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#425952 - 12/22/11 08:58 PM Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events
Marty Offline

Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events

January

January 11th – Public Lecture - Bliss Institute
The 2012 year will commence with lecture at the Bliss Institute from 7pm to 9pm. This lecture will focus on Scientific Achievements of the Maya which should come at no better time than the end of a great cycle and the beginning of another. Lecture will be delivered by Dr. Jaime Awe Director of the Institute of Archaeology.

January 21st – Maya Festival - Cahal Pech
The Maya 2012 committee is planning a fest which will feature cultural events, and performances by local indigenous groups such as the Euphoria Dance Group, Pablo Collado and Marimba music to be staged at the site of Cahal Pech from 1pm – 5pm. Local and indigenous food will be on sale.

January 25th – Health Week – Belmopan
To coincide with one of the Maya’s great achievement and well respected tradition of healing, the use of herbal medicine and in an effort to show their ability and tradition of this culture, a traditional Healers conference/workshop is planned for January 25th from 9am – 5pm at the George Price Conference Room in Belmopan. The Healers Conference/Workshop plans to bring together Indigenous Maya Healers from all over the country to discuss traditional medicine and healing and to chart a way forward to insure the survival of this practice and the jungle from which these “pharmaceuticals” are grown and extracted.

February

February 18th – Maya Festival – Kinich Ahau Art Exhibit
Altun Ha Maya Fest and Kinich Ahau Art Exhibition - This is an annual event where the village of Rock stone Pond come together to have a Fest just off the grounds of the well known Archaeological site of Altun Ha. This event features the sale of local craft, food, drinks, entertainment and exhibits. Tour of the site is a must as the site is located just off from the festive area.

March

March 8th - 11th – La Ruta Maya River Challenge
La Ruta Maya River Challenge is an annual event featuring hundreds of canoe racers, national and internationals, of different categories and classes participating in this four day river challenge along the Old Belize River from San Ignacio to Belize City for a distance of 172 mile. Come and experience paddlers canoeing the very route that the Maya took and use for their trade and commerce and as a mean of communication and modus of transportation some 2000 years ago. This race is planned in four stages with each stage stopping to rest and overnight at one of the quaint River Valley communities along the Belize River and culminating at the Belcan Bridge into the Old Capital – Belize City.

March 9th - National Heroes and Benefactors Day
National Heroes and Benefactors Day is a travelling exhibition that travels the country for the entire month featuring some of the prominent national Heroes and Benefactors of Belize. Come and see and learn of the faces that built Belize.

March 16th, 17th, and 18th - Succotz Fiesta
San Jose Succotz Fiesta - This is an annual fair held at the western village of San Jose Succotz in honor of their patron Saint – Saint Joseph. This fair features a hog head dance, the sale of traditional food, music and dance.

March 21st - Equinox at Caracol
The Equinox is a time when the sun is directly at midpoint of the Earth making both the days and the nights of equal length. To capture this event, the Ancient Maya build specific buildings that mark the alignment of such rare celestial occurrences. For such recording or for the marking of such event, the Maya built what is referred to as E – groups which are basically a series of three mounds alongside each other with a fourth (another) mound in the front that record through alignment, the position of the sun. Witness this “phenomenon” at Caracol.

April

April 1st – 28th – Archeological Travel Exhibition
Archaeological Travel Exhibition - The travelling Exhibition is exactly what it says – It is an exhibition with varied and selected pieces of archaeological objects and artifacts from the national collection along with relevant information on the pieces and general information on archaeology that travels to all major municipalities in the country. This affords the communities in the more rural areas a chance to experience some of the archaeological pieces and cultural heritage that our country has to offer. It also affords teachers, educators and enthusiasts in particular, a chance to gather educational information on our cultural heritage.

April 23rd – 27th - Book Week
This event is usually held in Belize City – the urban capital and aims at returning reading and literary education to all schools and young people. Basically it is a social educational campaign to try and bring back literacy through books and reading – a challenging but worthwhile one especially given the electronic age.

May

May 25th, 26th, & 27th - Toledo Cacao Fest
The Toledo Cacao Fest is a three day event featuring the Maya and Cacao. Food, exhibits and information features the various ways the Maya utilized the Cacao bean whether for ceremonial purposes or as a utilitarian item. This fest also look at varied ways in which contemporary cacao is used today, with a touch of other festive acts in culture, tradition and contemporary events.

June

June 16th - Lamanai Canoe Challenge
This is a triathlon featuring Canoeing, running, and cycling. Participants will run from La Milpa (an Archaeological reserve) to Chan Chic, cycle from Chan Chic to Gallon Jug and then canoe from Gallon Jug down the New River to culminate at the New River Lagoon at the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve.

June 21st – Caracol Solstice
Caracol Solstice same as the Equinox only the alignment will record the northern most position of the sun (at the North Pole). The Equinox is a time when the sun is directly at midpoint of the Earth making both the days and the nights of equal length. To capture this event, the Ancient Maya build specific buildings that mark the alignment of such rare celestial occurrences. For such recording or for the marking of such event, the Maya built what is referred to as E – groups which are basically a series of three mounds alongside each other with a fourth (another) mound in the front that record through alignment, the position of the sun. Witness this “phenomenon” at Caracol.

