No apocalypse, just a canceled flight to the Yucatan

By Abe Peck
Abe Peck intended to travel to Mexico to mark the end of the Mayan calendar. He didn't get there. But he lives to tell the story.

I’m missing the Mayan Apocalypse.

I’d planned to represent Travel Weekly atop Chichen Itza for what some were ballyhooing as the last solstice in human history. But my Apocalypto-like vision was not to be — defeated not by hellfire, but by ... frost.

As we sat on the runway at the Santa Barbara airport before dawn on Thursday morning, the pilot announced that we could not take off. Unseasonable cold had glazed the wing, and the local de-icing truck was broken. We’d have to wait for the sun to rise and burn off the ice.

This was ironic, since during my first visit to the ruins, many years ago, my wife and I had imitated foil-wrapped baked potatoes inside a prop plane that was refueling in a super-hot jungle clearing.

By the time I got to Phoenix — to paraphrase Glen Campbell — my Cancun-bound flight was long gone. In this vacation season, every other booking to the Yucatan was full up. Would I like to fly the next day via Charlotte, arriving a couple of hours after the predicted End of the World? Talk about anti-climactic (or anti-climatic)!

As I waited for my flight home, I thought of the one-liners my assignment had sparked within my circle of friends. Letterman-like, here’s a list:

• Several people debated the wisdom of getting a round-trip ticket or travel insurance if the world was in fact ending.

• A consultant from Tucson suggested toasting the event with the Montreal beer, Fin Du Monde.

• A professor in Evanston, Ill., forwarded a seven-day forecast. Sunday’s weather: 42 degrees. The forecast for Friday: a high of 1250, a low of 1147.

• A Manhattan-based writer asked if I was being paid in advance.

• On Facebook, a magazine editor in Chicago wrote, “What exactly IS the dress code for the end of the world” and was told, “Casual, very casual.”

• A literary agent in New York noted that she had been married in Merida — “Apocalypse of a different sort,” she recalled.

Finally, a playwright in Hong Kong simply forwarded a subscription solicitation for Afterlife magazine.

Not with a bang but a giggle.
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