Last week the village of Piste, right next door to Chichen Itza, welcomed a new business–the Mexican version of 7-11, OXXO.
The building, which is in front of the Chichen Itza Hotel, was constructed in only two months. The store opened with a literal fanfare, with free food for the locals and tourists who gathered to witness the event. The store’s six employees, all locals, were also on hand.
The OXXO becomes Piste’s first 24-hour market, selling food, cigarettes, medicines and other items typical of that type of store.
Want an explanation of the light-and-shadow effect that will occur Sept. 22 on El Castillo? Students in a Cultural Astronomy class in a Malaysian University made a nine-minute video that tells all. The used both high tech (computer modeling) and low-tech (cardboard, glue, popsicle sticks) to create one of the clearest explanations I’ve seen so far. Enjoy!
Twice a year, as winter turns to spring and summer to autumn, the feathered serpent Kukulcan crawls down the side of El Castillo.
Thousands show up to watch the unique light-and-shadow phenomenon on the first day of spring; on the first day of fall, the numbers are not so impressive. This year, even fewer visitors are anticipated, thanks in part to the recent hurricanes in the region (none of which caused any significant damage to Chichen Itza).
Nonetheless, employees of INAH, the federal agency that oversees the archaeological zone, have been busy cleaning, painting and repairing the Maya city, reports Diario de Yucatan. The heavy rains of the past few weeks have made weeds a particularly thorny problem, so reinforcements are expected.
Read more about the improvements to Chichen and plans for the Sept. 22 equinox HERE (in Spanish).
Pavoratti at Chichen Itza, 1997 (Reuters photo by Heriberto Rodriguez).
It may have been his last great concert.
Luciano Pavarotti, the great opera tenor who died last week, performed before 17,000 people at Chichen Itza in April 1997. The concert was broadcast to more than 200 countries around the world.
A stage was built in front of the Temple of Warriors. El Castillo bore silent witness as maestre Pavarotti sang selections from La Traviata, La Boheme and Madame Butterfly. Though critics and audiences considered the concert a great success, not so the authorities in charge of preserving the ruins of Chichen Itza. Since that time, no other event of that magnitude has been permitted, and whenever someone proposes to hold a function at Chichen Itza the Pavarotti concert is frequently invoked as what not to do.
Pavarotti apparently enjoyed his stay at Chichen Itza so well, he had furniture from the room he stayed in shipped back to Italy.
Should the Mexican government decide to expropriate the ancient city of Chichen Itza, which currently rests on property owned by the Barbachano family of Yucatan, at least one federal agency is ready to act.
La Cronica reports that la SecretarÃa de la Reforma Agraria (the Secretary of Agrarian Reform), Abelardo Escobar Prieto, is ready to begin the expropriation process, except no one has asked them to do it.
“The federal government is going to make this expropriation?” La Cronica asked.
â€œI understand that yes, (but) the request has not come to us,” Escobar Prieto said. “I will act once they present the request to me.â€
The chain of events that resulted in the founding of the ancient Maya city of Chichen Itza began with the collision of two asteroids between Mars and Jupiter 160 million years ago, a new study has found.
The impact knocked millions of pieces space rock out of orbit in the Asteroid Belt and hurled them into the interior of the solar system where they have pelted the internal planets, including the earth, ever since. One of those pieces, a 10 km chunk of stone, is believed to have landed at what is today Chicxulub on the northwest coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
That impact is believed by many scientists to be the cosmic event that extinguished the dinosaurs as the dominant species on this planet. This enabled another class of animals, the mammals, to flourish and from there, evolve into homo sapien.
The crater from the impact created geologic irregularities that are believed to be the source of the belt of cenotes that appears to ring Chicxulub. Two of the biggest of those cenotes became the primary water supply for a new city, Chichen Itza, more than a thousand years ago. No cenotes would have meant no Chichen Itza, as this part of the Yucatan peninsula has no rivers or streams.
The “asteroid smoking gun” was found by US and Czech researchers by modeling the movements of group of asteroids known by astronomers as the Baptistina family. The parent asteroid is believed to have been 170 kilometers in diameter, and 160 million years ago it collided with another asteroid believed to be 60 kilometers wide. This produced an estimated 300 fragments the size of the Chicxulub asteroid (10 km in diameter) and larger; and another 140,000 fragments 1 km in diameter up to the size of the Chicxulub rock.
A press release on the discovery can be found HERE. The study was unveiled in the Sept. 6 issue of Nature.
As Hurricane Felix, the second Category 5 hurricane this year, bears down on Central America, this may be a good time to reflect on the impact of Hurricane Dean, which slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula at Category 5 strength two weeks ago.
No lives were reported lost on the Yucatan Peninsula. Not so in Jamaica, or in central Mexico, where Dean took an estimated 29 lives.
Dean collided with Yucatan in the southern part of the state of Quintana Roo where it quickly lost much of its intensity. By the time it crossed the peninsula and exited south of Campeche into the Gulf of Mexico it had dropped to a Category 1 hurricane. One reason for the sudden loss of strength may have been the mangrove swamps in Quintana Roo, which appear to have evolved to absorb the impact of such storms.
Chichen Itza and other archaeological sites suffered no significant damage from the storm. Most sites had been closed the day of the hurricane, and in Chichen’s case, remained closed for two days afterward.
Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste reported that a total of 176 flights were canceled at its Yucatan Peninsula airports as a result of Hurricane Dean. Cancun lost 123 flights, Merida 49 and Cozumel just four. Airports were up and running the next day.
While the hurricane did not result in loss of life, the crops of many of the Maya who live in the region were destroyed. Fortunately, the late rainy season delayed the planting of corn in some regions, and the plants small enough to bear the brunt of the winds. Click HERE for a good article about the impacts of the storm.
How does Yucatan not only survive a Category 5 hurricane but also prevent any loss of life? There’s a pretty good article HERE about civil defense in the region.