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25 de octubre de 2012

Exploring The Yucatan In Cancun And Chichen Itza

Cancun is situated on the southeast coast of Mexico in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula. The place is known for its white, powdery sand beaches and turquoise crystal clear waters, but it also has a rich Mayan heritage.

Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage site whose main draw is the 72 feet high Pyramid of Kukulkan, but also boasts wonderful tourism infrastructure.

The Mayans read the sky with great accuracy and the dimensions of the pyramid represent the days of the year and the movement of the planet around the sun. We arrived in Chichen Itza on the day of the September equinox, as did several thousand others, hoping to see a phenomenon which occurs twice a year, on the spring and fall equinox when the sun projects the illusion of a serpent slithering down the steps of the pyramid. This day, no sun -- no serpent -- but we were still struck at the majesty of this spectacular monument.

Huis Clos, No Exit

When it comes to adventure, in this world there are two distinct types of people: those who shout "bring it on" and those who say "no, get me outta here," as they stare forlornly into an endless abyss that they're told to rappel down. I fall into this second type so as I read over the itinerary for my ten-hour day, I kept trying to find a way out. An exercise in futility. I was with a group who were already merrily hiking through the rain forest jungle and there was no turning back. Our trek through mud, thick brush begging to be bushwhacked and bulbous vines that looked exactly like sinewy, slithering snakes, led to our first bit of excitement for the day: the ubiquitous zipline over the jungle canopy many feet below. As I stood on the platform from which I would soon jump, I allowed a wizened old Mayan gent to chain, clamp, and lock me into iron gear, a thought occurred: I really, truly dislike adventure -- for me, that is. Actually I like to watch.

After my zipping escapade, our guide gave us a lesson in "Jungle Behavior 101," warning that the bark of some of the trees were poisonous to the touch. What he actually said was "Touch and you will suffer." Telling us to be on the lookout for tarantulas, jaguars, snakes, wildcats and armadillos to name just a few of the cute animals that inhabit this forest, we mindlessly stumbled onward through a trail littered with thick, damp and decaying vegetation. To account for my long (very long) day of thrills, suffice it to say that what came next was a plunge into one of this area's famedcenotes, (a deep water-filled sinkhole in a cave, in short, an underground river). Bracing. Then we rappelled down a steep, sheer vertical cliff (more clamps, locks, chains), and the finale: another zipline. Happily, we landed near a Mayan village where this welcoming community had prepared a delicious spread consisting of empanadas, black beans and rice, Cochinita Pibil and Huevos Motulenos.

My Oh Maya!

Another day our group visited Xcaret, a majestic archaeological park located in Riviera Maya. We watched the re-creation of a pre-Hispanic ball game and a charro celebration in a Mexican cemetery. Xcaret's coral reef aquarium was amazing, and yes, I got into the water once more. I couldn't resist the chance to swim with dolphins, something everyone should do at least once in their life. It's that much fun! In the evening, we experienced a highlight of this park, a show with more than 300 actors on stage, drums beating in the jungle night, torches blazing in the trees, and an intriguing journey through the history of Mexico from pre-Hispanic times to the present day, all with colorful costumes, folklore and dancing.

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Before my Cancun visit ended, I just had to have one more outstanding adventure, this at my hotel, the beautiful Westin Resort & Spa. They offer a traditional Mexican Temazcal sauna and steam bath heated with volcanic rocks. Whenever I hear the words sauna or steam bath, well, I'm there. Thoughts of deep relaxation, repose, respite from the day -- yes! Maybe I should have inquired what Temezcal means. I was led out of the hotel to a sandy area where I found a rustic building, the Temezcal chamber.

This chamber is heated by volcanic rocks. When boughs of herbs are laid over the hot rocks and they're doused with water, a scented steam begins one's sweating process. I was told this is necessary to purify the body and release toxins. The chamber was very low and squat, so low that I had to crawl on hands and knees to enter and then sit along the wall. Once inside this small space with the ceiling just inches above my head, claustrophobic me suddenly knew that Temezcal was clearly not a good idea. However, our young guide encouraged me to calm down and give it a try. Next, the opening to the chamber was covered over with a makeshift door, and cloths were laid over that, plunging us in total darkness. The heat intensified as a helper outside the chamber continually brought in more red-hot coals.

