Photo: Chichen Itza Mayan celebrations (INAH)
Crowds of people gathered Friday around the Kukulkan pyramid in southeastern Mexico to celebrate with prayers and ritual dances the beginning of a new era on the Mayan calendar.
Since 5:30 a.m., a constant flow of visitors, most of them dressed in white and laden with candles and incense, arrived at the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, where they came together in groups to meditate.
With hotels in the surrounding area completely full, some tried camping out for the night near the village of Piste, which has benefited from the tourists pouring in for this key Mayan moment.
Foreigners from Europe, Asia and across the Americas were in the majority, making even more noticeable the lack of groups of Mayan origin, whose members were more into selling handicrafts and souvenirs to visitors than celebrating the new Mayan calendar cycle.
Only one elderly man dressed as an ancient Mayan spiritual leader was to be seen on the premises.
A spokesperson from Mexico’s National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, told Efe that according to preliminary estimates, that day more than 50,000 visitors would throng the archaeological site, one of the most important on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The spokesperson added that in all no less than 500,000 visitors were expected at the principal Mayan archaeological sites across the five Mexican states once inhabited by that pre-Columbian civilization.