mercredi 1 janvier 2014

Belize - 4. Natural Wonders: Use what you've got

It’s a new year – time to take it back to the essentials and begin again.
The Mayan calendar ended last Winter solstice (December, 2012), so it is only appropriate at this new moon that we travel through one of the best examples of the Mayan architecture today: Altun Ha, just beyond Ladyville in Belize province.

Altun Ha, the sun god, is unique because it is not just a temple or a couple of monuments, which like standing stones in the UK are quite common, but an entire Mayan city preserved and studied by anthropologists and architects. The temples, sacrificial mounds and burial grounds, water and sewage system, houses, meeting spaces have been left completely in tact. anything we build today will last that long? Most products today barely have a one-year warranty, let alone 4,000.
Any artifacts found at the site, including the World’s largest jade pendant, are stored in the national museum. What’s remarkable about Altun Ha is how much sheer knowledge and scholarship this civilization had produced 4,000 years before us! The Mayans were known for mathematics, astronomy and architecture. They had a very accurate working calendar, Pythagoras theorem (before Pythagoras), and architecture and building designs that are still modeled today. The very bricks used to erect temples and monuments are the same shape and style we are using in our own houses in 2014. I wonder if mine will still be here 4,000 years from now? How many of us can say that?

And climbing the temples is such a pleasure – the stone staircases, sculptures of Altun Ha, and the views!

Stunning. Every square angle perfectly aligned with the movements of the sun and our day.

It is here, also, that the ‘bush men’ (as they describe themselves) sell their wares, in the very same place and row where the common people would have lived all those millennia ago. They use what they’ve got to make a living and provide food and drink to tourists coming through: coconut milk, bananas and plantain, sweet sugarcane to chew on while you are climbing.

There are even sculptors which carve and design bowls and birds out of the shells.
They all trust the local land to provide the organic gifts of today.

So on this dawn of a new year, give thanks for what is around you. Use what you’ve got! Who knows? In 6,014, someone may be studying your land and home and wondering about you.

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