It was difficult for me to breathe. Then our guide said "Now, think of a strong intention, something you'd like to happen." When she asked each of us our intention, I blurted out that mine was to leave the chamber -- immediately. After much gentle persuasion, my guide realized that I was not to be dissuaded. She reluctantly called "Door!" and the helper peeled back the layers that blocked the entrance. I was out and able to once more breathe salty ocean air and gaze at the starry sky. Sauna and steam bath repose? For me, not so much.

Taking full stock of my Mexico visit, it was, in sum, lovely. Waging war with my fears? Winning! (let's please forget about the sweat lodge). Enjoying the five luscious pools, the dining, and my room's grand balcony at The Westin, the beauty of this very special land and last but by no means least, the wonderful, kind, bright, warm and welcoming people of Mexico -- it was all good. The end is near? Not a chance. Not while the Yucatan Peninsula with its myriad wonders is here to discover and enjoy!


Follow Barbara Barton Sloane on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ofmeising

24 de octubre de 2012

Eventos especiales en el fin del año Maya


La interpretación del calendario maya que marca el 20 de diciembre de 2012 como el fin de un ciclo y del mundo, ha sido la plataforma del más ambicioso programa turístico que busca atraer viajeros a los diferentes destinos que lo conforman, a pesar de que, de acuerdo a expertos en arqueología, este concepto no figura en la cultura de esa civilización. 

No obstante, la falta de rigor científico ante las declaraciones de diversas organizaciones sociales y religiosas en el planeta acerca del final de la humanidad no han sido impedimento para que la inercia de este fenómeno sirva incluso para dictar iniciativas gubernamentales. 

Éste es el caso del Programa Mundo Maya, impulsado por el gobierno federal a través de la Secretaría de Turismo (Sectur), que sigue con la premisa de la administración del presidente Felipe Calderón de impulsar al turismo, en las que puede incluirse, por ejemplo, la designación de 2011 como el Año del Turismo en México. 

La iniciativa reúne a cinco estados del sureste mexicano: Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco y Yucatán, al ser las entidades mexicanas en las que se encuentran los vestigios más palpables que la cultura maya dejó atrás. 

El objetivo, de acuerdo a las autoridades turísticas en México, es impulsar el crecimiento de esta región, denominada Mundo Maya, a través de diversas estrategias de promoción y desarrollo de productos, así como la consolidación de los ya existentes, al tiempo que todo se realiza bajo un marco de apoyo sustentable. 

Sectur detalla también que Mundo Maya busca la participación tanto del sector público como de la iniciativa privada. En tanto, los esfuerzos de promoción se enfocarían a los diferentes segmentos disponibles en las entidades involucradas, como lo es sol y playa, ecoturismo y aventura, buceo, cruceros, negocios y convenciones. 

Entre las estrategias a seguir, la dependencia plantea el fortalecimiento de la integración del producto turístico regional que fomente la sustentabilidad y el desarrollo en la zona; la promoción y mejora en la prestación de servicios turísticos; la coordinación de acciones de promoción del producto de Mundo Maya; así como el fortalecimiento de los vínculos con los países centroamericanos que también pertenecen a la misma iniciativa. 

De acuerdo con la secretaria de Turismo, Gloria Guevara Manzo, el presupuesto ascendía a 110 millones de pesos orientados directamente a la promoción de la campaña, esto con la finalidad de incrementar el número de turistas, tanto nacionales como internacionales, que podrían visitar la región. 

Asi mismo, desde el inicio de la campaña, Guevara precisó que el Programa atraerá a 52 millones de turistas a los cinco estados participantes en la iniciativa, en tanto que la derrama económica estimada es de 200,000 millones de pesos. 

La funcionaria ha declarado recientemente que, para los primeros seis meses del año, el número de reservaciones en los cinco estados participantes creció 8.0%, y señaló que, aunque aún no hay ventas consolidadas, las reservaciones para la segunda mitad de 2012 “parece que serán superiores” a las del primer semestre. 


Para el resto del año, la entidad será sede de diversos eventos, entre los que destacan la Noche de Estrellas, en la Zona Arqueológica Calakmul; el Festival del Mundo de los Muertos en el Mundo Maya, Pomuch; el Festival Centro Histórico Campeche dedicado al Mundo Maya, en San Francisco. Finalmente, será ahí mismo, en el mes de diciembre se llevará a cabo el Concierto Magno Malecón Último Sol del Mundo Maya. 


