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Guatemala Launches Oxlajuj B’aqtun 2012, the Dawn of a New Era
The Guatemala Tourism Board will launch Oxlajuj B’aqtun 2012, a special series of events and new tourism routes that celebrate Mayan culture, as Guatemala, the Heart of the Maya World, gets ready to commemorate the dawn of a new era.
By: Gustavo Rivas-Solis
Travelers to Guatemala can immerse themselves in and connect with Mayan culture through three new tourism routes that have been developed by INGUAT, each designed to highlight the Maya Cosmovision, the way the Maya see the universe. Each route takes travelers on a cultural journey through regions with important concentrations of living Maya culture and that are managed by local community members such as Sacatepéquez, Chimaltenango, Totonicapán, Quiché, Huehuetenango, Sololá, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, Alta Verapaz, and Baja Verapaz where, in addition to ancient sites, they can witness and experience the local gastronomy, colorful textiles, community traditions, and respect for nature. These new routes also provide an insight into the Mayas’ spiritual development, an ancestral legacy that has been preserved by spiritual guides throughout Guatemala for centuries. The spiritual references along the routes include sacred and archaeological sites.
The three new Maya routes include:
Route of the Maya Universe - Ancestral Traditions
Culture aficionados can witness the lifestyle and traditions of an ancient living culture and interact with local communities on this route through the Verapaces, in northern Guatemala.
Route of the Maya Calendar - Traces of Time
This route takes history buffs along Guatemala’s central plateau through various towns in Chimaltenango including Patzún, Tecpán, and the archaeological sites at Iximché, San Juan Comalapam, and San Andrés Itzapa.
Route of the Mayan Duality - Balance of Body and Spirit
Travelers can explore the spiritual development of the Maya along this route that takes them through Guatemala´s western plateau and through Totonicapán, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, including the archaeological site of Takalik Abaj, and Suchitepéquez.
The sacred sites that travelers can visit along the routes mark important milestones in the beginning and the end of the Oxlajuj B’aqtun era and include:
Uaxactun, Petén - An astronomical observatory that is also known to be a convergence point of cosmic energy.
Chicabal, Quetzaltenango – Designated a Natural Sacred Site, it is known as a place of eternal harmony with Mother Nature
Quirigua, Izabal – Known to be an important location for the countdown to 2012, its location marks the beginning of the era. It is a place where the Mayan Calendar was studied.
Takalik Abaj, Retalhuleu – A site that holds great value and significance for its direct links to the very beginnings of the ancient Mayan culture.
Kaj Juyub, Rabinal, Verapaz – A site of rituals and ceremonies, this location holds many living expressions from the Mayan views of the Cosmos. The Rabinal Achí, or Dance of the Trumpets, is the most celebrated activity at this site.
The Mayan understanding of the universe, their relationship with nature and their interdependence has been passed on from generation to generation as the way to lead a balanced life in harmony with their surroundings. Even good health is considered to be a result of a harmonious life with the laws of society, nature and divinity. The Maya believe that unity with the human community as one big family leads to True Humanity. The central components of the Maya Cosmovision are: Time, Spirituality and Sacred Sites, and Values and Principles. Time has more of a religious connotation for the Maya and isn’t just a measure of space. Time determines specific moments for ceremonial activities and practices and is seen as being one of the signs of the Cosmos that determines life and the development of a human being.
In further keeping with sustainability practices and to contribute to the economic development of these areas, all proceeds from tourism go directly to support the community groups and associations, local family businesses that offer tourism related services, as well as artists, craftsmen, and cultural groups. INGUAT is also working on special cultural events in each of these regions through December 2012 that will highlight their native arts, crafts, and cuisine.
INGUAT has also been developing basic tourism infrastructure in selected areas that weren’t previously equipped to receive large numbers of tourists in order to provide travelers with all of the comfort and safety requirements. In addition nearby populations are being trained with customer service skills, first aid assistance, cooking classes, as well as food and beverage handling and safety.
For more information about the Maya tourism routes please visit www.pueblosmayas.com. Additional information on Guatemala is also available at www.visitguatemala.com
Walter DeMirci /Gustavo Rivas-Solís
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INGUAT is the governing entity responsible for tourism in Guatemala. Its main objective is to promote, support and sponsor internal and inbound tourism, while highlighting the country’s natural and cultural treasures. INGUAT offers a tourist assistance service to individual travelers who require it as well as providing support to tour operators with any tour groups they bring to the country. INGUAT is headquartered in Guatemala City and has an office in New York. Media can also follow INGUAT’s latest developments on Facebook.