Upcoming exhibition will debunk Mayan prophecy of the end of the world in 2012

An exhibition coming to Philadelphia will tackle this year´s hottest pseudo-archaeological topic: the Mayan prophecy that the world will end in 2012.

“Maya 2012: Lords of Time” at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology will explain the Mayan civilization’s complex interlocking calendar systems through interactive displays and a rich collection of art and artifacts. These calendars developed out of an advanced knowledge of astronomy and an obsession with the cyclical nature of astronomical events such as the solar and lunar years, eclipses, and the movements of the planets.

One of these calendar systems is the so-called Long Count, which starts a new cycle every 1,872,000 days, or approximately 5,125 solar years. The current cycle ends on December 21 or 23, depending on which scholar you believe. Most scholars say the Long Count doesn’t actually end on this date, it merely starts another cycle. The other Mayan calendars keep going too. No Mayan text says the world is supposed to end this year. In fact, some Mayan inscriptions actually mention dates later than 2012. They don’t mention anything about cosmic vibrations, visiting UFOs, or any of the other bullshit theories being bandied about either.

Dr. Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, said in an interview that the ancient Maya felt the end of a cycle was cause for celebration. Anthropologist and Maya specialist Dr. Judith Maxwell did what the New Agers didn’t bother to do and actually asked the Maya what they thought. While the ancient civilization is gone, the Mayan culture is alive and well in Mesoamerica and Mayan shamans, called daykeepers, told Maxwell that the end is not coming.

Apparently the exhibition organizers agree there’s nothing to fear. The exhibition runs from May 5, 2012 to January 13, 2013.

So the world isn’t going to end in 2012.

This ranks top on my list of “unsurprising news of the week.” I’m 42, and I have a hard time remembering a year that the world wasn’t supposed to end. Some hack writer or religious conman is always trying to scare us into thinking the world is going to end. The sad thing is, people embrace this nonsense. The world is not ending this year. You still have to deal with the consequences of your actions and you still have to shoulder your responsibilities. Chances are you will have to do that for many years to come. Chances are you will grow old and live through many more of life’s ups and downs.

That’s not a bad thing.

Photo of the day – Carpets of Copan, Honduras

Photo of the day
If the street above looks a little more colorful than the average road, it’s because the carpet has been rolled out for Semana Santa, or holy week leading up to Easter. The “carpets” are made from colored sawdust and flowers and illustrate the Stations of the Cross. There are many reasons to visit Copan in the western region of Honduras, but the procession that will march down this street on Good Friday morning (April 6 in 2012, if you want to start planning) is a big draw; arrive early to admire the “carpets”. Thanks to Flickr user

Adalberto H Vega for capturing them before they got trampled!

Seen any cool street art on your travels? Add your photos to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use one as another Photo of the Day.

Photo of the Day- The Banana Coast, Honduras

Photo of the day
Our photo of the day comes from Honduras, namely what is called the Banana Coast. This photo taken at sunset exemplifies the natural beauty that can be found in the coastal town of Trujillo that dates back to 1524 when Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés. Cristóbal de Olid (1487-1524) founded the town. Olid was a Spanish adventurer, conquistador and rebel who played a part in the conquest of Mexico and Honduras. Cortés himself visited Trujillo after its founding. The location was strategic for Spanish interests in the New World

Today that strategic interest continues as Trujillo vies to be the next popular cruise port, breaking ground on a new 50,000-square-foot mainland cruise port, the first in Honduras.

The new port, set to open in 2012, is expected to create more than 3000 jobs and promote tourism to the Banana Coast as an alternative to Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, and Costa Maya and Cozumel both Mexican ports

Photo courtesy BananaCoast.com

Honduras eager to build the next new cruise port

Honduras eager to build the next new cruise portResidents from local Trujillo, Honduras communities, along with politicians and business leaders joined recently for groundbreaking on a new 50,000-square-foot mainland cruise port, the first in Honduras.

The facility should help answer the call from cruise passengers who love the Caribbean but yearn for new ports to visit. That need leaves Honduras eager to build the next new cruise port.

“This project has a lot of significance for the region,” said Honduras President Porfirio Lobo Sosa. “The cruise port will be crucial for the development of Trujillo and its surrounding neighborhoods.”

The new port, set to open in 2012, is expected to create more than 3000 jobs and promote tourism to the Banana Coast as an alternative to Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, and Costa Maya and Cozumel both Mexican ports.

“We can only go to Cozumel just so many times” say frequent cruise passengers bored of the same ports over and over again.

As more ships enter the cruise market, 9 more in 2011, cruise passengers are looking for new ports of call to visit and cruise lines want to find (or build) them.

The new Jamaica port of Falmouth, a joint project between Royal Caribbean International and the Port Authority of Jamaica is hoping to help fill that need with an entirely different shoreside experience. To be reminiscent of the historic 1700’s and 1800’s when Falmouth was the big port for Sugar exports worldwide, the port is built to handle Royal Caribbean’s huge Oasis-class ships. The location will allow visitors to do shore excursions from both existing ports of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, each about a half-hour away.

New or reworked ports are not always the answer though. San Diego’s new Port Pavillion at Broadway Pier, funded by Carnival Cruise Lines, will not see much action now that cruise lines have fled the hard-to-sell West coast market for more fertile seas.

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Flickr photo by archer10

Black Tomato launches Epic Tomato, an ambitious new adventure offshoot

For years Black Tomato has delighted old travel hands with its inventive, bespoke itineraries to various corners of the globe. The company is especially good at showcasing beautiful destinations not yet well-known to most travelers beyond the surrounding region. Among others, Belgrade, the Carpathian foothills, the Kuronian Spit, and Bhutan have all been embraced by the company.

This morning, Black Tomato launched Epic Tomato, which showcases a selection of hardcore adventure experiences to very hard-to-reach places. These adventures are scheduled for lengths of between four to 21 days, and are grouped into five categories: Polar, Desert, Jungle, Mountain, and River. They are all led by serious expert guides, some with SAS (British special service) military backgrounds.

Bolivia’s Apolobamba mountain range, Mali’s Dogon region, the Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea (see above), the Mosquito Coast of Honduras, and East Greenland are just a few of the destinations reached by Epic Tomato tours.

Epic Tomato’s frankly epic experiences don’t come cheap. At the bottom end of the scale, three adventures come in at £5995 ($9660): 14 days in Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain and Duke of York Islands; a 21-day trek in Tibet and Nepal; and eight days in Chilean Patagonia. At the very high end: 12 days on Canada’s Ellesmere Island for £67,495 ($108,720).