Por su parte, el estado chiapaneco celebrará la Noche de Sacerdotes Mayas en la Selva Lacandona en octubre, en tanto que en noviembre se llevará a cabo el Encuentro de Indígenas Mayas en Bonampak, y para diciembre se dará lugar el Solsticio de Invierno en el Calendario Maya, en Izapa. 

Quintana Roo 

En esta entidad, se realizará el Festival Jatsa-Ha durante el mes de agosto, en tanto que del 7 al 15 se celebrará a la Virgen de la Concepción, del 23 al 29 a la Virgen María, y del 24 al 26 se presentará la Expo Náutica Boat Show. 

Para septiembre, se llevará a cabo la competencia ciclista Ironman 70.3 en Cancún, además de la Fiesta de San Miguel, del 24 al 26 de este mes. 

En octubre se realizará el Riviera Maya Underground Film Festival (RMFUU), el Cancún Travel Mart Mexico Summit, y el III Concurso de Fotografía Submarina “Ramón Bravo”. Asimismo, el VII Festival de Tradiciones de Vida y Muerte se llevará a cabo del 30 de octubre al 2 de noviembre, mientras que del 30 al 3 de noviembre se impartirá la primera de las ZingConferences, con el tema de Nanotecnología. 

Noviembre continuará con esta serie de conferencias en las que miembros de la comunidad científica se reúnen para tratar de tópicos varios; del 2 al 6 de este mes, el tema será Química de los Péptidos; del 12 al 16, Química de Polímeros; Ácidos Nucleicos; del 27 al 1 de diciembre, Neurodegeneración; y 2nd Solar Fuels de 29 al 3 de diciembre. 

Del 1 al 5 de diciembre, las conferencias continúan con el tema de Células Bacterianas; en tanto, del 3 al 7 de diciembre, se concluye con Biocatálisis. Por otra parte, del 4 al 12 de diciembre se celebrará la Fiesta de la Virgen María y del 6 al 13 a la Virgen María de Concepción. El 11 de diciembre se realizarán las Mañanitas de Flor y Canto; del 23 al 25, la Fiesta del Niño Jesús; y del 30 al 8 de enero de 2013, el BPM Festival de música electrónica.


La Exposición de Expresiones Plásticas Mundo Maya se llevará a cabo en agosto. Para noviembre, se realizará el Tercer Festival del Chocolate: Legado Maya. Finalmente, para el 21 de diciembre, se celebrará el Baktún 13, marcando el fin de su Cuenta Larga en el calendario maya. 


Del 10 al 11 de agosto, el Espectáculo de Danza “La X’tabay” deleitará a los visitantes de esta entidad. El 21 de septiembre, ocurrirá el espectáculo del Equinoccio de Otoño Chichén Itzá, en Xibixaltun. Para el 31 de octubre, se celebrará el Hanal Pixán, Día de los Muertos en Yucatán, así como el espectáculo Delirio Teatral del Hanal Pixán. 

En noviembre, Espectáculo de danza “El nacimiento del Quinto Mundo, el nuevo Baktún” se realizará en el Teatro Armando Manzanero, Mérida, del 16 al 17 de noviembre, en tanto que el 19 se dará lugar la Ceremonia del Fuego Nuevo Chick Kabán, Ek Balám. 

Finalmente, el 15 de diciembre se llevará a cabo el Concierto del Sistema Estatal de Orquestas Juveniles, y el 21 se hará el Magno Evento de Fin de Cuenta Larga Maya, en las zonas arqueológicas de Chichén Itzá y Xibixaltun. Posteriormente, el 21 de marzo de 2013 se celebrará el 21 de marzo la Nueva Cuenta y el Equinoccio de Primavera en estas mismas zonas arqueológicas.



The interpretation of the Mayan calendar that marks the 20 December 2012 as the end of a cycle and the world, has been the platform of the more ambitious program that seeks to attract tourist travelers to different destinations that make it up, though, of According to archeologists, this concept is not in the culture of that civilization.

However, the lack of scientific rigor to the statements of various social and religious organizations on the planet about the end of mankind has not been an impediment to the inertia of this phenomenon even serve to dictate government initiatives.

This is the case of the Mundo Maya, driven by the federal government through the Ministry of Tourism (Tourism Ministry), which follows the premise of the administration of President Felipe Calderón to promote tourism, which may include, for example the designation of 2011 as the Year of Tourism in Mexico.

The initiative brings together five states in southeastern Mexico: Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatan, when Mexican entities in which the remains are more palpable than the Maya left behind.

