New E-book Captures Details on the Maya
Proceeds Go to My Brothers House:
an Ecotourism Project in the Yucatan
By Kristina Oswald
The Maya have distinguished themselves throughout history. They founded cities much larger than the population centers of Europe during the same time period, and they took art, science and architecture to incredible levels. Now a new e-book, In the Land of the Maya, reveals fascinating details about the culture and customs of the Maya. Proceeds from the book support a unique ecotourism project in the Yucatan called My Brothers House. Ecotourism promotes responsible travel that can help improve the well-being of the local people.
“The Maya are one of the most fascinating civilizations in all of recorded history,” says author David L. Smedley Calvert, who has lived with the Maya in the Yucatan since 1997. “While Europe slumbered in the midst of the Dark Ages, the Maya became experts in astronomy with incredibly precise observations; they mastered the study of time and calendar systems and also created ceremonial architecture, structural design, and mathematics including the concept of zero, politics and economics.
They built a vast empire-size trade network, built roads and sea-going canoes, performed masonry without metal tools, and developed a unique counting system and the best-written language in all of the Americas. And they did it all on foot, without the aid of beasts of burden or even the wheel.”
In the Land of the Maya also reveals some of their strange beliefs and
superstitions, as well as some of their predictions for the future as
recorded in the sacred book of Xocen.
My Brothers House Ecotourism Project
Today the approximately six million Maya exist in a culture that does not fit into the modern world. The Maya descendants live remotely as farmers. “Maintaining their ‘separation from the whites’ has assisted the Maya in preserving their culture and their language,” Calvert explains. “It Is unfortunate that this isolation has caused a cultural collision with the modern world particularly in the area of health care.”
When a Maya seeks urgent medical care in the larger surrounding cities, there simply is no safe place for family members to stay because most of the Maya have no money and many don’t even speak Spanish. Family members wait outside the hospital, sleeping under cars or wherever they can find a covered place. Children waiting for their mothers are at a terrible risk. Many are robbed or worse as they spend day after day on the streets. “Women have died in their villages because they didn’t want their families to suffer by taking them into town, or they were just afraid to go themselves” says Calvert.
To address this problem, Calvert has embarked on a project called My Brother’s House, which is using revenues from In the Land of the Maya and a second book, 100 Ruins of the Maya, to build shelters near the hospitals in the cities of Merida, Valladolid, Tizimin, Felipe Carrillo Puerto (Chan Santa Cruz Bravo), Cancun and Chetumal. These six shelters will provide basic food and lodging to the Maya families who are seeking medical assistance or who have family members in the hospital. The shelters also will be open to those using the local welfare system.
Calvert started this project well over two years ago. “We were met with smiles and handshakes. Everyone wanted to help but no one actually did anything. That is the way with many third-world countries and politics. For us it meant that we went back to the drawing board and came up with a different plan to build shelters for the Maya.
Calvert says that the shelters are very much in keeping with the Maya culture. “The Maya people are pacifists. They live without stress. They don’t argue or fight. They are quick to smile and slow to anger, and they live in harmony with the earth. Living with the Maya, studying their incredible past, hearing their interpretation of past events, feeling their fears for the future and watching the changes in their world has forever changed me.”
David L. Smedley Calvert is an Indiana native and disabled Vietnam War
veteran. Prior to starting work on My Brothers House Project in 2004, he
had spent seven years in the
Yucatan translating anthropological, historical and
travel-related writings from Spanish to English for the Centro de
Investigaciones Del Mundo Maya. He also has published several tour
guides for the local
To purchase “In the Land of the Maya” and “100 Ruins of the Maya,” or to contribute to the My Brothers House Project, visit: www.maya-aid.com
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