Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mexican city to begin countdown for Dec. 21, 2012

A city in southern Mexico wants to live each moment as if it were the last.

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Tourism officials in Tapachula have installed a digital clock to count down the time left before the Dec. 21, 2012, solstice, when some believe the Mayan long-count calendar "runs out."

The clock will be started this Dec. 21, a year before what many see as an apocalyptic event.

Chiapas state tourism regional director Manolo Alfonso Pinot said Friday that Mayan priests will perform a ceremony at the nearby archaeological site of Izapa.

Maya experts say the apocalypse fears are a misreading of Maya texts that mention the date, saying the Mayan considered it the end of one calendar cycle and the beginning of another.

Pinot said he does not believe the world will end, but looks at it as a sort of beginning, in the business sense at least.

"I look at this as an opportunity for rebirth. A lot of people know they can fill their body with energy if they come to these exceptional sites," he said. "If people are interested, we have to take advantage of this."

Tapachula, best known as a gritty border town crossed by Central American migrants en route to the United States, is not a popular Mayan tourism destination. But nearby Izapa is a place where many stelae have been found, including the "Tree of Life" stone.

But at Izapa, close to the Tajumulco volcano, Pinot says a Mesoamerican ball court, a carved stone and the throne of the Izapa ruler face a straight line that on Dec. 21, 2012 is expected to align with the planets.

"It is hard to say what you will be able to see that day," he said.

The doomsday theories stem from a pair of tablets with inscriptions that describe the return of a Mayan god at the end of a 13th period of 400 years, which falls on Dec. 21, 2012.

Experts say the date is the end of a cycle of 5,125 years since the beginning of the Mayan Long Count calendar in 3113 B.C., and the start of another.


Follow Adriana Gomez Licon on Twitter at

Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed to this story.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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