July

June 4th – 6th - Belize Archaeological Symposium
This is an annual symposium held by the Institute of Archaeology, National Institute of Culture and History to provide a forum for all professional archaeological researchers, or related researchers working in Belize to disseminate their information and archaeological finds and findings to the wider public. Papers are compiled and are published in an annual volume. All are invited to sit in the lectures and presentations.

July - Belize International Film
This event provides the forum for international film producers and others in the industry to visit Belize and to explore possibilities of having Belize involved.

September

September 22nd Caracol Autumnal Equinox
Same as above – only that it occurs in autumn this time. The Equinox is a time when the sun is directly at midpoint of the Earth making both the days and the nights of equal length. To capture this event, the Ancient Maya build specific buildings that mark the alignment of such rare celestial occurrences. For such recording or for the marking of such event, the Maya built what is referred to as E – groups which are basically a series of three mounds alongside each other with a fourth (another) mound in the front that record through alignment, the position of the sun. Witness this “phenomenon” at Caracol.

October

October 19th – 21st - World Indigenous Music Festival
This event brings together a number of indigenous groups from around the world to perform in one setting. Come witness indigenous musical cultural explosion.

November

November 22nd – 24th Dance Ex. Belize City

December

December 21st Cahal Pech Closing Festival
The closing event at Cahal Pech will feature an evening of events with performances, indigenous music, cultural dances, marimba music, “fire ceremony” food and drinks.

Link to PDF Calendar


Where will you be when the world begins anew?

Belize Maya 2012

December 21, 2011 marks exactly one year until the end of the Long Count, a 5,125-year cycle of the Maya Calendar. Belize, with its significant Maya heritage and modern-day Maya population, is gearing up for this momentous occasion with a series of events and initiatives that will celebrate this significant point in the Mayan cosmology.

The ancient Maya were the scholars and scientists of the Yucatan, pioneering mathematics, astronomy and writing systems that remain central to human societies around the world. What is the real significance of 2012 to these early astronomers and scientists? According to the Maya, December 21, 2012 signals the world’s transition into a new era. Some believe this transition will be peaceful; others warn it will be nothing short of explosive. But there’s one thing everyone can agree on: traveling to the Mundo Maya in the year 2012 is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—and it’s not to be missed!

In the past, scholars believed Maya civilization was not fully established until about 300 A.D., at the start of the Early Classic period. Recent research, particularly in the heartland area of Belize, has provided conclusive evidence that ancient Maya civilization was actually in full bloom centuries before, in what is known as the Late Pre-classic period. By this early date the Maya were already carving stelae and altars, conducting long-distance trade, utilizing mathematic and calendar systems, and constructing monumental architecture. At Lamanai, for example, the tallest building at the site (known as the High Temple) was erected during the Late Pre-classic period. In the Cayo District, both Cahal Pech and ActunCan have carved stelae that date to Pre-classic times. In northern Belize the sites of Cerros and Lamanai have Pre-classic masks that exhibit some of the earliest examples of monumental art in the Maya world.

But how and why did the ancient inhabitants of Belize and Central America develop such complex societies? Today, we know Maya civilization was the result of a gradual process that combined a number of inter-related factors. The Maya area is ecologically diverse and provided all the necessary resources required to support a complex civilization. The development of intensive systems of agriculture allowed the Maya to produce surpluses, to sustain large populations and to encourage some people to become craft specialists while enabling others to assume political control. The fact that different areas had access to different resources also led to the establishment of a well-organized system of trade and exchange.

While Belize is not the only country in the region with rich Maya history, it is notable within the Mundo Maya for several reasons. First, Maya make up 10% of the country’s population, a thriving and vital cultural community central to Belizean identity. Second, Belize is home to many ancient archaeological sites, including the remnants of the sprawling metropolis of Caracol. The country’s archaeological sites are recognized worldwide by archaeologists as a treasure of humanity and many are active research sites.
The archaeological sites in Belize are as popular among visitors as many of the other cultural and natural gems for which this Caribbean paradise is renowned, including its barrier reef, dive sites, and lush jungle. In fact, even before the countdown to December 21, 2012 began, the country began seeing a marked increase in enquiries about our inland features, especially the many Archaeological sites. Maya village home stays, cultural tours and Belize’s fascinating network of sacred Maya caves, some of which have only recently been open to the public, are also garnering more interest among travelers.

Known as “Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret” and the epicenter of the Mundo Maya, the National Maya Committee is excited to unveil Belize Maya 2012 initiatives, inviting everyone to experience the rich history and culture of the Maya people. The Committee, consisting of representatives from the Belize Tourism Board, the National Institute of Culture and History, and industry partners, has spent several months developing events and activities highlighting the significance of the year. A Calendar of Events has been put together highlighting activities specific to the importance of Maya 2012 throughout the year. Each month is filled with numerous activities for any traveler or family. For more information on the Calendar of Events for 2012, please visit us at www.belizemaya2012.com.

