Discover Maya 2012
December 21, 2012.
This is the date Mesoamerican astronomers calculated and chiseled into stone more than 1,000 years ago based on their observations of the sun, moon, planets, and stars. The Maya considered these celestial objects no less than gods, whose cyclic movements across the sky controlled the passage of time itself.
December 21, 2012, marks the end of the Maya Long Count, a 5,125-year cycle of time that began on August 11, 3114 B.C. Will the cycle repeat? Will the Long Count click over (peacefully or otherwise) to begin a new era for all of humanity? What were the Maya trying to tell us across the millennia?
Whatever the answer to such unanswerable questions, one thing is certain: 2012 presents a once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity. The Mundo Maya — Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras — is where most of the world’s 10 million Maya reside today, and the opportunity for interesting and immersive tourism in 2012 is enormous.
Despite what you may have heard, there is little evidence of a Maya prophecy connecting 2012 to any foreseen event, whether cataclysmic or transcendent. Still, the end of such a large cycle — 13 b’aktuns of 393 years each — is important, and the date is significant enough that each country in the Mundo Maya is planning a yearlong uplifting of Maya culture, from government-sponsored celebrations to village homestays and grassroots eco-tourism.
This travel guide offers a glimpse of what’s planned and where to go. Expect special Maya-themed tours, events, ceremonies, symposiums, and celebrations at both minor and major archaeological sites. Watch the summer solstice sunrise from the Canaa pyramid at Caracol in Belize. Decipher the famed Long Count inscription on Stela I at Cobá in Mexico. Celebrate equinox in the Guatemala forest with Maya elders at Uaxactún. Sweat out some toxins in a Maya temazcal, a ritual steam bath, near Copán, Honduras. Share a meal of corn tortillas and beans with a Maya family — and ask what they think about the Maya calendar and 2012.
Welcome to the New Era. Let’s get started.
© Josh Berman from Moon Maya 2012