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Richard Morgan Szybist

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Colonel Richard Morgan Szybist, USA (ret.)  "was born in Perth Amboy, NJ in 1942. He attended public schools there and in Sayreville NJ. He graduated from Rutgers University with a Sociology B.A. in 1964 and entered military service through the Reserve Officers Training Program (ROTC). He began writing for national military journals during a 24-year U.S. Army career that spanned peacetime duty in Europe, combat duty in Vietnam, and a range of assignments in the U.S. and Europe During that time he earned an Education M.A. at Seton Hall University. His résumes for the period includes teaching posts at Rutgers University and Seton Hall University and field work for the Army Chief of Staff in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C..

Morgan left the military in 1988 and moved to Tucson, AZ where he completed graduate studies in Latin American affairs at the University of Arizona (UA), with a focus on the histories and cultures of Mexico and Central America. While there, he wrote grant-sponsored curriculum materials to support high school social studies teaching about Mexico.

Afterwards, he taught Latin American studies in the undergraduate program at Pima County College (PCC) and guided cross-border tours into Mexico for the PCC and Cochise Count College Adult Education Programs. He wrote articles on the U.S.– Mexico frontier for regional publications and undertook research for his first book, A Guide to Historic Missions & Churches of the Arizona—Sonora Borderlands. This book, published in 1995, was acclaimed by the Arizona Daily Star as one of the year’s best books on the U.S. Southwest.

Morgan moved to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala in 1998, where he has since focused on the history and cultural diversity of the Lake Basin. He has written numerous articles on Atitlan, published in REVUE magazine, Guatemala’s English language tourism monthly and three books on Lake Atitlan under the name of Richard Morgan Szybist. These books form a trilogy which collectively treat the natural and cultural history of Atitlan, fables and folktales of its Mayan inhabitants, and natural healing, with an emphasis on Mayan shamanism.

Morgan owns and operates Aventuras en Educación, S.A., an organization which specializes in private and small group eco and cultural tours. His activities are conducted from his center in Panajachel, Los Encuentros Posada y Centro Cultural. "

Colonel Richard Morgan Szybist is the author of The Lake Atitlan Reference Guide: The Definitive Eco-Cultural Guidebook on Lake Atitlan,  A Guide to Historic Missions and Churches of the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands and   Hitchhiking on America's War Machine - 1964-88He is also the editor of Fables & Other Mayan Tales of Atitlan.


According to the book description of The Lake Atitlan Reference Guide: The Definitive Eco-Cultural Guidebook on Lake Atitlan, “The Lake Atitlan Reference Guide is an eco-cultural guide to the lake identified by Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) as "the most beautiful lake in the world." Atitlan is a volcanic caldera, located at 5,000 ft above sea level in the Mayan highlands of Guatemala.  Atitlan means "at the water." It is a fusion of simple Nahuatl words that belies the complexity of the entity it identifies.


Lake Atitlan is both a place and an event in motion. Its life incorporates the visually stunning character of one of nature’s most ambitious creations and the extraordinarily diverse cultural character of the human life that the Lake has drawn to its shores.


Atitlan was born violently, long ago, probably before the emergence of man here. Scientists still debate the exact nature of its birth, an event which created a nearly circular depression of 11 miles in diameter, 95 square miles of area, and over 1,000 feet deep. The cause of this huge cavity, a chain of events which began with an immense eruption, produced a unique microenvironment that has been drawing wanderers to the Lake’s shores for at least thousands of years. Cultures have clashed to control it. Vagabonds have been absorbed by it, laid down roots, and quit "moving on." Traveling notables have been overwhelmed by its beauty and written about it in the loftiest of terms.


Any effort to empirically order the kaleidoscope of its elements is ultimately challenged by the spiritual and physical immensity of the subject. This work makes no such attempt. What is offered here instead is a summary of the Lake environment in terms of its physical location and nature, its cultural history, and its contemporary political and socioeconomic life. The text is supported by more than 100 quality fotos (most in color) and a variety of other illustrations.”

Fables & Other Mayan Tales of Atitlan (Spanish Edition)
Adventures in Education, Inc.  More Info

A Guide to Historic Missions & Churches of the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands
Richard J. Morgan  More Info
The Lake Atitlan Reference Guide
Richard Morgan Szybist  More Info

According to the book description of Fables & Other Mayan Tales of Atitlan, “This is a collection of 12 folktales from the various Mayan communities around the shoreline of Lake Atitlan, located in the highlands of Guatemala. This edition is bilingual English-Spanish and, beyond entertainment, incorporates ethnographic and geographical descriptive information about the environment and Mayan culture in the rural highlands of Guatemala.”

According to the book description of A Guide to Historic Missions and Churches of the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands, “This guide provides a comprehensive presentation of the missions constructed by Jesuits and Franciscans in a region colonized by Spain and since divided between the United States and Mexico. It provides an historical synopsis of the period, a description of the physical and cultural characters of the region at the time of the missionaries' arrival and an explanation of the architectural features incorporated into the construction of their temples. Color photographs portray each of the churches as they look today.”

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