Monday, February 24, 2014

Dear Miami, I'm Breaking up with You

"Dear Miami, this is tough for me but...I uh, gotta break up with you. Now-now wait a minute...don't get upset. It's not you, it's me....well...really, it's mostly you."

!KA-POW! - to the back of my head and a quick !BITCH-SLAP! to my right cheek.

"I'm sorry, I don't hate you or anything I just can't live with you anymore." 

One more !SLAP! to my other cheek.

"Okay let me explain..."

After living my entire life as a proud Miamian, I have grown to realize how things have obviously changed in this young-girl of a city. Rampant development, a lot of it positive and much needed improvements to what was always just a seasonal destination. Locals in the service industry used to have to wait for "season" to make any real money because the rest of the year it was pretty much dead and summer being the worst time of the year, it would become a veritable ghost town. Season would usually descend upon our playground city as soon as it would cool down and the snowbirds landed, sometime after Halloween and run until about April. Now, "season" has pretty much spread to most of the other parts of the year even the traditional summer drop in business is no longer noticeable.

I refuse to join the ranks of the mass of "Miami-haters" scattered around the globe and that bad-talk Miami for so many reasons but as a Miamian, I have slowly realized that something has changed with our magic city in the process of her being a big girl. 
I wil always be grateful to Miami. She has nurtured me in her bodacious bosom and I've had too many remarkably fun and hedonistic moments that my brain can remember. She has opened my mind with her eccentricities, feeding my addiction to her nightlife. 

When you compare 100 year old (about) Miami with other cities that have centuries more years under their belts, she doesn't compare with the diversity, depth and sophistication of the grande dame cities like San Francisco, New York and Chicago. They hold the allure and inspire as say, a Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot kind of lady.

Miami is like the girl that just turned 18 and just learned how to wear makeup and walk in heels, showing off her hot new body. The minute she gets into the club with her fake ID, she has a magnetism about her that grabs everyone's attention. All the guys want to sleep with her but that's as far as it goes. That is all she has to offer, for the moment, after all she is only 18.

After years of hearing, "That's so Miami" and wondering what these people really meant, I eventually discovered it wasn't a compliment. The top criticisms of Miami I have collected over the last couple of years (from locals and non-locals) have been: 

"Well, you know Miami people are not that educated and things go slower there." 

"People in Miami don't know how to carry conversation. They only keep it on the surface." 

"If you aren't attractive, you are ignored." 

"That place is super fake and the people are flaky."

"Welcome to Miami, a sunny place with shady people."

"People in Miami are too pretentious for no reason."

"When people from Miami come in to our restaurant in New York, we always seat them in the back because they are loud and obnoxious."

Yeah I know, it hurts to hear it. All this time I thought I was pretty cool to be in such a down to earth city where the world comes to party and the people really tell it like it is. The overly expressive latin mentality gives us permission to be brutally honest, so much so that there a lot of people who are just, well Dicks. 

But aside from that, when you compare Miami to all the other cities, it is the most colorful, esthetically appealing, fun and has the best weather this side of Los Angeles. Yeah, all those things count and that puts her at the top for destination cities, gaining her ranking alongside New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The problem is not with our city, mother nature made her just right. It is a virtual paradise almost every day of the year, it's a very comfortable life. You can survive with less here than other big cities. The problem is with her "people". 

Miami has evolved into a type of new Havana where the locals with their wits about them and ability to leave, all emigrate out as soon as they can. Why do they leave? They are looking for more affordable housing, better paying jobs, a more progressive, calm lifestyle that isn't as "crazy" or stressful and after your 30's if you aren't partnered up, it can get boring. 

The ones that migrate to Miami are looking for exactly that. They want color, craziness. They want to sow their oats, and sip on the sexy, spicy, latino gazpacho under a beach umbrella with a hot ocean breeze caressing their faces. 

The problem is when a city caters to that type of tourism or residents, it changes the dynamic of the city and the locals are left feeling like the city has turned into a place not of their making. Miami is a city that never slows down and is addicted to hedonism 12 months out of the year. There never seems to be a time to slow down and reflect. Miami doesn't afford time to it's residents for respite. There is always a festival or event to rush to get ready for. 

While i'm not absolutely sure when the disconnect that exists today first occurred or what changed the air here but I do have a theory. It happened some time between the release of Will Smith's cheesy "Welcome to Miami" video and when someone dropped a hot, steamy dump inside the fitting room of the Kardashian's Dash store on their equally shitty show; The Kardashians Take Miami. It was those two events that sealed our fate and when the subterranean, asshole magnet was turned on. 

From that point on, the "asswhole invasion" began. Douchebags from around the world started to come in droves driving their douchey sport cars, yachts and private jets and with their trophy wives or mistresses in tow.

Developers started building overpriced, high-rise condos that no local salary could afford and baptizing them with egomaniacal names like; Quantum, Icon or Epic that could easily double as names for a condom brand. 

As a result of this "asshole invasion" the people that weren't assholes ended up acting like them so they wouldn't feel left out of this apparent, new normal. This is what I like to call "AAD" or Asshole Affective Disorder. As a result, of the mass AAD epidemic with South Beach at it's epicenter, the rest of Miami has seen it's good people turn into zombies walking around as if they were on a never ending fashion show catwalk with their blue-steel gazes and nonchalant, poker faces acting as if their milk shake is better than anyone else's. 

If you attempt to break rank and connect eyes or dare to greet one of these zombies with what is normal in other cities, with a simple "Hi", you will be guaranteed a quick roll of the eyes or a turn away as if you were a paparazzi trying to take their picture. 

I know it sounds like an exaggeration but the next time you are in Miami, give it a try. 

Is Miami really the coolest place to live as it's sold to be? The only way to answer is to go to other cities and really look at how people treat each other and what the vibe of a place is. 