In addition to the Calendar of Events, a first-of-its-kind Maya 2012 Passport has been developed. The Maya passport, which will be individually stamped at each of Belize’s main archaeological sites, including Altun Ha, Barton Creek Cave, Cahal Pech, Caracol, Cerro Maya, El Pilar, Lamanai, Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, Nohoch Che’en, Serpon Sugar Mill and Xunantunich, will be available for travelers from December 21, 2011 to December 21, 2012. The passport will be made available at a cost of US $25. As a part of Belize’s year-long national celebration of the completion of a 26,000 year cycle of the Maya Long Count and the long awaited Winter Solstice of 2012, this passport, which has been designed as a sovereign, will be for travelers interested in visiting the country’s mysterious archaeological sites and learning more about the Maya temples throughout Belize. The passport also includes background information and maps for all of the participating sites.

“2012 will be a momentous occasion, not only for Belize’s large Maya population, but for all Belizeans. Given the amount of interest we’re seeing from around the world, it’s generating global excitement as well,” said Yanick Dalhouse, BTB’s Director of Marketing. “People are also discovering they can be married at ancient archaeological ceremonial centers, have truly exotic honeymoons, or create their own unique experiences while exploring the fascinating Maya culture,” added Dalhouse. She also indicated that the Maya Passport is just one of many initiatives the Belize Tourism Board, NICH and other tourism industry partners will be rolling out.

Other activities include signature Equinox and Solstice Events. The Equinox is a time when the sun is directly at midpoint of the Earth, making both the days and the nights of equal length. To capture this event, the Ancient Maya build specific buildings such as the E – groupings that mark the alignment of such rare celestial occurrences. Belize welcomes travelers to take part in Equinox Celebrations at Caracol Archaeological Site on March 20-21, June 20-12, September 20-21 and December 20-21 of 2012 respectively. Given the allure of Belize’s Archaeolpogical sites and the mystery shrouding December 21, 2012, the National Institute of Culture & History (NICH) in Belize has also decided to allow visitors with a once-in-a lifetime opportunity: witness the rising sun over the structure of Caracol while celebrating the spring and Summer solstices or the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

Limited to 100 guests per event, the Maya Equinox Celebrations will allow travelers to camp overnight at Caracol on the evening of the 20th in the given month. Upon arrival, on the 20th, guest will be given a tour by Dr. Jaime Awe, followed by a traditional Maya meal of cochinito en pibil, tamales and more in the Caracol camp kitchen. The camping party will welcome the morning of the solstice or equinox with a traditional fire ceremony, performed by a native Maya Shaman. After witnessing the rising sun over the temples, travelers will have a traditional Maya breakfast and then return to San Ignacio. “This is an extremely rare opportunity for travelers to actually spend the night at Caracol and witness the beauty of the rising sun on these sacred final days of the Maya calendar,” said Dr. Jaime Awe, Director of the Institute of Archaeology. “2012 is such a special year for the Maya and Belize as a whole. We’re overjoyed to share it with our guests at these events.” Tickets to the Maya Equinox Celebrations cost U.S. $150 per person and these tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis The price covers camping fee, site entrance fee, professional guide, fire ceremony and two meals. Certainly, this is another event we don’t want to miss. For more information on where you can purchase tickets, contact the Institute of Archaeology in Belmopan at (501) 822-2106.


Another special event is the La Ruta Maya River Challenge. This annual event features hundreds of canoe racers, national and internationals, of different categories and classes participating in this four – day, 172 miles river challenge along the Old Belize River from San Ignacio to Belize City. Come and experience paddlers canoeing the very route the Maya took and used for their trade and commerce, as well as their means of communication and mode of transportation some 2000 years ago.

Beside the Maya Passport, if you are looking for another commemorative item capturing the importance of Maya 2012, Central Bank is offering Maya Mythical “End of the World” Coins. While the price is not yet available, the 22 carat gold proof and sterling silver coin will be made available to the general public for purchase in January. To place an order or more information on the coins, call (501) 223-6194.

The BTB, NICH, the Government of Belize, representatives from Maya communities and our tourism industry partners such as the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and individual resorts and tour operators, are all working together to celebrate 2012 with the respect, excitement and significance it deserves. Visit the BTB website at www.travelbelize.org to learn more about the events and activities schedule throughout the year.


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#426685 - 01/04/12 02:50 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Sunday, January 1, 2012 is the first day of a year of mystery for the Maya. Their great astronomers, able to predict celestial events such as solstice and equinox and eclipses with great precision, found that they could not foresee celestial events beyond December 21, 2012.

For them, it was the end of the world as they knew it, or at the very least, the end of an era.

Belize with its rich Mayan heritage, homeland of so many ancient temples and ceremonial sites, has chosen to honour these ancient masters of astronomy, of engineering and construction, of irrigation and mathematics, in a special way. We are going to celebrate the memory of their astonishing achievements by inviting the world to come to Belize and visit some of these ancient places.

The Belize Tourism Board has prepared a special Mayan Passport which will provide easy access to these Maya sites from the best known such as Caracol, Xunantunich, Lamanai, Altun Ha, place of the ancient Jade Head, and Lubantuum, place of the ancient Crystal Skull, to lesser known places -- Cahal Pech, Cerros, El Pilar, Lim li Punit, and Nohoch Che’en.

