To climb up the 130 foot pyramid, Sky Place, I step high, one foot at a time. It is steep. Up at the top, the view of the Belizean mountains is spectacular. Human sacrifices were once held here, the victims’ heart gouged out and their bodies thrown down the steps, while vivid blood colored the white limestone red.
Below in the grass courtyard, our tents are set up. In the early morning, I will take part in a more humane sacrifice with Mayan shamans and priestesses. We will assist the sun as it changes course on the longest day of the year. A fire containing aromatic herbs and spices will be burned while prayers are said, and thanks are conveyed to the Mayan gods.
Solstices and equinoxes have always been extremely important to the Maya, but especially this year. Their calendar is ending. It is the end of the Long Count - a 5,125 year period, which began on August 11, 3114 B.C. - a summer solstice, and will end on a winter solstice.
Or, it is the beginning of a new era for humanity. As Belize archeologist Dr. Awe said, “It’s very much the way most people would look at the end of one year and the beginning of another, but over a very, very long period of time. It is a time for reflection, and for considering future direction.”
Throughout Mexico and Central America, in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, you can participate in memorable ceremonies, learn from archeologists, become cleansed by shamans, get to know the warm and gracious Maya of today, and make a meaningful memory in your own life history.
BELIZE: features expansive, tropical forests, the hemisphere’s longest barrier reef, and an enormous cave system packed with Mayan artifacts, in addition to some of the best Mayan archeological sites. The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) will offer a rare overnight stay at the top site, Caracol on Dec 20-21. The price of $150 includes a slide presentation and tour by world-renowned archeologist, Dr. Jamie Awe, tent camping in the shadow of the pyramids, fire ceremony, and breakfast. (www.nichbe
lize.org). Check out Cahal Pech, (near San Ignacio) a smaller archeological site where Dr. Awe has an active dig, which you can investigate close-up.
While in Belize, tube through the massive cave system. Moving over rapids in the pitch blackness is simply thrilling. Kayaking, as well as zip lining is also available through Discovery Expeditions (www.discoverybe
lize.com). They can also organize diving, snuba (cross between snorkeling & scuba diving) as well as Sea Trekking, where you walk along the reef wearing a dive helmet.
GUATEMALA: This country contains most of the Maya population, the most living Maya communities, and the most surviving Mayan
languages spoken. Aventu
ras en Educacion (www.ad
venturestudy.com or www.los
encuentros.com), offers a weeklong “Dawn of a New Age” tour in Lake Atitlan, priced from $512 to $722, on July 6-13, Nov. 7-16, and Dec. 14-21.
Unificacion Maya (www.ixca
naan.com) offers 7 Sacred Mayan Fire Ceremonies in 7 Sacred Sites over 7 Days with the goal, “to bring together a great number of like-minded people, gathering in the Central Plaza of Tikal at the winter solstice, the time of rebirth.”
HONDURAS: offers the smallestcrowds, off-beat adventure, and yet is an extremely powerful location. Base out of Copan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Voyage Trek (www.voyagetrek.com) offers 7 Day “Ancient Ruins & Adventures” custom tours for $2,825 per person. Included are tours to Copan Ruins Archaeological Park, jungle and ruins safaris, horseback riding, a coffee plantation visit, hot springs, a dolphin swim, gourmet cuisine, and more.
MEXICO: Every other country pales in comparison to massive, accessible archeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Coba, mostly based around the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula. Sacred Earth Journeys (
) has a 10 day/9 night “Mayan Sacred Path to 2012” tour from Nov 23-Dec 2, priced a $3,299. Meet local elders and priests, visit important Mayan sites. Maya Sites Travel (mayasi
Wilderness Travel (www.wil
dernesstravel.com) is offering the “World of the Maya: Cycles of Time Symposium & Tour” which is 12 nights, from Dec 19-31, for $5,595. Spend the solstice with top Mayan scholars.