Ceiling inside Hacienda Tres Rios
Crumbling Ruins, Chocolate and Positive Energy
Story and Photographs by Gary Singh
omewhere inside the Hacienda Tres Rios Resort near Playa
del Carmen, Mexico, I scribble an optimistic aphorism on a piece
of paper. After folding the paper not once, but twice, I slip it into
an empty plastic bottle and drop the bottle into a pyramid-shaped receptacle.
Bottled thoughts collected
Pyramid of Positive Energy
Several others have apparently done the same. Bottles
are beginning to fill the pyramid, a makeshift recycling vessel as part
of a new art project by Xavier de Maria y Campos. The structure, Piramide
del Pensamiento Positivo (The Pyramid of Positive Thinking), will eventually
be constructed in Aldea Zama in the heart of Tulum, Mexico. For now,
people are encouraged to write down their positive thoughts, put them
in recyclable plastic bottles and contribute them to a local receptacle.
The bottles will be collected and placed into the main pyramid.
The final pyramid will be 12 meters high and will be
able to host 700,000 positive thoughts. The artist envisions the pyramid
as "an incubator that will gestate a synergy among those of us
who have contributed their positive thoughts inside a bottle to be reused
in the construction of the pyramid."
Of course, no apocalyptic 2012 conspiracy theories are
needed here. The Maya themselves have never even heard of such things
anyway, so this just puts me in a more positive mood. After 2500 years,
the Maya are still building pyramids. As a result, I write down another
positive thought and drop another bottle into the receptacle.
Outside in the courtyard, in the punishing Riviera Maya
heat, the dancers do their thing. I remain positive. That synergy Xavier
talks about seems to already propel me through the blazing Yucatan humidity
as I continue to occupy a few interstices of the immediate surroundings.
The Maya influences emerge everywhere.
Traditional Mayan dancer at Hacienda Tres Rios
How Now Brown Cacao
In one sense, just as the Maya beat the Hindus to the
punch in discovering the zero, they also claim to be the originators
of chocolate. Ancient Maya and Olmec civilizations established the first
plantations around three thousand years ago, long before the Europeans
Cacao is a Maya word, I learn, while escaping the heat
of Playa del Carmen. Just off 5th Avenue, sits Ah Cacao, a celebrated
chocolate and coffee store. Folks sit at tables crouched over laptop
machines, tourists are sampling cinnamon chocolate ice cream. I observe
chocolate soap, bags of cacao beans, body oils, iced mochas and vanilla
shots. As I devour my second brownie, proprietor Monica Tello gives
me the story.
"We want to show that cacao was a gift from Mexico
to the world," she says. "Archaeological evidence shows that
cacao was used and consumed by Maya over 2000 years ago. It was also
used as currency."
I learn that chocolate need not be a sugar fix, but
an antioxidant-filled, anti-ageing path to better cardio-vascular living.
Credit the Maya for the positive applications.
"Right now in our world, we have a lot of junk
chocolate, with not that much cacao," Tello says. "Some people
that are into healthy food, they look for the raw seeds. You can use
them on top of salads. We have some crackers here that we use. Chips,
mole and the little crackers have been very successful."
Monica Tello (left) explains the goods to a customer
Even crumbling ruins provide positive thoughts. My tour
guide to the ancient wrecked buildings of Coba tells me jokes about
when the Spanish invaders first tried to suppress the Maya cosmologies.
"The Spanish demanded the Maya accept Christ,"
the guide explains. "And the Maya said, 'we already have 22 gods,
so adding one more should be fine.'"
The ruins at Tulum
The ancient Mayan ball courts remain
The ruins at Coba also include the famous Maya ball
courts, replete with stone hoops. For sport, the Maya ball game didn't
allow them to use their hands. They had to manipulate the ball through
the hoop by hitting it with their hips and shoulders. Pieces of these
ancient courts remain. The rest is ruins.
In Tulum, by contrast, the architecture still comes
into view, despite the ruins. In many cases, much of the original framework
remains for the swarms of tourists to view. Standing on the famous cliff
where the Spanish might first have landed, one can bring every component
of history into perspective.
The beach overlooking the Caribbean
Xavier de Maria y Campos, the artist behind the Pyramid
of Positive Thinking, says there will be no apocalypse after December
21, 2012. Instead, the Maya have identified that date as the moment
when we reach the end of the 13th Baktun of the twenty-two-thousand-year-long
count in which time as energy actually comes to a stop but only to restart
or to be reborn again. His pyramid will be a metallic structure with
alternating layers of the plastic bottles and soil containing regional
plant seeds. Over time, plants will sprout, covering the faces of the
pyramid. He claims the cosmic codes encrypted in the sacred geometry
of the pyramid will enable the positive thoughts inside the bottles
to become a powerful generator of positive energy, and thus reality.
After contributing two optimistic thoughts for the pyramid
project, I went to the beach and washed away all negative energy. At
least for the time being.
Beach shower, Riviera Maya
del Carmen; La
Paz, Baja California Sur; Cozumel,