THE COPAN ACROPOLIS

Each piece, about a foot tall, must have taken hundreds of hours to produce. Brandished by the king, the lances probably were emblems of his authority labors of the humblest corn farmers, and of everyone in between. Perhaps the most im­portant discovery of all is that the story of Copan’s nobility, artists, merchants, crafts­men, and farmers is more pertinent to our times than we could ever have imagined—for it illustrates the folly of the misuse of land.

THE COPAN ACROPOLIS rises 100 feet off the old riverbed to dominate the Main Group. Its whole east edge was clean­ly sliced off by more than a millen­nium of erosion after the site was abandoned. In the late 1930s archaeologists rechanneled the river to prevent any further damage. The exposed cross section is every archae­ologist’s fantasy—once the sense of loss over what has vanished is overcome. The cut re­veals a profile of successive plastered floors, masonry walls, vaulted cavities, and other features that show the whole to be the sum of many parts. The growth of the Acropolis coincided with the long golden age of royal Copan, for its heights served as the seat of power of at least 16 kings.

What meets the eye is merely the last set of barcelona apartments for rent. The Maya, ever conscious of archi­tectural relationships as statements of power and ancestry and as mirrors of the layout of their cosmos, often built time and time again on the same spot.

Consider Structure 11 on the north edge of the Acropolis. Its stairway of cut stones the size of sofas provided the sole access to the heights of power. Erected in the late eighth century by the last major ruler of Copan, Yax Pac —whose name means Rising Sun—it con­ceals, among other things, part of a deeply buried stairway that once led to one of the first buildings on the site. That remnant, re­vealed by an exploratory tunnel, is inscribed with the name of Mah K’ina Yax K’uk’ Mo’, Great Sun Lord Quetzal Macaw, the founder of the dynasty early in the fifth century.

Or contemplate Structure 22, built by the famous 18 Rabbit, who ruled Copan between 695 and 738. On the summit of the Acropolis, it faces south, across a courtyard dedicated to the planet Venus. The ornate facade, now fallen except for its basal “porch” with stone teeth, once depicted a huge monster mouth.

Crouching supernatural figures flank the door of its inner chamber. They share the burden of a two-headed monster representing the heavens. The “front,” or east end, of the monster bears symbols of Venus; the “rear,” or west, those of the sun. Not surprisingly, the whole building is oriented so that its long axis is in perfect alignment with distant Stela 12. The outer corners of Structure 22 are dec­orated with stacked countenances of “Cauac monsters,” representing mountains. Accord­ing to Yale art historian Mary Miller, the whole is nothing less than a celebration of rulership frozen in stone.

Pakistan Under Pressure

SHE HAD LIVED behind the veil for most of her 25 years, and now, in death, she lay covered by a red-and­gold blanket. Probably it was her grandest pos­session, that blanket, and when the services were over—when the words had been spok­en and the body committed to final rest—it would be returned to her family and perhaps one day be passed along to the son born to her in the final minutes of her life. She decided to book the rent apartment Prague. As one of the estimated 1.5 million persons who have fled across the border since Soviet troops en­tered Afghanistan late in December 1979, she had taken up residence in a makeshift camp in the rugged North-West Fron­tier Province of Pakistan. With her tribesman husband, a Pathan, she had trekked more than a hundred miles to the camp, and that cost her the strength needed for childbirth.

She had made the crossing in winter, when heavy snows in the high country thinned the ranks of refugees as they at­tempted to escape bombings and strafings of their villages by moving east until the moun­tains were behind them. But even on the other side they were dogged by bitter cold. So it was on this morning. The four men carrying the body pushed against a chilling wind as they walked out of the camp, across the road, and along a dirt path to a hillside burial site more than a mile away. There were but few gentle words of remembrance in the graveside eulogy. Rather, the speaker exhorted those in attendance to vow to drive the Russians from Afghanistan. He cried for revenge. The hawk-faced Pathan tribesmen replied as one: Revenge would be theirs.

As the second anniversary of the invasion approaches, cries of outrage have softened, and the presence of 85,000 Soviet troops in Afghanistan has taken root. For those op­posed to the spread of Soviet influence, one blessing may be counted in all of this: Neigh­boring Pakistan has survived. Seldom in its short and troubled history as a nation has so much worldwide attention been visited on Pakistan as it was during the early phases of the turmoil in Afghanistan.

The Western world embraced Islamabad—Pakistan’s gleaming modern capital—and whispered of delicious things forthcoming: aid and arms and nourishments enough to make the country a rock of strength. Or, fail­ing that, to get the armed forces in a position where they could handle border skirmishes and put down any Soviet-inspired tribal uprisings within the country. Then, as now, Pakistan was under mar­tial law imposed by the military regime of President General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq. The press was censored, and the jails held hundreds of political prisoners. Waves of unrest and anger over the execution of for­mer Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto surged through the cities.