The goal, according to tourism officials in Mexico, is driving the growth of this region, called Mundo Maya, through various promotional strategies and product development as well as strengthening existing ones, while everything performed under a framework of sustainable support.

Detailed Sectur Mundo Maya also seeks the participation of both the public and private initiative. Meanwhile, the promotional efforts would focus on different segments in the entities involved, such as sun and beach, ecotourism and adventure, diving, cruises, business and conventions.

Among the strategies to follow, dependence poses to strengthen the integration of the regional tourism product that promotes sustainability and development in the area, the promotion and improvement of tourism services, coordination of promotional product World Maya, and the strengthening of ties with the Central American countries that also belong to the same initiative.

According to the Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevara Manzo, the budget was 110 million pesos directly oriented to the promotion of the campaign, this in order to increase the number of tourists, both domestic and international, who could visit the .

Likewise, since the start of the campaign, Guevara said the program will attract 52 million tourists to the five states participating in the initiative, while the economic benefit is estimated at 200.000 million pesos.

The official recently stated that, for the first six months of the year, the number of reservations in the five participating states grew 8.0%, and noted that, although there is no consolidated sales, reservations for the second half of 2012 "seems to be higher "than in the first half.


For the rest of the year, the company will host various events, among which the Night of Stars in the Calakmul archaeological site, the World Festival of the Dead in the Mundo Maya, Pomuch; Campeche Historic Center Festival dedicated to Mundo Maya, in San Francisco. Finally, be right there in the month of December will be held the Malecón Last Great Concert Sol Maya World.


For its part, the state held the night of Chiapas Mayan Priests in the Lacandon Jungle in October, while in November will take place the Maya Indigenous Encounter in Bonampak, and by December it will lead the Winter Solstice in the Calendar Maya, in Izapa.

Quintana Roo

In this state, will be held Jatsa-Ha Festival during the month of August, while the 7 to 15 will be held at Our Lady of the Conception, from 23 to 29 to the Virgin Mary, and from 24 to 26 will be presented Marine Expo Boat Show.

By September, will take place rider competition in Cancun Ironman 70.3, in addition to the Fiesta de San Miguel, from 24 to 26 this month.

In October there will be the Riviera Maya Underground Film Festival (RMFUU), the Cancun Travel Mart Mexico Summit, and Underwater Photography Contest III "Ramon Bravo". Also, the VII Festival of Life and Death Traditions will be held from October 30 to November 2, while 30 to November 3 will be held the first of ZingConferences, with the issue of Nanotechnology.

November will continue this series of conferences in which members of the scientific community to try to meet various topics, from 2 to 6 of this month, the theme is peptide chemistry, from 12 to 16, Polymer Chemistry, Nucleic Acids , from 27 to Dec. 1, Neurodegeneration, and 2nd Solar Fuels 29 to December 3.

From 1 to 5 December, conferences continue the theme of bacterial cells, while, from 3 to 7 December, concludes with Biocatalysis. Moreover, from 4 to 12 December will celebrate the Feast of the Virgin Mary and from 6 to 13 to the Virgin Mary of Concepción. On December 11, will be conducted Mañanitas Flor y Canto, from 23 to 25, the Feast of the Child Jesus, and 30 to Jan. 8, 2013, the BPM Festival of electronic music.


The Exhibition of Visual Expressions Mundo Maya will take place in August. By November, there will be the Third Festival of Chocolate: Legacy Maya. Finally, to December 21, will be held on Baktun 13, marking the end of their Long Count in the Mayan calendar.


From 10 to 11 August, the dance show "The X'tabay" delight visitors of this entity. On September 21, the show will occur Autumnal Equinox Chichen Itza in Xibixaltun. By 31 October, will be held on Hanal Pixán, Day of the Dead in Yucatan and the Delirium show Hanal Theatrical Pixán.

In November, dance show "The birth of the Fifth World, the new Baktun" will be held at the Teatro Armando Manzanero, Merida, from 16 to 17 November, while 19 will place the New Fire Ceremony Chick Kaban, Ek Balam.

Finally, on December 15 will take place the concert of the State System of Youth Orchestras, and 21 will be the Great End Event Maya Long Count, in the archaeological sites of Chichen Itza and Xibixaltun. Subsequently, on March 21, 2013 will be held on March 21 the new account and the Spring Equinox in the same archaeological sites.

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