The Belize Tourism Board, in association with the National Institute of Culture and History, is also inviting tourists to come see the cenotes and famous caves, which are among the most stunning of archeological sites. A few lucky ones will be able to a camp-out at Caracol to experience the beauty of the rising sun at the summer and winter solstice and the spring and autumn equinox.

Belizeans as well as tourists will want to secure at least one of the 22-carat gold coins which have been struck for this special occasion and which can be had now at the Belize Central Bank. These end of the world coins are available also in sterling silver. The gold ones cost Bze. $2,200 each.

The National Institute of Culture and History and the Belize Tourism Board have done a superb job of careful planning to make the year 2012 a memorable year for Belizeans and our friends who come to visit.

We congratulate N.I.C.H. and the BTB for their enterprising insights and superb planning, and we trust that the New Year, 2012, will be prosperous and fruitful for all the people of Belize.

Reporter Editorial

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#426888 - 01/06/12 02:35 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Where Will Belize Be "When the World Ends"?

Belize like the rest of the Mundo Maya world is bracing itself for an onslaught of visitors for the year 2012, that could see a record breaking number of visitor arrivals.

The event that's expected to trigger a surge in the number of tourist arrivals to the area is hyped as no less than "the 2012 Apocalypse."

That refers to the date, December, 21st, 2012, known as the last day on the Mayan calendar. In Belize, a National Maya 2012 committee has been formed to take advantage of all the publicity being generated around the World, and the anticipated economic boom countries with rich Maya civilizations can expect.

Already, Belize has been listed as one of the top destinations for 2012, according to the television Travel Channel, and the country is set to launch its own Calendar of events celebrating not the end of the World, but as Shari Williams, Communications Director for NICH says, the beginning of a new era.

Shari Williams, Communications Director, NICH
"Definitely the Mundo Maya World is the place to be for 2012. We've had a lot of international calls asking about what's happening. So we started pretty early on last year in terms of putting a committee together and looking at how we can promote Belize as the place to be. Every country in this particular region is marketing them self as the place to be, but we believe is the heart land of the Maya."

"This year what we did, we put together a committee called 2012 committee and so they have been looking at one major activity for every month. So of these activities are activities that are already on going and some activities are new and are just being introduced to the celebrations for 2012. One of the biggest activities will be of course the solstice and equinox. There are four times in the year when the sun is directly in the center of the earth, and there were certain temples built to see this very rare occurrence, and so what we did was, we for the first time the institute of archeology is allowing visitors to be at Caracol, for the four times during 2012 to see this event."

Jim McFadzean
"Any information on how the Mundo Maya countries are joining to take advantage of 2012?"

Shari Williams, Communications Director, NICH
"Yes of course, like us they have been sitting down and thinking about activities to have. They have been inviting international visitors to their country and of course they are all proclaiming to be the place to be or 2012, but we are very proud to say that according to the Travel Channel Belize is a top destination to be in 2012, and so we are very proud of this and we are not going to let our visitors down. We are going to work very hard in terms of making them have an experience a once in a life time experience and they could safely go back and say, I was in Belize for 2012."

Travel Agents and Airlines are already reporting increased bookings to Mundo Maya destinations including Belize. Mexico has already launched its Maya 2012 tourism plan to meet the more than 50 million visitors it expects to host for 2012, and at home here the Maya 2012 Calendar of events will get its official unveiling come next Wednesday, January 11th.

Channel 7


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#427668 - 01/13/12 02:56 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

VIDEO: Belize Maya 2012 Passport

Belize Maya 2012 Passport is a Maya pass to 12 of Belize's Arqueological Sites.


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#427673 - 01/13/12 03:41 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
The Maya World Braces For 2012 Apocalypse, Tourism Boom

Mexican government officials are predicting a surge of visitors to the five southern states that comprise the country's Maya region. In Belize, which bills itself as "heartland of the Maya," airlines have committed tens of thousands of extra seats to accommodate projected interest from foreign visitors. In Guatemala, the country with the most living Maya, officials predict a 10 percent across-the-board increase in tourism.

The end of the world, it turns out, is marked by an economic boom.

"2012 will be a momentous occasion, not only for Belize's large Maya population, but for all Belizeans," said Yanick Dalhouse, the Belize Tourism Board's Director of Marketing. "Given the amount of interest we're seeing from around the world, it's generating global excitement as well."

Dalhouse is referring to the year 2012's significance as the end of the Maya Long Count calendar, a 5,125-year period of time which ends exactly on Gregorian calendar date December 21, 2012, the winter solstice. The date was inscribed in stone 1300 years ago near modern-day Tabasco, Mexico and its actual significance is debated among academics and theorists. There are hundreds of books on the subject and probably hundreds of theories, but the implication for Guatemala, southern Mexico, and Belize is clear and immediate: more visitors.