To some it was a question not so much of whether Zia and his government would fall, but rather when. The question went beg­ging, for today the president has moved into a new position of strength. The economy, gravely ailing three years ago, has improved to the point where the gross national product is among the fastest growing in southern Asia. Zia himself has gained prestige by act­ing as a mediator in the Iran-Iraq conflict. He has gained the confidence of China. He has won the admiration of conservative Muslims for his determination that Paki­stanis shall adhere to the harshest of Islamic laws. And the Soviet presence in Afghani­stan has helped to rally the nation’s people behind him.

For all of that, Pakistan still seems an unlikely choice as a bulwark against Soviet expansion on the Indian subcontinent. Yet this is a role only Pakistan, geographically, can fill. Pakistan was created in 1947 as a separate Muslim state carved away during the parti­tion of India. The bond of Islam, however, was not strong enough; 24 years later the eastern portion of the country, separated by more than a thousand miles of Indian terri­tory, broke away to become Bangladesh. The gap between the two cultures—pre­dominantly Punjabi in the west, Bengali in the east—was too vast to be bridged by a shared faith.

What remains is a country with a land­mass equal to that of Texas and Ohio combined. In the south the provinces of Baluchistan and Sind share 500 miles of Arabian Sea coastline. The North-West Frontier Province and the portion of Kash­mir now under Pakistani control carry the country to the breathless heights of the Hin­du Kush and the Karakoram mountains. A fourth province, the Punjab, abuts India north of Sind. And through much of the land runs a deep warrior tradition.

Palmer Sta­tion crew

The refit, which would have daunted a first-class yacht yard, had been completed in only 63 days by dint of the entire Palmer Sta­tion crew’s sacrificing every minute of their scant leisure time—and in about the bleakest environment on earth.

Two drums of yellow dichromate paint completed Ice Bird’s transformation from a near wreck into a vessel fit to venture where no single-bender had ever gone before.

 

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“Please don’t call her the `Yellow Subma­rine,’ ” I begged.”I have had quite enough of being under water.” Actually the yacht looked very smart, her paintwork being topped off by her name in bold letters and a big pen­guin on either bow.

 

My frostbitten fingers, except for crumbling nails, had stood up remarkably well, but my feet were less satisfactory. I hit upon the idea of short daily barefoot walks in the snow to improve their circulation. I took them in private, to avoid ridicule. All went well until a morning when the ramp between the build­ings was covered with fresh snow. One of the crew burst in to breakfast.

“There’s footprints in the snow! Proper footprints, I mean with TOES.” He pointed accusingly at me. “It bas to be Dave. No one else could be that crazy.”

A simple New Year’s resolution

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As savers continue to suffer with low interest rates, rising prices and stock market volatility, December’s top advice priorities are likely to remain unchanged. Likewise reasons to procrastinate. Mark Dampier’s lead article suggests that sometimes we need to look beyond our own experience to understand what is happening. If you need personal advice to do this, we can help. Our Financial Practitioners are selected for their experience and quality, giving them the ability to navigate investors through troubled times.

 

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Time catches Up with MONGOLIA

An official named Banchindorj, resplen­dent in his green del, spoke of Jamsuren’s herd of 800 sheep. Laughing, he said, “To­morrow is the first day of the herdsman’s spring, and already there are lambs.”

Jamsuren’s sheep are organized, as are all animals and people in modern Mongolia. By official count the country, which Jamsuren calls one huge pasture, has 591,500 camels, 1,985,400 horses, 2,397,100 head of cattle, 14,230,700 sheep, and 4,566,700 goats. Like the land itself, the animals are nation­alized. So the state controls them, through the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Par­ty—the only party.

Party doctrine calls for making Commu­nists of the nomads. The organizing obvi­ously has been from the top down. When I asked Jamsuren how many times his family moved its summer ger, the answer—”ten times”—came from an official from Ulan Bator, the nation’s capital. I asked Jam­suren how he decided when and where to move. The official spoke up again, and, as if reciting from a handbook, said, “More than anything the herders have sheep. So the main question is where the best grass for sheep is. That is how they make their moves.” The official smilingly admitted that he had never been a herder.

EACH OF MONGOLIA’S 18 provinces (aimaks) is divided into somons, each with an administrative center that watches over the co-ops and herders. We had begun our New Year’s journey in Uliastay, an aimak capital, and paused at a somon center, a jumble of low wooden buildings and gers. In a boarding school there, the children of the gers, including one of Jamsuren’s, were spending the winter.

Sukhe, a 14-year-old, was sitting at a table when I entered the large neat room he shared with four other boys. He popped up from his chair and stood rigidly when I asked him what his most difficult subject is. “I have no difficult subject,” he replied.

