New Agers Trash Mayan Pyramid At ‘End Of The World’ Party

Mayan, Tikal
Revelers at an Apocalypse party at the ancient Mayan site of Tikal in Guatemala have damaged one of the pyramids, AFP reports.

Temple II, built at Tikal’s height around 700 A.D., was damaged when a crowd of partygoers ignored signs saying it was off-limits and climbed up it anyway. An official at the site didn’t reveal how extensive the damage was but did say it was permanent.

About 7,000 tourists visited Tikal on Friday to mark the end of a cycle in the Mayan calendar, which many wide-eyed dupes believed would bring the end of the world, or at least some New-Agey world transformation that would imbue their crystals with deep spiritual significance.

If they had asked the Maya themselves they would have learned that the world wasn’t actually ending, but why do that? Traditional cultures and UNESCO World Heritage Sites are only there as props for jaded First Worlders shopping for a cheap semblance of spirituality the same way they’ll buy Save The Whale T-shirts made in Filipino sweat shops.

They’ll also blithely ignore the real historical and cultural significance of such sites in preference for silly theories about secret civilizations, aliens or Atlantis. This sort of New Age archaeology is rooted in racism. As some locals complained, the party wasn’t really about the Maya at all.

Dave, an old friend of mine, calls the New Age movement “Newage,” because it rhymes with “sewage.” I propose a worldwide movement to adopt Dave’s term for these callow crystal-clutching consumers. Protect ancient Mayan sites by flushing the Newage movement!

[Photo courtesy Mike Vondran]

Business Fuels Doomsday Prophecies In Mexico

Every other billboard seemed to mention 2012 as I drove along that famously flat stretch of road from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. I was on my way to spend a couple of days relaxing at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, but the easiest way to reach Riviera Maya is via Carretera Federal 307 and 307 is ornamented with billboards, as anyone would expect. Riviera Maya is a popular vacation destination, and popularity and advertising are two peas in the Business Success pod. It wasn’t the billboards themselves that caught my attention, though. What flashed before me memorably every few minutes was a billboard referencing 2012, or the apocalypse, or Doomsday prophecies, or the Maya calendar – and this consistency is what I noticed. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched the ads approach and then disappear; marketers, when they’re good, are usually really good.

%Gallery-173831%The billboards along 307 were just bigger, bolder versions of what I’d already been seeing all over Cancun and Merida in the days prior. In Cancun, an employee at the car rental company tried to convince me to go to a tourist trap complete with Maya this and End Of The World that. He was moonlighting as a promotions guy for the place while I signed the forms for my rental car. In Merida, it seemed as though most businesses and individuals who had thought of a way to capitalize off of the December 21 hype had acted on those thoughts. The enterprising women and men behind these ventures, many of them holding shops at the weekly Merida market, sold Doomsday books and guides, Maya calendars, Maya calendars made out of chocolate, apocalypse T-shirts and key-chains. I ate at a restaurant in Merida called 2012 Mayan Spaces and Something Else. The food was very good, as were the drinks, especially for being one of the few vegetarian options in Merida. Nonetheless, the restaurant carried this name and thus, so did the menu. The back wall of the outdoor patio displayed Maya-based art. The hotel I stayed at in Merida offered an impressive selection of Maya-themed tours to guests and “2012” was scribbled in large numerals on their office chalkboard. The crowds at Chichen Itza were insufferable; the long lines buzzed with End Times speculations.

Of course no one else was talking about the world ending on December 21. The only people who seemed to engage in any of these theories in the Yucatan were the people who were in a position to profit from the surprisingly widespread belief. The first man I spoke to in Merida, a man of Maya descent, was quick to discuss the modern Maya and history of the Maya in Merida with me, but he didn’t comment on the 2012 prophecies until 15 minutes into our conversation and he only spoke of the prophecies as a response to my questioning. When I mentioned the lore, his eyes glazed over as if he were remembering something he’d only taken note of in the most distant, peripheral sense. Like asking a non-Christian for their thoughts on the rapture mentioned in the Book of Revelation, locals were aware that others had attached themselves to this prophecy, but they were not believers.

When Pastor John Hinkle made his D-Day declaration for June 9, 1994, my parents nervously anticipated the date. I cuddled with my elementary school friend that night, waiting for fiery claws to rip the skies wide open, and of course it never happened. But it isn’t the truth behind the prediction that matters. What matters is how much publicity the prediction can collect leading up to the date. Hinkle’s ratings for his TBN show were probably skyrocketing from the hoopla before June 9 that year. All of this is to say, the “end of the world” appears to be relevant to the people of the Yucatan in only one way for certain: business.

It’s a good thing December 21 falls on a Friday. All of the opportunistic entrepreneurs out there can take their hype-checks to the bank and have them deposited before Christmas morning.

Read more from my series, “Life At The End Of The World: Destination Yucatan,” here.

[Photo Credit: Ben Britz]

China’s ‘Golden Waterway’ Turns Blood Red




Those who believe a zombie apocalypse is upon us will be having a field day with this story. China‘s Yangtze River, also known as “The Golden Waterway,” has ironically turned blood red. While mostly occurring around the industrial city of Chongquing, the incident has been noted in other areas, as well.

According to the Herald Sun, Chinese officials are speculating pollution is to blame. However, others say the Yangtze is too large and fast flowing for bacteria contamination to create a “red tide” effect.

Last year, the country experienced a similar incident on the Jian River in Luoyang. Illegal dye workshops dumping their dye into the city’s storm drain were found to be the cause. This year’s mystery, however, is yet to be solved.

For more details and to see images of the event itself, check out the video above.

Zombie Survival Map

zombie survival“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth,” they say in the zombie movie classic “Dawn of the Dead.” Let’s hope they don’t have smartphones, or they might find you stocking up supplies or searching for the closest gun store. Map of the Dead is an interactive, Google-map based website designed for zombie survival. Just enter your location and you’ll get nearby resources like liquor (hey, you might as well have a drink) and hardware stores to help you survive the zombie apocalypse. The map also shows you danger zones marked in red, basically areas with large, man-made structures where more zombies are likely to congregate, so steer clear of airports.

Should the apocalypse be more of the mutant-and-killer-robot variety, this film has you covered for post-nuclear survival.

Where to take your final vacation

Most people focus on their next vacationsnot their final ones. And who could blame them? Nothing is quite so ghoulish as planning anything based on your demise. It’s a bit different, however, if you can work from a specific point in time. If you know the world is coming to an end, making arrangements for your last trip may not be a bad idea. With all the talk of 2012 and the Mayan calendar, maybe it’s time to go south of the border.

Check out Monument Six, which was found more than 40 years ago while a highway was being built in southern Mexico. It says something is going to happen in 2012, and the conspiracy set has run with this, calling for the end of the world in the next few years. Going to the Mayan homeland for 2012 is like hitting Times Square for Y2K (in hopes of witnessing the outbreak of Y2Chaos).

Why?

For one thing, the reality is that the Mayan calendar actually says the world isn’t going to end until 4772 – give or take a few years. So, bring a toothbrush and a sleeping bag. Or, go down for 2012 just to see who shows up … that’s what the real show will be.