This region -- along with parts of Honduras and El Salvador -- make up the Mundo Maya, a diverse tropical region which includes the flat lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula and the verdant high country of Guatemala. A vast kingdom of city-states once dominated this region, but by 900 A.D. the Maya had abandoned their grand urban centers to Mother Nature, who hid them for half a millenium. Today, some ten million Maya descendants still live in the region and speak 30 indigenous Mayan languages.

In the southern Mexican states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatán, officials are expecting 52 million visitors next year (both domestic and international), and are planning over 500 Maya cultural events throughout the year. President Felipe Calderon announced this at a special summer solstice press conference in 2011 to launch Mexico's Maya 2012 tourism efforts.

Meanwhile, the city of Tapachula has erected a countdown clock in the town square and resorts along the Riviera Maya are planning special reenactments of the Maya ball game and Sacred Mayan Journey, in which hundreds of paddlers travel in canoes to the island of Cozumel to pay homage to the goddess Ixchel. There are academic Maya studies symposiums being held in Antigua, Uxmal, and Belize City in 2012 and plenty of still-unannounced concerts and gatherings.

Lucy Fleming, a lodge owner in Belize and co-chair of the National Maya 2012 Committee, which is made up of representatives from the Belize Tourism Board, the National Institute of Culture and History, and industry partners, says, "Living in the heartland of the Maya, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that the rest of the world actually knows very little of this fascinating civilization and their incredible achievements."

Ms Fleming's resort property, the Lodge at Chaa Creek, will be hosting a year of activities, special tours, solstice and equinox ceremonies, workshops, and seminars "to introduce the world to the marvels of the ancient Maya civilization."

The idea, she says, is "to celebrate 2012 with the respect, excitement and significance it deserves."

Katie Valk, founder and director of Belize-Trips.com, is a Belize travel specialist who is already seeing increased bookings for 2012 over last year. When clients ask about visiting Maya communities, she often steers them to the southern Toledo district, where several programs try to ensure rural Maya communities see some of the trickle-down from tourism.

People in the Maya communities of Toledo, she says, are divided on the issues of oil drilling and hardwood extraction from protected areas, which is not difficult to understand with so many people living below the poverty level.

"We need to include these people in any benefits derived [from tourism]," says Ms Valk, "and offer attractive employment opportunities working to protect, rather than destroy, the environment."

Major airlines have already committed approximately 37,000 additional airline seats to Belize in 2012, compared to 2011 according to Anthony Hunt, a representative of the tourism sector on Belize's Civil Aviation Authority Board who claims there is no evidence that this increase is due to the Mayan calendar. Hunt says the reason for the new seats is "confidence of the airlines in the strength, stability and growth of the Belize tourism product," but that product is currently being sold under the 2012 tourism board tagline, "Where will you be when the world begins anew?"

Gaspar Pedro González, a Guatemalan novelist and professor at University Mariano Gálvez, grew up in a Q'anjobal Maya village in the Cuchumatan Mountains and has some concerns about the tourism apocalypse.

"Most Maya are not in the capital," he said, "they're out in the villages and communities." And most traditional tourism infrastructure "is not in Maya hands. It is in white people's hands, the Ladinos, they benefit more from tourism economically. But if foreigners want to visit the more remote villages, to visit this essence of the culture, this essence of life, they should go to the smallest villages where they have conserved the Mayan languages and form of life. Surely the Maya will benefit from this tourism."

In 2012, he says, visitors should seek out the opportunity "to meet actual Maya, see their customs, their traditions, their form of life, and learn about their mysticism and philosophy." Even though, he says, in rural Guatemala, "There aren't as many comforts, only simple pensiones. But that is where you'll find the essence of life and the essence of the culture."

Whether or not the Maya benefit from the interest in their culture generated by a foretold (or not) armageddon will depend largely on the priorities of travelers. The year will prove a success for native communities only if foreigners desire more than to rubberneck at the at the end of the world.

Josh Berman in the Huffington Post

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#427861 - 01/15/12 02:18 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Launching the Belize Maya Calendar 2012

Where will you be when the world begins anew? That’s the main question that resounded at the launching of the Maya 2012 Calendar of activities at the Bliss Center on the night of Wednesday January 11th. The event also included a special lecture by a world renowned Archeologist and Author, Dr. Mark Van Stone.

The attendees had an hour of entertainment by flutist Pablo Collado. Many Maya songs were rendered beautifully with the flute, and Collado certainly had a captive audience. In addition, there were performances by the Otoxha Deer Dancers. Both Collado and the Otoxha Dancers set the stage for the launching of the activities planned by the Belize Tourism Board and the National Institute for Culture and History.

In his remarks, Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. explained that Belize represents “the Maya heartland” of a grand civilization that dominated the region.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun


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#429142 - 01/31/12 02:35 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Cashing in on the 'end of the world' tourism

Mayan_ruins_apocalypse.jpg

For doomsday theorists, Dec. 21, 2012 could mean the end of civilization, according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar.  But for some tour operators and property owners, the end of the world also means a chance to cash in on the apocalypse hype.

In the most prominent countries of the Mundo Maya – Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador – the tourism industry is gearing up for a record year, with dozens of Maya-themed offerings designed to lure visitors. 

