Archive for August, 2010

COUNTDOWN TO 2012: The Italian End-of-the-World Village in Yucatan

August 26th, 2010 by ejalbright

Xul ... Wikimedia Commons
The Maya glyph Xul (Wikimedia Commons)

Part of an occasional series on the interest in the end of the Maya calendar on Dec. 21, 2012.

In a region literally surrounded by some of the most beautiful Maya ruins in the world, a group of Italian citizens have established a small enclave in the village of Xul where they intend to sit out the apocalypse that some believe the ancient Maya predicted for Dec. 21, 2012.

State and federal officials are studying the group, just as anthropologists and archaeologists from around the world have studied the Maya.

Xul (pronounced “shool”) is a village in the municipality of Oxkutzcab, some 65 kilometers south of Yucatan’s capital, Merida, and some 95 kilometers southwest of Chichen Itza. A short distance away are a string of exquisite Maya ruins — Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, Labna, and the Cavern of Loltun, the so-called “Puuc route,” named after the style of architecture found there.

According to a report in the Mexican journal Milenio, the foreigners have constructed a ciudadela, or citadel, that according to locals who helped build it has walls with hollow centers that contain some unknown material that, reportedly, is supposed to protect those inside from radiation and bacteria that will be the result of the end of the world.

Officials in Mexico and Yucatan have expressed concern about this group and others like it, fearing that their apocalyptic preconceptions might spread. On the other hand, the Xul 2012 community has been paying taxes and contributing to the local economy while its members, for the most part, have kept to themselves.

According to Milenio, there has been an increased presence of foreigners which believe in the prophecies or the curative powers of the ancient Maya. There is a group located near the site of Ek Balam, not far from Chichen Itza, and another in Temozon in the state of Quintana Roo. Every year thousands descend upon Chichen Itza and Dzibulchaltun to witness the equinoxes.

This is the first group, however, that outwardly has apocalyptic designs, related to the ancient Maya calendar which completes a more than 5,000-year cycle in 2012. Some have claimed that the Maya have prophecized the end of the world at that time.

What do the Maya believe about 2012? Listen to a special podcast on 2012 HERE.

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Next Concert at Chichen Itza? Ladies and Gentlemen, Juan Gabriel …

August 21st, 2010 by ejalbright

Juan Gabriel (Wikipedia)

With Paul McCartney waiting in the wings to play Chichen Itza in 2012, the governor’s office in Yucatan announced there will be at least one more concert this year, the great Juan Gabriel.

Gabriel is one of Mexico’s biggest pop artists, and has been regularly charting hit songs for almost 40 years. This fall he will be coming to Yucatan and on November 12 will play Chichen Itza.

For those not familiar with the vocal passion of Sr. Gabriel, here’s one of his big hits, “Abrazame Muy Fuerte”:

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‘Fast Train’ to Chichen Itza Report Due in October

August 15th, 2010 by ejalbright

The Mexican newspaper, El Universal, has one of the best and most comprehensive articles on the proposed “fast train” project proposed for the state of Yucatan, including a run between Merida the capital and Chichen Itza. What follows is a translation of some of that article, which can be found in its entirety HERE.

Yucatan Transpeninsular Train Project Development

By Yazmín Rodríguez/ Correspondent | El Universal

Experts engaged in projects of constructing trenes rapidos (“fast trains”) are conducting studies due in October to determine the feasibility of joining the communities of Yucatan, Valladolid, and the Chichen Itza archeological zone, along with Campeche and, in a later stage, the Riviera Maya of Quintana Roo.

The fast train project not only aims to strengthen tourism in a comprehensive manner in the Yucatan peninsula, but trigger the creation of employment in the Maya area, as well as enhancing cargo service in the region.

The “bullet train”, as it has been called by some, has been proposed several times by politicians and developers, but the high cost has not come to fruition. The initiative was taken up by Ivonne Ortega Pacheco in 2007 when she was a candidate for governor. After three years as governor, the realization of the vision is more palpable.

The train is currently being discussed with World Bank financing, an organizaton which spent $8 million (Mexican) just for the feasibility study, which includes the study of a current 187-kilometer rail network, to determine which parts can be included in the route of the train.

