Mayan Stela on the Road to Coba

On the road between Tulum and Merida, in the Yucatan peninsula, are the Mayan ruins of Coba. It’s a long lonely road with miles and miles of dense jungle surrounding your venture. Along the way you will find small local towns where you can stop for a cold drink or a bite to eat, but not much else. On my last trip there, I stopped in the town of Francisco Uh May and visited a local artisan, 81 year old Alfredo Gonzalez. Alfredo spends his days recreating classic Mayan art. He has his workshop by the side of the road where you can visit and appreciate his constant artistic output.

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This Mayan stella was right on the road as I drove through. It’s a reproduction of “Dintel 26 de Yaxchilan” which is in the National Anthropology museum in Mexico City. The original dates from 755 AD and is part of a series of stella usually relating a significant event in the leader’s life. This one shows “Escudo Jaguar” and his wife and relates his ascension to power. The Mayans were great visual storytellers and the detail in their glyphs are amazing.

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Mr. Alfredo creates many beautiful masks and figures within his shop. I really appreciated his attention to fine detail in all his work. People visit him all day long and he even conducts mini-workshops so you too can learn how to create art like this. I passed on his offer. It would probably take me more than one lesson just to learn how to mix the plaster.

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This Mayan warrior is one of Alfredo’s creations. I like how he stands guard on the side of the road contemplating the Yucatan sunset.

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I’m not sure what this poor fellow did to be tied up that way, but I am going to assume it was not a pleasant end. Maybe he was the one who predicted the end of the world in 2012 and his superiors didn’t appreciate his practical joke on future generations.

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When he is not creating masks or figurines, Alfredo likes to enlighten you on his vast knowledge of Mayan culture. He is quite the Mayan historian. His humble shop is littered with obscure books about the great Mayan civilization and their history. The multi-lingual professor knows his stuff. He even worked for the government back in the day as a musuem director in Mexico CIty but now he spends his days creating art and entertaining Mayan history aficionados. And get this…he even speaks Hebrew! I was not expecting that. Till next time, Professor Alfredo. Shalom!

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Marcia KirbyFebruary 14, 2013 - 8:41 am

Fabulous, Rafael! You are so awesome!

Balta Catherwood StephensFebruary 14, 2013 - 9:19 am

Good Job Rafael!

Marcia KirbyFebruary 14, 2013 - 6:02 pm

I will always treasure our time together @[100002764706369:2048:Balta Catherwood Stephens]! We enjoyed a very special day with Maestro Alfredo and Glenn at Arte Maya Tulum. We we blessed to have great company too, @[100000504385379:2048:Robert Crader], @[100001062073786:2048:Nubia Balam] and @[707526591:2048:Rafael Bautista].

Nadya's Side Of The RoadFebruary 26, 2013 - 9:19 pm


Sherri Redline MusserMarch 23, 2014 - 6:33 pm

Miss you! and your amazingness!

Jeanine KitchelMarch 24, 2014 - 11:36 pm

Was his son Glen there, too? Glen used to do most of the work… have several of his art pieces.

Cabañas Tulum & Ziggy BeachSeptember 8, 2014 - 3:09 pm

Thanks for great information

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