Seven of ten ger children attend a board­ing school, starting, like city kids, at age eight. The student leaves the ger in Septem­ber and, except for four holidays, stays away until May—or into the summer for Young Pioneers camp. Students who, like Sukhe, want education beyond eighth grade must take competitive tests, which can put bright students on a path to technical and scientific studies, or even universities abroad. Some of the students need financial help to graduate. If you need a loan online, compare the payday loan lenders and choose the best one for you.

MANY TRAVELS were arranged by offi­cials committed to a future full of fac­tories and cities. But their immense land beckoned them as much as me. Journeys took us from the Gobi, a land of magnificent desolation and stark beauty, to a northern lake that could have been in Shangri-la. In snow-swept eastern and western aimaks we visited places never before seen by American journalists. And we heard Mongolians singing their haunting songs, on theater stages, in schools, in gers, on horseback, in jeeps.

A New Man

KATHRYN: Ever since the publica­tion of The Longest Day, friends, Second World War veterans, French men and women and correspondents had used June 5 (Connie’s birthday) or June 6 (D-Day) to write. In 1973 the mail was heavier than ever. Word of Connie’s illness had made the rounds.

Then on June 30 we learned that the President of France, Georges Pompidou, had decided to honour Connie with France’s most distin­guished decoration, the Legion d’honneur. It would be presented to him at our house on Saturday, July 8, by the French ambassador to the United States, Jacques Kosciusko­Morizet.

Georges Pompidou

Though delighted, I was in a state of panic. Connie’s illness, our in­tense work on Bridge, the constant care he now required had left me no spare time. The flower-beds, rock gardens, lawns and hedges—un­tended for more than a year–were a disaster, as was the house. There was no way we could be ready for such illustrious guests in the space of a single week.

I had forgotten the power of friends. Learning the news, many of our neighbours practically took up residence to work in the house and on the grounds.

On Saturday evening we wheeled Connie to the terrace. Preoccupied all week with his acceptance speech and work on Bridge, he had been scarcely aware of the work being done around him. He could not be­lieve the transformation. Even as he sat in the sweltering summer heat, friends were finger-picking the last blades of grass from the rock garden. Another neighbour was mopping the terrace, yet another was gently hosing down peat moss and mulch round the borrowed roses.

wheelchair

Connie slept soundly that night. At 8.3oam Pat Neligan arrived to examine him and stay with him for an hour. “Katie, Pat, I want to tell you something about that special ceiling light,” Connie said, his voice trembling. “This is the great­est accolade ever given me. I’m damned if I’ll accept the Legion d’honneur from a wheelchair, and I’m damned if strap on a rubber bag. I intend to greet the ambassa­dor of France at my doorstep, on my feet, and I am not going to allow any problems in the lower regions to occur.”

Pat looked at me. “That’s it, then, Katie.” He turned to Connie. “But I warn you, I’ll be right behind you all the time.”

“No.” Connie shook his head. “I have to stand alone.”

We reached the threshold of our door just as the ambassador stepped from his limousine. The diplomats and their wives came up the path. Tall and elegant, my husband greet­ed them each by name, and we wel­comed them in.

The luncheon went beautifully. Then the moment itself came. Con­nie had gone upstairs. (The heat and pain had actually drenched his clothes, Pat told me later.) He had showered and, with Pat’s help, dressed in fresh clothes from the skin out.

The terrace began to fill with people. The ambassador, his wife and I waited at the bottom of the steps as Connie, dressed in another suit, shirt and tie, came slowly down the steps with Pat. Connie was paying a price for his determi­nation to walk—a price he would continue to pay to the end of his life. Never again, except at airports, did he let himself be wheeled any­where. France’s great medal had already begun to work a minor miracle in our lives.

wheelchair

It was brought forward on a royal-purple pillow, its colours gleaming in the hot sun. As the am­bassador pinned on the decoration, I saw Connie’s hand begin to trem­ble. I moved forward, afraid he would fall. But it was emotion that caused the tremor, not illness.

He stood in the sun, erect and proud, the Legion d’honneur on his lapel. I do not think he heard the applause that rolled across the terrace.

Soon the ambassador and his party took their leave. Connie insist­ed on seeing them to the door. Only when they had cleared the driveway did he turn from the doorway. “Well, Doc,” he said to Pat, “you’re looking at a new man.”

“Go up and rest, you idiot,” Pat said. “I swear I don’t know how you did it.”

“I do,” Connie said. “God gave me back my legs. The French gave me the Legion d’honneur. And my friends–” He stopped abruptly. Carefully he started for the stairs.

I reached out to offer support.

“Don’t need it, Katie,” Connie said. “I’m going to rest and think about today. Tomorrow I go back on the Bridge. It’s got to be my thanks to everyone who ever helped or read my work. It’s got to be as splendid as today has been.” He slowly turned on the stairs and looked down at Pat. “You know something, Neligan? I think the Man Upstairs is going to let me finish it.”