34 miles, 45 km, or so south of Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico is a resort, the Xcaret Grand Occidental. I am here accompanying my husband to a scientific conference. The ever-encroaching greenness is kept at bay. a few select specimens are allowed constrained and coiffed growth The occasional It could be any where near the ocean where Spanish is a primary language and English is spoken to cater to visitors. It could be in Tucson. The property could be any resort in several destination cities. Sparking bluepools are surrounded by the no longer svelt nor youthful, but now adequately monied, bodies of fortunate, successful people. All of the staff speak English at the hotel/resort. The staff speak Spanish to each other, exchanging bits of gossip just as is the case at many of the resorts in Tucson.
The ocean, actually the Caribbean, wraps itself around the eastern half of the Yucatan Peninsula. I am the northeastern corner. I have always wanted to come here; one of my professors in graduate school, Dr. Robert Fry specialized in Mayan ceramics and worked in this part of the world. The sites of Palenque and Tikal were the areas used in examples, so the rather limited understanding of archaeological principles I have was largely founded on archaeology of this region. I’m not an archeologist, but rather a cultural anthropologist, by training. All American Anthropologists have to show proficiency in all 4 fields of anthropology before receiving the Masters of Science Degree.
I will be writing about my far too short of a trip here several times between now and the Winter Solstice. The calendar that drew upon the extensive astronomical knowledge of the Maya ends 6 weeks from now. This cycle ends and many people believe the world will end with it. Others who also believe in the Mayan Prophecy believe the ending is but one of a cycle drawing to a close with another beginning. We will find out soon, won’t we?
I will also write about “eco-tourism” that isn’t, and the disturbing recreation of the noble savage mythology. At a specified time each evening the crafted canals that flow throughout the resort carry canoes or long boats filled with actors re-creating “traditional” Mayan ways. Conch horns sound, drums pulse, and chants reverberate as tightly scripted as any theatrical production. The eco-park is a bit Disney with its created skin covering the hugely reconfigured coastline and jungle.
There has been lots of fodder for bloggy rumination on this trip. And I will be sharing it all with you over the next few weeks.