After feeling like my home was no longer home, and no longer blaming myself for the alienation I was feeling, I decided to believe the old adage; when things no longer go right, it's time to go left. I made the painful decision to break with my hometown to shift gears, exchanging the partying life of molly for an earthy-crunchy, granola, zen existence on the "other coast" in the more gracefully matured city of San Francisco. 

After all, it is in my genes to migrate to find a better place. My parents emigrated to Miami escaping Cuban communism to get a piece of the American pie. I am blessed with a less painful option to emigrate and try another city inside this diverse and still beautiful country. We enjoy the freedom to explore other cities, to burst out of one bubble and plug into another. Sometimes home isn't where you are born but where best suits you at any given time.

"Now Miami, I ain't hating, i'm just telling you, if you're gonna play with the big boys, you're gonna have to be able to take some constructive criticism to be a real, big city one day. Don't hate me for this but it's adios for now, I hope you'll miss me when i'm gone. 

I'll probably fall back in love with you and chase you down one day, after you get over this weird, growing phase thing. For now, I am fulfilled with the eyes of kinder, warmer strangers greeting me with good mornings and hello's. Instead of an eternal tan, I enjoy basking in a softer sun and the crispy-cool pacific breeze of "fog city". 

My only hope is that in your rush to get noticed and become a big girl, you don't forget what makes a city great is not only it's great clubs, buildings or infrastructure but it's charm, sense of peace and humanity. 

Without that, you'll just keep attracting the wrong kind of people into your life."

*Tips on how to avoid and clear infection from Miami's AAD.

*A recent New Times profile of Miami's socially conscious change makers. They are the finest examples of the resistance to the invasion. It's people like these that just might save her.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Interview with Egypt's Zahi Hawass - The Once and Future Egypt

The Egypt of today is a surreal dichotomy.  It’s once profoundly rich and powerful civilization led by virile pharaohs contrasts mightily with the economic and political- breakdown of the leaderless Egypt of today.  

Today, Egypt’s unemployment is at over 13% (locals say it’s much higher) and where much of the population live at 3rd world poverty level, save for tiny pockets of lux havens for the elite few in Cairo, Alexandria, Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh. Income inequality and corruption is equal, if not worse than in most other third world countries across the globe.

On our way to visit the pyramids at Giza, kids suddenly surround the taxi driving us down the old Pyramids Road no more than 13 years of age, tapping on the car’s windows in an attempt to get money or “baksheesh” from us. Our driver exclaims apologetically, “They are starving!” in a spurt of honesty that was so heart felt, it rang in my ears, creating an instant empathy for their condition. Being Cuban and having visited my country several times, parallels were instantly drawn in my mind of how far a failed government can drag down it’s own people, forcing them to be capable of anything in an effort to survive.

Even though Egypt’s people are in dire need, the country is very safe to visit. Tourists are always treated with kindness and appreciation. It’s an unspoken rule to treat tourist’s well but every now and then you will get a character that won’t take “no, thank you” for an answer and a “baksheesh” of about 10 Egyptian pounds ($1.44 US) usually satisfies them. Egypt’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism and the revolution has taken a toll on the tourism industry, which has slowed down since 2011 to a complete halt.

However, since the revolution erupted in 2011, tourism has come to a virtual standstill, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that at many of the sites we visited, we were the only American tourists around. Whenever we were asked the mandatory question: “Where are you from?” our response was always greeted with “Ah, America…good people!” Thankfully, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, announced on Oct 2, that 13 countries have now lifted travel bans to Egypt. The latest two countries, Austria and Ireland, lifted bans to holiday destinations in the Red Sea and South Sinai more recently.

I am visiting Egypt to interview the recently removed Dr. Zahi Hawass from his beloved post as Secretary General of the SCA (Supreme Council of Antiquities). Mr. Hawass agreed to the interview since the request came from his longtime friend and trusted gal-pal, Mary Lomando, whom he met in Cairo over 20 years ago while she was completing her degree as an Egyptologist in Cairo. Mary is a seasoned tour leader and owner of Pacha Terra Travel. Zahi has learned to be discerning with regards to whom he will grant interviews these days, and for good reason. He has grown weary of being maligned by the media and his fellow countrymen due to his past cabinet ministry appointment by deposed President, Hosni Mubarak.

The people of Egypt found Zahi an easy target, and he inevitably became a scapegoat for their frustration with anything to do with Mubarak’s regime. Even though all the trumped up charges of corruption against Hawass have since been dropped due to lack of evidence to support the claims, some still try to malign his good work. Love him, or hate him, Dr. Hawass has done more for restoring the sites of Egypt, preserving its antiquities and announcing new discoveries than any other archaeologist in recent history.

In Zahi’s words, “If anyone were to ask what my religion was, I would answer my religion is to train other archaeologists to be better archaeologists than I was!” He has written or co-written over 60 books on Egyptian archaeology, chock full of new insights and discoveries recently documented. These books have been published worldwide, and his wish of training archaeologists to be better than him has already come to fruition. Many people don’t even know he started off as a teacher. Before he became an inspector for the SCA, Mr. Hawass taught Egyptian archaeology, history and culture at the American University in Cairo and the University of California, Los Angeles in 1988. Through his books and his public speaking events, he has educated and informed armies of closet archaeologists and archaeologists in training alike to appreciate humanity’s fascinating past, reinforcing the notion that it is not about the gold but more the treasure of the information gleaned from these artifacts that tell the “story of us”.

Zahi’s top projects completed during his tenure as Minister:

*Starting 24 new museums across the country. Of the 24, six have been completed. The rest are still under construction.
*The complete restoration of the Serapeum and reinforcing the Step pyramid at Saqqara.
*SETI I tomb- tunnel excavation.
*Renovation of the conservation lab at the Egyptian Museum.
*Stabilization of the stepped pyramid at Saqqara.
*Luxor Museum extension.
*Restoration of the Sphinx and enclosure.

