The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

December 21, 2012

Mexico’s Maya heartland greets dawn of new era

(Continued)

MERIDA, Mexico —

If the chanting and dancing of a crystal skull ceremony held Thursday in Mexico weren’t enough to end fears of an apocalypse, scientists chimed in, too.

Bill Leith, the U.S. Geological Survey’s senior science adviser for earthquake and geologic hazards, said that by late Thursday, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary had been detected in seismic activities, solar flares, volcanos or the Earth’s geomagnetic field.

“It’s a fairly unremarkable day on planet Earth today, and in the last few days,” Leith said. “There are no major eruptions going on.”

There had been about 120 small earthquakes and a moderate temblor in Japan, he said. “That’s very much a normal day.”

Still, there were some who wouldn’t truly feel safe until the sun sets Friday over the pyramids in Yucatan peninsula, the heartland of the Maya.

Mexico’s best-known seer, Antonio Vazquez Alba, known as “El Brujo Mayor,” said he had received emails containing rumors that a mass suicide might be planned in Argentina.

End-of-the-world paranoia, in fact, has spread around the world.

Dozens of schools in Michigan canceled classes for thousands of students this week amid rumors of violence tied to the prophetic date. In France, people expecting doomsday were looking expectantly to a mountain in the Pyrenees where they believe a hidden spaceship was waiting to spirit them away. And in China, government authorities were cracking down on a fringe Christian group spreading rumors about the world’s end, while preaching that Jesus had reappeared as a woman in central China.

Vazquez said he was sure that human nature represented the only threat Friday. “Nature isn’t going to do us any harm, but we can do damage to ourselves,” he said.

Authorities worried about overcrowding and possible stampedes during celebrations Friday at Mayan ruin sites like Chichen Itza and Uxmal, both about 1 1/2 hours from Merida, the Yucatan state capital. Special police and guard details were assigned to the pyramids.

As Friday’s dawn began sweeping around the globe, there was no sign of an apocalypse.

Indeed, the social network Imgur posted photos of clocks turning midnight in the Asia-Pacific region with messages such as: “The world has not ended. Sincerely, New Zealand.”

Average residents of the Yucatan, where the Mayas invented the 394-year calendar cycles known as baktuns, the 13th of which ends Friday, were pretty upbeat about the day.

Yucatan Gov. Rolando Zapata said he felt growing good vibes.

“We believe that the beginning of a new baktun means the beginning of a new era, and we’re receiving it with great optimism,” Zapata said.

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