The Guatemalan city of Tapachula will feature an 8-foot digital count-down clock in its main park, Mexico's Riviera Maya are planning reenactments of a popular Mayan ball game and the Sacred Mayan Journey, in which hundreds of paddlers travel in canoes to the island of Cozumel to pay homage to the goddess Ixchel. In all countries, there will be special solstice and equinox ceremonies, Mayan-themed workshops and music festivals. 

Celebrities have also gotten in on the action: Paul McCartney is scheduled to perform this spring at Chichén Ixtá, an official World Wonder of spectacular Mayan ruins in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. McCartney’s concert at the historic site, which Yucatán governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco confirmed on her Twitter account, could be part of the singer’s farewell tour.

As 2012 rolls ahead, hotels, tour companies and other travel vendors have rolled out all sorts of Maya-themed packages and itineraries, which vary from authentic to outrageous. 

If you're thinking about the using this auspicious time to get married you can join the "Mayan Marriage of Many" and tie the knot with 35 other luck couples on an actual Mayan ruin in Belize. The ceremony takes place on Dec.12, with plenty of time to prepare for the end of the world as a married couple, before you're whisked to a tropical honeymoon paradise. Package prices range from $14,030 to $24,030 depending on what extras you add-on. 

For the sports-and-adventure type, try a bike tour through an ancient Mayan villages in Guatemala's Lake Atitlan, where you can experience climbs of up to 1,200 vertical feet and navigate single-track, rocky, narrow trails that transport you "to your own cosmic realm."  Prices for this trip, which begins on Dec. 17, start at the more affordable $1,790.

For those who want to experience spirituality at sea, the “Mayan Galactic Alignment” cruise encourages passengers to “celebrate the ascension of humanity into a higher vibration.” For five days passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph will visit sacred sites along the Yucatan Peninsula, witness the end of the Mayan calendar, considered "the epic metaphysical event of our lifetime," and enter "the 'World of the Fifth Sun' together, in a sacred gathering."  Price for the cruise start at $999.

In Belize, tourists will be able to get access to each of the country’s main archaeological sites, including Altun Ha, Barton Creek Cave and Caracol, with the $25 Maya 2012 Passport, which is available through Dec. 21, 2012.

Plus, for the first time, Belize’s National Institute of Culture & History (NICH) is allowing visitors to camp overnight at the majestic Maya site of Caracol to witness the rising sun over the revered site on the summer and winter solstices and spring and autumnal equinoxes. These Maya Equinox Celebrations are limited to 100 guests per event and allow travelers to camp at Caracol on the evening of the 20th of March, June, September, and December. Click here for more information, The Belize Tourism Board will also be available to take orders at 800-624-0686.

(Of honorable note: one hotel operator in the U.S. we talked to is also hoping to cash in on the Mayan events. The “Live While You’re Alive” package at the swanky Hotel Teatro, in downtown Denver, Colo. includes a night in a luxe suite stocked with Dom Perignon and caviar, private butler, a six-course tasting menu with wine for two, limousine service, a helicopter ride, and a $25,000 shopping spree – all for a whopping $35,000. The price also includes an “if you make it” extra for 2013: a one-night stay in a deluxe room, along with a bottle of Dom.)

The apocalyptic theories behind such tourism offerings stem more from Western influences, such as the doomsday movie "2012," rather than any Maya prophecy. 

Dec. 21, 2012 is significant for the Maya because it coincides with the end of a 5,125-year period in the Long Count calendar. The date marks the end of 13 b’aktun cycles of 393 years each – not the end of the world, many Maya scholars say.

In order to avoid perpetuating misconceptions about impending destruction, some tour operators have been careful to avoid references to “end of the world” or “apocalypse” in their marketing.

In fact, in Belize, the message has been repackaged as an event celebrating a “transition” in the Maya Calendar and the Tourism Board has recently come out with its latest brand: "Where Will You Be When The World Begins Anew Belize? Maya 2012.″ 

“Without being archeologists or historians, from what we see and what we know there’s a pretty big misinterpretation of what this calendar [ending] means,” says Jonathan Brunger, operations manager for Adventure Life, which is offering a 12-day “Celebrate the Maya” tour that includes visits to Maya sites in Honduras and Guatemala. “That’s not going to be a theme of our trip, but I’m sure it’s going to be a conversation piece.”

Travelers looking for an authentic experience – such as interacting with living Maya in their communities -- should do as much research as possible on the trip or tour beforehand, says Joshua Berman, author of Moon Maya 2012: A Guide to Celebrations in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras (Avalon Travel Publishing).

“There are some really thoughtful packages, and some not-so-thoughtful packages – like a $2012 price tag with no visit to any sort of a Mayan village or temple,” Berman says. “There will be big gatherings, small gatherings, ones that are based on fact and ones that are not. The key is looking for something that allows you interaction with Maya people in their villages.”

Another key: booking early. 

Mexico's tourism agency expects to draw 52 million visitors just to the five states richest in Maya heritage, and Guatemalan officials predict a 10 percent across-the-board bump in tourism.  In Belize, airlines are also planning to accommodate thousands of  last-minute foreign visitors.

