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1 JAMES R. FORSTER 1950s ORIGINAL TYPED MANUSCRIPT BY A MEXICO CITY COLLEGE STUDENT AND ONE DAY AUTHOR WITH WORLD FAMOUS SWEDISH EXPLORER TITLED 'WANDERING DOWN THE BALSAS RIVER, MEXICO'
BALSAS RIVER, MEXICO CENTRAL AMERICA 1950 Good+ Manuscript 
On offer is a super, original circa 1950s first person account of one man's sojourn down the Balsas River in Mexico. Titled "Wandering Down the Balsas River, Mexico" written by James R. Forster who was attending the Mexico City College during the period his journal was kept and this may well have been a college paper or manuscript intended for publishing as casual research finds he did become an anthropologist and archaeologist and a published author. In 1951 wrote a thesis titled "Gingerbread figures of the Toltec-Mazapan Period." Two other books written by James were called, "New Type of Sacrificial Knives from the Valley of Mexico" and "Masterkey". [At the end of the journal he says his paper on the Mazapan period was suppose to be turned in 6 months before this trip was taken and thusly we assume he took this trip in 1951 or thereabouts.] Two other people accompanied Forster: John Neris and Sten Bergman, who we believe was the famed Swedish explorer Sten Bergman. Forster appears to confirm this stating at the outset that Sten "having climbed nearly all of the major mountain peaks in his spare time and now wanted to try something different." The 25 page typed manuscript (approximately 300 words per page) was likely written retrospectively from Forster's original handwritten notes perhaps. Adding immense depth to the manuscript are 12 superb, original black and white 8" x 10" photos of the trip. [Eight [8] smaller duplicate photos are identified and listed further on in the description.] Historians and researchers of the area and era will be delighted. Here are some snippets: WANDERING DOWN THE BALSAS RIVER, MEXICO; "I first learned of the river in my classes of Mexican archaeology at Mexico City College, where the classes are taught in English. As the state of Guerrero is one of the least known areas in Mexico, several of my professors had visited the region in search of archaeological, ethnological, and historical material. I never thought of making a trip to the region until Sten Bergman, who lived in the boarding house where I stayed, decided that he wanted to make a boat trip. He had climbed nearly all of the major mountain peaks in his spare time and now wanted to try something different; to go through an area marked "unexplored" on the map. When he began this trip, many of the students at school wanted to go. By the time we were ready to go at the end of the school quarter the number had boiled down and only three were left, Sten Bergman, John Neris and myself…" (They take a train and cross the Pedregal Lava Beds and the Valley of Mexico and Valley of Morelos. On to the town of Tepotzlan and Igualla) "…..Two more hours and we were at Las Balsas. The station is at the end of the tracks immediately after crossing the Balsas River. The town, which is not connected with any automobile road, is strung out along the tracks. The current of the river is very swift here even in times of low water and everyone uses the railroad bridge to cross it. Near the station there was a man who looked tall and lanky like a Texan. He was the local Aftosa man from Texas, sent here by the American and Mexican governments to inspect the cattle and livestock for the hoof-and-mouth disease. We soon learned that the best thing we could do was to look up an Aftosa man on entering the small town which lay on our route. He introduced us to his Mexican friends in town and they told us we were too late. The last boat had left the day before to be sold in Coyuca a town far down the river. As for burros, there were none to be had. We were offered the opportunity of going with our new friend on his inspection route, but we turned it down because it lay south of the river and did not pass near any known archaeological sites. That night we laid our sleeping bags along side his in a small warehouse and got what sleep can be had on a cement floor. In the morning we took the train back to Iguala. We had not given up, but planned to return to the river at another point. We changed to the bus which took the new unpaved road to Altamirano across the river from Coyuca. This meant that we had to bypass the archaeological sites near Tetela del Rio (Mound of the River.)….." (Crossed a "new" bridge over the river then they hitched a ride in a truck to Plateros, gold mining town, where they purchased burro's.) "…We did not sleep well or it was our first night on the trail and there was no protection from bandits. Here the people were strange and popular belief held that it was unsafe to sleep out in the open. The truth is that you are more likely to be robbed in the city than in the country (any country). The next day on coming back into town we met the local Aftosa man. His name was Fisher and of course he was a Texan. Having heard that we were in town he tried to find us, but did not know where we had gone. Fisher earns a good salary inspecting cattle, but has no place to spend it. Because of this he has become the town benefactor. He and the other Aftosa men have opened up the country for outsiders, at least for Americans. It is hard to set a value on the goodwill that they have made for United States. On returning from vacations in Mexico City, Fisher would bring back books, paper, and pencils for the school children. They are not free as in most parts of the United States. Once a week he brought them "paletas" or popsicles. We found out that a friend of his living there in Plateros owned the building on the corner near school in Mexico City. According to the map, this was on the edge of unexplored territory. We began to wonder if we were very far from civilization after all." (He showed them around to many of the Mexican "Mounds" where there were tunnels full of "Escorpion Real" or the Royal Scorpion. They also found a baby vulture they photographed.) "…There was a local fiesta the next day (March 25) but there was nothing to see. The only thing of interest was that we met the man who was to be the "devil". He wore a devil's costume and was to chase the women. We understood