By Sean Clark
I want to experience the 2012 Maya Winter Solstice at Belize’s Chaa Creek because it would really make me feel in touch with a culture that has interested me for years.
I first read about the Mayan culture in high school. What really struck me back then was the brutality of the Spanish towards the Aztecs, the Mayans, and other natives. The more you read about it the more you discover how much was lost, burned, and destroyed. Try to research the Mayan culture and you’re stuck with a lot of speculation, considering there are only 3 existing documents. Their breadth of knowledge of math and astronomy and who knows what else that was lost; it really haunts you.
The best way I’ve found to experience Mayan culture is to go to the ruins. I was particularly fortunate, on a side trip to Ek Balam, to meet a native working as a guide there who also worked on the excavation team. No one else was there, and I got a personal tour of everything. Climbing to the top of the largest building – there’s still color on the murals! You look out over the jungle and see trees and, occasionally, stone. You can get lost wondering what’s out there and what we’ll never know about.
The activities and experiences offered in the Chaa Creek trip sound like they go a long way towards making up for what books can’t offer – the personal, hands-on, daily life activities that were callously overlooked and disregarded by the Spanish. It’s a landmark moment in the Mayan’s personal history. To be there with the natives, at the temples – seems a way to give back to the Mayans some of the dignity and respect that the Spanish took away.