One forward-thinking American finds herself on a potential gold mine for booking in advance --way in advance. In 2008, Celeste Oda, an artist who specializes in face-painting and lives in San Jose, Calif., purchased a three-day, two-room stay at Mayaland, an award-winning resort in the Yucatan Peninsula, for approximately $1,500 spanning the Dec. 21 date. A recent online search at the property turned up similar rooms during the same dates at $4,320.

Oda had considered trying to sell the rooms instead of traveling to Mexico for the much-hyped date because she was fearful of the country’s escalating, drug war-related violence. However, the mother of two, who’s in the midst of a divorce, had a recent change of heart.

“I feel like I’m supposed to be there for some strange reason,” she says. “I’m excited to go. I have no idea what’s going to take place – I’m hoping it will be just one big party.”

That’s not to say the Mundo Maya will transform into a Spring Break-style fiesta throughout the coming year, even on Dec. 21. 

“It’s like Christmas – you’re not running through the streets communing with strangers,” notes Shannon Kring Bruset, who’s hosting a renewal-themed trip to Copán, Honduras, in December with JB Journeys

“For many Maya, it’s more about spending a special day with families.”

SOURCE


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#429535 - 02/04/12 04:18 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Maya festivals for the end of time

On 21 December 2012 -- the winter solstice – the Maya calendar will complete a 5,126 year cycle and will come to an end. While some people are building shelters to prepare for the apocalypse, others are heading into the heart of Mayan civilization.

Before its collapse around 800 AD, the ancient Maya empire spread across southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Today, nearly 50% of Belize’s population is of mixed Maya-European descent and about 10% are indigenous Maya. While many of the most well known Maya sites are located in Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is home to hundreds of archaeological sites, 11 of which are excavated and open to the public.

In the lead up to the winter solstice, several sites throughout the former British colony are hosting events to celebrate the end (or the resetting) of the Maya calendar. At the Caracol Archaeological Reserve in western Belize, the National Institute of Culture and History is holding four special events to mark 2012’s two solstices (21 June and 21 December) and the two equinoxes (21 March and 22 September). An archaeologist will lead a tour of the ancient site, nestled in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and traditional food will be served. Overnight camping at Caracol will be allowed for the first time, allowing winter solstice campers the chance to witness the sun rise on a new B'ak'tun (or cycle) from a very historical spot. Each event is limited to 100 people; tickets can be purchased through the Institute of Archaeology.

LINK for the rest of the article....

Journey into the Maya underworld

Belize’s forest-clad highlands sit atop Central America’s most extensive cave system, containing some of the largest subterranean passageways and chamber rooms in the western hemisphere. The caves were carved out of limestone by the Chiquibul River, and the watery darkness hosts a variety of resident troglobite cave creatures, as well as the occasional sub-aquatic spelunker. According to legend, the Chiquibul cave system was also the entrance to Xibalba, the macabre Maya underworld.

The place of fright

Xibalba, which translates as “the place of fright”, was home to the most feared Maya deities, the Lord of Death and his evil attendants – ghoulish specialists in disease, starvation, pain, blood-spilling, gut-wrenching and skeleton-transforming. It was here that wayward souls would be confronted with terrifying tests of courage and acumen, including a river of poisonous scorpions, a house of killer jaguars and a game played with balls made of rotating blades.

The demon gods of the underworld were eventually outwitted, though not entirely defeated, by the wily protagonists of Maya mythology, the Hero Twins, who overcame Xibalba’s deadly obstacles and avenged their father’s death. Even though the menacing powers of Xibalba were diminished, the Maya continued to offer sacrifices to appease the gods, and for a while, the Maya civilization thrived.

Collapse of the great civilization

Archaeological evidence shows a dramatic increase in cave sacrifices in the late Classic Period, around 900 AD, coinciding with geological evidence of a drought. It is presumed that Maya civilization was undone by a climatic cataclysm, a decades-long drought that first destroyed the agricultural-based economy and then brought down the socio-political system, causing migration from once prosperous and proud cities, famine and death.

The Maya ruler-priests ventured deeper and deeper into the lair of the underworld gods, making ever more elaborate sacrifices in an attempt to stave off the collapse of the great ancient civilization. But eventually, the people dispersed, the forest closed in and the sacred caves lay undisturbed for a millennium.

Modern explorers in the ancient underworld

In the late 20th Century, archaeologists rediscovered the ancient passage to the underworld and the well-preserved remnants of the Maya drought culture, and today, several ceremonial sites in western Belize are open to travellers. Accompanied by a licensed guide, adventurous souls can take day trips into the depths of the caves and examine the relics left behind by the ancient Maya.

The most challenging expedition, Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) is a labyrinthine series of caves located east of San Ignacio in the Tapir Mountain Reserve. A swim across a deep clear river pool is necessary to reach the cave entrance. From there, a three-mile hike leads to further underground obstacles: walking through chest-deep water, scaling rocky ledges in the dark, squeezing through narrow cracks in limestone walls and climbing a tall rickety ladder.

