Just Travel! Mayan Tidbits

What I learned of the…
Yucatan Peninsula
by the Itinerant Introvert (hey, that’s me!)


  • The Yucatan peninsula is comprised of 3 states: Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche.
  • In the Mayan language ‘malo keen‘ means ‘good morning‘ and ‘Chichen Itza’ means ‘mouth of the well of the water source.’


The Mayans were a thriving civilization in pre-Columbian times.  The ‘high time’ of the Mayan period was followed by a decline of their empire. Some theories cite the coming of Europeans, introduced diseases and lack of resources as the causes for this. With the loss of the keepers of the knowledge and the knowledge itself, the Mayan culture became ‘lost.’ Their abandoned ruins were gobbled up by the surrounding jungle.

The area known as the Mayan Riviera is on the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The long stretch of beaches from Cancun to Tulum is set next to the blue waters of the Caribbean sea and full of fancy resorts. The world’s second largest coral reef (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia) is here. There are a number of popular Mayan ruins in the area and many more that are still under excavation.

The Mayan descendants, however, are not getting much commission on the use of their name to lure tourists here. The language, culture and people are much like the ruins-abandoned and swallowed up by the surrounding environment.

The descendants of the Mayans  are not the ‘grand’ civilization they once were. Many of them are poor and live without clean running water and basic amenities. They are certainly not profiting from the mass tourism that exists in ‘their‘ Riviera.


  • The Mayans counted eras rather than minutes. They calculated periods of time and the end of their calendar falls around December 21-23, 2012. This coincides with the Nostradamus prophecy and the ‘end of the world‘ according to some fatalists.
  • The Mayans were great astronomers and astrologers and the division of time was based on moon cycles, star formations and planet alignments.
  • The Mayan calendar has 18 months of 20 days each with one month of only 5 days. This adds up to 365 days. The 19th month, an aberration from the other 18, was considered unlucky. As a result people were supposed to stay inside as it was bad luck to be outside.
  • The day was divided into 13 divisions in the upper world (day) and 9 in the underworld (night). Each division was ruled by a different god. The 2 worlds plus each division totals 24 (as in 24 hours).

Categories: Mexico, Tidbits, Travel

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