Rick Frehsee is a Florida-based photojournalist and self-taught
Maya specialist who has visited more than 100 Maya sites. He also
conducts travel agent seminars for Grupo Taca, the Latin American
airline comprising five Central American carriers. In an interview,
Frehsee explains why this is an especially good time to urge
clients to visit Mundo Maya.
"We can now interpret 80% or more of the hieroglyphs [found on
Maya ruins] and in the last 10 to 15 years have retrieved an entire
history of the Maya civilization," Frehsee says.
"Every digging season at the major Maya sites, there are a great
many new discoveries. It makes it so much more exciting. You're not
just looking at a dead empire. You're looking at a civilization
that truly had a fascinating history. The key to Mundo Maya today
is not just the majesty of the Maya sites, but rather the real
American history that has so recently come to light."
In his presentations to agents, Frehsee emphasizes that the
ongoing discoveries at Maya archaeological sites and growing
understanding of the Maya civilization, which flourished between
A.D. 250 and 900, allow visitors to do more than simply appreciate
the grandeur of the sites.
Today's visitor to sites such as Tikal and Copan can expect to
learn a great deal about the historical context of the temples and
ceremonial sites they're seeing, including who built them and the
events of the time, such as marriages, warfare, etc., as well as
current theories about the downfall of the Maya civilization. These
days the guides at the Maya sites are well-equipped to interpret
the Maya history and the hieroglyphs, Frehsee says.
Similarly, he notes, the ongoing discoveries at the Maya sites
are made accessible to visitors relatively quickly. "If you've been
to any of these Maya sites, if you go back within a year or two
there'll be new discoveries. The archaeologists have done a pretty
good job with getting that information on-site or at a site
Travelers who are drawn to Mundo Maya's rich history and
archaeological sites need not confine themselves to major
destinations such as Tikal and Chichen Itza, Frehsee says. "Even in
little El Salvador, which is the smallest nation in Central
America, there are 750 known sites. In Belize, [recently] three
completely new sites were discovered."
Maya enthusiasts aren't the only clients for whom Mundo Maya
promises tremendous rewards, says Frehsee, who first began visiting
the region to write about its underwater attractions for scuba
"The archaeology, rain forests, scuba diving and other outdoor
activities that you can do in Central America on a short-term
vacation exceed what you can do anywhere else in the world.