along. Want to access his book, but could get us into trouble. Wonder if Castillo would agree to us bringing the kid as a consultant. Can’t honestly feel his buHsiness would be threatened by the kid. But would the kid be reckless, get us into trouble?
Interrupted by invitation to meet with De La Vega at his town house for dinner.
V spends hours picking out an outfit, of course.
Vega’s townhouse a modest mansion. (to think I’ve learned to tell the two apart! But at least it’s tame compared to V’s sprawl)
Vega is charming. “I don’t really recommend” going into the jungle. Bandits. Asks about our business in jungle. Recommends Castillo as a guide-experienced with area. Tries to discourage us again, but if we insist, he would give us permission to cross.
V inquires if we could help dealing with the bandits. Vega reports pockets of bandits all over the jungle, still around from the revolution.
Have a feeling he’s holding something back. He shows us some of his artifacts. Mayan stone shards from different sites. V and Vega have a chat about archaeology. Has visited a number of sites around; claims Spanish and Mayan ancestors. Shows off some relics from a conquistador who disappeared in the jungle centuries ago. V ogles the 16th-century ceremonial sword. Also has a rusty metal conquistador hat.
Has he gone to Zozul? “Prefers to leave the site intactHas traveled to Zozul; says it is quite ruined; a pyramid and several other structures. But he’s kind of shy about talking about Zozul.
Doesn’t know many legends of Zozul; his understanding is that “they” – the Zozul – stole the Chicen from the Mayans.
V has a bad feeling about Vega. Brooks’ group had a hard time getting permission, but we didn’t. Questions about Castillo—is he working for Vega? Danger of betrayal or misdirection.
Call Castillo back to hotel; arrange to hire him/his porters, and persuade him to accept the kid, too, as a “special academic consultant.” Castillo skeptical but unconcerned. The kid is happy to agree. Not surprisingly, he’s glad to have someone more experienced handling porters, trailblazing. Still insists on a fee.
V calls Janet, updates her on our plans. I fetch Frank to have him stay in our rooms while he’s gone. We leave letters with him; in case we don’t return in 18 days he is to fly back to Arkham.
Next day. Coolin g our heels while we wait and prepare. I find a bar that will give me lots of ice in a glass with a shot of something strong. Spend the day enjoying the last ice I’ll know for a while.
This city has some nice old buildings, but by the look of it the jungle keeps trying to creep in.
V walks the streets, admiring scenery, watching people.
E spends time helping out at local hospital, asks about local botany, first aid.
H helps me convince the barman that I want ice. Lots of ice.