The Archaeological sites of Egypt are unbelievably empty of tourists where they were almost always full with rows of buses. These monuments that symbolize the patrimony of humanity’s greatest achievements are barely guarded and in some sites, no guards at all. They are in a shamefully neglected condition, littered with animal dung, graffiti and trash. In contrast, the ancient sites at Luxor are all still well maintained. It seems as if there is more national pride for these sites there. The wave of Islamic extremist incidents throughout the country, fueled by the Muslim Brotherhood haven’t helped matters either. There have even been recent threats by one cleric to dismantle the Pyramids and ancient temples as Islamic fundamentalism isn’t friendly at all to secular archaeology, which highlights the accomplishments of another belief system, even though it is no longer worshipped by Egyptians today. The current Minister of the SCA- Mohamed Abdel Fattah, was appointed by recently ousted President Morsi, so it remains to be seen if he will protect and restore Egypt’s heritage as fervently as Dr. Hawass.

This is the sad state of an Egypt stuck in the grips of a slow-boil revolution. The reports of looting have leaked out from independent sources but there isn’t much actual data or an official account yet of what has gone missing. Egypt’s National Museum in Malawi, was looted and vandalized in August of this year by local Muslim extremists and many artifacts, even wooden sarcophagi were hacked to pieces with axes. A public auction of 126 recently looted antiquities was stopped in Jerusalem, so there is evidence that many antiquities are being smuggled out through Egypt’s porous borders.

 Mary and I visited Saqqara and the Abu Sir pyramids area the day before meeting with Dr. Hawass and reported to him that the replica, full-size statue of King Djoser sitting inside his serdab enclosure was moved out of line in a failed looting attempt. Most looters are not educated enough to know it is a replica. The representation for the ancient king now sits in wait, no longer aligned and blocked from his line of sight to the stars.


Sarah Parcak, a space archaeologist has used satellite imagery to calculate the extent of the looting epidemic since the revolution and she estimates it has increased 500%.

* Has the situation with looting since the revolution, been secured?

Zahi - “The current situation is a disaster for Egypt and particularly in Abu Sir there are illegal excavations everywhere!” The holes that Sarah Parcak is talking about are what looters leave behind and are not always accurate indicators of looting. These looters dig hundreds of exploratory holes and are mostly failed attempts. They dig for two things; gold and the myth of the healing red mercury that supposedly exists in the throats of the mummies, which sometimes fetch high prices on the medicinal black market. There is no such liquid. I have never seen it. It doesn’t exist!”

Zahi is one of the few things about Egypt that wasn’t broken. Since he was removed from his enamored post, the country has revolted again and removed another leader deemed useless to improve the country’s paralysis. Zahi sees himself not as a media personality but as a guardian of Egypt’s rich heritage. So much so, his older, original website was At the start of the revolution in January 2011, Zahi took a big risk by forming a human chain with other Egyptians in the streets in front of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to prevent protesters from storming the museum. This brave act was not reported by any media source.

While in his post he was responsible for the repatriation of over 5000 artifacts from museums all over the world. The New York Metropolitan Museum cooperated with Zahi in returning 19 artifacts from King Tut’s tomb. His controversial move to block France from digging at Saqqara for the first time in history until the Louvre returned the five fragments of the Tetiky frescoes stolen from the West Bank in Luxor was his boldest move. “A bomb dropped at the Louvre when I stopped the French from digging at Saqqara,” His bravado worked and all the frescoes were returned.

* We watched a documentary on our flight here on an Air France plane and it was reporting on your successful negotiations for the return of the Tetiky frescoes and the Ramses mummy. Is there any progress or updates to your efforts to have Egyptian artifacts returned to their homeland, such as the famed bust of Nefertiti or the Dendera zodiac?

Zahi – “There is no progress after years of stalled negotiations and the new Minister of the SCA has sadly and unbelievably publicly declared he does not want Nefertiti returned to Egypt!”

* What are the top most important artifacts you feel should be returned to their home in Egypt?

·      Statue of Ramses II in Turin, Italy.
·      Statue of the architect, Hemiunu of the Great Pyramid at the Hildesheim's Pelizaeus Museum.
·      Bust of Prince Ankhhaf at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
·      Dendera Zodiac from the Louvre.
·      Rosetta stone from the British Museum.
·      Bust of Nefertiti in the Berlin Neues Museum.

*What is the status of the accusations and charges on your contracts with National Geographic and Discovery Channel?

Zahi - “All the charges have been dropped from lack of evidence of wrongdoing. I negotiated those projects based on what best offer of help they would provide for the benefit of Egypt. The National Geographic video was very successful for them and in return, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo received a 3 million dollar CT scan machine that is in use to this day and bringing to light many more insights and discoveries about the Pharaohs and their families. All the funds paid by the Discovery Channel went straight to the Egyptian antiquities department. The Tut exhibit earned 125 million dollars for a new room inside the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, now under construction. These contracts were all approved beforehand by the Mubarak regime and were totally transparent.”

Egypt’s mega-project of its new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza promises to be Egypt’s crown jewel just a mile away from the pyramids. Giza’s skyline is dotted with so many cranes; it looks as if they were constructing a new pyramid. A large sign with red LED numbers in front of the site show a countdown of 622 days. This is a running joke for locals who claim the countdown is in years, not days.

*Do you have any information or updates on the new Cairo museum that was supposed to be completed within the next two years (625 days)?

Zahi – “Construction work is ongoing but very slow, as they need about 700 million dollars to complete the construction of this massive museum. With the current instability, who knows when that will be completed.”

Zahi’s dream to do the work that still needs to be done to complete his vision for the antiquities department has been blocked but that won’t stop him from making new discoveries and continuing to be an Egyptologist. He is resigned to fill his days organizing speaking tours in the US and book signings in Geneva, Poland and London beginning November 5th, to promote his latest book, Discovering Tutankhamen: From Howard Carter to DNA. He is also currently completing another book on the DNA research findings with the royal mummies at the Cairo museum.

