The Ahau Chronicles Vol. 11 from Jim Turner

The Apocalypse Island 2010 Eclipse Expedition was a stunning success! After
two days delayed in Santiago, Chile because of bad weather, I landed on the island on
Tuesday, July 7th, the sacred Ahau day. I toured the village and surveyed the tsunami
damage, including the remains of Pedro Niada’s El Pez Volador (“The Flying Fish”)
hostel where I had spent so many enjoyable days and nights in the past. I departed from
the village early Friday morning, two days before the eclipse, and spent 8 hours hiking
over the volcanic ridge filming my journey toward the Sun God monument. I camped for
two days in the debris field alongside the monument then witnessed the July 11th solar
eclipse from the exact location I had first spied the monument more than 13 years before.
One of the first things I did when I arrived at the monument was to investigate the
large megalithic fragment of the Sun God face that has broken away and slid down into
the gully below the monument. The stone is larger than anything I have seen elsewhere
on the island and lies at the end of a long scar leading downhill from the monument. The
fragment appears to lie face down in the gully and the underside was noticeably smoother
than the upper side or the remaining face of the monument suggesting that the fallen
fragment may be much better preserved than what remains standing. I am dwarfed in the
photo as I stand atop the fragment which must easily weigh a hundred tons or more.
After climbing more than 1800 vertical feet with a backpack tipping the scales
around 60 lbs. I was more than ready to pitch my hammock in the debris field and take a
rest. The debris field lies to the south of the monument and consists of a large level
terrace with a great view of both the monument and the 3000-foot peak of El Yunque, the
highest tip of the volcanic island. A thousand-foot waterfall cascades down the forested
side of El Yunque, the outlet from a cloud-fed lagoon atop the peak. In between my
hammock and the waterfall lay a vast expanse of wooded slopes populated by a bizarre
array of vegetation, the majority of which is found nowhere else on earth.
From my base camp in the debris field I explored around the bottom of the
monument, filming everything in high-definition video. Where the level terrace meets
the edge of the monument there are many cobbles and other rocks of various sizes, likely
the chipping waste from the sculpting of the monument. I knew that there were thin
veins of basalt running through the monument and was not surprised to see the same
within the debris. However, I noticed that the basalt was somewhat prismatic and tended
to fracture into blocks with sharp angles along some edges. After a bit of field testing I
realized that the harder basalt could be used to chip away at the softer volcanic stone
comprising the bulk of the ridge. The sculpting tools were built right into the monument!
Sunday morning, Eclipse Day, dawned rainy and overcast with clouds, a poor
forecast for observing the eclipse. I broke down my camp and then proceeded to the
Planos del Yunque (Plains of El Yunque), the site of my original campsite where I had
discovered the monument back in 1996. After more than 2½ hours of nervously looking
toward the sun through a piece of welder’s glass (for eye protection) I was thrilled to
recognize First Contact just before 4pm. The moon began to drift in front of the sun as
the clouds were drifting in from the south. Over the course of more than two hours I
caught long glimpses of the eclipse when it peeked out from behind the clouds.
Maximum Eclipse occurred shortly after the photo at right below when the sun was 70%
eclipsed. A joyous exultation overcame me when I realized that I had fulfilled my dream
of accompanying the Mayan Sun God monument as a witness to the 2010 solar eclipse,
the second-to-last Total Solar Eclipse before the end of the Mayan Great Cycle.
Since we had spent so much time
atop the monument during the
filming of “Apocalypse Island” I
didn’t stay long up there. The rain
was making the stone slick and
difficult to climb. The photo at left
shows the fracture plane of the Sun
God face from the rear. Now that
we know this is actually a crosssection
of the face (due to the
missing fragment) the facial profile
is more easily recognized. The
view west toward the sunset and the
2012 Total Solar Eclipse is much
like looking over the shoulder of
the Sun God. The forehead, eye
socket, nose and lips form the right
edge as seen here while the left
edge is unnaturally straight.
My most thrilling discovery though came just a few days ago while I was sitting
at home analyzing some of the expedition footage. I had long suspected that the lightand-
shadow play of the monument would be different around the June solstice when
compared to the December solstice, the time around which most of the previous
expeditions had taken place. The sunset of Eclipse Day was less than three weeks after
the June solstice and only a few degrees removed from the sun’s annual northern
maximum during winter in the Southern Hemisphere. As a result, the southern face of
the Sun God remained in shadow throughout the day, conforming to my expectations.
However, as the photos below show, the horizontal rays of the setting sun strike the eye
of the Sun God shortly before the sun disappears behind the ridge. The Sun God’s eye is
“enlightened” by the sun near the horizon in much the same way as it will be illuminated
by the Transit of Venus at sunset on June 6th, 2012, when the sun is in a similar position
15 days before the June solstice. The subtle sophistication and profound symbolism of
Chan Bahlum’s creation never ceases to amaze me.
The editing of the footage from the Apocalypse Island 2010 Eclipse Expedition
has begun and will culminate in the production and distribution of a DVD detailing all
the adventures of the expedition and the discoveries it allowed. DVDs of the movie can
be pre-ordered through the Apocalypse Island website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.