(2012) #23 review: Maya Roads

Maya Roads:

One Woman’s Journey

Among the People of the Rainforest



251 pages

Published by Chicago Review Press in 2011

Maya Roads counts for the following Challenges:




The 52 countries reading challenge is certainly the best thing that has been happening to my reading life in 2012: so many books or countries I would not have read about. With Maya Roads, I went to Guatemala, or I accompanied the author as she visited and revisited the country in the span of a few decades.

Maya Roads is a very enriching book, full of the passion of the author for the beauty of the landscape and the people, different and hospitable; and for its rich history and archeology. But it is also a very realistic book about what has happened to Guatemala in more recent years through unfortunate and devastating American influence at all kinds of military, political, and economic levels, all basically ending up in ruining a country, destroying its patrimony and the richness of its local cultures.

There were also interesting details about the famous Mayan calendar, so popular these days, as we reach the end of one of its cycle on Dec 21, 2012.


In Maya Roads, McConahay draws upon her three decades of traveling and living in Central America’s remote landscapes to create a fascinating chronicle of the people, politics, archaeology, and species of the Central American rainforest, the cradle of Maya civilization. Captivated by the magnificence and mystery of the jungle, the author brings to life the intense beauty, the fantastic locales, the ancient ruins, and the horrific violence. She witnesses archaeological discoveries, the transformation of the Lacandon people, the Zapatista indigenous uprising in Mexico, increased drug trafficking, and assists in the uncovering of a war crime. Over the decades, McConahay has witnessed great changes in the region, and this is a unique tale of a woman’s adventure and the adaptation and resolve of a people.  [Chicago Review Press ]


 Writer and journalist Mary Jo McConahay watches the globe, near and far. She co-produced and co-directed the documentary, Crimebuster, A Son’s Search for His Father, and co-produced the award-winning PBS documentary, Discovering Dominga, writing its original story. Her reporting has appeared in Time, Newsweek, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Ms., Salon, Sierra, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Parenting, The Progressive, National Catholic Reporter, and more than two dozen other magazines and periodicals. GlobeWatch continues McConahay’s column by the same name, formerly published by Pacific News Service and New America Media. Follow me on FaceBook [from her website]


“Every once in a while I stumble upon a book that is so beautifully written and infused with so much intelligence and heart that it leaves an indelible mark on me. Mary Jo McConahay’s Maya Roads is such a book. In its hungry passion and wide-eyed wonder, it’s an extraordinary literary journey and a moving testament to a region and a life.” —Don George, National Geographic Traveler, August 2011 Book of the Month

“A layered examination of a place and a people whose ancient culture is rapidly disappearing.” —Kirkus

“From the moment Mary Jo McConahay steps into the deep Mexican jungle, you will follow her anywhere. In this extraordinary travel memoir, McConahay journeys through beauty, history, disappearing cultures, and revolution. . . . Her courage, keen observation, and open heart make her an unparalleled guide to this gorgeous, mysterious, sacred, and sometimes terrifying corner of the planet.”
—Laura Fraser, author, An Italian Affair and All Over the Map
“What you hold in your hands is a gift of rare courage and insight. McConahay rips off the layers of a little-known world, exposing to us its hypnotic beauty–and violence–through her own experience. The author’s familiarity with the region and its people enables her to do what no one else before has done, setting incidents of the current crisis against centuries-old wisdom.” —Jean Molesky-Poz, author of Contemporary Maya Spirituality


5 thoughts on “(2012) #23 review: Maya Roads

  1. Autant j’ai lu beaucoup de choses sur les Amérindiens du continent nord, et extrème-nord américains, autant je ne connais presque rien sur les peuples d’Amérique centrale et sud. Je ne sais pas si le livre dont tu parles est traduit en français; en tout cas il a l’air intéressant.


  2. This sounds so good! The author lives such an interesting life! I will definitely look for this book! Thanks.

    Found you via the Candace Book Blog linky 🙂


  3. Pingback: March April May wrap-up « Words And Peace

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