*If it were offered to you again, would you want your old job back?

Zahi - “No! Not in the current state Egypt is in. If there is no stability and Egypt is not brought back to a normal working condition, I would be useless and unable to perform my job well!”

Zahi’s passion seems to rest not in carrying a title but in being able to effect change and fulfill his personal mission as a guardian of Egypt’s heritage.

*What are the discoveries you'd like to make or witness on your bucket list? Has the departure from your post diminished your desire to uncover more history changing discoveries?

He replies, without missing a beat, rattling off all the discoveries he would like to still make.

Zahi - “The tomb of Nefertiti, the tomb of the great Imhotep and finally find the answer to what is behind Gantenbrink’s door inside the Great Pyramid. I believe Imhotep may be buried in an unexcavated area on the west side of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. They have already found a 2nd dynasty tomb underneath the Step Pyramid. Senenmut, the architect of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari was buried near her mortuary temple there. This leads me to believe that Imhotep mirrored this same act of reverence near King Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara since he was architect of that pyramid.”

* Any updates on the search for Cleopatra in Alexandria?

Zahi – “Dr. Kathleen Martinez unearthed a marble bust of Cleopatra and 22 coins with her image at a small cemetery inside the Ptolemaic temple at Taposiris Magna in Alexandria, some time ago. Unfortunately, that mystery still remains unsolved after more than 5 years of digging and the excavations at the site are ongoing with Dr. Martinez.”

* Are you opposed to using new technologies to make new discoveries easier? (LIDAR satellite imaging, Ground penetrating radar, etc).

“These technologies are all wonderful but first of all, Egypt is filled with ancient sites, there are sites everywhere! The problem is these new technologies are incompatible with the current state of Egypt today. You find a site and it is reported but then who can we assign to protect it from looting and excavate it properly? There aren’t enough resources for the discovery of so many sites when the existing ones haven’t been properly secured and restored yet. You need a good and stable government for that!”

* Zahi sympathizes with the condition of his country and when asked who he would like to see as next president he replied,

Zahi - “Whoever the people elect, that leader must be very strong and determined to make changes quickly. There are so many people that haven’t worked in three years. The situation is terrible!”

In a country where a smaller-than-America’s-1% are successful and nothing works, Zahi’s effectiveness and public persona was an obvious, yet ironic target for criticism. He essentially gained too much notoriety for doing too much and being too good at his job. Such is the revolutionary mob mentality in a country where so few have and the vast majority has not. If the income inequality gap in America continues to widen at the pace it has since the recession, we might not be too far behind the Egyptian example.

The statue of King Djoser’s sight to the stars being blocked by looters is a sobering metaphor for the people of Egypt who also seem to be currently blocked from seeing their way out of their current predicament. No one we have talked to even knows when the next election will take place. Some say possibly next summer, and others fear a third revolution if it doesn’t happen soon. The potential for peace and a new Egypt is within the country’s grasp, the Egyptians just don’t know how to do it without an effective leader strong enough to right all the wrongs of the past. These are a people that haven’t had a democratically elected president for 5000 years. The process will take time. If they can achieve this is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, the Sphinx and her three brothers stand as timeless sentinels waiting for Egypt’s glory to return.

The published post of this blog can be viewed here on AnthroJournal site

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Crystal Skulls - 101 Primer

I apologize for my longest hiatus from the blogosphere. I've been completely consumed with completing and editing my latest fictional story; an existential adventure for young adults in the hopes that I'll actually make a career of my writing. Blogging, being a labor of love and pro-bono activity required me to shelf it in order to make time to actually produce a quality, fully revised and an as-perfect-as-it's-gonna-get manuscript for publishing. 

Fresh from the book expo 2013 and pitching to overworked, jaded agents and hard to reach publishers to sell my latest book; the Mysterious Disappearance of Colby Blue. I arrive in Mexico City exhausted from the whole New York, sell-myself experience and with my seeds planted for my last book to hopefully find a home with a publisher. 

Mexico City’s sky is covered with a cashmere blanket of brown and gray smog, peepholes of blue sky peeking through the mist. My trip begins with my heart beating fast from the smog, elevation and excitement to start researching for my next archaeology based book series.

I grab my bags and roll into a cab to traverse the traffic in the world's top ten most populous city. The same city that was home to one of the largest and highest civilizations of the ancient world- Tenochtitlan, until Spanish Catholics came and flattened it, all in the name of their God, oh and for gold, lots of it. The only structures left of this Venice of the New World are underneath the Plaza Mayor where a huge church was plopped right on top the main pyramids inside the Aztecs ancient center. (Catholics did this everywhere they conquered the indigenous religions). 

I came to this un-environmentally friendly city of smog and dust to discover and look with new eyes, seeking evidence in the ancient sites with the Oracle Stone Productions tour group. I had previously attended their event at the Miami circle for 12/12/12 hosted by a Mayan shaman. A reunion of the "authentic" crystal skulls that have been discovered all over the world and currently in the hands of their caretakers were the main draw. The skulls were placed in the center of the Miami Circle, which is Miami's oldest and enigmatic structure carved into the limestone bedrock, surrounded by high-rise condos in Downtown Miami. The plot of land was thankfully rescued and purchased by the city from a condo developer after it was discovered to be the oldest known native Indian site in all of Florida. There were hundreds of spiritually minded individuals that came to feel if there was anything to this whole Mayan-calendar-ending brouhaha. According to spiritualists, it is the beginning of a new cycle and the beginning of the dying off of old energetic templates that have kept this planet vibrating at a lower level. Now whether you believe in any of this or not, my friends and I definitely felt "something" during the 12/12/12 meditation in Miami, led by Mayan shaman, Flor De Mayo. It was a strong, swirling vortex of energy coming from the middle of the ancient circle and seemingly wrapped all of us up inside a palpable, feel-good energy. 

