As Friday’s Mayan Apocalypse approaches, public agencies in the Cayman Islands are relying on common sense and the knowledge that few management techniques are available to stem a rain of fire.
The predicted catastrophe, calculated sometime during the first millennium by meso-American calendrical adepts, corresponds with tomorrow’s date, 21 December. Still, various experts, including the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration, remain undaunted.
“The whole thing was a misconception from the very beginning,” Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy, told NASA. “The Maya calendar did not end on 21 December, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date.”
Still, the myth has taken hold globally, leading to stories of hoarding, semi-panic and rudimentary disaster preparedness as far away as Russia and China.
The Cayman Islands appear to be poised to ride the crest of whatever wave develops, and if not exactly battening the hatches, observing events carefully.
“We think it’s very unlikely, and cannot imagine we would be under threat,” said a spokesman for Caribbean Utilities Company. “We have not put any measures in place, while, personally, as human beings, I’m not sure we can control this sort of thing.”
Still, West Bay’s chic Osetra Bay restaurant will host a “Rapture” party on Thursday night, indicating that the $200 price tag for a final five-course menu, wine and an open bar is of little moment, considering few other moments are likely to ensue.
Oddly, however, the evening conflates apocalyptic Christianity with Mayan time-keeping, potentially confusing observers, but the sense is inescapable that something big is afoot.
Even conspiracy theorists feel the pull, dismissing NASA’s sober cautions as part of a cover-up to prevent mass panic.
The website www.surfingtheapocalypse.net focuses on the effects of the event in the Caribbean, leading its coverage, prophetically, with a news story outlining last Tuesday’s arrest of Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush in a “corruption probe”.
Ensuing events have done little to dispel the sense of doom hanging over George Town’s elected government, but the Mayans appear unrelated to local politics.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service balked when asked about plans for the deluge, indicating a degree of scepticism regarding the event. In fairness, information has been scanty regarding how Doomsday is likely to roll out – on wings of fire, sheets of ice, sudden violence or a simple and possibly prolonged slowing-to-a-stop of all activity. Each would elicit a unique police response.
Longtime local counsellor Terry Delaney observed that the holiday season always carries a burden of anxiety, leading, after the holiday season, to his busiest period of the year.
“Neither in my practice or my personal life,” he said, “have I had anybody reference the Apocalypse. There is plenty of anxiety out there,” he conceded, “but it’s nothing to do with the Mayans.
“It’s afterward that is the concern, after the holidays,” he added. “There is a lot of emotion and a lot of eating and drinking disorders and I’m usually very busy.”
Mr. Carlson said that tomorrow’s date corresponds to the end of a 400-year unit of time in the Mayan’s cyclical “Long Count” calendar, which encompasses billions of years additional to modern calculations of the age of the universe.
Friday’s date simply returns the Mayans to the start of their traditional calendar, Mr. Carlson told NASA. At no point, however, does the date presage the end of the world. Rather, it initiates a new cycle.
Omar Affleck, deputy director of preparedness for Hazard Management Cayman Islands, was articulate about the Day of Reckoning: “No, we have no specific plans to deal with that,” he said. “[Apocalypse] is not one of the hazards we have taken on, but surely we are on the alert for any eventuality.”