Apocalypse now (or maybe later)

We’re only a quarter of the way into the year, but already there is much discussion about the Maya Long Count calendar which ends its current 5,125-year period in 2012. For those who believe in the impending apocalypse, such predictions can have advantages.

There’s no need to vote in November, and since the calendar ends on Dec. 21, why bother with Christmas shopping?

Interest in the Mundo Maya (“Mayan World”) countries of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize is rapidly increasing.

Surges in bookings should last throughout the year as the “big event” draws ever closer, with yearlong celebrations ranging from symposiums, concerts and cultural exhibitions to festivals and anything in between.

Most of the talk will center upon the “end of the world” because it’s easy to understand and the media can work that angle to death. (Pardon the pun)

The truth is, many Mayans have no inkling about all the fuss. Some who have thought about it will not respond with an expected answer. What they will notice however, is more money in their economy thanks to an influx of curious visitors.

With many archaeological sites throughout the country, Belize is regarded as the “heartland of the Maya.” Even without the calendar as a catalyst, the ruins are fascinating from both a historical and a cultural perspective. These grand urban centers with their temples, ball courts, shrines and exotic carvings are nestled within dense forests and seemingly inaccessible terrain. Yet, somehow they thrived until the 10th century when the cities were mysteriously abandoned.

Here’s the simple solution to cut through all the discussion between now and December.

The Maya calendar does, indeed, end on Dec. 21. But it starts anew on Dec. 22, and it’s a sure bet none of us will be around when that Long Count one ends – 5,125 years from now.

It’s all just part of a cycle. One cycle ends and a new one begins.

For tourists, it’s a great adventure. Experience it and have fun. Savor the celebration. And, for those who decide to skip the shopping, there will still be three days left to get it done before Christmas.

Details on visiting Belize: