World Keeps Turning, Maya Keep Celebrating at Chaa Creek
As the Maya calendar rolls over in Belize with the end of the 13th Bak’tun and the beginning of a new 5,125 year cycle, the celebrations continue in Belize at The Lodge at Chaa Creek, according to marketing administrator Larry Waight.
“Surprise, surprise; we’re still here,” Mr Waight said as a large group of guests, staff members and their families, Chaa Creek’s owners and local villagers prepared for the procession to the ancient Maya temple of Tunichilen and an exuberant celebration to, as Mr Waight said, “Mark the end of one long cosmic cycle and the beginning of another.”
A far cry from the apocalypse scenario some people were predicting over the internet, and made highly profitable by the 2008 Hollywood blockbuster film, “2012”, the mood at Chaa Creek was upbeat and enthusiastic, Mr Waight said.
“People seem to be really engaged with the sense of a new beginning, that rather than the world ending, there is a future out there for all of us to participate in,” Mr Waight said, “In that way, with all the positive energy, this is the most meaningful New Year’s celebration I’ve ever experienced,” he said.
Belize was at the centre of the vast Maya Empire, which ran from around 2600 BC to the mid 1500s AD, and Chaa Creek sits in what is regarded as the heartland of the Maya in Western Belize, roughly the centre of the Mundo Maya, or Maya World, encompassing all of Belize and parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“Living here in the Maya heartland it’s been frustrating to see all these bogus stories in the media about the end of the Maya calendar, Maya predictions of the end of the world and other nonsense,” Mr Waight said, “But right now we’re having a major party to celebrate the achievements of this rich and fascinating culture. “I think the ancient Maya would be pleased,” he said.
Chaa Creek, located in a private 365 acre rainforest nature reserve, is home to Belize’s Natural History Centre which, among other things, houses a collection of Maya artefacts and information about Belize’s rich Maya heritage. For the last week, the eco resort has been hosting a series of lectures and seminars to educate people about Maya culture in the lead-up to the 2012 Winter Solstice, a date of huge significance to the Maya.
The eco resort also hosts legitimate Maya research from universities and agencies such as the New York Botanic Gardens, which has been studying Maya medicinal plants in the hopes of finding modern application in areas such as cancer research, Mr Waight said.
“As always, we say that Maya fact is far more interesting than media fiction, and I think we’ve proved that to our guests this week. Now, with a traditional Maya feast and the 2012 Winter Solstice celebrations, they’re about to see how much fun it can be as well."
“We’re concentrating on doing it right, since it will be another few thousand years before we get to do it again,” Mr Waight said.