miércoles, 30 de enero de 2013

13 Bak'tun - The End of an Era 12/21/12

Luckily enough, our Peace Corps country of Guatemala still has a huge presence of their Mayan culture. Therefore, on the day people translated as "The end of the world" being 12/21/12 we were at the heart of it all. 

My friend Alex called me the week before to ask me what I would be doing on this infamous day of December 21st, 2012. I hadn't thought to do anything, but when she shared her idea to visit the Quiche Mayan Ruins I immediately became excited. When we showed up that day it was the busiest I've ever seen the ruins. Hundreds of Indigenous Mayans were wearing their traditional clothing and surrounding their ceremonial fires praying and doing what they do. There was also a marimba band and one or two "danzas". It was a great cultural experience to see how preserved their culture still is.

So what does 13 Bak'tun mean? "Many have talked about the end of this cycle, when the Bak'tun 13 ends, often with hints of an Apocalypse. However, for the Mayans, this date does not represent the end of the world. Time measurement was always central to the Maya worldview, so one of many calendars used in civilization was the 'Cuenta Larga', which captures special events of the life of the rulers or of their own world in a time that was from a starting point dated according to the Gregorian calendar for AC 3.144 and ending at the winter solstice on December 21, 2012."

Alex and I also explored two caves where at the end sat their "offerings" consisting of candles, a 
papaya, a pineapple, and liquor. It was a funny site finally arriving at the end of the darkness to find fruit and alcohol sitting beside candles. But hey, if I was a God I'd surely appreciate these items.

Alex in front of the cave 
The papaya, pineapple, and liquor as the "offerings"

Later on after returning back to the Mayan ceremonies the local Quiche news station interviewed Alex and me. They asked us who we were, what we're doing in Guatemala, and what we thought of the ceremonies. I don't have cable so I never found out if actually was on the news or not. Also, on our way out a guy asked if he could take a picture of us and with us. We said yes so that he would take a picture of us in return. Right after this we continued walking and another pair of teenagers asked to take a picture of us. I swear it was the most famous I've ever felt in my life. We couldn't stop laughing as we headed out of the ceremony. And to think it was all for being white...

Overall, the day was such a great experience that I will forever remember.  It is these cultural experiences that make Peace Corps what it is.  I am blessed to have been assigned such a beautiful country where their culture continues to impress me every day. 

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