Tegucigalpa – While some Hondurans interpret the Mayan calendar countdown as presaging the end of the world in 2012, the city of Copan Ruinas in western Honduras is getting ready for a big celebration for the thousands of tourists expected to turn up as the count begins.
"One thing is the interpretation some people make of the Mayan calendar, not only in Honduras but in neighboring countries as well, and another is the new interest in Copan Ruinas," Tourism Secretariat spokeswoman Nora Schauer told Efe.
What we're expecting here in 2012 are thousands of Honduran and foreign tourists on hand to witness the countdown to the end of the Mayan calendar.
- Nora Schauer, tourism secretariat spokeswoman
"What we're expecting here in 2012 are thousands of Honduran and foreign tourists on hand to witness the countdown to the end of the Mayan calendar," Schauer said.
The countdown to the last day will be marked on Wednesday at Copan Ruinas with a cultural event led by President Porfirio Lobo, several of his ministers, diplomats and experts in Mayan archaeology, among others who have been invited, Schauer said.
The event, to be held at the Copan Ruinas archaeological park, is sponsored by the Honduran Tourism Institute, which during 2012 will offer a series of cultural, educational and scientific activities related to the Mayan civilization, extant between 800 A.D. and 800 B.C.
Among other activities will be conferences and some five new archaeological sites to be opened in Copan, a region that continues to surprise archaeologists with the cultural riches written in stone that lie hidden in its valleys and mounds, Schauer said.
Visitors will also observe phenomena like the solstice, when the sun is in one of the two tropics - between June 21-22 in the Tropic of Cancer, and from Dec. 21-22 in the Tropic of Capricorn - the zenith and the equinox.
The start of the countdown to "the end of time" on the Mayan calendar will be broadcast live on national television and transmitted to the rest of the world, "to make known the beauty and heritage the Mayas left to humanity," Schauer said.
Wednesday has been given the slogan "Live the end of an era and start from the new beginning."
Copan Ruinas is located some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Tegucigalpa in the province of Copan, which borders on Guatemala.