National Geographic August 2013, Part 3

Let’s see if I can finally knock this issue out and then get back on track.

Secrets of the Maya Otherworld, by Alma Guillermoprieto, photographs by Paul Nicklen

We go to Mexico in this article to investigate a phenomenon known as a cenote, which is a sinkhole that is filled with water.  The water of some cenotes is exposed to the surface, but the one we’re concerned with here, the Holtún cenote, has formed a cave above the water.  The archaeologist that we are following in this article, Guillermo de Anda, found signs of human sacrifice in the cave on earlier expeditions and had a theory that the cenote was used as a sort of natural clock, marking the two days a year when the sun is directly overhead.

De Anda and his partner, Arturo Montero, found that the sun does reach directly into the cenote when the sun is at its peak on those days and they have a theory that the location of Chichén Itzá may have been determined by the position of the cenote.

Parade of the Painted Elephants, by Rachel Hartigan Shea, photographs by Charles Fréger

In Parade of the Painted Elephants, we visit the Elephant Festival in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.  The festival features elephants, which are working animals for most of the year, being decorated with paint and jewels.  In what must have been 2012, Fréger went to the festival to photograph the elephants and got his pictures just in time.  I say that it must have been 2012 and that he got them just in time because the festival has been cancelled twice, once in 2012 and once in 2014, because the organizers didn’t send the correct documents to the Animal Welfare Board and, out of concern for the elephants (they didn’t reveal, for example, the chemicals used in the paints that year), the Animal Welfare Board shut the festival down.

Next up, January 2016.  Finally.