Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Mexico

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Star Gazing and Yaxchillan

Note; this entry was to be made on March 5th, however, due to human or technical error, it was not properly posted at this time.

Rabin Paudel '10 - Monday was a memorable day for me. We toured Bonampak in the afternoon and went to Frontera Corozal. Frontera Corozal is on the bank of Usumacinta River, which is the border of Mexico and Guatemala.

While we were having dinner, Josh came up with an idea of making fire on the bank of the river. I, Yousuf, Macie, and Trent along with our tour leader Alonso agreed with Josh and started looking for sticks and a lighter. When we reached the bank of the river, the view of the sky was mind-blowing. I had never seen that many clearly visible stars in my life. Alonso took out his awesome star-gazing laser and pointed out bunch of stars, which included the Orion belt, Pleiades (The Seven Sisters), The North Star, Sirius and much more. I guess the Mayans were greatly inspired by the amazing view of the sky from that latitude. Later, I asked Dr. Brown why we could not see so many stars from Crawfordsville, and he told me that the primary reason is the light pollution and it also could be the latitude where we are located. Meanwhile, Alonso saw a frog on the surface of the river and Josh quickly did a remarkable job of catching the frog.

After we were done with observing the sky, we collected a few sticks and wood found around that area. Then, Macie showed her good skill to start a fire without even using gasoline. We were later accompanied by the rest of the group and started talking about the history and the myths of the Maya civilization. Alonso told us some of his interesting anecdotes from his work of exploration.

Yesterday, we took an hour long boat trip to Yaxchilan, which has some of the ruins of the ancient Maya civilization. The Maya King Bird Jaguar the fourth ruled Yaxchilan in sixth century. He built some temples where the Maya astronomers could observe summer solstices, winter solstices and eclipses. I also learned that the Mayans were famous for building temples on the top of the hills or making pyramid-shaped temples, which look like hills. We toured yet another temple located on the top of a huge and steep hill at Yaxchillan. Probably, due to a really hot and humid climate and “different” foods for last couple of days, some of the guys could not make to the top of the temple and stayed at the bottom. But those who reached the top of the temple didn’t forget to sing “Old Wabash” to show our spirit of Wabash.

On the way back, we stopped at the Guatemalan side of the shore and bought some refreshments to quench our thirst. 

I am writing this blog-entry on the way to San Christobal which is about 6 hours bus ride from Palenque. The first leg of our trip with the Maya Exploration Center is over. We just received a Certification of Completion from the center. The second leg of the tour will be hosted by David Orr ’57 and Nancy Orr and we will be visiting some of the modern Maya archeological sites and doing some volunteer work.

Above; the boat ride to Yaxchillan.  Below; a view from the bottom of a temple at Yaxchillan.