Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tulum and the Winter Solstice

One of the best field trips we took on our Cancun vacation was to Tulum, a Mayan archeological site. We had an amazing tour guide, Alberto, who gave us a lot of great information. Tulum is unique among Mayan ruins in that, while other sites show evidence of human sacrifice, Tulum does not. Tulum was noted for its astronomical significance. The ruin pictured above has a rather small hole in it that is not, sadly, apparent from my photo. At sunrise on both summer and winter solstice, the sun lines up with the hole to produce a starburst effect.
In leap years, the moon similarly lines up. FYI, the next leap year, 2012, is the last year of the Mayan calendar.

This is the largest ruin at Tulum.

This Caribbean beach is below the cliffs behind the ruins at Tulum. It is quite a popular public beach and rather scenic to boot!

Alberto presented quite a lot if interesting information about Tulum, explaining how advanced the Mayan civilization was. He even showed pictures of Mayan dentistry involving drilling small perfectly round holes in the teeth and filling them with Jade. It was only at Tulum that the people stretched the heads of the babies, exploiting the soft spot, to elongate the skull. Perhaps that contributed to the reputation Tulum has as an intellectual center of Mayan civilization. While other Mayan ruins show evidence of human sacrifice, Tulum shows nothing like that.
I whole-heartedly recommend a trip to Tulum if you are in Cancun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Spirit

I am always the one who wants to know sources and, as my aunt described it, scold people for willy-nilly forwarding information when they don't know where it came from. I am, however, posting this for pure fun. I do not know where it started, but I think it is fun and it embodies a philosophy I am following this holiday season. I will, however, be selectively eating fruitcake as there is nothing I like better than a good fruitcake (hint: good fruitcake is never found in a drug store.)

Holiday Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can, and quickly. It's rare . . . You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it and have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Have a great holiday season!