I’ve finally given in to Popular Culture. I’m accepting that this December 31t will usher in the next “Millenium.” Yes, yes, I know that the Third Millenium actually kicks in on January 1, 2001, but I am succumbing to the hordes. I am tired of correcting people and after all, as far as computers around the world are concerned, 2000 IS the new millenium. (A recent test of Y2K “compliance” at the water department in Los Angeles sent thousands of gallons of raw sewage burbling into a park).
Now that I’ve made a PC step (shudder!) for a brief moment in time, I have to decide where to spend the auspicious evening. El Paso is nice, but not exactly exotic enough–after all, millenium crossovers don’t occur often. I don’t know about you, but this will be the first one I’ve ever experienced.
The general location is a done deal: Mexico, of course. But where? My thoughts turn to pyramids, beaches–or both. After further contemplation, I decide I don’t want to leap across the temporal threshold amongst a huge and possibly rowdy crowd, more intent upon getting drunk than observing a singular moment. A new 1000 years deserves contemplation, thus I rule out some favorite and very popular spots: Monte Albán in Oaxaca, The Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan outside Mexico City and Chichen Itzá; Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Wakikii East (otherwise known as Cancun) are similarly ruled out. I want serenity.
After a discussion with my friends Ron Palmas y Coke under the stars of a clear Texas night, I have come up with five destinations. I’m sure you will have your favorites, too, and may totally disagree with mine. But, it’s my column, under the good graces of Mexconnect, so here they are. Three are in the Yucatán, one on the West Coast, and one in the high desert of Northern Mexico:
This is still the quintessential “sleepy village” just 12 miles up the coast from Cancun–which never sleeps, but snores heavily. White beaches, turquoise waters and the best lobster restaurant on the coast (Pelícanos). Midnight on December 31 could be spent sipping white wine and sharing leftovers with the pelicans.
Only 45 minutes on the other side of Playa del Carmen, I call this site the “Beach Resort of the Mayan Kings.” The only Mayan city built on the coast, its buildings date from 1200 AD. You’ve all seen pictures of the watchtower on limestone cliffs above a perfect crescent of beach. Hopefully, Tulum won’t be open for the Big Night. Stay in a beach hut at Don Armando’s, a short walk away and sneak onto the grounds after dark. If you can’t be there for the Millenium, be sure to visit Tulum sometime. Arrive after 3 p.m. in the afternoon, when the tour busses have left and the sun is tucked into the west, allowing for better photography.
Inland from Tulum, yet still in Quintana Roo, this is one of my favorite places in the world. Like Oaxaca, Cobá is a State of Mind. Only partially excavated, the site dating from about 600 AD, is smack-dab in the middle of the jungle. The Nohoch-Mul pyramid still wears a cloak of emerald vegetation over its back. Spend a few hours in the morning of Millenium Eve in contemplation atop the structure. You’ll look out over a sea of jungle, dotted with sapphire lakes. The peacefulness is captivating. Don’t dine at the large hotel (although you will appreciate the air-conditioned rooms) but at one of the three or four tiny restaurants along the lake; then celebrate the New Year with the Mayan villagers. Take lots of 95% DEET to ward off the mosquito bombers.
Near Puerto Vallarta:
I love PV. My parents took me there in 1958, before Taylor and Burton had heard of the place. But, I wouldn’t want to spend any major holiday there. It’s hard to see the sandy beach for the oiled bodies glistening in the sun. If you are looking for a Pacific Coast beach, go north into Nayarit, or south along the Jaliscan coast. You can still capture the past aura of fishing village Mexico, if you avoid the growing plague of condos. It’s there, and half the adventure is in the search and discovery. As in Puerto Morelos, share morsels with the pelicans–and here you can stare west towards Asia, which will already be in the grip of the Third Millenium. ( Click here for some beach choices – or is that choice beaches?)
Mata Ortíz (surprise!):
These sites are exotic, but, then there is the tranquility of the small village of potters just four hours from El Paso, along Mexican highways 2 and 10. Here, I would greet the “Dawn of a New Era” (or just another day, depending on your point of view) at an abandoned ranchito in the center of a high desert valley. The nights are crisp and clear and under more stars than one could imagine. Y2K would be entered in exquisite silence.
Where to go? Decisions, decisions, decisions. . . . I guess the problem with Mata Ortíz is that it’s too close to the border. If I wake up (around noon) on January 1st, 2000 and the power is out and it is apparent that Y2K is doing its devastating thing in Mexico, I can just hop into my car and cruise up to the border to see if there is chaos on the other side. However, if I were deep in La República and couldn’t fly home, I might have to stay in Cobá or along a beach for a few more days.
Would that bother me?
I don’t think so!