In the darkest depths of ATM, there are roomy underground chambers with ornate stalactite and stalagmite formations, countless ceramic shards and broken pots (Maya believed that it was necessary to smash a sacrificial vessel to release the spirit within), and altar places where bloodletting ceremonies occurred (Maya priests offered their own blood by piercing their tongue or foreskin). The climax of the adventure is discovering the bony remains of human sacrifices, including ATM’s central attraction, the Crystal Maiden, a fully intact calcified skeleton of an adolescent female victim.

Barton Creek Cave, also located near San Ignacio, offers a more leisurely visit to the underworld. Explorers can marvel at the naturally wondrous cathedral ceiling and the archaeologically amazing ritualistic remnants from the comfort of their canoe. The Barton Creek Cave includes 10 ledges of known sacrifice sites and skeletal remains of nearly 30 sacrificed humans. Take in the serene and surreal while paddling the mile-long route into the mystical Maya underworld.

LINK for the rest of the article....


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#433711 - 03/22/12 01:25 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Equinox At Caracol

Today, Wednesday March 21st is the spring equinox in the final year of the current cycle of the Maya long count calendar, which ends on December 21, 2012.

To commemorate the ending of the 13th Baktun, as it is called, last night, the Institute of Archaeology hosted a night of camping, cultural presentations and history at the ancient Mayan city-state of Caracol in the Cayo District.

It's one of four such events planned this year and the overnight archaeological camping adventures are timed to coincide with this year's equinoxes and solstices.

It's all part of Belize's 2012 Cultural Tourism package provocatively themed, "Where Will You Be When The World Begins Anew?"

Dr. Jaime Awe says that observing the equinoxes and solstices are a part of the Mayan Calendar Cycle:

Dr Jaime Awe - Belize Institute of Archaeology
"One of those ideas of mine was why not celebrate the solstice and the equinox up at one of the archaeological sites, and the reason for that is that 2012 is all about the end of a cycle, and the start of another, and so the solstices and equinox are cycles of time. By doing this event here, I felt that it was going to be unique, special, and authentic. And then, to combine the native priests doing their ceremonies in the morning, for me, the number one purpose of this is to make not just Belizeans, but they world become aware of Belize's Maya heritage. And I think that I may have said to you before that I think this heritage belongs to the people of the world, not just for Belizeans. I feel privileged that we in Belize are custodians of this human past, and it's a great past. The Maya developed this civilization that equal to all the great civilizations of the world, and so for me it's bringing that awareness, not just to Belize, to everybody. All our information about 2012 indicated that it was going to be the end of this great cycle, very much like the year 2000, which you know, we did a lot of 'hoopla' about it. You remember, you know - people saying that the computers are going to crash, and this going to happen, get your money out of the banks. And at the end what happened was that we ended this millennia and started the next one. And so, I said, 'Guess what, to the Maya the world was going to, it was going to be the end of this cycle, and then, it would start again.'"

Tickets were available to Belizeans and international tourists for $150 US or $300 BZD.

About 60 persons took part. The next event is planned for the summer solstice on June 21st...

Channel 7


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#433819 - 03/23/12 02:03 PM Re: Belize Maya 2012 Calendar Of Events [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Solstice at the Caracol Maya Site

“Where Will You Be When The World Begins Anew?” That’s the theme for the calendar of activities that the Belize Tourism Board have planned to celebrate the end of the Mayan calendar in December 2012. The equinoxes and solstices are central to the calendar so the BTB is holding activities at various Mayan sites. On Tuesday night in Caracol, about one hundred visitors camped out to be able to catch a glimpse of the splendor of the solstice that can be viewed only twice for the year. Here is a first report on that event by News Five Delahnie Bain.

 

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Belizeans as well as visitors had the opportunity to experience a traditional Maya ritual on Wednesday morning. The Solstice at the Caracol Maya site was one of the most unique events on the NICH calendar of events for 2012 and according to the Director of the Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Jaime Awe, that’s exactly what they were going for.

Jaime Awe

Dr. Jaime Awe, Director, Institute of Archaeology

“From the very start, we realized that we didn’t want to go the route of what some of the other countries were doing; we wanted to do events that were unique, special, different, one of a kind and so when I started to think about this, I thought how often does one get an opportunity to go to a Maya site and stay overnight and actually wake up in the morning with all the noises etcetera that are particular to that place?”

 

The solstice is an astronomical event that happens only twice a year when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky. Awe says they chose to a Maya site as the venue to evoke a deeper appreciation for the history behind it all.

 

Dr. Jaime Awe

“For me, the Maya sites that we have in this country, they don’t only belong to Belize. This kind of heritage really belongs to the world. These are the tangible bits of evidence of human struggle, human achievement that all humans should celebrate. When you think about the big temples you see at Caracol, these people achieved this using nothing but stone tool technology. They developed this incredible civilization and that civilization eventually declined. These are lessons not just for us to learn, it’s for everybody who is human to learn.”

 

Another Solstice is planned for September twentieth and twenty-first, also at Caracol. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

 

A full report by William Neal and Cameraman Alex Ellis on the Caracol experience will be aired in a future newscast.

Channel 5


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