Flor De Mayo declared that it was an opening of a portal between this dimension of ours and other higher ones. She proclaimed that this new era of Earth's existence would be of a higher vibration than the previous one, aiding us to speed up our evolutionary process in the next 5 years, give or take a year.  Now, I am sure you are saying to yourself by now, "crystal skulls? You mean like Indiana Jones?” yeah, those crystal skulls. 

The producers of Indiana Jones actually investigated the whole mystery before bastardizing the whole shebang for a quick buck. They visited with one of the authentic, ancient skulls named Max, in order to research the stories that have swirled around these enigmatic objects. Max was made in the image of a human skull and purported to have all kinds of unexplainable properties. In the end, the producers sold out in order to make a blockbuster film and now many are left thinking that the whole mystery is just made up nonsense -more disinformation, courtesy of Hollywood.

Back to Mexico City; I met in our hotel lobby with the tour group. We were a motley crew of serious researchers and believers of alternate histories that had come from all points in the globe -America, Switzerland and South Africa. These individuals were all open to the possibility Atlantis may have once existed and that Atlantean refugees settled here after their wondrous, advanced culture was swallowed up by the sea, and reborn in different points all over the globe; Peru, Mexico, Egypt and Japan, to name a few. 
I soon learned why this group of passionately curious believers got so curious. Like a group of mutant X-men we all shared our fascinating and surreal stories of how we came to be in this place doing what so few dare to do, challenge our spoon-fed history and attempt to get at the truth. Our life experiences shape who we are and what motivates us and this group had clearly seen too much of the other side to go back to a life of wearing blinders, selectively ignoring the unexplained dark corners of "reality" as we know it. No one would pass quick judgment or question anyone's sanity here. We were amongst like-minded individuals. We were here to share theories and study artifacts to possibly find some answers to the questions that our "history" left out. 

This was a joining of the minds in an objective, non-judgmental arena with an exceptional, ardently passionate group of knowledgeable researchers with real jobs. There were psychologists, closet archaeologists, a medium that has worked with police departments to solve kidnappings and crimes, a film producer and a writer (yeah that's me). We had one common bond; united in our belief that there's more to the "story of us" that we have been told and were brave and awake enough to go on this unconventional quest to find some answers to those burning questions kept secreted away in our minds. 

We wanted to know the real story behind these crystal skulls, behind these highly advanced ancient people and answer the burning question of what the ancients meant when they described Teotihuacan in ancient codices as a place "where men became gods".

This group led by Ken Morgan met with Diego Rosales, a friend and fellow muralist that worked alongside Diego Rivera (Frida Kahlo's husband). We were invited to Diego's home to discuss his theories and decades long research of the possibility that the Aztecs were seeded and/or inspired by Atlantean refugees and that they probably used these crystal skulls that have been found in ancient sites all over the world much as we use smart phones, to connect them to other worlds and/or dimensions. 

We all shared the belief that the skulls are some sort of space-age computer that may still hold volumes of information that our current civilization doesn't know how to extract or read, at least not yet. These may seem to be lofty claims but if you look at how these skulls were made, there is evidence that they were extremely important because of the advanced knowledge and labor it took to create so many of them. 

Firstly, the rarity of finding quartz crystals or other crystals (crystal skulls are made of different, semi precious stones) of such size and to cut them against the grain of the crystal which with normal tools would shatter them in an instant with one slight of hand. Using their supposed primitive tools it would have taken them roughly 300 years of delicate man hours to make even one of them. Of course, the "establishment"or archaeologists not courageous enough to break rank, have all shrugged them off as simple fakes. Some of them out there indeed, are. Yet, there are hoards of learned men and women who believe that there is more to this story and that some of these skulls scattered across the globe are authentic. 

I am one of those people and in my search for the truth, had the good fortune to sit with Max about a year before this trip. Max is one of the known, authentic crystal skulls made of pure quartz. Reportedly, it was found inside an ancient Mayan tomb underneath a temple in Guatemala. I met with his charming keeper; Jo Ann Parks and she told me that priests used him for rituals and healings. She had received the precious skull from a Tibetan Lama named Norbu, whom she knew after he opened a healing center in Texas. He passed it to her just before his death.

According to Jo Ann, Max and Sha-Na-Ra were analyzed by the Smithsonian with electron microscopes and could not date either skull because of the way they were constructed. Sha-Na-Ra from one solid piece and Max made up of 5 different pieces which makes it virtually impossible to carve without shattering. Out of the 8 crystal skulls that have been researched properly only 2 in the world were unable to be dated. Those are Max and Sha-Na-Ra. A new form of dating is currently being completed at Puma Punku using a new technology called Cosmogenic dating to date when the stone was actually machined. The funding for this re-dating of Puma Punku stone was raised through an online crowd-funding, Indiegogo campaign (power of the people). New technologies may soon help us discover the true dates of these ruins that are as enigmatic as the crystal skull phenomena. 

Max was very much "alive" when I sat with him and the medium. I didn't have an electromagnetic testing device but our bodies can be effective devices for testing energy fluctuations. Running my fingers over the skull's exterior, I could feel a very fine electrical vibration as you do when you touch those electrified globes that make your hair stand on end at any given science museum. Only thing is; this object is a big hunk of quartz with no wires, plug or battery. It made me feel strange but comfortable, like sitting next to Einstein, it instilled awe in me. I can only prove what I felt and what the medium told me it communicated to me. It predicted many things that to this day are still happening. Max sent a message via the medium, for me to stop smoking anything at all because it clouds the connection between this world and others and prevents guides from communicating to us. I have quit since then and my creativity has definitely gotten more clear and in high-def since that opportune, unforgettable meeting. The medium informed me that Max was very "chatty" with me, more so than with the other private sittings that night. Who knows, maybe that sitting inspired me to take this trip and eventually write this story? Maybe this was all Max's doing and I'm just a puppet on an inter-dimensional string?

