Storm clouds gather at El Cañón de los Condos, Cozumel
Many tourists are drawn to Mexico's Riviera Maya to visit ruins from a pre-Columbian civilization known as the Mayas, a civilization thought to be the most sophisticated civilization in the western hemisphere prior to the arrival of Columbus, with surprisingly advanced knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, medicine and engineering. Legendary L.A. schoolteacher Jaime Escalante referred to Mayan mastery of mathematics to instill confidence in his Mexican-American students.
Unlike the Aztecs, the Mayan civilization reached its zenith 6 centuries before the arrival of Columbus and then fell into a mysterious decline. The reason for this decline is not yet understood, and their ruins leave us curious to know more about them.
In my valuation work in Latin America, I have encountered equally interesting ruins from a post-Columbian race of people, a people I label as desarrolladores especulativos (“speculative real estate developers”). Although always present in the indigenous population, their numbers exploded during the first decade of the 21st century, with a significant influx from North America, but this race curiously disappeared after 2008.
One builder's abandoned hommage to the Mayan ancestors, Playa del Carmen
As an appraiser-anthropologist, I have actually met and worked with these people and participated in their beer-drinking and overeating rituals afterwards. The desarrolladores especulativos were of diverse ethnicity, with some being Latino and others being North American. The one thing they seemed to have in common is that they were all middle-aged and older males. Could this gender imbalance be a biological reason for the disappearance of this race?
No, because this race is not actually extinct, but is instead just hiding from creditors.
Still, there is little left to understand these people other than the ruins they left behind.
La Piscina para los Dioses
As the 21st century began, the desarrolladores greatly increased in numbers. Many came from English-speaking countries. Some called themselves “developers”; others called themselves “renowned developers”. Members of this latter group had sometimes produced only one successful development. (Would Trump need to describe himself as "renowned"?) Some had no actual development experience, and when asked about what other projects they had built, they responded evasively with answers such as “I’ve been in this business 20 years” (most likely in real estate sales).
"La Torre Disponible" peeks out of the jungle much like pre-Columbian ruins in San Miguel.
Some historians speculate that the Mayan civilization fell due to an unknown cataclysmic event in about 900 A.D. Similar to this theory of Mayan destruction, the desarrolladores especulativos disappeared in an event known as el día en que murió préstamos “the day the lending died”, which can be narrowed down to some time in late 2008.
Here I am surveying an airplane wreck at la Playa del Cid La Ceiba. Could this have been a high-flying developer who found himself "underwater" in his development loans?