Almost immediately after my wife and I were vaccinated early in 2021, we booked a trip to the Yucatan peninsula for the end of the year: feeling that the pandemic would definitely be waning by then, and travel would no longer be a concern.
The joke was on us, of course. Delta. Omicron. We got our boosters the second we were eligible. And maybe the best way to escape Omicron after all was to head to the jungle in Campeche.
New Years Eve in a jungle lodge (terribly romantic in our eyes); New Years Day all by ourselves exploring Hormiguero, a lesser-known Mayan site (also romantic); and just a couple of days into the year: Calakmul, a genuinely remote (but vast) set of ruins.
This is the second tallest pyramid in the Mayan world (the tallest in the Yucatan peninsula):
So tall that — at the base — you can’t see the top of the pyramid. Not even close. The only way to see it all is aerially:
Which means, that when the king and other royals came down from their residence at the top (very possibly on a litter!), they literally seemed to descend from the heavens.
And from the very top of the pyramid, you cannot see down to its base. You can, however, see all the way to Guatemala. You can see other Calakmul temples rising out of the jungle. And if you were king, you’d be surveying all the land you controlled. It is, quite literally, a sky palace.
One of the reasons my wife and I keep coming back to the Yucatan region is our appreciation of the staggering collective achievements of the Mayan civilization. That sense of the collective — a unity of purpose that benefits all — can still be seen today throughout the peninsula. Everyone wears a mask: indoors, outdoors, everywhere. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche have the lowest Covid infection rates in Mexico.
It turns out climbing a Mayan pyramid is easier than raising independent film funds in a pandemic. Nevertheless, optimism prevails. Vista Bella Films, my production company, is actively courting accredited investors who are patrons of the arts. We’ve made progress, but we’re not all the way there yet. My producing partner and I have 3 films that can go into production in New Mexico in a hurry (find out more about one of them, 2-WAY, here). No guns, no violence, no spaceships, no superheros. Stories that take place in New Mexico, in worlds you haven’t seen depicted in feature films before.
I’m developing two brand-new feature film screenplays that I hope will be completed and ready to attract funding by New Years Eve, 2022. Very excited by their concepts. Same m.o.: set in New Mexico, to be shot in New Mexico, with cast and crew that are largely New Mexican. Of course, every screenplay is a risky bet.
Here’s to a good year ahead, for all of us…