Back to Diego Rosales' home in Mexico City, which looked like a
mystical cave straight out of Lord of the Rings with honorable and sweet Diego as its keeper. The home was surrounded by greenery and literally built out of a rocky outcrop. It was filled with ancient artifacts given to him over the years by locals aware of his fascination with the ancients and his quest to research Atlantis.

He had many crystal skulls and other artifacts on display. An unusual one made of a green stone was found by a road work worker in Tula, underneath a ceramic slab and given to him since the worker was a bit freaked out by the object. He also had a pure quartz crystal corncob with a maize god's carved onto it. Representatives from INAH's Museo Nacional de Antropologia of Mexico City have come to catalog and note these artifacts but have allowed him to keep them inside his home until his death.

The large crystal skulls, crystal corn cob and monkey figurine inside Diego's home were looted by locals underneath a mountaintop temple near Taxco in the valle de los reyes which in English is translated as the Valley of the Kings (sound familiar?). These unverified artifacts were all found buried with a skeleton of a very important ancient shaman or leader. It must have been part of his treasure or what was most important to him as is with most burials. Locals looted the hidden burial chamber and it's artifacts given to Diego years later. Assuredly any gold artifacts were sold off illegally. There isn't any demand in the black market for these skulls, which many locals believe to be enchanted or bad luck. No archaeologists have excavated or documented the location of the temple and Diego has formally requested for the government to build a road in order to make it an official site for tourists to visit.

The problem with lack of funds to secure so many sites is a constant barrier to properly researching them. The problem isn't only confined to Mexico, but a worldwide dilemma. As economies worsen, looters get more brazen and have better technology to clean them out before the slow, bureaucratic machine of scientific study can. This is happening in Iraq, Egypt, China and Afghanistan as well, to this day.

Until then, these skulls and artifacts lie silently waiting in Diego's museum home for the day when a new breed of archaeologist, scientist or engineer with an open mind and new tools sensitive enough to study what they were really used for. 

When Ken and I, as translator, asked to visit with an archaeologist at the National Museo de Antropologia I thought to myself, knowing well Mexico's infamous bureaucratic hurdles, "we'll never get to see this man,” After about 30 minutes of polite urging and many excuses given, we were able to meet with one of the museum's staff archaeologists. I was dumbfounded. The gentleman was open and receptive. Ken and I were after all, archaeologists and colleagues. As Ken began to ask the man about the crystal skulls, I clenched my teeth in fear he would call security to kick us out for being crackpots. Again, as if by magic, he didn't. He openly discussed awareness of them and was aware of Diego's collection and of others found throughout the country but explained that the museum is overwhelmed with so many thousands of sites not even secured, their resources and budgetary constraints can't keep up with all the material there is to study. Crystal skulls are sadly at the bottom of their list. He explained that the museum only has one small one about 2 inches tall on display in one of its galleries at the museum. 

Ken proceeded to show him a very unusual skull with a snake wrapped atop it's subject, reminiscent of an Egyptian cobra uraeus worn by their Pharaohs. It seemed to have been carved out of a brown jade type of material. Ken explained that he was present when local men brought it out of an underground chamber found in Yucatan jungle near Cancun. There was also a hoard of colonial era, Spanish gold coins. It was likely a cache of Spanish treasure from a conquistador or of a Mayan leader that had stolen or traded the gold during his lifetime and stashed it there for safekeeping. Ken asked if the museum would be interested in acquiring the strange skull for study and he declined saying there was no budget for that. Although he was open to discuss the crystal skulls and confirm their existence in the ancient record, for whatever reason he seemed to have a "hands-off" approach to seeking them out for the museum's collection. 

He was however, nice enough to connect us with the archaeologist heading up current excavations under the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan. Recent exciting discoveries using a remote-controlled rover device have confirmed three large chambers underneath the Pyramid that date to one of the earliest layers of the city's first inhabitants. One chamber has a fascinating collection of over 100 pyrite orbs scattered on its floor and its walls were covered with a powder made of magnetite, pyrite and hematite. Archaeologists don't have a clue as to what the minerals were used for. 

Science tells us that pyrite is a semiconductor of electricity. Christopher Dunn's observations of the Great Pyramid at Giza and it's salt coated chamber walls explain how the whole structure was not a tomb but used as a power plant to harness microwave energy. Is it possible that the ancients knew how to harness earth energy and create electricity? If Tesla was able to discover wireless electricity then yes, it is certainly possible these crafty ancients did as well. The Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan has been found to contain thick slabs of Mica; in it's upper layers. Today, most of the slabs have been removed from looting decades ago. Mica is naturally found about 2000 kilometers away in Brazil. Like the monolithic, blue stones from Stonehenge and red granite blocks from Aswan, used inside the great pyramid, all were imported from great distances at a great expense and human labor. There must have been a very important reason aside from decorative or spiritual to use these materials. They could have just painted images or used plentiful local stones for their structures. Mica is also related to electricity in that it is used in wiring today as an insulator. Obviously, more studies are needed to investigate the possibility that the ancients knew how to harness and use electricity. It will take a pioneering archaeologist that doesn't fear ridicule to take a stand and lead a study on this. 

Arriving in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, in our bus-full-of-believers we arrived at the exact moment when workers were finishing welding shut the entrance to the subterranean tunnels. As a result of recent excavations the tunnels became unstable and suffered a cave in, making it impossible to continue studies. The secrets sealed away from humanity yet again for several more years.

The subterranean chambers hold the possibility of answering the question of who really built this ancient city and sacred center. There is a possibility that one of the chambers holds a burial of one of the founders of the city of Teotihuacan. No one knows for sure who built this largest metropolis of the pre Columbian New World and one of three largest cities in the entire world (Beijing, Rome are the other two). The Aztecs and Toltecs, among many other civilizations re-used, rebuilt and restored the site for they had a reverence for their inspirational predecessors. Again, a parallel with Ancient Egypt and Peru's earlier sites being built upon by later cultures is an obvious point to explore and study further. Teotihuacan’s astrologically aligned pyramids have similarities with the astral alignment of the three pyramids at Giza. Like the Egyptians, the Maya had devised two calendars; one solar and one ritual, which interacted and depended upon one another for the dictation of certain ritual events to be carried out.

