Archive for August, 2007

Planetarium to Recreate Maya Skies

August 30th, 2007 by ejalbright

Night sky
This sounds like an intriguing project, although the audience testing described at the end of the press release reminds me of the brainwashing scene in “A Clockwork Orange”:

“The National Space Foundation has awarded a $2.6 million grant to Chabot Space & Science Center for its Maya Skies full-dome digital planetarium project.

“Produced in Spanish and English, the immersive 25-minute show will be the first of its kind, integrating full-dome fish-eye film techniques with 3-D laser scanning to recreate Maya temples and endless skies with unparalleled accuracy and realism. The show will premiere at Chabot Space and Science Center, and then be available to planetariums around the world.

“The show is tentatively scheduled for release in Spring 2009. Chabot is collaborating with the University of New Mexico’s ArtsLab and the Institute for Learning Innovation on the project. This fall, the main production group will head to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to gather high resolution images, light models and 3D data on temples and other structures – as well as landscapes at Chichen Itza, a pre-Columbian architectural site which once served as a regional Maya capitol.

“For Alex Hall, the principal investigator on Maya Skies, the project is much more than just a planetarium show. It’s also a chance to measure how people retain information. Hall and her team will wire up two groups of volunteers – those watching the full-dome version versus those watching the flat screen (TV) version – to measure what types of scenes provide the greatest emotional response and how information is retained over the long term.”

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Chichen Itza as Silent Movie

August 29th, 2007 by ejalbright

Chichen Itza set to music. Some nice editing. Enjoy!

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Discover Mexico, Cozumel’s Version of Chichen Itza, Still a Mystery

August 28th, 2007 by ejalbright

Discover Mexico sign

A few months ago I reported on a new attraction in Cozumel, Discover Mexico, where you supposedly can see all of Mexico in 90 minutes. I stopped in again at their Web site, and it was as confusing as before. They have an intricate Flash interface that just shows you pictures taken from all over Mexico, not from the park itself.

Above is a photo taken by a tourist in Cozumel. As you can see from the sign, Discover Mexico calls itself the Number One attraction in Cozumel. Problem was, I had yet to find anyone who has actually been there. Until now.

I found a series of photographs taken by a cruise ship passenger, screen name Kdotscriv, who apparently popped into Cozumel, visited Discover Mexico, and then left again. Unfortunately, he or she did not take any photos of the miniature replica of El Castillo, which is my main interest. But they at least paid admission and photographed some of the Mexican art and birds on display. Apparently there is also a live show of native dancers. Here’s a sample:

Discover Mexico dancers

You can find the rest of Kdotscriv’s Cozumel photos HERE.

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Lone Ranger and Tonto, Maya Style

August 26th, 2007 by ejalbright

There is this old joke. The Lone Ranger and Tonto are trapped in a box canyon as a party of angry Indian braves bear down on them. “Well, faithful friend, what do we do now?” the Lone Ranger asks. Tonto answers, “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?”

Yum Kaax lives in Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo (the state that also has Cancun and Tulum). He has produced several short cartoons and put them on the Web. One of them reminded me of the Lone Ranger and Tonto joke (NOTE–May not be safe for work):

His screen name Yum Kaax is the Maya spirit of maize. I assume that he is Maya, but I don’t know. He has a blog, which has some very thoughtful articles about Maya and Maya history. You can find his blog HERE. Don’t go too far back in the archives, because some of his early posts are definitely NSFW.

To hear the Maya language spoken, here is another of his cartoons. It has Spanish subtitles:

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Chichen Fotographia, August 26, 2007

August 26th, 2007 by ejalbright

Model Behavior at Chichen Itza.

Cenote model
Chichen Itza Model by Geog.

Grave marker
Cemetery Marker by John Hanscom.

Castillo model
El Castillo a Escala by Alexsu.

Mystery Park
El Castillo at Mystery Park by hdtt83.

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Chichen Itza and Yucatan Back in Business after Dean

August 25th, 2007 by ejalbright

As promised, the archaeological zone of Chichen Itza, closed for Hurricane Dean, has reopened. The hurricane did little damage to the northern lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula, and the major tourist centers were little affected.

