By: Peter B. Giblett
A Writer’s Personal Journey
At certain times, it is necessary to do something out of the ordinary. Start a personal discovery of something new. Think about it for a moment there isn’t a spot on this planet which hasn’t been visited, trampled, and photographed.
So, the only thing to be discovered is through a personal journey, either a journey in the mind or a place we have never been. Yet, Two Drops of Ink being a writer’s site, you may expect me to talk about journeys of the mind. I do love thinking about that and would love nothing better, but this time it is travel that triggers a mental journey.
I know, this is not a travel blog, yet travel, gives much input in writing. It is that journey which matters.
The World’s Mysteries
Hailing from southern England (the old one) I have seen my share of historic places. They can be found anywhere if you care to look. I remember one weekend as a young man exploring Stonehenge, which is not possible today. I touched the stones (not possible today) and explored the vistas trying my own voyage back to the ancient world. I didn’t find any mystical vibes which some visitors claim from the ancient site, but I grew to appreciate the ancient. It has a certain mystery.
I have flown over the pyramids of Egypt, clearly visible, even at 30,000 feet. Explored the Alps. Been within sight of Nandi Devi in the Himalayas (India’s highest peak). Explored ancient Indian monuments. I have been to many other great locations and enjoyed them all. With all of that there are still parts of this great world, I have not explored, probably some I never will.
A New Mystery Unfolds
We had many reasons for travelling to Belize, there was much to see. The most fascinating, for me, being the ancient Mayan cities. Maybe not as old as Stonehenge, but even more fascinating. But why? Perhaps it is so distant from my homeland. Maybe the five different languages the Mayan people spoke. Possibly the hidden cities that still hold many secrets.
Altan Ha, built about 2,000 years ago, was a small city made of two great courtyards, each surrounded by pyramids.
I am sure you have seen many TV documentaries about the Egyptian pyramids, especially those in Giza, described in many ways. Often as perfect. Yet today we still have little idea of their role. One thing is certain, they were not burial chambers.
Yet they are a world away from the pyramids of Central America, both in terms of location and purpose. These are core to the operation of towns. The Mayans understood the need for trade. Towns laid out as a series of courtyards surrounded by pyramids and other structures. Click your fingers in the centre of a courtyard and you can hear the echo, sit at the top of the temple steps and you can hear every sound in the courtyard below. Likely where kings or nobles sat monitoring trade.
A Writer Always Contemplates His World
Those very steps are the perfect place to sit and contemplate everything going on. This is precisely what linked me back to my personal passion for writing. I love to observe the world around me – sit in a coffee shop and you see a fantastic microcosm of modern life. Little wonder the lure of those temple steps. Listen to all the deals in the market below, perhaps whisper an instruction to your traders. In many ways better than any coffee shop because it ruled that ancient world.
Personally, I have always been fascinated by Mayan history. At one time they revered mathematicians. They calculated the moon cycles and the calendar more accurately than western scientists of the day. Yet at some point in the 1100s, the calendar people fell out of favour with the ruling elite. The beginning of the end of Mayan society? Maybe. But that is why the Mayan calendar ended in 2012; there was no-one left to calculate future moon and star cycles.
It fuelled speculation about the end of the world – that is an indication of the power of their calendar.
On my living room wall hangs a Mayan calendar, we found it in England 20 years ago. I wish it were original, rather than a 20th-century copy, but I still treasure the trove of information it holds. A Mexican friend informed me that it is a genuine copy, he knew the meaning of some symbols, but none of the maths behind it. You can see from the picture it is complex.
Seeing the Original
The calendar is a fascinating subject and such an important part of human culture, irrespective of the age a person is born in. It reflects much of the scientific knowledge of the period. It is about how well we know our planet and how it sits in the universe.
The historic site was a personal voyage of discovery, you now know of my love of the calendar mathematicians. In addition, I learned something about how their society worked, the importance of trade, which cannot be mistaken. Mayan Lands spread across Southeast Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and beyond. Belize being only a small part of their lands.
A Writer Finds the Connections
The other aspect, their fascination for Jade. Only one other culture in history seems to have such a fascination for that precious green stone and that is China. Yet when they were excavating Altan Ha they discovered a massive jade head in the sun temple, now a Belizean national treasure.
Having heard stories about the gold that the Spanish looted from South and Central America when they conquered the lands. There is little record of them taking jade artefacts. Archaeologists have discovered jade mines across all Mayan lands, so clearly, they loved the substance, yet I can’t help thinking about a Chinese relationship.
Did the ancient Chinese discover Central America more than a thousand years ago?
A fascinating question.
Bio: Peter B. Giblett
Peter is a freelance editor and writer with a background in business and technology management. He is also a non-practicing lawyer. English born, now living in Canada. He’s an Alumni of City University (London) and University of West London. Entrant and winner of National Novel Writing Month 2015, a novel he is currently editing.
He runs his own blog called GobbledeGoox, which provides thoughts on writing, blogging, words, and wordcraft.
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