Next stop on our quest was to visit what Diego Rosales believed to be the first point of settlement by Atlantean refugees fleeing their flooded world. Diego believed they came from the west somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Cuicuilco and consequently built Mexico's only round pyramid built with four concentric bands or levels. The ancients referred to Cuicuilco as the "place of prayer" or "place of the rainbow".

Diego walked with us to show the site and discuss ongoing excavations. He also showed us evidence that proves that the site was built upon a structure built thousands of years earlier than what is currently recorded. According to strata where the evidence or artifact was found you can definitively see that this outer structure was built upon another built much earlier. This marker was accidentally found by a rock vendor digging to collect volcanic rocks to sell at a local market. Stay tuned for my next book to find out more on what that evidence is. Diego's friend who is a local architect and surveyor and on the board of Cuicuilco's preservation society, used GPS to verify the stone marker was set in it's location and is marking true north. The artifact is still standing where it was planted over 20 feet below the level of the base of the existing pyramid, and not yet fully excavated. The official at the site explained it was discovered over 8 years ago and because of budgetary constraints, no further excavations have been made to locate what should be 3 other markers for the remaining cardinal points.

Diego theorizes that after Cuicuilco was covered by lava by a volcanic explosion, these early peoples migrated across the lake and constructed Teotihuacan. They venerated the same god; the eldest creator god named Huehueteotl. A representation of this god was recently discovered atop the pyramid at Teotihuacan and at Cuicuilco about 5 years ago. Excavations at Cuicuilco have proven there are successive layers beneath. The current excavation is digging down into the center of the structure.

Diego recounted that in 1922 an American archaeologist, Byron Cummings came to excavate and study the unusual structured and reportedly retrieved ancient tablets found there with engravings similar to the white volcanic stone marker found decades later beneath current ground level.

According to Cummings this pyramid is not dated correctly. A specialist in stratigraphic layer dating would help pinpoint this date to a more accurate number. It has a potential of being the oldest pyramid in the world. Graham Hancock and Charles Hapgood have worked on this but failed to convince the scientific establishment of Cuicuilco's true age.

This marker, this one artifact, lying in wait, would prove without a doubt that this highly unusual, circular pyramid at Cuicuilco was built by people about the time Atlantis was sunk beneath the sea. Again, more serious study and funds are needed to uncover this piece to the puzzle to rewrite a truer "story of us".

Anyone with capital to fund a dig there can send me a message via this blog and I can connect him or her to the proper authorities in Mexico.

Sun burned and almost losing one of our team to heat stroke, we arrived back to our hotel. Ken asked me to translate for a private meeting with two undisclosed individuals. They turned out to be a newlywed couple, obviously very nervous when they opened what they were carrying inside their bag. The husband was very upset and was asking for help from Ken who is one of the few people on the planet with a good amount of experience and knowledge of the subject of these skulls. I translated that ever since they came into possession of the large crystal skull from a friend of his mother whom is a spiritualist, strange things were happening that were very upsetting to his wife, to the point of despair. Fearing criticism from others, they had nowhere else to go to seek counsel on a topic that no religious official or governmental authority would like to discuss, much less give them advice on. 

Apparently, the gentleman that came into possession of the skull had two from a looter that found them in an undisclosed "jungle" location in Mexico. That gentleman gave them one of his skulls for some reason. Since looting is illegal in Mexico, this added to the young couple's trepidation. The wife recounted that ever since her husband became its caretaker, the skull would not let her sleep and seemed to haunt her while asleep with voices and murmurs. The husband would have to put it away inside their closet and covered with a dark velvet cloth. The murmurs continued even after putting the skull away. They were at their wit's end. Ken decided to call the medium; Jane Doherty who has helped police departments locate missing children and with solving crimes. The young couple only told her that they need answers and that the skull seemed to have it out for his wife. She instantly received information from the skull. She saw that it was used in a temple in ancient times, in conjunction with another. She said with baited breath; "He is looking for his other half". This skull is a he and the other one was a she and that was why he was harassing the young man's wife. The young man confessed to Jane that indeed there was another skull and that his mother's friend still had it in his possession. Jane recommended that he reunite the two, if not permanently, for them to at least have visits with one another to quiet their love-torn skull. If this all sounds surreal, it is. I was speechless witnessing this bizarre event. Some events in life don't have logical explanations; again further study is required here to determine what the heck is going on. 

Are these crystal skulls imbued with spirits of men and women? Are they cell phones into other dimensions? Are they just supercomputers from another time or place unknown to us? Hey, my MacBook Pro performs hundreds of functions but without an AC adaptor, is nothing but a pretty cool paperweight. Is there a missing part or initiated high priest to make these things work to full capacity? If so, what is it and where do we get the manual to get trained? 

One recent accidental discovery can give us a clue. Washington State researchers recently found that exposing a crystal of strontium titanate to light increased it's electrical conductivity by 400 percent and lasted for days after exposure to the light. Quartz is a silicate material and a carrier of frequency be it electrical or sound. Computer chips are primarily made of Quartz and hard drives are partially made of this material. 

All these are intriguing dots to connect to get closer to answering what these crystal skulls really are. Another recent discovery confirmed that cubes of quartz could be used to store and safe-keep exponentially larger amounts of data for a staggering 300 million years. Now, if i wanted to preserve important data for a long time I would put it somewhere that, A. would be safe and B. would last a long time. 