The roads to Chichen Itza from Merida and Cancun are unobstructed. Hotels in the region are reporting 70 percent occupancy, although the source for that statistic did not say what occupancy rates are normally during this time of year.

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Mérida seeks to be Doorway to Chichen Itza

August 23rd, 2007 by ejalbright

Jet Train

Merida, capital of the state of Yucatan, wants to be the doorway to Chichen Itza. That honor currently falls to the tourism magnet known as Cancun.

Every day, a few thousand tourists set out from Cancun to “see themselves some ruins.” The day trip to Chichen Itza is one of the staples. The mayor of Merida wants to change that.

“My intention is to turn to Mérida the capital of the tourism of Yucatan,” said Caesar Bojórquez Zapata in an interview last week. The prize in the center of the peninsula, Chichen Itza, was recently named one of the seven wonders of the world. Bojórquez Zapata does not care if tourists originate from Yucatan or Quintana Roo, the state that has Cancun. The important thing, he said, is to increase the infrastructure in the form of hotels to handle the additional tourism.

Speaking of infrastructure, the governor of Yucatan, Ivonne Ortega Pacheco, has proposed constructing a high-speed train from Merida to Chichen Itza. Bombardier, the Canadian company that builds such trains, has had conversations with Pacheco and in a recent statement listed the Yucatan train as a possible future project. The cost, according to company figures, was estimated at $1.7 billion Canadian.

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Yucatan Cuts Dean to Category One; No Deaths Reported, Chichen Unscathed

August 22nd, 2007 by ejalbright

Even though Hurricane Dean slammed into the Yucatan peninsula as a Category Five storm (winds of 165 mph), one of the most powerful ever to strike land in modern history, no deaths have been reported. When it exited the peninsula a few hours earlier, it’s travel over land diminished its power to a Category One (less than 100 mph).

Chichen Itza and other archaeological sites across the peninsula were spared any serious damage, reports INAH. The cultural patrimony of the nation “permanece intacto” (“remains intact”), according to a spokesman. The only damage reported was a loss of electrical power, which the spokesman noted wryly, “que no afectan las estructuras piramidales prehispánicas” (“does not effect the prehispanic pyramids”).

Fortunately Dean struck a relatively unpopulated portion of Yucatan and as it traveled over land lost much of its intensity. The storm still downed trees, knocked over telephone and electrical poles, and ripped roofs off of houses. In Yucatan, officials estimate that 37,000 acres of crops were destroyed.

No serious damage was reported in the tourist areas of Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Merida and Progreso in Yucatan state also reported little damage.

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Dean Intensifies to Category Five, Veers West

August 21st, 2007 by ejalbright

Hurricane Dean intensified to a Category Five hurricane with sustained winds of 165 miles per hour and gusts greater than 200 miles per hour. This is the most dangerous storm to strike land in the Americas in more than 15 years. And although it’s path now means that Chichen Itza will not sustain a direct hit, it poses a frightening danger to those in its path.

Over the past two days Dean began a more westerly path, which took it even further south from Chichen Itza. Yesterday maintenance crews at the site were tying down loose objects and cutting tree limbs that could become potential missiles in hurricane-force winds and damage the monuments. The archaeological zone is closed for the day, but plans to reopen tomorrow.

The hurricane at this writing is halfway across the Yucatan Peninsula. It struck land near Chetumal in southern Quintana Roo and in Belize. It will exit the peninsula south of Campeche. If it stays on its present course, it will strike Mexico City, the most populous city in the nation.

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Chichen Itza in Path of Hurricane Dean

August 19th, 2007 by ejalbright

The state of Yucatan, including the area surrounding the archaeological zone of Chichen Itza, is under “yellow alert” as the region awaits the arrival tomorrow or Tuesday of Hurricane Dean.

Yellow alert is the third highest state of five. Current projections put the eye of the hurricane roaring across the Yucatan peninsula south of Chichen Itza. The state and federal governments report they are ready, and shelters have been set up. Hotel rooms near Chichen can be used to shelter displaced tourists, the government reported.

Previously on Hurricane Dean, and to see the updated trajectory of the storm, click HERE.

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