Friday, December 21, 2012

The sky is falling. The sky is falling!

Evan and Ethan - could this really be the End?
With the 5125 year-old Mayan calendar running out this week, many people have been making a fuss over the potential end of the world.  Others debate whether there was an error in calculation and the end is either December 23rd, or 24th, at noon or at midnight, or in the opinion of one Phd degree-holder the official end of the calendar happened six days ago.  

The news media and social networks such as FaceBook have been predicting doom and gloom, urging people to check off an item or two on their personal bucket list of un-fulfilled dreams before the end.  

(Cue the loud and gloomy music.)

The Mayans on the other hand say it is the start of a new beginning, not the end.  They are taking a positive outlook with hopes of prosperity and good health for the future.  Some venues are planning elaborate dusk to dawn events that include Mayan shamans and elders celebrating the beginning of a new era.

There is a countdown to December 21st display at the entrance of Xel-Há, a terrific marine activity park south of Cancun.  When we were there we still had seven days until the supposed end of the world – so we checked off a thing or two on our lists. 

For me, it was the underwater Sea Trek and the opportunity to interact with Sting Rays.  This activity features a walk along the bottom of the ocean at a depth of about eighteen feet wearing a diving helmet.  The helmets are heavy.  They weight sixty pounds!  We were instructed to climb down the ladder until our shoulders were under water then the staff lifted the helmet over our heads, settling it onto our shoulders.  

The weight was considerable, shoving me down the ladder in an awkward manner until the buoyancy of the piped-in air equalized the weight.  Gripping the handrail to prevent the inlet current from dislodging us, we shuffled through the fine sand, marveling at the colourful fish, and the grace of the Sting Rays.  We were able to lightly run our hands over the silky skin of the Sting Rays as the handler coaxed them to swim overhead or beside us.  Both Evan age nine and Ethan age eleven were exhilarated by the experience, as was John, our only non-swimmer. 

Re-surfacing we spent the next seven hours exploring additional park activities.  We snorkeled in the protected inlet searching out more Sting Rays and jewel-toned fish.  

We trekked to the head of the river and floated on tubes back towards the inlet, stopping along the way to test our strength and agility on tightropes strung across the water.  

Evan, the consummate adventurer, tried cliff-diving a few times, or in his case cliff-jumping.  Wearing the mandatory Xel-Há lifejacket he created a mini-tsunami when he hit the water.  

Then of course, being an all-inclusive park we were able to browse the buffet a couple of times: once in the morning and one more time before leaving the park after sundown.  Fillin’ up the boys for the evening drive back to Isla Mujeres.  

The last event of the day at Xel-Há is a sundown Mayan prayer ceremony that includes hundreds and hundreds of floating plastic globes, each one with a glowing candle inside.  

Participants are encouraged to launch a globe on the ocean with prayers and wishes for a prosperous new beginning.

The End of the World?  Hope not.  This world is pretty wonderful. 

Kids?  What kids?  Did we bring kids with us?

(The underwater photo of the diver and ray was taken by John Lock with his new waterproof Canon camera.  Cool camera!)


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