that, provided he caught them, he was free to do with them whatever he pleased. This looks like an old Indian custom as it does not appear to be something that the good padres of the church would introduce…" (They then walked 11 ½ hours to Zintandaro (Ziandaro) and on to Mexiguio) "….The companero, who did not speak English, gave us a room on the street. There were no bars on the window and people looked in at us, but it was too hot to close the shutters. We soon got used to the natives who would sit just outside of our camp for several hours without saying a word. There wasn't much sleep that night, not because we were un-certain of our surroundings, but because we ached all over from the long days walk. By over doing it the first day, we put a damper on the rest of the trip and each other's nerves. The next day we bathed in the river according to local custom. The water felt good but the bottom was rocky and our feet tender. Most of the morning was spent resting. In the afternoon we went to Mexiquito, an Aztec fortress a few miles down the river. This archeological site is located near the entrance to the Tacambaro River from the north into the Balsas. It consists of pyramids, courts, ball-courts, and plazas, all of which are heavily overgrown with trees, cactus, and thorny bushes. Some day after it has been excavated and rebuilt it will be an excellent tourist attraction. I don't know the road but it should be possible to drive there in dry weather in a truck or jeep.." (Tamarindo, and Churumuco where they waited for days for a truck, any truck, to come along to take them to the next spot) "…The loading of the sacks of grain was slow, but it seemed slower. Each sack had to be weighed carefully and then placed onto the truck by a poor "mozo" (laborer)….The loading of the grain was finally completed and we started off into the night. After about ten miles, the driver stopped the truck for the night. He did not bother parking off of the road for no one drove on that road at night and very few in the daytime. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible on the truck and did not sleep on the ground for we were taking no chances of being left behind. At four or five o'clock in the morning, the truck started again. As we went along, the road climbed out of the dry tropical area and eventually into the pine covered mountains of Michoacan…" (Ario de Rosales and Patzcuaro Lake) "…On approaching Patzcuaro, he pointed out "la laguna' and there below us lay Lake Patzcuaro like a piece of turquoise in a setting of dark green serpentine. On one of the islands which we saw in the lake, the Tarascan Empire had its birth. On another island is the great statue of Morelos the priest-general. You can climb inside the statue and from the cuff of his extended arm, see the whole lake region below you. It is an easy climb to the top. Later that summer my mother who was seventy one at the time climbed up the trail to the base of the statue. She took one look at it and said that she wasn't going to the top. Inside it was a different story. Between each short flight of steps there was a series of pictures depicting the life of this early revolutionist. My mother became engrossed in the pictures and before she knew it was looking out the cuff of Morelos's sleeve at the lake below…." "Our train reached Mexico City at 7:30 A.M. the next morning. Hot baths were the first order of the day. The trip took two weeks and two days. Our friends had begun to worry about us because they had received no word. Sten and John went back to their classes. I went back to my thesis on Mazapan figures which was six months late when I left on the trip. Recently John visited me here in California. He had just come from Mexico and brought word that Sten was again overdue on one of his excursions. I later received a copy of the school paper from Mexico City College which announced his return from the famous Baranca de Cobre (Cooper Canyon) in southern Chihuahua. He and his friends approached the canyon from the north by driving the twenty eight miles from Creel to the rim of the canyon on an old railroad bed that never had any tracks. It took a recent scientific expedition a week by burro to approach it from the west. Sten is now working in Los Angeles. He wants to go back to that fabulous canyon and after looking at his pictures, I want to go too. June 1953. Inglewood, California. James R. Forster." The small identified photos they are as follows; 1) A section of the Pedragal where the new university has been built. Photo by James R. Forster. 2) Approaching Tamarindo, Guerrero Photo by John Neris. 3) Family at Los Negritos (West of Melonar, Guerrero). Photo by John Neris. 4) Farm house west of Mexiquito, Guerrero. Photo by James R. Forster. 5) The author trying to get Quetzalcoatl on to the boat at Balsas Guerrero. Tlaloc and Sten are already on the boat. 6) After leaving Melonar, Guerrero. Photo by John Neris. 7) John Neris, Tlaloc, and friends. (Military post of Balsas, Guerrero in the background). Photo by James R. Forster. 8) Mask from Placeros del Oro, Guerrero; Metate from Melonar, Guerrero; Head and mask from Altamirano, Guerrero. Photo by James R. Forster. The pages are housed in a light mustard colored folder that measures about 9" x 11 ¼". The pages and photos are in good shape, the cover is very worn. Overall G+. BACKGROUND REFERENCE: Wikipedia: The Balsas River (Spanish Río Balsas, also locally known as the Mezcala River, or Atoyac River) is a major river of south-central Mexico. The basin flows through the states of Puebla, Morelos, Guerrero, and Mexico. The river empties into the Pacific Ocean at Mangrove Point, adjacent to the city of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán. Several rapids along the course of the Balsas River limit its navigability and thus the river has been largely used for generation of hydroelectric power, flood control and irrigation. With a length of some 771 kilometers (479 mi) the Balsas River is one of Mexico's longest rivers. It originates at the confluence of the San Martin and Zahuapan Rivers as Atoyac River in the state of Puebla. From here it flows south-west and then westward, into a depression through the state of Guerrero, and discharges into the Pacific Ocean. 
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