mesoamerica and the maya world

Category: popularization

Beyond your expectations

mexico: beyond your expectations

The Mexican Tourism Board’s campaign slogan seems a backhanded compliment to Mexico. IT seems to be saying you probably don’t expect much of Mexico, but it’s not that bad.

Funny thing is though, the campaign seems to be working. A huge display highlighting the slogan has been installed at the Miami International Airport. Mexico Premiere has the story:

“A large amount of travelers have visited the display at the airport in Miami and have expressed an enormous amount of interest in the information being provided on Mexico”, said Teresa Villareal, Director of the Mexico Tourism Board in Miami.

The Colonial style displays have been installed near gates F and G in the airport which have the highest traffic and are neighbors to airline counters with the highest impact such as: Continental, Air Canada and others. The display located in walkway G is also the entrance of the airport’s new terminal, inaugurated less than two months ago.

With its great colors and a style that reflects a traditional Mexican estate, the displays include a 42 inch plasma screen TV playing beautiful images of Mexico and are operated by friendly models who are ready to provide visitors with information. Booth guests are also receiving giveaways such as pens, caps, postcards, luggage tags and coloring books with crayons, which have been very popular among parents with traveling children and motivate them to request additional information on Mexico.

Selecting Miami International Airport was without a doubt, a huge part of the success of the operation, since the airport carries about 3 million travelers on a monthly basis, a figure that has increased 11.6 % in the past year.

Certainly, this campaign will contribute in the positioning of Mexico in the United States, targeting a key audience of high purchasing power, during the adequate high season and to establish a strong presence of Mexico that passengers will surely remember.

Montezuma Natural Wildlife Refuge

montezuma natural wildlife refuge

Okay, this post has only the most remote possible connection to Mesoamerica. But I just came back from a trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York, where I visited a marshland nature preserve called the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. (The image shows a typical marsh vista at about the height of fall color.)

The refuge gets its name from Peter Clark, a New York physician who built an estate nearby in the first decade of the 1800s. To express the grandeur and exoticism of his hilltop home, he called it “Montezuma.” Eventually the name became applied to the whole region. Clark’s adaptation of the name of the Aztec ruler shows the hold accounts of the conquest had on the Yankee imagination in the early nineteenth century — Scott named his estate well before William Prescott’s best-selling histories of the conquest were published.

Pink Floyd and Chichen Itza

I’m not a big Pink Floyd fan, but the juxtaposition of their music with a family visit to the Maya site expresses something of how the public views Chichen Itza.

National Geographic’s Maya Feature

national geographic maya

THE STRANGER ARRIVED as the dry season began to harden the jungle paths, allowing armies to pass. Flanked by his warriors, he marched into the Maya city of Waka, past temples and markets and across broad plazas. Its citizens must have gaped, impressed not just by the show of force but also by the men’s extravagant feathered headdresses, javelins, and mirrored shields—the regalia of a distant imperial city.

Ancient inscriptions give the date as January 8, 378, and the stranger’s name as Fire Is Born. He arrived in Waka, in present-day Guatemala, as an envoy from a great power in the highlands of Mexico. In the coming decades, his name would appear on monuments all across the territory of the Maya, the jungle civilization of Mesoamerica. And in his wake, the Maya reached an apogee that lasted five centuries.

I hate this kind of theatrical writing (byline: Guy Gugliotta). But, if it’s your sort of thing, there are six or seven pages of it at the National Geographic website. I think it’s the lead story in their current issue.

Gibson Girl

San Bernardino County Museum curator Adella Schroth admits the exhibition Five Suns: The Art of Ancient Mesoamerica (May 19-November 4, 2007) was inspired by Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. That’s not surprising, but what is surprising is that the museum’s scholarship appears to have descended to the level of that of the film.

Among the show’s howlers (as described in an article in the Press-Enterprise newspaper):

  • The Pyramid of the Sun near Mexico City was built by the Maya (the pyramid is hundreds of miles from the Maya region and different in style from Maya pyramids)
  • The Aztecs discovered chocolate (they were latecomers to the feast)
  • The concept of the five suns that gives the exhibition its name was widely shared throughout Mesoamerica (it is mainly Aztec)
  • A timeline that states flatly “Columbus discovers America” without commentary or explanation (Columbus discovered America in the same sense that I “discovered” a popular restaurant; even among Europeans he was not first)
  • Many misspelled names, inaccurate dates, geographical errors

Enrique Murillo, an educational anthropologist and associate professor of language, literacy, and culture at Cal State San Bernardino, said, according to the article, that museum staff “kind of made this up as they went along…. People in a museum have an imperative to do the research and have the scholarly evidence to back up their claims.”

Artist Xavier Cázares Cortéz appears to have been the principal force in exposing the errors and getting them corrected. More in the LA Times.

“If we find something that’s incorrect, we’ll make a change,” responded Schroth, according to the Press Enterprise. From the sound of it, that should be easy. The real challenge might be to find something that’s correct.

UPDATE: According to La Azteca, “corrections” made to the exhibit have introduced new errors.


Are we done now?

Thank heavens that‘s over.

The three most annoying idiot topics related to the Maya:

  • New seven wonders of the world
  • Maya 2012 prophesy
  • Mel’s Gibson Apocalypto

If these would go away the world would be a better place.

Apocalypse 2012

I’ve seen a lot of posts about the coming End of Days — to occur in 2012 according to the Maya calendar — in my feeds, and I’ve ignored them until now. Now at last Inner Diablog has made some comments on the subject that are worth linking to.

The Railroad All-Stars

The clip below is a trailer for Estrellas de la Línea, a film about sex workers in Guatemala City who organized themselves as a football (soccer) team. Guatemala City has become a nightmarish places, and it goes without saying that these women’s lives must be very difficult.

The full story is at The Global Game.

Mayan Theater, Los Angeles

mayan theater, los angeles facade

Posting is a little light while I’m on the road. Meanwhile, for your amusement, here are a couple of images of the facade of the Mayan Theater (1040 Hill Street, near 11th Street) in Los Angeles.

The decorative motifs on the facade of the theater were inspired by elements of the late Maya sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza in the Yucatan. The theater opened in 1927 with a performance of George Gershwin’s Oh, Kay! Over the years the neighborhood declined, and it became a site for porno films. I think now it’s a concert venue.

I went to a party at the Mayan Theater once. Booker T and the MGs Junior Walker and the All Stars performed.

mayan theater, los angeles -- detail of facade

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