Governor Ortega Pacheco has warned that if the feasibility studies show that the work is not feasible, then her administration would be wrong to promote it. However, three international companies, one Japanese, are willing to invest in the project.


Construction, which could start in mid 2011, will take six years. The first phase, a tourist transport, will take visitors arriving from cruise ships in Progreso along a route through Merida, Izamal, Chichen Itza and Playa del Carmen, eventually ending in Cozumel where they would rejoin their cruise. Or vice versa.

The second phase of the project running in parallel would be as a cargo entity, which officials admit is not so competitive that it is expensive.

The third and final stage is a “fast train” to transport passengers from Merida, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, at first, second and third classes.

El Tren Rapido Peninsular, in its first phase, will be constructed to Chichen Itza; later it will be connected to Campeche, through the archaeological site of Uxmal; thereafter to the heart of the Riviera Maya, to the port of Calica, also known as Punta Venado.

Passengers and cargo

El Tren Rapido Peninsular seeks not only to transport passengers but also cargo, so that includes modern cars can move at a speed of between 120 and 130 kilometers per hour, with the terminal being the capital of Yucatan. Initially it will run on diesel, but the long term focus will be to use electric technology.

Despite world and national economic conditions, the federal government and the government of Yucatan have not canceled the project and everything will depend on the feasibility studies.

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State to Purchase Chichen Itza without Bank Loan

August 8th, 2010 by ejalbright

In the weeks that followed the announcement that the state of Yucatan had purchased 83 acres that comprised the central archaeological zone of Chichen Itza, there was extensive speculation about where the state would find the $220 million Mexican ($17.3 million US) it had agreed to pay for the property.

The owner of the property, Hans Thies Barbachano, was to receive $80 million up front and the remaining $140 million within six months ending Sept. 30. Until earlier this month the presumption was that the state would take out loans. To pay back those loans, the state announced it was increasing the ticket price to enter Chichen Itza by 50 pesos beginning Sept. 1.

But last week, state officials announced that there would be no loan, at least not from a bank. Instead, the money would come from a $1.87 billion loan the Yucatan legislature made to the state’s executive branch earlier this year, officials said.

For more information about the March 29, 2010 purchase of Chichen Itza by the state of Yucatan, click HERE.


State of Yucatan Increases Chichen Itza Ticket Prices 77%

Another PAN Senator Calls for Expropriation of Chichen Itza

Reaction Pours in to Sale of Chichen Itza

BULLETIN: Yucatan Buys Chichen Itza!

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Fast Train to Chichen Itza on Track for 2011, State Says

August 3rd, 2010 by ejalbright

Fast Train to Chichen Itza on Track

One of the campaign promises of then-gubernatorial candidate Ivonne Ortega Pacheco was to build a bullet train between Merida, the capital, and Chichen Itza. According to the administration of Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco, construction of the the train is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2011.

The project will be built in phases, the first extending from Merida to Chichen. Later phases will extend that line to the state of Quintana Roo to Calica, the cruise ship port south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen on the Atlantic Coast. Another line will pass through the ancient Maya city of Uxmal onto Campeche in Campeche state.

Fast train route

In her third annual address to the state on Sunday, the governor called the “Tren Rápido Transpeninsular” (“trans-peninsular rapid train”) “a project for the economic integration and transformation” of the states of the three states of the Yucatan Peninsula–Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo.

The state has spent some $40 million Mexican in studies on the project, officials said. Those studies will be completed next month.

As currently envisioned, the train will provide passenger and cargo service across the peninsula. The train will initially be propelled using diesel engines, but will later be converted to run on electricity, said Aaron Dychter, a consultant hired to oversee the feasibility studies. “It is a tourism project in which the speed will be needed to make it competitive, considering the large number of tourists who can use it to move to various points of interest in the state,” he said.

(NOTE: According to an article in the Diario de Yucatan, the train only will attain maximum speeds of 120 to 130 kilometers per hour, barely faster than the posted speed limit on a highway, much less equal to high speed trains of Europe or Asia where the slowest travel at 200 kph. I presume this is an error, but if true they might have to rename the project the “Trans-Peninsular Train that Goes Slightly Faster Than Cars.”)


Governor Turns to International Bank to Finance Bullet Train to Chichen Itza

Merida Seeks to be Doorway to Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza Airport Eyed to Be New Train Station

Bullet Train to the Past

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