The Mayan calendar was the first thing that came to mind when I was asked where I would like to cruise. As unknowledgeable as I was fascinated, I look back on my recent research with a realization that I am, in some ways, one of the sheeple — a word that implies a lack of interest or an inability to think for oneself. Breaking the trend, I chose a shore excursion, which turned out to be revolutionary in ways I will try to express.
Wilberthe Antonio Gonzalez Martin was our tour guide; he challenged my thinking in a critical way, the way a good teacher can. Unable to recall each detail, I will never forget the emotional humility in his remark: “Maybe the date [12/21/12] is the beginning of the Mayan Culture. I feel proud for this [being of Mayan descent].”
All the while, from Playa del Carmen to the Mayan ruins of Tulum, as a Royal Caribbean guest, I traveled between armed Mexican Navy soldiers, who Wilberthe explained were looking for bandidos, explaining that the Mexican government was attempting to keep drugs from moving North to the Mexico and United States borders. Whatev! It enhanced the eeriness of the experience. Wilberthe explained that at 6:00am the next morning a star would appear at a place in Tulum where human sacrifices took place.
That being said, Wilberthe made it clear that before the Aztecs brought human sacrifice to the peaceful origins of the Mayan culture, they were peaceful. Any disputes would be handled by creating new tribes and marrying to enhance mutually benefical trade. Further, he claimed that the ancient Mayan civilization was not really warlike; instead, they welcomed other cultures. It is this innocence that the modern-day Maya people hold onto as they await the return while celebrating the beginnings of their ancient calendar system, just as many of us will celebrate a cycle of new beginnings on January 1st.