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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Remembering ‘Don Beto’ Gómez Rodriguez and his remarkable life

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José Humberto Gómez Rodriguez in Chichén Itzá. Photo: Courtesy

The renowned historian and tour guide José Humberto Gómez Rodriguez died from undisclosed causes. He was 87. 

Gómez Rodriguez, or “Beto” as his friends knew him, was very well known for discovering an archaeological treasure trove in Balankanché, just a few miles from Chichén Itzá. 

His discovery would go on to be featured in publications across the world, including National Geographic and the New York Times.

Gómez Rogríguez was also a founding member in 1956 of the Mayab Guides Cooperative, where he served as both president and secretary alongside his brother Vicente. 

José Humberto Gómez Rodriguez in 2022. Above, he is interviewed for Yucatán Magazine’s YouTube channel. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Throughout his life, Gómez Rodriguez guided European nobles, political leaders, Nobel Prize winners, and celebrities throughout the Maya world. 

Besides his work as a tour guide and historian, “Don Beto” is remembered for his humor, honesty, and zest for life.

News of his passing has rippled through Mexico’s tourism industry, with honors for his life’s work as well as condolences for his family.

“Don Beto was a true Yucatecan icon. His parting is greatly felt by all of us who had the opportunity to know and work with him,” said fellow tour guide Yarima Barrera Pell de Nùñez.

Eight months ago, Yucatán Magazine’s editor, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht, had the opportunity to sit down with Gómez Rodriguez to discuss his life and career. 

José Gómez on his life-changing discovery near Chichén Itzá.
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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