So are these crystal skulls encrypted, super computers with a potential to advance our civilization by quantum leaps and bounds? It is within the realm of possibility. They say the obvious is invisible to the eye, maybe if we look at these things with new eyes we could re-a-lize the real-lies that have been told to us. It would help if mainstream archaeologists wouldn't snub their noses and dismiss these unexplained artifacts as all forgeries. No, they don't have to be "alien", although it is within the realm of possibilities. Atlantis could have existed just as once thought mythological Troy had. It is also, entirely possible that Atlanteans were more advanced than we can even imagine.

Is it just our ego that prevents us from believing we aren't the alpha-male of our evolutionary tree?

Whatever the case, in this new world unfolding, we need multi-disciplinary teams of engineers, anthropologists, scientists to cooperate and study all of the artifacts, even the out-of-place ones without any preconceived prejudices or hidden agendas.

We must sift through all the information from all sources available. Talk to tourist guides, locals, archaeologists, grave robbers, psychics, shaman, specialists or engineers in related trades, ancient scripts from old archives, libraries or museums; synthesize all the information, simmer it down to a reduction and apply a finely tuned bullshit filter, in order to get to some semblance of what the truth is. It is a lot of work but the rewards are life and history changing. A good start is to join think-tank groups like the Khemit School of Ancient Wisdom, Megalithomania or Suppressed Histories Archive on Facebook to openly research and share ideas, theories or discoveries without fear of ridicule or criticism. If we all cooperate together we may just be able to find the true, corrected "story of us", possibly within this generation.

Every single one of us has a piece of the puzzle. We need to band together to find the answers. Maybe we'll find a cure for all of our top diseases or a new source of unlimited, sustainable and impact-free energy that could even save our world preventing us from the cause of demise of every known previous civilization on this planet; resource wars or environmental collapse.

We are in a new world where people are finally free to question all that we've been led to believe and make connections to make the revisions to our history, assuring it isn't made up of dogmatic fairy tales this time around. After all, history is written by the victors.

An open mind is essential in the process; maintaining awareness that true stories become legends and after hundreds of years retold, become myths. What we now call conspiracy theorists were called researchers in the past (Galileo). The negative moniker is yet another way for disinformation specialists or skeptics to discredit those that are seeking the uncomfortable truths of our age. The unifying factor is that we are all seeking the truth. The problem rests with those individuals or organizations that are not willing to see these new truths because they are in direct conflict with certain religious beliefs or existing set histories.

A hard reboot or re-configuring of the mind is required to conceptualize this new reality 2.0, which is being born before our eyes. The alternative history researchers are getting more organized, more serious, using better tools and are refusing to be shot down or discredited. In the end, science will prevail but good science requires serious study of all possibilities.

At the end of our tour, one of our group members asked Mr. Diego Rosales, "I know you have strong ideas of where we came from but where do you think we are going as a human race?"

Diego Rosales answered with the wisdom of decades of investigating and pondering humanity's origins - "Only where we deserve to go."

A poem written by a fifteenth century poet king from Texcoco, reminds us our fragile mortality in order to keep our bloated human egos in check.

Even jade will shatter,
                                    Even gold will crush,
Even quetzal plumes will tear.
One does not live forever on this earth:
Only for an instant do we endure.

A summary of what we know today of the crystal skulls

*The 13 original "master skulls" are where all the later skulls were made from. These skulls are believed to be over 25,000 years old, crafted using sonic vibrations in conjunction with other crystals to cut them by previous civilizations unknown today. They were discovered or passed on and reused by later peoples with some knowing how to harness their power but eventually the knowledge was lost and no longer passed on. This is the unverified story being circulated. Bashar, a well-known channel has also echoes this in his chanellings.

*They were important enough to carve using hard to find materials such as large, near flawless blocks of pure crystal. Some are human size and others smaller. Some have intricately carved removable and moveable jaws. They have no carbon so they cannot be dated using today's carbon 14 dating methods. They can be analyzed using expensive electron microscopes and possibly dated using new Cosmogenic dating of when they were machined.

*EEG scans have recorded no activity inside or on surface of one crystal skull tested. (That is assuming they operate on the same detectable brainwave activity as a human)

*The famous sleeping prophet Edgar Cayce reported there were an original 13 skulls created in Atlantis and later spread across the world as the survivors migrated and relocated across the globe.

*Of the many scattered around the globe two have been verified and not discredited by any institution- Max and Amar. In fact, the British Museum could not officially comment after studying Max, as they could not figure out how it was made without shattering, since it consisted of various crystal matrices.

*Toltec guide and shaman, Gorila reported seeing and touching an original ancient crystal skull kept secreted away in a cave near Teotihuacan and revered by local people and used in private shamanic rituals.

*Three museums of the world are known to have life-size crystal skulls on display: Paris' Musee de l'homme, the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and the British Museum in London. Mexico City has one but it is only 2 inches high.

*Many strange events have been reported from a variety of individuals; visions of cities inside of the skulls, electrical anomalies, voices, premonitions, dreams with the skulls speaking after sitting with them, spontaneous healings, DNA activations, etc.

*They are reported to be able to transfer information from one skull to another, akin to Bluetooth or Bump (smart phone app) today.

Here is a fairly decent documentary to further research. Turn on your bullshit filter and decide for yourself what is the truth. It is a pretty good documentary but here are some tips to apply. When they compared the Mixtec goblet with the Mitchell-Hedges skull. #1 -comparing the Mixtec goblet with the crystal skull is an over reaching assumption, that they used the same tools or techniques. #2 -Just because one culture made crystal objects one doesn't mean the other culture had the same tools. We haven't found the tools yet, that doesn't mean they never existed. #3 -Mica slabs found at Teotihuacan came from over 2000 km away in Brazil. There are a series of poor arguments to discredit it except for the silicate coating but that could very well have been applied after it was found. The Crystal Skull community believes the Mitchell-Hedges skull to be a fake. They theorize it to be just an elaborate fairy tale from a father that loved practical jokes for his daughter on her 17th birthday.

Researchers at the University of Southampton have recently announced that they are able to store and retrieve huge amounts of five dimensional data on quartz crystals.